Bengali Wedding Dinner: Spice of Bengal
SPICE OF BENGAL
With the Bengali wedding season going on Calcuttans have started booking caterers,& planning menus, Bengalis are known for their hospitality. Wedding dinner plays a major part in Bengali weddings. Bengali cuisine is renowned for it’s rich & spicy taste.
In olden days Bengali wedding menus were very typical. For example the menu starts with rice accompanied by Moong Dal followed by Alu Bhaja, or Beguni ( brinjal deep fried in split Bengal gram flour batter ), Chanchra ( a typical mixed vegetable curry with fish head), Ruhu Fish Kalia , a gravy sweet water fish preparation followed by a sweet Pulao & rich Mutton curry, Tomato Chutney, papad. Sweet dishes like sweet curd,Rasogolla, sandesh are served . After dessert the sweet tooth need a change so pan ( a little betel leaf with nut ) wrapped in banana leaves is served. Lemon slices & salt are also served.
Traditionally dinner used to be served on banana leaves & water in a Khuri ( terracotta tumblers ). Usually it has been a practice among Bengali households that the food is served by young members of the household’s relations & associates. Cooks were hired from places like Uriyapara, Sovabazar ,Kalighat etc. The most interesting aspect of Bengali wedding parties are the cooks ,who used to come from Orissa.
Till now ,the recipes for the best preparations, customized for Bengali weddings lie with them. With the advent of multistoried buildings & small families, Bengalis are now engaging caterers & traditional sit down dinners are replaced by exotic buffet spreads. As usual the menus have also changed. With spices & seasonings which are the vital core of Bengali cuisine, garnishing & presentation have become amazing nowadays. Salad bars with different type of salads are very popular with no taboos dictated by religion. Though it is a fact that Bengali muslims prefer to remain more or less traditional in their choice with Paratha ,Chicken Champ ,Mutton Biriyani , Burhani (a ghol made with sour curd , mint leaves, chat masala, cumin powder etc ) followed by firni as desserts.
Here is an example of a modern Bengali wedding menu. It starts with Naan,Dal Makhni ,Veg Jhalfreizi, ,Fish Paturi ( a real Bengali delicacy-boneless bekti marinated with ground coconut, white mustard paste,& black mustard paste ,mustard oil ,ground green chillies steamed after wrapped in banana leaves .
An array of salads in a well decorated salad bar with ice carving in the center. Then comes pulao or fried rice accompanied by Fish Begum Bahar ,Mutton Chilly Coconut Fry or Chicken Bagdadi. Prawn is very rarely seen nowadays in Bengali wedding mainly because of high cost. Fruit chutney & Papad is served. Traditional sweet dishes are replaced by ice cream with Chocolate sauce or Orange sauce, hot Gulab Jamun & hot Jalebi . Pans are served from a pan stall put up at the pandal or hall where you can get your choice of Zarda.