A menu of memories | The Daily Star
12:00 AM, January 09, 2018 / LAST MODIFIED: 10:49 AM, January 10, 2018

A menu of memories

Recipes that are often of sentimental value to us are like tiny threads that weave a cloak of warm comfort around us, especially when we feel the need to connect to our past. The mere smell of certain dishes can take us back in time, and remind us of people, places and of times that we have left behind. Based on this delicate bond between food and emotions, some of our columnists have shared with us recipes that are close to their hearts. It is said that food made with love has a very positive effect on the person eating it. By reading the stories behind these recipes we hope to send that extra sprinkle of love your way. Interestingly enough, each of the recipes in this series has a sentimental value for a different reason, but the one thing that ties them all together is the parental bond.

Deshi Mix

Salina Parvin


Salina Parvin, has shared with us the recipe of traditionally made chitol maach. This recipe brings to fore a spate of emotions for her. Cooking for Salina has a deep connection to her father who was not only a food enthusiast, but also a seasoned cook.

Chitol maach is a tricky fish to clean and debone because of which most people prefer to get that done at the market itself. She recalls requesting her father, who always bought home cut and cleaned chitol from the market, to bring home an uncut chitol so that she could see what it looked like. Unable to deny her request he bought home the fish and took upon himself the time consuming task of cleaning and deboning it.

Another important element of this dish is bori, which she fondly recalls was something she made together with her father at home to suit their North Bengal taste buds, despite it being easily available in the markets.

The first time Salina made this dish she remembers how her father's eyes lit up with pleasure for he loved the taste.


6 pieces chitol fish

10-12 pieces bori (dried lentil dumplings)

10 baby potatoes, cut into half

3 onion slices

1 tsp ginger paste

½ tsp garlic paste

1 tsp turmeric powder

1 tsp red chilli powder

1 tsp cumin-coriander powder

3 tbsp oil

Salt to taste


Cut and wash the fish. Add ¼ tsp turmeric powder and salt, mix well and keep aside. Heat oil in a pan. Fry the potatoes for 4-5 minutes or until the potatoes turn golden brown. Remove potatoes and keep aside. In the same oil fry boris for 3-4 minutes until light brown and keep aside. Fry the fish pieces in the same oil till they are brown in colour. Keep aside. Now add remaining oil to the pan, add sliced onion, sauté until golden brown. Then add ginger-garlic paste, red chilli powder, turmeric powder and salt. Fry the spices until oil comes out to the surface.

Add 2 cups of water and bring to a boil. Add fried potatoes and bori. Cover and cook for 10 minutes. Now add fried fish pieces and cook for another 5 minutes. When it is done remove from heat. Serve with steamed rice.

The Fearless Olive

Reema Islam


Reema Islam shares with us today the recipe of chickpea salad. The main ingredient of this salad is chickpeas or garbanzo beans.

Beans are very close to her heart. They share a history. Having spent the better part of her childhood in Libya, she recalls her mother always stocking up on all kinds of beans. They were a staple in her household and ever since a young age she is habituated to snacking on beans alone.

Whenever hunger pangs hit her at any odd time, her mother used to boil different varieties of beans and serve them to her in delicious concoctions! She says she has never been a big snacker, but to this day whenever she feels grubby, beans are her go to snack.

Reema has given this recipe her famous 'Fearless Olive' twist adding new flavours to the simple chickpea salad her mother used to make.


½ kg chickpeas

2 large, long shaped eggplants

1 cabbage

250g tomatoes, peeled and diced

1 tbsp black sesame, roasted

½ tsp flax seed oil (you may use mustard oil or nigella seed/kalojira oil)

1 tsp cumin powder

¼ cup grated hog plum or amra

1 large star apple or kamranga

1 tbsp brown sugar and pinch of black pepper

¼ cup lemon juice (you can adjust the lemon according to your preference)

½ cup chopped coriander and ¼ cup chopped mint leaves

2 chopped jalapenos

1 tbsp celery leaves

¼ cup chopped green onions

2 tsp garlic paste

¼ cup olive oil

Avocado cream —

1 large avocado

¼ cup yoghurt

1 tbsp lemon juice, salt and pepper


Boil chickpeas with a bit of salt, most of the garlic and celery, till they are boiled but firm. Roast the eggplants on an open fire and deseed. Cut in half vertically so each halve is a long boat shaped eggplant. Scoop out from the middle and make a small cavity. Mix the scooped-out mash with 2-3 drops of flax seed oil, salt and 1 tsp of garlic paste. For the star apple, peel and deseed the fruit then cut in long strips and boil with the sugar and a pinch of salt and pepper for about 5 minutes. Leave this at room temperature for about 1 hour. Cut them up into half inch strips.

For the cabbage, either steam them for about 1 minute or blanch them, in boiling water for about 5-10 seconds till they are just softened but still a bit crunchy. For the avocado cream, scoop out the avocado pulp and blend it with the yoghurt, lemon juice, 3 to 4 drops of olive oil, salt and pepper for about 15 seconds.

For the chickpea salad, mix everything except the cabbage, including the eggplant mash, star

apples and avocado cream. Fill the eggplant shells with half of the mix. For the other half, wrap them in the cabbage leaves.


You may the serve the avocado cream on the side as a dip or simply serve the cabbage rolls hot and the eggplant boats at room temperature.

Photo: Collected




Rukhsara Osman has a bittersweet memory to relate for her dessert item, kheer — one that makes her smile with every spoonful she takes. Her earliest memories are of her mother feeding her lots of kheer as a child in order to increase her milk intake and also of kheer being a regular item on her grandma's dinner table.

Needless to say, Rukhsara was extremely fond of kheer as a child, to the extent that whenever she went to a wedding with her mother and there happened to be kheer for desserts, Rukhsara managed to sneak a few extra helpings back home with her, all the time hiding behind her mother's anchol, in fear of getting caught!

At one such dawat her mum ran into her school principal, and joked with her that school had taught Rukhsara everything except that she should not be sneaking away extra helpings of kheer from dawats. As if telling the principal was not enough, to the utter mortification of Rukhsara her mother then exposed her from behind her anchol.

The adults had a good laugh at this but little Rukhsara was embarrassed enough to swear to herself then and there, never to take any extra helpings of kheer home again.


(serves 2-3)

1 litre milk, full fat

3 tbsp rice, preferably the finer atop chaal

½ tsp ghee

½ tsp green cardamom pod

¾ cup crushed date palm jaggery

Some chopped dry fruits (almonds, dates, cashew nuts and raisins)


Put the milk to boil on a thick bottom pan. Meanwhile wash and drain the rice, heat a frying pan and just sparingly brush the pan with ghee. Add rice and reduce the flame to low, fry for just a minute until the strands separate but the colour of the rice does not change. Do not stir too much rather toss to avoid breaking the rice strands and keep aside.

Once the milk has come to a full boil then reduce the heat and let it simmer for 5 minutes, then add the entire rice and using a long ladle stir it well. Leave the ladle in the pan and stir every 3-4 minutes scrapping down the cream from the sides and base of the vessel. Cook until the kheer thickens then add the cardamom powder and remove from the heat.

Now stir in the crushed jaggery until incorporated. Taste and adjust the sweetener, cover and let it rest for 5-10 minutes.

Serve garnished with cashews and raisins serve warm in winters and chilled during summers.

Photo: Collected

Make it or bake it

Sharmin Rahman


Sharmin Rahman has given us a truly unique soup recipe. Its uniqueness lies in the method in which it is made, and it is this method that fascinated Sharmin as a child.

Whenever her mother made this soup, Sharmin found herself tailing her mum in the kitchen observing this soup being made. Her mother made it a point to feed her this soup whenever she was recovering from a bout of fever. Soon Sharmin made the connection between fever and this particular soup.

She recalls that in those days Tang and Horlicks were sold in glass bottles and her mother always preserved these bottles to use them to make this soup. It is a very basic soup with a simple taste, but as it was made in a bottle, she found herself feigning illness, especially claiming to have fever, even when she had a mild cold, so that she could watch her mother make this soup for her.


1 pullet (local baby chicken)

1 small onion (local)

1 garlic clove

1 small piece ginger

2 black pepper corns

1 cardamom

Pinch of salt


Take an empty glass jar that contained more or less 750 grams of food item previously; wash and clean it dry. Put water in a large pot and bring to boil. Peel onion, garlic, ginger, and put into the jar as whole; throw in the cardamom and the pepper corns; take pinch of salt, no more as it is going to be a very light broth and you can always add table salt later, as per taste, when consuming the soup. 

Cut the chicken into quarters first and then to usual eight, bone in; batter lightly with the stone of your 'sheel-paata' and place inside the jar. Pour 1 cup water and seal the jar as tightly as you can; make sure it is completely air tight.

Lower the heat of the stove, put the bottle carefully into the hot water; put lid on; slow cook for 20-30 minutes, depending on the size of the chicken. You can do the bain-marie in a rice cooker as well.

Open the jar when it has durably cooled down; sprinkle with chilli flakes, lime zest or anything else to jazz it up, otherwise may taste a little bland. It's a great source to replenish nutrition post fever, surgery or any other illness and should be very comforting on winter or a rainy day.

By Samina Hossain

Photo: Collected

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