It’s still a few weeks before Durga Puja, but foodies can sample the Bengali Mohabhojon at APB Cook Studio. As part of their monthly Legacy Series, Pia Promina will bring her experience of curating a special menu at the studio. The food experience includes Promina sharing food stories that include growing up in Kolkata’s iconic restaurant, Kewpie’s Kitchen; the food at her mother, Minakshie Dasgupta’s kitchen; followed by a buffet lunch. Dasgupta was the author of Bangla Ranna, one of the earliest books on Bengali cuisine.

This wholesome meal awaits you at the Bengali Mohabhojon
This wholesome meal awaits you at the Bengali Mohabhojon

Promina shares, “Today, the popularity of Bengali food is unbelievable for someone who remembers a time when a landlord refused to rent out his space to a Bengali restaurant. This was back in 1996, when my family had just set up a 12 to 14-seater restaurant in the garage of our home. At Kewpie’s Kitchen, we began serving home-style Bengali food in earthenware.

This feature attracted the rich but staunchly vegetarian Marwaris who loved Bengali food and didn’t want to eat off plates that had previously served fish or meat. However, the local Bengalis still did not get the appeal of going out to eat gharowa khana (home food).” Bengalis took years to recognise the potential of their cuisine for the restaurant industry. “Today, I am heartened to see that many Mumbai restaurants serve mostly authentic versions of dishes,” says Promina.

“Our aim is to preserve and propagate regional Indian cuisines that are slowly being forgotten,” explains Rushina Munshaw Ghildiyal, owner of APB Cook Studio and curator of the Culinary Legacy Series, a pop-up.

What’s for lunch?
Promina has chosen to celebrate traditional home-style Bengali food that is usually a time-consuming and laborious affair. Guests will get to sample Lau Shukto, a bitter dish of bottle and bitter gourds. Another dish that restaurants consider home food is the Biuli Dal, which is seasoned with fragrant fennel seeds. The Vegetable Paturi is a Kewpie special, a dish that became popular in the restaurant and inspired many versions. Daab Chingri, which includes prawns cooked inside a coconut shell (in pic), will be cooked according to Promina’s mother recipe. These heirloom dishes, made on rare occasions, are hard to find, she reminds us.