S and I both love our books.
Nothing gives us more joy than spending endless hours idling around with books.
Arguing silly on imagery. (After all the years, we still bicker over what Santiago (and the Marlin) depicted. Alas !!)
Debating vehemently on favourites. Wordsworth or Shelley ? Early Tagore or the late bard ? Shei Shomoi or Prothom Alo ? And the list goes on.
Straining our memories to remember that next line of a sonnet that we could recite so effortlessly many aeons ago.
(Age catching up ? S asks in jest.)
Unpacking a parcel and holding up that book to take in the intoxicating smell of new paper.
(Goaded by friends, we did try Kindle for a while, but abandoned it within a month, the experience was never quite the same.)
Or, turning to a page, any page, of Rupashi Bangla (yes, we are both diehard fans of Jibananda Das) and reading it aloud.
Books lie littered all over the house.
On the couch. Half-read on a sultry afternoon.
By the bed. Till the pile grows inconveniently tall and the books are forced to revert to their designated homes.
In the garden.
On the kitchen counter.
Literally every nook and corner.
Yes, we did complain in the initial years, of how awfully indisciplined we were when it came to returning books to their rightful shelves. But then over time, came to peace with the truth, we actually liked it this way, books scattered around us in blissful and harmonious co-existence.
And it’s indeed an eclectic collection.
I could go on and on.
Of course my collection of cookbooks.
And do I not absolutely adore them ?
Which is your favourite ? S asks me one morning as I re-arrange the books. (Another favourite pastime of ours)
And then I name three of my absolute favourites.
I asked for only one, S counters.
It’s now down to the two I am most partial to.
S refuses to yield.
I want just one, he insists.
I am amazed at how the name slips out in an instant.
Pragnasundari Devi’s Amish o Niramish Aahar.
Two stunning gems that meticulously catalog recipes from the house of the Tagores.
Where a nineteenth century Bengal met the world, where western and oriental influences melted seamlessly into traditional Bengali ways of cooking (already disrupted by Islamic invasions) and gave birth to a novel cuisine, cosmopolitan yet indigenous, that in many ways, shaped Bengali cuisine as we know it today.
So when the first batch of lamb supplies arrive since the beginning of lockdown, just a couple of days post our conversation, I am in no dilemma on what to cook.
Its indeed Kancha Aam diye Mangsho from Pragnasundari Devi’s Amish o Niramish Aahar.
Kancha Aam diye Mangsho. Lamb cooked over a fatigued flame with potatoes and potol. The perfume and subtle tart of green mangoes adds a magical twist to the otherwise ubiquitous Mangshor Jhol. Another classic from the house of the Tagores.
If you are keen to try out more delicacies from the house of the Tagores, do try the Thakurbarir recipes I have published earlier. I am sure you shall love them as much as I do.