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.
- Mix well.
- 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.