TOP 10 FOOD OF WEST BENGAL
West Bengal, needless to say that this state has the most vibrant culture in the country. With its welcoming nature and its diverse culture that celebrates all the festivals of India with equal joy and happiness and it is important to mention Kolkata the city of joy and also the capital of the state, when it comes to festivities and grandeur. Food plays a crucial part when it comes to celebrations.
West Bengal and Bengalis don’t see food as a mere thing to satisfy your appetite but it is rather seen much more as an art, and just like any artifact, food in West Bengal is made with time, dedication, concentration to its little details and of course with great love that the state gives to almost anyone and anything.
So, moving on to the top 10 food in West Bengal, there are numerous food items that are the specialties of the state but following are the list of foods that are much needed to be in the list of anyone who plans to visit West Bengal.
Milk Sweets, Sandesh, and Rasgulla: Starting the list with something sweet, West Bengal is famous for its sweets that are made of fresh milk. When someone thinks of Bengal the first food comes to mind is the renowned ‘Rasgulla’ but wait this place has more to offer than you can imagine. One popular sweet that is made with fresh milk is “Sandesh”. A soft, small, patty made with milk, paneer and sugar, topped with almonds and pistachio and even saffron, makes the delicate sweet a tad expensive too. Sandesh is a go-to sweet during the festive season. With change in trend, this sweet has also molded itself into different colors and flavors. The sweets in Bengal are bound to make anyone fall in love with sweets even if they don’t have a sweet tooth. Made freshly with milk and its products, Milk Sweets are the pride of food culture in Bengal.
Mishti Doi or Sweet Curd: Mishti Doi is Bengal’s own version of traditional ice-cream. Made with fresh milk that is boiled and then stirred and kept to get cool and settle, then sugar is added accordingly. The sweet ice-cream is then garnished with almonds, pistachio, cashew that brings out the best of the sweet curd, giving it a crunchy and sweet taste. This delicacy is primarily served after a nice Bengali meal and is prominent item in the Bengali weddings. Mishti Doi is significantly identified by the dish it is served on, they are served on small earthen pots. It also has its own benefits, earthen pots keeps the curd inside cool and in right texture. It doesn’t let the curd get spoiled and the ingredients are intact when served. Mishti Doi has its dietary benefits too; after a heavy and spicy meal, it is served so as to protect the stomach from all the burnings afterwards caused due to spices.
Luchi Aloo: Luchi Aloo is considered as the main dish served for breakfast in West Bengal. There is ‘Luchi’ which is basically a puri that is primarily made in the Northern India however the texture and the cure of the Luchi is slightly different. It is made with maida too but it is a little golden brownish in color. To go with the luchi, ‘Aloor Dum’ or Aloo Dum is served. It is made with potatoes carefully mixed with different spices and other ingredients. Hot, puffed Luchi and hot Aloor Dum are like match made in heaven, and everyone is a fan. They are primarily the go-to breakfast because it is not too hard to prepare. Luchi Aloo is not only confined to everyday meal but it has a prominent place during the renowned Durga Puja of West Bengal. It is mandatory for Luchi Aloo to be present in the Maha Saptami that is the eighth day of the Durga Puja; without them the bhog or oblation is incomplete.
Kathi Rolls: Bengal’s very own version of Meat Wraps, Kathi Rolls brings joy to everyone who tries it for the first time and it leaves a good impression so much that their won’t ever be a last time. Kathi Rolls are flatbreads or roti that are filled with meat, such as chicken or egg or sometimes even both. Each place has its own way of preparing the rolls, some add differently cooked meat along with onions, cucumber, chilies. Some places even garnish them with different types of sauces such as tomato, mustard, and chilly. The rolls are famous all over India but are said to be originated in West Bengal, during the British times. There are few hot spots in Kolkata that serve the best Kathi Rolls. Everyone from college students, school students to corporate officers these rolls are preferred if someone has skipped the meal. Just one Kathi Roll and you are good to go.
Jhal Muri: Another popular item among the youth and the old is the Jhal Muri. They are made with puffed rice or muri mixed with just the appropriate amount of onions, chilies, tomatoes, chana dal, coconut slices, and papri. Every Jhal Muri seller has their own version, some make it with mashed potatoes, some even add sauce, some places are known for adding the right measurement of spices. After a long day’s work students and employees get together to share a packet of Jhal Muri. Many of the old folks will have Jhal Muri in their hands and will walk to the Ghats of Kolkata and enjoy the spicy delicacy while watching the setting sun. A packet of Jhal Muri while chatting with your friends will always be in your memory lane. It is also widely seen in the trains and buses, where a man carrying the entire stall in his shoulder will shout ‘jhal muri…jhal muri’ and they will prepare freshly made jhal muri for the passengers just like they want.
Aloo Pushto: Quite a mouthful Aloo Pushto, is a dish prepared with potato and pointed guard that is called as potol in Bengali, so sometimes this dish is also called as Aloo Potol Pushto. Pushto is the Bengali term for poppy seeds that is the main ingredient of the dish. The dish is prepared with potatoes and pointed guard along with a thick curry of poppy seeds or the pushto infused with spices and garnished with red chilly. They are served in lunch and goes well with hot and freshly served rice. A typical Bengali feast shall have aloo pushto in their menu. Even though it is served on every other occasion of Bengali festivals and feasts and even in restaurants, one cannot get bored by the dish. Sometimes some other vegetables are also added to the prime aloo pushto such as cauliflower, but the main ingredient will be the same. The spicy dish is also filled with nutritious value.
Shukto: Shukto is a mixed vegetable dish prepared with lots of nutritious vegetables combined with the curry that makes it a perfect Bengali vegetarian food. One of the prominent item that is added to the dishes is the ‘panch porhn’ or the mixture of five spices; those are fenugreek, aniseed, mustard, cumin and nigella. The dish has vegetables such as bitter guards, potatoes, lady fingers, drumsticks, and pointed guards. These are the primary food ingredients, many Bengali families have their own recipes for Shukto. To tackle the bitterness of the bitter guard, milk is added along with enough spices but not too much to kill the bitterness. The dish is sweet and sour and spicy, a must for any all vegetarian feast or festival such as Saraswati Puja. The dish is well served with rice and is said to be full of nutrients. The nutritious value of the dish is so high that even doctors recommend it for the convalescent period.
Begun Bhaja: Speaking of quick snack, a grab, Begun Bhaja is just the dish. It is served as a starter and will be present in all the Bengali thalis. Begun Bhaja is prepared with the primary ingredient being the eggplant that is thinly sliced, sprinkled with salt and some spices, dipped in besan or some even prefer rice flour; then it is fried in hot oil and voila famous Bengali starter is ready in no time. It is crunchy from the sides with the soft and delicious eggplant as one progresses to the center. The dish is served before rice, just like a potato chips one can’t get enough of the dish, only it is way more in its nutritious value. Mothers who have trouble making their kids to eat vegetables prefer this dish and kids enjoy them too, so it is a win-win situation. Festivals, feast, wedding luncheon, a typical Bengali party will definitely have this crunchy side dish.
Ilish Macch Bhapa: Ilish Macch or Hilsa Fish curry is considered to be one of the prime dish in a Bengali thali. No food list that talks about Bengali cuisine is complete without it having a fish item. Of course there are many fish dishes that are prepared in Bengal, and each family has its own special fish dish that is being passed down to its next generation. But Ilish fish is considered to be one of the prominent fish items. The most common way of preparing the dish is with mustard seeds. Mustard and Ilish fish are inseparable and when combined together they make anyone go gaga over them. It is a thick curry with mustard seed paste which brings out the sweet sent and fills the entire house. Some even fry the fish with mustard seeds and then add their desired recipe. It is served hot with rice. One need not require many dishes just rice and Ilish Macch and your stomach will be jolly like never before.
Kosha Mangsho: Mangsho is the Bengali term for mutton, and this list is incomplete without a mutton dish. To everyone who just loves mutton and wants to take their experience to another level, then Kosha Mangsho should be on the list of anyone who ever visits West Bengal. The dish is prepared with mutton being marinated for few hours in curd and different spices and then it is cooked in mustard oil. The combination of all this heavenly ingredients fills the household with an aroma that lingers even when the dish is out. Served hot with rice Kosha Mangsho will be prepared basically on every occasion and in a Bengali house on every weekend which makes it the star of the event.