(Last Updated on : 22/04/2011)
cuisine has been influenced by the Muslim rulers, the British rulers and the inhabitation of Jews, Afghans and Chinese. The Dutch and the French had established colonies in West Bengal as well had a great impact on Bengal's culinary habits. The process of baking which is now extensively used was unknown before the British period.
West Bengal cuisine involves the use of huge variety of spices like "Pachphoron", " tej pata, "jeera", "mouri, "kala jeera", "jayfol", "joyitri", "shorshe","jafran", "garam masala" which is a mixture of "elaichi, "darchini" and "long" , "posto". The cuisine of West Bengal has its wide ramification which enlists "bhaja", "bora", "dal", "pora", " shukto"," "torkari" , "labra", "ghonto", "chanchra", "chochhori" , " bhapa", "bhate", " bhorta", "bhuna", "chechki", "dalna", "kalia", "kofta", "kasha", "korma", "pulao", "jhol", "curry", "biriyani", "chutni" and so on. Bhaja and Bora are two main types of cooking. Bhaja comprises anything fried like alu bhaja (fried potato) and other vegetables and Bora is a kind of food which needs to dip into batter and fried thereafter. Dal in West Bengal cuisine includes different types of cereals like mung dal, arhar dal,mushur dal and matar dal. Pora is a preparation which needs to be roasted over wood, charcoal, coal fire or sometimes directly on the flame. The pora is mixed with oil, chopped onion, chopped chilli, coriander leaves and salt to taste.
Shukto is another most sought after food in West Bengal. It's a bittersweet dish eaten in summer in West Bengal. It's a balance of bitter and sweet taste and is a soupy mixture of various vegetables. Torkari in West Bengal cuisine is a general preparation and is had with "ruti" and "luchi". Labra is a preparation of mixed vegetables with "Panch phoron".
Ghonto is prepared with different kind of finely grated vegetables like potatoes, banana, coconut, cabbage, pumpkin, green peas etc and is cooked with phoron and ginger. Then ghee and bori are added to make it tastier. Some non-veg ghontos are cooked with the fish head among them "murighonto "is famous for its taste in Bengal. Apart from these dishes like Chanchra, a dish which needs the ingredients like different vegetables, fish oil and fish portions, Chochori also offers quite a distinct dimension to West Bengal cuisine.
The taste of the Bhape or the tang of the Bhate or be it the very tang of Bhorta West Bengal cuisine has a lot to offer.
Chechki: Chechki is food in which vegetables and sometimes the peels of vegetables are used. It's cooked with panch phoron or kala jeera ; chopped onion and garlic are added to enhance its flavour and taste.
Dalna: This is a preparation of vegetables or egg. The touches of garam masala and ghee give the gravy an awesome taste.
Kalia: Its gravy, mainly the preparation of fish, cooked with lots of mustard oil, onion paste, garlic paste and a sprinkle of garam masala.
Kasha: Kasha comprises the cooking of mutton or chicken with rich spices like paste of onion, ginger and garlic, turmeric, jeera paste, dhaniya paste and salt to taste. Then garam masala is added to the gravy to make it aromatic.
Pulao: Pulao is cooked with fine aromatic rice. Kaju , kismish, ghee, jayfol, jayitri, choti elaichi, bari elaichi are mixed and fried before boiling. It is a sort of rich and scented dish of rice.
Jhol: It is a stew of fish or vegetable. It is lightly cooked with ginger, jeera, dhania powder, chilli powder and sometime coriander leaves are added for extra taste.
West Bengal cuisine remains incomplete without the mention of chutney. Chutney styles are strikingly different in various parts of West Bengal, each standing out with their innovativeness. West Bengal is well known for its large variety of sweets. No meal is complete without the sweets. The prominent sweets are Rosogolla, Pantua, different types and flavours of Sandesh, Chomchom, Misti doi, Dorbesh, Raghabshai, Chhanar Jilepi, Kalo jam and Shor bhaja.
West Bengal is also famous for its various occasions and tradition of making "pithas" which are made from rice or wheat flour, mixed with sugar and coconut. Bhapa Pitha, Pakan Pitha, Puli Pitha, Chandra Puli, Gokul, Pati Sapta, Chitai Pitha, Muger Puli and Dudh Puli are some of the cherished pithas of West Bengal.