I seek inspiration this morning.
Something novel. Something I have never attempted before.
I sit surrounded by my recipe books and notes.
New books picked up at the book fair earlier this year and yet unexplored. I hold them up to my nose and take a deep breath. The sublime scent of new books. Intoxicating !!!
Then my prized treasures. Proud and pompous. Leather-bound books, a century old at the least, the ancient gentleman at a nondescript College Street stall had told me in his quavering voice. Golden letters inscribed lovingly on red leather. Reminiscent of the original owner. No one comes scouting for antiquated books any longer. My grandson tells me it’s all there on the Internet. He adds with just a touch of remorse.
A bound compilation of Punya volumes. The in-house publication of the Tagores of Jorasanko more than a century ago. The recipes narrate a compelling story, one of the first collision of earthy rustic Bengali cuisine with Muslim (remember Wajid Ali Shahs family was by then living in ignominy in the suburbs of Calcutta) and Western influences.
Grandma’s scribbles. Yellow with age. Mildewed. Stumbled upon by chance in the corner of her dresser drawer. Priceless !!
Maa’s notes. Collected painstakingly over decades. In a pre-Internet world. From radio talk shows. Neighborhood grand-moms. TV programs (when they finally invaded our lives in the nineties). And more.
My newspaper and magazine cuttings. Carefully catalogued and earnestly filed.
A not-so-disciplined collection of Xerox copies. Recipes from books and newspapers of yore. Stockpiled over years in the course of my numerous runs to libraries to indulge in stories on ancient Bengali cuisine.
I furiously rummage through my cherished collection. Looking for my muse this morning.
And that’s when I spot this recipe.
Peyajkoli Komola Murgi. Chicken paired with gorgeous oranges and fresh onion stalks.
Do I see a frown as you read this one ?
Well, I won’t lie, that was my reaction too.
But with the orange season fast retreating and onion stalks too all set to take a bow, I decide to tread down that path. And cook a Peyajkoli Komola Murgi. Just as someone had experimented in delight close to almost a century back.
And do I need to say that it tasted sublime !!!
Peyajkoli Komola Murgi. A mellifluous symphony. Chicken drumsticks. Luscious oranges. Pristine onion stalks. A touch of yoghurt. A kiss of grated ginger. An explosion of fiendish chillies.
A must try before winter and her bouquet of oranges and onion stalks ebb away.