Top 7 Summer Recipes From The Bengali Kitchen
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There’s much merit in the way our grandmothers planned seasonal menus. Much before it became trendy to do so, they knew exactly what veggies, pulses, and meat were to be cooked in summer and what was best avoided. The appetite goes for a toss in sultry summers across India. In a Bengali household, this inspires creativity in the kitchen. While it is often celebrated for its non-vegetarian dishes and the fish curry seems to hijack many-a-conversations about Bengali food, the cuisine is diverse and has a whole range of dishes that are seasonal and also stomach friendly. 

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Summer lunches especially are flavourful, light on the stomach, and most importantly, delicious. While the winters bring the spicy Kosha Mangshos and luchis to the table, the summer is accentuated with tangy, sweet and sour, runny curries. Cooling agents like curd grace the table and the king of lemons; the gondhoraj lebu makes a VIP appearance. Vegetables like lau (bottle gourd) Ucche (bitter gourd) kacha pepe (raw papaya) kumdo (pumpkin) and raw mango are commonly eaten during this season. Drinks made of raw mango, lime and yoghurt help the body cool down with temperatures soaring outside. Try out these delightful summer recipes from Bengal that help you beat the heat.


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A typical Bengali meal starts with the teto (bitters) and ends with a sweet and sour chutney and then a mishti (sweet). The bitter is believed to be good for you and helps line the stomach. One of the most popular tetos (bitters) is the Shukto. Cooking the perfect Shukto is often considered the ultimate test for a chef to prove his prowess in a Bengali kitchen. This non-spicy dish is big on complex flavours. A mix of summer veggies including a hearty dose of drumsticks, bitter gourd, brinjal, raw banana, potatoes, broad beans and bori (dried lentil nuggets) cooked with mustard seeds, poppy seeds, panch phoron ( a whole spice mix made with cumin seed, nigella seed, fenugreek seed, wild celery seeds and fennel seeds in equal parts) and milk make the Shukto the perfect summer favourite.

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Tok er Dal
When green mangoes are in season they are used almost everywhere in a Bengali kitchen. Musur Dal or Musur Dal cooked with raw mango is a seasonal favourite. The dal is cooked with minimal spices and the tadka is tempered with mustard seeds and dry red chillies. Peeled raw mango cut into strips are pressure-cooked with the dal to give it the perfect tanginess. Served with hot rice and fried potatoes, the tok er dal is a delicious summer treat.

Panta Bhaat
In 2021 the humble Bengali Panta Bhat shot to global fame as the ‘Smoked Rice Water’ dish that MasterChef Australia Season 13 contestant Kishwar Chowdhury presented as her finale dish on the show. The origin of this dish has been traced to a time before refrigerators were invented. Leftover rice was soaked in water and kept outside at room temperature to ferment overnight. This would not only help preserve the rice but the water it was soaked in filled the rice with nutrients and was considered healthy. The dish is usually eaten the next day and served with a side of green chillies, raw onion, lemon, mashed potato, mashed taro leaves and even illish maach (hilsa) or other fried fish.

Neem Begun 
This stir-fry of eggplants and neem leaves in mustard oil is a traditional favourite in Bengali homes. Apart from the goodness of neem and its antibacterial, antiviral, and anti-inflammatory properties, the dish is believed to boost the immune system. It is also the simplest to cook. Cubed eggplants are marinated with salt and turmeric powder. The neem leaves are then stir-fried with the marinated eggplants in mustard oil till the mix is coated in oil and all ingredients are fried adequately. Neem leaves get burnt easily so it’s best to take care while frying or tossing them in hot oil. In many homes, fresh neem leaves are bought a day before cooking and kept in a glass full of water until ready for use. The Neem Begun is mashed and eaten with hot rice.

Lebu diye Murgir Jhol 

Murgir Jhol (chicken curry) and Mangshor jhol (mutton curry) often feature in Sunday lunches in Bengali homes. Come summer the curry becomes thinner, lighter, and even more fragrant. The gravy is red thanks to the use of Kashmiri chilli powder but unlike other Chichen curries the Murgir Jhol is not overly spicy. No Bengali Jhol is complete without potatoes and this curry uses soft-boiled ones in generous quantities. The star element is the intoxicating flavour and aroma of the gondhoraj lebu. Serve it with hot rice and enjoy a post-meal nap on a lazy summer afternoon. There’s a reason why the dish is popular on Sunday menus.


While the Khichdi is popular all across India, the Bengali Khichuri made using roasted Moong Dal and the fragrant Gobindo Bhog rice has its own pride of place. It often features potatoes, florets of cauliflower and tomatoes added to the mix of spices such as dried red chillies, bay leaves, cardamom, cinnamon, cloves, and cumin seeds. Dried coconut is also added to the Khichuri in many homes. It’s best served with fried potatoes and fried brinjals marinated in salt and turmeric.

Savoury, sweet and tangy all at once the light, runny Aam er Tok also known as the Ambol is probably the best example of perfectly balanced flavours.  Smaller, unripe green mangoes work best to make this.  The mangoes usually take about 5 minutes to cook. Overcooking them will lead to the mangoes disintegrating and turning mushy. Tempered with mustard seeds and red chillies, this dish often replaces the dessert on hot summer days.  It is best served chilled and also stays well for a fairly long time when refrigerated.