Date, Fig and Ice Cream Shake

As a child, there are certain things that touch your lives and refuse to leave you however much you may grow old. One such thing that has left an indelible impression on my mind is Kabuliwala...yes, the Rabindranath Tagore short story which was later adapted into a film by Tapan Sinha. Kabuliwala explores the unnaturally heart-rending relationship between Rahmat, a fruit-seller from Afghanistan, and Mini, a 5-year old girl whom he befriends in Calcutta. Rahmat has left a daughter, exactly of the same age as Mini, back in Afghanistan, and through regular chit chats with this little spirit, he is reminded of her. Their casual banters reflect Mini's juvenile curiosity and Rahmat's fatherly love towards the little girl. Mini would innocently ask, "Kabuliwala, tomar jhuli te ki achhe go (Kabuliwala, what is there in your big bag?)", to which Rahmat would lovingly retort, "Haathi achhe, haathi (There's an elephant)!" The reader by now is captivated by the magical bond Tagore creates between two souls belonging to drastically different generations, cultures, socio-economic backgrounds and geographical habitations. But an unfortunate tryst of fate puts Rahmat behind bars, and after 10 years when he is released, he drops by straight at Mini's door. But Mini is a teen by then and the day happens to be that of her wedding. Ten years have changed a lot of things and she does not recognise Rahmat any more. Months of childish playful interaction with the Kabuliwala that shaped her childhood remains shrouded in obscurity.
As I have grown older, the nuances of this beautiful bond have struck progressively deeper chords in my heart, but as a child what used to fascinate me most was Kabuliwala's thole (big bag) laden with mewa (dry fruits and nuts). The sight of dates and walnuts, raisins and cashews seemed to amaze me to no end, and years later when I find so many dry fruits in my pantry waiting to be devoured, I cannot help but feel like little Mini, enriched by the gifts and love from Kabuliwala.
Serves: 2


Dates, roughly chopped: 10-12
Dried figs, roughly chopped: 8-10
Milk: 1 cup
Vanilla Ice Cream: 3 scoops + for garnish
Nutmeg, freshly grated: a pinch


1. In a blender, topple the dates and figs with the milk and give it a whiz till smooth.

2. Add the ice cream and blend further till the shake is thick and creamy. Add more ice cream or milk if required.

3. Add a pinch of the nutmeg powder and give a final blend.

4. Serve in big, fat glasses with a dollop of vanilla ice cream. Trust me, this can suffice as an entire meal. You can add other dry fruits, or even nuts to make the shake more wholesome. And substitute the ice cream with milk in its entirety for a healthier version.
PS: Watch this space for a Pujo special Bong food extravaganza starting tomorrow through the whole of September!


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