Guest Post: Twelve Foods that Define the Bengali

Of all the things that define the Bengali bhodrolok (gentleman) and bhodromohila (lady), among the foremost, is their love for food.

So, if you’re visiting Kolkata, or any other part of India’s West Bengal state, of which Kolkata is the capital, do not miss trying out the awesome food available here that the Bengalis love. A trip to this place without trying out enough local food would mean your experience was incomplete.

Here are twelve foods that define the Bengali.

Breakfast

Luchi (circles made by rolling out flour dough and deep frying them) and alur dom (spicy potato curry) is the perfect breakfast. Period. The Bengali luchi is different from the north Indian “puri”, which is made of wheat flour, as compared to the white flour used to make the luchi. Some jilipi (white flour batter deep fried in circular shapes and soaked in sugar syrup) at the end is also very welcome.

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Luchi and Alur Dom

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Jilipi

Lunch

The Bengali is known for his love for the freshwater fish. A typical lunch includes a piece of fish, usually a rui or katla, either fried or in a curry. And then there’s the mutton curry. Slurrp! And since no meal is complete without dessert, some mishti doi (sweetened curd) and rosogolla (cottage cheese balls soaked in sugar syrup) would be awesome.

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Fish Curry

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Mutton Curry

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Mishti Doi

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Rosogolla

Snacks

Before life had become as fast as it is now, adda (chat session) was an inseparable part of the Bengali social life. If you go to north Kolkata, you will find raised platforms in front of old houses which were specifically built so that people could sit there with friends and chat. And since the Bengali is very well-read, the discussions would range from politics and music to movies and food.

However, the busy life now has, in no way, diminished the Bengali’s love for adda and he starts a session at the slightest opportunity.

The perfect stuff to munch on as the group chats away is muri (puffed rice) and telebhaja (deep friend stuff. The main ingredient of these fries could be anything from onions, potato and thinly sliced eggplant to chicken and fish). And of course, there must be tea to wash it all down with. The Bengali doesn’t mind the odd egg or chicken roll too during adda!

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Muri and Telebhaja

Dinner

The Bengali loves Chinese food and consequently, having Chinese for dinner is a very good idea! Why not have mixed hakka noodles with chilli chicken, or perhaps chicken manchurian would go better with it?

A couple of years ago, a girl from Shanghai was visiting Kolkata and I’d told her that these were the two most popular Chinese dishes in Kolkata. Her reaction disturbed me somewhat. She said, “Chicken manchurian? What’s that?”

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Chicken Manchurian

Authentic or not, I can assure you it’s tasty enough!

The author of this post is Andy, a journalist and travel writer based in Kolkata, India. He runs www.travelandy.com, where you get all sorts of information on how to spend less and travel more. You can follow Andy on Facebook and Twitter where he shares awesome budget travel tips and deals

23 Comments:

  1. Every item looks so delicious! I have never had Bengali food before and I don’t think I have ever come across a restaurant that served Bengali food. The telebhaja looks like it could be similar to a falafal. Also, I love that they combine their recipes with Chinese recipes because I love Chinese food. <3
    Susan recently posted…The Lufthansa Premier Miles & More Mastercard 50,000 Miles Sign-up Bonus is Back!My Profile

    • I’ve never had Bengali food either, I’m excited to try it one day. Although it all looks good and there’s so many opportunities to eat that I may have to roll myself out of the country! Ha!

  2. I have to say the only thing I wasn’t overly fond of was the fish curry, I love fish but for some reason just don’t like it in a curry! (And that isn’t just confined to India, that’s everywhere, but it was featured heavily on a menu in a restaurant I went in so I thought I’d try it.) Mutton curry is stunning though!
    Michael Huxley recently posted…7 Easy Steps To Deal With Medical Emergencies On Your Gap Year.My Profile

    • I haven’t tried any of these foods personally so I’m definitely excited to try them out when I finally get to India. 😀

  3. Everything looks delicious, especially the snacks. I’d be happy to chat and munch on these snacks!
    Mindi @ 2foodtrippers recently posted…Coffee in SeattleMy Profile

  4. I’ve never had Bengali food before but I have to admit it does look really delicious and homely. The Luchi sounds delicious, I don’t know if I could stomach it for breakfast but definitely for lunch or dinner for sure! Love the look of the puffed rice and ‘deep fried stuff’ snack too 🙂

  5. Now this is the exact reason I love exploring blogs, new and old ones alike. The things I get to see/learn without going there myself, hahah! That makes me sound like I don’t like to travel at all, but it’s far from the truth. Beautiful photography, and thanks so much for sharing food from Bengali! Awesome stuff.
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  6. I’ve never had Bengali food before, but I love trying new types of food! I think that trying a region’s food is one of the best ways to begin your understanding of that area–as long as I’m not allergic to something (like shellfish!), I’m going to try as much as I can. I love finding new travel blogs, so I’m off to check out Andy’s!
    Natalie recently posted…Treetop Fun: Ziplining in St. MaartenMy Profile

    • I’m glad you’ve found a new blog plus new ideas for food. I’m in agreement about regional foods. It’s a great way to get to know the region and culture better.

  7. I think the breakfast you described sounds very appetizing. But, fish curry and other fish dishes don’t float my boat. Dinner sounds good…and I can definitely get with the Chicken Marchurian…that looks really good and is right up my alley for the kind of food that I like to eat.
    Yona Williams recently posted…Gift Guide: Romantic Gift Box Subscriptions (Ideal for Valentine’s Day)My Profile

    • I’m glad that you enjoyed the plethora of options. That’s the cool thing about Indian food is that there are so many options!

  8. Everything looks delicious! I love to try new foods when we travel it’s one of our favorite parts of traveling. Food tells so much about the culture and the country!
    tammileetips recently posted…9 Crock Pot Soups perfect for long winter days!My Profile

  9. Every time I think I’m making progress in learning about Indian food I read something like this. Then I am reminded of just how little I truly know! One of the things that intrigues me is the simplicity of the desserts … how they can take something as simple as a dough ball, soak it in a simple syrup and have a wonderfully satisfying finish to a delicious meal.
    Cherri Megasko recently posted…Pozole – Mexican Pork and Hominy SoupMy Profile

    • It’s so much fun to learn different cultures food. It’s one of my favorite parts about traveling. Bringing the recipes HOME!

  10. Omg at first when I read the title of this post I was thinking you were going tonoost a bunch of weird foods that just sounds unappetizing but boy was I wrong!!! Honestly I may have never heard of any of these foods but they all sound pretty delicious! The luchi is something I really wanna try!!!

  11. I have never really heard of any of these dishes! This was very enlightening. The breakfast portion of the meals looks pretty good. That deep fried flour is intriguing. I would need to try that ! The snacks look very cool.
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  12. Wow surprising enough I have never had this type of cuisine. I love learning about different cultures because it really shows how far we’ve come in ancestry. Food is one of my favorite ways of learning it! I really think that it is so interesting and I will definitely try to see if they serve this in my area!

  13. Oh wow! So exotic! I’m not sure I’ll ever find my way to Bengali, so I will have to live vicariously through you! I love learning about new cultures and the food they eat. Fascinating stuff. And the breakfast looks wonderful!
    Melanie recently posted…The State of Melanie AddressMy Profile

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