When it comes to food, there’s no way you can beat a Bengali. Ask anybody who is or knows a Bong and you’ll know how true it is. We Bengalis love to eat and love to feed, so whether its lunch dinner or breakfast – food on the plate has to be grand.
Even though there is a particular inclination towards rice and its different forms, we try to keep it for lunch and dinner only. The day starts with wheat. In my house, the weekday mornings are always a rush. Breads, eggs, milks are generally in the menu. Even though the English breakfast is one of a kind, we have changed it to our own Bengali style English breakfast. The French toasts are not drizzled with powdered sugar or honey, but is fried in a savoury batter of egg, onions, chillies and mix of spices. Even the scrambled egg has its share of turning more Bong loaded with herbs and spices.
But, when it comes to weekend, there’s nothing better than an authentic Bengali breakfast. And, there cannot be a Bengali breakfast without luchi. Luchi is a close cousin of the North India puri, which is generally made with whole wheat flour or atta. Luchi on the other hand is made with maida to get that light and fluffy golden texture. Maida is also made from the starchy white part of the wheat grain, and almost resembles the all-purpose flour.
Luchi cannot be had by itself, so there has to be something to go with it. As a toddler my favourite was luchi with sugar, the crispy flakes of luchi with the sweet sugar is one of the best joys of growing up in a Bengali family.
As you grow, the choices of a side dish with luchi grows with you. Even if you are in a no meat mood, there is an array of options. The most popular is luchi with cholar dal. If you are from Kolkata or have visited the city, you must be aware of Sri Hari Mistanna Bhandar. This sweet shop has got just two branches, one near the Hazra crossroad and the other near the Kalighat temple. For more than 5 decades they had been selling the biggest and largest langcha in Kolkata, a long and thin cousin of gulab jamun, but the reason I mentioned here is Sri Hari also caters the best luchi and cholar dal all through the day. If you have not tried it till now, go and visit.
Cholar dal is just one, and there is a lot more to go. Bengalis are fond of potatoes, we try to use it almost everywhere. Probably if there is vote for the most popular comfort food for Bengalis alu seddho and bhaat would be a winner. Potatoes are a rage; they are used in almost all vegetarian side dishes and also in meat or fish curries. So, the simple potato curry with just a little of nigella and green chillies, the famous sada tarkari is an instant hit with luchi. Even though we get all types of vegetables throughout the year these days but the fulkopir tarkari in a chilly winter morning with luchi is something to die for.
Sunday is the meaty day, there’s hardly a few Bengalis who doesn’t cook chicken or mutton on Sundays. So, why not start the day with some meat. Smoking hot kasha mangsho with garam garam fulko luchi – no one can deny that breakfast.
Bengalis love their sweet. Sweet at the end of the meal is almost compulsory; we’ll find more sweet shops in any street of Kolkata than pharmacies. Sweets or desserts as a side dish with your luchi is a heavenly combination. Chaler payesh or cold rice pudding or the Bengali special payesh with hot luchi is an ultimate combo. Or even the soft sandesh to go with luchi.
The list for Bengali breakfast with luchi is unending. It is like the queen of the kitchen. The fluffy golden texture, deep fried in refined oil always reminds me of the Sundays in my Kolkata home. What’s your luchi story, share it with us.
Hot Tips – if you want something more from your luchi, stuff it with some mashed peas to prepare karaisutir kachori.