|This map is take from www.portcities.org.uk|
Bengal ( Bengali: বাংলা Bangla (help·info) or বঙ্গ Bôngo) is a historical and geographical region in the northeast region of the Indian Subcontinent at the apex of the Bay of Bengal. Today, it is mainly divided between the sovereign land of People's Republic of Bangladesh (previously East Bengal / East Pakistan) and the Indian state of West Bengal. The majority of Bengal is inhabited by Bengali people (বাঙালি Bangali) who speak the Bengali language (বাংলা Bangla). (Source: Wikipedia, for further details please go here).
Since major chunks of Bengal lie in the Gangetic delta, one of the key crops of the area is paddy. The verdant inland water bodies are rich in fish and the lush tropical climate makes sure that there are abundance of vegetables and fruits throughout the year.
Staple diet of the area is rice and fresh water fish and Bengalis swear by it. Also Bengalis are known for their sweet tooth. Bengal has been ruled by the Afgans, Mughals, British over the many centuries and this has had a profound impact on the food. From the Mughals we have learnt the art of Mughlai cuisine and because of the British influence we have given birth to a whole new cuisine called the Anglo Indian food. We have taken British classics like fish and chips, mutton cutlet, lamb chops to name a few and given it a Bengali make over!
After the tragic partition in 1947, the two parts of Bengal have moved in two directions, western part came to be known as West Bengal/Poschim Bangla (not very imaginative!) and is a part of India. The eastern part joined Pakistan and eventually gained their independence in 1971 and came to be known as Bangladesh. Different nationalities and an international border could not take away the commonalities in language, culture, cuisine et al. However after 60 years of separation, the two parts of Bengal have moved in different directions and though our foods are basically the same, there are some differences. For example names of dishes vary though the dish may be the same, what is known as aloo bhat ee (mashed potato) in West bengal is called aloo bhorta in Bangladesh. Also some dishes are more popular in one part of Bengal like Bhuna Khichuri and Kaachi Biriyani are widely popular in Bangladesh but not in West Bengal.
In this space, cooks from both parts of Bengal come together to talk about Bengali cuisine and share some recipes.