Monday, June 09, 2014

B is for Beguni, Begun Bhaja and Bori

For the next letter in the A-Z of Bengali Cuisine, B, most of the readers said Beguni, a very popular Bengali snack, where slices of eggplant are dipped in a chickpea flour(besan) batter and deep fried.

Beguni -- a very popular bengali snack

Eggplants or Brinjals are known as begun in Bengali and so all things that are cooked with begun came a close second and third in the B-series.

Begun Bhaja -- slices of eggplant shallow fried in oil.

Begun Pora -- Roasted eggplant Bengali style

I could not leave Bandhakopi'r Ghonto out of the B series though no one really mentioned it. But trust me, this cabbage dish is very much a part of the Bengali culture and household.

Borar Jhol -- Lentil fritters in a gravy is another of my favorite dish with the letter B.

Another important part of Bengali cooking that starts with a B is "Bori". Bori is a sun-dried lentil dumpling made of ground lentil paste. The ritual of "preparing bori" called "bori deoa" is (or rather was) an age old custom among Bengali women during the autumn and winter months when the sun was warm and strong but not scorching. Women of the household led by the most senior member would bathe early at dawn and then immerse themselves in the task of bori making. It was a ritual made almost sacred with its demands on sanctity.

Large quantities of lentils were ground on the sil-nora, then seasoned and whipped early in the morning. Then large expanse of a washed and dried cloth, usually a washed and dried sari would be set out on the terrace, its edges secured by rectangular pieces of red brick. On this cloth, the women would put scoops of the lentil paste, ensuring a peak at the center of the dumpling. The couple of times I have been involved in this activity dates back to the times my grandmother was around. I remember her telling us to make boris with sharper center peaks, the incentive being that the one whose bori had the sharpest peak would have a sharp nosed husband.

For us children, the main task however was to keep away the birds and crows from pecking at the dumpling while they dried in the sun. Once the dumplings had soaked in the autumn or winter sun and dried to a crispy brittleness, they were gently picked from the cloth and stored in containers. On days when fish or other vegetables were rare, these boris would be fried a crispy reddish brown and served as a side with dal or dunked in the broth of "jhol".

I have never tried making them at home and always depend on the stash that friends carry from India. My Mother will never ever carry "bori" or "pickles" during travel as she thinks it brings bad luck during journey!!! But a blogger friend KichuKhon makes them in the oven and it might be a good try for anyone attempting it at home

Bori in the Oven from KichuKhonn

In some regions of Bengal, bori making is more of an art than a mere ritual. The patterns and designs are so exquisite that these are called "Goyna Boris" or "Noksha Boris" as the lentil dumplings have beautiful patterns like jeweleries. There is more about these boris in the blog Homemaker's Diary-Goyna Bori.


  1. Hi BongMom
    I've been a regular reader for a long long while now...just haven't really left a comment. I really love the way you write, I enjoy all your stories and your blog is a delight to visit :-)
    Just wanted to mention - I know you meant 'sacred' in one of the sentences in this post, it reads 'scared', spell check missed it ;-)

  2. That reminds me, I brought these back from my recent trip home, not sure if I kept them in the fridge or in the pantry where there are ant attacks everyday.

  3. hi, loved your cooking. I am from varanasi so i have a thing with bengali food. Our website just started in Gurgaon and trust me how much i am disappointed due to unavailability of good bengali food in Gurgaon for our website which is

    Aishwarya Ranjan
    BD Manager

  4. HI,
    This looks yummy, wanna try it out
    Thanks for sharing !


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