It’s been almost two years that I have moved out of India. From being a lonely soul missing the home country at every nook and corner, to starting to adapt to the new culture here in Canada, this journey is nothing short of educating and liberating.
It is a known fact that Bengalis are snooty about their food. However, in this period of socializing with Bengalis out of India, I have observed how people have adapted to the new place, and created a food culture that is unique to the place. I will list few homemade creations that are Bengali to the core, but with a delicious global twist:
Well, Shukto is a matter of Bengali identity. The mix of odd veggies paired with bitter gourd and milk is one of our favorite “mom dishes”. However, some of those veggies (bottle gourd, pointed gourd, ridge gourd ) are not as easily available in the local superstores. Enter zucchini. The tender, green veggie can act as a substitute of any of the above-mentioned vegetables, and the resultant dish is nothing short of spectacular.
Also Read: How Shukto is not Indian at all!
Brussel Sprout Chorchori
Bengalis call it Chorchori, non-Bengalis will call it “sabzi”. But, finely grate the Brussel sprouts, and stir fry using the famous whole cumin Tadka, you will find a finger licking dish, that will remind you of home
Ever had Daal cooked with bottle gourd leaves? Bok Choy has traveled all the way from China, and is available in all local grocery outlets. Mix it will Daal just like you would have any other leaves, and Yum!
Ocean Perch er jhol
Bengali fish curry (Maacher Jhol) is usually cooked with very little spices. It is a soul food where the fish is pan-fried and then tempered with cumin, ginger, and tomato. Every household has a unique taste of this fish curry. But, far away from home, the fish closest to our fresh water Rohu is Red snapper or Ocean perch. Well, when cooked the same way Rohu would have been cooked, trust me it hits very very close home.
Chanar Payesh is made from curdled milk, jaggery and evaporated milk. Although curdled milk can be prepared at home, I recently had the same preparation made using Ricotta Cheese. Oh my god. It was one of the most delicious desserts I had the good fortune of experiencing. The delicate ricotta in the creamy milk texture melted in the mouth, giving it an ethereal longing taste.
The list is in fact longer. Every time nostalgia hits, and someone like me, makes do with something local; another global creation is born. Food is after all about making one feel at home, even if that is cooked in an entirely new way, thousands of miles away from home.
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