QUEEN’S ROAD: “There is no sincerer love than the love of food,” so said George Bernard Shaw. This quote is perfectly apt for Bengalis who love their food with a militant zeal. We are known to be gastronomic fiends because food is integral to everything we celebrate. From marriages, birthdays, Durga Puja, Kali Puja and counting.
Bengalis are lovers of fish and all things sweet. Every household in Kolkata cooks fish daily for lunch and only in this city, can one find fish being prepared in a million different ways in aromatic family kitchens. As for sweets, you will find them in quaint shops in every nook and corner. There are a number of sweet shops too which are famous all across the country. There are legendary names like Balaram Mullick and Radharaman Mullick, Girish Chandra Dey and Nakur Chandra Nandy, Banccharam, K.C. Das, Tewari Sweets, Gupta Brothers, Bhikharam Chandmal Sweets and many more.
Not many people are aware that veteran actor Amitabh Bachchan ordered sweets for Abhishek Bachhan’s wedding from Girish Chandra Dey and Nakur Chandra Nandy.
As a Bengali-Christian, I am lucky to have discovered the cuisine from both sides. During Christmas, I savour my mother’s home-made rose cookies, a special meat-ball curry and yummy pan cakes.
Though my mom is a Christian, she is an expert in cooking various Bengali dishes like posto ilish (Hilsa prepared with mustard seed paste) , ilish paturi (Hilsa baked in young plantain leaves), sweet dishes like gurer payesh (rice pudding prepared with date palm jaggery), pithe puli (made from a batter of rice flour which is shaped and filled with jaggery) and many more.
I miss my home food a lot because I am 2192 km away from Kolkata and I regret the fact that when I was at home, I used to complain about the food my mother cooked.
I realise now in a big, unfamiliar city that there is nothing better in this world than the familiar, comforting food cooked by a loved one because it is more than just about soothing hunger pangs. It is about love. And just like love is tough to find, so is food cooked with love.