Spotting Bengali Food

October 15, 2006


calcutta-kitchen.jpgAs the days go by, I am spurred on to help identify real Indian food from mass produced junk. As a Bengali from Kolkata, I think it’s a good idea to start with a bit on the cuisine from back where I belong.

Kolkata (formerly Calcutta) is the capital of West Bengal, the Indian state to the east of the country, beside Bangladesh. Better known for Mother Teresa, the Black Hole and Eden Gardens, its varied and delicious food often gets overlooked.

Shame. In Bengal, food is of utmost importance. Everything else comes second. As Simon Parkes puts it in “The Calcutta Kitchen”:

Once, a good friend told me, “what you’ve got to remember about us Bengalis is that we’re only really interested in three things: educating our children, reading books and food.” And in some ways that’s it in a nutshell.

Bengalis are also obsessed with their bowel function, but I don’t want to gross you out.

Udit Sarkhel, the co-writer of “The Calcutta Kitchen” has identified some real stand out qualities of Bengali food. Here are my top five, in his words:

  1. Bengalis are inveterate eaters of fish, and no good meal would be complete without fish or prawns
  2. Mustard is used as greens, as ground seeds and as a pungent, pure oil which is the principal cooking medium
  3. Ginger, cummin and chilli are the other spice mainstays; garlic is more of a flavouring of East Bengal, now Bangladesh
  4. Sugar is used a lot in savoury cooking
  5. Spice combinations are important , primarily garam masala and panch phoron

This Thursday, 19th October, Udit and Simon are speaking at a Bengali food evening at the British Museum. A must for food lovers and other curious beings. I believe some of their recipes will be dished out as finger foods after the talk. Tickets are still available if you want a more hands on Bengali food lesson.


4 Responses to “Speedy Crab Cakes”

  1. IshitaUnblogged Says:

    April 17th, 2013 at 4:10 am

    Absolutely fabulous Mallika! I’m a bit of a snob when it comes to showing off my friends (virtual or otherwise), so here’s my nose reaching the sky (not in the manner of Pinocchio’s – it’s not a lie).

    Sharing your video:)

  2. Indian Lacquerade Says:

    April 17th, 2013 at 11:32 am

    WoW! Mallika. I have been stalking your blog for a long time now. This is such awesome news! I love your writing style and the recipes you cook up. You deserve this! Congratulations again!

  3. bijoy Says:

    April 23rd, 2013 at 10:14 pm

    Hi, Mallika,
    Please could you email me the recipe for the crab cakes. I would like to see what 2 cans of crab meat weigh and what brand.

  4. Ready to eat meals Says:

    February 6th, 2014 at 9:05 am

    Easy ready to eat meals, perfect to go with plain or jeera rice.Even a good dish for snacks.

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