Bengali food in Manhattan at Babu
Babu is the only Bengali restaurant in Manhattan that I am aware of. It is less than a year old but it has already cultivated a loyal customer base. My friends, Anil and Payal, own this upscale Indian restaurant on McDougal street that specializes in the regional cuisine of Bengal.
We ate dinner at Babu on Saturday night. My father grew up in Calcutta and speaks fluent Bengali so I was keen for him to try the amazing food at Babu. The ambience was super cozy and homely as always. The diya lights reminded me that diwali is coming up soon. I ordered the dhoi baingan (eggplant cooked in spices and yogurt) which came with rice, light fries, cucumber salad and mango chutney. The eggplant is lightly fried in mustard oil and oozes with the juicy goodness of yogurt and spices. You can have it on its own or with some white rice.
I also dipped into my father's alu dum (potato curry) which was just divine. I love the hints of cinnamon and sugar that lace Bengali dishes. The luchis (deep fried puffed bread) were a great accompaniment for the dhoi baingan as well as the alu dum.
The most outstanding dish at Babu is jhaal muri (spicy hot puffed rice) which is a very popular street food in Calcutta. I just love the combination of puffed rice, chopped onion, tomatoes, green chillies, tamarind paste, crushed peanuts, coconut bits and a dash of mustard oil. I think I like the jhaal muri at Babu even better than the bhel puri at Chennai Garden!
What I love most about Babu is the original presentation of the food including the brown bag for the jhaal muri and the copper thalis for the entrees. I like how each entree is made into a meal of its own and you don't have to order other dishes. The downside, of course, is that you won't have much variety unless you eat with a big group of friends.
My recent visit to Babu has got me all excited about Bengali food. I'm going to finally test out some recipes from the book Rumy sent me a while back.I'm already dreaming of cooking delicacies like cholar dal, khosha bhaja, luchi and rosogolla - my mouth is watering just thinking of all the yummy food I plan to cook!