Thali Menu #133 – Bengal | Winter Foods
West Bengal is a state in eastern India, between the Himalayas and the Bay of Bengal with a unique geopolitical, cultural and historic significance. Bengali culture considered one of the richest cultures in Indian subcontinent has a recorded history of over 1,400 years. Kolkata or Calcutta is the capital city of the state and has a rich history and heritage to boast of.
Kolkata also holds a special place in our (Sunita and Sanjay’s) lives as our son was born in this wonderful city that grew on us as we called it home for around 4years. It gave us the opportunity to learn and appreciate the subtle nuances of the understated Bengali culture and cuisine.
Bengali cuisine is a culinary style originating in Bengal, a region in the eastern part of the Indian subcontinent, which is now divided between Bangladesh and the Indian states of West Bengal, Tripura and Assam’s Barak Valley. With an emphasis on fish, vegetables and lentils served with rice as a staple diet. Use of mustard oil in cooking, mild whole spices and mix of spices called ‘Panchphoran’ are hallmarks of this wonderful cuisine.
Bengali cuisine is known for its subtle (yet sometimes fiery) flavours, and its spread of confectioneries and desserts.
The city of Kolkata was the capital of British India from 1772 to 1911, and as such a strong British influence can be seen in many aspects of Bengali culture including its cuisine. Iconic dishes such as Railway Mutton, Dak Bungalow Chicken Curry are all lingering influences of the Anglo-Indian era.
Bengali cuisine is unique amongst other regional Indian cuisines because it also has the only traditionally developed multi-course custom,that is similar in structure to the à la russe style of French cuisine, with food served course-wise rather than all at once.
At Daana, however we will present it as a Thali this weekend. So, make your booking today to savour the taste of Bengal.
Recipe of the week
Maharashtrian style tempered dal
For pressure cooking:
- ½ cup Toor dal or split pigeon peas
- 1 ½ cups Water
- ¼ teaspoon Turmeric powder
- Salt to taste
- 1 teaspoon Jaggery
- 2 teaspoon Ghee
- ½ teaspoon Cumin seeds
- ½ teaspoon red chili powder
- a pinch Asafoetida
Pressure cooking the Dal
- Wash Toor dal under running cold water till water runs clear.
- Soak the dal in enough water for at least 30 minutes.
- After 30 minutes, discard soaking water.
- Add dal to the pressure cooker with 1 ½ cups of water and turmeric powder.
- Close the lid, put the weight on and cook it on medium heat for 3-4 whistles, open the lid once the pressure is released.
- Mash or hand blend the dal till smooth.
- Add salt and jaggery to the dal. The dal needs to be thin consistency but not too watery, add water to get the desired consistency.
- Turn the heat to medium and bring the dal to a simmer.
- Let it simmer for 4-5 minutes.
Making the tempering
- Heat the ghee or oil in a small frying pan.
- Once hot add cumin seeds and let them sizzle.
As seeds sizzle, turn off the stove, wait for a few seconds.
Then add red chilli powder and asafoetida.
Immediately add the tempering to the dal. Stir well.
Serve hot with steamed rice.