One cannot think well, love well, sleep well, if one has not dined well. The lost and forgotten chicken dak bungalow is sure to be a treat for your tastebuds! This recipe takes back to the colonial times and is a huge part of Anglo-Indian culture.
Historically this curry is said to have been prepared in the dak bungalows or the resting houses of Calcutta where the British government officials, postmen, and sometimes guests would come to rest during their official trips, hunting expedition or during a night stay between journeys.
During their stay in the bungalows the caretakers, then known as khansamahs, used to prepare meals with the local fresh produce in a country style cooking. The curry was not about elaborate cooking or exotic spices, but about availability, simplicity and usage of basic ingredients as this dish was usually made without prior intimation about the guest coming. Since most dak bungalows had their own poultry and herd of goats this curry would use fresh curd, eggs and chicken. A standard meal would include steamed rice, dal, green salad, vegetable curry or a stir fry of veggies, along with the wholesome chicken curry and something sweet, usually a custard.
The addition of eggs and the use of whole spices was the speciality in this colonial recipe. Grinding the spices with a little bit of water and using that spice paste instantly for cooking was the most common in old style Bengali cooking. Spices like cumin, coriander, and red chillies were always used in making the spice paste. This type of curry comes with a whole boiled egg and potatoes in it. It’s a simple and hearty Chicken Curry which goes well with steamed rice but can be served with Roti as well.
The curry recipe may vary depending on the availability of ingredients from one dak bungalow to the other. Unfortunately this dak bungalow cuisine is a near forgotten culinary treasure that survives amongst the few remaining khansamah families and Anglo-Indian households.
Thanks to some Kolkata based restaurants, these dak bungalow style curries are gaining it’s popularity back!