|A story I told our younger cat little Nimki|
‘I’m picking up butta for my brother and me. Picking up some for you guys too.’
Little Nimki was amazed at seeing the corn on cob. He’d never seen one before. He stood up on his hind legs and probed the corn cob with his front paw. Ready to diffuse the stealth missiles if required.
Just as amazed as his big sis Gee Gee was later when she heard us refer to it as bhutta and not butta. She’s Goan.
|Don’t worry Daddy Loaf. I will defuse the bomb|
This was during the period of a year when we stayed at my maternal grandparents after my dad had passed away. I was a chubby 9 year old then.
My maternal grandparents had moved to Calcutta from New Delhi a few years back after my dadu retired from his job in the Indian Railways. My mom and her siblings had all grown up in Delhi and this had left a deep influence on them. As it had on my didu who was born in Dacca but who moved to Allahabad and then to Delhi after her marriage which was at a rather young age. A year before India became independent.
My mama (maternal uncle) was a scientist. He got a job in the government and his place of work was in the southern stretches of Calcutta. Dadu moved to Calcutta and built a house close to this office and the family (barring my youngest aunt) moved to Calcutta. Mama was quite interested in cooking. He would often make dishes or bring food that reminded him of Delhi or would ask my didu to make it. Sometimes it would be a ‘collab’ between mother and son.
I was introduced to quite a few food items during this period. The bhutta for example . I don’t remember it being as juicy as the one I had yesterday. The corn used to be harder and didu would toast it on the gas hob and then add salt and lime on it. What I had yesterday was probably American sweet corn.
Some of the dishes didu made then and which were new to me were chirer pulao (the Bengali version of poha), kolar kofta (koftas made with unripe banana). Then there were the gajar ka halwa and coolfi that they possibly made together using the Nestle Milkmaid cookbook that mama got after responding to a direct marketing ad in the papers. He’d also introduced me to Karachi Halwa from the sweet shops at Esplanade as something he had enjoyed as a kid in Delhi. What was not there to enjoy in this nutty stick jaw I thought. I’d still binge on them today if I could!
There was the Maggi recipe book that we got after collecting Maggi packs and mailed them to an address. Not knowing then that this was a way of creating a database.
I was a big chicken Maggi fan. Loved the capsicum flavour too. Maggi noodles had been introduced in India a few months back and had been sampled in our school. I was excited as there was finally something in India which was as ‘cutting edge’ as the food items I was used to abroad were.
Among the recipes in the book was a sort of egg drop Maggi recipe and I remember making that. Under my mama’s supervision as I was not allowed to handle the stove at such a young age. That was possibly the beginning of my experimenting in the kitchen. Something I continue to do till date.
|Salli chutney na mushroom bake|
Last evening’s bhutta snack took me back to my grandmom’s kitchen of the early 1980s.
Today’s salli chutney dingra made me wonder if my innate desire to experiment in the kitchen was born back then too.
|K was working from home the next day and I made hummus and boiled
egg salad sourdough open sandwich for her and for GeeGee (with salli)
who had just returned from college. The two ladies were on work calls
while us boys loafed ððð