Winter is the carnival of foods of seasonal flavors in Bengal. Even the most disciplinarian and clean eater among us, can go bonkers and roll up the sleeve to dig into fried and rich foods (sweets, snacks, fritters or main course) without giving a single thought to bulging waist-line. If you don’t know much about Bengali foods or cooking, then cold season is the best time to explore and relish them.
Below I have listed five comfort foods that are synonymous with Bengali winter special cuisines. I have been living on them throughout my life and like a total glutton, still lust after them every year. Here they go-
- Koraisutir Kochuri ( green peas stuffed fried flat bread)
I put on most of my weight in winter every year. And Koraisutir kochuri is to blame mostly. Pair it up with shukno aloo dum ( dry potato curry), or narkel diye chholar daal ( Split Bengal gram with coconut). Heck, you can eat a dozen of kochuri with tomato ketchup only. Any reputed sweetmeat shop in West Bengal sell koraisutir kochuri in winter. These fritters generally fly off the shelves especially in popular Bengali eateries. So be clever and go early in morning to have your share of these freshly fried delicacies as breakfast.
2. Sobji diye daal (yellow lentil with veggies)
Cauliflower, beans, carrots, beetroot, tomatoes, shim (Hyacinth bean) are some of the nutritious veggies that go into making a blissful bowl of sabzi diye daal ( lentil soup with vegetables). This goes best with steaming rice and a dollop of butter/ghee. If deliciously cooked, you don’t even feel the lack of side dish on your platter. Not only does this lentil soup nourish your core from inside but also keeps you warm. For Bengali style healthy eating, you won’t get anything better than this.
3. Alu-Phulkopir Phulkopir shingara (cauliflower-potato samosa)
A luxurious wintry evening for a true-blue Bengali comprises of Phulkopir shingara (cauliflower samosa) with milk tea. In my home, we even have Phulkopir shingara as a dinner main-course in wintertime. If you are health conscious, then so much oil, flour, potatoes can put your diet in jeopardy. So scouting for baked samosa would be the ideal way rather than the deep fried ones. Hindusthan Sweets or Maharani Tea Stall serves finger-licking cauliflower samosa during those frosty evenings. So include these names on your Kolkata gastronomic map.
4. Phulkopi diye machher jhol ( fish gravy with cauliflower)
Phulkopi diye machher jhol (fish gravy with cauliflower) reminds me of childhood, my mom feeding me this with steaming rice every other day when I used to return from school and me kicking a fit. Now, when I don’t live with parents and home-cooked food has become a luxury, just thinking about this specific dish makes me nostalgic. I have no idea if any restaurant has this on its winter menu or not. If the answer is negative, then you may contact to a local Bengali food delivery service to have your customized light fish gravy dressed with cauliflower.
5. Khichuri ar kosha mangsho/dim (rice-and-legume dish with rich chicken/egg curry)
Khichuri or khichdi is mostly consumed during monsoon in Bengali households. But since my childhood, I had seen that khichuri is a go-to dish in those chilly nights, especially if my mother felt really lazy to cook something elaborate. I love kosha (spicy, thick) chicken curry with khichuri. If you don’t have chicken in your fridge, then spicy egg gravy is another darling side-kick that goes perfectly well with this rice-and-pulse based staple food.
If you are in Kolkata, then notable Bengali restaurants like Bhojohori Manna, Oh Calcutta or home delivery service like khichdi khichri can satiate your khichuri craving.
Special Note– If you think that why three among five recipes have cauliflower in common, then for your information, cauliflower is the most sought-out veggie in Bengali kitchens in winter. Broccoli may rule the international health food scene, but here, we devour our Phulkopi florets to the T.