I was born in Bengal, so I feel a whole lot of me is Bengali. People often ask my husband, “Is your wife a Bengali?” He says, “She is not, but her soul is”. Living in Delhi for 12 years now, I miss the traditional Bengali food. Married in a Punjabi home, the smell of fish is a no-no. Though when we cook fish, it is with the chimney, the exhaust on and all the bedroom doors closed, followed by lighting candles to ward of the remnant smell. When I go mishti shopping in Delhi, the ones I want are not available, but Annapurna in Chandni Chowk is where my mishti shopping starts and ends.
The other day, I wanted to make Aloor dom in Bengali style and as I googled the word, Bong Mom’s Cookbook popped out on screen.
There were recipes and recipes. The most positive thing that I found on the blog was where she wrote that she is coming up with the cookbook next. I was browsing through flipkart and it was there that I saw the book on sale. I ordered it and very promptly, it was delivered to me the day after.
I was expecting a big cook book but what came was an easy to handle novel style book with stories and recipes intermingling with each other which you could read from anywhere. The front cover was simple and nice and Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni rightly mentions on the back cover, “Authentic and enjoyable, clear and personal, studded with anecdotes that warm the heart and stir up your own memories of your favourite family recipes, Bong Mom’s Cookbook is a delight to read. The only problem; you’ll have to interrupt your reading many times to try out these mouth-watering recipes!”.
This is what I did, I started the book on Thursday night at 11.55pm, read for an hour and a half and then started it off again in the morning. Two nights later, I am done with the book, I have earmarked all the recipes and flagged them. What I did was, I skipped the recipes entirely and read through her experiences because I knew if I sat down to read the recipes, I would want to make them as well. To get a taste of the Bengali cuisine, I went to Oh! Calcutta for a buffet lunch and a stomachful of Bengali food.
Her childhood, the meatsafe in her house, the kerosene stove, the Tista river, Chholar dal narikel diye, spending vacations in grandmother’s house, sumeet mixer, Bangladeshi soaps like Dallas and Different Strokes, rotating the antenna for a better reception, taking a big packet of eclairs or orange candy to school for birthdays, tomato chaatni, aam chaatni, forbidden but tempting Miils and Boon in school are reminiscent of my childhood.
Her weekday stories of getting kids ready for school, dunking marie biscuits in tea, what would I do in a spa reflects my current status.
Sandeepa Mukherjee Datta has really presented the book very well but I missed the recipe index and beautiful colourful photographs. It was quite a pleasant read.
Book Source: Bought
Publisher: Collins, An Imprint of Harper Collins Publishers