Indian Recipe

Bengali Food-A Unique Culinary Style

Bengali Food is a unique culinary style
Written by Banani Chakraborty

Bengali Food is a unique culinary style. Bengal Food is very rich and distinct. Moreover, it possesses a unique aroma. In fact, it is absolutely it’s own.

Table of Contents

Bengali Food is a unique culinary style

Most importantly, we will get no-match of them in respect of taste and food value.

To begin with, Bengal’s staple diet is rice. With this, they mainly emphasis on various items of fishes, vegetables and daals or lentils. We have to say nothing of the taste of these simple items that they eat daily.

Some facts of Bengali Food

In the first place, Bengal Food is very rich and distinct. Moreover, it possesses a unique aroma. Nawabs ruled here for a long period. It has deep influence on Bengali Food. To tell the truth, it is a mixture of subtle and fiery aromas.

Besides, there are some European influences in traditional Bengali food. We can see this mainly in snacks, chops and cutlets food tradition and foods. These have originated from the British. But the Bengalis prepare them in its unique style and like them very much.

In all honesty, West Bengal is famous for mach(fish) and bhat(rice).

Bengali dishes

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These are very common and a staple in almost every Bengali family either living in Bengal or outside. Bengalis traditionally possess an irresistible bonding with rice and fish.

Myriad rivers, as well as river canals along with various water bodies, surround the state. Hence, fresh and sweet water fish are very common here. The main attractions are rahui, Katla, mrigel, boyal, koi, tangra, pabda, parse, chingri(prawn), aar.

Most importantly, Bengalis weakness is oily fish ‘Hilsa’ or ‘Ilish’. The sensitivity of the flesh, unique flavor and the appeal of its gorgeous silver colour have easily made it ‘queen of fish’. As a matter of fact, this hilsa holds a great ritual significance in Bengal.

Generally, a pair of hilsa fish (Joda Ilish) is required on auspicious occasions like marriage.

However, illish are available in huge quantity in the sea and some parts of the delta of Sunderban, in Bengal. We will get them as well as in the river Ganga, particularly in monsoon. They are also super tasty. Bengali people are simply crazy about it. They prepare many fabulous dishes of Illish.

As a matter of fact, there are over forty types of fresh and sweet water fish available here. Moreover, they get living fishes which they get from local water bodies. that is popularly served in Bengal.

On the other hand, we will mostly find gourds, roots and tubers as vegetable items. Vegetables like plantains, pumpkins, potatoes, eggplants or brinjals, beans, water lily roots and etc. dominate the foods.

Further, various lentils and shaks are also very common and popular Bengali food item.

They also make ‘bara’ from dals, shaks, leaves and flowers which are very normal. These are not only tasty but also healthy.

Another speciality of Bengali recipe is an intermingling of spicy and sweet flavours. The subtle balance of both the key ingredients and the flavor plays a starring part. In all honesty, ‘Phoron’ adds a delicate uniqueness even to the simplest of food. Bengalis use the ‘panch phoron’ generously and it increases the deliciousness of the food.  It is a unique blend of five spices. They are cumin, mustard seed, nigella, aniseed and fenugreek.

Only, I can say that at first taste any of the Bengali dishes. Then you will realize what I am meaning to say.

In all honesty, the fame of Bengali cuisine is due to the diverse use of flavours.

Moreover, the range of its confectioneries and desserts are fabulous.

Not to mention this that prefer every item separately with rice so that they can relish the taste of every item.

Food Ceremonies of Bengal

Annaprashan(Mukhe Bhat)

This is a special occasion when a new-born baby consumes his first solid food. Generally, it is payesh, which is made of Rice. They cooked it because it is not only easy to swallow but also sweet. In addition to this, it is also a ‘bhog’ that we offer to god on special occasions. Besides, ritually Bengali people think that it is a holy food.



Moreover, previously Bengali parents gave their children one or two drops of ghee with shukto, torkari, 5 bhajas, daal, chutney and fish-head or tail.

Birthday(Janmadin)

Bengali people traditionally follow the same menu as they do in annaprashan. Additionally, nowadays they do light candlesticks and cut cake.

Bhog

They make these to feed god on special occasions. Generally, they offer god Khichuri with various bhajas and labra. Apart from these they also give payas. Sometimes they offer luchi with suji or Alur dom.

Special occasions or for guest 

They prepare some special menu for their guests. There are a lot of dishes which I am going to describe below.

Influence of Widows in Bengali Food

As a matter of fact, Hindu widows added a new blend in Bengali food. Due to the social and economic barrier, they prepared many dishes of vegetables and cheap spices. They could not use shallot and garlic in their food. They used only ginger.

Characteristics of Bengali Food

Indeed, we can easily divide Bengali cuisine into four categories. They are-

1)            First of all, is ‘charbya’. It is a food which we have to chew. It comprises of rice, fish and etc.

2)            Next, is ‘choisya’. We have to suck this food. For example, we may mention tak and ambal and etc.

3)            Then, is ‘lehya’.  We lick it such as chutney.

4)            Finally, is ‘peya’. We simply drink it, for example, milk.

The Daily Meal

Normally, it is very simple.

Starter or first course

In the first place, Bengalese start their meal with uchhe or korola or neem leaves. They prefer to deep fry them in oil. Otherwise, they steamed them with potatoes. Sometimes, they use ‘shukto’ instead, or along with them

Shak

Next, they generally eat various shaks such as spinach, lau, kumro, Pui, kormi, sorshe, Hinche, sojne, kochu, palong, methi, and etc. Sometimes they take mustard oil or kasundi with shak.

Dal

Then they eat dal or lentils with some vegetables. They use aloo( potatoes) bhaate( steam) or bhaja( fried in oil). Sometimes they use kumro, potol, ladies finger, eggplant, posto(poppy-seeds) etc. They occasionally use besan and make bara.

Another accomplishment is labra, ghonto, chanchra or chorchori. These are something very special Bengali dishes. Ordinary vegetables are called torkari. They usually use various vegetables and combinations. They take these with dals or just after that.

At times, they use pickles or lemon with dal.

Main Course

It is generally fish items. Although, sometimes they eat meat or egg. The most common fish item is jhol of it. They prepare it with turmeric, chilli, ginger and cumin. At times they give potatoes or other vegetables along with fish.

Bengali also cook delicious dishes of shutki or prawn and crab. These are non-vegetarian dishes.

Vegetarian dishes include items of either panir or dhoka.

Chutney

Chutney is very common for the Bengalis. They normally use mango, pineapple, tetul or tamarind, Pepe or papaya, tomato, etc.  They prefer papad with chutney.

Dessert

At first, they prefer Misti doi or sweet yoghurt. Finally, they love to take rasogolla, pantua, rajbhog, ledikeni.

Snacks

In snacks, they use muri, jhal-muri, moa, chire bhaja, phuchka, chotpoti, singara etc. We will get these items everywhere in Bengal as street food. Moreover, we can prepare them at home.

Anyhow, now I am going to describe a few very famous Bengali foods. But, it will be impossible to describe all in one article. Therefore, I will describe them in two parts.

Bengali dishes taste is thrilling and tranquil and simply the best and healthy too. Here are some must-have Bengali dishes we need to try in this lifetime.

Must-Have Bengali Dishes We Need to Try in This Lifetime:

In the first place, West Bengal is well-known for the array of a lot of things. Perhaps, Bengali food can easily top the list. Most importantly, there are a number of mouth-watering, exotic and delicious food items of Bengal from breakfast or refreshment to meals, lunch and dinner.

To tell the truth, here, I am trying to uplift a few of them. Additionally, it is my humble request to each and every person in this world to taste these items at least once in your life. If you do so, I can make assure that you wish to taste some of them or most of them again and again.

SOME VEG BENGALI DISHES_

1)Luchi and Alur Dom:

Actually, this alur dum and poori combination is a very common Bengali holiday morning food. Moreover, they use it as a starter for any small gatherings at home. Further, they generally prefer it for the refreshment of guests.

As a matter of fact, alur dum is a light spicy potato curry with onions, tomatoes and spices.

Besides, it is very easy to cook and they cook it with a different combination of spices and in various methods to get a different taste.

Not to mention, that Bengalis mostly eat alur dom with another delicacy of its own i.e luchi.

They generally prefer maida instead of atta to make it. Moreover, they are small in size, round shape, deep fry and crispy with a golden glow.

2.Jhal Muri:

Most importantly, this is a super-duper hit as refreshment or tiffin and we can easily make it at our home or we can easily get it everywhere in Bengal, even when we are outside.

Actually, this is a very popular and common item in Bengal.  This light but tasty snack is a mixture of puffed rice and other tidbits like boiled potatoes, chopped cucumber and tomatoes and onions, roasted peanuts, chanachur, coriander, a variety of spice powders and herbs along with mustard oil, or ‘aam tel’ or lemon.


In all honesty, it is so tasty that recently foreigners also love it.  Additionally, it is a good choice for breakfast or evening dish.

3)Begun Bhaja:

Another very common and easy to cook food item is begun bhaja. This is a dish made of thick slices of begun or eggplant. First, marinate it with turmeric and salt and little sugar. Then fry it in hot oil.

Sometimes we mix besan powder and rice powder with water and chilli powder. Then dab the thin slices of begun in it and make it a crunchy fry. Bengalis called it beguni.

4)Shukto:

To tell the truth, shukto is a traditional and well-known and very special mixed vegetarian dish. And they prepare it with several veggies and milk and spices.

The basic and common ingredients are eggplant(brinjal), green banana, bitter gourd(karela), bori (Bengali special), potato, sweet potato, crunchy drum sticks, green papaya, white radish and hyacinth or French beans.

Along with these, the paste of radhuni, posto, ginger, white mustard with fresh cream. These all together make this dish unique of taste and aroma.

Above all, this ‘mouth-watering’ dish is not only delicious but also healthy and people of all ages love it too.

Generally, on some special occasions, Bengali people use it as a starter with rice.

5)Chor Chori:

A delightful vegetarian food is chor chori. It is a combination of fresh vegetables like cauliflower and potatoes and pumpkin and brinjal etc. and finally add ‘panch phoron’ to have the flavor.

6)Alu Posto:

Most importantly, it is a very special but very common Bengali food. To prepare this delicious recipe we mainly need poppy seeds and potatoes.

7)Alu Potol Posto:

To tell the truth, Bengali people are fond of poppy seeds very much. Like Alu posto, alu potol posto is another very tasty day-to-day dish. This preparation needs Posto and potatoes and pointed gourd and some spices.

8)Posto bora and bata:

Moreover, Bengalis eat posto bara with dal and rice or posto bata with rice. They ground posto to make its paste in a mixture grinder. It is a posto bata. It tastes very delicious with potato fry and raw onion. Sometimes, they fry it in oil to make bara.

9)Kanchkolar Kofta:

Kanchkolar kofta is an awesome as well as delicious Bengali dish and its ingredients are green bananas, potatoes and spices.

10)Chanar Dal:

Most importantly, Bengalis make chinar dal with coconut, ghee and various spices. It tastes a bit spicy but full of nutrition. It is a good source of protein and calcium and zinc and folate and contains a low amount of fat. They normally take it with rice, chapattis

Protein and a low-fat diet are helpful for weight loss.

11.Chholar Dal:

Another Bengali’s favourite recipe is this. The basic ingredient is chana dal. It is slightly sweet as well as spicy and is superb to eat with rice or mainly with Luchis.

Moreover, we sometimes add bay leaves and coconut bits and cinnamon to increase and manifold its taste.

We may have a lot of gourmet dishes. But the original Bengali flavor comes from those simple dishes which rank and file Bengali household prepare.

12.Lau Ghonto:

Bengalis cook lau or bottle gourd with Dal Boris and some light spices. Though it is not very spicy and is soothing for the stomach as well as the tongue.

We may try it if we want to rest our stomach and relish it with rice.

13)Mochar Ghonto:

Mochar Ghonto is another tasty food item. Bengalis cut banana flower(mocha) in very small pieces and crush the coconut and potato. Then they cook it with some cumin powder or paste and bay leaves. sometimes small prawns are added to make it more delicious.

This dish is amazing in taste and they take it normally with rice.

14)Doi Fulkopi

To tell the truth, this cauliflower dish is another example of lip-smacking Bengali aroma. They use spicy yoghurt curry. It is a bit thick in texture and rich in flavours. Finally wrap it in ginger paste, cinnamon, garam masala, chillies and bay leaf.

15) Chal Potal

Bengalis normally prepare this special menu for some family special occasion or as some special day lunch. It requires, Gobindabhog chal and potol or pointed gourd. Moreover, ginger paste, it requires cumin powder, turmeric, red chilli, coriander.

16)Kumro saker chorcori

This is a common and traditional family dish. Ingredients are Vegetable medley and pumpkin leaves and some basic spices

17)Kumro phuler bara

Bengalis make it with the flower of pumpkin. At first, they make a batter of besan, and rice powder and chilli powder along with a pinch of baking soda. Then they dab it in this paste and deep fry it.

SOME NONVEG BENGALI DISHES_

non veg Bengali dishes

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1)Macher Dum Pukht:

It is another delicious Bengali dish. Main ingredients are fish and almonds and poppy seeds and yoghurt and some other spices.

2)Bhetki Macher Paturi:

Indeed, this is a fish delicacy. The ingredients are bhetki mach and some other spices. First, we prepare a coating of mustard, then wrap it very well with the help of banana leaves and thereafter cook it in steam.

This is not only delicious but also very much healthy.

Bengali people prepare it in some occasions.

3). Tangra or Pabda Macher Jhol:

To tell the truth, in Bengal we will get fishes of freshwater as well as of salted water. This Tangra and pabda fishes are basically the freshwater fish. They prepare it with freshly ground spices. Mix some poppy seeds to better the taste. This thin curry is light and also very tasty. They take it with rice.

Doi Mach and Macher Kalia are also exotic variations of Bengali fish recipe.

4)Chingri Macher Malaikari:

chingri macher recipe

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This is a very special and tasty and classical Bengali preparation of lobster or prawn and coconut milk and spices and /or cream.

Also, read Indian Spicy Prawn Masala.

5)Daab Chingri:

It is another delicious Bengali dish. Basic ingredients require for it are prawns, coconut, mustard oil and spices and serves them in a tender coconut (Daab).

In very special occasion Bengalis use Ilish mach instead of prawn.

6)Chital Macher Muitha

This is also an exotic Bengali fish dish. To tell the truth, it is a rich gravy preparation of chital fish. Generally, in some very special occasions, Bengalis prepare this dish. It requires boneless chital, potato, onion, tomato, posto and some spices.

7)Shorshe ilish

Ilish Mach itself is very tasty and Bengali people favour it very highly. It is a very delicious preparation of ilish with mustard(shorshe) and some other spices.

It is a very common and popular dish with rice.

8)Ilish Macher Jhol

Bengalis appetite with this curry simply spices up. Bengalis prefer ilish among all other fishes, the best. They cook Hilsa/ilish fish in mustard oil and Nigella seeds and chillies

Sometimes they also use begun/eggplant with it. It is very simple but delicious. Bengalis prefer this simple curry with rice very much.




Moreover, Ilish Bhapa and Daab Ilish and Doi Ilish are some delightful varieties with awesome taste.

9)Muri ghonto:

This is an exotic Bengali food. They prepare it with rui or katla fish’s head and basmati rice and some other spices.

10)Macher Matha and Moong Daal

This is an exotic and common Bengali dish of the fish head of rui or katla or ilish and split green gram and some common spices with rice.

11)Kochi Pathar Jhol

It is a very tasty but common recipe. To tell the truth, Kochi patha or tender mutton has a unique taste. To prepare this we need a young or smaller goat, or Kochi patha along with potato and whole garlic and some other spices like onion, garlic, curd and whole garam masala. Bengalis take it with plain rice.

Another variety of it is kosha mangsho. Bengalis prefer it with luchi or paratha.

12)Kosha Mangsho:

Bengali people prepare it almost gravy less with potato or yoghurt and of course mutton along with cloves and onion and garlic and cinnamon etc. spices.

They mainly take it with luchi or paratha or sometimes rice.

13)Tangra Macher Jhol

This spicy curry is enormously favourite amongst the Bengali people. They use Tangra Mach and some recently grounded spices. The flavoured gravy will be slightly thick. Red chilies help to give the curry a fiery taste.

Serve it with plain but steamed rice.

14)Keema Mutter

Keema is boneless very tiny almost crushed pieces of mutton. Its spicy gravy with peas brings a genuine Bengali twist. At first, we will cook on medium steam this minced meat and peas to give it a delicious taste. Next, we will add the recently cooked spices to prepare this superb tasty non-veg dish.

SOME FAVOURITE SWEET DISHES OF BENGALI-

bengali sweet dishes

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1)Sondesh:

This is the most popular and very common sweet dessert of Bengal. Generally, Bengalis prefer some sort of sweets at the end of every meal.

They use khoya, a type of condensed milk and this is wonderful in taste. The sweetness is minimum. Therefore, almost all like it. If anyone tastes this heavenly delectable food item for the first time he will surely take a few more.

Sometimes they use milk or cottage cheese and sugar or batasa or jaggery.

2)Rosogulla:

Among the sweet items, rosogolla has simply no match and it is awesome.

3)Chamcham:

Chamcham is another traditional and delicate Bengali mithai. They prepare it mainly with fresh chana.  It is made with a lot of fancy colourful stuffing like khoya, kismis, Kaju,pista etc and garnishingdone with dry coconut.

4)Misti Doi:

In fact, they prepare this with plain yoghurt and khagur gur or palm jaggery and prefer this awesome item at the end of supper.

5)Bhappa doi:

Sometimes they also use sweetened yoghurt to make bhappa doi. It is also superbly tasty.

6).Malpua

Malpua is integrally attached with all the holy occasions and festivals like Holi, Navratri, Diwali, and etc. It is another delicious Bengali sweets.

In fact, it is a soft pancake. It is made of flour (Maida) and semolina (sooji or rava) which is soaked in milk. Then deeply fry it and dip in sugar syrup or sira. Then skillfully season it with cardamom to get the original taste.

7)Gokul pithe

It is a fried sweet dumpling. Dab it in thick and hot sugar syrup or sira. You may mix khoya with grinded coconut and sugar.

There are so many dishes. This year, puja has started. You may try a few of them in this Durga Puja. Taste the aroma of Bengali food and enjoy this puja.

Maa Durga bless us and we will leave happily.

8)Patishapta

A unique and delicious Bengali homemade sweet is patishapta. Usually, Bengali men prepare it with a batter of rice powder and roll it with the preparation of coconut bits along with sugar or sugar cake and khoya. This is really so very amazing and enchanting.

9)Aam Pora Shorbot:

Bengalis make a drink of chilled water and partially burnt raw mangoes and sugar and it provides instant relief from tiredness. Moreover, it is refreshing as well as relaxing.

Added to this, it can protect us from the scorching heat of the sun particularly in Summer.

Here are only some of the most amazing and mouth-watering authentic Bengali food items.

Bengalis prefer fish and vegetables and lentils along with rice which is a staple diet. People like these foods for its flavors as well as a wide range of confectioneries and desserts.

Only, I can say that at first taste any of the Bengali dishes. Then you will realize what I am meaning to say.

In all honesty, the fame of Bengali cuisine is due to the diverse use of flavors. Moreover, the range of its confectioneries and desserts are fabulous.

Not to mention this that prefer every item separately with rice so that they can relish the taste of every item.

 

 

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Banani Chakraborty

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