There’s nothing more delightful than hearing from an old friend who’s visiting town.
So when D calls one overcast charcoal-grey morning to announce her visit a week later, needless to emphasize, I am ecstatic.
You need to come home for lunch, I urge.
Next time, she responds, shy diffidence stark in her voice.
The next couple of minutes is a tug of war, me insisting, she evading, finally she submits to my obstinate persuasions.
We fix the date.
I start my mental calisthenics, an endeavor to work out the perfect lunch menu, trying my best to recall any preferences of hers.
What do you want to eat? I finally question.
Daab Chingri, comes the prompt response.
Done, I confirm, pleased as a Cheshire Cat.
Two days later, comes a call from her.
Dear, she says apologetically, I completely forgot when we planned the lunch, I am vegetarian on Thursdays.
That’s no problem at all, I assure.
Are you sure? She looks for confirmation.
Of course, I reiterate.
Iterations later, I arrive at the first draft.
My Jhinge Shukto.
A tear-jerking spicy Kakrol Pur.
Sylheti Kolai Daal, I know she shall adore this one.
Grandmas Lau Phulkopi.
Kumror Dhokar Dalna.
And Atar Payesh to finish with.
But something is missing, isn’t it?
D had requested Daab Chingri. What could be a vegetarian alternative? I ponder.
Necessity, as the old man reminds, is the mother of invention.
The grey cells go on an overdrive and I decide to conjure for her a Chhanar Daab Malai.
A symphony of homemade chhana and tender coconut flesh. Something, I am convinced, that she shall relish.
Chhanar Daab Malai. A mellifluous pairing of chhana with tender coconut flesh. The sublime sweetness of coconut milk. The warmth of ginger. The perfume of green cardamom. The heat of green chillies. Oh, and those luscious raisins hidden inside the chhana koftas !!
This is food heaven for sure !!
If you are weary and jaded of your regular paneer subzi, do give my Chhanar Daab Malai a try and I can guarantee that smile of blissful contentment on your faces !!