Mishti Doi | Bengali Sweet Yoghurt

Mention that you are a Bengali and conversations are bound to lead to Rabindra Sangeet, Kolkata and food. There are assumptions galore that with Bengali genes you are a walking encyclopedia of all things mentioned above. It’s rather amusing – for me at least – when I say I’m not very knowledgeable about either of these. Having been brought up…

fromthecornertable, from the corner table, tuck in, mangsho ghughni, streetfood

Mangsho Ghughni | Mutton & Peas Curry

I’m still staggering under the number of sweets I’ve gorged on in the past few days. Diwali season was literally a ‘mithai season’ (sweets season) for me with sweets made at home, others’ homes and store-bought making their merry way into my system. I won’t insult your intelligence by insisting ‘I couldn’t say no’. Nope, I could have but I am a greedy…

fromthecornertable, from the corner table, labanga latika, labangalatika, clove, sweet, mithai, mawa, mishti, bengalisweet, bengali sweet

Labanga Latika | Sweet Clove Parcels

It’s amazing the way certain foods trigger memories of times gone by, relations lost in the passage of time – the memory brightening your mood faster than a cup of coffee or a quart of ice cream can. Labanga latika, a Bengali sweet dish, is one such food item for me. I don’t remember a time when I’ve not eaten…

Narkel Naru | Bengali Coconut Confection

The festivities celebrating different forms of the Goddess are nearly over – the Navratri fervour will reach its crescendo tonight with Ravan dahan even as the Durga devotees are gearing up for that final adieu, the idol immersion. That feeling of having enjoyed a festival to its maximum, mixed with that bittersweet emotion of the end of something good is palpable in the…

Dimer Devil | Bengali Deviled Eggs

Chops or cutlets are an integral part of the Bengali’s food culture, as is evident when a Bengali lists his/her ‘favourite snacks’ or ‘popular street foods’. Every one of us has his/her favourite bhaaja (batter fried) that we want with our lunch of dal-bhaat (lentil soup-rice) or the evening chai. The classic street food, a generous appetiser, the perfect accompaniment to the evening drink,…

Aloo Posto | Potatoes in Creamy Poppy Seed Paste

“I’m about to board the flight/train. See you soon.”“Okay. By the way, what do you want for lunch/dinner?”“You know Maa! Moshuri daal, bhaat, ghee maakha aloo sheddo (red lentil soup, steamed rice, mashed potato seasoned with ghee and salt)” This conversation, or a version of it, is repeated each time I am on the way home after travelling for days/weeks/months.…

Maangsho Jhol (Bengali Mutton Curry), from the corner table, #fromthecornertable

Maangsho Jhol | Bengali Mutton Curry

Several people, when asked about a mutton curry, have described it as “a gravy of meat, potatoes and/or vegetables” depending on their location on the world map. For a Bengali, however, there is nothing ‘simple’ about the maangsho jhol (Bengali style mutton curry). This is a curry that is usually reserved for the Sunday lunch or made to add that extra oomph to a meal made to impress.

A Bengali can regale you with tales of incidents and heated discussions that have taken place during the Sunday lunch of maangsho jhol and bhaat (rice). There is an emotional connect with this curry.

Such is the robust personality of the maangsho jhol that accompaniments are limited to some fresh green chillies for that extra zing, sliced onions and some chaatni (chutney). The adventurous ones – read those with strong digestion systems – end the meal with a serving of creamy homemade doi (yogurt). I say adventurous because mutton curry is heavy on the stomach. As is any milk product like yogurt.

My memories of maangsho jhol are tied up with winter picnics and Sunday afternoons. These picnics were organised by the Bengalis who had banded together in a foreign land, in this case Rajkot, a city in Gujarat. Following traditions they had grown up with, they would organise picnics during winter. At these outings, men would take up cooking duties and amid a lot of laughter and some tiffs over the amount of red chilli powder, these daddies would cook maangsho jhol and rice. The mothers were given the tedious job of prepping the onions, ginger and garlic. Our job, as kids, was to play! Best job in the world, wasn’t it?

At the Bhaumick – yup that’s my surname – household, maangsho jhol and rice was a Sunday ritual made special by the fact that my father would be cooking it. His maanghso jhol is world-famous, I kid you not! It was (and still is) a labour of love. Labour because it does take at least 2 hours to make unless you want to be done in a jiffy and dump it all in a pressure cooker.

Don’t let the ‘2 hours’ scare you off! It made me shudder in dread too. But whilst learning to cook this dish, I realised that you don’t have to do much after the first 30 minutes. Honestly!