With her grief, loss, failure, resentment, disappointment, defeat, death, imperfection, heartache, scars and empty cups from the previous year, Bangladesh greets the first day of Bengali year (14th April) with festivity and day long feasts.
Devastating floods, lurking droughts, looming tidal bores, famine, oddities, hidden fears, riots, leaders pocketing relief money… still oblivion people of this emerald island would forgive the sacrilegious rulers every year and cook plethora of ancient, mythical, majestic as well as humble, peasant-like dishes on this auspicious day.
Rural Bengalis do not belong to a world full of urban sleepwalkers where nobody was actually awake; a world full of churning hatred, human heart like verbal firing squad, bitter suspicions; a world busy with mocking, angry talk, spreading vicious debate, heated conversations. They do not spend their income on war and guns. Only hunting and survival tactics they practice which they Inherited from their ancestors.
Bengali Style Fish Stew:
The fish caught from sweet water lake shores or thunderous tumult oceans or rigorous rivers, would mesmerize your senses with its own aroma. And the spices would gently waltz in the amber broth. Spices must not shackle the fish.
2 pounds fish fillets/cutlets. Bite sized pieces. ( I cooked Hilsa slices)
2 tbsp Mustard oil
1/2 tsp Turmeric powder
2 cups Water
Green Chillies/Peppers 4-5 pcs
Salt to taste
In a big enough pot, lightly fry pat-dried fish chunks for a couple of minutes in hot oil on medium heat. Set aside.
In the same pot, add water-turmeric-salt. Let the water come to a boil.
Add fish. Cut Chillies into half and throw them in the pot. Cook for 5 minutes on medium high heat with the lid on. Or, until fish is boiled properly.
Serve with steamed rice.
To my ancestors, to the rural people of Bangladesh, God always appears in the form of rice and fish. These beautiful, straight-out-of-a-novel people never exhibit the savage practice of killing each other off; they labor hard for peace and catching fish.