A Finely Chopped Sunday

Today was a Finely Chopped day in the truest sense.

We had friends over whom I had met through the net, some through foodie communities on Orkut and others through this blog. The only one whom we knew in the 'real' world has a Mom who cooks great prawn masala and crab curry. Today he introduced to me a delight called Aamrakhand which is a mango shreekhand where the taste of the mango is fresher and sharper than the usual synthetic ones.

I was up at 7.30 AM, unusual for a Sunday. Decided to begin cooking at 8.30 AM powered by yogurt and muesli. The kosha mangsho was almost done before K woke up. Then Banu arrived to finely chop my veggies and fry the fish while I cooked.

My first attempt at doi maach, rohu in a yogurt sauce, was a disaster as the curd curdled. A call to an old friend, now at Gurgaon, got me her recipe and inspiration and hope to try again. The result was fantastic. More soon on how I cracked the doi maach code.

The next two dishes which I made simultaneously were bheja (goat's brain) masala, a Mumbai Muslim dish, and a mushroom and bell pepper stir fry with herbs for our only vegetarian. I had to keep a special eye on the ladles to see that the organ buster and the pure, no animal killed, dishes didn't mix. Both turned out to be quite popular and the bheja eaters dipped into the mushroom too.

Final round was pulao. Steamed rice, layered with a mix of ghee, milk saffron and garam masala just before serving.

Lunch was ready by about 1220, well before our normal breakfast time on Sunday, and way before our guests arrived.

Chatter, laughter, beer, juices, chips, hungry cries, reheating, stories of courtships, opinions on cities, animated discussions on 'our generation' versus today's, pleasant memories of food, recipes shared, backaches forgotten ... a peaceful easy feeling.

We were showered with gifts ... mishti from Calcutta, mishti doi from Mumbai, Vestal Virgin Aamrakhand, Ferero delights twice over, lovely flowers. The lone vegetarian and non Bengali who didn't chicken out, showed up bravely and got into the spirit of things. The one who braved a bad cold to come. All who gave up their Sunday naps for us. And, best of all, effusive praise from folks who really love their food, know their food and cook great food. Guys you made me a happy man.

The afternoon ended just before dinner when our last guest played some of his own compositions just for K and me. Most of them I am sure will be Bollywood hits very soon. I will remember this evening when these songs play on the F M hit parades.

So five dishes, house managed by the missus, million veggies chopped by Banu, a friend who came to the rescue when things were going wrong, those who broke bread with us, and an old school friend who sent a very, very flattering mail on Facebook from another continent on the blog later in the day.

Yeah. Sundays should be like this.

P S recipes of doi maachh and mushrooms coming up soon