Posts Tagged ‘food

31
May
17

Looking back…

Kolkata is a fascinating place. It is the third most populated metropolitan area in India. This city embraced every culture, religion and people from every corner of the world. Thus, we can say that Kolkata has a mini world inside and everyone here lives in happiness, peace and harmony. Some of the communities may be dwindling in numbers but their presence adds a great contribution to the heritage and culturally rich Kolkata.

Speaking of communities and culture, here I am talking about one of the oldest religions whose origin traces back to the late Bronze period that is 13th century BC. Yes, Jew or Judaism or Yhudim in Israeli pronunciation. As we know that the most Jewish are from and belong to Israel but across the world, they have created their mark.

It is a proud factor for Kolkata that people find this place peaceful for the living.

I remember when I was a child, my father used to bring fruit cake from Nahoum’s Bakery which is still situated in New Market. Once I visited the shop as a child with my parents and to my surprise, the décor is way different from other cake shops present. The glass cased teak wood furniture where a delectable array of confectioneries is displayed. Rum ball, Lemon Tart, Marzian Patties, Brownies and of course very famous Fruit Cake are a must try. More than 100 years old this shop stands as a landmark to a disappearing heritage. If you go inside you can see the traditional style decor which still they haven’t altered a bit.

nah

When I grew up and started taking interest in heritage and culture of Kolkata, I again come across Nahoum’s Bakery and thus come to know about the Jew community here. Today there are only 27 people living here but once 6000 Jews from Baghdad settled here. In the year 1798 first Jewish immigrant named Shalom Aharon Obadiah Cohen came to Kolkata and in the early 19th century more and more Jews settled here in Kolkata.

Slowly they started building a new life and community amongst all others in peace and harmony. Proud to say that Kolkata houses 3 Synagogues dated 1825 and still today 2 are in use. Obsessed with history and culture I tried to visit those Synagogues but unfortunately, I couldn’t. As you have to take permission either from the head of the Jew community or from ASI. From outside what I have seen, these Synagogues are large in structure and beautifully carved. There is also a Jew cemetery and two Jew schools present in Kolkata.

David synagogue

There are few streets like Ezra Street, Belilios Street and Synagogue Street which are kept as before reminding the presence of Jew community. Ezra Mansions and the Ezra Hospital and two buildings in the zoo which are still owned by the Jews. There are many other mansions, residences and office buildings that still stand but they no longer bear their Jewish names and few know they were once Jewish-owned. With dwindling numbers may be one day Jew community will vanish from Kolkata since people who are living are very old. Nevertheless, people are still trying to survive and leave their mark.

These people from Middle-East country adopted and embraced Bengali lifestyle, language and also their culture. Many recall Kolkata as their home and they belong here. They have intertwined Jewish culture with Bengali culture in several ways like food, jewellery and of course fashion. Many restaurants have opened a new section for the middle-east cuisines and people are loving it. Even in fashion Jewish style are adopted and loved.

Across the world Jew have created a big impact in every field, be it politics, art or science. You will be surprised to read few notable Jewish people of Kolkata whom we thought as Bengali. It was during the era of Zamindars in Kolkata when Mujra was a new thing, a very famous singer and dancer Gauhar Jaan gained fame because of her voice and music. She was actually a Jew named Angelina Yeoward who changed her name to Gauhar Jaan after she moved to Benaras and accepted Muslim as her religion. She was also the first woman to perform in radio. Like here there are many eminent people who are notable actresses, musicians, businessmen, administrators, ad man, artists and they are all children of Israel but belonged to Kolkata.

Gauhar_Jaan

Maybe in few years, Jewish community will disappear as more people are settling abroad or people due to age leaving the earth, but their creation will always be a part of Kolkata’s heritage and we will always remember that.

 

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14
Apr
15

The War!!

Well, everyone has to agree that one cannot avoid being a Bengali.  They are very attractive, everything about them catches eye. Their attires, speaking style, food, reaction- actions and every its and bits. It is only in Bengal where Bengalis are divided into two groups – Ghoti and Bangal. Bangals’ are the people from Bnagladesh and Ghotis’ are the people of West-bengal. This discrimination happened right after the partition of our Bengal. Since then the big war has started amongst Ghoti-Bangal. Well. Here are some common occasions where they eventually take things personal.

  1. East-bengal vs Mohunbagan match. Football the lifeline of Bengalis,takes game very seriously. Especially when it is between East-bengal (the representative group of Bangals) and Mohunbagan (the representative group of Ghotis).
  1. Chingrimacher malaikari vs Sorshe Ilish bhanpa. The cuisines are also divided and segregated. Ghotis where very keen about eating poshto (poppy) and chingrimach (Prawn). Bangals are bent on their shutki mach (dried fish) and Ilish Mach (Hilsa). There are many more differences with their culinary terms. Ghotis makes everything sweet whether it is a curry or any sweet dish, both are equally sweetened. Bangals on the other hand eat everything spicy.
  1. The language, Bangal dialect vs Ghoti dialect. Your dialect will have the impact of the place where you belong and stay. There is no need to fight over or mock. But still given a chance each group will not leave any opportunity to mock on their language. Though both are Bengali, but spoken in a different way…both are equally sweet!!
  1. North Kolkata vs South Kolkata. It is said that North Kolkata is the hub of all Ghotis, the native of Kolkata, West-bengal. They are the bonedi-families (Royal families) and are the babu of the society. Whereas South Kolkata is the hub of all Bangals – the inhabitants of Bangladesh. According to Ghotis’ Bangals do not posses any bonediana. They are uncultured and uncouth. Believe it or not it’s a never ending fight.
  1. Ghoti biye vs Bangal biye AKA Marriage. Lot of confusion with the style of marriage. Though it is the way of union of two souls. Still they fight over the rituals and ceremonies. A Ghoti marriage the bride should enter sasur-bari (in-laws home) before 12 noon. And in Bangal marriage the bride will enter only after dusk.
  1. Eating habits. Ghotis are more prone on eating televaja and muri (fried and puffed rice) where as Bangals likes to have something spicy and chatpata. North Kolkata is very famous for sweet shops namely, Dwarik, Vim nag, Putiram, Nakur etc. Here they take legions on this over Bangals.
  1. Roads of North Kolkata are something very interesting. Gullys are very famous, every traveller, photographer visits at least once in these gullys and old house. But South Kolkata is all about big roads, high-rises.
  1. The fashion sense. The fashion of North Kolkata and South Kolkata are very different. North Kolkata believes in more traditional attires whereas South Kolkatans are more westernized.

Now you see why shouldn’t there be a war, so many differences among Bengalis?? But still both of them stand as unity in every way, guess that’s’ why they are so perfectly bonded. Absolutely made for each other!!

10
Apr
15

…With love

She is a famous restaurateur and a cook.  Amongst all her special dishes, Meat-love-valentina took the crown. People around the world loved it and were also curious. When anyone asked about the recipe, she smiled and said “it’s a traditional food secret, can’t be shared”.

It was a normal rush at the restaurant, when a handsome man entered. She liked him at the first glance. The man took a table in the corner and was looking at the menu. She arrived at his table to take the order; the man smiled and said “your specialty is my favourite”. They both shared a smile. The food was served, she waited for him to taste. After he took the first bite, he smiled at her as a gesture of compliment. Later he asked her, if she is interested in going out with him.

Now they have been dating for several days, he finally asked her the clichéd question, “what is special ingredient you use for your dish?”…she smiled politely and said “it’s a secret”. Though He was not happy with her answer but he didn’t spoke a word. He became stubborn and determined to know the secret recipe. He tried many ways to figure out but every time she escaped. He even defamed her and tried to ruin her. All this was affecting her business and her character. Finally she decided to resolve the problem.

One night she invited him for the dinner and asked him to come alone. He at first found it weird, but the opportunity of knowing the secret was far more exciting. She has set the dinner table in her room. The room was beautifully decorated with candles, flowers along with lovely music. He was standing alone when she entered the room in her divine pink dress. They sat down opposite to one another. The time went swift and nice. It was a lovely evening spent with delicious food and wine. They were having nice conversation when suddenly he raised the question again. Her face colour changed. She stiffened for a moment and then next moment she smiled sheepishly. With a mysterious look in her eyes she said “curiousness kills the cat”…these words startled him, but he was stubborn and determined. She asked him to wait until all her worker leaves. It was past midnight, he was sitting alone in her room, drinking wine. He was feeling bit dizzy and was lying in her bed, when she entered the room. She slowly walked to his side and sat. She fondled with his hair and said “till date no living male in my family has ever known this secret “she hugged him tight and then asked him to stand up. She said” what you will witness tonight, promise me it will be between me and you?” He promised her and assured that he would never tell a soul. From the corner of the bed she tapped a switch and the bed removed revealing a freezer.  He knelt down and pulled a packet, it was a human hand. He choked, the moment he looked at her, she attacked him with a knife and pulled him to the freezer and covered it. Later she smiled at her and said…” I told you, no living male in my family knew this secret….ha ha ha…don’t worry my love we will have daughter and if it son I will let him sleep beside you like this!” She took the bottle of wine and drank and fell asleep on the ground.