Are you hosting a Sunday brunch for your Bengali in-laws or friends? Well to start with Bengalis are a food loving community. Their lives revolve around their meals (khawa dawa) undoubtedly, me being a bengali can vouch on this. Apart from their eternal love of fish and sweets (rosogulla), they are in reality a voracious eater and are quite ready to experiment with food across different cultures in the world. Today I thought of sharing a post regarding Bangalir Khawa Dawa | A sample bengali meal | Non-veg Bengali Thali. So let’s see how a Bengali Thali may look like. The detailed recipes of the dishes would be presented in links. Just click them and know how to cook them for your family and friends!
To start with, they traditionally serve food to their guests on Banana leaves (kola pata), Shaal pata [indeed an environmental friendly approach]. Not only this, bengali food is also served in kasha (bronze) utensils. Bronze are an alloy of copper and tin. Now that’s a very royal way of having meals, is it not? So at one corner of the plate, they would roll out wedges of lemon and a little salt. You may add them to the food served to you as you please. They act as taste enhancers! Now, let’s see the items that are served in a traditional bengali thali in sequence. They are enlisted below:
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A sample bengali menu card:
1. Plain rice (Saada bhaat)
3. Aloo bhaja
4. Panch mishelir torkari (A mixed vegetable curry)/labda
5. Cholar dal
6. Topse fry
7. Basanti pulao
8. Bhetkir paturi / Ilish bhapa
9. Chicken rezala
10. Kasha khashir Mangsho
11. Tomato amshotto khejurer chutney and papad
13. Doi / Curd
Bangalir Khawa Dawa | A sample bengali meal | Non-veg Bengali Thali
1. Steamed plain rice | Saada bhaat:
A portion of plain and simple rice or saada bhaat is first served with ‘haata’, a flat big serving spoon looking like hand with five fingers. There are certain items that tastes the best when we have it with a plate of steamed rice
Then comes shukto. It’s an admixture of different sort of vegetables, cooked together with bori (small dried lentil dumplings). The bitterness is attributed by the bitter gourds. Other vegetables that are commonly used in shukto are raw papaya, green raw bananas, potatoes etc. You can add milk and a little sugar to enhance the taste!
3. Aloo bhaja and cholar dal:
Now, is served dal (lentils) and aloo bhaja (fried potatoes). Though jhuri aloo bhaja (thin, deep fried potatoes) is commonly served, you may also try this aloo bhaja recipe, that’s having the flavour of curry patta (sweet neem leaves). It’s a healthier option being not deep fried in oil. For dal, there’s a variety of recipes. Cholar dal is a common one though
4. Panch mishelir torkari / labda:
Panch misheli a wonderful healthy blend of vegetables served along side. The dish generally contains five different vegetables such as potatoes, pumpkins, brinjal, daanta, pointed gourds and is cooked in a tadka of bengali’s own ‘Panch foron’ – a mixture of whole spices namely cumin, nigella, fenugreek, black mustard seeds, fennel seeds. Also can be served a labda curry, which is a mixture of vegetables and greens like pui saag!
5. Topse fry:
As a non-veg fritter, one or two pieces of Topse fry is just awesome!
6. Basanti Pulao:
So after you finish off with the initial healthy lot, now comes the main attraction of the whole bengali cuisine – the phase of the meal when one’s favourite rich, gravy dishes of fish, mutton, chicken are served. To accompany with those heroes, is served Basanti Pulao. Basanti pulao is a sweet pulao, that’s yellow in colour and hence named ‘basanti’
So for fish item, the most common bengali delicacy is Bhetkir paturi. Bhetkir paturi is nothing but fillets of barramundi or bhetki fish, cooked in a gravy of mustard, poppy seeds, wrapped in banana leaves. It tastes heavenly! Hilsa or ilsh bhaapa can also be served. Ilish bhaapa is nothing but Hilsa, sauted and cooked in steam in a gravy of poppy seeds and mustard seeds
Also known as white chicken, it’s a nawabi dish, served with a fried red dry chilli on top and a white gravy of poppy seeds and cashew nut paste!
Kosha khashir mangsho seems to be the main hero of the bengali platter and every bengali just yearns for it. Many people simple choose to skip the previously served delicacies just to gorge on kosha khashir mangsho. Kosha khashir mangsho is a mutton dish, which is served in an oil – rich dark coloured gravy!
10. Tomato amshotto khejurer chutney and papad:
So after the savoury rich gravy dishes, is the time for some ‘mishti’ items. So is served the dry fruit rich tomato chutney. The chutney is made up of tomatoes, dry mango candies(aam papad), dates, raisins, cashew nuts etc. It’s compulsorily paired with a piece of deep fried papad
11. Mishti or sweets:
Well, this is again the significant phase of a typical bengali cuisine. The formal dessert part starts here onwards. Rosogulla, a white, sponge ball of chhena, soaked in a sugary syrup is served invariably along with pantua or gulab jamuns. Also sondesh and different other sweets are served
12. Doi / Curd:
Mishti doi is served which is a sweet curd slightly reddish brown in colour (You may find the normal homemadecurd recipe here)
13. Ice – cream:
Ice-creams or kulfis are served now-a-days in the dessert section
Now, the last served item is Paan which is betel leaves rolled and served with different sweet spices inside. It serves as a ‘mukh-suddhi’ or a mouth freshener after a heavy sumptuous meal!