I received Bengali Cooking by Chitrita Banerji as a review copy from the publisher, Aleph book Company and am thankful to them. this book is not just about cooking, but it is about Bengal, Bengali traditions, Bengali seasons (I know I am being a little specific, but the way it is written, what with the names of the seasons and months in Bengali, that I felt that the seasons had become regional, such is the description).
Bengal is home to both Hindus and Muslims, and her people farm the fertile Gangetic delta for rice and vegetables as well as fishing the region’s myriad rivers. As recipes for fish in yoghurt sauce, chicken with poppy seeds, aubergine with tamarind, duck with coconut milk and the many other delights in Bengali Cooking testify, Bengal has given the world some of its most delicious dishes.
This highly original book takes the reader into kitchens in both West Bengal and Bangladesh by way of the seasons and religious and other festivals that shape the region’s cooking. Bengali Cooking is much more than a cookbook: it is also a vivid and deeply-felt introduction to Bengal’s diverse cultures and landscapes.
This is one book which has been written in such a way that anyone who reads it would want to atleast visit a Bengali restaurant to relish the cuisine. The book describes the Bengali cuisine in relation to the six Indian seasons and had been divided into four parts: Spring-summer, monsoon, early and late autumn and winter.
The book also has notes at the end which is followed by common ways of cooking Bengali food, suggested menus and an index. She also mentions that Bengalis are the greatest food lovers in the Indian subcontinent.
The book has a long introduction, it was the longest introduction that I have read for a book, 24 pages long. In this she talks about a wide range of things from the East-West Bengal difference in cooking; culinary difference among Hindus and Muslims.
There is also description of Bengal- the land, the rivers, the alluvial delta, the Bengali calendar year, the rotation of seasons, the abundance of fish, the rice fish entity being the heart of the Bengali cuisine, the use of ghee, Bengali literature.
She also talks about how the cuisine is related to seasons and has written the book in first person from her own point of view talking about her own experiences.
The author has a way of pulling the reader into the book and once you start the book it is unputdownable.
The book is not a recipe book but the recipes have been written in relation to the seasons, festivals and traditions.
Loved the book immensely.
Disclaimer: I received a free copy of the book from the publisher in return for my honest review. I have NOT received any monetary compensation for the same.