Prasadam

Prasadam

My name is Barnali Dutta, but people call me Kathakoli. I live in Kolkata, WB and work as a proprietor of PRASADAM. I would love to introduce myself as a food ideologist; discovering food antiquities going through the history, geography, chemistry, and folk - literature.

I have been fascinated by the computer along with literature and cooking when I was growing up, enjoying C++, DBase, COBOL, complemented with occasional Shak, Chorchori, Korma Kalia, Tok Jhal Mishti cooking projects. Literature occupied a major portion of the pie owing to my eternal love for books and there was a time when I would devour anything readable, novels, poetries, articles, letters from newspaper cuttings and even the ineligible random pieces that appeared on grocery shopping packets made out of discarded paper that we call "thonga - ঠোঙ্গা" in Bengali. I also worked for a few data management companies during the initial years of my career. It wasn’t until after I’d changed directions and moved on to Bengali literature and had begun to cook seriously then I first heard of food science. My parents were always very sincere about food. I could not identify them as a ritualistic person ever, but they would always evaluate the goodness and natural properties of foods in a scientific way. I can still remember how my father used to buy beet roots in winter and encourage my mother to colour the dishes. I can also remember how my mother used to bring some kanchagolla sweets from Dalhousie Square packed in shaal leaf after office in her lunch box, too much worried about newspaper packets or polythene carry bags inducing traces of printing ink poison and/or harmful chemicals into the consumable.

I would like to share the essence of life and the culture of Bengal with the world and keep my parent's journey of Faith, Hope, and Love towards us alive. With inputs from shreds of memory of the soulful and vibrant colours of Bangladesh (erstwhile undivided Bengal), and a thoughtful study of culture and history in evolution in modern India. Now the big journey has begun with this small step.

I have started this food blog. My twin daughters and son are all crossing their teens with every passing day. They have followed my dreams in every aspect of living, but now in this age of mobility and accessibility their taste buds are demanding of more international intrusions in the local palate. Their opinion regarding 'fast food' seems to be a concoction of ideas ranging from the definition of it as a food which they can prepare without help, thanks to the knowledge that is easily available through electronics media, yet the attractive and aromatic colour and smell along with ready availability of ingredients making for a perfect dish thus negating the challenges of self-cooking and the further worry about the taste. So they are much more confident in the kitchen that way. For the local culinary, they shall sweetly surrender as "Mummy's special" or "Dida's special", though they are intensely in love with those dishes and would pester with a demand for it, sometimes for days at a stretch, displaying an amount of patience that is absent in general and is commendable. This is because these dishes remind them of their childhood, conforming to the fact that food is an expression of the intensely special touch of affection.

I found gaps becoming larger and larger by the day in meanings that I would come across - Bengali - " only mother tongue", Bengali food a "Desi food", Bengali literature "words are not familiar". Thereon I decided to try to collect the classic food recipes that are both easy to prepare and have gained a favourable reputation for their taste over the years. Whenever I tried to convince them to pay notice to the season or know the days one should eat a particular item, that we generally need three full meals a day and to try these in equal proportions with their likings, they felt it is meaningless and "fast food" was what they came up with all the time.

What really worries me is that such detachments may lead to a loss of the natural wises that we have collected as communities for long. Sometime down the line when they will become enough mature, parenting their tiny tots, will they be able to find the information? So, I started to collect all relevant information that I could lay my hands upon and archive them digitally, so that they can make their "Desi food" as well as they can make their "fast" and "easy" solutions and use the power of internet to spread the knowledge. I started browsing through some books on food that have now been almost forgotten. I wandered, I flipped through a few volumes of old literature and among them I found hints for answers to their questions and also to why we should eat mostly what we eat grown within 100 miles of our home (locavore).

It has been great fun to make readable and share what I have gathered and in the process I have been convinced that a large number of people are interested in Bengali food and they would like to enjoy our table as we do theirs. Eventually, I found time to immerse myself in food literature, history, food science, and to cook, and write.

Here is my homepage: www.foodcooking-inspiration.in