By Sreejan Guha Niyogi Last Updated:
Everybody loves a wedding, and that is a universal truth. Even the ones that sulk and do not attend weddings, have queries and questions regarding the ceremony afterwards. It is just the environment, and the food of course that make these shindigs, the place to be. As is the case with most other Indian states, Bengal has its own culture and traditional richness that is present even in their weddings. You will experience in depth when you actually visit the place and taste its food, meet its people and smell the air! So, we believe the best way to introduce you to Bengali cuisine is by telling you about the food items that feature prominently in their weddings! The following list is full of dishes that you must have at Bengali weddings.
The shingara (samosa) is a very popular Indian street food. You will rarely find an Indian who has not eaten a samosa ever. Every state has a different interpretation of it and Bengal is no exception. They add their own dash of Bengal to it by using mustard oil, red chilies, gingers and a few different varieties of spices. At Bengali weddings, the shingara is sometimes offered as a snack when the guests have just started arriving. If it is a winter wedding, then expect delicious aloo fulkopir shingaras (samosas stuffed with mouth-watering potato and cauliflower mix). Sounds better than your regular fare of pakodas, right?
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This is one of the few dishes that are popular, despite the fact that it utilises a part of the fish that some may find disgusting to have on their plates. Moong dal is commonly used to supplement the marinated fish heads with a curry base. The fish heads and the pulses are cooked together with the spices. Bay leaves and green chilies are added to the flavourful mix. The fish heads, actually add a whole new depth of flavour to the dal.
Bengal as a state is known for its love for fishes and sweets. But, they also harbour great love for the humble eggplant. Nothing professes it better than their begun bhaja or fried eggplant dish. This is a frequently offered starter at Bengali weddings. It is usually served during the afternoon bhoj, with dal and bhaat. It is either coated with besan and deep fried, or marinated in turmeric, salt and shallow fried. Either way it tastes heavenly!
These dishes utilise the flavours of the tasty Hilsa fish, which is common to Bengal and its waters. Ilish bhaja is simply fried Hilsa. While paturi is a more elaborate affair. In ilish paturi, the fish is marinated in a thick coating of mustard paste and cooked inside banana leaves. This is one fish that people can never stop eating in Bengal. Unfortunately, ilish is available only during the monsoon.
This is another favourite present in plenty of Bengali weddings! In fact, this one is the piece de résistance of any Bengali wedding. This Bengali fish curry is unique because even though the gravy is made of unsweetened curd, it is sweet to taste. It lends itself beautifully to the palette. You will remember its taste long after you have savoured it at the wedding. The choice of fish for this dish is the again rohu.
This great prawn curry is superbly succulent. It contains a mixed bag of flavours from spicy to sweet. The many weddings of Bengal feature this dish. The prawns are of course sourced from Bengal’s great fish markets, and you can bet that they will be full of flavour. The curry is cooked with coconut milk and shredded bits of coconut. Coconut milk is added to give it softness. It is almost ethereal the way this dish tastes!
Clearly, they love their fishes and know how to cook them like a pro. The pulao and fish kalia in Bengali weddings is a favourite combination. The rohu fish is marinated in a bunch of aromatic spices and cooked with yogurt, onion, tomato and raisin. The gravy tastes heavenly when paired with mishti pulao.
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This is a perennial favourite of biryani lovers and a must have for anyone who loves chicken. The Bengalis also add potato and boiled eggs to their biryani. This gives another dimension to it. The typical Bengali wedding biryani has more chicken than potato and that is what makes it stand out from the biryanis you will find anywhere else.
Sweets and Bengal have had a longer relationship than even Tagore and Bengal! The sweets of Bengal are probably the best that India has to offer and mishti doi is one of their most famous. It is made with gur (molasses) and thick creamy milk. Unsweetened curd is added to it to give the whole thing some texture and thickness. This sweet dish is definitely one of the favourites for all Bengalis.
This is a simple yet delicious dessert that just has to be present at all important Bengali functions, including weddings. It is prepared with chhena, sugar and cardamom. Sometimes, other spices and nuts like pistachio, almonds and cashews are also used to add more flavour to the sandesh. It is a common sight at weddings to see the old and the young alike devouring this sweet with glee.
After reading this article, we are sure that your mouth is watering. Just imagine what it will feel like when you finally have a chance to sample some of this delicious fares!
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