Bengali Keta: Joy Raj Inspirations
Fragrant Bangladeshi cuisine always keeps you coming back for more and that’s partly because of the strict tradition of Bengali Keta (Bengali culture of eating), a strict code that covers everything from the manner of the dinner invites to the way that eating utensils are presented. Such a proper approach to meals lends itself to very careful and precise preparation, and secret spice blends that are passed down the generations.
The pãch poron, for instance, is a typical Bangladeshi general-purpose spice mixture of fenugreek seed, nigella seed, cumin seed, and black mustard seed. This mixture has a delicate fragrant effect which is particularly delicious in vegetarian and fish dishes.
In fact, fish, lentils and vegetables are staple foods of the people of Bangladesh. Less frequent meals include beef (or sometimes mutton, chicken or eggs) and vegetables in a rather more spicy hot sauce to be served instead of any meat as the dish’s ‘main event.’ Bangladeshi side dishes typically include garlicky yellow lentil dal like the one we serve at Joy Raj and plain rice, sometimes with mustard oil.
Bangladesh is located to the east of India and, like India, has a southern border in the Indian Ocean. The Bay of Bengal provides an abundant supply of prawns which are widely available in Bangladesh and are used in a delicious dish called Malai curry, which, like popular Thai curries from farther east, uses coconut milk.
But the Malai curry features more of the spicing that you would expect from the Indian subcontinent than its south-east Asian counterpart. Included in a Malai are generous helpings of pungent spices like Kashmiri chili powder, garam masala, cinnamon and lots of cumin. A touch of ghee maintains that glossy smoothness.
There is also a very special Bengali fish dish where there is actually no real ‘dish’ to speak of at all! In traditional maacher (fish) paturi (leaf), the fish is first marinated in a sharp pungent mustard paste of shorshe bata, wrapped in banana leaves with some small sharp green chillies, roasted and then served as a delicious piping hot delicacy.
These versatile little parcels can also be steamed in with, or above, your rice or even (within a well-wrapped banana leaf parcel) popped inside the last embers of a summer BBQ for a really different slightly smoky fish snack.
Mangoes grow wild in Bangladesh, especially in the northern region which is influenced by the Eastern Indian regions of Assam and Manipur. Popular Bangladeshi drinks therefore include sweet spiced chai tea and the flavoured yogurt drink mango lassi, which is available to try at Joy Raj as a great soft drink alternative.
We also serve three wonderful, delicately spiced Bengal Machli (Bengal Fish) specials which are inspired by delicate Bangladeshi spicing and made with fish from the Bay of Bengal: Bhuna, with fresh ground spices cooked in a special thick sauce; sharp and hot Jalfrezi, cooked in a variety of fresh green chillies and lemon juice; and Biran, carefully spiced and fried with sizzling onions.
Make a reservation or call 0117 973 8101 / 0117 923 8892 today to get your own taste of Bangladesh in Bristol’s finest Indian, Bangladeshi and Pakistani fusion restaurant.