Ever since he was a kid, Anwar Ali Shah, the seventh-generation descendent of Tipu Sultan, has seen his family celebrate Ramzan with flamboyance. Every year, more than 300 people come to their Tollygunge place to pray and break their fast during Ramzan. “There used to be food prepared in large pots. Special bawarchis and cooks would be hired on the occasion,” recalled Anwar Ali. But now things have changed. Due to financial crisis, they can’t invite so many people, but the philosophy remains the same.
“Tipu Sultan was a secular ruler. Just the way he followed his own religion, we would participate in festivals of other religion. We tried to keep that spirit intact during Ramzan,” said Anwar. Even though, the grandeur is not there, one thing remains the same — food. Like in any other Muslim family, food holds an important place in Anwar’s family during Ramzan. And even today whatever they cook are mostly influenced by century-old recipes.
Anwar’s wife, who takes care of the Ramzan menu said that post her marriage, she learnt quite a few things about Ramzam food in this house. “The biryani, kebabs and rezala were made at my place too, but in a different style. The mix of masalas was different and so was the cooking style. Slowly, I learnt the traditions followed by this family from the elders. The recipes have been passed on in the family from one generation to another,” she added.
Anwar said that he collects masalas and other ingredients mostly from New Market and Zakaria Street. “You won’t get better zafran anywhere else in Kolkata, if not in Zakaria street,” he added.
Source: Times of India