“Food in Bengal is both deeply hedonistic and spiritual. We offer it to our guests and our gods with undivided devotion. And, in turn, we let the flavors feed our soul and our emotions in equal measure“. In his latest book, Cooking Up Culinary Adventures, well-known film director and novelist, Jayabrato Chatterjee writes about the various myths and stories behind Bengal’s diverse culinary styles. Presented by Harshavardhan Neotia, Chairman of Ambuja Neotia Group, Cooking up Culinary Adventures is the crystallization of more than a year’s research by Jayabrato Chatterjee. “The book traces the genesis of Bengal’s traditional food influences and rekindles the nostalgia of grandma’s recipes through a rigorously researched time travel into the kitchens of its varied communities and foreign settlers.” says Neotia.
What is special about the book is the way it is presented. It not only contains interesting facts on the evolution of Bengal’s food but also offers a glimpse into the life and times of some interesting individuals and communities whose eating habits have left a rich legacy of flavors in Bengali cuisine. We get to know of the queen-bee socialite of Calcutta in the 1700’s, Begum Johnson and her fabulous parties, the story of the famous courtesan Gauhar Jaan of Chitpore, the history of Bow Barracks, the mystery of the Bhawaal Sanyasi, how the perennial tussle between the ‘ghotis’ and the ‘bangaals’ started and many more. To supplement the text, the author has also included rare paintings, photographs and recipes of popular dishes that make reading the book an enriching experience.
Whether you are Bengali or not, if you are intrigued by the history of a very old city, her people and their food, then Cooking Up Culinary Adventures by Jayabrato Chatterjee is a book that you must read. It is currently available at Starmark and Story in Kolkata.