Bengali cuisine is a culinary style originating in the Bengal region in the eastern part of the Indian subcontinent, which is divided between Bangladesh and the Indian states of West Bengal, Tripura, and Assam’s Barak valley. There is an emphasis on fish, vegetables and lentils served with the staple rice.
Many Bengali food traditions draw from previously middle-class activities, such as Adda or Annaprashan. Bengali cuisine is known for its varied use of flavors, as well as the spread of its confectioneries and desserts.
In Hindu patriarchal tradition, widows are not allowed to eat foods that would not be classified as bitter, necessitating experiment and innovation while most Bengali castes ate meat and fish, this was barred for widows.
Widows also could not use heating foods such as shallots and garlic, but the ginger was allowed. This style found a caring place in Bengali curries in general, both vegetarian and non-vegetarian.
Expensive spices, such as Saffron, Cinnamon, or Cloves were used very sparingly if at all. Nuts, dry fruits, milk, and milk products (such as Cream, Ghee, or Curd) were similarly scarce.
These economic and social restrictions influenced Bengali widows to create a brand new set of meals that utilized only vegetables and cheap spices.
Any Bengali, particularly those who have grown up in parts of the Bengal province, has always faced the question of whether he/she is Bengal or Ghoti.
The river Padma is significant in Bengal’s cultural, social, and economic behaviors and it is this that also reflects in Bengal’s rich culinary history that has predominantly relied on agriculture, like most of India, Kolkata flourished as a hub of trade and prosperity from early days.
Hence, what we know as the typical Bengali food in today’s commercial sense is more often the fare that was developed and consumed in West Bengal, with Kolkata as its epicenter.