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Partition and Bengal famine taught Bengali women ‘Lockdown’ cooking decades ago

5 May, 2020 05:31:50
Partition and Bengal famine taught Bengali women ‘Lockdown’ cooking decades ago

In days of minimal raw materials available for cooking food, probably many Bengali households are doing good during Lockdown days, for we can raise a curry storm with almost anything and everything. Take for example Pumpkin and Gourd. If we can make a gourd prawn curry with the fruit, or a Kumror Chhakka with a pumpkin, Bengalis also use the flower of pumpkin to make crispy and yummy fritters, we use the stem of the plant in a mix veg dalna and even crush the seeds of pumpkin into a paste and with posto and shorshe whip up a dip that goes fantastic with a cup of steaming hot rice.



Shuntki maach

Even when we cook fish, if our Western counterparts have fish in whole as one dish, we can turn one fish into atleast 4 different dishes. From frying fish eggs, to fish oil to fish curry and even using the fish head for a murighanta or a special fish laden moong er dal. Such kitchen innovations as a response to spoilage of food led our elders even make pickles with seasonal mangoes, keeping them in the larder for future use just dipped in oil or smoked fishes in places where they were in abundance and later used those dried fish in vegetable curries. Who doesn’t know the tale of the famous Bangaal Shuntki maach

Posto Bora


Aloo Posto

It is stated in different British data, that when the rulers forced cultivation of poppy for their own profits, Bengal’s households started using poppy or posto in various dishes. From making posto bora, to jhinge and aloo posto, the women discovered a new ingredient that worked wonders for health as well as taste. Many Bengali recipes and dishes are thus born out of a need. Mix and match of ingredients in those days was not just for fun but to make a dish more delectable as well as nutritious by using most parts of a vegetable or fish that would otherwise be thrown away and making more than 4-5 dishes from a single item. Today, it seems to be very important as many of us are finding it difficult to get all ingredients for cooking specially as the supply chains dwindle and we need to do with whatever we get. Bengali kitchens are probably faring best during this lockdown as are moms and grand moms have already taught us the art of maximizing dishes through minimalist ingredients.  

Story Tag:
  • Bengal Famine, Lockdown Cooking

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