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Unconventional Food #7: The Love Affair of Strawberry and Spice

From the day I joined the University, most of my free time during breaks or free periods has been spent wandering along the streets with friends around the big campus and tasting all the delicious varieties of food that is offered in the University and its close vicinity. In my campus, scores of vendors can be seen lining the streets with their carts selling finger food that the students enjoy immensely (the large crowd of people surrounding the carts being a good indication of the same!). As my friends, and I are no exception, we went on regular expeditions to look for the most appetizing foods out there. On such an exploration, our eager eyes figured out a unique looking cart, one that was beautifully decorated with luscious ripe strawberries and various containers of spices.

Let me inform you about a fact! In my country, Bangladesh, strawberry is not a very common fruit. Up until very recently, strawberries had to be imported since they didn’t grow here. But after a recent agro-scientific success, our farmers have managed to grow this delectable fruit in our lands, and so it is a recent common addition to the fruit section of the marketplaces.

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Back to my story, we were quite intrigued as the strawberries with the spices were not a usual combination of food that we tried every day. We had tried the strawberry smoothie, pie, shortcakes, milkshake and so on, but never had it mixed with any spices. So we eagerly made our way towards the cart to take a better look. We found bottles of twenty different spices along with some bottle of sauces that we had never seen before, and this increased our desire to taste this weird combination of food even more. So we asked the seller to put together the delicious dish for us while we watched the process enthusiastically.

First, he chopped the strawberries into very small pieces and then put them in a container. He then put a dash of salt in it along with crushed cumin, mustard oil, chili powder, tamarind sauce and finally a big spoon full of kasundi. Now, for those of you who don’t know what kasundi is (you guys are missing out big time!) let me explain a little. It is a Bengali version of Chili Mustard Relish that is famed for its fieriness. Made from the paste of green mango, fresh red hot chilies, mustard, and garlic, it goes well with tandoori dishes, kebabs, shellfish curries, sandwiches and tea time snacks.

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Finally, he gave all the mixtures a big shake to mash them up and served it with a spoon. No sooner had he placed the serving in front of us, we began to devour it because the deliciously mouthwatering aromas of the spices had already made us salivate. And what we found was pure gustatory bliss. If I’m asked to describe the taste in one word, I’d say it was exquisite. At first, you’d taste the salty residue of the different spices and the kasundi, and then numerous flavors would attack your taste buds simultaneously so that all you’d want to do is have the next mouthful. You’d be able to taste the sizzling flavor of the chilies, slightly hot but not burning, the sweet and sour flavor of the mildly acidic tamarind sauce and the heavenly taste of kasundi that will leave a hint of briny flavor on your palate. When you bite the succulent pieces of strawberries with their slightly grainy texture yet mellow and scrumptious flesh, it will immediately dulcify the flavor and turn it into a heavenly delight.

It’s a wonderful flavorsome food that I’d love to have on a regular basis without having to worry about my calorie count of the day or make any dent in my pocket because its price is as low as its fat components. You can taste this heavenly delight in only twenty takas. (That’s 17 rupees).

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Tripped out fact: As filled with numerous nutrients, strawberry is called the ‘queen of fruits’. It is considered to be the power food and the consumption helps in burning stored fat. The Vitamin C present in strawberry boosts immunity and keeps the skin soft and supple.

So what are you waiting for?! Gather the ingredients and see if you can make your version of this exquisite delight!

Image sources: [1], [2], [3]

About Shameen Mubtasim

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