Hi, I'm Afsana. I’m a chef, and I work in food media: ar + vr, writing, styling, photographing, and storytelling. I also host a supper club, Chotpoti, through which I currently showcase modern Bangladeshi cuisine. I like to think that food is a universal language across borders - it's also my favorite way of connecting with people.
When I started Chotpoti - my modern Bengali supper club - almost two years ago, I knew I wanted to do something beyond rice and curries. I think it’s because I didn’t grow up with traditionally South Asian food. Our dinner table was a cascading flux of dishes made by my immigrant grandmother making do with foreign spices and vegetables (hello, avocados), and my dad’s memories of food from his time in Thailand, Cuba, and Greece. On top of that, we lived in a very Eastern European community. I dreamed of saffron & pistachio rugelach, spicy cilantro knishes, and ras malai tres leches.
To me, these blends were a part of my upbringing - I never thought of the food I ate or made to be “fusion” or “modern”, but just really good food that I enjoyed at home. We were the family that made chai masala pumpkin pies at Thanksgiving with curried turkey & pulao; the neighbors that made panch phoron rubbed, tangy barbecued ribs at Fourth of July alongside saffron sugar crusted blueberry pies. We ate mango chili lime ice pops and drank basil & guava smoothies on our Brooklyn porch steps.
Naturally, I found myself making this sort of food at Chotpoti – not quite traditional cuisine nor home cooking, but rather food that evoked memories of home, food that was familiar in flavors but reimagined in form. As I've developed my style, it's been wonderful hearing how this approach to cooking has resonated with so many of you who have grown up with a melange of cuisines and cultures.
I'm excited about creating more dishes as I explore this mode of cooking ~ something a bit off the beaten path, something that’s still rooted to home, and most importantly, something that everyone can enjoy. I’ll be sharing my process along the way, and I'm looking forward to bringing it to you in a cookbook one day.
Based in New York, NY.
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