Bangla Food for Dragon-Slayers


Today, 29th September is Michaelmas. I learned this equally from the wonderful Steiner School Kindergarten and late night forays of distraction into River Cottage repeats.  It’s traditionally a festival for marking the change in seasons and of gathering the harvest to provide for the winter ahead; more recently it celebrates the role of the archangel Michael as dragon-slayer.  As the long days of summer draw into the dark nights of winter, it’s apparently an opportunity to confront our own ‘inner dragons’ and finding the light and courage to see us through to spring .

It got me to thinking – yes, my thought-processes are often tenuous in the extreme – about the importance food plays in nurturing, giving comfort and offering a focus for a social occasion.  It has always been the case in Bangladesh!  Never have I eaten so much, so well, and given with such generosity as I have with both friends and strangers from Dhaka to Bhola.  Of course, some offerings – the crown of the rooster, fish larvae, cows’ brains – are once in a lifetime ‘treats’, others I would come back to again and again, and it’s often the simplest of foods.

Here’s a menu, and a ‘toss it in and see’ sort of recipe for a breakfast feast…

POTATO & PAPAYA CURRY

Take a green-skinned papaya (the flesh is firmer) and a couple of potatoes and chop them into equal sized pieces.  Fry some garlic, onion, turmeric and any other spices you fancy/are to hand, add the potato til cooked through, then toss through the papaya.  It’s a dry curry that is perfect eaten with roti (chapati).

KITCHURI

2 handfuls rice 
1 handful red lentils
1 handful any green leaf vegetables 
couple of tablespoons of oil
water as required

You can also add in onion, garlic, ginger, tumeric and salt… and some versions include egg or meat or chicken.

It’s trial and error: heat the oil and coat the rice, add in the lentils, start to add the water – and keep stirring. Keep adding more water as the rice and lentils absorb it and once they are more or less soft and cooked, stir in the leafy veg

CHA’

A big spoon of black tea per person, add boiling water, add boiling condensed milk (sweetened of course) and more sugar to taste (yes, really) and serve very hot and strong – it should be caramel brown and almost able to hold a spoon up… The faint-hearted can have ‘raw’ tea i.e. omit the condensed milk.

Okay, it’s Jamie (on an off day) rather than Nigella but even when it all goes wrong, the aroma wafting through the kitchen is the perfect way to imagine yourself in Bangladesh - and definitely sufficient to slay those dragons!

Anne x
 
 
 
 
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Comments 2

 
Guest - Kendra on Monday, 03 November 2014 11:45

Hi Anne,Thanks for the recipes, I love trying new Asian foods. I will definitely try the potato and papaya one. The tea sounds good to me too, very similar to Thai tea. I think the simplest foods prepared with kindness are often the best.

Hi Anne,Thanks for the recipes, I love trying new Asian foods. I will definitely try the potato and papaya one. The tea sounds good to me too, very similar to Thai tea. I think the simplest foods prepared with kindness are often the best.
Guest - katie200 on Thursday, 02 October 2014 01:50

Hi Anne.Great blog post.... I hope you're well. :)Take care.Katie..

Hi Anne.Great blog post.... I hope you're well. :)Take care.Katie..
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