Food of both West Bengal and Bangladesh
Top 10 Bengali cuisine related articles
- 1 Culinary influences
- 2 Characteristics
- 3 Regional specialties
- 4 Utensils
- 5 Etiquette
- 6 Meals
- 7 Meetings, feasts and special occasions
- 8 Gallery
- 9 See also
- 10 References
- 11 Further reading
- 12 External links
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Bengali cuisine (Bengali: বাঙালি খাবার) is the culinary style of the Bengal region in the eastern part of the Indian subcontinent in Bangladesh and the Indian states of West Bengal, Tripura and Assam's Barak Valley. There is an emphasis on fish, vegetables, and lentils with rice as a staple.
Bengali cuisine is known for its varied use of flavours, as well as the spread of its confectioneries and desserts. It has the only traditionally developed multi-course tradition from the cuisine of the Indian subcontinent that is analogous in structure to the modern service à la russe style of French cuisine, with food served in courses rather than all at once.
Bengali cuisine Intro articles: 138
Muslims conquered Bengal around the mid-thirteenth century, bringing with them Persian culture and cuisine. Islamic culinary influence had come from the upper classes, gradually diffusing into the local Hindu and poorer Muslim populations. Such dishes as biryani, korma and bhuna had once been meals of the higher courts, but the cooks of the Mughals brought their recipes to the lower and middle classes. The influence was reinforced during the rule of the British Raj, where Kolkata became the place of refuge for many prominent exiled Nawabs, notably the family of Tipu Sultan from Mysore and Wajid Ali Shah, the ousted Nawab of Awadh. The exiles brought with them hundreds of cooks and masalchis (spice mixers), and as their royal patronage and wealth diminished, they became interspersed into the local population. These cooks came with the knowledge of a very wide range of spices (most notably jafran and mace), the extensive use of ghee, and marinating meat with yoghurt and chilli.
In Bangladesh, this food has become common fare for the population while in West Bengal, they have remained the food of professional chefs. Further innovations include chap (ribs slow cooked on a tawa), rezala (meat in a thin yogurt and cardamom gravy) and kathi roll (kebabs in a wrap).
Furthermore, traditional desserts had been primarily based on rice pastes and jaggery, but under Mughal influence moved towards significantly increased use of milk, cream, and sugar along with expensive spices such as cardamom and saffron.
Influence of widows
In Hindu patriarchal tradition, widows are not allowed to eat foods that would not be classified as "bitter", necessitating experiment and innovation. While most Bengali castes ate meat and fish, this was barred for widows. Widows also could not use "heating" foods such as shallot and garlic, but ginger was allowed. This style found a core place in Bengali curries in general, both vegetarian and non-vegetarian. Expensive spices such as saffron, cinnamon or cloves were used very sparingly—if at all. Nuts, dry fruits, milk and milk products (such as cream, ghee or curd) were similarly scarce. These economic and social restrictions influenced Bengali widows to create a brand new set of meals that utilized only vegetables and cheap spices.
During the 19th century many Odia cooks migrated to Bengal to work in the households of affluent Bengali families. They were also hired to cook in marriages and other family ceremonies. Odia Brahmin cooks from Puri who worked in Jagannath Temple, known as thakurs in Bengal were in great demand. Introduction of Odia cooks into Bengali kitchens brought in subtle but significant changes to Bengali cuisine. Many of the Bengali classic dishes were originally from Odisha but were refined in Bengali kitchens by Odia cooks. In fact some researchers say that dishes like rasogola (Bengali rosogolla), kanika (Bengali misti pulao) and mangsa kawsha (Bengali kosha mangsho) were first introduced to Bengali kitchens by Odia cooks although this is contested by other researchers. Even to this date most of the cooks in Bengali kitchens and hotels are Odia cooks.
The Chinese of Kolkata originally settled into a village called Achipur south of Kolkata in the late 18th century, later moving into the city and finally into its present home in Tangra at the eastern edge of Kolkata. The Chinese-origin people of Kolkata form a substantial and successful community with a distinct identity. With this identity came Chinese food, available at almost every street corner in Kolkata at present, due to the taste, quick cooking procedure, and no similarity with the original Chinese recipe other than the use of soy sauce. They were mostly Cantonese tradesmen and sailors who first settled down here and decided to cook with whatever items they had at hand.
Over time the influence of this cuisine became widespread throughout the region; it is available in every town in India and Bangladesh as "Chinese" food. Bengali immigrants to other countries have started carrying this abroad as well; Indian Chinese restaurants have appeared in many places in the United States and UK.
Indian Chinese food has been given a second boost in popularity since the 1950s when a large number of Tibetans migrated into Indian Territory, following the 14th Dalai Lama's flight. Tibetans brought their own taste preferences to add to the genre, such as the popular momo (a kind of dumpling) or thukpa (a hearty noodle soup). Tibetans and Nepali immigrants found ready employment in the many kitchens that can now be found on virtually every street in Kolkata. The chop suey became a favorite, and versions like "American chop suey" and "Chinese chop suey" were constantly talked about.
Partition of Bengal
The large-scale displacement along religious lines as a result of the partition led to changes in meal-taking, as to adhere to religious restrictions. In Bangladesh (former East Bengal and East Pakistan), Mughlai food is common, and includes foods that are less popular in West Bengal, such as beef kebab. Additionally, more traditionally Islamic sweets such as zarda and firni-payesh are eaten. In rural Bangladesh, many people eat makna fried, popped, or raw.
In West Bengal, the only restriction is beef, which applies only to Hindus. During the colonial period, many Western food shops were established in Kolkata, making puff pastries, channa, chocolate, and chips especially popular. Dishes such as chop, gravy cutlet, sponge rasogolla, and ledikeni. As a result of a multi-cultural community, Kolkata city's cuisine continuously changes, and takes heavy influence from Chinese and Marwari palates.
Bengali cuisine Culinary influences articles: 45
Bengali cuisine can be subdivided into four different types of dishes, charbya (Bengali: চর্ব্য), or food that is chewed, such as rice or fish; choṣya (Bengali: চোষ্য), or food that is sucked, such as ambal and tak; lehya (Bengali: লেহ্য), or foods that are meant to be licked, like chutney; and peya (Bengali: পেয়), which includes drinks, mainly milk.
Overview of "Chutney" article
Specialties of Chittagong
Mezban feasts are popular throughout the area, where characteristic "heavy" dishes—dishes rich in animal fat and dairy—are featured. Saltwater fish and seafood are quite prevalent in these areas. Shutki is more available in this region than in other parts of the country.
Specialties of Dhaka
The Nawabs of Dhaka had brought Mughlai cuisine to Bengal, and with it, many Islamic elements that were wholly retained by Bangladesh's culinary community. Due to the high costs of producing Mughlai food, the recipes were limited to the elite classes in colonial India, and slowly expanded as Bangladesh's economy grew. The main focus on lamb, mutton, beef, yoghurt, and mild spices define the taste of the style. Such dishes as kebab; stuffed breads; kachi biriyani; roast lamb, duck, and chicken; patisapta; Kashmiri tea; and korma are still served at special occasions like Eid and weddings. Due to the high class of the food, using an excess amount of expensive ingredients like ghee, and making the food melt in one's mouth were essential to the feel of the food.
Specialties of Kolkata
In Kolkata, many local street vendors own small shops from which they sell their own homemade goods. Items like cheeses (paneer) can be eaten as is, or can be made into sweet sandesh, rosogolla, or chanar payesh. Milk is especially used in Kolkata's various types of payesh, differing in use of different grains and additives like dates, figs, and berries. In addition to European foodstuffs like chocolate, Kolkata takes culinary influence from its Chinese diaspora. Puchka, also known as panipuri, is a common kind of Bengali street food made with a fried dough casing and a potato and chickpea filling, usually found in small stalls alongside bhelpuri, masala chai, ghugni and chaat stalls.
Bengali cuisine Regional specialties articles: 15
Another characteristic of Bengali food is the use the boti (also called the dao in some regional dialects). It is a long curved blade on a platform held down by foot; both hands are used to hold whatever is being cut and move it against the blade, which faces the user. This method gives effective control over the cutting process, and can be used to cut anything from prawn to large pumpkins.
A korai is a cooking vessel for most Bengali sauces and stir-fry. The dekchi (a flat-bottomed pan) is used generally for larger amounts of cooking or for making rice. It comes with a thin flat lid which is used also to strain out the starch while finishing up cooking rice. The tawa is used to make roti and paratha. The other prominent cooking utensil is a hari, which is a round-bottomed pot-like vessel. The three mentioned vessels all come in various sizes and in various metals and alloys.
A flat metal spatula, khunti, is used often, along with hata (scoop with a long handle), jhanjri (round-shaped sieve-like spatula to deep-fry food), the shanrashi (pincers to remove vessels from the fire), the ghuntni (wooden hand blender) for puréeing dal, the wooden belun chaki (round pastry board and rolling pin), and the shil nora, which is a rough form of a mortar and pestle or grinding stone. The kuruni is used only to grate coconuts.
Silverware is not a part of traditional Bengali cookery.
Bengali cuisine Utensils articles: 4
The typical Bengali fare includes a certain sequence of food—somewhat like the courses of Western dining. Two sequences are commonly followed, one for ceremonial dinners such as a wedding and the day-to-day sequence.
Bengalis usually eat sitting on the floor. They traditionally eat without silverware, with a large banana or plantain leaf serving as the plate, or with plates made from dried sal leaves sewn together.
It is customary to offer guests food and drink appropriate to the time of their visit. At meals, guests are served first, with the possible exception of very old or very young members of the host family. Within the family, serving starts with the senior males (those of highest social rank or eldest). School-age children are served before wives, daughter-in-laws, and the cook, who are the last to eat.
Prior to colonization, adherence to meal order was a marker of social status, but with British and Portuguese influence and the growth of the middle class, this has slowly disappeared. Courses are frequently skipped or combined with everyday meals. Meals were usually served course by course to the diners by the youngest housewives, but increasing influence of nuclear families and urbanisation has replaced this. It is common to place everything on platters in the centre of the table, and each diner serves themselves. Ceremonial occasions such as weddings used to have elaborate serving rituals, but professional catering and buffet-style dining is now commonplace. However, large family occasions and more lavish ceremonial feasts may still abide by these rules.
Overview of "Sal tree" article
Daily meals are usually simple, geared to balance nutrition and makes extensive use of vegetables. The courses progress broadly from lighter to richer and heavier and goes through various tastes and taste cleansers. Rice remains common throughout the meal and is the main constituent of the meal, until the chaţni (chutney) course.
One tradition, includes the left side of the cidal fish being cooked in oil.
Then comes the meat course. The divide among the Bengalis of Bangladesh and West Bengal is most evident when it comes to the meat course due to the Hindu principle of ahimsa which prohibits meat consumption. However, Bengali Hindus adore eating meat of goat, chicken, duck and lamb. Most of the hindus refrain from eating beef. Meat, especially beef is readily consumed in Bangladesh and where it is considered the meal's main course. Different beef and mutton as well as chicken are dishes are served in feasts and banquets. Because the consumption of beef is prohibited among Bengali Hindu communities, Khashi mutton is traditionally the meat of choice in West Bengal, but murgi chicken and đim eggs are also commonly consumed. At the time of Partition, it was rare for higher caste or Zamindar Bengali Hindus to eat chicken or even eggs from hens, choosing rather duck eggs if eggs were to be consumed. Although it is debatable as to whether chicken is more popular than khashi in West Bengal today, the proliferation of poultry farms and hatcheries makes chicken the cheaper alternative.
Next comes the chutney course, which is typically tangy and sweet; the chutney is usually made of am mangoes, tomatoes, anarôsh pineapple, tetul tamarind, pepe papaya, or just a combination of fruits and dry fruits called mixed fruit chutney served in biye badi (wedding ceremony). The chutney is also the move towards the sweeter part of the meal and acts also as a palate cleanser, similar to the practice of serving sorbet in some Western cuisines.
The last item before the sweets is doi (yogurt). It is generally of two varieties, either natural flavour and taste or Mishti Doi – sweet yogurt, typically sweetened with charred sugar. This brings about a brown colour and a distinct flavour. Like the fish or sweets mishti doi is typically identified with Bengali cuisine.
In a daily meal it is likely that some of the courses might get missed, for instance, the 'Shak', the additional course, chutney, and papor. In some cases, the dessert might be missed as well. The courses overall are the same at home or at a social function (e.g. marriage feast). Rice, which is the staple across the meal gets replaced by 'luchi' or luchi stuffed with dal or mashed green peas. The replacement is a relatively recent phenomenon and has been seen in practice only from about the early 20th century.
Sweets, or mishti (Bengali: মিষ্টি) occupy an important place in the diet of Bengalis and at their social ceremonies. It is an ancient custom among both Hindu and Muslim Bengalis to distribute sweets during festivities
Bengali sweets have a long history. The Portuguese friar Sebastien Manrique, travelling in the region in the 17th century, noted the multitude of milk-based foods and sweets prepared in traditional ways.
Roshogolla, a Bengali traditional sweet, is one of the most widely consumed sweets in India. It spread to Bengal in 1868. Chhana based sweets were introduced in Eastern India from about the 18th century; as the process and technology involved in synthesizing "Chhana" was introduced to the Indians by the Dutch in the 1790s. The cottage cheese "schmierkase" was also known as Dutch cheese. The earlier versions of Rossogolla lacked binding capacity of the modern avatar that is well known and highly acclaimed today. This was due to the fact that the know-how involved in synthesizing such a sweet was unknown before being experimentally developed by Nobin Chandra Das and then constantly improved and further standardized by his successors. Furthermore, one must clearly understand that the "chhana" manufactured in those days was a coarse and granular variety and had low binding capacity. It was made by citric and ascorbic acid from natural fruit extracts. This type of "chhana" cannot be worked on to compact into any regular and firm shape for the purpose of sweet-making, leave alone making Rossogolla. This is because of a documented technological issue - lactic acid (extracted from whey) used to curdle milk now was introduced to India in the late 18th century by Dutch and Portuguese colonists (along with acetic acid) - and it is this method that creates the fine, smooth modern "chhana" with high binding capacity - which is now the staple raw material for Bengali confectioners. At present, Nobin Chandra Das is referred to have invented the spongy variant of rossogolla
Laddu (or as it is known as "darbesh" in Bengal)is a very common sweet in West Bengal and Bangladesh, as well as the rest of the subcontinent, especially during celebrations and festivities. They are usually made out of flour, ghee/butter/oil and sugar. Alternative recipes can be made of coconut shavings and jaggery, raisins, chopped nuts, oatmeal, khoa, nutmeg, cardamom, or poppy seeds, among other ingredients. The sweet dates back to the year 4 BCE, where it was used for medicinal purposes and to keep the hormones of 9-11-year-old girls' hormones "in check".
Pantua is somewhat similar to the rôshogolla, except that the cottage cheese balls are fried in either ghee (clarified butter) or oil until golden or deep brown before being put in syrup. There are similar tasting, but differently shaped versions of the Pantua e.g. Langcha (cylindrical) or Ledikeni. The latter was created in honour of Countess Charlotte Canning (wife of the then Governor General to India Charles Canning) by Bhim Nag, a sweet maker in Kolkata.
Chômchôm, (চমচম) (originally from Porabari, Tangail District in Bangladesh) goes back about 150 years.Except that many variation of this Bangladeshi dish are now available. It can also be preserved longer. Granules of mawa or dried milk can also be sprinkled over it.
Shôndesh, chhanar jilapi, kalo jam, raghobshai, "pantua", "jolbhora shondesh", "roshbhora", "lord chomchom", payesh, bundiya, nalengurer shôndesh, malpoa, shor bhaja, langcha, babarsa, and a variety of others are examples of sweets in Bengali cuisine.