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Bengali Food Saltiness? (re: Gram Bangla, London)


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Bengali Food Saltiness? (re: Gram Bangla, London)

Mark P | | Aug 6, 2009 02:40 AM

Hey folks -

My girlfriend and I have moved to London temporarily and the first place we tried on a chowhound tip was Gram Bangla, a Bengali joint on Brick Lane that's much discussed on this board.

Our high-level reaction was that we didn't like it because we found all the dishes oversalted, so much so that we grabbed a bit more food from elsewhere on the way home because we couldn't eat our fill at Gram Bangla. We tried three dishes: a fish curry (yes, one of them; I don't know its name), keski mas, and a vegetable dish of those split long green-bean-like things. The fish curry had good enough flavor that we managed to finish it (including pouring its sauce on rice) despite the saltiness. The keski mas, with all its salted fish, we could barely eat a quarter of. The vegetable dish, topped with dried shrimp and dried fish, was similarly salty, and we left most of it. We did, however, take the keski mas home because we thought it could be good if diluted substantially, such as chopped finely and mixed into scrambled eggs.

Neither of us had eaten Bengali food before. We're both adventurous eaters and handle spiciness well (I really like Sichuan food, for instance), and we definitely know the difference between spices and salt and these dishes were just way too salty for us.

Here are my questions: is the saltiness an intrinsic quality of Bengali food and its apparently heavy use of (especially dried-) fish/shellfish? Or, is the saltiness something about Bengali food as served in London? Or, is it something particular to Gram Bangla in particular? Or, did we hit Gram Bangla on a bad night? If you think we might like Bengali food in general, can you recommend a different place? (Forgive me, but we're not going back there.