Tulaipanjee – A Brand-name of Uttar Dinajpur

Gautam Kumar Das

Ikhtiyar Uddin Mohammad Bin Bakhtiyar Khilji perhaps stopped his force of invasion at the bank of river Kulik after taking a dish of flavoured Tulaipanjee rice including delicious preparation of Bou, Piyali, Chapla and Ghaira fishes caught in the waters of the Kulik – that boldly argues by Tapas in the dining hall of Raiganj Tourist Lodge run by West Bengal Tourism Development Corporation Limited. Tapas is my school-mate bosom friend and of late a popular doctor (Dr. Tapas Bhunia) at Raiganj. Tapas continues saying about the flavour and quality of Tulaipanjee rice that feels soft like cotton (tula) at the time when that rice is eaten up.

Tulaipanjee is the softest one and most flavoured rice among 64 variety of rice available in the district of Uttar Dinajpur – comments Madan Burman, a resident of Taherpur village under Raiganj PS standing on the ridge that surrounds the Tulaipanjee paddy field. Madan Burman cultivates Tulaipanjee paddy in only about a bigha area of land as the soil of Taherpur is not befitted for the high yield of Tulaipanjee. Here soil type is ‘Khiar’ or ‘Khar’, old enough in origin and much stiffer in characteristics containing heavy clay materials. On contrary, Tulaipanjee is grown well in the ‘Pali’, a light sandy loam type of soil that produce of all description. The northern part of Uttar Dinajpur district is covered with such Pali soil and produce Tulaipanjee in the villages of Radhikapur, Raiganj, Gouripur, Deogaon, Dalimgaon under Kaliaganj PS, Bangalbari under Hemtabad PS, Baliadangi, Kamalabari, Mahiniganj, Maharaja under Raiganj PS, Patiraj, Bhadrashila under Itahar PS as reported by Sushanta Kumar Das, Manager of Raiganj Tourist Lodge.

The delicious flavoured rice Tulaipanjee is nomenclatured after the name of Tulai River as the farmers and landholders start cultivating Tulaipanjee at the Basin of Tulai River. Tulai River is now entirely silted up and converted into the agricultural land. Another opinion lies with the nomenclature that the rice is denominated after Tulai Thakur, a local deity of Dinajpur district for hundreds of years. But somebody would consider that the cluster (punja > panjee) of boiled rice looks like cotton that cottoned up our mind for the exact source of origin of the name of Tulaipanjee.

In fact, Tulaipanjee rice is now available in the market places of Dhonkoil, Durgapur, Patiraj, Dalimgaon, Maharaja, Mahiniganj, Raskhoa etc in huge quantity at the rate of 3 – 4 hundred quintal in the season and up to 90 quintal during off-season – says Akbar, a farmer and an inhabitant of Bindole area, Uttar Dinajpur. He further says that the area for the cultivation of Tulaipanjee has gradually been decreasing due to lack of proper export of well-known rice. Tulaipanjee rice has not been eaten up by the farmers themselves as the soft rice is easily digestible before time and the farmers are starving for the rest of the period of the day working in the field.

Agricultural field in and around Kulik Basin is considered to be suitable land for the cultivation of Tulaipanjee. Rice and fish as food items in the dishes of lunch or dinner are simply delicious to any Bengalee living at any part of the world. Water of the river Kulik and its basin provide both world-class flavoured rice and fishes like Bou, Piyali, Chapla and Ghaira which are the most delicious indigenous fishes born and borne by the river waters of Kulik only. Curry of those fishes including rice like Tulaipanjee is simply heavenly. Only the Bengalee of all over the world knows that the Tulaipanjee rice is so delicious to be eaten up, but no step has yet been taken up for its distribution for sale either by the Government or by any private concern even in the other districts of West Bengal in this era of globalization. There is no outlet of Tulaipanjee rice in the Kolkata metropolis area, although Dehradun rice, Banskathi or Gobindabhog are available in every nook and corner of the market place in almost all the wards of the corporation area. If the flavour of flavorous Tulaipanjee is spread with wide display and advertisement far and wide, that flavour spread happiness in the huts of the farmers of Uttar Dinajpur, although too much flavouring has spoiled the preparation.

Nov 26, 2018

Gautam Kumar Das

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