PLAY MISHTI FOR ME: BABA GOES TO BANGLA TOWN
Dos Hermanos, it may come as a surprise to those who only know us through the blog, actually come from rather good Bengali stock.
Our father originated in a high born Barendra Brahmin family in Calcutta and came to the UK in the 50’s ending up as a surgeon in our hometown of Rotherham.
He has not returned too many times since and does not have much chance to find the foods he loved as a child.
So, while he is down with us in London we took the opportunity to drag him down to Brick Lane not least so he could explain to us what some of those odd vegetables, fish and sweets are in the stores which line the street.
Great fun it was too. Particularly as he was keen to explain the difference between the West Bengali cuisine and East Bengali ( Bangladeshi ) cuisine. West Bengal is primarily Hindu and East Bengal is primarily Muslim and this informs much of the food on offer. The West Bengalis love river fish like Ruhi while the East Bengali’s passion is for Hilsa caught in the salt water in the tributaries of The Ganges.
Although, most of the restaurants on Brick Lane are to be avoided, there are some excellent stores like Taj Stores and Bangla City and some very good sweet shops. What all Bengalis do have in common though, is a sweet tooth and Bengali sweets are known as the finest in India.
We did a bit of window shopping before dipping into Alludin and emerging a short while later with bags filled with rosagolla, gulab and mishti doi alongside some of the deep fried savouries that he was also craving, particularly shingara ( a type of samosa ) Most pleasing though was the fact that, despite his mother tongue being a little faltering these days, he was pleased to be complimented on his “posh” Calcutta accent by the sweet shop owner.
Now, back home and about to indulge in the fruits of our morning’s labours and he could not be happier.
A nice way to spend a morning
Khub Bhalo, Baba