Tete-a-Tete with Meherun Nessa
Meherun Nessa is a successful culinary artiest and social worker in our country whose contribution has been immense. So today we want to know about Meherun Nessa.
Meherun Nessa was born in Rajshahi. Her father Zillur Rahim is a professor of Chemistry Department in Rajshahi University and also a freedom fighter. Her mother Salima Khatun is a housewife and a proud mother. Meherun Nessa completed her HSC from Govt. Women's College, Rajshahi. She then completed her B.A. and M.A. in Sociology from Rajshahi University. Her father loved to eat foods of different countries which created her interest in cooking. She started learning how to cook new dishes from her mother. When she was an Honours student, she was married to engr. Hafijur Rahman who is now retired from TNT board.
Since her childhood she has been active in cultural and social works. She engaged herself with the organization 'Blue Bird' when she was in Class-III. Later at Rajshahi University she became a ranger. She had a street children's school within the boundary of Rajshahi University. She said, "At first I opened a unit named 'Open Unit Guide' at University level. The members of the unit helped street children with clothes. We tried to teach them alphabetical knowledge."
"For this endeavour I received a gold spoon award from the programme of Bangkok Asia Pacific Girls Guide in 1978. I also got gold medal as a ranger in Bangladesh in 1979.
She has been associated with different activities of Bangladesh Girl Guides' Association since 1968 and has worked as the Ranger Commissioner. She was the chairperson of women and child development committee, Lalbagh and the secretary of women committee of Bangladesh TNT board. She is the convenor of cake competition organised by Engineers' Institution of women committee and a member of Bangladesh National Women's Sports Association Athletics sub committee. She loves reading books, reciting poems, writing short stories, travelling and cooking. She has three sons and a daughter.
Meherun Nessa has travelled to the UK, Canada, France, United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore, China, Hong-Kong and India. Whenever she visited any country, she learned cooking their special dishes and did special courses on cooking. Her cooking skill got renowned. She joined ATN Bangla as a cooking specialist. Her delicious recipes were published in the magazine "Ananda Bhubon". Apart from cooking, she is also associated with various social activities.
Cooking specialist Meherun Nessa finds her greatest delight in cooking. She loves to entertain her guests with her delicious dishes as well. She never gets tired of cooking. Being asked how her interest grew in cooking, Meherun Nessa replied, "Cooking is our family tradition. My father loved to eat different dishes of different countries. Also, my mother cooked very well. She could cook some rare dishes and she was appreciated for her cooking skill. I saw her cooking and learned in this way. But I never cooked before marriage. My mother did not let me cook because she feared that my hand would get burnt and my skin would be ruined. However, I noticed how my mother cooked. I started cooking after marriage. I took recipes from my mother and cooked for my husband and my in laws. Everyone praised a lot. My father-in-law said to everyone, "See, she is from an aristocratic family and yet cooks so well."
“My husband invited his friends because of my cooking expertise. Once a British and three French engineers came to work in a project of his office and they were invited to our house. I cooked for them mutton biryani, smoked hilsa, cake, different fruit juices, fruit custard etc.” They praised a lot after eating and said, "Your cooking is so good. Why don't you participate in TV programmes or send your recipes to magazines? Others can learn from you if you do so." “Then I decided that I could teach others in this way. I went for an interview in ATN Bangla channel with the help of one of my friends. There I joined a cooking show. On the first day I cooked kacchi biryani and for the first time I showed how to cook kacchi biryani using gas stove. I received a huge response. After that I started sending recipes to different magazines including "Ananda Bhauban" and participated in different cooking programs in many TV channels. In this way I became familiar as a cooking specialist.”
Beside making delicious dishes Meherun Nessa also emphasizes on maintaining the nutritional value of food. Whenever she visits abroad, she tries to know about the local dishes and collects recipe books.
Meherun Nessa took a break for a few days for her sickness. Now she is back to work again. She is spending busy hours in cooking shows, writing recipes and Cooking Association. She is the general secretary of the Cooking Association. She also takes cooking classes here and arranges cooking competition to pick out poor women from different areas. They are also provided with cooking trainings and fund for business. Members of Cooking Association provide financial support in this case. Furthermore, their works are monitored later. Beside, coking women are given training on sewing and cutting. Meherun Nessa has a lot of plans about cooking. She said, "There are many false ideas about cooking in our country. Many people suffer from malnutrition because of the wrong process of cooking. So I want to make people aware of the correct process of cooking. Also, I will try to ensure that helpless women can be self-reliant by applying their cooking skills."