Wondering if any differences exist between Indian food and Bangladeshi food? We are here to decode the differences in the two cuisines which seem to be similar.
Be it Bangladesh or India, Bengalis on both sides of the border speak the same language. It is hard to distinguish between the two.
However, you enter into the kitchen and the ocean of carefully veiled differences lay open in front of you. There is a stark contrast in the cooking styles of the two regions.
Many factors influenced the two communities, that were one once, differently. Hence, leading to two entirely disjoint cuisines. Some of these factors include geography, religion, availability of fish, use of spices, etc.
Geography plays a vital role in the culinary field too. West Bengal region is surrounded by many tributaries and rivers. Also, there is the Bay of Bengal on the coast for both the countries.
However, the availability of freshwater fishes in Bengal was high. People prefer fishes and eggs over meat options like chicken.
This choice reflects in a dish as basic as Biryani. If you visit West Bengal, you will find fish biryani everywhere instead of the otherwise famous chicken and mutton biryani.
Since Bangladesh is not as rich in the river department, freshwater fishes are replaced by seafood like prawns, loitte, and Bombay duck. They relish on fishes only in the months of Aug-Sept when the prices dip.
Also, the way of cooking fish is different in both regions. All Bengalis love Hilsa. Hilsa is a type of herring found in the sea. However, the way of cooking defines the border.
Indian Bengalis believe in relishing its distinct flavors. They prepare simple curries using nigella seeds and aubergines or steam it in a mustard paste without onion or garlic.
Whereas the Bangladeshi counterparts cannot imagine cooking hilsa without onion or garlic. They have many ways of cooking the fish but each of them involves a lot of onions and garlic.
Bangladesh is a country where most of the population follows Islam. This clearly shows when it comes to culinary choices too.
The most basic being the choice and availability of meat. In West Bengal, seafood, chicken, mutton, and eggs are the preferred choices for non-vegetarian food.
In Bangladesh, all types of meat like chicken, mutton, pork, beef, goat-meat are easily available and also widely consumed.
Another interesting fact is that Islam forbids alcohol. Hence, it is difficult to find alcohol around in Bangladesh. In India, it is rather easy as India is a hub of all religions.
Just like the food, Bangladesh borrows sweets from the Arabic and Persian cuisine as well. Ingredients such as vermicelli, pistachios, almonds, and dry fruits are directly imported from the Gulf countries, to be used in sweets.
Use of Spices
There is a tremendous amount of difference when we talk about using various spices in both regions. Many are regular on one side whereas the other doesn’t even use them.
- Poppy Seeds: Ingredients like poppy seeds are essential to the Indian side whereas they are used in Bangladeshi cuisine only to thicken the gravy.
- Cloves: In India, homemade garam masala includes a generous amount of cloves. On the other hand, Bangladeshis do not use cloves at all.
- Chilies: Bangladeshi cuisine is known for its hottest dishes in the world. Their food is very spicy. The Indian counterpart mostly skips the chilies.
While Indian Bengali cuisine is more on the subtle side, Bangladeshi cuisine focuses on spices a lot more. Even the leafy veggies are first tempered with onion, garlic, and green chilies before being used in the main course.
Bangladeshi food outlets serve white rice, while Indians prefer Basmati rice. Similarly, breads are also made with white wheat flour in Bangladesh.
Even the dals are not runny like Indian Bengali cuisine but rather cooked in a semi-dry style to give more spicy texture.
Bhorta is a unique technique in Bangladeshi cooking. In this, the main ingredient is first boiled/smoked/roasted and then mixed with the masala. After this process, no further cooking is done.
The whole idea is to eliminate food wastage as Bhorta can be applied to anything like fish, meat, eggs, fruits, vegetables, and even nuts.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Indian Bengalis do not like too spicy food. Their food is considered to be moderate and even sweet at times.
For long, Bengal would repeatedly be flooded during the rainy season. No vegetation would be available except seafood. Hence, Bengali Brahmins termed fish as Jalapushpam. It is a pure situational contingency.
Eating with hands is not native to just Bengalis or Bangladeshis, people all over India and Asia eat with their hands. It is purely a personal choice.
Bangladesh is a neighboring country of India on the eastern border. It is also inhabited by Bengalis, therefore, there is a common misconception that they are similar.
However, there many differences between the two. All these variances are a result of various factors including religion and geography. The signature dishes of Bengalis as a whole are mostly the same.
The differences in the cuisine lie in the way they are cooked and the ingredients used to cook. At the end of the day, the cuisines have their peculiarities that stand apart.
If this article helped you understand the nuances of the two cuisines, do spread the love. Share it with your friends and family.
Meet the literarian of our group! She loves crafts, paintings, poetry, food, and can lip-sync dialogues from F.R.I.E.N.D.S all day. The world of words fascinates her, a true logophile. A typical millennial with an old touch.