Bong is the Wordhttps://indianexpress.com/article/cities/delhi/bong-is-the-word/

Bong is the Word

<i>Electrical engineer by day,food blogger by night,Sandeepa Mukherjee Datta manages to fit in a lot of activities in a limited time. For the last five years,Datta has been writing a Bengali food blog titled Bong Mom’s Cookbook from the States. Recently,she published a book by the same name. It is a rich tapestry of recipes weaved in between stories of Datta’s childhood in West Bengal and Bihar and post-marriage life in New Jersey. It is a hilarious read,where Didas’ and Mashis’ grumble about the inequities of neighbours and the planning of weddings all the while trying to raise offspring on a diet of Maach and Rabindrasangeet</i>

Your style of writing is extremely engaging,whether you’re talking about a dish or describing a Zumba class. Did you enjoy writing growing up or even later?

I loved writing essays in schools and wrote lots of poems and mystery stories influenced by Enid Blyton. I would write poems and send them to newspapers and there was this one on mosquitoes which got printed. That was the high point. I don’t think I wrote anything creative after high school though until I started the blog. And then I found my joy. I realised I actually liked the whole process of writing and photography as much as I liked the food.

Given the enormous success of the book,has life changed for you in your community?

The book has been very well accepted and I am happy that my readers like it. There is no change at my home because of that. I try to keep my blog and writing as a separate entity from my daily life,though the latter spills over into my writing all the time. But I consciously try not to share updates on my blog/ book etc. with my daily friends and family. Writing is a separate life for me,a place to take refuge when real life gets too much,and I want it to remain that way. That makes it more charming.

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Given that you live in New Jersey,how do your American friends respond to Bengali food? Is it something they’ve enjoyed?

Every Bengali I have befriended in the US is a great cook. I don’t know how or why but they all are fabulous home cooks. I have said that in the book too. However,Bengali food is not really popular with the Americans who are used to the standard Indian restaurant fare of butter chicken and naan. I am sure there are those who are more experimental but I am yet to befriend them.

Apart from the Bengali recipes in your blog,there are also some Continental or Chinese ones. Will you explore this further? Perhaps Bong Mom’s Non-Bong Cookbook?

“Bong Mom’s Non-Bong Cookbook” sounds perfect. I do cook a lot of non-Bong food at home,pasta being a popular choice with my daughters. But I really want to explore Bengali cuisine further. There are so many possibilities in that cuisine that I would love to know and share more. The more I know about Bengali and regional Indian food,the more I learn about our traditions and history.

Apart from your blog are you planning to continue writing books?

The blog is like my “getaway place where I can relax and connect with my readers “ so that will always be there. I definitely want to write another book. I have these fledgling ideas,which I need to discuss with someone before anything materialises.