ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Homing through Food

Bangal Cuisine in West Bengal

The once-derided culinary tradition of Bangal refugees from East Pakistan is slowly gaining acceptance and pride of place in popular culture and gastronomical writing.

Popular culture in Kolkata and West Bengal—whether literature, cinema, or new gourmet food destinations—has in recent years begun the portrayal of a particular culinary concept that deliberately provokes the nostalgia of a specific group of consumers. The target group for such content are those who have roots across the eastern border of India and hold a distinctive culinary history of refugees from what used to be East Pakistan. The Bangal cuisine, earned its moniker from the term Bangal , which is used to denote refugees coming from East Pakistan into West Bengal.

When boarding the green tin coaches of the Sealdah-Barisal Express, or crossing over the boat train from Goalondo, the once busy port on river Padma, refugees from East Pakistan could not carry a lot. In the cloth bundles that held heirloom relics, religious idols, and salvaged valuables, the culinary secrets of the land left behind also earned a solitary corner. The last dried seed of the mango tree that gave shade to the ancestral home, the oily dregs of grandmother’s mango and tamarind pickle, a small box of dried fish—condiments, which coupled with shaak (local greens) and clams growing around ponds in the rundown refugee camps, created a flavour profile and a culinary amalgamation that is mentioned with mild derision even today in West Bengal.

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Updated On : 12th Jun, 2023
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