Cooked with minimal ingredients, these recipes work wonders to cool off your body during summers.
With temperatures soaring across the nation, it’s natural for people to make changes to their diet and eating patterns. Most people are resorting to dishes and beverages that are prepared primarily to help the body cool off and tackle the summer heat without letting it cause any harm to our health. Quite different from the country’s northern states, the summer months in Bengal are often characterized by dry heat. And to beat it, Bengali households resort to unique food items that they cook specifically during this time of the year. Here’s a look at some of the typical Bengali dishes that are best consumed when the temperature is rising.
1. Jhinge Posto
The ridge gourd is known as jhinge in Bengal. It is sweet, soft and watery - something that is ideal to beat the summer heat. Bengalis combine chopped jhinge with the much-loved posto and make a gravy-based dish to eat with rice. Remember, the rice used across the state is the parboiled variety. This, in itself, is a coolant. The jhinge posto dish is mildly flavoured with salt and a dash of mustard oil, and without any spices.
2. Aam Dal
When kaccha aam finds a perfect match in moong dal, the dish is called aam dal. Both combine perfectly to form a sour-and-sweet dal that is best enjoyed during summer afternoons. Add some steamed rice and alu bhaja to the menu, and you get to feast on a delicious combination. The dal is simply boiled and tempered with sliced and cooked green mango along with a tempering of mustard seeds. Additionally, the lentil is thickened to a soup-like consistency and curry leaves are added as garnish.
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3. Panta Bhaat
Rice that is cooled with water from the pitcher is called paanta bhaat. It is more of a rural favourite, but is the perfect food for Bengal’s summer. When made right, it suffices as a great meal with some chilli, onion and boiled potato on the side. Some even choose to have small-grained rice in a soupy texture with boiled veggies. Finally, the dish is garnished with a dash of ghee or mustard oil. This is a sort of comfort food item for Bengalis and it helps beat the heat really well.
4. Maccher Tok
Small fish is fried and tempered in a mustard seed-raw mango combination. Not many spices are used in this dish, apart from salt, coriander and a hint of chilli. This usually constitutes the lunch menu during peak summer afternoons.
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5. Doi Potol
An item that belongs to the humble kitchens as well as lavish feasts, doi potol is ideally had in winter because of the extensive use of yoghurt. The boiled and fried potol or pointed gourd is simmered in the yoghurt gravy. The latter is spiced with homemade garam masala, chilli powder and salt to taste. The spices are simply in moderation.
*Satarupa B Kaur has been writing professionally for a decade. Always on the go, she loves to travel, read books and enjoy playtime with her toddler, as she explores new places and food.