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Cooking with Aagan

chef AaganThe reputation of being a foodie is a tough job to keep. To keep satisfying your gastronomical urges is a big challenge, specially in a foreign land where most of your favourite cuisines are lacking. But yours truly loves challanges and took on this errand to feed himself the best of dishes.

When i decided to bid adieu to Kolkata and pack myself off to Bangalore, the only advice i heard from everyone was regarding food. South Indian cuisine was unpalatable for most Bongs and relatives and friends were perturbed about my well being, knowing how much i rely on food for survival. My answer would be, “I eat it all. Do not worry, i will manage.” Yes, i was quite confident that i will manage. Why not? I loved eating dosas at Udupi or from the roadside thela wallahs at Rashbehari Avenue.

I gave up on eating south Indian food within a week of shifting to this city. The food was really mundane and lacked imagination. The sheer travesty of not being able to enjoy what you eat made me go glum. Even the outlets which supposedly sold “North Indian food” bore the hallmark of curry leaves and sour sambhar daal! Not willing to bow down to food jehad, i decided to call it a war!

Before moving in to Bangalore, the most difficult dish that i ever cooked (on gas) was egg bhurji. It was a challenge, therefore, to cook authentic Bengali cuisine, which would taste good and be eatable. That too, to cook 365 days a year was a Hearculean task itself. I fathomed i had no choice but to take the plunge and so i did. For the last one month i have been maturing as a cook.

My big moment came yesterday when i prepared, for the first time on gas, chicken biriyani. It might sound juvenile but i believe this has been a defining milestone in my life. My love for chicken is known to all. To be able to cook it, THAT TOO in Bangalore, after a gap of a month, is a feat unimaginable for me.

I wish to share this moment of joy with all my readers by sharing the recipe of the chicken biriyani that now forms a part of my system.

Marinate the chicken for half an hour with curd, turmeric powder, ginger-garlic paste, onion paste and tomato puree with some salt.

Fry onions in a pan of oil till brown. Add garam masala powder, red chilli powder, jeera. Add the marinated chicken and stir till it i cooked.

In another container, take some rice soaked in water and boil it till half. To this half boiled rice, add the chicken, saffron powder, little milk. Mix well, cover with a lid and simmer for half an hour.

Your chicken biriyani is ready.

Street Food in Kolkata

As promised i am back with my second offering in my series of posts on Kolkata….celebrating my stay in this beautiful city for the last five years. With just one and half months more left for me for “pattari gotano” i am looking back at the days that shaped me. 3 brilliant years in Presidency College and two not so great yet wonderful years in Department of Biochemistry,CU. So, what did i do all these years that make them so special??? Like i mentioned in my post “Kolkata & Me” my friends made my stay in this city pleasurable. This time i wish to explore another avenue of this “Mohanagori”. Food.

Bangali and Khaabar are synonymous. In our literature we have read how the babus used to hog “kobji dubie”, the great Bengal famine of 1943….Khadyo Andolon that brought the present state government to power….food has had a strong relationship with Bengal. Over the ages the eating habits have definitely changed but the “bhojon rosik” bangali has not.

Street Food is immensely popular in any city. For people like us who do not have the resources to frequent CCD or KFC everyday, street food provides an alternative that is superior in quality to the high priced food in the corporatist eateries.

Be it the chicken roll at gariahat bedouin or fuchka outside college,the borofer thela at gariahat crossing or momo at exide, Kolkata has the variety like no where else.

Those who know me know well how much i eat. Monginis, Sugar and Spice, Bedouin or the quintessential thela wallah earn a lot out of my pocket!

In fact it was the shared love for food that brought me and bhamuu closer….a bond we still cherish although we do not eat out together like we did in Presi days.

That reminds me of the Lebu jol wallah who sits outside Presi’s gates and also the aam sherbet seller outside Indian Coffee House. Even the dosa wallah 🙂

I still remember what Sakshi had written in my autograph diary after we passed out of Presidency College : “it took Agnivo from jalpaiguri and bhamuu from jadavpur to introduce sakshi from deshapriya park to the rolls of smokochino just 2minutes away from my home” 🙂 Quite an achievement!!!

Jadavpur is a hotbed of street food…when i stayed with my pishi during my initial days in Kolkata, i used to hog away to glory at the thela wallahs who sell all junk food at the 8B bus stand.In fact i was waiting for Bhamuu and Linz at prince Anwar Shah crossing one evening. The wait cost my wallet two chicken rolls & a cup of tea at a roadside stall.

Also the trips to the British Council Library were supplemented with momos at the exide crossing and then a roll at Saima 🙂

When i stayed in my PG at Triangular park, i used to take evening strolls by the lake everyday. The walk around Southern Avenue used to pass away in seconds with the roll from the shop opposite ramkrishna Mission Library and fuchka at Vivekananda Park.

Recently i had been to Barista with some friends. And the same evening i sipped on some lemon tea inside Nandan Campus. Oh i swear! Why do people waste 100 bucks over tea when you can have it better and cheaper on the streets?

People have issues with hygiene when it comes to street food. Its a simple case of ignorance. Anything good comes with a price.Its a small price you have to pay for savoring the culinary delights on the streets.

Now when i think of June, my heart fills with sorrow….no more bedouin, no more roll, no more “pet kharap” and frequent visits to the loo at night 😦
Everything has to come to an end. And i guess my 5 year long affair with Food too. 
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