Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Our Culinary Habits

Here, I describe the food habits in our family starting with me.

I am a Bengali Brahmin - so there is an equal mix of Bengali-ness and Brahminism in me.

About Me
I am a non-vegetarian. Earlier, I used to eat the allowed Hindu non-vegetarian food items like egg, chicken , mutton and fish. Apart from that I also ate beef and pork when I could get my hands on such items - especially when I was outside India.

However now, among non-vegetarian items I eat only eggs. I changed my food habit in order to move towards a more "saatvic" life-style suitable to a brAhmana (Brahmin).

I followed a three stage process.
a. First, I stopped eating non-Hindu meats like beef and pork (in 2009).
b. Then I stopped eating mutton (goat/ sheep) (in 2010)
c. Then I quit fish (am I a Bengali any more ?!!!!) (in 2011)
d. And last of all chicken (which was a very very hard thing to do) (in 2011)

My Parents
My parents (Gourisankar and Sarmishtha) restrict themselves to egg, fish, chicken and mutton but have never prevented me from eating food of my choice. However, beef and pork is not allowed in our house.

My Grandparents
My grandfather Bholanath Mukherjee ate only fish among non-vegetarian items (however as I mentioned earlier, fish isn't considered by many Bengalis to be non-vegetarian). His father, Nalindranath Mukhopadhyay ate neither fish nor meat except during his old age on and that too on doctor's advice when his eye sight became weak. I do not know anything about the food habits of his ancestors but presumably starting from Nalindranath and moving upward they were all vegetarians.

Our Extended Family in Chandernagore
Prior to 1957-58, only fish used to be eaten (among non-vegetarian items) in our traditional family house in Bromhottor, Boro Champa Tala Chandernagore. However, in 1957-58, duck's eggs was introduced for the first time in our house although it had to be cooked and eaten in the outhouse. After that mutton slowly got introduced by Tushar Mukherjee ( Bholanath's youngest brother) into our family and became an accepted item in menus during certain occassions. Gradually both these items began to be accepted as a part of regular food habits. As of today, eggs, chicken, fish as well as mutton is consumed. However, as I have mentioned earlier the consumption of these items are not very frequent owing to the prohibitively high cost of meat.

The Saltlake Family

Below is a breakup of our typical menu on a normal day in our house in Saltlake, Kolkata.

Breakfast: Tea (Darjeeling), toast and butter optionally accompanied by a double-egg omelette or poach generally served at 8:00 AM by our cook.

Lunch: Lunch, generally served at 12:30 PM consists of rice, some saag, dal, two vegetable dishes, rui fish curry and an optional small fish item (like parshe bata, mourola, tangra, papda). Twice to thrice a week we have mutton. Once or twice a week we have prawns. Twice a month we have muri-ghonto. On certain days we may have more than two vegtable dishes.

Evening Snacks: Generally alu partha, or spanish omelette or french fries and egg poach or muri, generaly served at 6:15 PM.

Dinner: Roti with chicken curry and a vegetable dish served at 10:00 PM.

Eating Out (very very infrequent): Peter Cat in Park Street has a beautiful dish called Chelo Kabab and the 'cold chicken with salad' is also great. Sutanuti Junction in Hatibagan prepares beautiful navratan korma among vegetarian dishes and excellent chicken recipes.

1 comment:

  1. i love this!!!! it desperately reminds me of home and decent food!!!!