Wednesday, May 09, 2012

The Good, the Bad and the Bengali English; Now Translate Potol

A couple of days ago, when we were singing paeans about Tagore, updating our status messages on Facebook about the literary achievements of the genius called Rabindranath, somewhere in a dark corner of another world, some Bengali was heard saying (to his host) - the phood was yammy! (Literally translated as – I do not know the difference between the sounds “u:” and “ɑ:”. Why? Because my mammy did not make me laarrn.)

There is something endearing about us Bongs and our pronunciation of English words. I admit, we are no Jhumpa Lahiris out there to impress the English-speaking world, hence we have all the right to roll our eyes and say - Bhee the peepull, with as much pride as our Big Sista in Calcutta does.

It does not take long for a non-Bengali to discover that we Bongs mix up our “w” and “v”. In vain is most certainly In wain, and a woman is always a voman. Try saying that ALOUD. But to do that, you will need the soul and the soft, mellifluous voice of a Bengali. That would mean you will have to take a huge riks (read risk; pronounce riks!). While we are on the topic of enunciation, its not entirely unusual for the phish-eating Bengali to mix the “f” and “ph” sounds. The accent gets thicker when he is drinking.

I have never known a Bengali who writes grammatically incorrect English. In my circle of Grammar Nazi friends, we poke fun at each other for our community’s inability to pronounce certain words. That’s how perfect we are. At least in our heads. And I am not even venturing on to talking about the bushy-faced Bengali still hanging on to his embroidered jean pant and bush shaart.

Perhaps another day.

But my favourite mention will be from the recent movie Bhooter Bhobishyot, where the front desk lady at the real estate developer’s office is heard saying (to someone) on the phone, Hard diks crash hoye gæche. Kichchu shave hochche na.

I squealed with glee. Little things make me happy.

008That is exactly the reason I turned these mundane-looking potols into a dish fit for royalty. The Shorshe-Narkel-Potol. That’s Parwal in Mustard and Coconut for you.



Ingredients for Shorshe-Narkel-Potol are:

10-12 potol/parwal washed
1 heaped tablespoon yellow mustard seeds
1 teaspoon black mustard seeds
1 tablespoon poppy seeds/khus-khus/posto
Half cup grated coconut (I use the freshly frozen kind)
5-6 green chillies
2-3 bay leaves
4-5 tablespoons mustard oil

Begin by randomly (but gently) running a blunt knife on the potol. Just to scrape off lengthwise bit off the skin from places. DO NOT peel the skin off. Cut both sides of the ends. You can keep the potol whole for the recipe or cut them in halves if they are larger.



Grind together the mustard seeds, poppy and green chillies. Start by dry grinding the seeds first, once a coarse powder, add the green chillies and a little water to do a coarse wet paste.


For the coconut, do a coarse wet grind and keep.


Heat mustard oil in a thick pan and add the bay and potols. Sauté on high for 4-5 minutes. You can cover and cook till the potols get lightly coloured at the edges.


Add the mustard-poppy-green chilli paste to the potol and mix well till the vegetables get coated with the paste. Reduce the heat and cover again.

After about 4-5 minutes, add the coconut paste. Give it a good mix, cover and cook for about five more minutes.


The moisture from the wet ground ingredients will help soften the potols. Make sure you keep scraping the spices from the bottom of the pan, else they may burn.

Once the potol has cooked, add the sugar and salt. Cook uncovered till the extra moisture evaporates and the spices and the coconut cling on to the potol.

056Do one last taste test and season with more salt and sugar if necessary. You can throw in a couple of broken green chillies to add some more heat or leave the dish as it is. I did not add any turmeric to my dish. Just because I wanted the natural colors of all the ingredients to show. You can, if you want to.

An accent-deaf Bengali would eat this Shorshe-Narkel-Potol with mushurir dal and rice. And maybe a rui maach bhaja on the side.


Sarmistha said...

darun ranna aar darun post write up:)I watched that movie...omg its the best I watched after along time.Jemni darun satire thik matching dialogue delivery...'shave' phul er opor kobita everything was put at the rightway :)

Harshika said...

Dang! We cant get poppy seeds here in the camel land, it is a banned substance. But anyhow, will ask around quietly and see if one the ladies in the building has managed to smuggle some in to the country. All very clandestine i tell ya! Bong accents amuse me-always, as do other accents say like my mallu in laws...he he he...

Hamaree Rasoi said...

Bhishon bhalo post aar potoler sorshe diye torkari. It takes courage to have a laugh at oneself and I just loved reading your post with a smile on my face.


Seema said...

Hey Pree,

Loved the write-up and the dish as usual. Bong accent always amused me ever since I married a Bengali. Me being a Konkani from Karnataka would cringe each time my name was pronounced during my 3.5 years of stint in Kol. During my pregnancy, I was in search of names that would be pronounced by Bengalis as they are in English. Anything beginning with A and S were chucked out straight away, A being hubby's initial and S mine :-D

Now my cross breed daughter has got the Bong accent running in her, and I can't stop laughing when she keeps uttering words like, I want to sh*t down, I shed it shimpaaly!

Like Deepasri said, I love the way you wittily criticize your own community and it is so endearing. I feel good to read your posts and proud to be a half Bong now :-D

The knife said...

the other day i passed by the veggie shop but then didnt stop as i didn;t know what to do with them they say 'dekhle hobe, khorcha aachhe'

Home Cooked Oriya Food said...

funny post! loved it...
and new recipe on potol too.... I loved it...

sulagna ™ said...

maaney tui aamar Guru hoye chol li...phataphati write up ..there is somethign about your writing that always always makes me stop multi-tasking and pay complete attention to what you write..acha nowkajer kotha..
i will be making this and the royal shahi tukda for mothers day...a fitting treat for my mom-in-law ! will related to you kerom holo, and thanks again Pree for posting the recipe

PS: shoshur moshai made aalu kuror chechki and said "tomar oyi Banagli bandhobir blog thike dekhe banalaam "