The Bong Egg Affair

The deep and intense love affair between Bengalis and fish is well-known. We are often called mecho Bangali, meaning fish-loving Bongs. In a ‘true’ Bengali household macher jhol or fish curry is part of every meal. On certain days, for some unforeseen reason when fish is missing, we substitute it with deemer dalna or egg curry. The regular egg curry is perhaps the poorer cousin of fish curry.

Deem or egg, however, is as much a part of Bengali cuisine as fish. And guess what, a Bong egg is versatile, not just a breakfast food. We have eggs for breakfast as poached aka sunny side up, half or full boiled, scrambled or omelette aka mamlet. Deemer dalna is the regular egg curry teamed with potato of course while deemer jhal or dried egg curry is a delicacy, served for lunch and dinner. Deemer debheel, the Bong version of a deviled egg is a popular snack. And how can one forget egg roll and Mughlai Paratha!

Egg roll and Mughlai Paratha are popular Bengali street food. The thelas selling these dishes witness long queues in the evening. A Durga Pujo pandal anywhere in India is incomplete without a Mughlai paratha and egg roll stall. Mughlai paratha is more Bengali than Mughal I would think. Though the dish is supposed to have originated in Bengal Raj Sabha during the time of the Mughal Empire as a derivative of the Turkish Gözleme. Even the famous Kolkata biriyani is incomplete without boiled eggs. We also have our own variation of French toast or deem pauruti.

While across the world people usually consume chicken eggs, in Bengal duck eggs or hasher deem is very popular, often a delicacy. Bongs are also partial towards non-poultry eggs – deshi murgir deem or deshi hasher deem. When I go home my brother-in-law gets deshi hasher deem especially for me. Savouring the dark orange yolk of a country duck egg in a poach or as a half-boiled egg is a much relished culinary experience for me.

Egg is our go-to food. A Bengali household never runs out of eggs. Whenever a guest pops up without prior notice and there’s no sweet at home, an omelette aka mamlet is served with tea. Yes, cha and deemer mamlet is a popular combo in Bengal.

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