Cooking can be stress buster for bachelors. More so if you don’t cook so well but can lay your hands on a book with an easy but mouthwatering recipe. Well, I had Satarupa Banerjee’s The Book of Indian Sweets (affiliate link) for help.
Missed my swimming lesson yesterday and so was desperate to put the evening to good use. I received the book yesterday from Kwench, and not having cooked for a while I decided to start with what a Bong outside Bengal craves for – The Oh-so-Awesome Rosogolla.
The Giant Rasgulla
Satarupa’s book on Indian sweets starts off with the unputdownable (yeah Telegraph, I borrowed your subtitle, but I hope you would take it as flattery) Rasogolla. Since the book looked pretty handy, I thought of starting off sequentially. But then it would have been too Bong for comfort. The next one was Rajbhog and I chose it immediately. Satarupa calls it The Giant Rasogulla, with a little different texture. Followed instructions to the T and ended up with this:
You can search the internet for several videos, recipes and prep styles for Rajbhog so would include just the basic style (without the jazz).
What you need (Ingredients of Rajbhog)
Note: I prepared 12 giant balls (no pun intended :P) with these. So, if you want more/less, extrapolate the figures accordingly.
250 gm Paneer (softer the better. If you find Chhana, or Chhena, all the better)
60 gm Khowa (not many stores would give you this amount though)
1 tsp flour (maida), 1tsp semolina (suji), 1 cardamom (you just need the Elach, or Elaichi, seeds)
1 kg sugar (yes, you need that much Chini for the sugar syrup)
750 ml water (hopefully, you have one of those 1 litre mineral water bottles at your house, it would help in the measurement)
Edible Yellow color (or, 1 gm saffron, or Kesar, if you have some extra dough. Mind you, not many stores would give you 1gm of this costly stuff, so be prepared to be set back by 150 odd rupees. Else, edible colors work just well. What do you think they give you in the Sweets shops anyways?)
1tsp rose water (if you already have all the other stuff at home, but not this one, don’t worry too much about it)
How to make Rajbhog (preparation steps of Rajbhog)
Ensure that the Paneer doesn’t have too much water (yeah I know that sounds a little moronic), and knead the Paneer with your palm well until it becomes smooth.
Then mix 1tsp (maida) and 1tsp semolina (suji) with the kneaded Paneer and knead again
Make 12 smooth balls, and ensure that there isn’t any crack
Tip 1 (For Beginners): at the start you may not know the optimum size of each ball, so don’t worry. Once you start making a few Golas, you would get a hang of how much Paneer to put in each Gola.
Tip 2 (for all) : if you want the Rajbhogs to look yellow, while kneading the Paneer, mix some edible yellow color with it
Slightly kneaded paneer
Smoothly kneaded Paneer
Now, that we have Paneer Golas, we need to make some Khowa/Cardamom balls and put it inside the PaneerGolas. Lets get started.
Mix Khowa and Cardamom (Elaichi) seeds and divide into 12 portions (I made 12 balls).
Stuff one portion of the Khowa/Cardamom mix into each Paneer Gola, and roll the balls into your palm so that the Paneer covers all the Khowa
Tip 3 (For Beginners): if you don’t, while boiling the Golas in sugar syrup, the Khowa would drain out. It happened to 2 of my Golas.
The Khowa balls
Preparing sugar syrup
Okay, now we need to prepare sugar syrup and then boil the Golas in it. Lets do it.
In 750 ml water, put ½ kg sugar and boil it. When the sugar seems dissolved, pour another ½ kg sugar and continue with the heat. A while later (say 5-7 minutes), you have Sugar syrup with you.
Put your Golas one by one into the heated sugar syrup and continue with the boil. You’ll see that the Golas increase in size (I mean they will get puffed).
Continue for another 7-8 minutes and you might see some crack appearing on the Rajbhog’s surface. Remove them from fire.
Add (rather sprinkle) 1tsp rose water
You’ll have let the Golas soak in sugar syrup for a few hours (say 3-4 hours) before you can have them.
Tada, your Rajbhog is ready.
Expert Eater Challenge
Try having one Rajbhog in one mouthful J. If you can, send us a photo, we’ll publish it here.
Waking up at daybreak (well, its more like 4am) on Mahalaya has been, and still is, an annual ritual for most of Bengali households. When you are in Bengal, or say in states adjacent to Bengal (Bihar, Jharkhand, Orissa, Assam), the (ei-4te-baje-uthe-ja) must-wake-up-at-4am is probably implemented more strictly than elsewhere. Predictably, if you don’t have strict enforcement of this widely practiced rule at your home, your Mahalaya would be way different.
The approach to celebrate Mahalaya at Bangalore (or say, Delhi, Mumbai or Hyderabad) is way different than that at Kolkata (or even Jamshedpur, Guwahati, Bhuwaneshwar or Patna). This post is a short account of how an immigrant Bong spent his Mahalaya in the IT City vis-a-vis how a pakka Bongo Tanaya spent hers in the Bengali heartland (Kolkata, where else?).
The Immigrant Bong
Went to bed at 2 am, so waking up at daybreak was obviously out of question. Other flatmates also wanted to enjoy Mahalaya chants, but Kalyan banging their doors at 6 in the morning was a strict no no. So we agreed on a protocol. After 8am, whoever wakes up first will SMS the other flatties (Don’t Bang my door please, just ping me ok!). At 8:30, the dont-bang-my-door-or-I’ll-shred-you warning would be called off and people then may start celebrating Mahalaya. So, instead of 4am, it was 8:30 am.
“Morning! Time for Mahalaya number?”
Received an SMS saying this at 8am. Startled, I woke up. I smiled at the changed times. Birendra Kishore Bhadra’s Chandipath is a number now. 🙂 Much like Dhanno in Housefull or Lady Gaga’s Bad Romance (please, I can’t name that Bieber fellow in the same breath). I found it a fresh and contemporary approach to complementing the goose bumps inducing Agomoni songs. What better a tribute to the traditional than to acknowledge that it is still ‘hip’. The guy would be proud in his afterlife.
Not sure if he ever imagined people born eight decades later (he was born way back in 1905) in weird places would be listening to his Mahishasurmardini songs at 10am over not a radio or television, but something weird as a website on a laptop. Not even sure if Akashvani (AIR) would have thought that what started as a tradition way back in 1930 would even continue 80 yrs later, albeit in several other formats.
A hair raising experience followed when we played the predictable two songs and a bonus– Birendra Kishore Bhadra’s Mahishasurmardini, Supriti Ghosh’s Bajlo tomar alor benu and its guitar’d rendition, on youtube. Check out the new age Agomoni, with guitars and a hint of Metallica’s Nothing Else Matters:
The Immigrant Bongs and the I-have-many-Bengali-friends junta then followed it up with Phuchka-meets-Dahi-Bhalla. A slightly different version of the quintessential Bengali Phuchka. Boil the potataoes, mash it with some powdered spices, salt, Tamarind water (Imli ka paani) and boiled Mung Daal. Mix curd with whatever spices suits you and fill in each Phuchka (golgappa, pani puri) with the curd mix, mashed potato mix and Tamarind water. East meets West baby!
Followed it up with Mughlai Paratha for lunch at Calcutta Tiffins at a nearby Spencers. Was okayish, but nothing close to the Mughlai Paratha Sudeshna made. Its not without reason that the post is one of the most popular posts ever at Cook Like a Bong.
How was your Mahalaya?
Now, coming to the other end of the Spectrum.
The Banglar buke Bongo Santan (Bong in Bengali heartland)
Went to bed at 1am excited that Devi is finally arriving ina few hours. Wanted to do something more than the regular Ishh-ki-bhalo-Chandipath-cholchhe-radio-te (whoa! Awesome hymns on radio). Mom woke me up at 4 am. Mahishasurmardini was already loud on TV. Bengali Agamani songs were playing aloud in my mind.
While people elsewhere (Probashi Bengali) rely on Google etc for Birendra Krishna Bhadra’s Mahalaya Songs free download link, I feel lucky to watch/listen to Jago, Tumi Jago at daybreak by just switching on the TV (which is otherwise just an idiot box). Even better, having a father who breaks into a song at just the slightest provocation helps.
Finally decided to visit Gwalior Ghat (wonder why is it called so) with Baba. Morning ride to Gwalior Ghat was exciting. For the uninitiated, Ghats are embankments where man meets the river. Ghats of Kolkata preserve an interesting piece of history, be it Princep Ghat, Babu Ghat or Gwalior Ghat. It, like any other important Ghat, ends with a deep drop to the river bed. Interestingly, there is a Gwalior Ghat in Varanasi too.
Gwalior Ghat looked splendid in the early hours. Hundreds of people gathered to offer Tarpan to their deceased ancestors. Interestingly, Tarpan is performed in an empty stomach while you offer food and sweets to your departed ancestors. Several priests, as usual, made hay even in the early hours of sunshine. My dad performed Tarpan too.
Devipaksha (fortnight of the Godess) had a splendid start. Armed with a Nikon D60 and several lenses (lets leave the lenses specs to a separate post), I took some pictures while almost knee deep in mud. Was lucky not to soil my clothes. Shubho Mahalaya everyone!
Please comment and let us know how did your Mahalaya go?
What does the word Sharadiya ( or Saradiya) mean to you?
Surely, you would identify with the several connotations of the word beyond its literal meaning (that which comes in the Autumn). Hymns by Birendra Kishore Bhadra on All India Radio, the great homecoming (Bongs flock from all parts of the country/elsewhere to their hometown), the annual shopping frenzy (what are you wearing on Saptami? On Nabami evening?), Sharod publications (Patrika, Bartaman, Anandalok take your pick), the three eyed Ma Durga with her Pangopal, the Kash ful dancing to the tunes of the fluttering breeze, the hair raising yet rhythmic beat of the traditional Dhak, the exquisite Pandals and the teeming millions, the egg-roll stalls (and your diet regime goes for a toss!), Akalbodhan, Khain, Bisarjan …
Ladies and Gentlemen, please give a warm welcome to the Carnival of the Year!
This Festive Season, Cook Like a Bong brings to you a collection of 26 traditional and trendy Bengali recipes in a free eBook, titled Saradiya Rannabati 2010. Do what you like, go anywhere you want, eat whatever you can lay your hands on. This Durga Puja, Eat Pray Live. 🙂
Eat Pray Live
What’s on the Menu?
A collection of authentic Bengali recipes including fries, side dishes, main course and sweets and desserts from the BengaliCuisine kitchen and also from five different contributors. Unfold the secrets of the famous Kolkata phuchka. Know how to cook the brilliant looking Basanti pulao. Don’t miss the Chingri Bhapa, Doi Post Ilish or the mouthwatering Misti Doi. End the fare with Anarosher Chutney or Aamer Morobba.
Salivating already? Without wait, pounce on the delicacies. Please enter your name and email id in the box below to subscribe to our blog and we will give you the eBook for free.
Many Thanks to…
Thanks to all our readers, whose repeat visits to the website keep its traffic stats healthy. Kudos to the 2500+ strong community at Cook like a Bong’s Facebook Page – your discussions help everyone appreciate the myriad variations of Bangali Ranna. Special thanks to Jeet Saikia for designing the cover page of this e-book and to all our eBook recipe contributors.
This post describes how to cook an exotic dish, Cauliflower Broccoli Gratin, in easy steps. A perfect recipe to woo the opposite sex. But before the recipe, I’ll talk about why an amateur cook like me even dared such an elaborate preparation. Skip ahead 3 paras if you’re just interested in the recipe.
Preparing Cauliflower Broccoli gratin
Newbie trying Exotic dish, and succeeding
Having a domestic help, for almost everything that is non-core to your life, is an amazing experience. Wake up in the morning, and ask – Bhaiya, chai pilao. Aur haan, do ande ubaal do aur ek glass dudh bournvita. [Get me some tea please. And yes, boil two eggs and a glass of milk bournvita]. Ask him/her to prepare Rajma chawal for lunch and kadhi, roti and Gakar ka Halwa for dinner. Heavenly!
My all rounder domestic help left for home (for Holi) 3 weeks ago. Life has never been this dude-you-have-to-cook. So, started with. No, its not Maggi or Chana Daal or Fried Rice. Ladies and Gentlemen, fasten your seat belts. Its Cauliflower Broccoli Gratin. An expert level dish prepared by a nube. Not exactly inspiring. But surprise! It turned out well.
Bake ingredients, crust to form a golden crust at top.
Hint: Grate means to scrape.
Gratin is a food preparation technique where you put a layer (of breadcrumbs, grated cheese and butter) above an ingredient mixture (of vegetables e.g. cauliflower, broccoli, potato, tomato, carrot etc), bake it till a golden crust forms at the top. You can try a meat based ingredient mix too.
Read on for how to prepare a vegetable based Gratin in easy steps.
Ingredients of Cauliflower Broccoli Gratin
Vegetables – I used Cauliflower, Broccoli, Potato, Tomato, Carrot
Seriously, that’s Egg Maggi for you. If you want to learn the details, read on.
Egg and Maggi Noodles
Maggi noodles – the Youth Icon
Over the years, several folks have enjoyed the status of being voted MTV Youth Icon – SRK, Rahul Dravid, Anil Ambani, Mahendra Singh Dhoni, Orkut etc. These figures touch your life, but not a daily basis.
Maggi Noodles is undoubtedly the Youth Icon. Calories notwithstanding, Maggi comes to your help during late nights, rush breakfast, supper or when your cook hasn’t turned up.
Last was true in my case when I decided its time for Egg Maggi Noodles as a standalone dish.
Preparing Egg Bhurji
Preparing Egg Bhurji
How to prepare Egg Maggi Noodles
Serves – 1; Prep time – 12 min
Beat the eggs, salt and pepper (if you like) – I usually do it in a steel glass, just like your neighborhood anda wala
In the frying pan, add some oil and let it heat
Pour the mixture from step 1 on the pan
Make egg bhurji i.e. use a spoon to mix the egg mixture so that it mashes well
In another pan, add two cups water and boil
Add Maggi tastemaker to water and stir
Break the Maggi noodles into 4 and add broken Maggi noodles to the boiling mix. Mix well.
3 minutes later (rather when the Maggi noodles have soaked enough water – but don’t worry about this too much), add the egg bhurji to boiling Maggi noodles. Mix well.
Boiling Maggi Noodles
Egg Maggi Noodles
Voila! Your Egg Maggie Noodles (Anda Maggi) in front of you. Enjoy with ketchup.
Update: Removing Vegan word from the post. Since it uses eggs even for the filling, how can it be vegan, argued Soma. And I couldn’t agree more. Thanks for pointing that out.
What is Dimer Devil or Deviled Eggs recipe
The eggs are boiled and the yolks are removed, and re-stuffed with a mixture prepared from the yolk, boiled potato and some vegetables. The re-stuffed egg is then dipped in besan, then in bread crumbs and fried in oil.
Who can cook Dimer Devil
This is for intermediate skilled cooks, or mere amateurs who want to prove that given adequate instructions, they can cook (I fall in this category). You can have Dimer Devil for an exotic evening snack. I had this at lunch with steamed rice, musuri daal and ketchup.
Deviling means seasoning the food heavily (This link gives an elaborate explanation). I tried this egg recipe only because of its name. Never had it, so gave it a shot. And it turned out well.
Though this isn’t an authentic Bengali recipe, Bengalis sure love it. And you would too.
Recipe in 10 words
Boil Eggs, cut in half, fill with stuffing, oil fry
Ingredients of Dimer Devil (Deviled Eggs recipe)
3 eggs (2 for cooking + 1 for dip)
1 medium potato
1 medium onion
Carrot (gajar, gajor) or Beet
Other vegetables as per availability/taste (matar – green peas, beans etc.)
Ginger and garlic (or ginger garlic paste)
Hing (asafoetida), Jeera (Cumin)
Garam Masala Powder
Maida or Besan
Preparing Dimer Devil (Deviled Eggs recipe)
Boil the Eggs and potato for 15 min [in Bangalore, the potatoes don’t soften easily. In such a case, its best to cut the potato into several small pieces and then boil]. Cover the eggs with at least an inch of water.
Now is the time to prepare the filling. I used a vegetarian filling. You pick whatever suits you.
Potato and egg boiled
Fried mashed up mixture
Meanwhile, cut onion, chilies, beans and grate the carrot/beet
Drain hot water, pour cold water (makes peeling off easier) and crack the egg shells
Cut the boiled eggs length wise and pop out the egg yolk in a separate container.
Add peeled off potato and the vegetable mixture to the container. Add salt, pepper to taste. Mash them well.
Heat a frying pan, put some cooking oil (mustard oil for the quintessential jhanjh, or sunflower oil for the calorie savvy) and then the onion pieces. Heat till the color changes to brown. Add the mashed potato-yolk-vegetable mixture.
Preparing for the fry
Next, need to stuff egg white with the filling and fry
Fill the egg halves with the mixture. Make it tightly fit since we need to fry this later. Let us call this stuffed egg half
In a separate bowl, break an egg carefully and add a spoon of Besan. Add salt, pepper to taste and blend it well. Let us call this egg besan
On a pan (I used a newspaper J), pour some bread crumbs.
Heat a frying pan and add oil.
Now do this in sequence – roll the stuffed egg half in egg besan, then in bread crumbs and then lower carefully on the heated oil. Fry well. Do this for each stuffed egg half.
Dimer Devil or Deviled Eggs
Tada. Your Dimer Devil (Deviled Eggs recipe) is complete. Serve with ketchup.
If some egg besan is left, fry it on the pan to make Egg Bhurji. It tastes good.
After the good response (800 views and counting) to Part 1 of Potpourri, we’re here with the second edition. Read on for interesting articles on several aspects of Bengali Food – food in literature and its critique, memoirs, influences, popular culture, restaurants and the bong connection.
Sreyashi Dastidar argues that the time around Durga Puja is the ‘sweet season of Bengal’. What else will explain a 20-something, with gelled and spiked hair, shouting “কাকু আমায় আরও দুটো সন্দেশ [Uncle, 2 more Sandesh please] at a community lunch in a housing complex. Or, crowd noisily demanding “তিরিশটা ছানার গজা” [30 … please] She also outlines the demands of ‘new kids’ and ‘GeNext’ that has forced the sweets entrepreneurs to innovate.
Sample these – a mix of Bengali mishti and north Indian mithai, Kiwifruit Chhanar Payesh, Carrot Rasogolla, Sitaphal Kanchagolla and the likes. A tasty read indeed.
4 years back, Shrabonti Bagchi wrote about how several Bengali Restaurants have opened up in cities across India. 6 Ballygunj Place, Oh Calcutta and K C Das in Bangalore, Chowringhee in New Delhi, Howrah in Mumbai and 4 more in Kolkata. Well, since then, more bong eateries have mushroomed outside Bengal. I can count at least 8 in Bangalore, 10 in Mumbai and 4 in New Delhi. This is both due to immigrant bongs and increased awareness of Bengali platter among other communities. I would say probably a third of the clientele of these eateries doesn’t speak Bengali but want to check what Bengalis eat other than Maach (মাছ – Fish) and Rosogolla (রসগোল্লা – Rasgulla). As Shrabonti says, let’s raise our aam porar shorbots (আম পোড়ার শর্বত) to that!
Bengali Groom (Model: Jaydev)
Radheshyam Sharma explains the pains of a vegetarian while eating out in Kolkata. Now imagine hating anything that ‘smells fishy’ (literally) but any restaurant you go to serves fish. Or, has written ‘pure veg’ on its signboard, but essentially doesn’t use separate utensils for meat and fish dishes. Nasty indeed. He gets ‘especially bothered’ if he is invited to Bengali Weddings even though he likes Mishti Doi and other sweets. And all because he can’t stand smell the fish. Smelly Cat must be smiling. 🙂 Another version of the video.
Well, if you know any good Pure Vegetarian restaurant in Kolkata please let him know. I’m sure you would be thanked.
Venu Madhav Govindu presents India’s enduring love affair with food in this Outlook article. He argues that like every other cuisine, Bengali food is also affected by both mindless imitation and the simple expedient of convenience. Well, do you agree with his version?
Chitrita Banerji (চিত্রিতা ব্যানার্জী – read her interview with Timeout) is a celebrated author on Bengali food. Three of her popular works are Life and Food in Bengal (released in 1990), Bengali Cooking: Seasons and Festivals (released in 1997) and Hour of the Goddess: Memories of Women, Food, and Ritual in Bengal (released in 2007). In the first book, the author ‘invites the reader to enter, observe, feel and absorb Bengal-the Indian state of West Bengal and the sovereign country of Bangladesh’ [source].
Chitrita Banerji (Source: TimeOut Dubai)
Evolving Tastes says that the second book talks about the differences and contrasts in food between the various regions in Bengal, of Ghotis and Bangals, of Hindus and Muslims, of rich and poor, of the past and the present, along with plenty of recipes interspersed within the narrative. [Interestingly, if you Google search for ‘Cooking: Seasons and Festivals’, Srivalli’s blog comes right after this book’s Amazon link. :)]
9 new posts, Valentine’s week recipes, salad carnival and increased community engagement (both here and at Facebook page) made February 2010 pretty exciting at Cook Like a Bong. Valentine’s week, Holi and (unfortunately) sudden traffic drop due to hosting trouble marked the month.
Posts in February
Strawberry Sandesh – A Bong can’t remain away from sweets for long. The strawberry sandesh is an ode to all those sweet lovers staying in a place far from sweet shops.
Bengali Style Matar Paneer – Matar paneer is a favorite among North Indian communities, I tried putting in some Bengali twist to this very popular Indian recipe
Bengali Food Bloggers Interview – Bong Mom: A series that plans to ‘bring out’ the personal side of your favourite Food Bloggers. Part 2 features Bong Mom of Bong Mom’s CookBook. Know her favourite food blogs, why she started cooking, what was her first dish and lots more.
Paneer Pulao in Rice Cooker: Celebrating the Valentine’s week, paneer pulao was the recipe for Teddy Day. This preparation looked as lovely as your Teddy.
Bread Chop Suey: This one is a must prepare for the kid at home, or even for the kid at heart.
9 new posts, traffic improvement, bloggers interview series, events initiation and community engagement (both here and at Facebook page) made January 2010 pretty exciting at Cook Like a Bong. New year, Republic Day, MakarSankranti and Saraswati Puja marked the month.
Dim Posto Sarse – Enjoy Eggs with Poppy Mustard paste and a memoir of Sudeshna’s trip to the Himalayas; Vaishno Devi to be precise.
Potpourri : The carnival of Bengali Cuisine– A biweekly series on several interesting aspects of Bengali food – influence of popular culture, bengali food in bengal, outside bengal, heritage and history and issues of the day.
Bengali Food Bloggers Interview: A series that plans to ‘bring out’ the personal side of your favourite Food Bloggers. Part 1 features JayashreeMandal of Spice and Curry. Know her favourite food blogs, why she started cooking, what was her first dish and lots more.
Monthly Mingle Roundup Part 1: Meeta’s celebrated monthly event was hosted at CLB this time. Theme being Winter Fruits and Vegetables. Part1 talks to Bakes and Soups – savour 6 different soups, Ukranian Borscht, butternut squash and chestnut soup and some more
Monthly Mingle Roundup Part 2: Part 2 talks about Fruits, Sides and Others. Indulge in 4 winter fruit recipes, 13 mouth watering side dishes and 5 potpourri winter recipes from 9 countries.
How to People find this blog: 5 keyword goof ups – A funny take on how Google sometimes goofs up while sending traffic to CLB. Sample these – mishti doi food poisoning, how to color diya crafts, Which Beatles record started as egg and bacon etc.
Carnival of Salads – Celebrating a month of non-spicy, non-greasy yet tasty food. Rush in your entries by 14th February. Also, check the rules.
About– The about page has now sections on Sudeshna and Kalyan. You can know more about why Sudeshna started the site in April ‘08 and why Kalyan joined her in July ‘09.
Cook Like a Bong crossed 100,000 pageviews this month (applause!). We’ve achieved this in first 6 months of bengalicuisine version 2.
Pageviews varied widely in January, with weekly stats standing at 5403, 6419, 5014, 4848i.e a variation of almost 33%.However, the spike in second week can be attributed to MakarSankranthi. Suddenly, loads of visitors landed at CLB looking for recipes like Pithe, Patishapta and (surprise!) how to make cake in pressure cooker.
This is evident from the spike during 13th to 15th January.
Some other facts
Most Popular keywords – Bengali cuisine, bengali recipes, chicken kasha, mishti doi, egg sandwich, Mughlai paratha and Shukto
Has it ever happened to you that visitors come to your blog via completely unrelated keywords. Say you run a travel site but visitors come via “tamil woman saree bathing“? Well, we at Cook Like a Bong regularly get such search engine traffic hilarious moments. This post is about how google messes up while directing visitors to bengalicuisine.net.
One of the tasks of a webmaster is to understand what are people looking for when search engines send them your way. For instance, this being a site on Bengali cuisine, I would expect visitors to come here while searching for Bengali food, Bengali recipes, Bengali rasgulla, Chanchra, bangali ranna etc .
However, sometimes the keywords that send traffic range from uncommon, to weird, to outright irrelevant. Here’s 5 such keyword strings:
Mishti doi food poisoning
I’ve heard of food poisoning being caused from meat, raw foods, and unwashed vegetables. But never from consuming Mishti Dahi. Medicine sites say that the symptoms of food poisoning are vomiting and abdominal cramping.
The natural question, then, is: why was someone looking for how to prepare Mishti Doi that causes vomiting? OMG. Did we inadvertently participate in some ‘killer intent’? Or, ‘how to fake pregnancy to your husband’? Just when I was about to get excited about all this, google search spilled the beans.
I was surprised at first. After all, why would someone looking for craft activities like how to color diyas would come to a Bengali cooking site. But then it dawned. One year after writing a post on Diwali Diya Daler Bada, Google suddenly started sending loads of visitors to this post. Evidently, one of them turned unlucky. Check out the post for some colorful diwali diyas.
Being a Bengali almost always automatically meant that you ‘have to’ love fish (in addition to several other bong connection myths). And now do search engines also expect a Bengali cook to even advice on seasonal variation in safety factors of eating any variety of fish. Duh!
A quick google search will return results that start with Motorola.com And why not? Commonsense dictates the odds of someone looking for Motorola.com is higher than ABengaliWordforaFish.com. More than Google’s misplaced results, what surprised me more was who on earth wants to search for a website like NameofTheFish.com?
Pepped up, I searched for several such sites and here’re the results…
rui.com will redirect you to a golf and tennis website
ilish.com and katla.com seem cybersquatters
pabda.com or chingri.com don’t even exist and
tangra.com is a web solutions provider. Indeed, curiosity killed the cat. 😛
I'm starting to crack
Which Beatles record started as egg and bacon?
Yes, Beatles composed a song ‘Yesterday’, whose lyrics had words like eggs, omlette, ham, cheese and bacon. In fact, this is one of the few songs that talk of egg delicacies. Sample this:
Good for breakfast, dinner time or brunch,
Don’t buy six or twelve, buy a bunch,
And we’ll have a lunch on scrambled eggs.
But would Paul McCartney have thought in his lifetime that someone looking for his famous song would come across a how to cook Scrambled Eggs post at a Bengali food website? Hell no.
Well, I guess you have traffic coming from such funny keywords too. Please share a few here.
Almost 6 months back, we (Sudeshna and Kalyan) came up with a list of Top 7 Bengali Food Blogs. Of course, the list was with our personal experience and didn’t follow any standard procedure for ratings. Soon afterwards, we planned to interview each blogger in an attempt to bring their ‘other side’ to you.
6 of the Top 7 bloggers agreed to an interview and we emailed the same questionnaire to each. Now that we’ve received responses from all six, we’re starting Bengali Food Bloggers Interview series. You’ve known their recipes. Now you can know their personal side too.
The original answers have been tweaked a little to remove the typos etc, keeping the answers identical in spirit. The text is Italics is our own commentary. In Part 1, we’ll feature Jayashree Mandal of Spice and Curry.
About Jayashree Mandal
Jayashree Mandal started the blog in Oct 2006 with the first post on Alu Posto ar Amer Ambal. However, the posts became frequent and regular only from Nov 2007. With a pagerank of 4, the blog is fairly popular. Samples – Mochar Ghonto, Pomphreter Kalia, Pui Shager Cohorchori. The blog has a good blogroll list too. Also, most of the recent images have copyright notice. Good move to thwart rampant plagiarism on the web. Located in Kolkata, Jayashree also has a personal blog.
What inspires you to write a food blog?
I started my blog on a personal note to keep track of the recipes that I was trying out and making while staying far away from home. This was also a useful engagement for me as I am a stay-at-home mom.
I generally don’t try to cook from cookbooks unless I am in a mood to try out something new. I have Veg Khana by Neeta Mehta, Non-Veg starters By Sanjeev Kapoor and last an old Bengali cookbook “Ranna Samagro” by Vincent Gomez and Bela Dey
What’s your favorite cookbook?
Nothing in particular.
Tell us something about food from your part of the world?
I have spent my childhood days in UP and then again I am a Bengali, so I have imbibed everything from both the parts, I like eating as much a Nimona with rice as much ilish macher Bhapa with garam bhaat. [Great variation, lady.]
What would you eat for your last supper?
This is definitely a light dessert like a flavoured yogurt or payesh or a slice of cake with a scoop of ice-cream on top
There are many interesting food memories, but then the hustle-bustle during Durga Puja and the entire way of spending the time with cooking, eating good food and enjoying with family is perhaps my fondest memory revolving around food and cooking.
Your most trusty kitchen companion?
This I am leaving it, as all are my companions.
What made you to call your blog “Spice and Curry”?
Don’t know, I was just looking to register at blogger and in a jiffy, it splashed and there I was working for my blog.
Name three dishes (along with their links) from your blog that you like preparing often
Which cookbook can you not do without and which chef is your hero/heroine?
Nothing in particular.
Anything you want to add which I missed out.
Just wanted to say, that one should enjoy cooking and serving the people who matter to us the most, instead of cooking things just for the sake of blogging. We are here, food blogging because our family has been cooperative and supportive of whatever we are doing.
I just wish we should not take things for granted. Blogging should be enjoyed and it is a sure way of de-stressing unless we cross the limit and it starts to give stress. Avoiding unnecessary competition and living in harmony is always a way better thing to do.
And last but not the least, it was a pleasure giving this interview. All the Best.
Cook Like a Bong completed 100,000 pageviews in its new avatar. Plus, our Facebook page crossed 160 fans [of which, 100 came in last 3 weeks!]. OMG, can’t stop smiling. 🙂
In retrospect, I could see several factors contributing to it, but the discussion deserves a separate post. So, moving on…
To mark the occasion [1 lakh pageviews in 6 months and 100 facebook fans in 3 weeks], we’re starting a new series – Potpourri.
Potpourri: Carnival of Bengali Cuisine
Literally, Potpourri means an assortment of several [incongruous] items. Starting today, every fortnight we plan to share the most interesting ‘discoveries’ [links of course :)] related to bengali food on the internet. Please pass on any interesting link that you come across (over email, comments or facebook).
Whats different from an Event?
Well, many things. For starters, in events we talk about only one aspect of food – recipes. And there too, only the recipes posted on blogs. Even then, several event organizers required you to ‘repost’ the content for participation [never really understood the reason for this extra work]. Thats quite a convoluted requirement and misses an entire gamut of online resources.
Thus, generally events miss several interesting aspects of food – food in movies, literature and music, memoirs, influences, popular culture, restaurants and (unfortunately) the chef.
Potpourri will try and talk about these related aspects – with a single minded focus on Bengali food. We’ll start with a biweekly (once in 2 weeks) post on the interesting reads in several categories. Initially, we expect that most of these links would come from usual browsing (Sudeshna’s and mine). However, we expect that as the series picks up momentum a couple of months later, several of our readers would contribute.
Here we go with the first edition of Potpourri.
The Telegraph had an article on 50 reasons not marry a Bengali man back in October. Predictably, #1 was his hatred for every fish but Ilish (Hilsa). Another reason was ‘men actually look down on women for chewing fishbones‘. Of the 50 reasons, 20+ were food related. The article became an instant hit and did rapid online rounds. Last Sunday, they came out with.. No prizes for guessing.. 50 reasons not marry a Bengali woman. Could you read and tell how many reasons are related to food?
In my backyard
Andy De talks about his sojourn with Aaheli at Peerless Inn in Kolkata [the post is almost 3 yrs old]. The Bangali Bhadrolok ambiance attracts him and so does the delicacies served (which inlcudes Kacha Aamer Sharbot, Bhetki Paturi and Morolla Maacher Bati Chorchori). Andy asserts that food is raison d’etre of Bengalis and that Bengalis are a tribe of Bon-Vivants (of refined tastes, esp. in food and drinks). Well, we can’t agree more.
Bengalis residing outside Bengal used to crib about non availability of their favorite delicacies. And when they were available, it was either a bastardized version or extraordinarily costly. Well, not anymore. Several restaurants/eateries have opened shop across Bangalore, Delhi, Mumbai in recent years.
Kalyan Karmakar writes about his visit to Hangla’s, a bong eatery in Lokhandwala, Bandra, Mumbai. And here’s another take on the same food joint. Nishant Singh, in the post, says – Hangla is changla! Interestingly, both the reviews are quite different. Read it to appreciate the perspective of both sides.
Deccan Herald talks about a couple of Bengali restaurants in Bangalore. The news piece, however, misses Bhajo Hori Manna though, my personal favorite. Looks like I’ll have to take up the cudgels to review this wonderful restaurant.
Dr. Bhaskar Dasgupta rediscovered his palate a year back. In this article, he examines the food and cuisine of Bengal in Colonial era. Interestingly, the Brits saahebs distinguished themselves from native bangalis by eating loads of meat. Read the article and Nation on a Platter: the Culture and Politics of Food and Cuisine in Colonial Bengal, by Jayanta Sengupta to know more.
Salivating Sight (Models: Sujit and Amit)
Your last Ilish Curry may only be a couple of years away. Jaideep Mazumdar explains in this Outlook article. The culprit – wrong timing of catching the fish. Ilish swims from the sea up a river to spawn.It lays eggs and gets back, and thats when it should be caught. But it’s usually caught on its journey from the sea to the river. This, plus the surge in the demand for Ilish during off season. Next stop? Ilish from Gujarat. But, can the bong taste bud appreciate Gujju Hilsa?
You can find the assortment of all these links in StumbleUpon profile of bengalicuisine. Check it out.
“Prano Bhoriye Trisha Hariye
More aaro aaro aaro dao pran|
Tabo bhubane tabo bhabone
More aaro aaro aaro dao sthan|| ”
15 days to go for the biggest Bong festival of the year. Yes you have guessed it right, its Durga Puja time. And to mark the occasion, we at Cook Like a Bong are organizing an event, “Durga Puja Food Festival”. [Logo Courtesy: Dr. Satyaki Basu]
About Durga Puja
Autumn brings in a series of festivities. Among all these festivals the four day long Durga Puja or Dusshera is the most important and the most prominent social festival among Hindus. Durga Puja is mainly celebrated in the Eastern parts of India. Other states of the country (Mumbai, Delhi, Bangalore, Hyderabad) and even in different countries have started celebrating the worship of the goddess of power. Durga Puja is the most significant social, cultural and even economic event of the year.
Buying new clothes, going pandal hopping, pushpanjali (showering flowers at the goddess), the sound of dhak (Bengali drum), the dhunuchi dance, and the immersion dance are an integral part of the Durga Puja festival. It is the time of homecoming, meeting friends and relatives, eating out, eating whatever you wish, a big and long smile. This is the time of publishing of the “Sharadiya Sankha” or “Pujabarshiki” (the festival collection of literary works) featuring works of both established and not so established poets and authors. And, here we are with our Sharadiya Event for this year.
Plus, we’ll create an e-book to celebrate the culinary side of this autumn festival. The eBook will feature mouthwatering recipes and photographs, useful anecdotes and notes and of course some free publicity for the featured authors.
Get featured in the eBook
Please send in your entries for the event. There is no limit to the number of recipes you send, nor is there any restriction on what you send. The recipes may be Bengali (preferably but not necessarily) or any other cuisine, vegetarian or non-vegetarian, starters, soups, salads, entrée, or dessert. Those who don’t want their recipes to be published in the eBook will see those only in the round-up posted at the end of this month in our blog. The recipes in the eBook will have due credit to their authors.
Sending entries to this event makes you eligible to be a part of the eBook. So, hurry and send in your entries as soon as possible.
We invite you to be a part of the celebrations. And the eBook. 🙂
Why should you participate?
Free Publicity to a wide audience (This site currently has 15000+ pageviews a month)
Your recipe will be a part of the eBook, and thus your recipe will have offline access, and will bring back more readers to your blog
The joy of being ‘published’
Sheer joy of helping a fellow blogger in her project 🙂
How do I benefit?
Releasing an eBook is my long pending project. And what better occasion that Durga Puja?
E-book means offline access, spreading the word via email and doc sharing. And thus, more ‘comeback’ readers
Yet another way to celebrate Sharodotsav
Please post recipes on your blog along with a track back to this post
Optional: Please use the event logo
If you want to send us any archived entries please update the post with a link to this event so that more people get to know about it
You don’t need to repost it. Search engines don’t like duplicate content and that’s why you should avoid it. Here’s a link if you want to learn more about why and how’s of duplicate content.
If you have a draft recipe that you would like to send us, that’s okay. Just ensure two points:
your blog’s side bar has the event link/logo; and
when you publish this draft, there’s a the event link/ logo is present in the post
Sending a recipe photograph is compulsory. [You can learn more about food photography here]
If you don’t have a blog and yet want to participate, you’re welcome. Just send in your recipes, preferably with an image of the end product to the mentioned mail id.
What type of dish (eg: starter, soup, entrée, dessert):
Cuisine (Andhra, Bengali, Punjabi, Oriya etc):
Any memories associated with the dish (optional):
Any special decorations you created for the festival (optional):
Also, the following if you want the recipes to be enlisted in the eBook, send in your:
Your profile pic
A winner will be chosen for this event and will be awarded with a prize (to be declared later). Evaluation criteria – ease of preparation, suitability to the festival, relevance of the photograph and notes beyond recipe.
Should there be any other criteria for evaluation?
Top 7 Bengali Recipe Blogs – Bookmark the list of 7 most popular blogs on Bengali recipes. To give a personal touch, we’ve kept out links of Sulekha and other community food websites whose focus is on collaborative food community building. We have also kept out Sutapa’s site (it being way ahead of any other website on Bengali food) and Cook like a Bong (for obvious reasons you see J).
The recipes here also participated in some food events. Here’s the quick list:
August witnessed 15000 + Pageviews, i.e. almost 4 times that of July. Now, this HUGE difference is partly because WordPress pagestats plugin was installed only in July 10 and the site was down for a couple of days due to hosting issues. But mainly, the increase in traffic is due to return of the original readership of bengalicuisine. Now let me explain this.
Sudeshna’s earlier blog was fairly popular till January 2009. But she broke her hand in Feb and that’s when the post frequency reduced dramatically. Sudeshna still managed a couple of posts per month, but it was nowhere close to her earlier average of 8 recipes a month. Now most readers who came there saw only a couple of posts in ONE Month! Naturally, they kind of almost forgot about the blog.
As posts became regular in the second version of bengalicuisine and Sudeshna started commenting on several blogs, original readers returned. In fact, one of our earlier regular readers Tulip, commented – I had visited your blog long time back, i guess the blog design was different then. Suddenly i got this link from my bookmark…and visiting again !! Thankfully.