Sunday, April 17, 2011

Traditional Bangali cuisine

The traditional society of Bengal has always been heavily agrarian; hunting, except by some local tribals, was uncommon. The rearing of animals, except cows was also not popular. This is reflected in the cuisine, which relies on staples like rice and dal, with little place for game or meat.
Fish is the dominant kind of protein, cultivated in ponds and fished with nets in the fresh-water rivers of the Ganges delta. More than forty types of mostly freshwater fish are common. Almost every part of the fish (except fins and innards) is eaten; the head and other spare parts are usually used to flavor curries. Beef, derived from domesticated cow,  khashi Mangsho (mutton from castrated baby goat), domesticated fowl and ducks are also the sources of protein.
Other characteristic ingredients of traditional Bangali food include rice, masur dal ( broken red lentils), moong dal (broken mung beans) , mustard oil, mustard paste, posto ( poppy seed) and coconut.
Another characteristic of Bangali food is the use of a unique cutting instrument, the bothi. It is a long curving blade on a platform that’s held down by foot; both hands are used to hold whatever is being cut and move it against the blade. The method gives excellent control, and can be used to cut anything from tiny shrimp to large pumpkins.
Traditional cuisine is very demanding in the kind of cuts of vegetable used in each dish, and using the wrong one is frowned upon. Further, different vegetables are usually cooked together; the wrong cuts can lead to some vegetables remaining raw or other overcooked.

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