I received a copy of Bong Mom’s Cookbook as part of the Indiblogger book review program, and my book was delivered around 7 p.m. yesterday. At that point of time, I was dead to the world, and when I woke around 10 p.m. imagine my glee at seeing a great Saturday Night Read! I read through the book as the night progressed, and its simple, sincere narrative, and although I personally hate the term “Bong” (rhymes with dhong), I found this book easy to read, the recipes quite simple, and well-detailed when it came to instructions. Truthfully speaking, more than the recipes, I liked the way the author wrote about her experiences with food, and the way she tries to preserve her roots, while introducing new twists in the tale.

Luchi.

After reading a chapter, I sort of understood that her household was a “Ghoti” one. Bengali people are divided into two sects – Bangaal (originally from Bangladesh, like me!), and Ghoti (originally from parts of what we now see as West Bengal, like her!), and my family is strictly Bangaal. Being Bangaal, they have perfected the art of cooking in their own way, but this book, to me, in many ways, opened up a portcullis through which I was watching how the other half lived. And yes, for me, its a rather ‘us and them’ situation, because truthfully, I have never really been able to explore the “Ghoti” cooking culture too much.

However, to my pleasant surprise, most of the recipes here were similar to what we cook, except for the addition of sugar in a few. The author acknowledges this at one point of time, while talking about a particular recipe. She lovingly described her journey of cooking, from someone who was essentially a “non-cook” to a person who decided to open a food blog and eventually wrote a book.

The Cause of my Sudden Luchi Craving….

And she inevitably made me crave luchi. Because the way she described it was absolutely intimate. Like Petrarch romancing Laura.

So this morning my personal Bong Mom and I decided to go on a joint venture and make Luchi and chorchori. While my mother attacked the flour dough, I started chopping my vegetables, and cooked a quick stir-fried chorchori, which came together with a dash of paanch phoron, a couple of green chillies, and a hefty pinch of turmeric, slightly sweet and salty and glistening with mustard oil, the way my grandmother would make it.

Chitrokoot, my father’s contribution.

My father was sent off to the market to get something which would be sweet and perfect after the luchi. He brought back Chitrokoot, a family favorite, deep fried and immersed in sugar syrup. At this point, I daresay, my sister woke up, and wanted luchi as well, so my mother started to roll them out while I fried them. The beauty of luchi lies in the communal feeling it adds to life, a particular thing aptly picked up by the author.

Potol Alur Chorchori I made This Morning. 

Once the marathon began, it did not end quickly. It ended only after copious amounts of hot, sweet tea was gulped down, the chorchori bowl scraped for the last bits, and the final Chitrakoot consumed sneakily before the empty packet was thrown out.

And I can blame that it was all this book’s fault. Very safely.
Sandeepa Mukherjee Datta, or Bong Mom’s Cookbook, has been a blog I follow, so the recipes were not very surprising. Her writing style, as usual, is beautiful and intimate, and the episodes she describes are familiar. I can say that there are times where her narrative sounded slightly defensive, but overall, I feel this book is worth a read. 
Written by Poorna Banerjee

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