A series on food bloggers from around the globe bringing inspiration, information and how-to!
Sandeepa M. Datta, Owner of Bong Mom’s Cookbook
New Jersey, USA
Food and cooking has such basic and humble qualities. As a mom, day-to-day I’m looking for new ways to make healthy nutritious and perhaps experiment with different techniques and spice variations. Simplicity for me is what’s important during my Monday to Friday meals. So is holding on to the food traditions that I grew up with which is what drew me to Sandeepa’s Blog.
Well, her blog name first intrigued me, but just to be clear; “Bong” also refers to Bengali!
Bengali cooking (Sandeepa’s interpretation of it from what she learned along with some innovations) is what she wants to pass along to her children. She’s been approached by Harper Collins to create a cookbook on her wonderful recipes and was recently featured on Times of India
What prompted you to start writing about food/cooking?
The fact that I was far away from home and the only way to get a good home cooked meal was to cook it yourself. Add to it that I had a little daughter and though I could live on Chinese or Thai, I wanted my daughter to experience Bengali and Indian food, the kind of food that my mother and grandmother fed us. I also wanted to chronicle the recipes for both my daughters who were growing up amongst mixed traditions as I feel the best way to pass on your traditions to the next generation is through food, especially with Indian food where we have numerous festivals and numerous traditional food for each.
They are nine and four now but I hope when they are older, they will appreciate this more.
Most blogs have concept(s) (organic, ethnic, entertaining, etc), what would you say yours is/are and why?
I would not brand my blog under anything. My blog tagline says “A Bong, A Mom, A Cook” and that about sums it up. It is a food blog focusing on Bengali (btw Bong is a local lingo for Bengali) cuisine but I also share many stories about my daughters and life in general. It is not just recipes, for I think food is beyond recipe. Food is the memory you create around it.
Who is your favourite chef or someone that inspires your cooking/writing?
I am a sucker for home cooking and home cooks are the best people I learn from. So my favorite chefs in that sense would be my Mother whose cooking has mostly influenced me and my Husband who is a cooking geek and has scientific explanations for every cooking step from boiling eggs to caramelizing sugar!!! All my friends who cook and the bloggers who do a great job of cooking and sharing recipes of their food also inspire me.
What’s one cooking tool you can’t live without?
Ah this would be my coffee grinder which I actually use as my spice grinder. All the garam masala, cumin powder, coriander powder are done in there. Also my Magic Bullet mixer/blender. It is a life saver.
Where do you see yourself in five years with your blog/website?
I have been blogging for six years now. Six years ago I had no goal except to blog for fun and to keep a note of recipes. Eventually I wanted to publish a “Bong Mom’s Cookbook” — the book. That dream became a reality when Harper Collins Publishers approached me to write a *book *based on the blog for them. That book, “Bong Mom’s Cookbook” will be out this year. I have almost finished my work on it and we are wrapping it up.
5 years from now? We will see
Chop a bunch of green onion/scallion to small pieces. I did not have much of green onions left today but it is best to have same quantity as the potatoes.
Chop 2 medium potatoes to small cubes
Heat Mustard oil in a fry pan.
Temper the oil with 1/2 tsp KaloJeere/kalonji and a dry red chili.
Once the kalo jeere hisses and shows its temper add the cubed potatoes. Sprinkle about 1/2 tsp turmeric powder and fry the potato. Sprinkle little water and cover to let the potatoes cook. Remove the cover and stir in-between. Ideally the potatoes should have been fried in more oil but in my daily cooking I try to use less oil, in that path this cover-cook works well and fast.
When the potatoes have softened a tad (not cooked yet) add the peyaaj koli/scallion. Give a good stir and mix with the potatoes. Add about 1/2 tsp Kashmiri Mirch (or Red Chilli powder) and salt to taste.
Fry till the scallion wilts. Now cover and cook till potatoes are fully done. There will be some water released from the scallions which will help in the cooking. But remember to check and give a good stir in between.
Once the dish is done enjoy with rice or roti.