• Tuck-In

    Korola aloo chorchori | Bengali-style bitter gourd & potato

    We are a family of bitter gourd lovers. Give us bitter gourd in any form and we will love it, especially if it has retained that light bitter taste – boiled, mashed and seasoned with mustard oil and salt; crispy fried; stuffed with spices; stir-fried – we heart this green. So much so that each time I am about to travel to Bristol to visit the elder sister and brother-in-law, the parents get nearly a kilogram or two of bitter gourd and then spend hours cooking it to crispy perfection. This dish is then securely packed in airtight containers which are opened only in the Bristol kitchen. I surmise that…

  • Tuck-In

    Ginger Chilli Chai

    I was looking through old photo albums a few days ago and unearthed the one of a family trip to Malaysia where the elder sister and brother-in-law were settled. This was roughly a decade ago when I was younger and was learning about food, always ready to try something new but still wary of the unknowns and unidentifiable on the plate. We never clicked photos of the food we were eating but a photograph reminded me of the trip to a chocolate factory and my first rendezvous with chilli beyond the way we use it in Indian recipes. I distinctly remember being floored by a bar of chilli-flavoured chocolate that my…

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    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…

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    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,…

  • from the corner table, #fromthecornertable, Maida Pakoda, #indiansnacks
    Tuck-In

    Maida Pakoda | Flour Fritters

    It was a gloomy monsoon evening, the skies overcast with thick clouds as raindrops lashed the glass panes, the howling winds a reminder of nature’s force. The parents were slumped before the television set, sipping on chai, as I sat on a sofa, struggling to concentrate on work. The sound of the doorbell jarred the gloom, the loud sound rousing us from the slump and forcing Maa to shuffle to the door. Who knew the opening of those doors would dispel the approaching dark, bringing in the joy of light, laughter and taste! Who knew that a plate of fritters would make us shake off the sluggishness and add the always needed munch to…

  • Tuck-In

    Mewe ka Paag | Dried Fruit-&-nut Bar

    Spot a festival marked on the calendar and I immediately start grilling my mother about the food. The latest conversation went something like this… Me: Maa! It’s Janmashtami on September 3. What’s special on the menu for the day?Maa: Hmmm… I could make payesh but then you are lactose intolerant so…Me: Okay. What else?Maa: Your grandmother made delicacies when we were kids but we never observe Janmashtami with much fervour so I’ve never bothered.Me: But Maaaaa………….Maa: Go ask Verma aunty; they celebrate Janmashtami every year, I’m sure she’ll cook up something special. And boy, was she right! Verma aunty – our front-door neighbour, Maa’s BFF and a brilliant cook –…

  • 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…