Now that Ganeshotsav is over, it is time to look forward to Navratri and Durga Puja. I have been thinking of a range of dishes to make to celebrate these festivals and I kick-off the series with the recipe for a traditional Bengali favourite called Chaler Payesh.
It is a delectable Bengali Rice Kheer and I find that there is nothing better than a cup of chilled kheer to round-off a festive meal. I found that this recipe is pretty much the same as the South Indian Pal Payasam or the Andhra Paramannam. It is the rice we use (traditionally Gobindobhog or basmati as a substitute) and the bay leaf that makes it a touch different.
I was not able to buy Gobindobhog rice is small quantities and so used basmati to make this Payesh.
Making the Chaler Payesh once again reminded me of how similar festive dishes and comfort foods are across the length and breadth of India.
With Durga Puja festivities in the air, Bengali food is on my mind. Today I present Shukto, which is a whole load of vegetables cooked in a mustard and poppy seed paste and milk. The result is a very different tasting vegetable that tastes phenomenal with hot rice and ghee. My colleagues at work polished it off and asked for the recipe immediately. 🙂
What I loved about Shukto was that it used loads and loads of vegetables, just like Avial from Tamil Nadu or Pindi Miriyam from Andhra Pradesh. Also, it is very lightly spiced with just some ginger and Panch Phoran, yet rich because of the Mustard and Poppy Seed paste and milk that is used in cooking.
I love Navratri in general. It is a time when Mumbai is all aglow with colour, and there is song, and dance in the air. Towards the end of the Navratri period comes this festival of Durga Puja,that is very special to Bengalis and others in East India. This is a collection of Durga Puja Recipes to celebrate this holy festival.
Bengalis do everything with passion. This reflects in everything they do at Durga Puja; be it the Pujo and Anjali; the way they dress up; and in the food that is served. Food at Durga Puja is simply divine of course, because it is blessed and is Prasad. It also reflects the richness and the generosity of the Bengali spirit. Each dish is laden with goodness, whether it is the simple Khichuri or the delectable Rosogulla.
I have just a few recipes and hope to grow this collection of Durga Puja Recipes as time goes by.
When I first read about the Bengali Tomato Khejur Aamshottor Chutney, I wanted to try it that instant. Much water has flown under the bridge and I finally got round to making this delectable Bengali Style Tomato, Date, Mango Leather Chutney this past week.
I also think the timing is perfect because Durga Puja is just around the corner.
As I read the recipe for this chutney I tried to imagine its taste. While I realised that it would be sweet, I was not quite prepared for the tangy-sweet chutney with achari undertones because of the Panch Phoran. Absolutely delightful. I would also recommend that you savour this delicious Bengali Tomato Khejur Aamshottor Chutney a day after it is made so that all the flavours are well-infused.
The Bengali Tomato, Date, Mango Leather Chutney is such delight to the palate and I can only wonder at why I waited this long to try it.
Mishti Doi is one of my favourite Bengali desserts. Yes, I love the Payesh, Rosogulla, Kancha Gola, and more, but there is something about the caramel-flavoured Mishti Doi that I cannot resist.
One of the best places to find great Mishti Doi is at Durga Puja. It is one of my favourite festivals and I make it to Anjali at least once during the festivities; and of course, the Bhog. I absolutely love the Bhoger Khichuri or Niramish Khichuri and Begun Bhaja combination that is often served at the Bhog. Now that I have mastered these dishes I make them often at home on non-Pujo occasions as well. 🙂 I try to round-off the Bhog with Mishti Doi, which I made at home from scratch yesterday.
It turned out to be quite simple and very delicious. I wonder why I did not try it sooner. Mishti Doi is nothing but sweetened yogurt made with reduced milk to which caramelized sugar is added. The result is a wonderful dessert that I could eat all day long.