Hence it does not come as a surprise when Bengali cuisine gets the same treatment and is allowed cessation from the culinary milieu of India. “Bengali food” is an institution by itself and in a way has meandered away from the mainstream (as you can see from the photograph that adorns this post. This was taken at Puri, Odhisa). The divergence starts right from the mustard oil that is used as the cooking medium (until recently before clever marketing moved the dial a bit towards the vegetable and sunflower oils. Actually, I have this thumb rule of determining a locality in Bangalore to have a high concentration of Bengalis – check the shelves of the local Foodworld for Dhara mustard oil) right down to the mishti-doi served after the meal. Loneliness is fine so long as others are aspiring to reach that vaulted spot, but that clearly wasn’t what was happening with Bengali’s. We got left behind and elements of our culture never made it past the Bengal-Jharkhand border. The story was the same with Bengali cuisine, until chains like “Oh, Calcutta” and “6 Ballygunje Place” did their bits as culinary ambassadors, reaching out to metros other than Calcutta (though, I must confess, a large part of their clientele are Bengalis residing in those metros)
Richness of the Bengali cuisine is accentuated by the fact that it is also an international culmination of two very culturally rich heritages – that of East Bengal (now Bangladesh) and the traditional West Bengal (immortalized in popular parlance as “bangal” and “ghoti” owing allegiance to East Bengal and Mohun Bagan respectively in club football). It really has no reason to go around looking for vague similarities and extend shameless “friend” requests – to use a Facebook metaphor – eking out frivolous culinary similarities in other cultures. Cultural exchanges, including culinary ones, happen out of a feeling of mutual respect – not condescension.
Perhaps the revolution can start at Puri.
Wouldn’t it be poetic if the said “Draupadi Hotel” specialized in five cuisines and not three?