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.
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.
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
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