The flavours of Bengal are subtle and aromatic; a blend of Nigella, Fennel, Fenugreek, Cumin and Mustard.

Bengali food inspires images of a colourful land that embraces eclectic flavours and cultures. I was lucky enough to spend time in Kolkata, where I was warmly welcomed by friendly people. I was even treated to breakfast by the local community cricket team.

This stew is packed full of goodness and subtle flavours from the carefully constructed spice blend. It is a full-bodied stew that will leave you begging for seconds.

The secret to the flavour is the dry frying of the whole seeds. This enlivens the flavours, bringing out a rich and deep taste. The recipe also asks for a teaspoon of turmeric, which is highly recommended within Happy Food. The quarter teaspoon quantity is the average consumption within the Indian diet, of which turmeric is central to its health supporting claims. 

The body of the stew is made up of organic goodness from fresh vegetables and dried split peas, which add the fibre and nutrients needed to make this a fully balanced and nutritious meal.

Finally, eaten with rice or grains and you have the all the amino acids needed for a complete protein.


Bengali Stew
Recipe Type: Main
Cuisine: Indian
Author: Happy Food
Prep time:
Cook time:
Total time:
Serves: 4
A stew with a subtle blend of Bengali spices and lentils. The spice seeds are left whole to infuse their flavour into the stew
  • 1 cup of Split Peas or Lentils, red, green or yellow
  • 1/2 teaspoon Nigella seeds
  • 1/2 teaspoon Mustard seeds
  • 1/2 teaspoon Cumin seeds
  • 1/2 teaspoon Fennel seeds
  • 1/2 teaspoon Fenugreek seeds
  • 1 teaspoon Turmeric
  • 500g seasonal Vegetables – Potatoes, Carrots, Onion, Roots, Greens, Peas – Any work well.
  1. Soak the Split Peas, from a few hours to overnight
  2. Drain the Split Peas
  3. Add the Split Peas to 3 cups of water and bring to boil
  4. Boil for 15 – 20 minutes
  5. Meanwhile, dry fry the seeds until they begin the brown.
  6. Add the seeds and the Turmeric to the Split Peas
  7. Chop the vegetables and add to the stew
  8. Add more water, as needed, and continue to cook the stew until Split Peas are thoroughly cooked, about 20 – 30 minutes.
  9. Season with salt and pepper, to taste
  10. Serve over rice or with crusty sourdough bread


This recipe was inspired by Chris and Caroline Caldicott’s The Spices Routes

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