Friday, May 18, 2012
When I grew up in Kolkata in early '70s, whenever there was an invitation for community meal, some wedding, or some other occasion to celebrate, meals were served on Banana leaves, washed, cleaned and wiped dry(desirably) by the most unskilled member in the cooking team. There were no buffet arrangements per se, and mostly meals were served to hungry invitees, sitting in rows on row tables and folding wooden chairs. Believe you me, it was usually messy, with your dal flowing into your next sabji and sometimes even jumping out of the leaf onto the precious dress used only for big occasions. Never ever did we realise Banana leaves were eco friendly as well as the most hygenic option, if cleaned well. And generations of people migrated to organised catering services, serving food in variety of dinnerware. The waterglasses made of terracotta gave way to re-usable glasses, and as independent citizens, Bengalees slowly started prefering to exercise their choice and therefore enjoying buffets. But who knew, one day I will have to run from pillar to post, from someone;s garden to an orphan patch of land to get 2 leaves to cook Paturi, a Bengali delicacy. Gurgaon lies at the foot of Aravallis, bordering Rajasthan and Haryana. Given the reddish sandy soil finding a green pasture itself is a challenge. But, weather God these days is a little compassionate to rugged and barren Rajasthan and it rained well last year. Today, Gurgaon is lot more green, populated and growingly becoming a concrete jungle. Amidst everything, inspired by some friends in a similar interest group blog, I planned paturi for dinner on one of last weeknights. There is only one shopowner in a residential block sometimes sells banana leaf, that too for Rs 75 a piece. I stumbled big time, and finally decided to attack the orphaned patch of land somewhere in a distant block. Armed with a pen knife, I ventured and took away, two lush green fresh leaves .....believe me I apologised to God, justifying this sacrifice for a brilliant dish my family would relish.