“So that is the final decision then Dad“ Mumu was making sure she understood it right.
“ Yes, but I am not very sure how you will make it, it is a rare and a difficult item item to procure ! “.
The phone rang around 8 in the next morning, and, Mumu sounded very excited “ we made it Dad…. Just now Rijul’s dad phoned up from Kolkata New Market, and informed that he could procure the last piece… at the moment he is in the process of getting ‘khal-posh` of it. It is about 2 killo .. the Country Cock !”
“Make sure that the water to dip the cock is boiling hot, and, after this they should pick up each feather carefully… I mean the khal-posh should be neatly done“ Dad made a cautious suggestion.
Every year there is a brief discussion at the Mukherjee House prior to the Gala Christmas Family Feast. While Dad would come out with all kinds of exotic ideas, Mumu’s mother, who has the great talent of cooking very tasty dishes of a wide variety, would finally have the last word. Each year the main dish will be something real special… and the entire family would cherish the memories of it for the rest of the year. This year the main dish decided upon was “Kali Mirch Murgh” -– country cock cooked with black-pepper corn. Mom took next half hour to explain every bit of cooking the the special item to Mumu, and some of the details were jotted down in a piece of paper so that there was nothing left to chances !
The Mukherjee family is a small close-knit one. Dad, Mom, Brother Mumpai, Mumpai’s wife Smita, their 4 year child Rianna. Mumu stays a few blocks away with his husband Venkat, son Rijul (14 years old) and daughter Ruhani (10 years old). So, in all there would be 9 for the feast.
By the time Venkat reached home it was almost 10.30 a.m. and by now Mumu was ready with the specially made spices. She made the paste in Shil-Nora. Since the advent of Mixer-Grinder this traditional grinder, found in every Bengali home, took a back seat. Shil-Nora is a vintage stone grinder – in Bengal the Shil or the stone plate is made of light thin stone. Nora is the stone hammer – a blunt stone normally black in colour.
Around 12 noon Mumu arrived at the Mukerjee House in a hand-pulled rickshaw (to avoid spillage of the gravy) with the large pot of Kalimich Murgh. (The recipe: country cock meat 1 ½ kg, white oil 150 gm, black-pepper corn ½ cup. Coriander seeds ½ cup, one stick cinnamon, 2 pods of green cardamom, ginger 25 gms, garlic 25 gms, turmeric powder ½ tea-spoon, bay leaves 2, vinegar ½ cup. Light toast ginger and garlic. Dry roast rest of the ingredient – except the bay leaves. Then grind them with vinegar. Heat oil in a cooking pot, light fry the bay-leaves, add the paste and sortie till oil comes out. Add the meat pieces, add salt to taste, cook with a cover, sprinkle a bit hot water if needed. Once the meat turns tender, put the meat in a serving bowl.)
Other dishes were Moong-dal with green peas,Green salads with cucumber-onion- spring onions and tomato, Fried potatoes. Mixed vegetable Fried Rice. Mixed Chutney made with apple-orange-dates was an instant hit! And of course there was Gulab Jamun, wafer-n-chocolates at the end. Rijul, Ruhanii and Rianna took no time to sit on the floor with plate-full of all that they could grab ! Others were on the sofas on a buffet mode. The front room of the Mukherjee House was anyway decorated for the Christmas, and, the food spread literary added colours to the ambience!
It was a perfect Christmas meal…… joy to the world.