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Bengali Vegetarian Food – The hidden treasures!

I grew up in Allahabad, a lovely town in India, with a relatively large ‘Bengali’ population. This meant that I had the luxury of being invited to delicious traditional meals at their homes quite often. However, recently when I was having a chat (well, on facebook) a friend claimed that the vegetarian food from Bengal would beat even food from UP, hands down! This took me by surprise as I absolutely love food from UP and did believe that no one can even come close to it. However, I did do a little looking around and learnt that there is more to Bengali food than ‘Baigan bhaja’, ‘egg curry’, ‘cutlets’,’mishti doi’ and  ‘sandesh’! So, I explored a little and decided that it was time to introduce some more exciting dishes from West Bengal into my repertoire.

While on this quest, I read quite a few blogs, that were written by amazingly passionate cooks, who took great pride in cooking these traditional dishes. I have collated them together in this post for you to browse and try at your own leisure. At this point, I must mention, that a friend, Mohua, who is a terrific cook herself, suggested I include a couple of some very special dishes, that are typically served in a traditional ‘Bengali’ meal. I do hope that this post does justice to the wonderful vegetarian food from West Bengal. There certainly is more to their cuisine than ‘fish and rice’, as most of us ignorant folks, sometimes think!

Without any further ado, I bring to you this collection, where each dish is bursting with flavour and tasteCook with love and serve these warm for a happy, content family. Let’s have a quick look at some of these dishes and remember to click on the link for the recipe.

Shukto - Served at the beginning of a meal via

Begun Bhaja - deliciousness with every mouthful via

Begun Bhaja – deliciousness with every mouthful via

Roasting the dry daal the key to this? via

This recipe is based on ‘Lau diye bhaja muger dal‘ – Is roasting dry daal the key to this? via

Chhanaar Dalna  : Paneer, cooked the traditional bengali meal via

Chhanaar Dalna : Paneer, cooked for a  traditional bengali meal via

Kumror chokka. Bright red here 'cos of butternut squash. Will be paler with Indian pumpkins.  via

Kumror chokka – Bright red here ‘cos of butternut squash being used. Will be much paler when made using the Indian pumpkin via

Dokar Dalna - Fried lentil 'cake' in a gravy via

Dokar Dalna – Fried lentil ‘cake’ in a gravy via

Dharoosh - Spicy 'Bhindi', served the Bengali way via

Dharoosh – Spicy ‘Bhindi’, served the Bengali way via

I am now truly hungry and craving some ‘Dhokar Dalna’! Hence, I will be going straight to my kitchen to create the delicious dish and will serve it with steaming rice. Well!  Do you fancy making any of these tonight? I can guarantee happy faces at the end of the meal!

There is so much more left to talk about, but I suppose, I will have to visit the wonderful land of Tagore, of the ‘Jamdani’ Saree and so many delicious treats or explore the rich culinary heritage via the internet till I don’t reach there. I promise to be back with many more interesting recipes.

Until then, happy cooking!

Shilpa xx

 

Cover Image: via