Panch Ratni Dal | Copyright Image on From The Corner Table

Panch Ratni Dal | Five Mixed Dals

“Do you know what I had for dinner? Dal! Just dal & rice!” my neighbour said, looking at me in amused horror probably hoping this fellow foodie would empathise. I couldn’t. Dal is one of my favourite foods. So much so, that the parents start worrying about my health when I say no to a meal that has dal on…

Pabda Maacher Jhol | Indian Butterfish Curry

I’ve got to start with a random confession… or confessions. It took me a while to figure out what pabda maachis called in English and with it came the realization that despite having grown up with the privilege of speaking and understanding 4 languages, I am not very good at either. Maa helped me fry the fish because all that spluttering…

fromthecornertable, from the corner table, bengali wedding, indian wedding Copyright: Abishek Biswas-Reshmi Karar

Decoding the Bengali Wedding Drama #1

• A long holiday for a wedding and travel• Bouts of influenza and viral fever• A sudden rise in mercury levels• The laptop battling a midlife crisis• Chronic neck-to-fingertips pain• Time to deal with messy matters of the mind These are just a few things that have kept me from being as regular a blogger as I have wanted to…

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!