My Birthday 2015

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It has been 6 weeks now that I underwent twin surgeries. I can’t thank you all enough for your prayers. It’s comforting to have so many friends praying for me. Today’s my birthday. Since last midnight, I am getting birthday wishes from my family, friends and relatives. It’s truly comforting to get so many good wishes, I feel loved. Among […]

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Masgouf For Lunch Today

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. […]

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Keema & Rice in Office

Our colleague Ibrahim today brought keema and rice from his home for us. Keema is a traditional South Asian meat dish. Originally this word meant minced meat. It is typically minced mutton curry with peas or potatoes although it can be made from almost any meat, can be cooked by stewing or frying, and can be formed into kababs. Keema is also sometimes used as a filling for samosas or naan. In Iraq, cooking keema during the month of Muharram is an Ashura ritual and often lasts until Arbaeen, 40 days after the day of the death of Imam Hussein, or the Day of Ashura. It’s believed here that people will be blessed if they serve food to food to pilgrims and neighbours during Ashura in honor of Imam Hussein, a grandson of the prophet Muhammad. Imam Hussein along within his relatives and his followers were massacred on the plains of Karbala in 680 CE. They had no food or water during their battle with the forces of Caliph Yazid. The food is meant as a blessing for the soul of Imam Hussein. Shiites ask forgiveness for Imam Hussein’s death and to atone for their own sins. Iraqis make keema from chickpeas, meat, tomato paste, spices, salt and dry lemons – known locally as Basra lemons  in large pans and distribute the food to friends and anyone passing by. Keema was quite tasty and nice. Thanks Ibrahim! 

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Lunch with Colleagues

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 […]

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Dinner with Indian Ambassador

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.

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Kahi and Geymar

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 I.RoyChoudhury (@iroychoudhury) on Aug 7, 2014 at 1:17am PDT 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.

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Dolma In Office Today

Today, our colleague Ms. Khalida brought dolmas for the Back Office. It was so nice of her to cook and bring the dolmas to the office in good quantity for all of us. The dolmas were very nicely cooked and tasted very good. Dolma is originally a Turkish food that has many varieties generally stuffed with ground meat. Dolma word has derived from “dolmak”, which is a Turkish word that means “to be filled, be full”. The use of grape leaves to wrap food is believed to date back to the days of Alexander, the Great. In Bangladesh and Indian state of West Bengal, pointed gourd (potol) is used for stuffing fish, meat, or vegetables and goes by the name of dolma or the local variant – dorma. A mixture of poppy seeds, grated coconut, raisins and/or shrimp is commonly used for stuffing. During the times of the Nawabs of Bengal, this dish came to the region with its Turkish name, with the only noticeable change being the vegetable used for stuffing. Thanks to Ms. Khalida for cooking and bringing dolmas for us.

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Dinner at Akhtar’s House

Yesterday, Akhtar called me on phone. He arrived Baghdad last Sunday. He invited me for dinner at his home. He also invited Mr. DV Singh, HOC, Indian Embassy, Baghdad. I went to his home around 7.30 p.m. walking as he stays very nearby. He stays just opposite to our old house. Mr. Singh also reached his house as I reached there along with Himangshu Pant, PA to Ambassador and Tarun Tyagi. Akhtar served us drinks. The embassy people preferred coke while Akhtar and I had whisky. It was followed by huge dinner arranged by Akhtar. He served fish fry, aloo dum, paneer curry and chicken curry along with rice and qubooz. After that he served us fruit ice cream. It was a nice, heavy dinner. All the items were well cooked. Mr Singh informed us that the new Ambassador is expected to join by the end of this month. He is coming from Indian embassy in Tehran, Iran. They left after 10:00 p.m. I also then walked back to my house. I enjoyed the evening and the dinner. Thanks, Akhtar.

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An Evening at Savannah Bar

I am traveling back to Baghdad early in the morning after spending more than a month in India with my family. My flight from Delhi airport is at 4:20 a.m. to Baghdad via Abu Dhabi by Etihad Airways. I reached Delhi today from Ranchi at around 6:00 p.m. by Air India flight. My old school friend Aranjit messaged me to meet and so we contacted each other on reaching Delhi after checking in at Hotel Radission Blu Plaza. It’s just across the airport and very close by. It’s convenient to catch flight from this hotel as I could save the traveling time to airport from hotel. I invited Aranjit to my hotel. He came to the hotel. We then went to Savannah Bar to have some drinks and chat. Savannah Bar is a nice bar with good quality stuff. We decided in favor of Ballantine’s scotch whisky with some chicken tikkas and crispy fish chillies. Aranjit preferred his whisky with soda while I preferred it on the rocks. We had a cool three round of whisky and nice chats about our lives and politics. It was an excellent evening spent with an old school time friend. It was damn relaxing talking to him. He left for his home after 10:30 p.m. Thanks to my friend Aranjit I had a wonderful evening.

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