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Bong-Punj Classics: Murgi'r Mangsho Kabuli Chola Diye ( Chicken cooked with chickpeas in a dry garvy)

Punjabis are known for their love of food, second to Bongs. And quiet like Bongs they are willing to shed sweat, tears and blood for their food. The Punjabis are a hearty community of people who are well known all over the world for their immense contribution in various fields, food being the main. After all they did gift the world "Butter Chicken" and "Chicken Tikka Masala" which now our colonial masters can't seem to do without. They also gifted us vegetarian fares like Sarso Da Saag (Mustard green,cooked in spices), Makki di roti(Unleavened corn bread cooked on a tawa), Gajar ka halwa(grated red carrots cooked with milk, ghee, dry fruits and mawa) In fact, to be absolutely fair to my food-holic brothers, they also gifted us Bhangra( If you don't know what Bhangra is, you are literally living under a rock. Even the Canadian Prime Minister does bhangra!)

Hence it's only fair to say that Punjs and Bongs cook with a lot of similar ingredients in their …
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Bong Classics: Dim Alu Bhaate(Mashed potatoes with boiled eggs, tempered with spices and fried onion julienne)

As Bengalis, we love the(humble) potato to bits. We are obsessed with it, we dream about it and we find innovative ways to include the Alu(potato) in our daily dishes. Alu to us is Bae! As such whether it is the starting of the meal or the end, potato is the Prima Donna to our gastronomic adventures. We start off meals with Ucche-Alu Bhaate(Bitter gourd mashed with boiled potatoes) that clarifies the blood and is good for health; we have Jhuri Alu Bhaja (thinly shredded potato crisps that beat any packet chips available), we have Alu-Posto ( a delectable dished cooked with poppy-seed paste and diced potatoes with a tempering of nigella seeds); the Mangshor Jhol'r Alu (Mutton Curry cooked with potato halves) and the holy grail of potatoes, Biriyani'r Aloo. Ask any Bengali from Kolkata to Connecticut and they will pledge before you that no matter how tasty a Biriyani is, if it has no Alu, it's not a Biriyani. We just can't do without it.
Like the Brits and the Americans…

Punjabi Classics: Handi Chicken (Tender,succulent chicken cooked in an earthenware pot)

Handi Chicken(HC) is quiet a popular item on the Punjabi menu. Hard working, industrious Punjabis love their chicken and paratha and there are quiet a few dishes that fail to receive as much recognition as Butter Chicken and Chicken Tikka Masala. The Colonial Maters, after their 200 year rule in India, returned back to England. Despite their general hatred towards the Indians or rather the Darkies, they seemed to had fallen in love with the cuisine of the country. As such Butter Chicken and Chicken Tikka Masala are still the most popular dishes in Her Majesty's kingdom.

Irrespective of the fame that these two dishes received, and they sure are amazing dishes, the one that kind of got left behind and failed to achieve as much popularity as it's elder siblings was the Handi Chicken. Now before you run off to try it, do remember that not every restaurant serves a good Handi Chicken. I have tried it in a lot of places and most of them have been disappointing as hell. I don't …

Chana-Motorsutir Dalna(Cottage Cheese-Green Peas cooked in a spicy vegetarian gravy)

Bengali cuisine has a wide array of vegetarian dishes. Contrary to popular belief, Bengalis do eat vegetarian food and not all our dishes revolve around fish or mutton. The annals of history state that in Bengal, when a Hindu and more particularly a Bramhin Hindu wife lost her husband and became a widow, she was dictated by society and religion to sustain herself on vegetarian fare for the rest of her life. This was primarily done as our Vedic texts suggest that the intake of onion,garlic, meat or fish increases sexual desire in a person. As widows constituted a considerable portion of the Bengal society, such desires were to be cured even before they began. Studies have been conducted on this and people have debated since time immemorial, but there is no concrete evidence to back this theory. Things are not the same as before as liberalism managed to change the staunch Bengali view on certain things. As such Hindu Bramhin widows had to abstain from meat in earlier times. But then wo…

Murgir Stew (Chicken Stew Bengali Style)

Stews originated in the ancient times, somewhere between the 8th-4th Centuries BC, according to Herodotus. The Scythian were the first to make the dish in resemblance to the modern day Stew. When the Colonial masters came to India, the country known for it's heat and humidity succumbed them or rather their bellies. The masters ensured the help of their trusted cooks whom they had brought all the way from their native countries, and sought respite from stomach ailments over a humble bowl of stew.

With time, as it happens with most countries, there was a quiet trade over of stews and the Bengalis realized that the stew was in fact quiet a healthy dish, just devoid of the spices that the Bengali palate was used to. So the Bengalis, intelligent as they were, started rectifying the dish or rather started adding their knowledge of spices to it, varying the way it was normally cooked, and thus the Bengali Chicken Stew was born. To make it clear, Bengalis till date hold the record for  i…

Shorshe Mushroom Jhal ( Button Mushrooms cooked in a mustard-green chilli stir fried gravy)

Jhalis one of the taste component Bong cooks stive to achieve in the kitchen. Jhal basically means Hot/Spicy but it's the green chillies that often add the spice factor to plenty of Bong dishes. Bongs tend to love food on the hotter side, our taste buds have been trained like Shaolin Monks from a young age to develop decent hot tolerance. We have a lot of Jhal dishes, mostly with fish as fish and mustard-green chilli paste is a match made in heaven.
However we also have offbeat Jhal dishes, like this one. This dish is my ma's recipe, which was often made when I caught cold. The mustard acts as a Otrivin, it's pungency opening up a blocked nose and stimulating taste in an otherwise bland, sick tongue. Though Button Mushrooms still remain a luxury in Mafashal Bengal, my ma made this with Durga Chatu( Chanterelle Mushrooms), in mustard-green chilli paste in a dry gravy. The gravy should be dry enough to coat the mushrooms, but not a spoon more. 
I have had many people ask me,…

Japanese perfection at Wagamama

Japanese food is extremely popular worldwide. In the last decade or so Japanese food has managed to break barriers and promote itself to the exalted status of fine dining. Though the basics of Japanese food remains the same with a clever use of simple ingredients, moderate spices and quality protein, the result are often more than a humble bowl of food. In this respect the Japanese chefs have truly mastered the art of simple cooking.

Growing up in a small town in West Bengal,India, the chances of trying Japanese food were nil. There were only local food joints where one found the usual Indian-Cantonese food version that is now prevalent throughout the country. Chilli Chicken,Hakka noodles, Chicken Lillipop often being the bestsellers on the menu. It was only in the last 10 years or so that Kolkata has truly awakened to Japanese Food. Park Street, often known as the Khao-gully(food street) of Kolkata now hosts Zen, a fine dining restaurant that cooks Japanese, Malay and Chinese dishes. …