Bori, manna from heaven

In December, a Bengali’s thought can turn to cake…lentil cakes or boris

My mother finishes off her FB chat by typing/saying she is off to make ‘bori‘s. There are few other foods that I miss as much as eating those little nuggets of ground lentil goodness, made initially by my grandmother and then later by Ma. It does not matter where you buy them from, whether a little old woman in Lake Gardens or the mudikhana or grocers opposite the plant sellers inside Gariahat market, the one nearest to the place selling padlocks and lighters; nothing comes close to the taste of a ‘bori‘ dried in the sun unhurriedly. That ‘bori‘ is only available to those who have people at home making them! Whether they are the tiny red ones that are made from red masoor dal and meant for frying or the larger ones made from white urad dal with a pinch of asafoetida or hing powder, a home made ‘bori‘ is a thing of beauty and a crunchy taste sensation in the mouth.

My grandmother used to make them in various sizes and combinations, including ones with ‘chalkumro‘ or ash gourd and ‘mithkumro‘ or orange pumpkin. The dal needs to be soaked overnight. The grinding is done in the ubiquitous mixie or grinder. The water content cannot be so much that the ‘bori‘collapses into a soggy pancake. It is made by picking up the mix in the hollow of the palm of one hand and using the thumb to separate a portion that is pushed onto a waiting plate draped with a piece of fabric. The ‘bori‘ should look like a Hershey’s Kiss as a number of blogs call the shape. To me, a ‘bori‘ looks like a ‘bori‘. To me a ‘bori‘ looks good enough to eat. I imagine my mother is done with the grinding by now and has possibly even made them on the ‘borir khaat‘ our family carpenter Ramdayal made for her while I was still in school. It is a pity she cannot send any to Australia and a disaster that she cannot bring any with her on the plane. ‘Bori‘s are not something one carries on journeys apparently. When she comes here, she will as always make some. But it will never taste the same as the ones made in the month of Aghraan and Poush back home, when the sunshine is sweet and buttery and the air is dry. And that is that.


(Recipe there too, should you want to make your own, in the oven!)

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