The cuisines of West Bengal are centered on fish, lentil and rice, but there are a wide variety of side dishes which adds richness to the Bengali cuisine. The people of West Bengal also eat a wide variety of vegetables as they are grown in plenty in the favourable climate and fertile soils of the state.
Fish, and especially fresh water fishes are cooked in diverse styles in West Bengal by steaming, frying, boiling, and stewing with vegetables and spices. Rohu, katla, bhetki and hilsa are the most popularly consumed fishes in West Bengal. Prawns and crabs are also favourites among the people of West Bengal. Prawn curry with coconut milk is a wonderful delicacy.
Normally, a typical Bengali lunch begins with a vegetable curry named shukto, which is followed by lentil and deep-fried potatoes and brinjals. Then the main course comes, which is normally a non-vegetarian dish. Though Bengalis take mutton and chicken, but they are particularly fond of fish dishes. The oil used predominantly in West Bengal cuisines is the mustard oil, which goes well with fish. The five main spices which are used in the Bengali cuisines are aniseed, fenugreek seed, black cumin seed, cumin seed and mustard. The concoction of the five spices is known as Panchphoran. Mangoes in the raw form are also used in large quantities in making sweet pickles, which sometimes accompany the main meal.
Desserts hold a special place in the Bengali cuisine. Many Bengali sweetmeats are enjoyed all over the country. Shôndesh, rôshogolla, pantua, chômchôm, malpoa and pithe are some of the famous sweet delicacies of the state.
Bengali food has been influenced by a large number of cultures, both South Asian and continental. A thing to note about the Bengali cuisine is the minimum usage of garlic and onion in the diet, as against the abundance of both ingredients in many of the food dishes in the rest of the Indian subcontinent.
Among the continental cuisines, chops and cutlets are very much popular in Kolkata, and are an integral part of the city's coffee house culture. Chinese food is also very much popular in Kolkata.
Last Updated On: 2011/07/12