Shahnaz is of Bangladeshi heritage, was raised in Yorkshire, and has proudly called herself a London East Ender. She is now based in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. A certified feeder and avid thrower of dinner parties, Shahnaz has been cooking with love since she first learnt how to work a stove. She launched Tiger Kitchen in April 2016.
She is also a professional food writer: her recipes have featured in The Telegraph, and she previously worked as the in-house recipe creator for an online food delivery company. Shahnaz is currently working on a novel and has completed a screenplay for a feature film. You can follow her other writing projects here.
At the heart of Bengali cooking is rice - bhath - which is not only the staple food of the region, but is its very heart. The landscape is centred around rice - paddyfields dominate the scenery of Bengal: green in spring, flooded during the monsoons, and golden at the approach of harvest. The word for rice - bhath - is even used as a synonym for 'meal', which conveys its centrality. If rice is the centre stage, its supporting acts are dal (lentils) and shobji (vegetables). Maach (fish) also plays a key role, thanks to the many freshwater rivers that criss-cross Bengal, as well as the famous Bay itself.
Food is synonymous with affection and hospitality in Bengali culture. It is rare to visit any Bengali house and be permitted to leave without having sampled at least one form of hot, fried snack with tea, or chopped up fruit chatni (chutney) or bhath.
Photo (clockwise from top: doi begun (aubergine in yogurt sauce); dal (red lentils with tomato); chana bhaja (spiced chickpea curry); shadha bhath (basmati rice); maach bora (tuna cakes with chilli and lime).