In Bengal, winter is synonymous with celebration. With picnics, parties, and Christmas and winter holidays, people in Bengal are in festive mode this time of year. And what adds to their joy is the spread of winter specials. Some dishes are in sync with nature and are purely seasonal. They taste delicious as well as good for the health too. Bengali cuisine is always surprising with its flavors, aromas, and versatility. When it is winter, every household celebrates winter with Pitha, sweets, notun gur (freshly made jaggery), Phulkopir Dalna, Gajorer Halua, and many other foods that make the season enticing.
1. Koraishutir Kochuri
It is a favorite winter breakfast for the people of West Bengal. Your winter vacation is complete without Korashutir Kochuri and Notun Aloor Dom. This Kochuri is a deep-fried puri stuffed with mildly spiced Koraishuti paste (Green Peas paste). To make the filling of Kochuri you need Koraishuti paste, ginger paste, hing (asafoetida), green chili, and home spices. At Putiram or Balaram Mallick, you will get the best Kochuris.
2. Phulkopir Roast
Phulkopir (cauliflower) Roast is Bengali-style cauliflower curry. The curry is creamy, mildly spicy, and rich in flavors. The preparation process requires shallow-fried cauliflower pieces, curd, cashew nut paste, ginger paste, green chili, green peas, garam masalas, and ghee. The combination of Phulkopir Roast-Luchi/Phulkopir Roast-Pulao is a bliss. 6 Ballygunge Place in Kolkata serves the best Phulkopir Roast.
3. Hansher Dim Kosha
Hansher Dim is a Duck egg. The curry of Duck egg is spicy and infused with rich flavors. Hasher Dim keeps your body warm during winter. To make Hansher Dim you need boiled eggs, onion-garlic-ginger paste, tomato pulp, green chili, red chili, garam masalas, and home spices. Try this dish with Pulao or Luchi. The Bhoj Company, Koshe Kosha, or Aheli all serve this dish.
4. Badhakopir Ghonto
It is a beautifully spiced cabbage-peas preparation. The taste is a little hot and a little sweet. Shredded cabbage cooked with peas, potato pieces, ginger paste, red chili, cardamom, cinnamon, home spices, tomato, and ghee. The dish tastes delicious with steamed rice or Bhoger Kichudi. Try Badhakopir Ghonto at Bhojohori Manna, or The Bhoj Company in Kolkata.
5. Notun Aloor Dom
It is a comforting winter dish. If you have not tried it with Luchi, you will miss out on something good. Notun aloo/New baby potatoes are cooked in a salty, spicy sauce and sprinkled with green peas. Aloor dom is the Bengali avatar of the Indian curry potato dish. In Kolkata, do not forget to add Putiram to your list and enjoy the delicious taste of the heavenly combination of potatoes with Koraishutir Kochuri.
6. Phulkopir Shingara
Phulkopir Shingara/Cauliflower Samosa is a deep-fried, short-crust snack with savory cauliflower and potato stuffing. It is the best snack one craves to eat in the winter evening with hot masala chai. You will need tiny pieces of potato, cauliflower, ginger paste, green chili, home spices, and peanuts to make the Shingaras. It is a must-try street food if you are in Kolkata.
7. Joynagarer Moa
Joynagarer Moa is a seasonal sweet. The originality of this sweet is from Joynagar of the South 24 Parganas district. It is unique in taste and a famous dish for West Bengal people. This sweet is packed with date palm jaggery, Kanakchur Khoi (puffed rice), cashew nuts, and raisins. After breakfast, Joynagarer Moa is a must-have. You will find this dish at any sweet shop in Kolkata.
8. Palong Shaaker Ghonto
It is a dry curry of Spinach and winter vegetables- potatoes, sweet potatoes, kumro (pumpkin), moola (radish), and begun (eggplant). It is a nutritious dish and brings out lots of flavors. Spinach leaves with vegetables, green chili, and home spices cooked on slow flame. With hot steamed rice Palong Shaaker Ghonto tastes delicious.
Bengali Poush Parbon festival is incomplete without Patishapta. It is a simple and easy dessert recipe. Patishapta are thin pancakes made from refined flour or regular flour and semolina and filled with caramelized grated coconut or Sandesh. The combination of Nolen gur and grated coconut is mouth-watering. You can prepare it as a snack or for breakfast.
10. Nolen Gurer Payesh
Nolen Gurer Payesh is a simple winter dessert. It is a delicious rice kheer/rice pudding made with date palm jaggery. This kheer has a rich, creamy, and silky texture. The right amount of Nolen Gur/jaggery, fresh milk, and lots of dry fruits- cashew, raisin, almond, and Gobindobhog Rice bring out the sweetest flavor. Bengali birthdays are incomplete without payesh.
11. Ranga Aloor Puli
Ranga Aloor Puli/Fried Sweet Potato Dumpling in Jaggery syrup is a unique type of Pithe (seasonal Bengali sweets). Preparation of a variety of Pithe during winter is a tradition in Bengal. The main ingredients for this dish are rice flour, maida (refined flour), suji (semolina), and coconut-jaggery/Nolen Gur mixture for the filling. The shape of this sweet is like a shell.
12. Peyajkoli Posto
The sweet taste of the Onion flower (Peyajkoli) and the earthy flavor of poppy seeds (posto) make this dish a different one. It is an easy recipe to prepare. You require stalks of Peyajkoli, poppy seeds paste, green chili, turmeric powder, and mustard oil to prepare. It tastes like heaven with steamed rice and daal.
13. Dudh Puli
Bengali-style Dudh Puli is half-moon-shaped stuffed rice dumplings cooked in milk. The addition of Nolen Gur/date palm jaggery changes the taste. Caramelized coconut mixture is the sole ingredient to fill the rice flour dough. Bengali people celebrate Poush Sankranti with Dudh Puli Pithe.
14. Bhapa Pithe
Bhapa Pithe (Steamed Rice Cake) is a delicious Bengali sweet snack. The snack is soft and has a variety of textures. The only ingredients to make this dish are rice flour, coconut, and Nolen Gur/jaggery. Steaming rice flour and coconut-jaggery mixture is the only step here. This dish is well-balanced in terms of sweetness and healthy.
15. Koi Phulkopi
The essence of fresh winter cauliflower adds a different aroma to the Koi fish curry recipe. Fried Koi fish cooked with pieces of potato, cauliflower, green chili, home spices, and coriander leaves. The fish curry goes well with steamed rice.
16. Kuler Achar
Bengali foods are incomplete without Chutney or Pickles. Kuler Achar/Ber ka Achar (Jujube Pickle) is a tangy sweet flavored pickle with homemade spices. Soft ripened red ber, sugar/jaggery, bhaja masala – fenugreek seeds, cumin seeds, fennel seeds, and black salt are the ingredients needed to make the pickle. The taste is very different, something you never had before.
17. Tomato Chutney
A sweet, tangy, and famous chutney recipe in Bengal is Tomato chutney. The chutney tastes delicious with fried papad after a heavy meal. Fresh ripened winter tomatoes cooked with sugar syrup, panch phoron, aamshotto (mango pulp candy), cashew nuts, and raisins. The touch of tamarind pulp or lemon juice will bring out the tanginess in the chutney.
18. Rosh Bora
Rosh Bora is a Bengali name that suggests fried fritters in Nolen Gur/jaggery syrup. A better sweet option for one who has a sweet tooth. Fried small pakodas made with Uraad daal paste go into Nolen Gur/jaggery syrup. The aroma of fennel seeds makes this dish different.
19. Vegetable Chop
The must-have street food of Kolkata is Vegetable Chop/Cutlet. It is a tempting food to have with evening tea. The filling consists of freshly shredded beetroot, carrot, and potato. It tastes different compared to regular Vegetable Chops. You can also have it with Muri (puffed rice) and green chili.
20. Nolen Gurer Rosogolla
An iconic dessert of Kolkata is Nolen Gurer Rosogolla. I bet one cannot find the best quality Rosogolla elsewhere but in Kolkata. It is nothing but cottage cheese balls (chana) cooked in Nolen Gurer Rosh/Jaggery syrup. It tastes like heaven if you serve it hot.