Potpourri: The Carnival of Bengali Cuisine Part 2

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.

Just Eat it

Popular Culture

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.

City Bites

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

Bengali Groom (Model: Jaydev)

Bong Connection

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?

Critical Eye

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

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. :)]

The third book takes you on an idiosyncratic journey through the intricate backlanes of Bengali food, argues Amitabha Mukherjee in an elaborate critique of the book. Here’re two more reviews –  Anuradha Roy’s in Outlook and Arundhati Ray’s in Hindu.

Have you read any of Chitrita Banerji’s books?

You can find the assortment of all these links in StumbleUpon profile of bengalicuisine. Check it out. If you like this post, please consider linking to it or sharing it with others. I’ll love to hear your comments too. You can also Subscribe to BengaliCuisine by Email, or  Subscribe in a reader

Mughlai Paratha

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“We plan, we toil, we suffer – in the hope of what?  A camel-load of idol’s eyes?  The title deeds of Radio City?  The empire of Asia?  A trip to the moon?  No, no, no, no.  Simply to wake just in time to smell coffee and bacon and eggs.”

~J.B. Priestly

The wikipedia defines an egg is a round or oval body laid by the female of any number of different species, consisting of an ovum surrounded by layers of membranes and an outer casing, which acts to nourish and protect a developing embryo and its nutrient reserves. Most edible eggs, including bird eggs and turtle eggs, consist of a protective, oval eggshell, the albumen (egg white), the vitellus (egg yolk), and various thin membranes. Every part is edible, although the eggshell is generally discarded. Nutritionally, eggs are considered a good source of protein and choline.

In an (Egg) shell

In an (Egg) shell

Well, that’s hardly why we eat Eggs though. Simply put, we eat eggs because we love ‘em. Eggs taste good, are a great source of protein (and amino acids) and most of all, are easy to cook. Traditionally, Bengalis (or for that matter, Indians) didn’t have non vegetarian breakfast. With times, food habits have changed too. Boiled eggs, bread omlette, scrambled/poached eggs are a routine these days.

Starting today, this blog will feature egg recipes for breakfast. These easy 15 (or max 20) minutes easy to cook recipes will help folks who stay alone (office goers/students) and mommies who have a hard time finding that illusive nutritional, easy-to-cook, and tasty breakfast for their kids. We’ll present dishes where egg is present but isn’t necessarily the main ingredient. We start with Mughlai Paratha today.

Mughlai Paratha, as the name suggests, should have dated back from the Mogul (Mughal) days, though we couldn’t find its history in the web. The filling can be of many things, keema (minced meat), potato etc along with other ingredients.

Preparation time: 10 mins

Cooking time: 12mins

Serves: 4


Refined flour (Maida): 1 cup

Eggs (Dim): 2

Grated coconut (Narkel korano): ½ cup

Onion (Peyaj): 1 medium, finely chopped

Ginger Garlic paste (Ada rasun bata): 1 tablespoon

Green chili (Kacha lanka): 2, chopped

Sunflower oil (Sada tel) to fry

Salt to taste

Mughlai Paratha Preparation

Mughlai Paratha Preparation


  • Sift the flour , add ½ teaspoon of salt to it, pour half-cup of water and knead into a soft dough, use more water or fry flour to make the dough non-sticky
  • Divide the dough into four equal portions and shape into balls, keep aside
  • For the filling, beat the egg in a bowl, add the crushed coconut , ginger garlic paste, chopped onion, green chilies and salt; mix well
  • Roll out each ball of dough into a 8 inch diameter paratha and place one-fourth of the filling at the centre of the paratha
  • Wrap the filling carefully from all sides to make a square
  • Heat one tablespoon of oil in a pan and place the paratha carefully in it without letting the filling come out
  • Fry well till both the sides become golden brown, use extra oil if required
  • Similarly make the other three parathas and serve hot with tomato sauce and potato curry (optional)
Mughlai Paratha Ready

Mughlai Paratha Ready

Further Reading – Peter Cherches, Wiki How, Mughlai Cuisine

Mughlai Paratha goes to  NTTC#5 event hosted by Sneh of Gel’s Kitchen.

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Roadside Tadka

I have posted this recipe before but its for Srivalli that I am posting it once more to participate in the event hosted by her.

Serves 2


Green Mugh dal: 150gms

Tomato: 2 medium sizes

Onion (Peyaj): 2 large ones

Garlic (Rasun): 7 or 8 cloves

Kasturi Methi (Fenugreek leaves): 1 tablespoon

Green chili (Sukhno Lanka): 3

Turmeric powder (Halud guro): 1 teaspoon

Sunflower Oil (Saada tel): 2 tablespoons

Salt to taste

The Ingredients

The Ingredients


  • Soak the mugh dal for about an hour.
  • Pressure cook for at 2 to 3 whistles.
  • Drain the excess water out of the dal and keep aside.
  • Cut the onions in square pieces, and the chilies into small ringlets.
  • Heat the oil in a shallow wok.
  • As the oil gets heated throw in the onions to sauté along with the garlic.
  • As the onions become tender, add tomatoes and chili, sauté for 2 more minutes.
  • Add the mugh dal, turmeric powder, salt and toss well.
  • Add little water if necessary and in between mash the dal properly.
  • Now add the Kasturi Methi to the preparation and mix well.
  • Scramble to eggs in a separate frying pan with little salt and throw in to the Tarka preparation.
  • Take it out of flame as it gets dried up.
Tarka with roti, curd and onion

Tarka with roti, curd and onion

It tastes best with roti or paratha and a little bit of curd and onions. You can add chicken or mutton keema, or anything of your choice. Tarka also tastes good without adding any other non-vegetarian items to it. So, you can have it without any other supplementary to it. Catch you soon, till then Happy Cooking and Happy Eating.

Sending my recipe to Srivalli’s Announcing My Legume Love Affair, Seventh Helping! , the event brain child of Well-Seasoned Cook Susan .


Chicken Kasha

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This was the first post I wrote on Cook Like a Bong, the then Here I Cook. Due to the popularity of this post I thought of updating it for my own good, and also for those who come and visit this blog. I used to have an wordpress account at that time and started writing random recipes then. After this one there had been more than 120 posts till today and many more updates in this blog. After an year Kalyan joined and we shifted to our own hosting and domain name. The time when I started this blog I didn’t have a camera, rather a proper camera. So, the picture below was borrowed from Flickr. Days changed, and now I own a Nikon D60, you can have a look at the images in the Flickr account of BengaliCuisine.

Chicken kasha, is a very well known Bengali side-dish almost prepared at every Bengali households. Another one that I prepare quite often  is the chicken keema recipe.

Serves: 4


  • Chicken -1kg
  • Curd(doi) – 150gm
  • Onions(peyaj) – 4 big ones
  • Garlic(rasun) – 5/6 peeled
  • Ginger(aada) -10/20gm
  • Turmeric powder(halud) – 2tsp
  • Chilli powder(lankar guro) – 3 tsp
  • Vegetable or mustard oil – 2 big tablespoons
  • Salt to taste


First of all clean the chicken very well, let it be under running tap water for at least 5mins. Take the chicken in bowl and then add the curd, 1 big tablespoon of ginger garlic paste, 2 tea spoons of chilli powder , 2 tablespoon of onion juice(chop one onion and grind it in a mixer) and salt . Keep it aside for 30mins.

Heat the oil in a kadai, sauté the chopped onions, and garlic till they become golden brown. Keep aside one-fourth of the onions for garnishing later. Put in the rest of garlic – ginger paste into the sautéed onion and ginger, and just fry for a minute or so. Add the marinated chicken to the kadai and pour 2 cups of water. Put a lid and cook for few minutes.

Check after 5/6mins whether the chicken has become got cooked. If it still seems to be stiff , add some more water and cook for sometime more.

A great smell will fill up your kitchen when it’s cooked. Turn off the stove. Put the cooked chicken in a bowl and garnish it with the fried onions.

Enjoy it with rice, chapatti or paratha.

An addendum

Those of you who are still in love with potatoes can add 2/3 big sized potatoes to it. Cut the potatoes into one-fourth size. Fry till it becomes golden (don’t over fry it) and keep it aside. After adding the chicken, wait for 5mins and then add the fried potatoes to it.

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