8  Bengali Cooking Techniques Infusing Flavour  Into Every Dish

Bengali cuisine, which is well-known for its complex and varied flavours, uses a variety of cooking methods to produce unique dishes. The following is a list of various Bengali cooking methods:

1. Bhorta (Smashed): "Bhorta" is a traditional Bengali cooking method in which ingredients, usually fish or vegetables, are mashed or pounded and then mixed with different spices to make a textured and flavorful dish. In Bengali cuisine, bhorta is very important because of its cultural, regional, and culinary roots. Bhorta is a method that keeps the ingredients' authentic flavours intact. The act of mashing or pounding helps to preserve the flavour of the primary ingredient, be it lentils, fish, or vegetables. This preserves the original flavour and texture as much as possible. A vast variety of ingredients can be used to make bhorta, giving it great versatility. Potatoes, eggplants, spinach, fish, and even dried fish (shutki) are common options. This adaptability enables culinary creativity and flexibility to adapt in every seasonal produce.

2. Paturi (Cooking in Leaf): In Bengali cooking, paturi is a traditional method that is especially well-liked in Bangladesh and the Indian states of West Bengal. The cooking technique known as "Paturi" involves wrapping marinated fish or vegetables in banana leaves before they are grilled, roasted, or steam-cooked.  Paturi is renowned for its capacity to maintain and bring out the flavours of the ingredients as they naturally occur. As a natural wrapper, the banana leaves let the food cook in its own juices, giving the ingredients a deep, flavorful flavour. Though Paturi is commonly made with fish, it can also be made with a wide range of ingredients, such as prawns, chicken, and different vegetables. Because of its adaptability, Paturi can be made to fit a variety of dietary needs and preferences. 

3. Bhapa (Steaming): Bhapa, or "steamed" in Bengali, is an important method of cooking used in Bengali food. Using this method, ingredients—typically fish or vegetables—are marinated with a mixture of spices, mustard paste, and occasionally coconut; the package is then wrapped in banana leaves and steam-cooked.  The natural flavours and nutritional value of the ingredients are preserved when steaming in banana leaves. Without losing moisture, the cooking process enables the food to absorb the flavorful aromas of the spices and mustard paste.Bhapa dishes are regarded as healthful because they don't use a lot of oil. For people looking for lighter and more nutrient-dense meals, steaming is a preferred cooking method because it preserves the nutritional value of the ingredients.  Bhapa is a flexible method that can be used with a variety of foods, such as fish, veggies, or desserts.

4. Jhol (Light): The word "jhol" in Bengali cooking describes a method or style of cooking that entails making a thin, light curry or broth. In Bengali, the word "jhol" itself means "gravy" or "broth". Foods based on jhol are usually flavorful and light, with a thin broth. They are therefore suitable for regular meals and simple to digest. The flavours of the ingredients—vegetables, fish, or meat—are brought out by the jhol technique. The natural flavours of the ingredients are accentuated by the thin broth. Jhol goes well with a variety of main dishes, such as meat, fish, vegetables, or lentils. Its adaptability makes it a popular and widely used cooking method. Jhol-based cuisine frequently combines a range of veggies, meats, and spices to create a wholesome and well-balanced supper.

Video Credit: Youtube/ Poulami Eating Show

5. Jhal (Spicy): The word "Jhal" in Bengali cuisine describes a method of cooking that entails making spicy and flavorful food. In Bengali, the word "Jhal" means "spicy" or "hot". The use of different spices, especially green chilies, to give the food heat and pungency is what defines this cooking style.  Jhal recipes are renowned for having strong, intense flavours. Bengali cuisine is characterised by a complex and aromatic spice profile that is created by the use of green chilies in combination with other spices like mustard seeds, turmeric, and garlic. There is a long history of using spicy ingredients in different Bengali dishes. Bengali food culture is strongly rooted in a love of heat and spice. 

6. Bhaja (Frying): "Bhaja" is a Bengali cooking method in which vegetables, fish, or other ingredients are coated with a layer of batter, besan (gramme flour), or spices and then deep-fried or shallow-fried. Bengali cuisine makes extensive use of this method, which is very important both culturally and gastronomically.  Bhaja gives the ingredients a distinct flavour and texture. The crisp and crunchy texture is achieved through the frying process, and the flavorful crust is attributed to the spices or besan. Traditional Bengali dishes are often prepared using the bhaja technique. This method is commonly used to prepare vegetables such as aubergine (begun bhaja) or pointed gourd (potol bhaja). The essence of Bengali cooking is embodied in bhaja, which frequently uses straightforward methods to enhance the natural flavours of ingredients.

7. Dum (Slow Cooking): In Bengali cooking, "dum" refers to a method of cooking food slowly over low heat in a sealed container. The Persian origin of the word "Dum" means "breathe in" or "breathe life." This method is popular in many places, including Bengal, for making aromatic and flavorful food. The benefits of sous vide include preserving the flavours and aromas of the food. Rich and strongly flavoured food is produced by letting the food marinate in its own juices during the slow-cooking process. Meat or vegetables alike stay succulent and tender thanks to the slow-cooking method in a sealed container. This aids in getting the ideal texture without drying out or overcooking the food.

8. Kosha (No Water Cooking): The word "kosha" in Bengali cuisine describes a particular method of cooking that is mostly applied to meat dishes. The term "kosha" refers to "slow-cooked" or "braised," and the meat gains richness, tenderness, and depth of flavour from this cooking technique.  Using a rich blend of aromatics and spices, slow-cooking meat—typically chicken or mutton—is the essence of the kosha technique. This slow cooking method creates a rich, flavorful gravy by allowing the meat to absorb the spices' flavours. The caramelization of onions is one unique feature of the kosha technique. When onions are cooked until golden brown, the dish gains a depth of flavour that is both savoury and sweet. Meat or vegetables alike stay succulent and tender thanks to the slow-cooking method in a sealed container. This aids in getting the ideal texture without drying out or overcooking the food.