International Tea Day 2024: 7 Bengali Snacks To Go With Cha
Image Credit: Wikimedia commons

It’s International Tea Day and India’s love for tea is no secret. From home kitchens to chai tapris, cutting chai, adrak chai, Sulemani chai and masala chai are very much a part of India’s culinary identity. Drinking tea in West Bengal, where it is lovingly called Cha has always been quite a ritual. Whether one is sipping in solitude or when the house is full of visiting family members, each requesting a customised version of the comforting, warm beverage, the attention paid on both occasions to the preparation of the tea is the same. The teapot sits in the centre of the table, often covered by an exquisite tea cozy (a cover for a teapot, keeping its contents warm). 

Video credit: Banglar Rannaghor

Varieties from estates in Darjeeling and Assam are steeped adequately. Whether you enjoy a milky version, one prepared with spices, or a light brew with the fresh fragrance of the wedge of lime that rests on the saucer, you will usually find every variety in a Bengali home. 

Breakfasts and evening cha times are often celebrated equally. The tea is always served with important sides of adda - a discussion about books, politics, cinema, neighbourhood gossip, family affairs and almost everything under the sun and jolkhabar - the tea time snack.

From luchi (the puri’s delicious, Bengali cousin, made of maida or white flour) served with alur dom (a semi-dry potato curry) to Shingara (samosa) and the quintessential Nimki (diamond-shaped fried snacks) these Bengali dishes are the stars at any tea party.

Shingara (Samosa)

Photo credit: Freepik

Shingara is a popular Bengali cousin of the North Indian Samosa. The deep-fried pockets are filled with a spicy mixture of potatoes, green peas, peanuts and cauliflower. Crispy on the outside and savoury on the inside, the stuffing is what makes the Bengali Shingara unique. It’s enjoyed mainly in the evenings and loved in the monsoon. 

Piyaji and Beguni

Photo credit: Unsplash

Another rainy day favourite, the Piyaji are onion fritters. Onion slices are dipped in a batter made with besan (gram flour) and spices and then deep-fried until golden brown. They are also called onion pakoras or Kanda bhajiyas in other parts of India. Another version of this dish is the Beguni which is made with thinly sliced eggplants also dipped in a maida batter and deep fried. The Beguni is popular both as a snack and also a side dish served with Dal-rice or Kihichudi.

Chop and Cutlet

Chops are deep-fried snacks made from various ingredients such as vegetables (especially beetroot and potatoes and even mocha - banana flower), fish (macher chop), or chicken (murgir chop). They are coated in breadcrumbs and fried until golden brown. The difference between a chop and a cutlet is usually the shape. The chop usually has an elliptical shape while the cutlet is flat. The crunchy texture pairs well with tea.

Muri (Puffed Rice) and Jhalmuri

Muri, or puffed rice, is often eaten in a Bengali home. The puffed rice is mixed with chopped onions, green chilies, and mustard oil. Jhalmuri is a spicy version of this snack where spicy chanachur, tomatoes, boiled potatoes, peanuts, and various spices are added with freshly squeezed lime. This version is available at many street side stalls and carts.


Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons

Ghugni is a spicy, savoury snack made from dried yellow peas or white peas cooked with spices, tamarind, and sometimes meat. It is garnished with chopped onions, tomatoes, coriander leaves, and a squeeze of lemon juice. The snack is filling and is usually served with bread or eaten just by itself. In some homes a non-vegetarian version is also prepared with minced meat and called Keema Ghugni.


Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons

Nimki are small, diamond-shaped fried snacks made from flour and seasoned with Kalonji (nigella seeds) and salt. These crunchy nibbles are the most common tea time snacks in Bengal and are usually made at home but can also be store-bought. 

Koraishutir Kochuri, Luchi or Radhaballabhi

Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons

The luchi ( puri made of maida) is a breakfast favourite in Bengal but is also served with alur dom (a semi-dry potato curry) or a non-spicy Shaada Alur Tarkari (potato in a white curry seasoned with nigella seeds). Versions of the luchi that are stuffed with various fillings also make for tea-time snacks. Koraishutir Kochuri is a deep-fried bread stuffed with a spicy mixture of mashed green peas. These are often enjoyed hot, with a side of tamarind chutney, or even just plain.

Another version of stuffed luchi is called the Radhaballabhi (or Radhaballavi). In this case the luchi is stuffed with a spiced urad dal (black gram) mixture. Radhaballabhi is typically served with spicy potato curry (alur dom) or cholar dal (Bengal gram lentils cooked with coconut and spices).