Dak Bungalow Curry And The Curious History Behind Its Name
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A chicken or a mutton Dak Bungalow is a popular dish in most Bengali fine diners across Bengal. The orange-ish curry is rich in protein and is made with meat and eggs, along with curd and garam masala. Much like English meals, the Dak Bungalow too is almost a course in itself and just needs some rice or flatbread to go with it. 

Turns out, the dish which invokes the charm of the lost colonial era in most people's minds, may have been the victim of a misnomer. The dish is believed to be Anglo-Indian in origin and according to historical records was made in Dak Bungalows across Bengal. 

Dak Bungalows were governmental rest houses (dak in Bengali means post), dedicated to remote postal workers and other officers who maintained outposts of East India Company. Some reports also suggest that these circuit houses were sometimes used by judges to hold private court sessions, but they were mainly built for officers who were travelling on duty. 

A Curry Made For The Sahibs 

It's widely believed that the Dak Bungalow curry originated in the kitchens of these circuit houses, where local cooks would try to cook food suited to the palates of the white officers; hence the addition of eggs, which adds more proteins to a meal (some versions of the curry also included potatoes). 

It would typically be cooked with country chicken and some basic spices over a wooden chulha and would be served alongside some rice. However, the Dak Bungalow curry we know today uses a tomato-based gravy, whereas tomato was not usually used in curries during colonial times. But since there were hundreds of Dak Bungalows across Bengal, it's possible that there was no one standard recipe and modern chefs simply homogenised the recipe. But the story behind its naming is quite funny. 

While some stories say that non-natives confused the word bungalow with 'Bangla' and wanted to refer to the curry as a Bangla curry since it was being made in Bengal, not knowing that ‘bangla’ can also mean a bungalow in Hindi. Or there could be one particular Dak Bungalow which made the meal first and the recipe spread through word of mouth along with the name. The Dak Bungalow connection is quite definite, and most people call it that since it was being made in Dak Bungalows back in the day. However, no one really knows if that's how the dish was named as such. 

The recipe was popular enough to be preserved in Anglo-Indian homes even in the 21st century which is how it became a contemporary delicacy and was modified to a certain extent to include palatable flavours. But the core recipe stayed the same, although the debate over its name never really found closure