According to legend, curry is most popular in the old-book town of Jimbocho because customers can eat their curry-rice with a spoon in one hand and an open book in the other, voraciously eating and reading at the same time. A recent addition to the dozens of venerable curry restaurants in Jimbocho, such as Bambi, Mandala, Boys Curry, Bondy, etc., is a great Bangladesh home-style restaurant, Torkari (curry in the Bengali language).
The friendly and informative manager is passionate about the food here, recommending the award-winning Bhorta, the unusual Khichuri and Porota, and many other uniquely Bengali dishes.
The Bhorta dishes are a revelation. A kind of paste made of vegetables or fish smashed up with garlic and toasted chili, these smokey, intensely flavorful and fiery additions go really well with rice and a dash of dal soup. The Bhorta lunch comes with three different condiments (typically eggplant, potato and fish), plain Basmati rice or Khichuri (a mix of rice and dal beans), a delicious Murga (chicken) curry, clear dal soup, vegetable Bhaji and Bangla salad.
Another favorite is the Gorom Gorom Naasta, on-the-bone mutton curry with flat breads that is a staple of Bangladeshi breakfasts. The mutton curry is packed with meat and chickpeas. It comes with a couple of Porota, a flat crepey-bread that is heated in the frying pan.
As expected, the biriyani is a proper clay-pot, slow-cooked fragrant rice and curry dish. The biriyani changes weekly from among Hariyali chicken, mutton, prawn and fish varieties, and it is highly recommended. All the sets come with a refreshing lassi and a Bengali dessert, usually a Payesh (rice pudding) or Semai (semolina pudding), flavored with raisins and cardamom.
There's also an interesting line-up of beers, from the familiar Indian Kingfisher lagers to unusual Indian Godfather and Taj Mahal brands, Sri Lankan Lion stout, Nepal Ice and Arna lagers among others.
by Raj Jaffrey