Famous Bengali dishes, desserts and breads you should know about

Mutton rezala, Bengali cuisine in Brick Lane.

Bangladeshi food is well-known for its fish from the Ganges, bhuna style of slow-cooked curries, especially with mutton, and its famous yoghurt based Mishti Doi dessert.

Beef Khala

The beef khala is a famous beef dish from Bengali cuisine, iconic for its dark appearance yet tender texture. It is cooked in the bhuna style, meaning to be fried, and requires a whopping eight hours to sizzle in its oils.

If you thought the eight hours were too much, you’re probably not prepared to hear about the 24 hours that the meat requires to be marinated. Beef khala can also be cooked with mutton or other red meats, but the most popular way of preparing it is with beef. 

Once the beef is soaked in its aromatic galore, it is then ready to be fried to achieve its acclaimed appearance. Usually, this dish is best prepared in a charcoal oven, giving the dish a rich and smoky taste, but the dish is commonly cooked on gas cookers across Indian and Bengali restaurants. 

Shorsha Hilsa

There is no complete Bengali menu without the mention of shorsha hilsa. Bengali cuisine is known for its fish curries, and its star player is the shorsha hilsa (or shorshe ilish). Set apart as the bright yellow curry, it is cooked in mustard paste and heightened with green chillis that are lathered in mustard oil. 

The versatile dish can be cooked in a range of styles, from ​​frying, steaming, roasting or baking, all the while maintaining its delicious taste and giving it a distinctive kick. First, the fish is marinated with turmeric powder and salt while the mustard paste is prepared with mustard seeds and chillis. Meanwhile, the gravy is prepared with nigella seeds, chillis, turmeric powder, water, and mustard oil to give the curry a succulent taste.

This signature dish will stand out on your dining table, fashioning its yellow base brought to life by turmeric powder and mustard paste. You can find the shorsha hilsa on menus during the Bangladeshi New Year, known as the Boishaki, and other celebratory festivities.

Mishti Doi

Bangladesh is known to be a bit of a sweet tooth country. From the multitude of desserts created, one of their most popular Bengali desserts is the ‘mishti doi’, the classic sugared yoghurt sweet. ‘Mishti’ means sweet, and ‘doi’ means curd, the creamy delicacy is made by fermenting the milk to a yoghurt-like texture. 

It is one of the simplest desserts to make, done by boiling the milk until it is slightly thickened, sweetening it with sugar, and then allowing the milk to ferment overnight.

Paratas

Although most dishes in Bengal are served with white rice, a common serving is also the Bengali ‘paratha’ bread.

Paratas is a form of flatbread, also known as naan, in Bangladesh. Although naan bread is commonly used in Indian cuisine, the ‘paratas’ bread is a speciality within Bangladeshi cuisine.

This thin, flexible flatbread is typically used to be wrapped around chunky meat-based dishes such as kebabs and tandooris, but paratas flatbread can be enjoyed with curries or side dishes too. It is made up of only four ingredients: flour, oil, salt and water.  

Dhakai Parata bread

More specific for the Bengali region, this bread is also referred to as the ‘Dhakai paratha’ bread. It differs entirely from usual paratha bread because of the way it is cooked. For Dhakai bread, it is deep-fried to create a puffy size, when ripped, revealing the multitude of layers beneath.

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