The curious case of my grandmom’s kitchen and the missing postor bora (poppy seed fritters)

Postor bora. Crushed poppy seed fritters

Tales from Grandma’s kitchen 
Last evening I phoned my grandmom who’s 90 now and who lives in Kolkata. I was impressed, as always, by how she keeps abreast with the news through just her TV set and the few channels it plays and the radio. 

During our calls, she tells me about what’s happening in the world in terms of cyclones, road accidents and murders, stuff reported in the news, and then I tell her about what I’ve eaten lately.

I told granny about how we had postor bora the night before and how my wife, a Parsi, had it for the first time and loved it. 

Granny then asked me to describe the taste of postor bora (crushed poppy seed fritters). She told me that she had heard of this dish before but, like K, had never had it herself either.

Didu was born in Dhaka and our family hails from East Bengal, while posto (poppy seeds) is more a thing of the cuisine of West Bengal, is my hunch on why she has never had postor bora before even though she’s 90.

This is from 2014 when my granny made me luchis in her kitchen

I then asked Didu, as I call my grandmom and short for didima, what was there for her dinner that evening. She replied with a smile, ‘why, are you sending me something?’

‘Why send? I’ll come to your house myself and cook,’ I replied and she giggled and then said bye, and then like I do every time after our calls, I told myself that I should call her more often even if her hearing has gone weak and even though I live in a low phone signal area and hence what I tell her can be heard by the entire road below.

Then I get caught up with life and things that can wait while I know she waits patiently for my call.

The Bengali food parade from Kolkata’s Aaheli at The Leela, Mumbai

How's this for the bengal jhaaki?

The postor bora that I had was part of a sample of dishes from the Bengali food festival going on at the Jamavar at The Leela Hotel, Mumbai, at present and which the folks at the hotel had most kindly sent home as I could not make it to the hotel.

When I spoke to my mother on Republic Day a few days back, she told me that she had watched the parade in the morning till she realised that there was no jhaaki (float) from Bengal and then got upset and switched off the TV.

So I clicked a picture of the food sent by the hotel for her. A proud parade of some Bengali treats that I tried to capture on my phone after laying it all out this evening. 

Fellow Bengali food mavens would appreciate my arrangement of porotha, kochuri, chop, chholar dal, alu posto, posto bora, machher patishapta, shorshe ilish, machher paturi, pulao, mangsho, chaatni, payesh, rajbhog in an attempt to recreate the order in which the food is meant to be eaten.

The festival is a pop up of sort as the chefs are from Aaheli Restaurant belonging to the Peerless Inn, Kolkata. At times I feel that Aaheli hasn’t got enough credit for its contribution to promoting the regional Indian, Bengali in this case, fine dining food scene. I think it’s really creditable that the folks from Leela’s have given Aaheli, which turned 25 recently, a canvas in Mumbai through this collab.

Do read my blog post about the time when I had actually visited Aaheli:

I kept the mangsho for the day after.
 A good batsman knows how to pace his innings after all