(Guest post from Mullah Akbar).
Having grown up in Saudi Arabia, through the 80s, 90s, and the new millennium, I have seen the virgin desert turn into jungle of concrete, marble, granite and glass.
Not the way any of the women in my life does it, but Chitrita Banerji* says this is the Bengali way. And this is what I cook.
Wash 500 gram of basmati rice thoroughly and let it rinse in a colander.
Heat 120 ml ghee in a large pot and add four cloves, four cardamoms, and four 2.5cm sticks of cinnamon. Add two teaspoons of ginger pastes. Stir a couple of times and pour 1.7 litre of heated water. Add salt to taste, cover and bring to boil. As the water boils up, add the rice and stir for a minute. Add two table spoon of keora water and stir.
Cover the pot tightly, put the heat to the lowest possible, and cook for 20 minutes. After that, remove the pot from the stove, but keep it covered for another 20-25 minutes.
Serve with bereshta.
If you’re reading this, then obviously you’ve survived 2012. Congratulations. Will 2013 be a better year, with production, consumption, jobs and wealth rising? Will they improve happiness and well being? And even if that does happen, will it simply not affirm what Marx and Engels predicted?
All that is solid melts into air, all that is holy is profaned, and man is at last compelled to face with sober senses his real condition of life and his relations with his kind.
Well, here is to facing the reality in 2013.
(Content may offend religious sensitivities).
The Qurbani Eid never seemed the real thing to me. Fasting or not, it’s undeniable that Ramadan has an impact on the life of anyone remotely associated with Muslims. So there is a month-long build up to the Eid. That doesn’t happen with Qurbani. And I am not into slaughtering and gluttony anyway.
And yet, sitting alone in a hotel room thousands of miles from friends and family, I find myself missing Qurbani. Hence this post.
This was cooked on the Eid day.
- Cut a kilo medium sized potatos into two to four pieces (each piece should be about one square inch). Microwave for a few minutes.
- Heat oil. Throw in a few cinnamon sticks. Once the fragrance is strong, add four coarsely chopped medium sized tomato. Add salt and stir for couple of minutes.
- Add two table spoon each of cumin powder and ginger paste, and some tumeric (as usual, how much depends on how strongly you feel about yellowish fingers).
- After the gravy starts to form, throw in the potatoes, lower heat, and cook covered.
This can be eaten with rice and daal, or luchi / paratha, or (as was done on the Eid day) pulao.
My very first post was about fitna (that is, division). I wish I had good news. But sadly, all these years later, things are perhaps even worse. On the one hand, CIC has not quite lived up to its initial promise, being divided on leadership issues itself. On the other hand, the Mosque itself has seen some ugly leadership tussle, with one Imam forcibly stopped from entering the premises. Meanwhile, the two institutions continue their mutual antipathy.
Things got downright ugly last Ramadan. While both institutions agreed to fast for the 30th day because the new moon wasn’t sighted, at 630am the Mosque announced it was the Eid day. The result? A sad spectacle of believers breaking their fast and rushing to the Eid congregation.
And the division is hurting the community, which is growing at a rapid pace. A third mosque/centre is needed as the city — and the community — expands geographically. In fact, a third mosque is being built — itself a source of some messy stuff. More importantly, this yet-to-be-built mosque has attracted Islamophobic attention — oh, there is a city election in a few weeks, yes, there are racists here, why do you ask?
Ah well, fitna is the natural order of the Ummah. That’s how it has been since the time of the rightly guided ones — after all, three of the four died violently, while the conspiracy theory has it that the other one was poisoned.
And yet, here we are, about to celebrate yet another Eid where, in the words of Nazrul, we forget the friends and foes and clasp hands together (ভুলে যা তোর দোস্ত দুশমন হাত মিলাও হাতে).