8 Lip-Smacking Vegetarian Recipes from Bengali Cuisine

 

We’re all pretty chauvinistic about our traditional cuisines but no one can deny the delicacy, the nuances, that a Bengali cook brings to the simplest meal.

It’s an interesting fact that the birth of delicious, lip-smacking vegetarian dishes goes back to the era when a woman’s identity was solely tied to the man, and when her husband died, she was confined to the kitchen, household work and regional worships. Most noteworthy and sadly enough, the widow cannot relish non-vegetarian dishes like fish and meat, and also cannot include heating elements in her food such as shallots and garlic. However, ginger was allowed.

In spite of all these restrictions, the vegetarian food evolved in such a way, that though it was deceptively a simple food preparation, but cooked with such precision and served with equal refinement, that it became popular among the larger population. These vegetarian delicacies became a part of the multiple courses served in a Bengali cuisine.

    1. Bengali Cabbage Ghonto or Cabbage Curry  
      Bengali Cabbage Ghonto or Cabbage Curry
      Bengali Cabbage Ghonto or Cabbage Curry

      Bengali Cabbage Ghonto or Cabbage Curry consists of complimentary vegetables such as cabbage, peas and potatoes that are chopped or grated and cooked with both panch phoron (five spices) and ground spices. Ghee is commonly added at the end. This serves as a side dish and can be eaten with either rice or roti (chappati). Cabbage is known as bhandakopi in Bengali and it is popularly called bhandakopi ghonto.

    2. Bhaja Muger Dal(Roasted Lentil Soup tempered with whole spices)
      Bhaja Muger Dal(Roasted Lentil Soup tempered with whole spices)
      Bhaja Muger Dal(Roasted Lentil Soup tempered with whole spices)

      Bhaja Muger Dal(Roasted Lentil Soup tempered with whole spices) is a Bengali delicacy and forms a major part of vegetarian cuisine. This is the Bengali interpretation of lentil soup without onion and garlic. Bhaja means fried and muger dal means split green gram lentils. The yellow split moong dal may be fried in ghee or dry.

    3. Bhaja Munger dal with sobji or Roasted Mung dal cooked with vegetables 
      Bhaja Munger dal with sobji or Roasted Mung dal cooked with vegetables
      Bhaja Munger dal with sobji

      Bhaja Munger dal with sobji or Roasted Mung dal cooked with vegetables is Bengali delicacy and forms a major part of vegetarian dish. This vegetarian delicacy is probably much as the lentil soup without onion and garlic. Bhaja means fried and sobji means vegetables. The mung dal  when fried in ghee or dry roasted till golden (not brown) , releases  a special nutty aroma. Then it is cooked with ghee and whole garam masala spices that enhances the flavor. Finally, the vegetables are added that makes this dish nutritional.

    4. Dudh Shukto ( Bitter Sweet Vegetable Stew cooked with milk)
      Dudh Shukto or bitter sweet vegetable stew cooked with milk 
      Dudh Shukto or bitter sweet vegetable stew cooked with milk

      Dudh Shukto or bitter sweet vegetable stew cooked with milkDudh Shukto or bitter sweet vegetable stew cooked with milk is a bengali cuisine loaded with vegetables and minimal spices. You can use any vegetables but must include bitter gourd . However tomatoes, cauliflower and cabbage are excluded. An interesting fact is my mother never used to serve shukto in dinner. According to her, it should only be eaten in lunch. 

    5. Begun Doi Sorse Posto bata Jhol or Eggplant in Mustard Poppy Seed Yogurt Gravy 
      Begun Doi Sorse Posto bata Jhol or Eggplant in Mustard Poppy Seed Yogurt Gravy
      Begun Doi Sorse Posto bata Jhol or Eggplant in Mustard Poppy Seed Yogurt Gravy

      Begun Doi Sorse Posto bata Jhol or Eggplant in Mustard Poppy Seed Yogurt Gravy is a pure vegetarian dish. The eggplant is the star of this dish,flavored by the mustard poppy seed paste, tempered with Bengali five spices known as panch phoron, and cooked in yogurt stock.

    6. Easy and Simple Mango Chutney in a Pressure Cooker Recipe
      Mango Chutney in a Pressure Cooker

      Easy and Simple Mango Chutney in a Pressure Cooker Recipe is an easy, breezy sweet and spicy chutney cooked to perfection in a pressure cooker in just 15 minutes.

    7. Bengali Raw Mango Chutney with Panch Phoron
      Bengali Raw Mango Chutney with Panch Phoron
      Bengali Raw Mango Chutney with Panch Phoron

      Panch Phoron is a blend of whole spices like cumin seeds, fennel seeds, nigella seeds, mustard seeds and fenugreek seeds in equal portions. Some bengalis like me use fenugreek seeds in less portion because of its bitter taste. The raw mango chutney is served at the end of a typical bengali meal. It can be served as a side dish or as sweet.

    8. Soft, flavorful and melt-in Coconut balls without condensed milk or khoya 
      Soft, flavorful and melt-in Coconut balls without condensed milk or khoya
      Soft, flavorful and melt-in Coconut balls without condensed milk or khoya

      Soft, flavorful and melt-in Coconut balls without condensed milk or khoya is a sweet dish from West Bengal part of India and is made from coconut, milk, and sugar or jaggery. Traditionally, this sweet is prepared during festive occasions like Kojagiri Lakshmi Puja , Poila Baisakh( new year for Bengalis).