As we all know that Durga Puja is arriving and Durga Puja is famous for none other Bengali Cuisines, moreover we all know that Bengali food brings a lot of nutritive value along.
Cuisine of Bengal
The cuisine of Bengal is as rich and distinct as the state itself. The rule of Nawabs has deeply influenced Bengali food which is a combination of subtle and fiery flavours. There are certain European influences also like the snack food tradition and foods like chops and cutlets that are British in origin but are prepared and served in most Bengali households.
West Bengal is famously known as the land of maach (fish) and bhaat (rice). Bengalis share an irrevocable relationship with these two foods that are a staple in almost every household. Since countless rivers surround the state, fresh sweet water fish are a major attraction with Rohu, Pabda and Koi being the popular ones. Interestingly, there are more than forty types of fresh water fish that are popularly served in Bengal.
Lets take you around and introduce you to some interesting cuisines around the state.
Although the state has most non-vegeterians cuisines but the vegetarian cuisines will also bring flavor. A vegetarian delight, choch chori is a fresh mix of vegetables like potatoes, brinjal, cauliflower and pumpkin flavored with the famous ‘panch phoron'(five spice mixture).
Nutritive value: One of the essential ingredient in choch chori is pumpkin and as we all know pumpkin has high nutritive value its incredibly rich in vital antioxidants, and vitamins. Though this humble backyard vegetable is less in calories, nonetheless, it carries vitamin A, and flavonoid poly-phenolic antioxidants such as lutein, xanthin, and carotenes in abundance.
Amongst traditional Bengali recipes, Baingun Bhaja is an evergreen favourite. The original recipe involves shallow-frying the baigun in lots of oil till it is succulent and aromatic. Pan fried eggplants, sizzling with aromatic spices is served with a freshly made, tangy tomato chutney.
Nutritive value: Despite of it been fried cuisine still it contains a lot of nutritive value . as we all know brinjal is a good source of minerals like manganese, copper, iron and potassium. Manganese is used as a co-factor for the antioxidant enzyme, superoxide dismutase. Potassium is an important intracellular electrolyte that helps counter pressing (hypertension) effects of sodium.
Shukto involves mix feeling. It’s again a vegetarian Bengoli famous cuisine. It’s a Bengali Mixed vegetarian dish comprising of several veggies inclusive of Bitter Gourd, Eggplant, Green Banana, Potato, Sweet potato, Drumsticks, White radish and Hyacinth Beans. There is one exclusive spice that many Bongs prefer to use while preparing Shukto which is known as “Randhuni”, if I am allowed to say, have evolved into two forms – one is “Ghoti shukto” and the other one is “Bangal shukto”. And then there are “dudh shukto “, “bori shukto”, “neem pata shukto” etc. With so many variations and ingredient list, I think every home has its own way of making shukto- some even add green chilies, nothing to be surprised.
Nutritive value: Shukto typically contains bitter gourd as the main ingredient. Bitter gourds are well known to improve digestive functions of the intestine, apart from its other nutritional values.
A Bengali dessert prepared in the form of thin crepes stuffed with a delicious coconut and jaggery filling. Patishapta Pitha, Puli pitha, doodh puli and so are various varieties of pitha which are generally popular in Bengal. The Patishapta Pitha is a sweet with its outer layer made of flour and the inner stuffing made of different savories like coconut and dry fruits. It is generally prepared on occasions Makar Sankranti, Diwali and Durga Puja in almost all the Bengali homes. Patishapta Pitha is also made as evening snacks in most of the Bengali homes. Extremely scrumptious and easy to make, this sweet dish is a real delight to those who are born with a sweet tooth.
Nutritive value: Jaggery as we all know is a good replacement of sugar. Jaggery contains a good amount of sucrose and glucose but along with that it contains a good amount of minerals and vitamins needed for healthy functioning of the body.
Bengali desserts are great charmers with chenna or fresh cottage cheese as one of the primary ingredients in most of them. This ultimate melt-in-the-mouth sweet. The two basic ingredient used milk and sugar.
Nutritive value: As we all know cottage cheese contains a good amount of calcium which helps in the strong building of bones and teeth but very few know that the presence of conjugated linoleic acid and sphingolipids in cottage cheese makes it effective in preventing cancer.
Chingri Malai Curry
Chingri malai curry also known as Prawn malai curry, is a Bengali curry made from prawns and coconut milk and flavoured with spices. The dish is popular throughout Bengal and is served during weddings and celebrations, or for guests, and was also very popular among the British in Calcutta. Palatable prawns are cooked in hot spices and then bathed in the creamy flavor of coconut milk. Chingri refers to the river prawns.
Nutritive value: Prawns are a good source of complete protein, providing your body with all of the building blocks necessary for the production of new proteins. Along with protein it also contains some essential vitamins and minerals essential for our body.
Sorsebata ilish Maach
A much-loved local delicacy in Bengal is an oily fish known as ‘Hilsa’ or ‘Ilish’. The tenderness of the flesh, unique taste and silvery appeal make it the ‘queen of fish’. In fact, hilsa holds great cultural importance in Bengal and a pair of hilsa fish (Joda Ilish) is usually bought on auspicious occasions. ‘Hilsa’ fish is the highlight of the local cuisine. The fish is marinated with turmeric and delicately simmered in a mustard-poppy seed paste along with the five-spice mix (panch phoron).
Nutritive value: Hilsa like any other sea food contains a high amount of protein in it. Recent studies have shown that hilsa helps in lowering cholesterol levels.
Kosha mangsho one of the most well adored dishes from the Bengali cuisine and is a meat based dish cooked in spicy gravy. This spicy mutton preparation is also commonly known as Mutton Kosha.
Kosha Mangsho is a classic delicacy cooked in a very traditional way and is usually prepared in about 40 to 45 minutes or until the meat becomes tender and soft. This is served as a side dish best with rumali roti or Indian breads.
Nutritive value: Red meat is an important part of many people’s diet, because it can reduce hunger better than most other kinds of food. Along with it , it is a rich source of vitamin,A, B, D and K.
Aloo posto is a popular bengali dish. In a cuisine famous for non-veg food, this recipe is pure vegetarian, which does not have even onion and garlic. It is delicious and goes well with urad dal and plain steamed rice. Its basically potato steemed and made with poppy seeds.
Nutritive value: Poppy seeds is a great source of anti oxidant. Poppy seeds contain good levels of minerals like iron, copper, calcium, potassium, manganese, zinc and magnesium.
Last but not the least the Mitha Dahi or Mishti Doi is a fermented sweet dahi ,(sweet yogurt) is the chief grub for the bengal society. An earthen pot is filled with a brownish mass of sweet curd. Misti doi is an inseparable part of all festivals in Bengal- be that a tika (a dot on the forehead) for Bhai phota (festival to mark the well-being of brother), or the charanamitro (offering made to God during worship), or just a dessert to end the meal for a feast. A Bengali never ends without at least a spoonful of mishti doi.
Nutritive value: Being a good source of potassium and magnesium, yogurt is good for the nerves and maintains fluid balance in the body.
So these are some mouth watering bengoli cuisines which everyone needs to try ….. so hurry grab your favourite cuisine this Durga Puja ! keep eating … keep smiling !