Durga Pooja is nearby and Bongs are all set to celebrate the Pooja with their prayers and obviously with good food. Though available in Bengali specialty Restaurants, However, these Bong recipes can be tried at home this Durga Pooja or anytime you wish to have something, Bong! I have tried to share recipe link of all the Bong food mentioned here and used recipes and pictures from my blog only. Here're my "20 Bengali Dishes to Try Before You Die!
A common Fight over the process of cooking and even use of different veggies! Yes, it is possible when a Ghoti meets a Bangal! Ilish Vs Chingri or may be the use of sugar while cooking or maybe the age-old fight between a Ghoti and Bangal over their cooking specialties! However, there’s one thing common – the BONG word. The unique creäture of God who can have a plate of Kolkata Biriyani and 50 Phuchka’s simultaneously followed by “Jowaner Arok “ or “Gelusil “.
A unique blend of vegetarian and non-vegetarian food supported by steamed rice is the core of the Bong Cuisine. Bong’s are known for their preference for the plate of Mach Bhat and Aloo Posto! Bengali Cuisine is influenced by some other cuisine, starting from “Mughlai Food” especially food from “Lucknow - Awadhi cuisine” (thanks goes to Nawab Wajid Ali Shah ) and the result is the famous “Kolkata Biriyani” which is characterized by visibility of a Big chunk of Potato .. Then comes the European and Jewish Cuisine which influenced the “Bakeries” in Kolkata very much… then the famous “Kolkata style Chinese food” influenced from the “Chinese Cuisine “ and last but not the least a Malaysian Prawn Curry turned into the famous Chingri Macher Malaikari!
Apart from the influences, Bengali cuisine has some signature dishes ranging from a Potato curry with poppy-seed known as Aloo Posto to Sandesh the famous Bengali Sweet prepared with Cottage Cheese and Fish cooked with Mustard Gravy. I was initially thinking of jotting down 10 Signature Bong dishes but believe me, it’s nothing but difficult to make a list of only 10 Bong food!!!!! So I have decided to take 20 dishes but alas!!!!! This is not again enough!!!
Alu Posto r Biulir Daal
Aloo Posto is a classical Bengali dish and heart of this dish is “Posto “seeds or Poppy seeds. For Bongs “Aloo Posto” works as a comfort food. Posto is the commonest ingredient found in a Bong pantry and I believe one of the basic dishes that we Bongs started with as part of our cooking ventures. This is the first for sure when it comes to the 20 Bengali Dishes to Try Before You Die listing.
Now it’s time to introduce the perfect companion of Aloo Post which is “Biulir Daal” ... A white semi Thick Daal prepared with Black Gram and tempered with Fennel Seed and Ginger paste and the result is heaven!!!!!
“Aloo Posto” and “Biulir Daal “are generally served with steamed rice and can be found easily in Bengali specialty Restaurants!!!
Bhetki Macher Paturi
Bhetki Macher Paturi is a signature Bengali fish dish where Bhetki Maach along with a paste of Mustard and Coconut wrapped in banana leaf and cooked in slow flame and result is melting in mouth Bhetki Macher Paturi. Here is the recipe of Bhetki Paturi that can be tried at home if you are available with fresh Bhetki fish.
Chingri Macher Malaikari
Again another Classical dish; Chingri Macher Malaicurry / Malai Curry which symbolized Bengali cuisine in many places. There are lots of debates over the origin of this mouthwatering dish ... Some people opined this dish was originated from Malay while some are of the opinion that the dish got its name from the Coconut Malai / Cream.
One of the common dishes for a Bong get-together…and why not! Anybody wants to fall for those Jumbo Prawns along with rich, thick coconut gravy. Generally ready with mild spices to give extra space to the divine aroma of Prawns and Coconut...Here’s the Recipe of Chingri Macher Malaicurry.
Chana is not Paneer! It is strictly Chana curdled from milk and transformed into a no onion no garlic curry with big Potato chunks. The result is mouthwatering Chanar Dalna; the phenomenal Bengali vegan dish. You will only be able to differentiate between Paneer and Chana after having this Runny Curry. Here goes the recipe link to Chanar Dalna.
A traditional Dish without using Onion or garlic again! That is what Bengali vegetarian dishes are about where we don't add onion and garlic while cooking. One of the popular and top-ranked of the list is Cholar Daal. This Daal is thick, prepared with Bengal Gram and flavored with pieces of coconut, raisins and a dollop of Ghee. Mostly served with Luchi Cholar Daal is a signature Bengali dish.
Another example of a Bengali dish with no use of Onions and Garlic in it – Dhokar Dalna. Though the recipe is a bit complicated, however, the end result is not at all complicated! Basically “Dhoka” is “Lentil Cake” prepared with a blend of Bengal Gram paste and some spices and Dalna is the rich gravy flavored with Bengali Garam Masala and Ginger paste. Dhokar Dalna goes superbly with Luchi or Steamed Rice. Do try the Recipe and you will love it for sure.
Doi Mach and/or Doi Ilish
Bongs just love their portion of fish! There are several types of Fish preparation available as part of the Bong Cuisine. “Doi Mach” is one of the best of the lot! it is nothing but easy to prepare Doi Mach. Moreover, the cooking process is damn easy. “Doi Mach” is mostly prepared with either Rohu or Hilsa. It is nothing but fish steamed along with plain curd and some green chilies and it tastes amazing! Here goes the Recipe link of Doi Maach with Rohu or Katla and Doi Ilish.
Pulao has its own Bong variation which is known as Ghee Bhat. Sweet in taste and loaded with Julienne veggies and nuts Ghee Bhat is a rich Rice preparation. Ghee Bhat can be accompanied with both veg and non-veg spicy curries. You can try the Recipe of Ghee Bhat at home if not available with a Bong specialty restaurant in your city.
Now it’s turn of the celebrity; the snob, the dynamic, the silver wonder Hilsa. This fish is popular for its taste, its aroma, and we bongs are nothing but fascinated about the big chunk of Ilish Mach along with Macher dim (Hilsa with fish egg). We don’t even bother to knock the door of the Prime Minister of the Country for getting it easily from Bangladesh!
Bhapa means “Steamed” and this particular dish “Ilish Bhapa” is a legend in the Bengali Cuisine. A minimalistic recipe but the taste is amazing - Hilsa steamed with Mustered paste, Green Chilies, and Mustard oil and that’s all. Should try it in either “Bhajahari Manna “or in “Ohh Calcutta” or if you want to make it at home; here’s the recipe of Ilish Bhapa.
Kochi Pathar Jhol
What would be the easiest way to describe a Bong’s Sunday! Well, it has to be a bit lethargic, many cups of tea and obviously 2-3 different newspapers and discussion about anything and everything! After that, a grand lunch with Bhat and Kochi Pathar Jhol!
Watery Mutton curry with pieces of potatoes visible and that heavenly aroma! Bongs can never detach themselves from this typical Bengali Mutton dish. Though available in any Bengali specialty Restaurant but Kochi Pathar Jhol can be prepared easily at home.
Though the name is a bit weird but not the dish! We Bongs are very good in addition and alteration and the best example is Kolkata biryani. Derived from the Awadhi Biryani; Kolkata Biryani is characterized by the presence of a big piece of Potato along with meat and Egg!
A plate full of royal flavored yellowish white rice and 1-2 pieces of Mutton/Chicken, 1 full boiled egg and a big chunk of Potato!!!!! What else??? I need one more plate…..
One should Visit “India Restaurant”, “Shiraz” , , “Aminia” , Aliya, or “Dada Boudir Hotel” for this exotic delicacy while in Kolkata !!!!! Though one of my personal favorite is “Khaja Biriyani Centre“, a small Biriyani Shop near Kalighat.
Hing er Kachuri ar Aloor Tarkari
Small, round wonders prepared with care! A true Bengali breakfast can’t be completed without Kachori's flavored with Hing and accomplished with a runny Aloo sabzi. Deep fried flatbread prepared with all-purpose flour or Maida and stuffed with Hing and Dal is known as Hing er Kachori and Aloor Tarkari is a Potato delicacy flavored with Bengali spices! Do try the recipe of the authentic Hing er Kachori and Aloor Tarkari.
Now it’s turn of the popular dessert “Misti Doi” and please mind the accent; “Miistii Dooooi” Thickened curd flavored with a good amount of sugar and set in the earthen pot. A unique blend of curd and earthen flavor coming from the bowl or hundi used for setting the curd.
Misti Doi is available in almost each and every confectioner's shop in Kolkata. Here go my three favorite shops “Sen Mahashay” or “Ganguram” or “Mollar Chawk”.
Muri Ghonto is one of the signature dishes from Bong Cuisine prepared with Rice and head of Fish. We mostly use the head of Rehu Fish/ Rui Mach or Katla fish. Muri Ghonto is one of the unique dishes where Rice is added in a side dish to give it a body. Here goes the recipe of Muri Ghonto if you are a fishetarian and love to have the fish head.
There is no chance that my 20 Bengali Dishes to Try Before You Die list will not have street food. Though popular as Kathi Roll in other states, however, typical Kolkata Rolls available in almost every tiny road of Kolkata are different from the Non-bong version of it. Roll can be prepared with Chicken or Mutton. However, the basic version i.e. a simple roll prepared with Egg. This is probably the best of the lot. In case you are not based out of Kolkata and wish to have authentic Egg roll then you can try out the recipe of Kolkata style Egg Roll.
Pithe / Pitha
Pithe / Pitha are typical Bengali Cakes mostly prepared in winters. Both Sweet and Salty versions are available, though sweet versions are popular than the salty versions … to name with “Gokul Pithe”, “Ras Bara”, “Patisapta”, “Golap Pithe” are quite common and indeed is an integral part of my 20 Bengali Dishes to Try Before You Die list. It’s not that easy to get Pithe other than Patisapta in any shop so ask your Bong friends to help with a box full of Pitha. Here goes the recipe for Patisapta Pitha.
- Potoler Dolma
We love our veggies as well as not so veggies and love to make a mix and match!!! Jokes apart. Let me introduce Potoler Dolma; A dish which derives its name from Turkish cuisine where Dolma means stuffed vegetables. This classic Bengali dish is prepared with the Pointed guard as it’s heart which is conventionally stuffed with mutton keema but also found with other stuffing varieties as well for e.g. stuffing prepared with Chicken, Fish, Paneer, Daal etc.
Shorse Bata diye Maach er Jhal
Even Barak Obama was served with this signature fish curry prepared with Mustard paste known as Shorse Bata diye Macher Jhal. How can I make a list of 20 Bengali Dishes to Try Before You Die without fish! A deadly combo of Fish and Mustard paste, Macher Jhal is truly a Bong signature dish. Here goes the recipe link to the authentic Shorse Bata diye Macher Jhal.
Shukto, the divine one! It is a Mix –Veg dominated by a bitter guard and with runny gravy and prepared with as many as 8-9 types of veggies. Taste wise nothing can beat it! A True Bengali Thali is incomplete without it and so is my 20 Bengali Dishes to Try Before You Die list. Shukto can be found in any Bengali Restaurant including “Bhajahari Manna” and “Ohh Calcutta”. A Bong cook is certified probably by his/her ability to make Shukto. Here is the Recipe of Shukto to try it out at home.
Rosogolla’s are worldwide popular Bong Dessert but Sandesh is nothing but charming!!!! Be it a Pranhara or a Kancha Golla or maybe Jal Bhara Talsans. There is an enormous variety of Sandesh available.
Prepared with curdled milk and flavored with various ingredients Sandesh are widely found in Bong sweet shops!!!! However, there are some must visit places in Kolkata. “Bhim Chandra Nag “, “Nokur”, Girish Chandra De”, “Balaram” are famous for this sweet Bengali delicacy. I am sharing the recipe of Kancha Golla which is one of the popular variety of Sandesh.
The 20 Bengali Dishes to Try Before You Die listing and why!
There are various Bengali dishes available and indeed it is difficult to share just 10 dishes. However, this is my favorite 20 Bengali Dishes to Try Before You Die.
Have you tried any of the recipes from "The 20 Bengali Dishes to Try Before You Die" list from Debjanir Rannaghar!
Do let me know how it came out. Also, I would love to see a picture of the same which you can share here on firstname.lastname@example.org. On, Instagram you can use my hashtag #debjanirrannaghar or can tag me at @foodofdebjani.