Delicious Sweetdishes of West Bengal
Making West Bengal The Sweetest State
Cuisine plays a huge role in defining the culture of West Bengal. The love affair of Bengalis with food and drinks is famous in all corners of India. Be it a non vegetarian dish or a simple rice dish, the care and detailing that goes into its preparation is worth admiring. A Rice and fish dish seems to be the favorite of Bengali people. Even if the ingredients used in the dishes here might not vary drastically to dishes of neighboring states, but it is the use of unique spices that set Bengali cuisine in a different league altogether. The widows in the past, who were not allowed to step outside their homes or indulge in their interests, were confined to kitchen and household works. They experimented with different spices and came out with exquisite mixes of spices and new cooking techniques. Over the ages, dishes here have been under many outside influences as well like European, French and Islamic; but the biggest of them was Anglo Indian or Raj cuisine. The most important part of the meal comes last, after the main course, the delicious sweet dishes. Rosogolla, Sondesh and Mishti Doi are the most famous of all.
A True Bengali Meal
Just get a glimpse of a regular meal of a Bengali family, and you will know that people here don't eat to live; they live to eat. However, dont' consider them as over-eaters; it is the flavor, exquisiteness and variety of the dishes here that gets them the 'living to eat' tag. The meals on a normal day are simple and set for balanced nutrition. Rice and fish curries are the main dishes. All the meals start off with a bittersweet preparation like deep fried bitter gourd or shukto which is a soupy blend of many vegetables followed by steamed leafy vegetables. They work more like appetizers rather than a main meal.
Then comes the most significant course eaten with dal (lentils). Large proportions of rice are had with dal along with other curries. Machh Bhaja (fried fish) is the most common of all. For Machh bhaja, ruhu and hilsa fishes are used as ingredients. It is generally covered in chickpea flour (beshon) or poppyseed (posto). Fish and meat curries are the most favorite of Bengali people. Most famous fish curries are machher jhol, machher jhal, doi machh and chingri macch. In other meat delicacies, chicken, goat meat and beef are important. Though beef is still not eaten in many parts of West Bengal. The main meal is finished with delicious chutneys which are another specialty of Bengal. Chutneys made of mango, tomatoes and tamarind are popular their tangy taste.
The Sweet Hospitality
Half the popularity of Bengali cuisine is due to the many sweet dishes, exclusive to West Bengal. Not only are they important during many festivals, they are an inseparable part of Bengali daily life. Visit any home in the state and along with water you will be greeted with delicious sweet dish, most probably homemade. The most famous of all is the 'Rasgulla' or 'Roshogulla'. It is made up of sweetened cottage cheese and has many varieties according to the region. Shondesh is another sweet dish made of sweetend cottage cheese. Kachagolia, abar khabo, and korapak are all different variants of Shondesh. Rasgulla and Shondesh has left an indelible mark on not only India, but entire world. Pantua Chmchom and Pithe are other favorite sweet dishes in West Bengal.