It turns out that the first Indian recipe that made it into my regular cooking was from Bengal, specifically a dal that still holds a special place in my heart. I posted about it here when it was transformed into a soup, but it wasn't until this fish stew - Maacher Jhol - crossed my path that I realized that Panch Phoron was distinctively Bengali. It was what made the dal delicious and definitely is a defining part of this stew.
The interesting part about first learning to cook Indian cuisine is getting used to what feels like little finicky steps which turn out to be essential. For this dish, it is tossing the fish with some turmeric prior frying it. Seems like a throwaway step, why bother? But it is essential. Follow what mistresses of the kitchen have done for centuries, they know of what they do!
Also, while you can substitute cayenne pepper for kashmiri chile powder and use another oil (ghee, olive oil) for the traditional mustard oil, if you can procure either or both ingredients (usually at an Indian grocery store; I stock up when I'm near them), it is so worth it since it enhances the flavor dramatically. You won't regret it!