Food


“After a good dinner one can forgive anybody, even one’s own relations.”

Celebration, Food, Friends

It’s a nice afternoon — last of 2014


2 Comments

Jaya and Babai were urging me since yesterday that I must celebrate the beginning of the new year. I earlier planned to welcome the new year in solitude, staying in at my home.

In the morning Subhash informed me that he has arranged for a Masgouf lunch at Iraqi Hunting Club along with his department colleague Nadia. He said that only we four people will be there — three from his department including him plus me.

Today being the year-end, I was busy in my department to ensure that the deals are complete, accruals are properly assessed and booked, and securities are marked to market, etc. Anyway, as I finished, we rushed to the club. Nadia & Russel were already there waiting for us. By the time we reached there, the fish was ready to be served.

We enjoyed the fish along with khubuz and fried rice. We had nice chat over our lunch. The lunch was followed by tea. In Iraq, no meal is complete without tea. Tea is also called here as chai! We were sitting on the side terrace and enjoying the sun.

wpid-20141231_154730.jpg

The sun started it’s last journey towards the western horizon for this year 2014. It started becoming a bit chilly so we had a round of coffee — turkish coffee. After settling the tab, we started walking out through the lawn.

wpid-20141231_163304.jpg

New Year eve without whiskey is incomplete. We went to the alcohol shop inside the club. To our dismay, we  found that they have run out of stock of single malt whiskey. So, we returned with Chivas Regal.

wpid-20141231_163215.jpg

Another activity of New Year eve is wishing and responding to New Year wishes from friends and family. These are a few such occasions in our mundane, busy life when we connect to our near and dear ones. We used to make cards or buy cards, write the messages and send them but now we do it on Facebook & Twitter! I feel that we are losing the personal touch in our relationships.

Thanks to Nadia & Russel for being with us in the afternoon and making the last afternoon of 2014 a different and of course a special one.

I had an amazing 2014. Now let’s see you top that, 2015!

Food, Friends

Masgouf for lunch


3 Comments

Subhash called me in the morning asking me whether I am interested for having masgouf for lunch today, then he would ask his department colleague Nadia to arrange for it at the Iraqi Hunting Club. I immediately consented for it as it’s been a long time that we enjoyed the Iraqi delicacy — Masgouf. It is a traditional Mesopotamian dish, it is an open cut fish grilled and spiced with salt, pepper and tamarind. While keeping the skin on, it is then brushed with olive oil. It is de facto considered the national dish of Iraq. Baghdad prides itself of making the best of the Masgouf.

Nadia placed orders for masgouf beforehand so that the fish would be ready by the time we go for our lunch. Cooking of Masgouf takes long time sometimes up to 3 hours depending upon the size of the fish. Generally when ordered, the carp fish is taken out of the water tank and killed by a quick blow onto the forehead with a small rod. It is then partially scaled, slit up the back, cleaned the guts out and flattened the bodies. After sprinkling sea salt onto the fish, it is carried over to a fire pit and propped on their sides against iron stakes plunged into the ash to roast against the flames. By roasting the fish vertically with the open side facing the fire, the oil seeps into the ashes, leaving salted, seasoned fish meat. The fish is cooked until most of the fish’s fat is burnt out, as the carps are typically fatty.

We went for our lunch after 3.00 p.m. We were joined by our a few other colleagues. The fish were yet to be well-cooked and crispy on the outsides. We waited for around half an hour. The fish were served on a big tray garnished with lime, slices of onion and pickles and served to us on the table after covering them by large khubz — flatbread to keep the fish hot.

Masgouf was quite tasty. I think that it gets the extra taste from the smoke that goes into the flesh of the fresh fish while cooking it.

Thanks Nadia for arranging Masgouf lunch for us.

Food

Zerde — a Turkish dessert


No Comments

Today, Ibrahim brought zerde to our office. Zerde is a Turkish dessert, a sort of sweet pudding from rice that is colored yellow with saffron. It is a festive dish popular at wedding, birth celebrations and during the sacred month of Muharram. Zerde differs from rice pudding insofar as it is prepared with water instead of milk.

Had zerde in morning. Thanks @ibrahimaku. It was nice and sweet.

A photo posted by Indrajit Roy Choudhury (@iroychoudhury) on

There’s a rice pudding with a similar name – zarda in South Asia, which is made by boiling rice with orange/yellow food coloring, milk and sugar, and flavoured with cardamoms, raisins, saffron, pistachios or almonds. The name Zarda comes from Persian and Urdu word — ‘zard’ meaning ‘yellow’, hence named since the food coloring added to the rice gives it a yellow color. Zarda is typically served after a meal. In India and Pakistan also, zarda is often served in weddings as dessert.

Thanks Ibrahim, it was nice and sweet.

Family, Festival, Food, Religion

Annakoot — Mountain of Food


No Comments

Annakoot — Mountain of food — is celebrated in observance of the episode in Sri Krishna’s childhood, in which He gave protection to the cowherd clan of Vrindavan from the wrath of Indra and humbled Indra in that process. The cowherd, their wives, children and cattle jubilantly surrounded Sri Krishna. They were awed by His superhuman accomplishment and celebrated Sri Krishna’s feat with a sumptuous feast. Thus began the tradition of Annakoot.

Gaudiya Math (pronounced as Mutt) in Allahabad also celebrates Annakoot. Baba — Jaya’s father — planned to visit the temple at the Gaudiya Math with all the family members for the worship on the day of Govardhan Puja. It’s the next day after Diwali. This year, it’s celebrated on October 24. Baba is a regular visitor at this ashram.

The Annakoot or the Govardhan Puja celebrations take place on the first day of the month of Kartik which is the first month of the Hindu new year — Vikrami Samvat. The Monsoon season has come to an end and new harvest has been brought in from the fields and grains and cereals are plentiful. To thank the Lord for the good year that has just ended, plenty of delicious foods are prepared and offered to the Supreme Lord.

According to legends, Lord Krishna taught people to worship the Supreme Controller of nature, God, specifically Govardhan, as Govardhan is a manifestation of Krishna, and to stop worshiping the God of Rains, Lord Indra. For Annakoot, a mountain of food is decorated symbolizing Govardhan mountain said to be lifted by Lord Krishna to save the people from the wrath of Lord Indra, the demigod in charge of rain.

Annakoot
Annakoot

The devotees gathered in the temple, listened to religious discourse given by the swamiji maharaj and sang kirtans. A communal worship in the form of an Aarti was performed.

20141024_133402

We all sat on the floor of the temple hall with other devotees in rows and enjoyed the Annakoot prasad, and bhog offered to Lord Krishna. We prayed to Lord Krishna and returned home. Baba was very happy that we all family members went to the temple and had the prasad and bhog.

Annakoot at Gaudiya Math

A photo posted by Jagrata Roy Choudhury (@jagrataroychoudhury) on

Family, Food, Leisure

Dining at Alfresco, Kolkata


2 Comments

On 16 October 2014, I came to Kolkata with my parents for my mom’s health check up at Quadra Medical Services, Hazra Road.

My dad booked at Great Eastern Hotel in Dalhousie for our stay tonight. It’s the oldest five-star hotels in all over Asia and its establishment dates back to 1840s during the East India Company rule in Kolkata. The hotel has been in top charts since then. The location of the hotel is very good as it’s in the heart of the main business district of Kolkata. All the big and reputed companies have their establishment around.

The hotel is quite huge with three separate restaurants. One of them is on the lobby named Alfresco, which is a multi-cuisine restaurant accompanied with a café. The hotel is now managed by Lalit group.

We walked in there for our dinner. Well it is a very beautiful restaurant. As the name literally suggests ‘outdoor’, all the arrangements are like sitting in the outdoor porch or a tent with circular glass cane table and cane chairs complemented with sweet chirping of birds making you feel sitting at a garden in the open. The ambiance made us feel good. My mom was tired of the journey started feeling refreshed there.

We had a hard time discussing the menu since there were a lot new dishes on the menu card. Finally we settled for ‘mushroom cappuccino’ soup for my dad and me and my mom had ordered for hot and sour soup as she doesn’t like mushrooms. As the name mushroom cappuccino soup it was served in a cappuccino cup, yah truly in a cappuccino cup with cookie shaped baked breads! The innovative cappuccino was a rich, earthy soup made with mushrooms and served exactly like cappuccino. The froth and color was very much similar to the cappuccino that we generally have at the café. The presentation was awesome. The innovation was really appreciable.

Having dinner at Alfresco

A photo posted by Indrajit Roy Choudhury (@iroychoudhury) on

Along with that they served some breads and green salad. Also we ordered for chicken Caesar salad which was equally delicious.

But for us, the star dish for the dinner was the traditional Bengali dish: ‘posto murgi’, which we ordered in the main course. The concept of posto (poppy seeds) murgi (chicken) is truly awesome. The idea of posto with some non-vegetarian item is really novel and a peculiarity of Bengali cuisine.

Posto murgi — chicken cooked in poppy seed curry

A photo posted by Indrajit Roy Choudhury (@iroychoudhury) on

The taste of the “posto murgi” — chicken in poppy-seed paste — was even more delicious than I had expected. Along with that we had preserved breast chicken which was chef’s special. It was a chicken steak along with steamed omelets. We had fresh lime soda (sweetened) before leaving the restaurant. The food was so great that I would say that this place should be visited once again for enjoying the foods here.

I’m loving it!!!

Family, Food, Heritage, Leisure, Travel

India Gate at night


1 Comment

India Gate is the pride of Delhi. An imposing structure, the gate was built in memory to the of the 90,000 Indian soldiers who laid down their lives during World War I.

The India Gate is a war memorial located astride the Rajpath. 13,300 servicemen names, including some soldiers and officers from the UK, are inscribed on the gate.

The India Gate, even though a war memorial, evokes the architectural style of the triumphal arch.

India Gate at night

A photo posted by Indrajit Roy Choudhury (@iroychoudhury) on

In 1971, following the Bangladesh Liberation war, a small simple structure, consisting of a black marble plinth, with reversed rifle, capped by war helmet, bounded by four eternal flames, was built beneath the soaring Memorial Archway. This structure, called Amar Jawan Jyoti, or the Flame of the Immortal Soldier, since 1971 has served as India’s Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.

During the night, India gate is dazzled by floodlit and the fountains nearby are lit up with colored lights. People throng the lawns around the India Gate in the night.

We went there yesterday to enjoy the splendor of India Gate.

There are many vendors selling tea, ice creams, chanachur, toys etc.

We had tea there.

Untitled

We spent sometime there and returned after having dinner at Pindi Restaurant in Pandara Road, New Delhi. We had lovely chicken dishes and then returned to our hotel.

Dinner with @judhajitr and @jagrataroychoudhury at Pindi in Pandara Road, New Delhi

A photo posted by Indrajit Roy Choudhury (@iroychoudhury) on

Food, Friends

Lunch with colleagues


1 Comment

My colleagues told me in the morning that they are planning for a lunch for the Investment Department and Back Office department. They requested me to join them too. Some of them decided to join with their spouse.

The lunch was planned at Bestoon Samad Restaurant nearby. I agreed to join them. It would be a nice way to meet my colleagues outside the boundaries of the formal atmosphere.

The table was booked by Zaid. Ibrahim volunteered to take us and drop us in his car. I got OK for our visit from security too.

After 3:00 p.m. we went to the restaurant. Although the restaurant is some 15 minute walk from our residence, but the car took a circuitous route due to some traffic restrictions in the neighbourhood. We were around 14 people gathered for the lunch. Zaid, Mustafa and Rana were accompanied by their spouses. Zaid came with his son too. He’s a lovely boy and very cool also. He has no inhibitions. He even came to my lap for quite some time.

Rana’s husband was sitting beside me. We met each other for the first time. Dia — Rana’s husband — is a nice guy. He’s presently doing his doctorate on complexities in architecture.

Our lunch started with soup and salads accompanied by huge Iraqi qubooz. The main course followed after we finished our soup and almost through our salads. I opted for chicken barbecue. We finished our lunch with tea.

After our great get together over lunch, we left for our homes. Ibrahim dropped us at the gate. Thanks guys for making my afternoon with nice company and good food.

Food, Friends, Leisure

Dinner with Indian Ambassador


2 Comments

Yesterday, while talking over phone Mr. Dharam Veer Singh, HOC, Indian Embassy invited us for dinner. Mr. Singh is a nice, friendly person and I agreed immediately. He again called me in the afternoon to confirm our presence in the evening at the residence. It’s so nice of him. He also informed me that he’s now getting posted at Atlanta in Georgia (USA).

We reached the residence of the ambassador at 7:00 p.m. We had nice chat with Ambassador Ajay Kumar, Mr. Singh and Mr. Ashok Rawat, Consular over scotch whiskey followed a heavy dinner.

There was kaju barfi in dessert! They said that they got the barfi just today. It was fresh indeed. Kaju Barfi is an Indian subcontinent dessert. Kaju literally means Cashew nuts and Barfi is a type of Indian sweet.

We didn’t realize that it was almost 11:00 p.m. We wished them Good night and walked back to our residence.

We hope to see Mr. Singh again before he leaves for Atlanta. I wish him all the best in his new assignment.

Celebration, Food

Independence Day 2014 in Baghdad


2 Comments

Today is India’s 68th Independence Day and I am in Baghdad.

There was an invitation from the Indian Embassy, Baghdad for the flag-hoisting ceremony in the morning. We reached the embassy at 8:00 a.m. Soon the Indian flag was hoisted and the national anthem was sung. It was followed by customary reading of the President’s address on the eve of the Independence Day by Ambassador Ajay Kumar. A local Iraqi boy also gave a small, good speech. He gave a speech last year too.

There were some 30 Indian nationals also, who are returning to India tomorrow through Indian embassy. They are staying now at the premises of the embassy.

The embassy served us traditional Iraqi breakfast items — samoon and falafel.

A samoon is a rhombus shaped bread baked in brick oven. It is made with flour, yeast, water and salt. Quite conducive to stuffing as the interior is a bit more airy.

A falafel is a deep-fried ball or patty made from ground chickpeas and sometimes with broad beans also. Falafel is a common dish eaten throughout the Middle East.

Ambassador Ajay Kumar has joined the embassy a couple of months ago and this is our first meeting. We had a long chat with him after other guests departed. We walked back to our home at 11:00 a.m.

Happy Independence Day! Vande Mataram! Jai Hind!

Food, Friends

Kahi and Geymar


No Comments

One of our colleagues,  brought traditional Iraqi breakfast — Kahi and Geymar — to our department today in the morning. Kahi and geymar combo is a popular, traditional breakfast in Iraq.

Having Kahi and geymar

A photo posted by Indrajit Roy Choudhury (@iroychoudhury) on

Kahi is a breakfast dish of Jewish Babylonian descent. It is made of very thin folded layers of filo-style dough, brushed liberally with butter/oil, and then folded and baked. Kahi is eaten drenched in a light date syrup with a generous portion of geymar.

Geymar is another rich Iraqi breakfast food.  It’s thick, white cream traditionally made by skimming the fats off water buffalo milk.  A familiar counterpart will be the better-known clotted cream.

Thanks Ali for bringing this nice, traditional breakfast today.