Tonight, we concluded our week studying Bangladesh with a delicious Bengali dinner. I honestly didn’t have a clue how to make anything from this foreign country, nor did I think I would like the cuisine. I was sorely wrong. Perhaps it was due to the fact that my wonderful friend, Maria, loaned me a phenomenal cookbook.
Bengali cuisine is rich in spices, A few of which couldn’t be found at our local grocery store. (Those were sadly left out.) All recipes from tonight’s dinner were taken from Mangoes and Curry Leaves and nobody complained. In fact, besides a little spiciness for the kids, we all really enjoyed the meal.
Bengali Dinner Menu
Bengali Style Fried Zucchini
Slow Cooked Beef with Onions
Sweet Yogurt Sundae with Saffron and Pistachios
Luchis with Cinnamon and Sugar
I tweaked a few of the recipes to accomodate our family, mainly leaving half of the cayenne chilis out of the beef and adding cinnamon and sugar to the luchis. Honestly, I didn’t know what many of these items were before making them tonight, but I had fun learning new techniques and recipes.
The zucchini wasn’t at all like American fried zucchini, simply stir-fried in a bit of oil with spices-black mustard powder, turmeric, fennel.
Other spices used tonight included saffron, cumin, cardamom, coriander, ginger, garlic, cayenne chilis, cinnamon, bay leaves and fenugreek. Most of these were used in the beef dish which stewed for over an hour along with the spices and onions.
I added basmati rice with saffron to the menu, which is from India, because I didn’t think I’d have time (or energy) to make the traditional dal (Bengali bean and rice dish).
Typically they serve a “salad plate” along with your meal (shown above to the right of the dinner plate). This is not the kind of salad that we think of, but rather a blend of herbs, spices, limes, etc. that Bengalis feel might enhance your meal. We really enjoyed this fun touch and took advantage of our little salads, cutting up the cayenne chilis and sprinkling them into the dish. Even Addie enjoyed squirting lime juice on her rice. I think I might try this with other meals as it allowed us to make the meal as spicy/tangy as we wanted.
As usual, we finished the evening with a traditional dessert. Again, we were not disappointed. The sweet yogurt sundaes and luchis went quickly, gobbled up by each and every mouth in the family. Something about the touch of saffron and cardamom in the yogurt made it simply fabulous….also the sugar, I’m sure.
Dipping hot, crispy luchis (a type of fried dough) into sweet yogurt we said goodbye to this country that has really grown on us. But, we won’t be gone for long, as we still have a rickshaw to finish. As of this afternoon, more painting of the Bengladeshi artwork had taken place and materials were purchased to finish the overhead covering. So, don’t you worry, we will visit Bangladesh often, after all, we’re going to start a new rickshaw trend.