So, its this time of the year when almost every bengali is somewhat having a feel-good state-of mind. Basically, Poila Boisakh means (in literary sense), the first day of bengali calendar. Bengali calendar, somehow, historically is tied to the Indian solar calendar, based on Surya Siddhanta. This comes this time of the year, around mid-april and celebrated traditionally on 14th or 15th April every calendar year.
For a 70’s kid like me, who has seen the transition of bengali household from archies card to whatsapp messages, Poila Boisakh holds a very special place in our heart. In our childhood, every family used to have different pre-defined known shops, which unlike today’s supermarkets, used to know each customer individually and sometimes even their family members. Now, most of these shops used to introduce a new accounting ledger for their establishment on this poila boisakh and used to celebrate the day with their regular customers. Thus, in our childhood, we’ve seen invitation cards being delivered to our house by different shops (unlike these discount SMS’ that we get nowadays) and the evening was the time for us to visit different shops with our parents. It was not that we had to buy something, but the custome was to meet the owner and his/her staff, exchange a few pleasantries and for us, happily having a small bottle of Gold Spot/ Limca and leaving with a plastic packet containing one box of sweets and one calendar peeping its head out. By the evening, we naturally were exhausted having those endless cold drinks and occasional snacks. If I remember correctly, the main focus was to cover the gold ornament shops, where the sweet packet was of slightly better quality.
Another important factor of this poila boisakh was the “Choitra sale”. It involves a fanatic shopping spree for the ladies of the house and poor souls like us (jokingly…. ) get a small share of it too. Jokes apart, almost all shops including the shopping malls and big brands try to offer a good discount this time of the year and ladies normally wait for it.
At house, the household work was slightly different and the same tradition is carried on even today. It included a spring cleaning of the whole house. Somehow, my mother and wife has got a common knack for the same even today and they get some pure bliss making sure that no insect roams around in our house. And, as I was told, Godrej Lal hit is used for this purpose. Our kitchen and toilets are sprayed with this even today to get rid of the same.
- Even after the festival is over, the leftover food may attract cockroaches, so I make it a point that I spray LAL HIT into the sink & under the fridge, cylinder, dustbin etc. hiding places for cockroaches every week. For this LAL HIT has given a unique deep reach nozzle which helps me reach deep corners and crevices.
Though I don’t blog much on the recipes, but this time, for a change, I plan to share a very simple and light chicken recipe, suited for this sultry summer and can be cooked in 10 minutes flat- the hing chicken (without onion and garlic)
Hing chicken Jhol (without onion and garlic)
- Chicken (cut in medium pieces)
- Potato (peeled and cut in bengali style – half sized big pieces). Fry it a little in white oil and keep it ready
- White oil
- hing (asaphoetida)
- ginger paste (a little coarse in nature)
- slit green chilly
- For tampering:
- whole garam masala including cinnamon, cloves (less) and
- whole red chilly
- In the pressure cooker, put in white oil and let it get ready for tampering.
- put in the hing and once the flavor starts coming out, put the tampering and slit green chillies
- Fry in the ginger paste lightly till oil starts leaving and put in chicken and the lightly fried potato (kept ready)
- Saute a little and pour in hot water
- seal the lid and cook for around 15 min
- Open the lid and and check if the chicken and potato are cooked. Pour in some ghee and again put the lid for 5 more minutes and voila….. you get one of the most subtly tasted chicken jhol
- Have it with steamed rice (I prefer with Gobindobhog rice) and enjoy.
So, enjoy for the time being and let me know any of your childhood memories during poila boisakh and also if you like this recipe.
Bon apetite !!!
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