Hello! Sorry to keep everyone waiting, here's the report from last night's chowhound dinner at Bengal Cafe. 7 chowhounds (Aromatherapy, Ju, Sharmin, Sugar04, Gomuku, Taralli and I) shared a leisurely and delicious meal.
Fuchka: "Small, puffed, whole wheat flat bread stuffed with chat putty." Chat putty is "white beans, onions, chilies, eggs, potatoes sauteed with cilantro and tamarind sauce." These were tasty: the fuchka (like mini-poori), chat putty and tamarind sauce all were served seperately, we assembled them ourselves. I particularly liked the tamarind sauce, which was quite tart.
Haleem: "A spicy combination of lentils with meat, fried onion and ginger with either beef, chicken or goat." We had the goat. This was possibly my favorite dish of the evening, a very gingery sauce (lots of spices, but not hot spicy). The goat pieces were scarce, but very tender (and on the bone). Sharmin asked for extra limes on the side, since it is common to squeeze lime over this dish
The Side Dishes:
Begun Bhorta: "Mashed eggplant with cilantro, onion, chilies and mustard oil." Tasty, mustard seed gave a nice flavor.
Chingri Bhorta: "Mashed shrimp with cilantro, onion, chilies and mustard oil." This was quite different than the eggplant dish, despite the similar description in the menu....small, fresh shrimp were blended with lots of cilantro and finely chopped green chilies.
Chingri Shutki Bhorta: "Dried shrimp with cilantro, onion, chilies and mustard oil." This dish was dry, the texture reminded me of Brazilian farofa, nice strong dried shrimp flavor, and again, plenty of green chilies. It was good alongside rice and some of the other dishes.
Daal: We had one or two orders. "Yellow lentil stew with onions, chilies and spices." A staple dish in Bangladesh, we decided we should order it.
Okra Curry: Possibly the hottest (spicy hot) dish we had? The curry broth was quite thin and very tasty. A good addition to the meal.
Telapia Bhaja: "Marinated and fried whole Telapia." The fish was not very big, so each of us only got a few bites...it was tasty though. For me at least it did not live up to other whole fish dishes I've had elsewhere in Boston (like at Dok Bua).
Mutton Bhuna: Goat meat cooked with onions. Tasty, nice sauce, but the goat was less tender than the goat in the appetizer dish. I can't really recall anything else about this dish, I can't remember if it was spicy-hot or not.
Chicken Biryani: This isn't on my takeout menu, but we had it. Was it on the real menu? This was a big platter of chicken, onions, rice, etc. Very tasty, the waiter/owner encouraged us to order it I think.
We tried all 3.
Firni: Rice pudding. Good.
Sondesh: A spongy cheese dessert in a sweet sauce. My favorite of the bunch.
Misti Doi: Sweet yogurt. Also tasty.
Bengal Cafe is small and cozy, and a trip to the restroom provides a view of the entire kitchen. Food felt VERY homemade and took a while to arrive. This made for a slow meal. Luckily, good conversations ABOUT food kept us distracted during the long wait. Service was very friendly though, and prices were very reasonable. I liked the food, though I didn't find anything to be spectacular (except perhaps the haleem and the two shrimp side dishes). This was only my second chowhound dinner (my first was over 3 years ago at King Fung Garden), and I had a lot of fun. It's so nice to go out to eat with 7 people who ALL want to order goat!
The man and woman running the restuarant and kitchen both mentioned that they often use less spice to accomodate to American tastes....however, I think Ju was the one who noted (in a conversation with the owner) the important difference between "spice" and "chili spice/hot spice." This might mean that a request for spicy food might actually get you more than just "spicy hot" food...a good thing to remember. This seemed like the type of place where if you tell them you want the authentic version (and perhaps mention chowhound), you might get your wish!
Once again, thank you everyone for a great dinner last night, the company was excellent! I will be waiting to see follow up posts from all of you! :) I look forward to more dinners soon! Maybe we could even do a Boston Chowhound picnic later in the Spring!
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