The cuisine from West Bengal has been growing in popularity within the UK’s wider love of Indian food. But few are named in Bengali, as is 'Posto' by Kolkata Kitchen in Harrow area of London.
Bengalis are known for their gastronomy, and the 'Posto' restaurant wears that love for Bengali culture on its sleeve.
This Bengali New Year, iGlobal decided to venture into this authentic Bengali bistro-style restaurant, searching for that magical heritage feel for this latest in our .
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Posto in Bengali is the name of an integral spice in its cuisine, the very versatile and truly addictive, albeit for its taste - the poppy seeds.
"Bengali New Year, or as we call it Nabo Borsho or Poila Boisakh is a very special day in our lives, for Bengalis. From childhood, we celebrate this day with ethnic jewellery, traditional clothes and family get-togethers. So when my husband and I came to this country, we missed this celebration from back home. We endeavoured to recreate the same nostalgia here, and that's how Posto was born." said Pritha Mukherjee, founder and owner of Posto.
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Born in Chandernagore, Hooghly, West Bengal, Pritha grew up in Calcutta, where she did her higher studies. With a strong background in finance, Pritha could easily bag a high profile project management job with the West London City Council after migrating to the UK. But her love for authentic Bengali food turned her focus elsewhere.
What started as a supper club with friends and family finally took the shape of the very busy Posto Restaurant now. And ever since then, there was no looking back for Pritha.
Nonchalant in her and proud of her penchant for fish and sweets, Pritha highlights that the main essence of Indian Bengali cuisine, however, is neither in fish nor sweets but in the subtle flavours of spices that are used and in the exclusive style of cooking.
"Every region in Bengal has a unique way of making curry, absolutely different from what we get at the local curry shops here. Mustard Curry will have mustard in it, or poppy seeds curry has poppy seeds. It's not about using pre-made pastes at all. We use freshly ground homemade spices to make very subtle, lite curries.
I think it's proper wholesome food; Bengalis believe in this cardinal way of eating. We start with our bitters and veggies, then lentils which are protein, and then we have the non-veg protein - fish and chicken or the meat. Finally, we end with a sweet note, maybe a chutney or a dessert. It's a very balanced way of eating you have. You don't overeat anything. You have small portions of everything on your plate," explained Pritha.
"It's a beautiful way of presenting the Bengali culture as well, because food is an integral part of Bengali culture," she added.
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"We have a special afternoon lunch organised on April 17, and we have live music and with that some speciality dishes. One is Posto Peyaji, which is onion bhajis with poppy seeds. Because we're Posto, it has to have some good poppy seed dishes." And we agree.
"We have fish curry; as I said we love fish. So with the raw mango rohu fish curry – Aam Rui, and then the Dhakai Pora Mutton. It's caramelised meat slow-cooked for hours after it's marinated overnight. The meat gets cooked in its juices and fat and grease, and we try not to add much water to it. It just melts in your mouth. The is one of my signature dishes with ripe mango because also this season, the new year marks for us, the summer. As summer is all about fresh fruits like mangoes, we try to put some seasonal twists. The aam kheer pathisapta is thickened milk with ripe mango pulp filling inside small crepes. This time we also have banana blossom, very rich in iron, with prawns or shrimps, and that's cooked with freshly ground spices and awesome to taste. You will hardly get it in any other part of London,” said Pritha.
"It's an extraordinary menu as we try to put our heart and soul into the Bengali New Year, and we look forward so much to welcoming the guests. I'm very excited for the coming up weekend," she added.
Another signature dish of Posto worth mentioning is their signature cottage cheese dumpling curry or the Chhanar Dalna.
What started off as a way to survive during the tough lockdown days, Posto's express delivery service across the country has now gained extreme popularity. They deliver food packed with ice within 24 hours of ordering, anywhere in the UK.