Saffron Rice with Meatballs; Quick Spiced Potatoes and Cauliflower with Baby Shrimp: A Review of The Bengali Five Spice Chronicles

Bengali dishes with rice, meatballs, shrimp, cauliflower

One of the big perks of blogging is being given cookbooks to review (I know you are shocked to hear me say that!). I try to only accept books that I would be interested in at least some of the dishes. You can imagine that I often get offered baking books that I am super excited by, but it is a lot more unusual to be offered cookbooks focusing on the international cuisines that I love. So imagine my excitement when Rinku of Cooking in Westchester announced that she was looking for bloggers to review her new book focusing on Bengali cuisine: The Bengali Five Spice Chronicles.

Bengali curry with shrimp, cauliflower and peas

I am afraid my pictures are not going to do Rinku’s dishes justice, because as soon as I got the book I knew I was going to cook from it for a friend who was coming from out of town. Between the shorter days and having a guest, pictures were hurried and not in great light. Sometimes I think that lousy photos are one of the greatest compliments I can pay to a dish, as they usually signify an impatience to get eating!

Bengali meatballs with rice

About the cookbook itself… The title refers to panch phoron, the Bengali 5 spice mixture comprised of (all whole spices) cumin, fennel, methi (fenugreek), dark mustard seeds, and nigella seeds. It has gorgeous photographs in the center, although not as many as one would like. However, I know that pictures cost money and not all publishers are willing to provide them. There is a wealth of recipes, something for everyone, including meat-eaters. The recipes all have introductions–always my favorite part–written in Rinku’s comfortable, conversational voice. Going through the book, I feel like I got to know her, which is always a sign of a successful cookbook to me. I have tried 3 recipes so far: 2 were a huge success. The third was delicious to me, but it was more different from Western cooking, less familiar, and therefore a harder sell with the kids. It was also served on a different night from the dishes I served to my friend, so I will save it for another post.

Bengali curry with shrimp, cauliflower, peas

I chose 2 dishes to make for our dinner. The first, pictured above, was quick, healthy and delicious: Spiced Potatoes and Cauliflower with Shrimp. The second was the somewhat more involved, somewhat less healthy, but absolutely scrumptious (and guest-worthy) Saffron Rice with Meatballs. Knowing that I would be reviewing the dishes for this post about the book, I tried to keep my changes to a minimum. One change that I made consistently was to reduce or leave out green chile peppers, as I was concerned they would make the dishes too spicy for my children.

Bengali Meatballs with Saffron Rice

I will be featuring more recipes from The Bengali Five Spice Chronicles, and I hope you stay tuned because I will be hosting a giveaway for the book as well! The recipes below are copies from Rinku’s book, with my changes in parantheses.



Fine print: I received this book for free for review, but was not compensated in any other way for the review. All opinions are my own.





  1. says

    Getting cookbooks to review is a definite perk!! This one sounds like a winner. I really want to cook more Indian cuisine and it seems like a great place to start.

  2. AMH says

    Both dishes look terrific – and I am not a big Indian food fan…. Will definitely try them when I get back from NYC and DC

  3. Jessie says

    As the guest in question, and someone who loves Indian food, I can say that these dishes were both SO DELICIOUS. I particularly enjoyed the meatballs and rice. I love love LOVE fancy rice – as a Bangladeshi roommate of mine would call rice cooked with butter and spices – and that with the spiced meatballs was like the best comfort food ever.

  4. says

    Oh wow, what a co-incidence that we both used Panch Phoran in our cooking!This looks like a good book to try Bengali dishes :)The Saffron Rice with Meatballs looks and sounds wonderful!

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