We hunted. We fished. We foraged.
Earthy food. Clean flavours. Redolent of the earth and the rivers.
The Islamic invasions brought in a sea of change – a melange of spices, novel styles of cooking and a complexity of flavour profiles that was hitherto unknown.
Then arrived the Portuguese and the galaxy of Bengali sweets was transformed forever with the advent of chhana.
Not before long, Chinsoorah became a directorate of the Dutch East India Company, Chandernagore flourished under the French and Serampore emerged as a prosperous Danish outpost.
And by the time the Nawab of Murshidabad, betrayed by his very own, fell to English bullets in the battlefield of Plassey, the destiny of Bengal had changed forever.
By the mid of the nineteenth century, Bengal was a cauldron of confusion, a melting pot of cultures and our cuisine was merrily learning from the myriad of diverse influences that it was continuously coming in touch with.
Fast forward to the twentieth century and the lunch and dinner menus of progressive Bengali families in Calcutta were already flaunting a smorgasbord of roasts and grills, puddings and pies.
Piyali Boudis thakumar rannar khata is eloquent testimony to this changing palate of the Anglophile Bengali – Jhols and jhals, shukto and payesh cohabiting in blissful harmony with bakes and casseroles.
The Narkeler Pudding from thakumar khata is just this – a sublime symphony of east meets west, occidental techniques at work on our very own indigenous ingredients.
And with Yuletide round the corner, this gorgeous 1920s Narkeler Pudding had to be the next recipe I shared with my lovely readers.
Narkeler Pudding. The earthy sweetness of grated coconut. The decadent luxury of doodher shor. A whiff of rose water. Baked to perfection. Divine !!!
- 200 g coconut freshly grated
- 1/4 cup doodh er shor or malai
- 1/4 cup milk
- 6 egg yolks
- 3 egg whites
- 1/3 cup butter soft
- 1/3 cup sugar
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 2 tsp rose water
- 2 tbsp toasted coconut optional
- butter for greasing
- Preheat the oven to 180C.
- Beat the egg yolks, butter and sugar till pale yellow and fluffy. Keep aside.
- In a separate mixing bowl, beat the egg whites and 1 tsp sugar till they form soft peaks. Keep aside.
- In another mixing bowl, take the milk and fresh malai. Add the grated coconut, sprinkle in the baking powder, add a drizzle of rose water. Give it a hearty stir. Add to the egg yolk - butter - sugar mix, mix lightly.
- Now gently fold the beaten egg whites in.
- Grease the ramekins with butter, pour the batter, do not fill more than 2/3rd of the ramekins. Bake for 15-18 minutes or till the skewers come clean.
- Garnish with toasted coconut. Serve warm.