Sunday, October 10, 2010
When the day of Mahalaya comes, it brings the message, “Pujo eshaa gelo”, and that starts the countdown of the arrival of the Durga Puja. Memories start appearing just like moving on the reverse gear. And the present beckons...eagerness and enthusiasm play their roles so modestly. In North India the festive fervour also warms up as this day marks the beginning of Navratri.
The day of the Mahalaya draws special attention among the Bengalis as it is the beginning of the Durga Puja festivities. This day brings with it some sweet memories...sitting near the radio early in the morning and listening to Birendra Krishna Bhadra’s Sanskrit recitation of the Mahishasura Mardini which was broadcast by All India Radio Calcutta at 4 a.m.
A sudden change in the air is felt from the day of the Mahalaya. The morning air becomes cool an indication of Sharat and the blooming of the Shuili flowers also indicates the coming of the Pujas. These flowers spread their sweet smell all around at night.
From my puja room
Ma was very particular to start the annual cleaning of the home well before the arrival of the Mahalaya. For once the day of Mahalaya arrived she would get very busy. The tailor came and sat stitching away our Puja dresses...at least 5 new dresses for the five days starting from Sashthi, to Saptami, to Ashtami, moving on to Navami and then the last day of the Pujas, the great Bijoya Dashami.
How can I forget all the food that was cooked at home? The sweets were so special...rosogollas, bonde, payesh, rosmalai...and we entered the store room to eat whatever we wanted. There were no restrictions at all. And so many kinds of Goja’s she made...mishti (sweet) and nonta (namkeen)...
The sound of the Dhaks is so important for Durga Puja. The Dhakis dancing away with the beating on their Dhaks...the sound is so special and magical. The Sondher Aaroti followed by Dhunochi Nach has a place of its own for the 4 days of the Pujas. But the festive fervour and gusto is gone once Ma Durga is immersed. And then we wait for the next Pujo to come.
Though lifestyle has changed a lot in these present days, Durga Puja still carries the same spirit as it was in the past.
Recollecting Pujo memories brought tears to my eyes...of the good old days and not sad ones. Today I would like to share my Khinchudi Karaishuti Diye with you all. This is in my Puja menu list.
For this we need:
Mung dal: 1 cup dry roasted to dark pink
Rice: 1 cup
Green peas: ¾ cup (frozen or fresh)
Haldi powder: 1 tsp
Jeera powder: ½ tsp
Dhania powder: ½ tsp
Red chili powder: ½ tsp
Salt to taste
Sugar: as per your taste
Ghee or any refined oil; 2 ½ tbsp
Water: 4 ½ cups
Mix the dal and rice and wash it. Place the pressure pan on the burning stove. Add the ghee or cooking oil. Once it is hot add the rice and dal and stir fry for 3-4 minutes. Simmer the stove and add all the spices and stir again. Let the spices mix up well. This will take a couple of minutes. Now add salt and cook for 1-2 minutes. Time to add the green peas and increase the flame and keep stirring. Now add water and sugar and place the lid.
3-4 whistles and the Khichudi is done. Once the pressure cooker cools down open and serve it hot with begun bhaja or aloo bhaja. Don’t forget to pour some ghee on the top while serving.
This is simple and takes so little time to cook. This can be also be cooked in a dekchi also but it is time consuming.
My best wishes to you all for the coming Pujas and hope all of you enjoy the festive days with lots of fun and good food.
Re-posting two recipes:
Aloo-r chop, find here
Nalen Gurer Payesh, read here
You can also relish the Allo-r Chop as an evening snack for the Pujas and Chaler payesh. Find it here.
Sending this to Pree's Beyond five Days of Durga Puja.
Friday, October 8, 2010
The Pujo atmosphere has gathered me in its arms with a feeling that is so different and something that I yearn for at this time of the year. There are so many thoughts that get together even much before the Pujas come to the doorstep with a knock.
Ask any Bangali (Bengali) about Pujo and see the excitement in the eyes. That’s been happening to me of late and in the preparation for the coming days...enthusiasm tops the list with more things to follow.
Long time I posted on my food blog. For today it is the Bhindi Bhaja. This is more so as some young girls...beginners in the kitchen art...wanted to know about this preparation. I had told them it was very simple and more or so less effortless from many dishes that are cooked at home.
I hope this simple and easy dish will make some of them happy.
Bhindi/Lady’s Finger/Dhe(n)rosh in Bengali: ½ Kg. Wash them whole and then cut into 1 inch long pieces.
Onion: 2. Slice thinly.
Tomato: 1. Washed and chopped.
Cooking oil: 2 ½ tbsp (I’ve used mustard oil, any cooking oil will do)
Haldi powder: ¾ ts
Red chilli powder: ½ tsp (optional)
Salt: To taste
Place the kadhai/wok on the burning stove. Add the oil and once the smoke starts rising add the sliced onions and stir. Simmer the flame and once the firmness of the onion starts breaking down add the chopped tomatoes and stir fry.
After 3-4 minutes the tomatoes will become mushy. Time to add the bhindi pieces and increase the flame. Give it a stir and cover with a lid. Open the lid and stir from time to time for 2-3 minutes. Now add salt, haldi powder, red chilli powder (if you want it a bit spicy). Cover and simmer the flame again and let it cook in its own juices that are released and in between make sure to remove the lid to stir and cook so that all the ingredients get cooked evenly. This will take about 8-10 minutes to be fully cooked and served.
Relish it with hot rotis or with rice and dal. Sometimes a simple dish can make all the difference.