A recipe for happiness...Pia's tah dig & Nobo Borsho memories

Pia's tah dig
Pia's Tah dig recipe at the end of this post

“Come home on your way back. I have got a surprise for you”

“But Pia, I am driving. How will I park?”

“There is place outside my flat. It will be worth it. This is something you have been waiting for, for years”.

So I drove up, parked outside and stepped into Pia’s lovely, Kolkata's Dover Lane reminiscent (figuratively), flat in Mumbai's Bandra, with its really cosy yet artistic drawing room. I said hi to her, picked up the bag full of foil wrapped packages which her husband was standing with, and headed home.

“Don’t open them in the car,”  warned Pia who didn’t even let me open the parcels in front of her in the house.

I went home, opened a pack, picked up the phone, called her and squealed, “Pia you have made me tah dig!!!’

“Yes, I saw you lamenting about it on social media sometime back ,” said Pia. “I got the recipe from my Persian godmother, when I went to Abu Dhabi,  so that I could make it for you. She was my late mother's friend. Her name is Laila Ispahani”.

Tah dig is what I knew as ‘takeed’ as a kid. It is the crusty rice in a Persian pulao. My mother used to make it for me when we were in Iran. I had recently written a post about how much I miss it. That's what had set Pia off.

I was thrilled when I saw Pia had made tah dig or takeed for me. Happy childhood memories came rushing back.

Pia is the daughter of the late Meenakshie Dasgupta. Pia's mom had founded Kewpie’s restaurant in Kolkata. Pia is a food industry professional who learnt baking and cooking at a young age under her mother’s watchful eyes.

I met Pia recently at a food exhibition and since then she has joined Tokaidi, my PG aunty, Neeta, Roshan and a host of lovely ladies who have mothered me and fussed over me over the years in Mumbai.

Pia had recently invited me over to her place on the Bengali new year and made sure that I didn’t feel that I was away from home on this special day.

That's Pia in the sari and her husband in the green shirt and son in the blue tee.
Doesn't the drawing room look lovely?

She cooked a lavish meal which included lau shukto, different bhaajas (fries), three (!) types of ilish including a tetul (tamarind) Ilish that I tried for the the first time in my life and just loved. Then there was massive golda chingri (tiger prawn) malai curry, kosha mangsho, rice and bhaapa doi. 

She looked up from this massive, soporific, spread and told me ‘ma would have cooked more’.

The start of the Nobo Borsho feast at Pia;'s

This was easily one of the best Bengali meala I have eaten in Mumbai and I have had quite a few great ones including the previous night when the Amit from Peetuk and Siddharthada Lahiri Babu from Bhojohori Manna had sent us massive spreads to celebrate Bengali new year with our  Bengali friends here and then some lovely pabda machhed jhol that Surjopriya of Bong Bong sent a day later .

With my Bong gang in Mumbai on nobo borsho

The Peetuk feast on Nobo Borsho with shorshe chingri, dak bangla mutton
and a lovely roshogolla payesh among others

The Bhojo Hori feast on Nobo Borsho starring ilish, chingri, kosha mangsho

Post nobo borsho pui chingri, pabda jhol, alu posto from Bong Bong

Thanks for all the fish Pia.

And the Kanafe!

Here's Pia and Laila's recipe for the tah dig. (My mom used to make it in a rice cooker and added meat to it)

Tah Dig with Kishmish (raisins).

2 cups basmati rice, wash and soak for at least an hour
41/3 cup water and use same measure that you used for the rice)
1/4 cup kishmish, picked washed and soaked
1/2 tsp+ a pinch of salt
2 tbs butter.

Use a rice cooker or a heavy pan with a fitting lid. A thick towel that can fit under the lid, cover the circumference of the entire pan and stick out. The lid will fit over this towel while cooking. Caution has to be ensured so that it doesn't catch fire.
Melt the butter in the pan on a low flame. It should not turn to ghee. Drain the rice, rub down with a cloth(don't break the grains)very gently. add to butter and gently stir to coat very grain. Add the kismis and fry. Add salt. stir a couple of times. Add the water. Stir. Pull the towel tight over the pan, fix the lid. No steam should escape. Cook on low for 1.5 hours. Check for doneness. Also the sides should be brown and leaving the sides. Turn over like a cake and serve immediately or serve in the pan. You can use more butter. It tastes much better.