Bengali feast thaali is that celebratory thaali you need to make soon! Whether its sweets or savory, vegetarian or non vegetarian,Bengali cuisines is lip smacking to say the least. This quintessential Bengali feast thaali with ten delicious dishes includes the favorites of mine and I am sure you will find something in it to suit your palate too.
Whenever I think of Bengal, I am obviously transported to all things I love. Starting from the dulcet tunes of Rabindra Sangeet or the classical music, art or architecture, football and cricket, dance and drama and of course food, Bengal has been and will always be the “art capital” of India. When the Britishers chose to make Calcutta their capital during pre- independence era, they left behind the stamp of their approval for all things Bengali in the city. This city of joy has long been associated with the intellectuals and artsy folks of our country. In fact, when we were kids summers meant a trip to Kolkata. The number of evenings I have spent walking down Park Street and New market, picking up old books from the boi pora street and eating anything and everything the vendors sold on these walks. I have sampled the best puchkas in the country at the Vivekanand Park and had kathi rolls at the place it first originated, Zaika, stuffed myself on Mughlai parathas and daal pakori, have had “ghoti gorom” chanachur wherever I could and traveled to Burra Bazaar just to have piping hot samosas.
From growing up on Victoria Memorial’s painting which were my first tryst with art to watching the universe revolve all around me in the Birla Planetorium, from my first and only tram ride to walking all over the city with my backpack and P, I have done it all. We spent four days in Kolkata during the Durga Pujo and needless to say, it was electric! From a visit to Kaali Ghat and a ride down the Howrah bridge, to feeling the omni present, omniscient presence of “Ma” everywhere during the puja we did it all. P stopped and had rasgulla, rolls and sondesh anywhere he could, we went to Flury’s for the typical Sunday morning brunch and D had more luchi in those four days than she ever had! Kolkata, a city that has been home to the most intellectual and artsy people of the country, is also the place where “Dharamghat” is thrown into every other sentence. The people here are cultured, grown up on a deadly diet of Shakespeare and Rabindranath Tagore, they are opinionated and strong. Every man and woman is a critic and an expert! From listening to my cab driver discuss politics at length for 30 minutes before switching to football and cricket without batting an eyelid, this city has always been good to people who are open to learning, to education and to art. If I could, I would still go for a vacation to aamar sonar Bangla anyday.
But the food!! Boy is that another topic altogether. The food here is just so so incredible!! If you are new to Bengali cuisine, I suggest you find a restaurant serving authentic Bengali food soon and give it a try. hailing from Orissa, I can’t deny that the neighbors have quite an overlap when it comes to food preparations too. Whether it be the proclivity towards “paanch phoron” or “poshto”, rice as a staple, our mutual love for “maach aar maans”, “deem” forming a part of daily life and “mishti doi aar rosgulla being the obvious dessert of choice, the cuisine is clearly interrelated.
Let’s take a look at this delicious platter laden with such Bengali delicacies. The sight of this alone is enough to make my mouth water. Although fish curry or maach -er- jhol is a part of Bengali thaali, I havent included it here in the Bengali fest thaali. If you are keen on trying out the fish curry, please follow the recipe given here.
In the Bengali feast thaali, since I wanted to make it special I have added a non vegetarian dish, that of the much loved Kosha Maangsho(mutton) to this Bengali feast thaali. You could leave it out if you are a vegetarian or don’t want to make some mutton curry. However, if you like your meat, I urge you to try this recipe, whether as a part of the Bengali feast thaali or on its own is entirely upto you. The other dishes that form a part of this delicious Bengali feast thaali are: Rice, luchi, aam tok, poshto diye beguni, doi begun, tamatar khaata, bengali dum aloo, kosha mangsho, payesh aar gujiya.
So come on, lets take a look at these recipes and get ready to rock the Bengali feast thaali!
1. Bengali aloo dum – Aloo dum is a quintessential childhood favorite of every Indian. A winter morning ritual at my home – spicy,fragrant and slightly tangy potato stew served with hot deep fried puffed flatbreads or poori as its called in India. If you must learn only one Indian comfort food, let it be this. Loved by adults and little adults alike, this will make you a hit with everyone.
2. Luchi – aka the Bengali puffed bread, much like the North India poori but with one major difference. As opposed to a mix of wholewheat and all purpose flour that is the signature of poori, luchi is made with just all purpose flour. Rub a little ghee or oil into the flour while kneading and proceed just like mentioned in the poori recipe.
3. Poshto diye Beguni bhaaja (poppy seed crusted pan fried aubergine) – this is a simple side dish that is a must in Bengali cuisine. From serving the delicious deep fried garlicky aubergine fritters to this, brinjal are a big part of Bengali cuisine. For this dish, I have pan fried the aubergine roundels after coating them with roasted gram flour and poppyseeds. Result? Delicious, crisp on the outside and melting inside aubergines!! Recipe given below.
4. Doi beguni or aubergine in a light yogurt gravy – this, though a staple of Oriya cuisine has also found its way into the Bengali feast thaali. Definitely ine of my favorite ways to do aubergines and yogurt, this dish is a great change from the regular raita. Recipe below.
5. Tamaatar khaata or tomato chutney- yet another dish that is common with Oriya cuisine. This is such a staple! We usually always have a jar of this in the fridge. This tomato chutney sweetened with jaggery and dates is absolutely the best way to make use of summer bounty of ripe tomatoes and have a delicious condiment handy. Recipe given below.
6. Kosha Mangsho (dry mutton is a spicy gravy) – Although a staple in our homes, I switched the recipe up a bit and made it this time using this beautiful recipe of Maunika Gowardhan. Maunika is a muh celebrated author and chef now residing in UK. Please click on the link below to get to the recipe. Recipe of Bengali Kosha Mangsho.
7. Aam tok or Red lentils with green mango – is a simple summer essential take on your basic dal. Mildly spiced, light and healthy, this dal uses season fresh green mango to give it a distinctive flavor. A basic in Oriya and Bengali cuisine, this aam tok is perfect to eat with some steamed rice and curry.
So here’s hoping you guys get inspired by this simple yet extremely delicious Bengali feast thaali and make it soon.
If you are interested in other thaalis, this vegetarian North Indian thaali is the stuff of dreams!
Poshto diye beguni bhaaja - poppy seeds crumbed aubergine
Pan fried aubergine roundels crumbed in roasted gram flour and poppy seeds
- 1 large brinjal/aubergine I use purple ones
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 2 cups water
For the crumb:
- 2 tbsp gram flour, lightly roasted
- 1 tsp aamchoor powder , dried mango powder
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1/2 tsp turmeric powder
- 1/4 tsp red chili powder
- 1/2 tbsp garlic salt
- 2 tbsp poppy seeds
- 2 tbsp mustard oil
Start by cutting the aubergines into thin roundels. Soak them in a pot with water and salt for 30 minutes. This ensures the bitterness is gone. Drain and dry on tissue.
Now dry roast the gram flour or besan. Remove and let cool. Add the remaining ingredients and mix well.
Now heat a grilling pan or girdle with oil. Crumb the aubergine roundels well with the masala on both sides.
Lay them in one row on the pan and cook on medium low heat for 3-4 minutes. Turn and cook the other side for 5 minutes till crisp outside. Dont cook on high heat as the brinjal wil brown but insides wont be cooked well.
Dahi baingan - aubergine in chilled yogurt
- 1 medium brinjal , cut into thick slices
- 1 cup (250 ml) yogurt
- 5-6 cloves garlic
- 1/4 inch ginger
- 1 green chillie
- 1/2 tsp mustard seeds
- 10 curry leaves
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 1 tsp sugar
- 1/2 tsp red chili powder
- 1/4 tsp jeera powder ,cumin powder
- 1/4 tsp chaat/ aa,choor masala , you can use either of the two
Start by slicing the brinjals and soaking in salted water for 10-15 minutes.
Pound the ginger garlic and chili together.
Heat some oil in a pan, add the mustard seeds and curry leaves. Once it pops, add the ginger garlic chili paste and saute to 30 secs.
Now add the brinjal slices, a little salt and cook for 6-7 minutes till soft and done.
Once brinjals are done, add 1/4 cup water to it and cover the lid immediately. Let it come to room temperature. In the meanwhile, make the yogurt.
To yogurt, add 1/4 cup water and all the listed ingredients. Mix thoroughly. Taste and adjust according to taste.
Once the brinjal is cooled, add the whole thing to the chilled yogurt mix. Stir through well and keep cold till serving time.
3. Tamaatar Khaata or chutney
Tamaatar Khatta _(tomato and date chutney)
- 6 ripe large tomatoes
- 5 cloves of garlic
- 1/4 inch ginger
- 1 green chilie
- 2 tbsp jaggery powder, or grated jaggery
- 4-5 whole dates chopped into bits
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 1 whole dried red chili
- 1 tsp black mustard seeds
Chop the tomatoes into tiny pieces. Grate the jaggery. Pound the ginger, garlic and green chili.
Heat some oil in a pan. add the mustard seeds and dried red chili. Once it pops add the ginger garlic chili paste to it. Saute to 1 min till fragrant.
Now add the tomatoes to it, add salt and cook on high till it starts getting mushy.
Now add the jaggery powder and dates and cook on low heat till thick and cooked well.
Adjust sweetness according to your own taste.