Bengali Gourmet Dinner for #CookTheBooks @BookMunch

The Bengali Gourmet evening at BookMunch was very important and special to me. This was the first time I had attempted to showcase Bengali Cuisine in a bit more elaborate way – a modern menu that had been created with all the nuances of traditional Bengali cuisine. It was for the ‘Cook The Books’ in BookMunch, an unique monthly event where the host Chef talked about his/her cookbook or some recipes from their favourite cookbooks, followed by a dinner where the menu had been created by the host Chef. I wanted to create a dining experience where Bengali puritans would nod their heads in agreement – ‘yes, the food had all the Bengali flavours that one would expect in traditional Bengali cooking’ and the non-Bengalis who were tasting the food for the first time would certify – ‘this was delicious food and something we haven’t tasted before’. I am told that I have passed with flying colours. With important media personalities, food critiques and bloggers around, I was aware that I would have only one chance. If I didn’t cracked it that night, no body would be giving me a second chance and a ‘gourmet’ Bengali Cuisine in Dubai shores would remain just a dream and my shout outs on Bengali cuisine simply another popular post in my blog.Bengali Gourmet Dinner for #CookTheBooks @BookMunch

As all of you are aware, I have left no stone unturned in telling the world about my roots, where I come from and how delicious Bengali food is. But it had been important for me to explain to my family, close friends, blogger friends and my readers that the concept that I was proposing, was not just a regional cuisine for a regional audience. It would appeal to everyone, irrespective of their country of origin – because at the end of it, it was a rich cuisine we were talking about. In the future, I have plans to make films on Kolkata so that the diner is surrounded by the noise and sound of Kolkata as he/she is transported to the kaleidoscopic city itself. All of that in my next leap of faith. But for the time being, I am glad that the first hurdle has been crossed. The curiosity and the response to the event had been phenomenal – we had to turn down many guests from the morning. I basked in the spotlight throughout the evening, guiding the diner through each dish and shared stories of how and why I started my food blog, my Bengali heritage, how my Kolkata nostalgia shaped my current living, what stimulated my food senses and how the menu for that evening had been inspired by both traditional Bengali cuisine and Kolkata street food. And most importantly, how food connected me to each and every diner attending the dinner that night. Unfolding the evening as has been captured though the eyes of my husband (oh, how I wish the Z-Sisters were there – Big Z being such a foodie and a supporter in all my endeavours), my blogger friends and their social media shares on Instagram. I am also waiting for Ross Saldanha from Ross MediaWorks who has filmed the evening and Zee TV Middle East, who covered the event – I will be sharing the videos with you once I have them in hand.

Table decoration with personal silver bowls, folk artefacts from BengalCoffee table books depicting the art of Bengal, including those from the Tagore family

To all those who were present that evening, I can’t thank you enough. Although I was sure that the food will connect with you all, I hadn’t expected such an overwhelming share on social media. I feel very privileged to have been surrounded by your love and support… Sudeshna Ghosh of BBC Good Food ME, Arnab and Manoj of Zee TV Middle East, TV chef and cookbook author Suzanne Husseini, my blogger friends… Shaikha Ali of When Shaikha Cooks, Sarah of The Hedonista, Debbie of Coffee, Cakes and Running, Dima of Dima Sharif, Sandy Dang of Ginger & Scotch, Minna of Naked Plate Blog… all those who have seen my blog evolve… Kanaka, Keka, Sumona – Samyo, Brinda, Darryl and Jason… and my better half S (he has taken a lot of brilliant pictures here)… virtual supporters whom I met for the first time that evening – Mita and her brother and his wife (who cancelled their Oman plans)… readers like Jonathan with whom I have connected through our love for food... and the others with whom I was interacting for the first time. Also to many others who couldn’t join in but had always supported me. Huge thanks to Chef Alfred and Dareen from Book Munch who made this possible – an incredible feat from their end to come out of their comfort zone and create the menu exactly as I had perceived. A small dream materialised, paving the way to a bigger dream!

Unblogging it all… Ishita

Table decoration with personal silver bowls, folk artefacts from Bengal

Table decoration with personal silver bowls, folk artifacts from Bengal

The menu and Jhaal Muri or Puffed Rice Masalafied

The menu and Jhaal Muri or Puffed Rice Masalafied; Photo Courtesy: Dima

The Gourmet Starters - Shrimp Churmur or Crumbled Panipuri, Kalojeere Asparagus (Asparagus with Black Cumin), Potoler Dorma stuffed Parval); Photo Courtesy: Dima

The Starters Platter – Shrimp Churmur or Crumbled Panipuri, Kalojeere Asparagus (Asparagus with Black Cumin), Potoler Dorma stuffed Parval); Photo Courtesy: Dima

Traditional Cholar Daal with Arabic Fatoush bread

Traditional Cholar Daal with Arabic Fatoush bread; Photo Courtesy: Dima

The Gourmet Main Course - Mustard Salmon wrapped in Banana leaf

The Gourmet Main Course – Mustard Salmon wrapped in Banana leaf

Mishti Mukh or the sweet signoff - Mishti Doi and Aamer Chutney Sorbet; Photo Courtesy: Dima

Mishti Mukh or the sweet signoff – Mishti Doi and Aamer Chutney Sorbet; Photo Courtesy: Dima

Dareen from BookMunch introduces me

Dareen from BookMunch introduces me before the menu is revealed

Ross Saldanha from Ross Media filming the evening and I am doing what I love the most - talk about how my blog started and my food quest

Ross Saldanha from Ross Media filming the evening and I am doing what I love the most – talk about my Bengali heritage, my food quest and my Kolkata nostalgia juxtaposed against Dubai living; Photo Courtesy: Debbie

All the diners fo rthe Bengali Gourmet dinner

From top: Sudeshna, Sumana (pic1); Devjani (pic2); Jonathan (pic3); Debbie (pic4); Sarah, Mina, Dima, Suzanne Husseini and me (pic5); Kanaka (pic8); Minna, Kanaka, Mita and his brother and wife (pic9), Daryl, Jason, Sandy and other diners (pic10), Manoj, Arnab, Brinda in striped top (pic 11); Photo Courtesy: Dima, Debbie and S

The evening via Instagram

The evening captured via instagram; Courtesy – BBC GoodFood ME, Coffee Cakes And Running, The Hedonista, The Naked Plate Blog, When Shaikha Cooks and Suzanne Husseini


Disclaimer: While you enjoy reading the posts with lot of visuals, please do not use any material from this post. Please note that this blog is not a sponsored blog and the subject, story, opinions and views stated here are my own and are independent. You can catch my daily travel and food journey on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter.

45 Comments on “How Did I Fare In Showcasing My Bengali Cuisine? | On Zee TV Middle East

  1. Hey great start to hopefully an epic and eventful journey!

    • Sally, I know that your support is always there – and that gives me a lot of strength. Of course, I would have loved you to be there. Thanks very much:)

        • Is it because you have never had to prove or explain so much about a cuisine? I am really trying to understand… thinking of my early years of blogging – I wasn’t so brave!

  2. awesome awesome awesome. so so proud of you Ishita. Bengali culture and food is so close to me heart and am so thrilled for you to have showcased it so well. Congrats. and did I say you look super gorgeous

    • Thanks very much Sayantani… I know you would understand! Hey, thank you very much on the compliment – I am not very brave in putting out my picture on my blog – but somehow I felt that my pride should show:)

  3. So so proud of you! I know the hard work and passion that went in putting this together and am thrilled to see the results….Way to go girl! BTW…why no pic with supportive Subir 🙁

    • I have always been reluctant to put pictures of S and the Z-Sisters… there’s one with Debbie, but he is not smiling! Thank you very very much for the *rock solid* support!

  4. Brilliant! Congratulations and hope you continue down this path and cook more!

    • Thanks… have to admit here Asma that you have been no less than an inspiration. Whatever you were telling me in London – do that there first… I will do a version here in Dubai! Remember how we ended up realising that we could be twins who had drifted apart?

  5. Was a superb evening and while everything was amazing, my favourites had to be asparagus with kalo jeera (incidentally its not black cumin but nigella seeds or onion seeds) and the bhapa doi (steamed yoghurt).

    • Mita, thank you so much for coming. I had been confused about this for a long time – asked many foodies too. Oh my God, such a big mistake from my end – hope that was overlooked! There’s always so much to learn. Cholbe to tahole?

      • Ha ha ha – mistake easily made. I made it when I first went on a hunt for it because I would happily add it to anything fried just for its flavour. It was Mohammed from WildPeeta that told me what to look for. Go figure..

  6. Looks amazing! So sad to have missed it but hopefully, there’s more to come! Or I should crash over for the amazing food tasting one day 😉 <3

    • Inshallah next time Jasmine… I would definitely do one at home, but that’s not going to be such a sit down with wonderful plating really. It’s going to be a stand-up buffet!

    • Thanks Kalyan… always feel like sharing if I am doing something ‘Bengali’. After all, you have been part of my blogging journey since the beginning and I am so inspired by what you are doing.

  7. Ishita, can I cry a little? For not having sat at that gorgeous table, indulging my eager taste buds and make my palate ever so happy tasting your fascinating and fabulous looking food. Can I also plead with you to forget Dubai, and move to Houston. And if not, can I beg of you to cook me a Bengali meal when I do manage to (re)visit Dubai? As I write that last bit, I made a promise to myself: go back to Dubai next year and see your blogger friends, eat, and be merry! Ishita, I’ve known you from the very first “steps in blogger-land”. I am in awe at what you have achieved, and proud to know you! Yes I miss you. Francine

    • Francine, your comment left me in tears. Remember our rendezvous in Meadows Costa’s? You were supposed to be teaching me some culinary skills… I really miss you. Why don’t you give me a date and I can schedule a Bong dinner with a few Fooderatis too? But first some solo chit-chat!

  8. Beautiful; so many of my favourite flavours, hyper-traditional dishes yet such modern, clean presentation. Looks an absolute and resounding triumph!

    • Thank you Zoe… it was important that it appealed to both – the traditionalists and the guests who were being initiated to Bengali cuisine for the first time. Would have been nice to hear your feedback too. Thanks always for the support, the RTs, the intros to other foodies!

  9. Congratulations Ishita… I’m sure it was a very successful event.. I have been reading about it in your previous updates and was very happy to see all the pics and details today. Must say, very well organized and well attended event.. Best wishes always – Kanu

  10. Congratulations Ishita on the wonderfully hosted evening. It is great to read this post although I missed it. I sincerely wish you the very best and may you have many such successful events in the future. You truly are an inspiration to many of us newbies out here! 🙂

    • Thank you Saloni… and honestly I am both humbled and honoured with such a huge compliment. I just follow my passion and you will find many like me in Fooderati… you are in the right place. Keep on eating, cooking, feeding – or whatever your heart desires and I am sure it’s going to connect with many. Thank you once again:)

  11. As I know Nigella is called in Bengali “Kalo Jeera” hence Black Cummin, should be fine as much as Asparagus is to Bengali Cusine

    • Thank you Madhu… honestly if I could share with all of you who have been with me every since I started my blogging journey!

  12. Namesake, I loved the way you introduced jhalmuri as part of gourmet… very inspiring. Keep up the good work. may be next time you can try out phuluri 🙂

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  15. Oh wow! This looks wonderfully delish! great going ishita 🙂 its quite amazing what you’re doing!

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