Don't miss out on home-made goodies
The sound of drums, sight of smoke, a faint scent of incense sticks and ulu (a peculiar sound made with the help of tongue by Bengali women) all come together with the onset of Durga Puja or Pujo. But apart from these, what Pujo brings to mind is the Bengali dream food!
Like any other festival, Durga Puja brings with it, a horde of traditional delicacies that Bengalis and even Assamese make at home and even take to the pandals to share with other members of the community. The trick is to make what a lady is best at and serves two purposes – showing off her cooking skills and the praise it gathers. Of utmost priority, however, is great food made home-style.
Some start with simple recipes like chicken cutlets and eggs and make their way to complicated ones. Oaindrila Banerjee, a marketing professional says, “My mother makes cutlets for me which are stuffed with chicken breast and potato. To take to the pandal she makes gugni which is made of chickpeas and serves it with luchi - a puri made of refined flour or maida.”
From snack to main course followed by desserts, some make almost everything to celebrate the occasion. Some just love the patishapta (rolls made of rice flour stuffed with grated coconut and khoya) and kosha mangsho (chicken in thick gravy).
Juthika Das, a homemaker who makes traditional delicacies and takes them to the pandal every year shares, “Patishapta and kosha mangsho are a must during Pujo. Also, during Aanando Mela, which falls on the fifth day of Navratri, we make sandesh and puli pithe. The latter is a roll that has a cover of rice flour and stuffed with coconut. It is then dipped in a thick gravy of milk and jaggery.”
Has your mouth started watering yet? There is more to add to this list of delicacies.
If one opts for a thali, then one shall get dhokar dalna (steamed cakes made of dal - and similar to gatte ki sabji from Rajasthan); begun bhaja; aloo bhaja; muger dal; rice and lal saag with tamatar ki chutney and payesh (kheer). Ruby Banerjee, another home maker says, “On shashti ( the sixth day), we make kachoris and samosas, which are little sweet and stuffed with vegetables along with potato. These are made by a group of housewives in the pandal itsel.”
And after the idol visarjan, the victory of good over evil ‘shubho bijaya’ is celebrated for three to four days. The young ones visit the elders to take their blessings and are served sweets and gugni. Ruby says, “This time the gugni is made along with mutton and we also make sweets like caramel flavoured sandesh, cham cham and rasogulla.” Some elders also distribute “nimchi (namak para) to youngsters along with gulab jamun,” shares Oaindrila.
What remains common is the spirit of festive food which can be enjoyed by all!