Machher Jhol, Ilisher Paturi, Rui Machher Kalia or Bhetki Fry- fish recipes, and needless to say, when it comes to Bengali food, there is an abundance of oils and spices used. Oils and spices, without it the taste blocks of quintessential Bengali cuisine can never come through. And this means, you also would be gulping down plenty of calories too; not only from oil, but the fact that the dishes prepared are so ravishingly heavenly, gluttony takes over making you eat more than you actually can.
Healthy Bengali food recipes that you can eat and not worry about the waistline too!
Let's begin with the Shukto
Shukto is made from spices and oil and with veggies. However, Shukto needs to have bitter gourd in it, which is bitter to taste but one of the most important ingredients of the dish. Dudh shukto is a very popular and healthy dish prepared in most Bengali homes on a Sunday afternoon, with milk added to it to help alleviate the taste of the preparation. From minerals to hydroxyl acid, the combo of bitter gourd and milk, keeps the body in good stead and the blood sugar levels in check.
Ilish maach bhaapa
Ilish or Hilsa fish is a must-have for the Bengalis around the world, and the dish Ilish maach bhaapa is made from the paste of mustard seeds. Healthy Ilish maach bhaapa is traditionally cooked in a closed tiffin container which is then steamed till the fish is done. Ilish maach bhaapa is enjoyed with a bowl of steamed white rice; a bowl falls short when the tasty Hilsa fish recipe is served, hence we give in to gluttony and forget where to stop. Hilsa is not only a delicious fish to munch on, but has plenty of omega 3 fatty acids in it too. It is a healthy affair, as the fish is steamed in the mustard seeds paste and very little oil is used in the entire preparation.
Plenty of veggies and rice with lentils; the good old Bengali khichudi is served at festivals and when someone is sick at home. But those aren't only the times when a plate of Bengali khichudi is served. Veggies (your choice) are chopped and placed with a cup of rice and half a cup of moong dal, and placed with butter or ghee in the cooker with spices, when the homemaker runs out of time for a nutritious meal to conjure. Plenty of vitamins, minerals, iron, folate and zinc in the preparation, here's a recipe to help you eat healthy and stay fit too.
You may have read about the blessing of the fish and bread by Lord Jesus in the Bible, which fed the millions who came to attend his preaching. One of the fish species mentioned in the miraculous feeding spree was the St. Peter's Fish or what the Bengali community knows as TILAPIA. The fish Tilapia is mild and sweet tasting, with plenty of omega 3 fatty acids in it, firm to touch and flaky or crisp when bitten into for a morsel to enjoy. With very low calories in it and no fats whatsoever to be worried about, Bengali moms are known for their amazing culinary skills conjuring the Tilapia chochori.
Bhojon Rashik Bangali or the food loving Bengali
This isn't a myth but a fact with people in Bengal, and testimony to the fact would be the Sunday markets spread all over the city- every nook and corner selling fresh fruits, veggies and non-vegetarian items. Have you ever been to a Bengali household and not been fed a wholesome meal of veg curries, fish preparations, dal fries and the quintessential shukto? And if that wasn't full-stop to the eating spree, some households ensure you have chicken and eggs with the signature tamarind or tomato chutney too. And finally, the desserts, from payesh (rice pudding) to rosogullas served- diet and calories be dammed! But with these four amazing healthy Bengali recipes, you sure wouldn't mind indulging in a few bites more!
Bhalo theko aar bhalo kheyo (stay healthy and eat well), says kakima!