Potpourri: The Carnival of Bengali Cuisine #1

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. 🙂

Celebration

Celebration

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.

Popular Culture

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.

City Bites

City Bites

City Bites

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.

Heritage

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

Salivating Sight (Models: Sujit and Amit)

Impact

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.

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