The land of Maach Bhaat and Rosogulla, no wonder West Bengal is a hub for gastronomic delights. With regional specialties to authentic dishes of West Bengal, one gets an opportunity to gorge on fathomless taste the state offers. A distinct culinary tradition has traces of Mughals as well as the dynasties that have been a part of West Bengal’s history. The elaborate traditional spread from the household kitchen, array of street food, and the whole wide range of Bengali sweets; the food of West Bengal is definitely a delectable indulgence.
Bengali Food is a unique blend of panchforan which is a mixture of five species (aniseed, mustard, fenugreek seeds, cumin seeds, and black cumin seeds) and mustard oil that not only adds the distinct flavour but also retains the tenderness of the dish. Bengali Folks are born foodies and are known for their sweet-tooth therefore, they have a lot to hog on. So be ready to drool because their trademarked assortments are absolutely scrumptious. Take a dekko!
‘Mishti’ means sweet and ‘Doi’ means curd, Mishti Doi is a classic after-meal-dish of the state that has cooling properties. Fermented in earthen pots, this famous dessert of West Bengal is made with milk, curd culture, and palm jaggery. This easy-to-make sweet serving holds no precision, however, yet it ranks in the first position due to its popularity and delectable taste. No festivity is complete without this light and appetizing frozen treat.
The regional specialty of West Bengal, Ilish Maach is cooked with a pair of Ilish or Hilsa fish that is known as the queen of fish. This dish holds an auspicious significance in Bengali Kitchen. Known as Ilish Maach or Shorshe Ilish or Ilish Bhapa, this deep-fried delicious fish preparation has a unique taste. Apart from the succulent taste, the fish also has tender flesh and sparkling silver color that makes it tempting and appealing to the eyes. Made in both dried and curried forms, the much-loved local delicacy of West Bengal is served as a side-dish with rice. Fish lovers, a must-try!
This delicate finger dessert is a specialty of West Bengal. Lightly flavoured with cardamom, prepared with milk and sugar, Sandesh is a typical Bengali sweet dish that instantly melts in the mouth. There are many variations to the typical recipe of Sandesh. It can be filled with syrup, blended with coconut thereafter molded into shapes such as conch shells, elephants, and fish. Nolen Gurer Sandesh is another famous variety that is made with jaggery (gur). Be it in Kolkata or any other place in the state, this sweet is made with immense love during all major festivals of West Bengal.
The popular snack, Kolar Bora are banana fritters known to be the favorites of Lord Krishna. Soft from inside and crunchy from outside, these banana fritters or pakoras are the best tea time munching snacks. This Bong dessert is a must during Janmashtami and Makar Sankranti.
Parcels of whole fish wrapped in oil basted banana leaves, Bhetki Macher Paturi is considered to be the hallmark of Bengali cuisine. The Bhetki fish slices or whole fish are marinated in a mustard paste, panchforan with a dash of mustard oil, and wrapped in banana leaves. It is steamed on low flame till it becomes tender. As you open up these packets of banana leaves, there is a release of aroma and fresh flavours that are so elegantly wrapped with the fish. It tastes as heavenly as it sounds!
A seasonal delicacy, Tangra Macher Jhol is a freshwater fish broth. An age-old recipe that has been passed on by grandmothers of the Bengali clan, it is a portion of ultimate home-style comfort food. Prepared with freshly grounded spices that are typical of Bong Kitchen, the broth is thick and full of flavours. As Bengali cooking revolves around using a variety of freshwater fishes, Tangra is yet another variety of fish that imparts a mild aroma and it tastes great in any variation of cooking. This spicy Catfish curry can be eaten with a ladleful of steamed rice. You certainly have to taste this one.
Originated in the British era, Kosha Mangsho is a classic red meat preparation. Circulating across Bengali families from one generation to the other, the deep rich mutton curry is a Bengali’s answer to Sunday roast. This luscious dish of West Bengal is cooked in mustard oil, tangy tomato and yogurt curry with an assortment of freshly ground spices that are typical to Bengali food. The classic mutton curry preparation has an unforgettable aroma and would leave you craving for more.
Chana dal is prepared in almost every kitchen in India, however, Bengali Cholar Dal has a unique taste because it is prepared with coconut bits and jaggery. Sweet in taste, this classic preparation is also spicy and packed with nutrition. The crunch of coconut and aroma of whole spices that are seasoned in ghee adds wonders to the recipe. It is served with steamed rice and luchis. Be it any place of West Bengal, the capital city, or the hilly region such as Siliguri and Darjeeling, just don't forget to eat chana dal as Bengali’s do.
The essential vegetarian Bengali Dish made with a pointed gourd (parwal) and potato is a staple in West Bengal. Hot, spicy, and rich in flavour; Aloo Potol Posto is cooked in thick poppy seed paste and coconut puree. With the right amount of salt, sugar, and spices; this dish tastes incredibly delicious and is served with Bong staple, steamed rice.
West Bengal is certainly a paradise for non-vegetarians. A paradigmatic minced meat preparation holds the cultural connection with the family of Nobel Laureate Rabindra Nath Tagore. Keemar Doi Bora was introduced by Purnima Thakur when she discovered the Tagore family cookbook. An invention of the Thakurbari, Keemar Doi Bora are fried meatballs in sweet and spiced curd that is a twist to the usual Dahi vada. Bengalis' usually make these balls with mutton or chicken keema. However, for a vegetarian, it can also be made with soya granules. It is a perfect snack for any occasion.
This melt in mouth recipe of Daab Chingri is one of the finest culinary delicacies of the state that is famous for the seafood. The fresh prawns are marinated in mustard paste and subtle spices and then cooked in coconut shells. The tender and juicy prawns in this curry taste unique due to the distinct style of cooking. Mainly prepared during the festival of Pohela Boishakh, Daab Chingri is considered as an iconic dish of West Bengal.
A healthy, wholesome vegetarian dish; Shukto is prepared with plantains, brinjals, radish, bitter gourd, sweet potatoes, and drumsticks. The typical Bong style mixed vegetable is a blend of thick texture and aroma of the signature panch phoran. The traditional Shukto is so delectable that it dominates all the meat delicacies of the state. This bitter and sweet flavoured dish has a creamy texture as it is cooked in milk. This signature dish of West Bengal is definitely the food for the soul.
These are a few finger-licking recipes from the culinary best of the state. Bengali food is fo' shizzle the most delectable. These veritable feasts for the senses would surely trigger your taste buds. Happy Feasting!
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