The unsung architects of Bengali vegetarian cuisine

Widows have made a significant contribution to the Bengali vegetarian cuisine. Illustration: Manikandan R

One of the earliest memories I have of my maternal grandaunt is a vision in white—and, of course, a magician in the kitchen. My father would always say how it was easiest to cook mutton (or, for that matter any non-vegetarian dish), but cooking vegetables required skill. My grandaunt (dida, we called her) had those skills in plenty. She could make the most humble of vegetables taste divine. Cooking sans onion or garlic, she would magically raise a simple chechki (a semi-dry preparation made either with potatoes,......