Something we’ve been attempting in the Bombay Howrah Dining Car kitchen, is sensible attempts to meld Indian (or specifically Bengali, Marathi and Bombay / Kolkata inspired fare) with western styles of cooking. It somehow broadens the appeal for those unfamiliar with these cuisines, and almost introduces an element of playfulness for those familiar with them.
I therefore decided to try making a pie with the traditional Kosha Mangsho (a drier version of the Bengali mutton curry) filling since the luchi – fried refined flour bread – the Bengali cousin of the puri, is a traditional accompaniment to kosha mangsho, and the buttery, flaky pie crust dough is a good approximation of the luchi.
This time, I also decided to go native on the curry and cook it entirely in mustard oil as folks back in Kolkata would frequently do. That, and the distinct flavor and colour you get from using fried onions (beresta as Bengalis call it, as opposed to the barista you may find at a Starbucks) that adds a wonderful caramelized flavor, and depth of flavor and colour to the dish. One of our Singaporean friends and a very discerning gourmand, had given us some feedback from meat dishes she had eaten from our kitchen – while she loved the spices and the flavours, she wanted to taste more of the meat i.e. a little less well done and chunkier. The point was well taken and executed in this dish.
The experiment worked, and the good news is that both elements of the dish – the filling and the pie crust can be made in advance. The Kosha Mangsho gains a lot from giving the meat more time to soak up the gravy, and the pastry dough keeps nicely in the refrigerator (indeed some amount of refrigeration is needed before the baking of the pie crust, to let it firm up a bit). The combination was a wonderful hearty meat pie with all the flavours that I love about our meat preparation, combined with the look and taste of a pie with a nice, golden crust that cut open with just the right amount of flakiness, baked with the expert help of Priya, the queen of all things dough at home. This is definitely making it to the menu of the dining car, and I intend to try other fillings as well (Chicken Rezala as a hearty pot pie substitute maybe?)