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.


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.