Currying favor in Cambridge
If a whiff of the head chef — in this case a round woman who perfumes the air with hints of toasted spices — is any indication of the meal to come, great expectations are not unwarranted.
Bengali cuisine may not be native to the Boston area, but aficionados of Indian curries, kormas, and biryanis will find themselves at home in the modest Bengali Café, where chef/co-owner/server Nasrin Imam dotes on guests like a kind mother. The eatery boasts little more than sconce-lit yellow walls and seating for fewer than two dozen, but dining here is cozy, as you can see and hear your food being prepared a few yards from your table.
Shrimp curry ($9.99), both assertively spiced and steeped in the sweetness of caramelized onions, generously accompanies Basmati rice. And those who find themselves hard-hit by the heat can find relief with a rose-scented sweet lassi ($1.50). Plump links of ground-chicken sheek kebab ($7.99) removed from their skewers looked dry, but held their own, thanks to a piquant marinade.
Side dishes, meanwhile, are problematic only because there are too many to choose from. After much deliberation, daal poori (bread, $2.50) and aloo bhorta (potatoes, $2.99) landed on the table piping hot. The deep-fried pockets of dough were stuffed with lentils and spices, while the chunky smashed spuds were laced with cilantro, onions, chilies, and the tang of mustard oil — the perfect prelude to a bowl of sweet, custard-like misti doi ($3).
Bengal Café, located at 2263 Mass Ave, Cambridge | Mon - Thur, noon - 3 pm and 5 - 9:30 pm; Fri - Sun, noon - 3 pm and 5 - 10 pm | 617.492.1944.
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