With lush vegetables, flavorful seafood, hearty meat dishes and plenty of wholesome desserts, traditional Bengali cuisine is uniquely rich with something to offer everyone. A big part of experiencing Kolkata involves indulging in its rich local cuisine. To make sure you don’t miss out on what the city’s kitchens have to offer you, we’ve compiled this list of ten local dishes you should try while in Kolkata.
Fish is an integral component of Bengali cooking. Fried or curried and usually paired with rice, it makes for a delicious meal that seafood lovers should make sure not to miss out on while in Kolkata. Macher jhol is a traditional, spicy curry, which besides fish also includes potatoes and tomatoes. It is usually seasoned with turmeric, garlic, onions, and grated ginger.
This Bengali dessert consisting of fermented sweet yogurt is one of the area’s most famous culinary exports. While you can purchase packaged mishti doi in grocery stores across the country today, you should buy it fresh from one of Kolkata’s legendary sweet shops at least once.
This hearty mutton curry is yet another dish that originated in Bengal but which is now popular worldwide. The spicy curry is prepared with mutton, a range of vegetables (usually including tomatoes and onions) and a variety of spices.
Featuring potatoes cooked in a thick tomato gravy, this lip-smacking curry is considered Bengali-style comfort food. The dish is usually paired with a flatbread such as chapati or puri.
This deep-fried flatbread is probably Kolkata’s favorite carb treat. Made from maida flour—refined and bleached wheat flour—luchis are usually fried in oil or ghee until they’re crisp. Pair them with alur torkari or any other rich curry for a truly comforting Bengali snack.
A Bengali meal isn’t quite complete without a serving of this delicious lentil curry made from Bengal gram or chana dal. Thick, heavily spiced, and sweet, the dish is a hearty companion to luchis or other flatbreads like puri. The dish is also often paired with rice. Cholar dal can be enjoyed for breakfast or dinner—or can even just be eaten as a snack.
Shukto is another traditional Bengali meal and consists of a variety of vegetables—almost always including potato, pumpkin, bottle gourd and bitter gourd. Partly bitter and partly sweet, this dish can be paired with rice or a traditional flatbread.
Desserts play an important role in Bengali meals. Chomchoms (also called chum chums) are made of flour, cream, sugar, saffron, lemon juice and coconut flakes, and are usually served during festive season. The round, brownish sweet is not only popular in Kolkata but all over the country.
This super popular dessert, made from milk or cottage cheese and sugar, is one of the most abundant snacks you will come across in Kolkata. Molded into a variety of shapes from little balls to circular discs, these doughy and buttery sweets are the perfect way to end your traditional Bengali meal.
Perhaps the most known among Kolkata’s sweet dishes, Bengali rasgullas consist of balls of cottage cheese and semolina dough dipped in a sugary syrup. While most people in the subcontinent tend to associate rasgullas with Bengali cuisine, the state of Odisha claims to be the birthplace of this popular dish. Regardless, no culinary tour of Kolkata is complete without gulping down a couple of rasgullas!