When the sun is out finally after the rains have withdrawn for good.
When the mornings start with a slight nip in the air and then the afternoons turn fiercely hot.
When the smell of festive times is all over in the air.
When you know Ganeshotsav and then Durga puja is just around the corner.
When you remember the smell of sun soaked clothes and mattresses that have spent the day outside , back home, while the house is cleaned inside out in preparation for Durga puja.
When you remember the smell of Thamma's achars / pickles as the numerous jars and bottles are sunned too.
When you can feel the excitement of buying and planning designs with your cousins for new clothes.
When you step out into the kitchen verandah one late afternoon to see Thamma sitting quietly in front of the khirki duar / backdoor , looking out into the pond and drying her long hair in the breeze coming from across the deep, dark waters of the pond.
And your heart suddenly feels heavy with that surge of love for her.
It is that time of the year when I miss Bapi's excited calls asking when was I coming.
It is that time of the year when nostalgia takes over and the weather turns fabulous and the evenings turn maddeningly beautiful with the bright yet soft sun and a heavy 'mon kemon kora' breeze passing by once in a while.
I try to focus on the house that I call my home now instead.
Loads of decluttering and cleaning to do.
Lots of things to be given away.
Now that the sun is back, loads of things need sunning.
I am like a plant .... I can't survive without the sun. Every single thing in my house needs to be sunned.
So lots of things to do now.
And to top it all, there is some travel coming up next week.
So it is all about hurrying right now.
One of the days I cooked Khichuri in bulk for the street children that I often feed ... in memory of Bapi on his death anniversary.
I love going out and handing these hot packages of food to the little hands that come up to my car window. A few do not ... they are so small.
I love to hear their little screams of delight on finding some sweet. Or when I hand out ice creams.
Bapi loved ice cream.
And while I have not been able to eat a single ice cream ever since he left us, I do regularly distribute them to the little children on the streets.
Fills my heart with a some satisfaction and a lot of joy.
On another side, I have been cooking Ilish at home a little too regularly.
Given that I got two good fishes this time, I have had my fill.
And since I had a good growth of the Pui that I had planted some years ago, I decided to use them with one of the Ilish heads to make this chanchra. Or chorchori.
Or whatever you would like to call it.
There are a lot of ways that I cook Ilish head in. But my favourite is the tauk.
And this ... with the Pui shaak / Malabar spinach.
Ilish / Hilsa fish head - marinated with salt and turmeric
Chopped vegetables - I used pumpkin, ridge gourd, potato
Pui shaak / Malabar spinach - leaf and stem chopped
Ginger garlic paste - 1 tsp
Red chilli powder
Panch phoron / Bengali five spice powder
Dry Red chillies
Heat the mustard oil in a kadahi and fry the fish head.
Break into pieces and keep aside.
In the same oil add paanch phoron + red chillies + sliced onions.
Fry and then add ginger garlic paste.
Fry well and add haldi mirchi powder.
Now add the vegetables , salt , cover and cook till the veggies are half done.
Now add the washed and cut pui shaak and the fish head.
Cover and cook ...stirring once in a while.
Sprinkle a little red chilli powder, mix well and keep covered for a while before serving.
I used ginger garlic paste for the first time with Ilish.
And I must say I loved the combination.
With the Rohu head, it is a different taste.
And with the ilish, it is again different.
I did not add the usual pinch of sugar and loved the change in the taste.