Danuska Da Gama I NT BUZZ
Celebrated annually on either April 14 or April 15, this year the Bengali New Year was celebrated on April 14 as per the lunar-solar Bengali calendar. Shubho nobo borsho was celebrated at Cidade de Goa with an elaborate and hearty spread of Bengali food for three days at Café Azul.
Bengalis are known for their love for food and traditional preparation. Their cuisine is known for its fish and a variety of flavours. From appetisers in vegetarian and non vegetarian varieties that resonate with the mouth watering street food that most people love ranging from chops (mutton, chicken, fish, vegetable and prawns), egg rolls, to fish fry and beguni (fried brinjal). For the mains too, there was an array of dishes, different each day.
The preparations of fresh water fish like catla, pabda and rui were the best you could ask for, not making you feel that you were eating Bengali food outside Bengal like Pabdar jhal, Borisali mach, sores bhetki besides delicious preparations of meats in traditional Bengali style. These included chingri malai curry (prawns), gol barir mangsho and kochi pathar jhol (mutton), murgi kosha (chicken) and other preparations too.
For the vegetarians too, the offerings were plenty – ghee bhat, potol bhaja, channar dalna, aloo jinge posto and a lot more. The cholar dal required a dash of gongoraj lemon to enhance the flavour and went well with the ghee bhat. The sukto made of various veggies had a mild bitter flavour because of the use bitter gourd. It is considered a huge part of the celebrations and the Bengali cuisine.
There were also traditional Bengali chutneys like the plastic chutney and kancha amaer chutney. Here the fascination was the plastic chutney especially because of the name. This sticky sweetish chutney is made of raw papaya and loads of sugar.
In Bengal mishti is eaten with a lot of fervour and are thought of as a good omen to start the New Year with. A lot of sweets in Bengal are made with chhena – sweetened cottage cheese – besides the use of flours of various cereals that make wholesome and tasty desserts. Sandesh is what I went for first, of course because it’s a popular Bengali sweet, but also because it’s rarely found in Goa. There were several others too, like the rosogolla, kalakand, payesh that’s like a kheer that is part of every other cuisine, besides pantua and chum chum.
The entire menu which was different for each day was conceived by chef Suvashish Mukherjee who gave us an insight of how Bengali cuisine has distinct taste and traditions that stand out, whether it’s the use of mustard oil for preparations, or frying the fish even if used in curries. Method of preparation is what makes Bengali food special, he said.
It was a nice evening where not only was the café playing some Bengali tunes, but the staff were dressed in traditional attire, welcoming one and all with some red vermillion on the forehead and well decorated with rangoli of flowers.