Yesterday I wanted to visit Ambassador Hotel, Khan Market Delhi to try out delicacies as suggested by Moving Encyclopaedia of Food i.e. Anil Mulchandani, but as I had an opportunity to meet my old friend who stayed at Banga Bhawan, He insisted me to try out Bengali Cuisine at Bijoli Grill , Banga Bhawan. Bijoli Grill is the famous caterers of Kolkata who runs canteen at Banga Bhawan.
We ordered Special Bengali Thali. It consisted of Julienne Bhaja, Aamstto Khejur Kismis Chutney, Sada Bhat, Bangla Polao, Papad, Bhetki Bhap , Mutton Masala, Moong Dal, Misti Doi. As Bengali people use to eat curry mixing with bhat, they don’t serve chapatti, whereas we people from northern and western India are used to eat curry with chappati..Therefore, I had to order Bangla Paratha.
We can call this thali “Banglair Bhuribhoj” (The great Bengali feast) and when it is feast how can we forget Fish? Bengal is “Fish Capital” of India and therefore, fish is culturally connected with people of Bengal. We were served Bhetki Bhap a fish marinated with mustard sauce and then wrapped in banana leaf and steam cooked. Fish is a rich source of Omega 3 Fatty Acids and I think we are spoiling its nutritional value by deep frying with other oils. In Bhetki Bhap no extra oil is used and its steam cooked keeping its nutritional value intact. I presume there can be no other healthy style of cooking fish. Parsis too have similar recipe of steam cooking known as “Patra ni Machi”.
Amstoo Khejur Kismis Chutney the best chutney I have so far came across is made from dates, kismis, aam papad, Panch Foron Spice Mix . Its sweet in taste and sticky in nature. Avid Food Lover Rajdeep Bhattachrji explains that tomato paste is added to make this chutney to balance the sweetness. So quantity of tomato depends on the amount of sweetness you need to balance. It was so tasty that I not only ate this chutney bowl full but also downloaded the recipe once landed Ahmedabad. I wish everyone reading this blog should try to make Amstoo Khejur Kismis and it will be regular part of your daily food.
I was under the impression that Bengali cuisines are less spicy compared to Rajputana cooking. Therefore, I found Mutton Masala bit spicy. But later on I was informed that Bengali Cuisines possess strong Muglai Influence in their food.
Misti Doi’s rich texture and irresistible flavor inspired me for another cup.
Chef Chanchal Datta informs that Widows have greater influence on Bengali Cuisine because almost 25% of Bengali Families have widows living in their house. Widows are not allowed to eat Garlic. Therefore, Bengali dishes are more on Ginger rather than Garlic or onion. Widows were restricted to going out of house and were restricted to kitchens. This restriction created a unique class of chefs In Bengal and gave birth to ginger based preparation.
Mr. Mriganka Dutta, CEO of Mrigonits Food Pvt. Ltd loves bhapa ilish with rice. He further reveals that ilish with the preparation of steam gives the sweet aroma. Ilish is the queen of the fish family. Whereas Tuli Banerjee, Writer informs that she likes Bengali sweets as it is lighter on tummy and are allowed to be consumed even by the doctors because they are made with Chhena (Farmers cheese) and is mostly not deep fried.
Mr. Anil Mulchandani, avid food writer says that he is fond of Maccher Jhol specifically with seasoning with ginger, garlic, turmeric and mustard. He is also fond of Kosa Mangsho which has a spicy gravy with a faint sweetness of jaggery. Kosha Mangsho is a bengali word which means sauted meat. It is a classical mutton curry generally cooked in thick iron wok. He strongly recommends Kosha Mangsho’s velvety gravy on which you will surely lick your fingers by biting into the juicy pieces of the meat.
You may like to know : Bengalis are honored to introduce multi course meals in Indian Sub Continent. It is normally started with Starter like bitter vegetables or herbs deep friend, then followed by Shak , 3rd course is dal eaten with generous portions of rice 4th is main course consisting of fish or mutton and then comes chutney course eaten with papad. Chutney course (Sour) is mainly to prepare you for sweet course. The meal is typically ended with Misti Doi & other sweets.
Deciphering Bengali Words Jhal & Jhol : Whenever you go to Bengali restaurant, you will come across Jhal & Jhol words suffixing dishes. Jhal means Hot. It is first lightly fried and then cooked in a light suce of ground red chilli, mustard and flavored with Panch Phoron.
On the other side, Jhol is less spicy. The gravy in Jhol is thin yet flavorful.
So, If you are in Delhi and would like to explore Bengali Cuisines, Bijoli Grill at Banga Bhawan is the right place for you.
Banga Bhawan, 3rd Halley Road, Nr. Kasturba Gandhi Marg,
New Delhi – 110 001.
Phone : 011-23321233 Cell : 8506070452
Lunch starts at 1:00 to 3:00 pm.