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The Bengali Five Spice Chronicles Paperback – November 15, 2012


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 287 pages
  • Publisher: Hippocrene Books; English edition (November 15, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0781813050
  • ISBN-13: 978-0781813051
  • Product Dimensions: 8.9 x 5.9 x 1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (24 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #152,613 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

What a seductive book this is, a tantalizing world of flavors waiting to be cooked, tasted, experienced. The recipes alone assure that this will be a well-used and no doubt well-loved book in my kitchen, but the scope of the book is much larger, including a personal and well-told story of Bengali cuisine. I love this book! --DEBORAH MADISON, author of Vegetable Literacy

The Bengali Five Spice Chronicles got me right from the title itself! The easy style, the well-written recipes, the personal memoirs were all interesting to read. --SMITA CHANDRA, author of Cuisines of India

There are 180 recipes in The Bengali Five Spice Chronicles. In each recipe, Rinku Bhattacharya tells you the story behind each one, giving a family history, a personal story, the origins of each unique recipe...all of which will compel you to try each of them. Rinku has written a wonderful and thoughtful cookbook; it is a journey through Bengali cuisine. --From the Toque and Apron Website

Peppered with wonderful family stories. history and Bengali culture, this book is entertaining, educational and delicious. There are 180 easy to follow recipes - both traditional and contemporary - and a thorough guide to spice blends and pastes. --Spabettie.com

The dishes are rich, complex, and take you on a journey far, far, away. (Unless you live in India, West Bengal, or Bangladesh.) Every recipe I have tried has been absolutely delicious, and the author tells wonderful stories about the origin of each dish, her family traditions and memories, and ingredient tidbits. I learned so much reading this book; it's a keeper! --Stephanie Weaver at Recipe Renovator.com

Rinku Bhattacharya has written what could be called the definitive book on Bengali Cooking for the American audience. And, even for those like me who are making a life outside of India and crave the comforting flavors of home. --Suvir Saran, Author of Indian Home Cooking and Masala Farm

"Contemporary yet traditional, refined yet candid, exuberant yet sublime, The Bengali Five Spice Chronicles is a warm and inviting book of family recipes that convey Rinku Bhattacharya's passion for the flavors and tastes of West Bengal." --AMMINI RAMACHANDRAN, author of Grains, Greens, and Grated Coconuts

"I am enchanted by the authentic Bengali recipes, sure-fire techniques, and family anecdotes. This is a winning cookbook." --BHARTI KIRCHNER, author of The Healthy Cuisine of India and Tulip Season

". . . offers a panoramic view of one of India's most delicious and least-known regional cuisines . . . sure to become indispensable to those of us in the vast Bengali diaspora who miss the flavors and aromas of home." --INDRANI SEN, freelance writer and adjunct professor at the City University of New York

About the Author

Rinku Bhattacharya was born in Kolkata, India and currently resides in Westchester, NY. She teaches cooking classes, maintains a popular food blog, Cooking in Westchester, and writes a weekly column "Spices and Season" for The Journal News website. Her upcoming cookbook SPICES & SEASONS: SIMPLE, SUSTAINABLE INDIAN FLAVORS will be published by Hippocrene Books in Spring 2014.

Customer Reviews

Many of the recipes have a personal background story which I loved.
The Pegster
My fiancee and I love good Indian food, but often find it hard to make at home.
Subhobrata Lahiri
This is a must-have book, if you are really interested in Indian cooking.
Barbara Hansen

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Inga's Adventures on January 18, 2013
Format: Paperback
I have fond memories of dal (lentil) soup from a time when my family lived in Bangladesh so I was most anxious to try some of the dal soup recipes. I wasn't disappointed. I made the The Orange Split Lentils with Tomatoes and Cilantro, along with Mashed Smoked Eggplant, and Shrimp in a Spicy Caramelized Onion and Tomato Sauce for a meal and all the dishes worked together beautifully, with varying tastes and textures. Overall I found the dishes to be milder than typical Indian fare, with subtle, complex flavors. My husband, who has never had Bengali food before, loved all the dishes. Later I made Yellow Split Lentils and we both enjoyed the vibrant spices in this soup.

I appreciated the extensive prose that preceded every chapter and the descriptive paragraph accompanying every recipe. Bengali cuisine will not be familiar to many home cooks and the author's descriptions of life in India, anecdotes and comments about how she has adapted dishes to U.S. ingredients and current cooking trends are a nice bridge between cultures. She also delivers a concise history of the region and her background in the Introduction and Preface.

There are 25 color photographs clustered together in the middle of the book and it would have been nice to have more, but it was probably cost-prohibitive. Especially when cooking dishes that are likely to be unfamiliar it's nice to have a photograph as a guide to what the end product should look like.

The Bengali Five Spices, Panch Phoron, that are profiled in the beginning actually do not appear together in many of the recipes.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Culinary_Cam on December 7, 2012
Format: Paperback
The Bengali Five Spice Chronicles is a deceptively small volume, with less than 300 pages; once you crack the cover, however, you find yourself engulfed in fifteen chapters with multiple recipes per page. It was initially daunting, but my trepidation quickly transformed into giddy enthusiasm once I began to explore her recipes.

Rinku's prose is vivid and colorful. I could clearly imagine "heralding the morning with the sound of a conch shell blown by the mistress of the house." Wait...I am the mistress of the house and I do have a conch shell. Hmmmm....I'm not sure my boys would appreciate that kind of wake-up call!

And her recipes...so far I've tried Golden Cauliflower in Orange Mustard Sauce, Sweet and Spice Curried Cabbage, Curried Turkey Meatballs, and Mashed Smoked Eggplant. I am going to try my hand at some of her sweets this weekend.

These dishes were easy to make, teeming with flavor, and rendered my family silent at the table. Amazing! They were too busy enjoying these exotic flavors to talk.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Sneha Bhowmik on December 8, 2012
Format: Paperback
As a Bengali-Indian-American, I bought this book out of curiosity. This book finally got me to start using the Bengali spices that my mother had sent me when I moved away from home. I enjoyed trying some of the recipes such as the Begun Pora and Alu Posto (Potatoes with Poppy Seeds). I have bookmarked the Steamed Mustard Fish Recipe along with several others. The author's "matter of fact" instructions are very reassuring.
The book offers a cultural context to Bengali cuisine without going over the top. The Bengali Five Spice Chronicles presents a new dimension of Indian cuisine beyond the usual restaurant staple fare.
The recipes where the author blends contemporary influences with Bengali flavors are very interesting and I would have liked to see more of them. I would have also liked to see more color photographs of the food and the Bengali landscape, embellishing the author's narrative.

This is a great book for anyone interested in broadening their horizons on Indian food and culture.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By MG on November 25, 2012
Format: Paperback
Found myself enjoying the personal stories of food and culture so much that I ran to the local Indian grocer and attempted my first Bengali recipe (on page 113) of her book the day after receiving this book. It was delicious! I really appreciated the storytelling mixed with recipes and the care that the author took to prepare me to cook something unfamiliar to my palate and kitchen. I really look forward to diving into this cookbook further!
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Helen K. Rosenberg on March 28, 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This book is a delight to read because the author includes many personal vignettes of home life, tradition and culture, even before you get to the recipes! The instructions are clear, and the recipes I have tried so far have been delicious. Those who may be intimidated by the number of hot chilies, can always start out using less than those called for the first time as I have done. I say bravo, bravo!
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Adam B on August 4, 2013
Format: Paperback
Full disclosure: I am a masalaholic. I cannot go into a bookshop without checking out the shelves on Indian cuisine; I usually have at least one curry recipe book on order at any given time; my shelves are deep in Indian cookbooks and spices. Every once in a while, a book comes along which truly satisfies my hunger. 'The Bengali Five Spice Chronicles' is one of those books. In every sentence, Rinku Bhattachayra's passion for all things Bengali comes through. Whether she's describing the season or celebration that inspires the dish, the tip form a relative in preparing it, or the meal it might be part of - the author immerses you in every aspect of a culture she loves. By page 5, I'd discovered a spice I'd never heard of (radhuni), by page 13 I'd learnt a term I'd always hungered for ('moshla bata' - the art of grinding spices) and enjoyed a masterclass in preparing onions for curries (grated rather chopped - and using red rather than white onions). Genius!! By page 274, there are literally dozens of mouth-watering recipes I want to try. It's giddying. From family to friendships, from culture to cooking, Rinku Bhattachayra pours everything she cares about into this delicious, heartfelt and helpful book. If you're dipping a toe into the world of curry cooking, it might be a bit detailed for you. If you want to wander the streets and homes of one of the most food-obsessed communities in the world, and learn to cook like a local, you'll find no better guides than Rinku Bhattachayra and her '5 Spice Chronicles'.
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