Bengali Cuisine - Glossary


  • Ambal: A sour dish made either with several vegetables or with fish, the sourness being produced by the addition of tamarind pulp or lime juice.
  • Biryani: Fragrant dish of long-grained aromatic rice combined with beef, mutton, or chicken and a mixture of characteristic spices. Sometimes cooked in sealed containers (dum biriyani).
  • Bhaja or Bhaji: Anything fried, either by itself or in batter.
  • Bhapa: Fish or vegetables steamed with oil and spices. A classic steaming technique is to wrap the fish in banana leaf to give it a faint musky, smoky scent.
  • Bhate: ('steamed with rice') any vegetable, such as potatoes, beans, pumpkins, or even dal, first boiled whole and then mashed and seasoned with mustard oil or ghee and spices. Traditionally the vegetables were placed on top of the rice; they steamed as the rice was being boiled.
  • Bhuna: A term of Urdu origin, and applies to meat cooked in spices for a long time without water. The spices are slow-cooked in oil (bhunno). The spices first absorb the oil, and when fully cooked release the oil again.
  • Bora: See Kofta
  • Chochchori: Usually a vegetable dish with one or more varieties of vegetables cut into longish strips, sometimes with the stalks of leafy greens added, all lightly seasoned with spices like mustard or poppy seeds and flavoured with a phoron. The skin and bone of large fish like bhetki (red snapper) or chitol can be made into a chochchori called kata-chochchori, kata, meaning fish-bone.
  • Chhanchra: A combination dish made with different vegetables, portions of fish head and fish oil (entrails).
  • Chechki: Tiny pieces of one or more vegetable—or, sometimes even the peels (of potatoes, lau, pumpkin or potol for example)—usually flavoured with panch phoron or whole mustard seeds or black cumin. Chopped onion and garlic can also be used, but hardly any ground spices.
  • Dalna: Mixed vegetables or eggs, cooked in medium thick gravy seasoned with ground spices, especially garom mashla and a touch of ghee.
  • Dam or Dum: Vegetables (especially potatoes), meat or rice (biriyanis) cooked slowly in a sealed pot over a low heat.
  • Dolma or Patoler Dolma: The name is coming from Turkey, but the food is different. The vegetable Potol is stuffed either with a combination of grated coconut, chickpeas, etc. or more commonly with fish and then fried. The fish is boiled with turmeric and salt, then bones are removed and then onion, ginger and gorom moshla are fried in oil and boiled fish is added and churned to prepare the stuffing.
  • Ghonto: Different complementary vegetables (e.g., cabbage, green peas, potatoes or banana blossom, coconut, chickpeas) are chopped or finely grated and cooked with both a phoron and ground spices. Dried pellets of dal (boris) are often added to the ghonto. Ghee is commonly added at the end. Non-vegetarian ghontos are also made, with fish or fish heads added to vegetables. The famous muri-ghonto is made with fish heads cooked in a fine variety of rice. Some ghontos are very dry while others a thick and juicy.
  • Jhal: Literally, 'hot'. A great favourite in West Bengali households, this is made with fish or shrimp or crab, first lightly fried and then cooked in a light sauce of ground red chilli or ground mustard and a flavouring of pãch-phoron or black cumin. Being dry, it is often eaten with a little bit of dal poured over the rice.
  • Jhol: A light fish or vegetable stew seasoned with ground spices like ginger, cumin, coriander, chili, and turmeric with pieces of fish and longitudinal slices of vegetables floating in it. The gravy is thin yet extremely flavourful. Whole green chilis are usually added at the end and green coriander leaves are used to season for extra taste. This term is also used to refer to any type of stew in meat, fish or vegetable dishes.
  • Kalia: A very rich preparation of fish, meat or vegetables using a lot of oil and ghee with a sauce usually based on ground ginger and onion paste and gorom moshla.
  • Khichuŗi: Rice mixed with Moong Dal or Masoor dal(kinds of lentil) and vegetables, and in some cases, boiled or fried eggs. Usually cooked with spices and turmeric powder.
  • Kofta: Ground meat or vegetable croquettes bound together by spices and/or eggs served alone or in savoury gravy.
  • Korma: Another term of Urdu origin (literally 'braised with onions), meaning meat or chicken cooked in a mild onion and yoghurt sauce with ghee.
  • Luchi: Small round unleavened bread fried in oil.
  • Pach phoran: A spice mixture of consisting of five whole seeds used in equal proportions and fried in oil or ghee. The spices cam vary, but the mixture usually includes cumin, fennel or anise, nigella, fenugreek, and either wild celery (radhuni) or black mustard seeds.
  • Poroţa: Bread made from wheat flour and fried in the oven until golden-brown.
  • Paturi: Typically fish, seasoned with spices (usually shorshe) wrapped in banana leaves and steamed or roasted over a charcoal fire.
  • Polau (See Pilaf): Fragrant dish of rice with ghee, spices and small pieces of vegetables. Long grained aromatic rice is usually used, but some aromatic short grained versions such as Kalijira or Gobindobhog may also be used.
  • Pora: The word literally means charred. Vegetables are wrapped in banana leaves and roasted over a wood, charcoal or coal fire. Some vegetables with skin such as begun, are put directly on the flame or coals. The roasted vegetable is then mixed with onions, oil and spices.
  • Ruţi: Unleavened bread made in a tawa and puffed over an open flame.
  • Tôrkari: A general term often used in Bengal the way `curry' is used in English (it is speculated to be one of the origins of curry). Originally from Persian, the word first meant uncooked garden vegetables. From this it was a natural extension to mean cooked vegetables or even fish and vegetables cooked together.

Read more about this topic:  Bengali Cuisine

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