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  • Tuck-In

    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 outside Bengal, my exposure to culture has been varied – I’ve learned a few things Bengali from my parents, I’ve learned several things Gujarati having grown up in Rajkot-Baroda-Ahmedabad (cities in Gujarat) and I’ve learned loads of things pan-Indian owing to my friends who’ve been from different parts of the…

  • fromthecornertable, from the corner table, tuck in, mangsho ghughni, streetfood
    Tuck-In

    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 human being who loves her food too much and does not resist when someone holds a plate filled with goodies under her nose. However, after that mega sweet binge, my taste buds are protesting even that measly teaspoon of demerara sugar that goes in my cuppa. “We want savoury! We want…

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

    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 labanga latika; I remember being fascinated with the way Maa would make these little envelopes of crispiness filled with sweet delights. The pretty manner in which the sugar syrup added shine and formed those crystals on this parcel, the anticipation of an explosive taste of a whole spice… all of…

  • Tuck-In

    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, a chop is destined to lift your spirits with the crunch of the deep-fried golden brown cover and the perfectly seasoned (and cooked) filling. Satisfaction guaranteed. There have been times when, as children, the elder sister and I have gazed with longing at that last chop as Maa urged it on…

  • Tuck-In

    Elo Jhelo | Fried Bengali Pastries

    I’ve recently developed a craving for sweet food. This craving rears its head at the strangest of times and more often than not, behaves like that puppy determined to chew on your favourite shoe. And it’s nowhere cute because indulging this craving leads to a sugar overload, late-r nights and blurry-eyed mornings. Let’s not even mention the not-so-good effects of refined sugar if I’ve fallen prey to store-bought mithai* or those glistening chocolate éclairs. It happens often. Very, very often. This new craving has also turned into a major topic of discussion at the dining table. The parents stand divided with their concerns. They both love sweets. They indulge their sweet tooth,…

  • Tuck-In

    Nimki | Bengali Savoury Crackers

    An oval-shaped dining table dominates the living room of our family home. It’s the place where we eat our meals, yes. But there’s much more to that table. The dining table is where Baba* sits to sift through the daily mail and at the end of the month, attempt to make sense of my expenses. The table is where Maa prefers to solve the newspaper puzzles and crosswords. It’s my choice of seat with a cuppa as I read through gossip pages of newspapers or drool over the magazines I subscribe to. The table is where we dissect the ‘who said what’ and ‘why they said what they said’. It’s…

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    Ol’er Daalna | Elephant Foot Yam Curry

    Gosh! Have you ever marvelled and shaken your head at the ease with which the child version of you was made a fool of? I do! Seems I was a rather happy-go-lucky and trusting child, willing to believe almost everything the parents told me. And when it came to food – and yes, I was born a food worshipper – everything the parents said was taken as the gospel truth. Probably the reason why Maa got away with convincing me that the elephant foot yam curry and the raw jackfruit curry that she would make often were actually meat curries. Seems I was rather demanding a food lover and wanted…

  • Tuck-In

    Shorshe Salmon | Salmon in Mustard Sauce

    Nearly a decade of living in the United Kingdom has made the elder sister a good cook and an almost expert in the art of ‘kitchen substitutes’. A cheerleader for the ‘quick and easy’ meal squad, Raka (the elder sister’s name that means ‘full moon’) confesses that she has learned by trial and error. “I would crave certain Bengali dishes that we’ve (her husband included) grown up eating but would not know how to make them in England. There were missing ingredients, be it the greens or fish or spices. It took me a while but over the years, with a little guidance from my mother and late mother-in-law, I…

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    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. This ritual stems from the feeling of warmth and comfort that only potatoes can give. Nutritionists and dieticians have gone blue in the face urging me to stop eating this ‘fattening’ food. I’ve quit them rather than give up potatos. Sheer nonsense I tell you! Has there ever been anything…

  • Tuck-In

    Aam Dal | Red Lentil & Raw Mango Soup

    A news alert two days ago declared that the western part of India will experience monsoon “in 2-3 days”. This means me, along with scores of others, have joined a thousand others sending prayers to the rain gods! But until the rains arrive, I am busy enjoying the last of the mango rush. Like almost every Gujarati household – we are part Gujarati by virtue of the years we’ve lived here – we love mangoes. Green raw and tangy or orange fleshy juicy… we like it all. Maa does her bit to keep up with the aam (mango) demand with aam ras (mango puree), aam papdi (mango leather), aam achaar (mango pickle), aam chutney (mango chutney), aam panna (mango…