Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Bangladesh - weddings

This was the week that Julia and I went to Chicago for my cousin Christy’s wedding. We left Thursday. I had three days to cram in a week’s worth of work. Of course this was the week Kevin was out of town on business. And, of course, I had a dinner to go to on Wednesday night. And, of course, I just had to cook a world cuisine before we headed off for Chicago.

On Wednesday afternoon I made the Bangladesh meal. In retrospect I should have made a traditional Bengali wedding dish. I’m sorry I didn’t. But when I was looking at recipes I wanted something vegetarian. Ever since we’ve started this project we’ve eaten so much meat, and we’re not big meat eaters. While the kids were in school I made Masoor Daal and Fulkopir Baati Jhaal while watching The View.

Masoor Daal is mashed lentil with fried onions, cumin seeds, turmeric powder and green chili. The Fulkopir Baati Jhaal is a potato and cauliflower dish mixed with ground mustard paste, tomato, green chili and turmeric powder. Both dishes were tasty and made a healthy lunch. I love lentils and I cook them often, but I never thought to mash them. A flat bread is the perfect accompaniment. You can use the bread to scoop up the masoor daal. After I was done eating I wrapped up the two dishes and put them in the refrigerator for the kids. They would eat the Bengali dishes for supper.

When I left for the evening to go out to dinner, I put John in charge. “The Bangladesh meal is in the frig,” I told him. “Heat it up and remember to take pictures!”

At a Thai restaurant a couple of women and I surprised our pregnant friend with a card and gift. She’s ready to pop and we gladly shared with her our own labor stories. We shamelessly went into morbid details about our cervixes and episiotomies. After our birthing horror stories we smiled and reassured our soon-to-be mother friend that she was going to do just great.

Early the next morning, Julia and I were off to Chicago to celebrate yet another life-changing milestone. (Kevin arrived back home late the night before and he and John stayed behind since John had a football game on Sunday).

Julia and I had a fabulous time at the wedding despite the fact that I’m not one for formal ceremonies and traditions. But I do admit that it is interesting to study the wedding ceremonies of different cultures.

In Bangladesh, a Muslim country located in Southern Asia between Burma and India, the weddings are colorful celebrations. They include many rituals and ceremonies that can span for several days such as turmeric ceremonies or gaye holud. It means “yellowing the body." Turmeric paste is rubbed on the skin of the bride and groom. At the wedding the guests wear colorful clothes and the bride wears red with heavy gold ornaments. The reception party is the next day and arranged by the groom’s family.

No matter the culture, weddings are about celebrating with family and food. Christy’s wedding was no exception. It was fun dancing and drinking with the people I have known all my life. I told everyone about my blog and how I had cooked a Bangladesh meal. I mentioned that in Dhaka, Bangladesh a poultry farmer won a 14 inch T.V for killing 83,450 rats and collected their tails for proof. I now know all kinds of weird world information, which makes great conversation starters.

I watched Julia play with little Joey, my cousin Joe’s son. It was striking how Joey looked like Joe when he was a boy. Julia could have been my double when I was a little girl. The two children laughed and danced together, bouncing and twirling, their age difference about the same as Joe and I - he being a few years younger. Everyone exclaimed how adorable they looked. It made me smile. The only thing missing was our grandmother who died just last April. It would have brought tears to her eyes to have seen them. I could almost hear grandma say, “I can remember how you and Joe used to play. You two were so cute together.”

When the party was over we all said good-bye with hugs and kisses. Joe and I acknowledged that our children were the younger version of us and we marveled at how quickly time passes. “I’ve missed you,” I said to him and we promised we’d see each other soon.

Fulkopir Baati Jhaal

1 cup potato, diced
1 cup cauliflower flowerets
2 tsp freshly ground mustard paste
1 med. tomato, quartered
1 green chili
1/2 tsp turmeric powder
salt to taste

Mix all the ingredients in a small saucepan, and add a cup of water. Cook covered, on low heat until vegetables are done. Serve at room temperature.

Masoor Daal

1 cup of masoor daal (red spilt lentils)
1 med. onion
1/2 tsp cumin seeds
1/2 tsp turmeric powder
salt to taste
1 green chili

Wash and boil lentils in 2 1/2 cup of water. Mash the lentils. Heat 3 TBSP of oil. Rast cumin seeds until red. Add the sliced onions and fry until golden brown. Pour the mashed lentils into a wok and add turmeric powder, salt and green chili. Let the lentil mixture simmer for at least 10-15 minutes.

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