Lesser Known Dishes From West Bengal To Revive This Season

Bengal and the food of the original natives of West Bengal (the ghotis) both have much historical backing. The food is relatively simple yet has peculiarities in the way common components are used. Mostly cooked sans the tamsik onion-garlic based pastes, the authentic Bengali food can be found across households in villages and smaller towns.

Some Bengali recipes such as posto, shukto and polao have gained global status but there are few cult faves of Bengal too. These foods have gradually been forgotten. Only very few homes still cook it on occasions. Take a look at three legendary Bengali delights that have been forgotten over time.

Rojette Curry

The koftas of Northern India dominate global platters due to the sheer variety these bring in. From dals to veggies and even to malai--kofta dishes are made with care and cooked to succulent perfection. West Bengal does not have many koftas to its name authentically. However, one lesser known delicacy that is a offshoot of the typical kofta is the rojette curry. Heavy on ingredients, time-consuming to cook--this is a ball of chena that is wrapped around a combination of cooked moong dal spiced with nutmeg, sugar, salt, garam masala and finely chopped raisins and cashews. The concept is almost like a Lucknowi nargisi kofta. The dal and dry fruits arecombined in a tight ball around which the soft chena is wrapped neatly. This is shallow fried, very carefully to avoid breakage. The gravy is made from tomato that is finely diced and then fried to a soggy form. The taste is sweetish but not too much. The usual ginger chilli paste is used generously. The typical malai doesn’t come on as garnish. Rather well beaten curd is used to finish the dish. The rojette or kofta like stuff is added to a tomato-based tangy-sweet gravy just before serving.

Green Tomato Jhaal

Green tomatoes are a fresh sight during the early winters in Bengal. A not very popular but regional fave dish is made from these, across a number of homes in the state. The tomatoes are cut down to the base but not chopped off. The knife is cleverly used to cut the tomato in fours but the base is intact to form a flower-like form. These are blanched and de-skinned. The gravy is made on lines of fish mustard curry. The mustard and poppy seeds are ground into a fine paste and spiced with some turmeric, salt, sliced green chillies and boiled for few minutes with the tomatoes. The tanginess and the hotness of this dish can be felt best once eaten. No amount of narration does justice to the same.

Cholar Daal Pithe

Makar Sankranti is set to come to town soon. This ushers in the mad eating of pithes or steamed sweets and savouries across Bengal. One interesting pithe part of my childhood is hardly any popular now. The chana dal is soaked and boiled before being mashed to a smooth paste. There is a mix of salt, garam masala and a little sugar to this mash. This is wrapped with rice flour dough before being boiled in bubbling water on low flame. The pithe is eaten with smooth jaggery extracted from dates. A perfect dish for wintry nights!

Looking Forward To A Way Ahead

With time, food recipes have always tend to turn obsolete. Some become tough to prepare, some become difficult to plan while some simply get lost in the pages of history, Every family has some special recipes across their cookbooks. Only the present generation can adapt these and revive the lesser known dishes of any region. As for the above Bengali delights, these recipes need preserving lest they too get lost with time. Not only are they rare but they taste unique too.

Satarupa B. Kaur has been writing professionally since a decade now. Always on the go; she loves travel, books, playtime with her toddler as she explores new places and food!