Eating and Serving Bengali Food

Appears in

Bengali Cooking: Seasons & Festivals

Bengali Cooking

By Chitrita Banerji

Published 1997

The Bengali people are perhaps the greatest food lovers in the Indian subcontinent. A leisurely meal of many items which requires long hours of labour and ingenuity in the kitchen has long been as much a part of Bengali culture as ceremonial eating in France. The traditional way of serving food is on the floor, where individual pieces of carpet, called asans, would be spread for each person to sit on. In front of this seat would be placed a large platter, made of bell metal or silver depending on the family’s economic status. Around this platter would be arrayed a number of small metal or silver bowls in which portions of dal, vegetables, fish, meat, chutney and dessert would be served. In the centre of the platter there would be a small mound of piping hot rice flanked by vegetable fritters, wedges of lime, whole green chillies and perhaps a bit of pickle. Finally, in the centre of the mound a little hole would be made to pour in a spoonful of ghee or clarified butter to flavour the initial mouthfuls of rice.