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.
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.
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.
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!
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?”
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