One of the joys of Bangalore for me has been the variety of restaurants and places to try. In the last six months, I’ve tried a few different ethnic/state cuisines and come to crave a couple of them. One such affair has been with Bengali cuisine. My earlier, childhood memory, of eating it at someone’s home, involved lots of mustard oil and strong fish, things I was not fond of at the time. So for years, I shied away from the cuisine, with one exception. I love Shukto, a multi vegetable dish that focuses on bitter stuff – bitter gourd being a must-have ingredient. My grandmom made Shukto a few times in San Diego; I even requested it for my 30th birthday party!
Surrounded by Bengali friends these days, I was reintroduced to Bengali cuisine. One dish being luchis (puris) and alu bhaja (potato sabzi), a standard breakfast. Apart from that, I have dined at Bhojohori Manna, a restaurant chain that does authentic, home style Bengali food. Bangalore boasts of two outlets-one in Koramangala, and one in J.P Nagar. I’ve eaten at both; the Koramangala one is two storied and fancier, and they have this awesome dessert called Ice cream Sandesh that is a sweet custard topped with melted jaggery, which the J.P Nagar outlet does not serve. Sad for me, for whom J.P Nagar is much easier to get to. Still, there’s plenty I love that keeps me going back. The J.P Nagar branch is smaller and very simple, but again, this is about the food, so its all good.
The first couple times, I went with Bengali friends, and left the ordering to the experts. We went with the Thalis, which feature 2-3 vegetable preparations, daal, and comes with luchis and rice/pulao. They made a couple extra orders, of fish and mutton curries, and by my demand, Shukto, for us to enjoy. By the end of the meal, one has consumed vast amounts of very delicious food, but one also feels incredibly whale-like. The last time I went to Bhojohori Manna, I was taking the American side of the family, visiting from San Diego, and wanted to introduce them to an Indian cuisine they were unlikely to get there. Instead of ordering the thalis, I decided to go a la carte so we could try a sampling of my favorites. We started with a special of the day-an on the bone mutton kebab, and prawn cutlets. Divine!
For the main course, we ordered luchis, Shukto, a spinach preparation, and a potato dish. And an item I find myself craving every now and then-Mishti Pulao-a yellow sweet rice with raisins and cashews and spiced with whole cloves, cardamom, cinnamon and bay leaves. Its not too sweet, just lightly so and it is so heavenly! We finished our meal that night with Rasgulla that was spongy and not overly sweet – the perfect ending. All in all, I am a big fan of the establishment and their food (I’ve eaten Bengali food from a couple other places that did not match up). So here’s my unequivocal thumbs up – go check out Bhojohori Manna! The service will be mediocre and the decor and setting is not fancy, but the prices are reasonable, the portions generous and the food totally worth it.
Ed: Cover photo not from this establishment.