Eat like a Bengali

Published: 21 October, 2012 10:38 IST | Tunali Mukherjee |

There's no calorie counting, diet control or guilt when it's time for Durga Pujo. Tunali Mukherjee, a helpless victim of the food-in-mouth syndrome, asks city Bengalis to whip up some festive magic

Durga Pujo’s here, and it’s that time of the year when you head over to a Bengali friend’s house for a royal feast. “You want to know why there are so few Bengali entrepreneurs?” asks Soumitra Ghosh, owner of the popular Bengali food joint Hangla’s, which incidentally has been named so thanks to the community’s love for food. “Blame it on the food. On an average, a Bengali spends 80 per cent of his earnings on food. During the five days of Durga Pujo, we lose our heads over food and the variety available, and our spending jumps to 200 per cent!” he laughs.

For most Bengalis, memories of Pujo are laced with the nostalgic aroma of food. Fifty four year-old homemaker Bina Baroi couldn’t agree more. “This is the one time in the year that the entire family gets together. When we were in Kolkata, we’d leave the house in the evening, after a hearty meal, and roam from pandal to pandal till about 4 am. An endless supply of samosas, sweets and Mughlai Parathas kept us going,” she reminisces. “This is also the only time we can eat anything and as much as we want and get away with it,” smiles the Churchgate- resident.

Forty seven year-old Reba Mukherjee, a Churchgate-based fashion designer, agrees. “Good food and Bengali celebrations go hand in hand, and Durga Puja is the real deal. With it getting bigger and better every year, and with caterers coming down all the way from Kolkata, we are spoilt for choice. I don’t enter the kitchen throughout the festival. In fact, it’s not just Bengalis, but a lot of Maharashtrian and Gujarati friends too who love the fare at the pandals. Forget diets and health problems, this season is purely dedicated to celebration,” she says.

This dish is the easiest to make and
is relished by sweet lovers all year round
1 litre milk
1 cup sugar
2 tbsp vinegar
Rose essence

Rossogolla by Bina Baroi. pics/bipin kokate

ØBoil the milk
ØAdd vinegar to half a cup of water, and little by little, add this to the milk while it’s boiling, so the milk splits
ØStrain the paneer formed in a cloth so that all the water is drained out. Mash the paneer finely till it becomes smooth, and make small balls of it
ØBoil a cup of sugar in three cups of water. While the sugar syrup is boiling, add the balls to the syrup. Put a lid and boil for 10 minutes. Reduce the gas and boil for another 20 minutes

This dish is considered auspicious and is a must-have at all Bengali celebrations, be they weddings, birthdays, baby showers or Durga Pujo

1 litre milk
2 tbsp basmati rice, washed
2 tbsp sugar
Special date jaggery
Raisins and cashews

Payesh by Bina Baroi

ØBoil the milk for half an hour
ØAdd rice, and let it cook. Add sugar and keep boiling until the mixture becomes thick
ØAdd jaggery and boil till the mixture blends
ØBe careful that the rice doesn’t melt, or the milk doesn’t split with too much boiling
ØDecorate with raisins and cashews

Mutton Mughlai Paratha
This dish originates from the kitchen of Akbar. It was introduced in Kolkata by the last two heirs of the Mughal Emperor who settled in the city

Purnendu Maity prepares Mutton Mughlai Paratha at Hangla’s in Andheri . Pics/Sunil Tiwari

For Mutton Kheema:
180 g mutton, minced
300 g onions
100 ml mustard oil
2 tsp ginger garlic paste
1 tsp turmeric powder
1 tsp red chilli powder
1 tsp cumin and coriander powder
1 tsp garam masala
5-6 green chillies
6 eggs
150 g bread crumbs
For Mughlai Paratha:
1 ½ cup white refined flour
2 tsp ghee
1 tsp salt
3 eggs
1 cup milk
Oil for frying

ØFor the kheema, in a bowl, heat oil and add finely chopped onions. Cook till they turn golden brown
ØAdd the mutton kheema and boil for 20 minutes
ØAdd all the masala and cook for 10 minutes. Add bread crumbs and keep aside
ØAdd eggs, onion and a small quantity of ginger and chilli to the kheema
ØFor the paratha, sieve the flour and salt together. Mix the ghee and milk with the flour and knead well until the dough becomes soft and pliable. Cover it with a wet cloth and keep aside for two hours
ØMake small balls and roll them into a 12-inch diameter. Pour the mutton kheema mixture in the middle and spread the mixture around the centre in a square shape
ØFold the sides of the round chapatti in a square shape, in a way that the batter inside is fully covered
ØMoisten your finger and press the corners and edges of the paratha with a little pressure to ensure the fold do not open while frying
ØHeat some oil in a frying pan. Place the paratha and fry from both the sides, till crispy and golden brown
ØRemove from pan and serve hot with dum aloo, salad and tomato sauce or Kosha Mangsho

Motorsutir Kochuri (Peas Kachori) and Aloo Dum
For the kochuri:
250 g peas
250 g flour
Ginger, 1 inch
1 tsp Asfoetida (heeng) Oil 
Salt to taste
Red chilli powder
1 tsp roasted cumin powder

Motorsutir Kochuri (Peas Kachori) and Aloo Dum by Reba Mukherji. Pic/Bipin Kokate

For the aloo dum:
1 kg baby potatoes, boiled and peeled
1 tbsp ginger garlic paste
1 tsp asfoetida (heeng)
2 bay leaves
2 green cardamoms
1 stick cinnamon
4 cloves
½ tsp cumin seeds
½ tsp turmeric
1 tsp roasted cumin powder
1 tsp coriander powder
Salt to taste
Red chilli powder to taste
1 tbsp ghee
½ cup curd
Coriander leaves, chopped

ØGrind the peas and ginger in a mixer
ØHeat the oil in a pan. Add asfoetida, peas and ginger mix. Add salt and red chilli powder. Fry till dry, but not hard
ØRemove mixture from heat and keep aside. Sprinkle cumin powder
ØMake dough using flour, oil and salt. Roll the dough into balls, flatten it between the palms and place a spoon of the peas mixture in it
ØClose the dough around the mixture and carefully flatten it with a rolling pin
ØHeat oil in a pan and deep fry
ØFor the Aloo Dum, heat oil in a pan and fry the potatoes
ØIn another pan, heat the ghee and add bay leaves, cardamom, cinnamon, cloves and cumin seeds. Add ginger garlic paste and the rest of the ingredients
ØWhen it is cooked, add the potatoes to this mixture along with ½ cup of water
ØCook till gravy turns thick. Garnish with coriander leaves
ØServe hot with the Kochuri

Where to eat Hangla’s
This roadside-stall boasts of chefs coming down all the way from Kolkata to serve you the authentic taste of Bengal. The Kosha Mangsho (mutton) and rolls are a must-try
At: Lokhandwala, Linking Road, Malad (W), Powai, Goregaon (e) and
Kandivli (e)
Call: 7738364223

Oh! Calcutta

One of the older Bengali restaurants in the city, Oh! Calcutta serves a whole range of specialised cuisine that is otherwise tough to come by. A bit on the pricier side, but perfect for a lazy afternoon meal or a swanky power lunch
At: Tardeo and Lokhandwala
Call: 23539114, 65806216, 23534372, 23533115

This is a small restaurant that may at first glance not impress with looks, but definitely has a menu that will satiate any appetite. Don’t expect much from the service though
At: Crawford Market
Call: 23401951

Nowhere are you going to experience Kolkata Biryani better than in Arsalan. Complete with egg and potato along with the meat, ask anyone who’s been to Kolkata and they’d tell you how the food even smells exactly like it’s counterpart back home
At: Khar (w)
Call: 99202 22873

Indian Kebab Festival
Courtyard by Marriott is attracting taste buds with unusual kebabs such as Char-grilled, Brandy-spiked Jumbo Prawns and Chicken Marinated with Betel Leaves.
At: Ocotber 22 to November 5, CTS No 215, Andheri Kurla Road, Andheri (e)
Call: 6136 9999
Go vegetarian at Neel
A special vegetarian menu is being introduced in light of the upcoming Navratri season at Neel. The menu includes Til Doodiya Paneer Tikka, Soya Aur Peshawari Mattar Ka Pulao, Sabz Nain Tara Tikki and Arab and Anjeer Chakora
At: Mahalaxmi Race Course, opposite Gate No 5 & 6, Keshav Rao Khadye Marg
Call: 61577777

New in town 
g-cafe to open next week
Gourmet Fashion Cafe will offer health and fruit infused foods, salads and pies.
At: October 22,
G-Cafe, Kirabo, next to Shree Khatwari Darbar Trust, 13th Road, Khar (West)
Call: 26483826 

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