The 4th Generation, Royal Bengal Salsa

February 1st, 2010

This one is a special treat to all my salsa enthusiasts, ENJOY!

The Sunderban Jungles, in West Bengal, India, are the home of some of the most beautiful cats of the world, the Royal Bengal Tigers. From the village of Sajnakhali in that area, comes the recipe for this salsa, which has been handed down in my family, mother to daughter, for almost 200  years.

The story behind this;

My great-grandmother was from Sajnakhali, a village close to the Sunderban Jungle of West Bengal India. This village is now within the world famous Sunderban Wildlife Sanctuary, home for many of the endangered wild Bengal Tigers.

Originally this dish was known as a fresh chutney. My Great Grandmother, Chandravati Devi was very beautiful. When she was young, she and her village friends used to go and buy this chutney from a middle-aged man named “Thakur” who used to sit every day on a street corner of their village. She would asked how he made his wonderful chutney, but he always smiled and said he made it with rainbows, clouds and thunder with raindrops for a garnish. Chandravati Devi loved to hear this and would ask him for his recipe almost every day. Her friends would laugh at Thakur and make fun of his stories but they all loved his chutney very much.

Time passed and Chandravati Devi grew up and was about to get married as was usual at that time. Her age was about nine and a half years. One day she went to Thakur without her friends and said  “Thakur, I cannot come anymore, I am getting big and have to stay home. They want me to get married.” Thakur said, “Well then, today I will give you my secret recipe” and told her some of his culinary secrets.  He also wished her a long and good wedded life. Within six months she was married.

About a year later she sent a servant to find her favorite chutney maker. When the servant returned she learned a dreadful story.  Late one evening Thakur was packing up his things to go home after a festival when he was attacked and eaten by a Royal Bengal Tiger. Chandravati Devi was devastated.

Chandravati Devi had several children, one of them was my grandmother Nalini Devi who was also very beautiful.  Here history repeats itself, for Nalini also loved to visit the street peddlers and eat all the wonderful foods. When Nalini was nine years old and it was time for her to get married, she went to her mother and said “Mummy, why can’t you make the good chutneys like you said your chutney man Thakur made?” And her mother, my great grand mother, told her the story of the chutney maker Thakur and using his recipe she made a dish she named “Baghmari” which means in Bengali language, “Tiger Kill”.

My mother Sailabala Devi learned the recipe from her mother Nalini, and finally taught it to me. I have refined it, brought the ingredient list up to data, and I now call it “The 4th Generation, Royal Bengal Salsa”. I could not call it “Baghmari” because I love The Bengal Tigers too much.

1 Cup    Green or Yellow split Mung beans, soaked 4 hours and drained
1 Cup    Garbanzo Beans, soaked 4 hours and drained
1 Cup    Fresh Coconut Meat, grated
1 Cup    Pineapple, chopped
1 Cup    Green Mango, peeled and grated (these are available in the summer time at Asian or Indian grocery stores and are tart but you can substitute with regular firm mangoes)
1 Cup    White Radish, or Daikon peeled and grated
1    Large Cucumber. peeled and chopped
1 Cup    Cilantro Chopped
8 or 10    Hot green chilies
2 Tbs.    Lime Juice
1 Inch    Ginger Root, peeled and grated
1 Cup     Onion Greens chopped
1 Cup     Red Onion chopped
4    Cloves of Garlic, grated
1 Tbs.    Sugar
1 Tbs.    Salt
1 Tbs.    Cumin powder
1/2 Cup    Tamarind extract (you can make your own by buying block tamarind, soaking a chunk of it in hot water and straining the pulp out or you can buy processed tamarind from Asian, Mexican or Indian stores.)

Blend, toss and eat!!!

This salsa is very different from any other type you may have experienced. It is very spicy, tangy, sweet, tart and delicious. Originally it was made with a special type of Chili from West Bengal called “Surya Mukhi” or “Sun Faced”. This chili grew looking up at the sun. It was about ½ inches in length and was very hot. You can substitute with any hot green Chilies.


There may be some serious side effects from eating this Salsa, as all my grandmothers lived to over 95 years, my mother died young at 76.

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