Kings and queens of mixing ingredients to create an entirely new snack, Bengalis have held this throne for ages
When you talk of Bengali food, one immediately starts thinking about roshogolla and maachher jhol. But the fact is that Bengali food is much more than just that. There are amazing meat, fish and egg delicacies, as well as tempting vegetarian preparations. The Bengali food mash-ups can give your tastebuds an incredible treat to remember.
No matter what district you live in, if you are a Bengali, you live for bharta! And as the demand for bharta grows, so does a Bengali’s creativity. While some bhartas are almost tradition and are unrelentingly in demand from devout foodies, others are new on the market and are quickly amassing more and more popularity. Among the ones that are staples are, shutki (anchovy) bharta, chingri (prawn) bharta, shukno morich (dried chili) bharta, alu (potato) bharta, begun (eggplant) bharta, dhonnepata (coriander) bharta and tomato bharta. Bhartas aren’t only limited to savoury foods, however. Fruits have made lip-smacking bhartas for decades, with mango, blackberry and jujube bhartas among the favourites. Bharta enthusiasts are now introducing new fruits like strawberries and starfruit into the category. Try the tart and tangy fruit with some mustard oil and cayenne pepper and you will fall in love.
From Dhaka to the streets of London, jhalmuri is one Bengali snack that has delighted tastebuds everywhere. A concoction of puffed rice, peanuts, chickpeas and grated lemon is mixed with soybean oil and served in a paper packet with a paper scoop. Have it crunchy or opt for a more mash-like texture, jhalmuri is the best snack for anyone craving something flavourful and quick.
Aam, Dudh, Cheera
Almost tasting like rolled oats, beaten rice is soaked overnight to make it soft, and then sweetened milk is added. When the mixture is ready, mango is added to it, either finely chopped or grated. The flavour of mango is enhanced by the natural flavour of milk. Although rice and mango come together more famously in the Thai dish mango sticky rice, this Bangladeshi variant is nothing like the Thai dessert. Make it a healthy breakfast item or consume it as a chilled dessert after lunch and enjoy summers like a Bengali!
Although the name does tend to remind one of mint chutney and sev, the bhel you get in the streets of Dhaka is nothing like Indian bhel. There is a firm, fried base of dough that is topped with a chickpeas gravy heavily thickened. It is then topped with grated, crunchy cucumber and lots of tamarind water for the extra tang. Finally, for spice lovers, a dash of red pepper and flavoured salt completes the process. Although the dough sphere is big, pros eat the whole thing in one go.