Why do you think Bengal is so famous for its cuisine? What is so special about the Bengali Cuisine? Why everyone gets crazy when it comes to tasting the sweets from Bengal? Why has it become the favorite of so many people around the globe?
Before answering that, I would like to tell what Bengali Cuisine actually is. It’s a culinary style which originated in ancient Bengal (Bangladesh + West Bengal) and has been greatly influenced by communities such as Bengali Nawabs, Mughals, Marwaris, Christians, Europeans and Chinese.
With fish, lentils, vegetables and rice being the staple foods in the Bengali Cuisine, an authentic Bengali meal is a dream of each foodie. If it’s not for you, you’re not a real foodie for the people who love food, crave for the unique characteristics and the cooking styles that the Bengali Cuisine possesses. The kind of singularity that is found in this culinary art is even a challenge to many other Indian Cuisines which vow for their uniqueness.
The fresh sea water fishes form an inseparable part of Bengali Cuisine. Not only the sea food, but the vegetables are also extensively used in Bengali Cuisine. In fact, Bengalis are known for their unique skill to use the so called waste of peeled vegetables or leaves to make extremely tasty and lip smacking dishes.
Cooking Preparations in Bengali Cuisine
The fuel efficient methods for cooking like steaming and covering the dishes with lid while cooking make the dishes in this cuisine a very healthy choice as well. The combinations of spices that are extensively used in Bengali dishes are not common even in other regions of India. Do I still need to talk about ‘uniqueness’ of the Bengali Cuisine?
Would you like to know what the secret behind that extremely tasty flavor Bengali Cuisine is? It’s the Paanch Phoron. Bengali’s consider it as their trump card which is a mixture of five spices – fennel, kalonji, fenugreek, black mustard seeds and cumin. This mixture is fried and added to almost all the dishes in Bengali Cuisine. Also, Kasaundi – a pungent mustard sauce is one of the most famous dipping sauces known in Bengal.
The Korai and Boti are two more secret weapons of Bengali Culinary art masters. While Korai is a common cooking vessel in Bengal, Boti is a specially designed cutting instrument. Rice is prepared in a flat bottom vessel known as Dekchi which allows to strain out the starch while cooking rice.
Bengali’s are very specific about the way the vegetables are cut and peeled before cooking. When it comes to examining the cooking style in Bengal, we would find many practices which a normal person like me would consider as unnecessary rules but these are the most significant reasons for which the Bengali Cuisine is relished by gourmets.
Famous Dishes in Bengali Cuisine
Let’s talk about what you need to try for sure in the Bengali Cuisine. What are the most famous dishes in Bengal? Though Bengalis follows different courses in a meal like starters, main course, desserts etc, I would like to start with the desserts and sweets.
Bengal needs no introduction for its desserts and sweets. While the most famous dessert in Bengali Cuisine is of course the Mishti Doi which is yogurt sweetened with charred sugar. The sweets include Shondesh (prepared from sweetened and finely grounded cottage cheese), Roshogolla (one of the three trademarks of Bengal), Rasmalai (made from cottage cheese), Pantua and Chamcham (ingredients are similar to those of Roshogolla but different cooking techniques are used).
The lip smacking snacks of Bengal include Muri (puffed rice), Jhal Muri (spicy and a must to try) and Moa (use gur ‘jaggery’).
Top Bengali main course recipes include Doi Maach (typical Bengali preparation served with rice), Aloo Posto (made from potatoes) and Fish Kofta (a treat for people who love fish).
During a typical Bengali meal, the first course is of Shak which consists of leafy vegetables, second is of Dal which contains preparations of pulses, third is of fish. A number of additional courses are also practiced. The meals are accompanied by chutneys to add a spicy flavor for most of the dishes in Bengali Cuisine are quite subtle. These are followed by desserts and sweets.
I’ve tasted the authentic Bengali meal made by hands of a native Bengali woman just once and since then my appetite has been begging for the Bengali food.
That’s the kind of impact it has on you. If you really want to treat yourself with the best cuisines in the world, go for Bengali Cuisine at once.