Art and Culture Foods & cuisines

Ore Bangali………tui Khabar er Sera

The meaning of the above phrase: Oh! Bengali……you are best in Food culture…you are best in Football…you lost your everything……..in spending on foods and parties…..

It was a very old saying about a Bengali babu. Food has always been a weakness for Bengalis. In those days Bengalis used to spend a large amount of money just for the sake of food. A Bengali babu has never hesitated in throwing a party to others, and if for the sake of it, they had to exhaust all their wealth they never did minded at all. Not only in marriage ceremonies, any occasion to them was a party time and in these parties lavish expenditure on food reduced many to a popper. Bengalis have been winners in all the delicacies they have presented to the world. Not just mutton, fish and vegetables but the variety of confections and array of fruit dishes have always overawed the gluttons of the world.

Fish has always played an important role in Bengali culture.”Maach Bhhat Banaye Bangali” or “Mache bhate khanti bangali” these phrases describes the intimacy of fish in Bengali culture. Also it should be noted that fish is very nutritious as well as it’s a good source of protein. It is the most reliable source of protein for over one million people all over the world. Fish is among the most common food allergens.

There are lots of variety of fish that adheres to the Bengali culture. The most famous being Hilsa fish (Ilish) and Lobster (Golda, Bagda).Other famous fish includes Tengra, Parshe, Pabda, Gurjawali, Arr,Gule,Pakal,Kajri,Telapiya…..to name a few.

Some famous fish dishes include Ilish macher sorshe paturi(Hilsa fish in mustard curry binded in banana leaves), ilish maach bhappe(Steamed Ilish),ilish mach kancha kumror jhool(Hilsa with pumpkin),Ilish macher kaachkola diye jhool(hilsa fish with kacha kela),Daab chingri(Prawns with Coconut),Chitol macher Muitha(Chitol fish recipe),Mourala Batichochori(Mourala delicacy), Rui Macher Golap Soru(Fish and Rice cooked together), Koi Macher er horogouri , Koi macher Ganga Jamuna…..and lots of more.

In both parts of Bengal (West Bengal and East Bengal-Bangladesh) fish forms the main recipe. Typically in Bangladesh there is special variety or style of cooking fish. Particularly Chattagram (Chittagong), Lakhipur

these sea facing areas dry up the fishes and cook them with Brinjal and potatoes. This variety is known as “Shutki”. It is a complete East Bengal delicacy. In Dhaka people are more fond of Hilsa and other fishes. In fact the most famous recipe of fishes comes from Dhaka.

A Bengali marriage without fish dishes is incomplete. In marriage special fish dishes include “Rui Macher Kalia” (Rui Fish Curry), “Macher Matha diye Dal” (Dal with Fish Head), “Bhetki Paturi” (Bhetki in Mustard Sauce), “Chingri Macher Malaikari” (Prawns in Coconut curry), “Rui Posto” (Rui in Khus Khus curry), “Ilish Paturi” to name a few. In modern days new dishes like Fish Butter Fry or Fish Orley are also considered.

Fish apart from being taken as food is also considered to be pious. In Hindu culture it is widely used during Saraswati Puja (Jora Ilish’er Bhog). In famous Kali Temple in Kolkata as well as in Dhakeshwari in Dhaka fish is offered to Devi Kali. Fish is often considered as Lakshmi according to Hindu Tradition. In Bengal, before going out of their homes people like to see a fish as because it is considered a lucky one.

Apart from fish, Mutton is a favourite food of Bengal. Some of the mutton dishes include “Kosha Mangsho”( Mutton Curry), “Koch Pathar Jhol” (Mutton Thin Curry), “Mutton Chap in Bengali style”, “Mangshor Jhol” (Mutton Stew) , “Bhojoharir Mangsho” (Mutton dish by Famous imaginary Bengali cook named Bhojohari Manna), “Mangshor Patla Jhol” (Special Mutton Curry) , “ Mutton Dakbanglo” (A dish of Mutton Served during the British Raj), to name a few. Mutton is a must in a Marriage. Mutton is offered to Devi Kali by giving ‘Bali’ to the Devi. So in religion it takes an important place.

Chicken does is not included in traditional Bengali food list. In olden days Hindus of Bengal strictly avoided chicken. But Muslim Bengalis used to have chicken. But with the advancement of days people started to take up chicken. Also with the rise up in cost of mutton chicken is a replacement for mutton.

Favorite chicken dishes includes “Murgir Jhol” (Chicken Curry), “Kosha Murgi” (Chicken Dry Curry) ,” Bon Murgir jhol” (Jungli Murga) to name a few.

Other Non-Veg foods includes Crabs (Kankra), Moluscles (Geri). There is a famous crab dish called “Digama sahib er Kankra”. This crab dish was eaten by Vasco Da’ Gama.

Beef forms an important part in Muslim Bengali culture. During Bengali New Year they cook a very special dish known as “Goru kalia”. Also favorite beef dishes include “Beef Kosha”, Beef Cutlet”, “Beef Chop”. “Beef Biriyani” …to name a few.

There is lot of Non veg Bengali foods. But there are lots of veg foods too. These Bengali veg foods are very important. In a typical Hindu Bengali home a widow is forbidden to take Non-veg foods. So, it forms an important diet for a Hindu widow. Some great traditional Bengali veg foods include “Potoler Dolma” (Parval preparation), “Dhoka Dalna” , “Labra” (Mixed Vegetables) , “Ghoogni”(Matar Sabji), “Aloor Dum”, “Niramish Chochori” (Mixed Vegetables) , “Lau Borir Ghanto”(Lauki with Bari), “ Mulo Ghonto”, “Cholar Dal” (Chana Dal), “Sona Muger Dal”(Moong Dal), “Mochar Ghonto” , Shukto, to name a few.

A very famous dish in Bengal is Posto (Poppy seeds). It can be made with Vegetables like Aloo, Cauliflower, Bhindi, Taru…etc It is also prepared with Mutton, prawns or Chicken. Bengalis really love posto.

Biriyani is not a traditional food in Bengal but Pulao is prepared in al over Bengal. Although, In Dhaka-Bikrampur there is Biriyani called Dhakai Biriyani. In Bengal people used to take just plane rice and Mutton or fish. Khichri (Khichuri) forms a very traditional food in Bengali culture. It is taken during the monsoon season with Beguni or Ilish Bhaja and pappar, Achar. Kichuri is also served as an “Asthumi Bhog” during the famous Durga Pujas.

There are varieties of breads and snacks or starters in Bengali. Luchi is the most famous bread. It is served traditionally with “Kosha Mangsho” or Aloor Dum or Cholar Dal. Dhakai Paratha is a famous paratha variety. Paratha in Bengal is also served with “Kumro’r Chakka” (Pumpkin Sabji). Snacks include “Beguni, Allor Chop, Mochar Chop, Kabiraji, Hingche Chop, Cutley”…..and lots of more.

There are lots of varieties of chutneys is prepared in Bengal. This includes Chalta Chutney, Mango Chutney (Fatik Jhol), Amra Chutney, Jalpai Chutney…and many more.

Bengali sweet is famous all over the world. In whole of Indian subcontinent no other place for sweet. The traditional Rassgulla (Rossogolla) was first invented in Dhaka by Nabin Chandra Das in 1765 AD. However in 1782 when he shifted his base to Kolkata, Rasgulla became a part of Kolkata. In 1852, Bishnu Charan Guin invented a sweet and named it after Lord Canning’s Wife Lady Canning. With the passage of days it camed to known as “Ladicanne”. Other sweets include Dahi(Doi)(Molla Chowk), Monohara(Janai),Lengcha(Shaktigarh), Rosmalai(Commila), Pantua(Ranaghat),chomchom(Kolkata),Jora Mundi(Krshnanagar),ChanaBora(Midnapore),Golap Papri,Suji Halua,Sandesh(Dhaka , Kolkata),Patishapta(Faridpur),Payesh(Kheer), Zarda, Pithe(During Winters),Shor Bhaja(Murshidabad)…and there are lots of lots of more. These are just a few.

At the end of everything Pan formed an important ending of a Bengali feast. Pan is traditionally served with Chun (Chuna), Khair (Katha), Supuri (Supari), Mitha Masala, Chaman Bahar, Elaichi, Gulkand, Chutni.

Some Famous Dishes from Different Districts of Bengal:

1. Ilish Paturi (Dhaka-Bikrampur).

2. Chitol Mitha and Kalia (Faridpur).

3. Shutki (Chittagong, Narayanganj, lakhipur, Noakhali, Barishal, Patuakhali).

4. Mangsho kosha (Kolkata)

5. Chingri Bhate (Murshidabad).

6. Chingri Malaikari (West Bengal).

7. Ilish Bhate (Mymensingh , Sylhet)

8. Dhoka (West-Bengal)

9. Posto (Bengal)

10. Kopi Chochori (Tangail).

To name a few……………………………………………

But in these days people are too busy to make this preparation. So, they are inclining towards these bogus pizza and burgers. New generations are totally unaware of these foods. They even, haven’t heard the names. Bengal is losing its culture and if it goes on in this manner, it will not take too much time when these foods will be in the pages of history. However, apart from Bengali foods Bengali are now consuming varities of food. Including Punjabi, Chinese, Italian, Mexican…etc

“Ore Bangali roili na je tui bangali…..maach bhat chere dhorli le je biliti khana”

(Oh! Bengali……..you are no longer a Bengali……..For the sake of continental food you have forgotten your culture. You have stopped eating Fish and rice for the sake of Pizzas and Burgers).

About the author

Ambarish Pandey

Ambarish Pandey is currently working for PricewaterhouseCoopers PVT. LTD. in India, Kolkata. He is a Senior Consultant in the Advisory Division of the firm. He holds Engineering degree from Bengal Engineering & Science University, Shibpur, India's second oldest Engineering college. Besides Developing websites and other software jobs he loves to blog on Women, Minority Issues.

His hobbies are Cooking, Collectibles and Archeology(Egyptology), Bengal's & Punjab's History... His book on cookery in Bengali under title "Hesel"(Kitchen) has been published in India.

4 Comments

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  • correct ambarish…….we are a great food lover……..people we can give our all money just for foods…..and yes!!!!!proudly we are BENGALIS…..

  • Sheesh! Yes, I am a Bong. But then, I belong to the kinds who you would call a “Probasi Bangali”.

    This piece was such a pleasure to read. Reminded me of all the great preparations I used to eat, while I stayed in Kolkata. My grandmom is the bestest cook in the world.

    And you know what? Tonight, I am gonna head home right away and cook some ‘kosha mangsho’ for myself!! 🙂

  • being a pure bong i enjoyed reading this piece of article.u reminded me of all those lovely delicacies of bengal. no matter how much revolution has come on food due to globalisation, the great diversified bengali cuisine always stands first, and will reamain so.

  • […] ore bangali………tui khabar er seraAç?klama : … ilish maach bhappe(steamed ilish),ilish mach kancha kumror jhool(hilsa with pumpkin),ilish macher kaachkola diye jhool(hilsa fish with kacha kela),daab chingri(prawns with coconut),chitol macher muitha(chitol fish recipe),mourala batichochori(mourala … in both parts of bengal (west bengal and east bengal-bangladesh) fish forms the main recipe. typically in bangladesh there is special variety or style of cooking fish. particularly chattagram (chittagong), lakhipur …http://www.pak-times.com/2008/ .. […]