Famous Bengali dishes, desserts and breads you should know about

Traditional Bengali cafe on Brick Lane, East London.

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. 

Salivating yet? If so, try this famous beef dish at Graam Bangla, Brick Lane’s most authentic Bengali eatery.

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.

Shorsha hilsa is normally on the menu at Graam Bangla but you can also find this fish dish on most menus during the Bangladeshi New Year, known as the Boishaki, and other celebratory festivities.

Dhakai Paratas

Although most dishes in Bengal are served with white rice, it’s common to eat curries with ‘parata’ or ‘paratha’ bread instead – or even aswell! This delicious, flaky Bengali flatbread is served in most of Brick Lane’s Indian restaurants.

Similar to naan bread, parata – also known as Dhakai parata – is a speciality within Bangladeshi cuisine. This 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 – then deep-fried until puffy so that, when ripped, it reveals the multitude of layers beneath.

Discover Brick Lane’s Indian restaurants here.

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