A tribute to Siddika Kabir | The Daily Star
12:00 AM, January 30, 2018 / LAST MODIFIED: 01:10 PM, January 30, 2018


A tribute to Siddika Kabir

“Ranna Khaddo Pushti was my only hope when I first started living alone in Germany. See, back then, you could not just Skype your mother for instructions or use YouTube. The Internet was hardly available and even phone calls were expensive. I remember going to Nilkhet and asking for a good cookbook and was instantly handed this by the shopkeeper. It was a lifesaver, honestly! The detailed descriptions in the book are what taught me how to cook,” said Arifur Rahman, who did his PhD from Germany back in 2002.

Arif is just one of the many people whose culinary journey started with what is considered the encyclopaedia of culinary arts for Bengalis. Whether you were a bachelor living alone for the first time or a housewife perfecting the art of cooking, Ranna Khaddo Pushti was the only resource that could guarantee tasty nutritious food ever since it was published in 1978.

With detailed instructions for every possible dish one could think of, the cookbook consists of absolute basics, from boiled eggs to complex delicacies like cheesecake. You could learn to cook about fifty different kinds of soups and countless chicken dishes including chaaps, kebabs, grills and steaks!

For those of you with a sweet tooth, there are recipes for cakes, doughnuts, puddings and even traditional mishtis. In fact, the book also has you covered for sides such as sauces, chutneys, and salad dressings.

Perhaps, the most wondrous thing about Ranna Khaddo Pushti is its emphasis on nutrition and age-appropriate balanced diet. With extensive instructions on how to prepare the kitchen workspace and detailed descriptions of the kitchen utensils, the book is ideal for both amateurs and advance learners.

The mastermind behind this ultimate guide is none other than the beloved Siddika Kabir, whose passion for cooking has turned her into an immortal household name.

Having obtained her second masters on Food and Nutrition Science from Oklahoma State University in 1963, the mathematician turned nutritionist had set out on a mission to preach the need for a balanced diet, and eradicate malnourishment of mothers and children in the country. Every single of her recipes was meticulously perfected to be delicious, presentable and have good nutritional value. In fact, she would always measure the calories of her dishes to ensure that her readers knew exactly what they were having.

Watching cooking enthusiasts glued to the television with a pen and a paper while Siddika Kabir guided someone or presented some mouth-watering recipes was just a sight too common in Bengali households. She had set out to change the perception of food for Bangladeshis and Kabir has indeed revolutionised the cooking industry, winning the hearts of people from all walks of life.

“I was a keen viwer of her show on NTV. Although I already knew how to cook, it was she who got me to be passionate about cooking,” says Sahara, a housewife. “Her steps were so easy to follow, I soon found myself trying them out in my free time. From classic morog musallam to the more unconventional pineapple chicken, she has taught me that experimenting with food was the only way to grow as a cook.”

Siddika Kabir's knowledge and skills had led her to work as a consultant for many national and foreign consumer food giants such as Radhuni, Dano, and Nestle. Her involvement in ensuring that the next generation followed and understood the importance of a healthy lifestyle was clearly evident in her active role in the nutrition department of College of Home Economics in Azimpur, from where she retired as the principal in 1993. The awards for her contributions are countless, including the Sheltech Award in 2009.

With her sixth death anniversary on 31 January, Star Lifestyle salutes this revolutionary cook for being an inspiration to plenty of cooking enthusiasts both home and abroad.


Photo: Collected

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