The great Ghoti vs Bangal divide has always been left an indelible mark in every Bengali family. It is akin to a turmeric stain on your shirt, always reminding you about a particularly delicious meal. This divide can create a tussle across a variety of fields, be it a cup of Darjeeling tea, a discussion over music, literature and much more.
Ghotis and Bangals are from two different regions near Bengal. Ghotis refer to people who reside in districts such as Bardhaman, Bankura, Birbhum, Purba Medinipur, Paschim Medinipur and others west of the Hooghly river in West Bengal. On the other hand, people who came to West Bengal from Bangladesh are Bangals.
Differences in cuisines of Ghoti & Bangal
Ghotis enjoy eating sweet water fish such as Katla and Rohu, while the Bangals like a variety of fish. This also includes Shnutkis, which are dried and salted fishes cooked with many spices. You will find most ghotis running several kilometers away upon the smell of Shnutkis. Ghotis love eating prawns, which Bangals do not consider them as fishes. (Incidentally, a prawn is called Chingri Maach by Bengalis, the word “Maach” meaning fish.)
One fish that will never result in a Ghoti vs Bangal fight is the Hilsa. It is recognized as the symbol of their ethnicity by both communities. Though both of them enjoy Hilsa, the greater matter of debate is with regards to the river which produces a better variety- Hooghly or Padma (Bangladesh).
Football is a sport of great rivalry amongst Bengalis. During an East Bengal- Mohun Bagan match, if East Bengal wins, the Ghotis celebrate with prawn curry. However, when Mohan Bagan is declared a winner, Bangals ring in the celebrations with fish. Amongst various Bengali Ghoti recipes, Daab Chingri is a top dish.
Another culinary difference can be seen in the types of preferred breakfasts. Ghotis like to have luchis (deep-fried flatbreads) while a Bangal can have rice as the first meal of the day. In terms of dishes in general, Ghotis like their dishes to be sweet while the Bangals enjoy a much higher degree of spices, including green chillis.
Ghotis can sell their homes for Aloo Posto (potato curry with poppy seeds), quite literally. Many households in Bengal cannot have a single meal without it. Cooking vegetables have been made artistic by them, especially visible in dishes such as Shukto, Mochar Ghonto and Lau Chingri. Compared to this, Bangals enjoy chochhori (mixed vegetables) and meat/fish curries.
The Bangal vs Ghoti rivalry is one that has spanned across generations, as nothing more than a way of life. Over the years, many Ghotis have married Bangals and vice versa, resulting in one community seamlessly transforming into another as per wish.
Author: Mrs. Reema Tarafdar