Durga Puja is just around the corner, the biggest festival for Bengalis, not just in India, but all around the world. It is observed in the Hindu calendar month of Ashvin, typically September or October of the Gregorian calendar. A multi-day festival that features elaborate temple and stage decorations (pandals), scripture recitation, performance arts, revelry and processions. Durga Puja celebrates the victory of goddess Durga over the deceptive and powerful demon Mahishasura. Thus, the festival epitomises the victory of Good over Evil. It coincides with Navratri (Dussehra) observed in rest of India.
Bengalis are known for their love for food and scrumptious food is an integral part of this festival. I have been a part of this celebration in Kolkata and Durgapur, where the whole city lights up gloriously. Not just the capital city Kolkata, the entire state is decked up with lights and colours. Durga Puja is celebrated in Melbourne too in a grand fashion, two days of festivities with family, friend and of course, food!
I am putting together few dishes that are enjoyed during Durga Puja. Get cooking and indulge in food heaven!
Bhoger Khichuri – Khichuri and Panchmesali is an important part of any Bengali festival. Khichuri is rice, lentils and vegetables slow cooked together with aromatic spices
Panchmesali – Panchmesali is a medly of vegetables slow cooked with spices. A very simple, humble festive food which tastes best when served with Khichuri
Misti Pulao – Mishti pulao (sweet pilaf) is a fragrant, mildly spiced, sweet rice dish made with a special variety of rice called ‘Gobindo Bhog’
Luchi Aloor Dum – Baby potatoes served with deep fried flatbread – quintessential Bengali breakfast. Luchi is deep fried flatbread made with plain flour or maida. Aloor dum is a spicy baby potato curry
Cholar Dal – Cholar dal is a popular Bengali dal usually prepared on special occasions. This delicious dish is made with Bengal gram, whole spices and coconut, and is on the sweeter side
Daab Chingri – an age old Bengali delicacy in which prawns are cooked inside a tender coconut shell. The prawns are slow cooked with aromatic spices and coconut to get a tender, juicy and delicious
Mangsor Jhol – Or mutton curry where goat meat is marinated and slow cooked with aromatic spices
Chingri Malaikari – a classic Bengali delicacy in which prawns are cooked along with coconut milk and spices
Kakrar Jhal – A spicy, fiery, chilli hit that will leave you drooling. This dish needs to be made very spicy – chilli is the main flavour here
Macher Jhal – A dry curry where fish is cooked with onion, tomatoes and minimal spices
Vegetable Chop – A mouth-watering street food of Kolkata. It is similar to croquettes, but is loaded with winter vegetables and the Bengali staple potatoes
Narkel Naru – Two main ingredients and less than 30 minutes is all you need to make these delicious bites of goodness. Fresh coconut and jaggery are the main ingredients here
Rasgulla – Soft and spongy cottage cheese dumplings in sugar syrup – every Bengali has a special place in their heart (and stomach) for this beautiful sweet