Complex and varied as they are two essential flavours stand out in Bengali dishes: mustard and the unique five-spice blend panch-phoran.
Whole or ground fennel, fenugreek, nigella, cumin and lovage (or sometimes black mustard) seeds are used at the beginning of cooking to season hot oil, in the middle for depth of flavour or towards the end for a fragrant top-note
An essential aroma in cooking from the Bengal in Northern India and Bangladesh this spice blend can be used whole or ground at different stages of cooking
Whole spices are used to season hot oil at the start of cooking. Whole or ground spices are added later to be either incorporated into the dish or to offer an aromatic top-note. Five spice also makes a fragrant rub for roasted vegetables (and meats too, I hear)