My family has the humblest of origins possible, but the two things we never compromised on were education and food. My great grandfather Debendranath Datta famously invited the nilkuthi sahebs ( The British ) for breakfast and tried feeding them home made khasta kochuris and nimkis. Well, we can safely say that, that particular experiment did not work well. But he was so well respected by the British, that they left him land to start a school in the village. He was it’s very first headmaster. Patkebari High School still stands tall to this date.
When my mom got married into the Datta bari fold, she remembers that people in the family owned hardly two sets of clothes, but the home was filled with books and there was always somthing cooking in the kitchen. Macher matha (fish head), eggs, small fish, garden produce, my grandma (mam-mam I used to call her) used to get creative with whatever my grandpa could bring her.
During this time of the year when it is pithe puli time in all bengali households, she used to make the most amazing ranga aloor pantua (the last time I had it, I was 6 or 7 years but I still remember it’s taste) , moong daler bora and Gokul pithe.
Now, the major ingredient for Gokul pithe is khoa kheer (we call it chanchi in Murshidabad. This chanchi is so integral to our household that during marriages, along with the various tottos(gifts) a bowl of chanchi is sent as a gift!) and that was not cheap! But no matter, it was still made every year. It is made by putting the khoa kheer inside a coating, deep frying it and then letting it rest in a bowl of sugar syrup. It is an extremely challenging proposition owing to the fact that the khoa tends to get out when you fry it and the thinner the coating and more the filling more the chances of that happening but better the taste.
And although my mam-mam is no more but the ever present tradition of Gokul pithe has been passed on to my mom as it had been for generations before.
P.S. I am not sure if in this age of instagram and facebook live, a blog post with just one picture is going to be read at all. But then again, I am sure that a few of my readers might see this resonating with memories of their own.