Rabindranath’s favourite dishes for a special ‘Pochishe Boishakh’ feast
This is news to rejoice for food lovers: ‘Pochishe Boishakh’ (Baisakh 25, or May 9) onwards – which is Rabindranath Tagore’s birth anniversary – for three days, West Bengal Fisheries Development Corporation, under the State Fisheries Department, has laid out a veritable feast for all and sundry.
On these three days, Rabindranath Tagore’s favourite foods would be available for savouring at Nalban Food Park in Kolkata, and considering the food connoisseur that he was, it’s going to be something to remember.
The festival has been named ‘Janmadiner Khaowadawa’ (Birthday Feast). The price of each dish ranges from Rs 60 to Rs 100. The plates and bowls to be served in would also be similar to those used during Tagore’s time, but they would be of clay.
Most of the delicacies have been selected from the book, Amish O Niramish Randhan (Non-vegetarian and Vegetarian Food) by Prajnasundari Devi, a niece of Rabindranath Tagore, published in 1900. Other sources for the foods include old recipes from Thakurbari.
Tagore had a particular habit which has made Thakurbari cuisine what it is: wherever he went for a feast, he would carry back the menu with him; then he would instruct his home chefs to rustle up the same dishes, with additions of his own, thus creating new dishes.
Since fish was a particular favourite of Rabindranath Tagore, the cuisine at Thakurbari had a larger proportion of fish dishes, and hence, so would the feast at Nalban. Different types of kebabs were another of his favourites. The Nobel laureate was also fond of cuisines from Spain, England and Turkey.
Some of the food items are as follows: jackfruit fish (catla fish with jackfruit), spicy boal fish, pulao sprinkled with fish cubes, soured mourola fish and pnuti fish, shoal fish with unripe mango, potoler dolma (stuffed potol) with ardh or boal fish, fried chapila fish, prawns in poppy seed-and-onion paste, prawns in methi leaves and home-made curd.