The Many Yummy Varieties Of Bengal’s Well-Loved Bhaja
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Bengali cuisine is interesting in more ways than one. To begin with, it is one culinary style that involves a slew of distinct flavours and tastes - from bitter to sweet, savoury and more. The other thing that can make anyone curious about the cuisine of Bengal is that the food in every district of the state has a different taste and style of cooking.

The way people eat rice in a remote village is different from that in a neighbouring town. There are so many influences in Bengali food - from Bohri to Malayali - that the authenticity of recipes can be debatable. That said, one thing that is consistent across every nook and corner of the state in terms of Bengali food is the bhaja. The word bhaja means fried (deep-fried chiefly).

Surprisingly, Bengalis can fry everything and create seven different items on a thali. Bhog to god, food for the newlywed son-in-law and lazy Sunday cooking - everything seems incomplete unless you have a bhujia on the plate.

Additionally, there is no heavy spicing up or marinade processes involved in making a bhaja. The Bengali bhaja is light and mild in taste. The vegetable is fried directly after being salted. At the most, you add besan as a coating to make fritters. Here are a few exciting bhajas or fried stuff from Bengal that you can never find anywhere else. And yes, these are not your regular aloo and begun fritters popular as the top add-ons in Bengali meal menus.

Parwal Leaves

While potol or parwal or pointed gourd is a popular part of Bengali meal plans, not many know that the leaves of potol are cleaned, destemmed and dipped in a salt-sugar-chilli seasoned besan coating for frying in a flash. The defining texture of this bhaja is its immense crunch. Best had piping hot.


The world is going gaga over moringa, but come spring and every Bengali home has loads of moringa flowers cleaned and dried after a rinse for making a nice pakoda or bhaja. Again, besan is used generously for a bind. The flowers are balled up in a quick shape to be fried nicely. There is a moringa sabzi, too, but that is a tale for another time.

Pumpkin Flower

The flower of a pumpkin climber is deep-fried after being bathed in a lather of spiced besan. Fried till crunchy, it is hard to imagine you could be eating so many flowers in Bengal.

Neem Leaves

Thought of and proven as an immunity booster, every traditional Bengali child has had a scolding session just before their year-end exams in February-March. The reason is the consumption of neem leaf fry. Yes, you read right. And what is more interesting is that fried neem leaves smell like caramelised onions. Neem leaves are tossed with diced brinjal or potato strips too to attract kids to have this.


Known as dumur in Bengali, fig is a vegetable being lost gradually. The already shrunk, and the tiny thing is chopped and fried in well-heated mustard oil with seasoning of salt. Thought of as a seasonal immunity booster, fig fry is something so rare you enjoy the taste.

Who knew a bhaja could be so offbeat and yet stand out as a full course in a cuisine?

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