A great week in Gurgaon & Delhi making new friends, meeting new friends, meeting old friends, college friends, B- School friends, twitter friends, staying at home with family, fussed over by brother and sister in law, and now happily back in Bandra. It's good to be home.
And what a wonderful welcome back. It’s been wet though not raining. Just can’t get enough of the cool evening here after the oppressive heat of Gurgaon and Delhi. I am an Aquarian and I love my rains.
Just when life felt good, it became even more perfect. I found out that Surjapriya’s Bong Bong had introduced khichudi in their menu. I had been asking them to do so ever since the rains had started. Turned out that they had actually listened to me! This seemed to be the answer I was looking for just as I rued not carrying back some of the lovely looking bhaapa Ilish and murgir jhol that my sis in law had made for lunch in Gurgaon yesterday.
Khichudi and rains go together in the Bengali lexicon. Back home when it’s pouring and when shops and markets are shut and food is scarce, there is always some rice and daal at home which Bong moms put together to rustle up a hot nourishing khichudi. Carbs, proteins together in a hot tasty dish, if there is some papad (what foreigners call poppadum) or a mamlet (omelette) to go with it then life can’t get more beautiful. There’s also a bit of granny’s wisdom in it. Monsoons are a time when people used to fall ill and have bad tummies and a soothing khichudi would be perfect then.
Bong Bong had apparently introduced the khichudi while I was away. It was raining heavily the last time we went there and I had asked Chef Sanjib to introduce khichudi on the menu. He’s a good man.
On hearing about the khichudi on the menu, I called up and placed an order for. Chef Sanjib himself took the order at the other end. He said he would send a vegetable khichudi. Apparently they have versions with chicken nuggets, mutton kheema and prawns too. I too agreed that vegetable was the way to go.
The khichudi soon arrived and it turned out to be on the house from Surjapriya, the owner of BongBong, even though I had placed the order.
I opened the lid of the container and the heady aromas of ghee spread through the apartment. Suddenly the flat smelt like Ashtomi in Kolkata. I took out half of the khichudi on my plate and had a couple of fork-fulls and broke out into a huge grin.
This khichudi from BongBong was fantastic. Of course, Bong Bong has to do a bit of innovation as they are a ‘modern’ Bengali place. So here’s what they did. The soul…the short grained gobindobhog rice, moong daal, ghee..all combined together in a very traditional way to bring out that sense of being at home that all immigrants seek. Bong Bong added a minor twist in the vegetables. Instead of putting in chunks of potatoes they put in small cubes, peas and bits of fried beans and baby corn giving it a mild pulao-ish feel and it had the faint sweetness of ghoti cooking. What I really enjoyed were the bits of fried cauliflower in the khichudi. Normally cauliflower is added in the khichudi mix and boiled with it. Or else cauliflower is fried separately and eaten as a side with the khichudi. Here the cauliflower was cooked as a side fry and then integrated into the mains. Brilliant.
No, I don’t think I will try the non-veg khichudis. I am not that radical.
I finished the serving I had taken and then headed to the kitchen to have the other half and with the papad they had thoughtfully sent.
Which is when the very talented Chef Sanjib of Bong Bong called me up “Syar, shob theek toh…ektai problem holo…Jharna ghee chhilo nah Amul use korlam” (All good sir? Just one problem. I couldn’t get Jharna ghee so had to use Amul)
I assured Chef that after living outside of Kolkata for 16 years, and having not belonged to a ghee using house before that, I was just happy with the wonderful aromas of ghee that spread through the house to make it feel like home.
I felt very pleased with myself as the dinner got over. I mean what’s the point of being a food blogger if you don’t get restaurants to introduce your favourite dishes for you?
Thank you team Bong Bong. You made me very happy tonight.
PS Here’s a link to a recipe and cooking video of the khichudi which I make basis my Didu’s recipe