Savory Culinary Delights
Bangladeshi food incorporates cooking techniques and a variety food, Bengali cuisine offers a a number of regional influences, of spices. With a rich blend of exotic superb culinary experience.
More often than not, traditional culinary secrets of a country distinguish it from others around it. Exclusive regional dishes entice true connoisseurs of good food, from around the world, to validate the supremacy of taste and blend of ingredients that make a particular cuisine stand out. Over the years, Bangladeshi cuisine or what is commonly known as Bengali cuisine has piqued the interest of food lovers. What makes this cuisine so interesting is its true reflection of the geographical and the cultural metamorphosis that the country has experienced. With time, not only has Bangladesh’s national identity evolved but so have its people. The traditions and influences embedded in the culture of Bangladesh have had a strong and dominant influence on the way the cuisines of the country have emerged.
Given Bangladesh’s geography, the presence of rivers, humidity and heat has led to heavy consumption of staple items like rice, meat, fish, coconut, yogurt and spices. The cultural influence however, is a manifestation of two major factors: religious factions with a predisposition to vegetarianism and the history of the region and the rulers it has had.
A typical Bengali Muslim household is likely to prepare a day’s menu with three to five dishes in a particular sequence so that the blend of flavors is harmonious.
Dishes are served on a Madur (mat) or Patti (mattress) while in a Bengali Hindu home the food is served in
Kasha (bowls). A strong Mongolian influence of the 16th century has left behind Moghlia dishes such as kebabs, kof
tas and biryani. In the same century, the Portuguese also introduced vegetables into Bengali cuisine and European traders imported variations of chillies and tomatoes. Despite all the influences, the reason why the country has such a diverse yet strong identity of culinary offerings is the Bangladeshi culture of appayan (hospitality) that explains the obsession with cooking and adapting to new flavors.
When comparing Bangladesh to its neighbors, a clear distinction exists between the way recipes are prepared in West Bengal (Kolkata) and the East ( Bangladesh), which embodies the preparation methods practiced in Chittagong and Dhaka. Both regions differ in their way of using the essential spices. Fish and prawns are both popular but are integrated depending on preferences and availability. The East prefers the use of fresh water fish and the sequence of a meal consumption starts from the bitter to the sweet while the West practices the com- plete reverse.
Meals are generally consumed directly with fingers, which serves as an important part of relishing any meal, allowing the texture and each ingredient to become part of the savory experience.
What makes Bengali cuisine tasteful is the complementary use of panchphoron: the five prime spices, namely mustard, fenugreek, cumin seed, aniseed and black cumin seed. The use of spices has been nurtured since the pre-Vedic times and reflects hints of Turkish, Persian, Arabian and Mughal cuisines. It is the amalgamation of the sweet and spicy flavors that makes Bengali dishes so divine.
Within Bangladesh, cuisines differ from one region to another, giving the country’s platter a varied menu. Northern Bengal enjoys the influence of Assam, Tripura and the tribal groups of Surma. South East Bengal is a reflection of the Arakani recipes from Burma. Midwest Bangladesh comprises authentic Bengali cuisine with unadulterated origins and the Dhakiya Cuisine has an Awadhi essence.
Typical Bengali cuisines consist of Bhorta, seasoned items prepared in a mashed form, Bhapa or steamed fish or rice and Jhal, made with fish, shrimp or crab, slightly fried and then cooked in a light sauce of ground red chili. The dessert menu is a blissful one as well. Sweet dishes that adorn dinner tables include
Roshogollas, Shondesh or finely ground fresh cottage cheese, Pantua or cottage cheese balls fried in oil and chomchoms. The national dish of Bangladesh
is Panta Hilsa, which is a platter of Panta Bhat, a light rice dish with slices of Hilsa fish, complemented with Shukti (uncooked dry fish), pickles, lentils, green chilies and onions. This platter is the star meal of the Pholea Boishakh festival while Pillao (fragranced rice) and Korma/
Rezala with Kebab and chicken roast also become part of major celebrations like weddings.
Despite the religious norms, with regard to meat consumption, there exists a noticeable inclination towards meat-based dishes. Meat consumption in the Asian region is around 26%. This is not a direct resultant of environment, religion, history, or main food staples but is the implication of the growing globalization of the food industry and the economic growth of the countries in the region.