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Coastal favourites: Pritha Sen’s classic and little-known recipes

The culinary historian shares her recipes for a sizzling Pork Vindaloo from Bengal and a delightful Tel Koi

Jaismita Alexander | Published 16.04.24, 05:27 PM
Culinary revivalist Pritha Sen dishes out two of her favourite recipes — a pork vindaloo from Bengal and ‘tel koi’

Culinary revivalist Pritha Sen dishes out two of her favourite recipes — a pork vindaloo from Bengal and ‘tel koi’

Culinary revivalist Pritha Sen has been bringing back old Indian recipes, which have been forgotten in the course of popular taste. In the age of modern Indian cuisine, she goes back in time to the traditional recipes that were once a part of both royal kitchens and common homes. My Kolkata caught up with the food historian for a quick chat, where she also dished out two of her favourite recipes.


Tel Koi

A quintessential Bengali recipe, this often emerges as one of the favourites in the repertoire of mothers and grandmothers. To be relished with steamed rice alone, this dish made with Gangetic koi is total comfort food.


  • Koi fish: 5-6 pieces
  • Turmeric: 1 tsp
  • Onion juice: 2-3 tbsp (alternatively, use half a sliced onion)
  • Green chilli paste: 2 tsp (can be adjusted according to taste)
  • Chilli powder: ½ tsp
  • Garlic: 5-6 cloves
  • Fresh coriander roots, finely chopped: 1 tbsp
  • Kalo jeere (nigella seeds or kalonji): ½ tsp
  • Methi (fenugreek seeds): 1/4th tsp
  • Green chillies slit and deseeded: 5-6
  • Fresh coriander finely chopped
  • Mustard oil: 3-4 tbsp
  • Water (optional): 1/4th cup
  • Salt to taste


  • Wash fish and marinate it with turmeric, salt, chilli powder, green chilli paste, and onion juice. If using sliced onions, mix it in well with the fish, mashing them lightly with your fingers
  • Arrange the fish in a heavy bottomed flat pan. Sprinkle with chopped coriander roots
  • Heat mustard oil and temper with kalo jeera, methi seeds, garlic cloves and a green chilli
  • Pour the hot oil and temper over the fish. Add the rest of the slit chillies
  • Cover the pan and put it on slow sizzle
  • After about 10 mins, turn the fish over. Sizzle for another 10 minutes
  • Add 1/4th cup water at this stage and continue cooking till the fish is done
  • Remove the fish pieces onto a serving dish
  • Continue cooking the juices in the pan. Increase the heat and let everything sizzle well in the oil
  • Pour over the fish in the serving dish. Garnish with fresh coriander

Pork Vindaloo 

Courtesy Pritha Sen

While this Anglo-Indian pork preparation is widely known as a Goan favourite, this spicy-sour pork recipe belongs to Bengal’s Portuguese legacy. Pair it with rice or soft rice-flour rotis for the perfect meal.


  • Pork cubed: 1.5 kg
  • Ginger paste: 1 tbsp
  • Garlic paste: 1 tbsp
  • Red wine: 2 cups
  • Vinegar : 1 cup
  • Mustard oil: 6 tbsp
  • Raisins: 3 tbsp
  • Onion, finely chopped, or puree'd: 500g
  • Salt: 2 tbsp or to taste
  • Sugar: 2 level tsp
  • Slit green chillies: 4

Spice mix:

Grind all the ingredients with vinegar for the spice mix

  • Dry red Kashmiri chillies: 10 pcs
  • Cumin: 2 ½ tsp
  • Mustard seeds: 1 tsp
  • Peppercorns: 1 tsp
  • Turmeric: 1 ½ tsp
  • Cloves: 3
  • Cinnamon stick: 2 inches
  • Garlic: 15 -16 cloves
  • Ginger: 1 inch piece


  • Marinate the pork with 1 tbsp ginger paste, 1 tbsp garlic paste, a little salt and the red wine for 24 hrs or overnight.
  • Soak the raisins in water
  • Heat the mustard oil well and fry the raisins. Remove from the pan and set aside
  • Fry the onions sprinkled with some salt till light brown
  • Add the ground spices and fry on medium heat until the oil separates
  • Add the marinated meat, green chillies, salt and sugar and continue frying until water has evaporated
  • Add hot water to cover the meat and slow cook until tender and gravy has thickened
  • Add the fried raisins and remove from heat. Serve hot with rice
Last updated on 17.04.24, 10:27 AM

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