The cuisine of Bengal is worth exploring. The main reason behind it is the unique taste of Bengali dishes. Most Bengali dishes are cooked with significantly less oil and spices, but it is the flavor of food that glues you to it.Broadly, Bengali cuisine starts with fish and ends with sweets. Fish and sweets are two essential factors in Bengali cuisine. But, in spite of that, vegetables are not left out. Vegetables, too play a vital role in shaping it.As Bengal is a plain land with dense vegetation, therefore a plethora of greens and vegetables are included in this cuisine. These vegetables are cooked in a careful concoction of oil, spices, and culinary expertise. So much so that they stand out in spite of the different non-veg items surrounding it.As far as non-vegetarian foods are concerned, it is a long list. Besides chicken and mutton, Bengalis consume a variety of fish. Fishes from both sweet and salt waters are included in a Bengali diet. For this reason, the Bengali platter has a large variety of fishe on it. These fishes are cooked in various ways. They are fried, stewed, and steamed uniquely to make the dish special.To name a few of the fishes, first comes the ‘Hilisa’, the treasured fish of Bengal, while the second is the giant freshwater prawn, also known as ‘galda chingri’ in Bengali. Both of these are very special to BengalFinally, to end the course, sweets are inevitable on the platter. Bengal is associated with a variety of sweets. Whether Rasagolla or Sandesh, Chamcham or Jibe goja, every sweet has its own story. And Bengali main course always ends with a sweet note.Below given are the dishes which are special to all Bengali households as well as to every traveler. The list ends with sweets, as a typical Bengali main course does. If you visit Bengal, these must be on your must-try list.
1.Illish Macher Jhol
The protagonist of this dish is the fish itself. It is a flavorful, runny curry prepared with Hilsa fish. Both light and delicious, this dish is a standout among all Bengali dishes. It is cooked with fresh Hilsa pieces and with very few spices in mustard oil. It is a highly beloved dish of the Bengalis and is generally served with hot rice.
It is a creamy main course dish made of large tiger prawns (Bagda Chingri) or giant freshwater prawns (Golda Chingri). It is a beautiful blend of spices, prawns, and coconut paste. Here mainly the larger variety of prawns are cooked in gravy prepared with coconut and mustard paste. It is an all-time favorite of the Bengali household and a must-try dish for non-vegetarians.
It is yet another dish made up of Hilsa fish which is largely celebrated amongst Bengalis. Here, hilsa fish pieces are steamed in a closed pot along with spices and mustard paste. It is best served with steamed rice.
4.Machcher Matha Diye Dal
When Traditional Bengali main course meal is concerned, this dish opens the show. It is a dal dish cooked with moong dal and fish head. In general, ‘Rohu’ or ‘catla’ fish are used in this dish. It is a rich dish, usually accompanied with hot steamed rice and vegetable fries. This dish is delicious and most celebrated in the Bengali cuisine.
It is an offbeat dish amongst all other Bengali dishes. This dish is a very light one and is made with different vegetables. It is generally served at the beginning of the course. It tastes somewhat bitter as ‘karela’ or bitter gourd is used in it. The bitterness is to prepare the stomach for a heavy course ahead. It is cooked with different vegetables and bitter gourd with less spices and oil.
Alu posto is a vegetarian Bengali side dish. It is cooked with potatoes and poppy seed paste. Very less oil and spices are used to cook this dish. This dish is both light and delicious. It is best accompanied with hot rice and dal.
Alur dom is a spicy Bengali dish that is prepared with ‘alu’ or potatoes and selected spices. Here, large chunks of potatoes are cooked in masala gravy to give it the required taste and texture. ‘alur dom’ is the Bengali counterpart of the north Indian ‘dum aloo.’ It can be served with Rice, Pulao, Rotis, or Luchi.
Luchi is the Bengali counterpart of North Indian ‘Puri’. Although, it is made with refined wheat flour or ‘maida’ and is lighter than ‘Puri.’ It is also smaller in size than an original ‘Puri.’ Luchi is typically served with a bowl of chholar dal or alur dom.
Chholar dal is a dish made out of chana dal. In this dish, boiled chana dal is cooked in spices to form a thick gravy-like texture. The dish is a thick, rich, and flavorful dish that is best served with ‘Luchi’. However, it can also be served with Rotis or Parathas.
Mutton Kosha is a famous Bengali dish. Here, mutton is cooked in a rich gravy of herbs and spices. Mutton kosha is a delectable dish of mutton that is cooked carefully in a concoction of onion, garlic, ginger, tomatoes, and spices. This dish can be served with hot rice, rotis, parathas, or luchi.
It is one of the best vegetarian dishes in the Bengali cuisine. This dish is made up of shredded banana flower or ‘mocha.’ The shredded banana flower is cooked in negligible spices along with grated coconut. It is a flavorful dish and is generally served with hot rice.
It is yet another delectable dish from Bengali cuisine. Just like mutton kosha, chicken here is cooked in a spicy gravy, although the spices here differ from mutton kosha. It can be served either with rice or pulao, or rotis, and parathas will also do. Chicken Kosha, along with ‘Luchi’ is a hot favorite.
It is a vegetarian preparation made with bottle gourd or lauki. Generally, here the chopped bottle gourd is cooked in a few flavorful spices. Although cooked in less oil and spices, it is a flavorsome dish. This dish is served with hot rice.
It is a unique Bengali dish that is made of ‘Potol’ or pointed gourd. In this dish, the seeds of the vegetables are scooped out. After that, a spicy mixture of mashed fish or minced meat is stuffed inside it. These stuffed vegetables are further cooked in a spicy gravy. This rich and flavorsome dish is generally served with hot rice.
15.Kolkata Style Biryani
Kolkata has its unique style of cooking Biryani. Here, potatoes are added in the Biryanis along with meat. The potatoes are super delicious and add a beautiful charm to the dish. Kolkata-style Biryani is an all-time favorite with the Bengalis. It is a must-try dish if you visit Kolkata.
It is a delicious Bengali dish made with Bengal gram flour or chana dal besan. In this dish, squares are cut out of steamed chana dal dough and deep-fried. These deep fried squares are then cooked in spicy gravy. This dish is served with rice.
‘Payesh’ is the Bengali peer to ‘Kheer.’ It is rice cooked in a rich concoction of milk and sugar. Very little spices, such as cardamom, are used to flavor it. Sometimes this dish is cooked with no spices at all. In Bengal, ‘Payesh’ is prepared with ‘Govinda Bhog’ rice. It is perfect for a dessert after a lengthy main course meal.
It is a famous Bengali sweet. ‘Sandesh’ is made of cottage cheese or ‘chhana.’ The cottage cheese is mashed and mixed with sugar and flavored with spices. This mixture is then either cooked or left as it is to form two varieties of Sandesh. They are finally cut out into different shapes. Sandesh is a must-have after a Bengali main course meal.
‘Misti Doi’ is a highly praised sweet in Bengali cuisine. Made uniquely it is the sweetened version of regular curd. Here, milk is cooked with sugar and fermented at a specific temperature to make this delectable dish. It is a must-have too after a traditional Bengali main course.
‘Rasagolla’ is the most famous and highly celebrated sweet of Bengal. In this dish, perfect cottage cheese balls are cooked in sugar syrup in specific temperature. ‘Rasagolla’ is renowned for its unique taste all over the world. If you are in Kolkata, give it a try for the authentic taste.