Pumpkin Flower Fritters and Other Classic Recipes from a Bengali Kitchen
How shall we cook the humble potato? Let us count the ways.
The variety, subtlety, and sophistication of Bengali cuisine has always dazzled gourmets. Many great recipes, however, have been well-hidden family secrets.
Renuka Devi Choudhurani (1910–1985) was married off at the age of ten into a zamindari family. That was when her culinary education began, mainly from her
father-in-law, but also from itinerant bawarchis and specialist cooks. As her interest in good food developed, she took to collecting and recording recipes. Ultimately, she published a two-volume Bengali work containing about four hundred vegetarian and three hundred fish- and meat-based recipes.
This translation of Renuka Devi’s recipes contains a wide-ranging selection from the original. Her unusual and inventive recipes cover all the courses that might normally be served in a Bengali meal: fritters, vegetables, lentils, rice, fish, meat, chutneys, dessert. Her richly textured autobiographical introduction describes a way of living and eating that is now lost.
The recipes have been selected and translated by Renuka Devi’s daughter-in-law, Sheila Lahiri-Choudhury, who is an eminent D.H. Lawrence scholar in addition to being a gifted translator. She tried out most of the recipes in the author’s presence and her editorial approach is unobtrusive and helpful.
This book has acquired a cult following over the years. With good reason. From the simplest dal to the most elaborate tiger prawn in coconut milk, the recipes are easy to follow – and the results are delicious.
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