Food is a beautiful (and tasty) form of art and Bengalis have taken this art way too seriously. It is rightly said that nothing can come between food and Bengalis (people living in West Bengal – an Indian state). Bengali food can only be relished with hands and no forks or spoons can substitute the taste that eating with hands imparts. Therefore it is truly said that the Bengali food is ‘finger-licking’ good. If you know a Bong (urban Indian term for the Bengali people), you know their love for food.
Bengalis have a rich culture and this richness in evident in their cooking. The spices, the aromas, the rich gravies and the quality of food are one of a kind. Here we bring you a list of top 5 Bengali dishes that are a must try.
Luchi and Chholar Dal
A typical Bengali Sunday breakfast, luchis and chholar dal are just everyone’s favourite. Luchis are fluffy, deep-fried, light-golden textured flatbreads but unlike the traditional puris they are made of maida (refined wheat flour). Chholar Dal is prepared from Channa Dal and has slight sweetness with coconut bits added to it to give it a crunch. The preparation is done with aromatic spices that can be smelled few feet away from the entrance of the house. Chholar dal and luchis are also said to be a vital part of all ceremonies. The buffet can never be complete without them. This amazing combo is a delicacy that you would want to extend from breakfast to lunch. But mind you, feast has just started.
Chingri Machher Malaikari
This lip-smacking preparation is a perfect blend of prawns, cream and coconut milk. With mild spices and a ratio of ingredients hard to match this dish is relished in every Bengali household. It takes a lot of practice to get this dish perfect. The highlight of the dish is its velvety gravy that is best enjoyed with bhaat(rice). The light appearing dish could be gobbled down till your stomach aches for the right reasons.
Ilish Maach Bhapa
Ilish Maach or the Hilsa fish is like a copyright to Bengalis. Any dish prepared with Ilish Maach automatically falls under Bengali Cuisine. No Bengali will ever compromise with this fish. In fact this maach tops their list every single meal when it comes to a fish preparation. The fish has a natural aroma and rich taste therefore it is cooked with minimum spices. The gravy is usually prepared with mustard seed paste and is best enjoyed with rice. The gravy has a slight tangy flavour giving a kick to your taste buds.
This is a unique vegetarian option for the all the vegans there. Aloo poshto is a basic preparation of potatoes in poppy seeds. Without Aloo Poshto a Bengali thali can never be complete. With minimum spices this could be treated as a side dish or a main dish but nothing can match its taste. The simplicity of this preparation makes it more special. With just basics of what you can even find in a bachelor’s kitchen the dish could be made. But the Bengali touch in the dish cannot be recreated to satiate the purist.
When it comes to Bengali cuisine one cannot just go on without tasting the sweetness of the place. The dish is usually served in earthen wares giving it some earthy flavors that are unable to match. The variation of curd is sweetened with palm jaggery and is an absolute delicacy. It has a thick texture of an ice-cream and has a dense texture. The sweet dish cools you down after a smashing meal, leaving your palate with a pleasant and amazing taste that lingers for a long, very long time.
With these delicacies around, Bengali dishes are an absolute ‘Must-try’ for their simplicity and richness that blends in a single meal just like their culture. This cuisine can speak volumes with minimum ingredients and leaves one’s palate craving for more.
Rohit, an architect by profession, and a blogger by choice has a motto for connecting people through food. He is a food-junkie and loves to write about everything that he tastes. He believes in making people aware about the rich cultural cuisines that are available and just need to be tasted.