Sharada Navratri or Devi Navratri is one of the most important festivals and is celebrated across almost all parts of India. These 9 nights/10 days (navratri = nine nights) are dedicated to various forms of the Devi or the Goddess.
On each of the 9 days, the Devi is worshipped in a different form. In Andhra Pradesh, one way of celebrating Navratri is to worship Navdurga or the 9 forms of Durga. There is a different naivedyam offered each day. I have used the information from the Kanaka Durga Temple in Vijayawada as the primary source for the naivedyam to be offered.
In addition, each day has a specific colour associated with it. This information I got on whatsapp. 🙂 I have combined the two to create the table shown below.
In addition, in most South Indian and Maharashtrian homes, married women invite other married women and offer “tamboolam”. Along with the taboolam, normally sundal is given as prasadam.
After many years of trying, M and I finally went together for Durga Puja this year. I must confess that all the trying was on M‘s part and I was always the person who dropped out. When I finally made it to the Pujo this year and experienced the Anjali in all its glory, I was moved beyond words. The experience was something so different from my usual Pandal hopping.
Thank you, M, and may you never stop trying with me!
I have known M for close to 8 years now, having met her during a 1-year executive management program conducted by IIM-Calcutta. She and I were the only ladies in the Mumbai batch, but I think we became instant fast friends is that we are so very alike in thought and deed. And the instant click with her extended family certainly made the bond stronger! 🙂
Two of our common interests are spirituality and food. It is with M that I attended my first ever Bengali Saraswati Puja, while M and her family came to Siddhi Vinayak for the first time with me. As for food, well, M and her mom are both the most amazing cooks I have ever known. The Omeletter Jhol or Bengali Omelette Curry that I blogged eons ago is one of M’s many contributions to my culinary repertoire.
Anyway, coming back to the Durga Puja story, after the Anjali, M and I stood patiently in a long line for the bhog which was piping hot and most divine Khichuri. While I have had Bengali Khichuri many, many times, there is something about Bhoger Khichuri or Khichuri offered as Bhog that is special. I guess that is true of all naivedyams; they somehow taste different and divine. The Bhoger Khichuri is a Niramish Khichuri, which means it is a vegetarian Khichuri. It is also a version that does not use any onion or garlic.
The Ramakrishna Mission Durga Pujo is generous in its serving of the Bhoger Khichuri, but I was left craving for more. So this Saturday, I made the Niramish Khichuri with one of its traditional accompaniments, Baigun Bhaja. What a treat it was as a Saturday lunch!
How to Make Bengali Bhoger Khichuri | Niramish Khichuri with Baigun Bhaja
Moong Dal or Husked Green Gram – 1 Cup
Govindobhog Rice or Any Other Short-Grained Rice – 1 Cup
Potatoes – 2 Large
Cauliflower Florets – 1 Cup
Peas – 1/2 Cup
Tomato – 1 Large (Optional)
Grated Fresh Ginger- 1 tbsp
Roasted Cumin Powder – 1 tsp
Red Chilli Powder – 1/2 tsp
Turmeric Powder – 1 tsp
Sugar – 1/4 tsp
Bay Leaves – 2
Cumin Seeds – 1 tsp
Cloves – 4
Cinnamon – 2″ stick
Green Cardamom – 3
Red Chillies – 2
Mustard Oil – 1/4 Cup
Salt to Taste
Wash the rice well and soak it in 2 Cups water.
In a heavy-bottomed wok or kadhai, over medium heat, dry roast the moong dal till it just starts to change color.
Peel and chop the potatoes into 1″ cubes.
Chop the tomato into fine pieces.
In a large wok or degchi (heavy bottomed vessel), heat the mustard oil till it starts smoking.
Turn the heat down to medium and wait till the oil stops smoking.
Add the potatoes and cauliflower florets, and fry till they just start to turn brown.
Take the potato pieces and cauliflower florets, and set them aside.
To the same oil, add the cumin seeds and stir-fry for a minute.
Add cloves, cinnamon, bay leaves, green cardamom, and whole red chillies.
Stir-fry for 2 minutes.
Turn the heat to low.
Add cumin powder, red chilli powder, and grated ginger.
Stir-fry for one minute.
Add the tomato and fry for a 2-3 minutes.
Add the roasted moong dal and stir-fry for 2-3 minutes.
Add 2 Cups of water and cover the vessel.
Turn the heat to medium-high.
After 5 minutes, the water will start to simmer.
Add the cauliflower, potato, and peas.
Cover and cook for 5 minutes. Stir occasionally.
Add the rice along with the water and turmeric powder.
Cover and cook, stirring occasionally till the rice and dal are of mashable consistency. Add water, if required.
Add the salt and sugar. Mix well.
Serve Niramish Khichuri hot with a generous helping of ghee and Baigun Bhaja.
Do not use Basmati rice to make this khichuri. Use any short-grained rice that is available; Govindobhog is recommended.
Use mustard oil as much as possible. Heating mustard oil to its smoking point makes it change color and lose the strong raw mustard odour. Without mustard oil, the Bhoger Khichuri loses a certain je ne sais quois. 🙁
Many recipes I have seen fry the peas with the potatoes and cauliflower. I add peas when I do so that they retain their color.
You could add 1/4 tsp of Garam Masala at the very end.
Paramannam literally means the Ultimate Food (Param-Annam) or the food fit for gods. And it truly is.
You can make Paramannam (also called Paravannam) with Bellam (Jaggery or Gur) or with Panchadara (Sugar or Shakkar). Bellam Paramannam is a great favourite with my father and one of the many naivedyams offered during Navaratri.
Rice – 1/2 Cup
Full-fat Milk – 1 Cup
Grated Jaggery – 1/4 Cup
Ghee – 1 tbsp
Cashews – 6 to 8
Wash the rice thoroughly.
To a large vessel, add rice and milk.
Pressure cook for 3 to 4 whistles till the rice is well-cooked.
When the pressure cooker has cooled, take the cooked rice out.
Mash the rice lightly with a heavy ladle.
Let the rice cool.
In a heavy bottomed vessel, heat the ghee.
Split and add the cashew pieces to the ghee.
Fry the cashews till light brown.
Add 1/4 Cup water to the ghee and cashews.
Bring to a boil.
Add the grated jaggery.
Over medium heat, stir the jaggery continuously till it forms a thick syrup.
Turn off the heat and let the jaggery syrup cool.
When both the syrup and the rice are lukewarm, mix them together.
Offer as naivedyam and enjoy as prasadam. 🙂
Never add hot milk to jaggery syrup, or milk to hot jaggery syrup. The milk will curdle.
The jaggery syrup should be “one string” consistency. To test:
Dip a spoon in the jaggery syrup.
Place the rounded side of the spoon on a flat plate.
As you gently lift the spoon, the syrup should form a thin string.
Today was the first day of Sharada Navaratri and what a lovely day it was. Today, I made Ksheerannam for naivedyam. Ksheerannam is a solider version of the Pal Payasam as it uses much more rice and is also richer than Paravannam, a lighter milk-and-rice puddingmade in Andhra Pradesh.
It is fairly labour intensive but the results are absolutely worth it. The slow cooking of the rice in the milk releases a lot of starch into the milk and this makes the Ksheerannam absolutely creamy and rich.
Some of the best Ksheerannam I have had is at the Venkateshwara Temple in Phanaswadi, Mumbai.
Full-fat Milk – 6 Cups
Rice – 1 Cup
Sugar – 1 Cup
Saffron Strands – 16-20
Cashews – 15
Ghee – 1 tbsp
Wash the rice.
Drain the water completely and set aside.
In a heavy-bottomed vessel, boil the milk along with the saffron.
When the milk boils, turn the heat to medium to high.
Add the rice.
Cook while stirring continuously till the rice is cooked. (This will take about 40-45 minutes)
When the milk is absorbed and the rice is cooked, turn of the heat.
Add the sugar and mix well till the sugar is absorbed.
Split the cashews in half.
In a ladle, heat the ghee.
Add the cashew pieces and fry till light brown.
Add to the Ksheerannam.
Offer as Naivedyam and enjoy as Prasadam. 🙂
Stir continuously after adding the rice. Else, the rice will stick to the bottom.
Resist the temptation to turn the heat to high in an attempt to cook the Ksheerannam faster. You will only succeed in burning it or then having half-cooked rice.
Do not add sugar in the beginning as the Ksheerannam will burn quickly.
It is a rather heavy dessert, so have in small portions.