Shubho Mahalaya – A tale of two cities

Mahalaya at daybreak

Waking up at daybreak (well, its more like 4am) on Mahalaya has been, and still is, an annual ritual for most of Bengali households. When you are in Bengal, or say in states adjacent to Bengal (Bihar, Jharkhand, Orissa, Assam), the (ei-4te-baje-uthe-ja) must-wake-up-at-4am is probably implemented more strictly than elsewhere. Predictably, if you don’t have strict enforcement of this widely practiced rule at your home, your Mahalaya would be way different.

The approach to celebrate Mahalaya at Bangalore (or say, Delhi, Mumbai or Hyderabad) is way different than that at Kolkata (or even Jamshedpur, Guwahati, Bhuwaneshwar or Patna). This post is a short account of how an immigrant Bong spent his Mahalaya in the IT City vis-a-vis how a pakka Bongo Tanaya spent hers in the Bengali heartland (Kolkata, where else?).

The Immigrant Bong

Went to bed at 2 am, so waking up at daybreak was obviously out of question. Other flatmates also wanted to enjoy Mahalaya chants, but Kalyan banging their doors at 6 in the morning was a strict no no. So we agreed on a protocol. After 8am, whoever wakes up first will SMS the other flatties (Don’t Bang my door please, just ping me ok!). At 8:30, the dont-bang-my-door-or-I’ll-shred-you warning would be called off and people then may start celebrating Mahalaya. So, instead of 4am, it was 8:30 am.

Ya Devi sarva bhuteshu

“Morning! Time for Mahalaya number?”

Received an SMS saying this at 8am. Startled, I woke up. I smiled at the changed times. Birendra Kishore Bhadra’s Chandipath is a number now. 🙂 Much like Dhanno in Housefull or Lady Gaga’s Bad Romance (please, I can’t name that Bieber fellow in the same breath). I found it a fresh and contemporary approach to complementing the goose bumps inducing Agomoni songs. What better a tribute to the traditional than to acknowledge that it is still ‘hip’. The guy would be proud in his afterlife.

Not sure if he ever imagined people born eight decades later (he was born way back in 1905) in weird places would be listening to his Mahishasurmardini songs at 10am over not a radio or television, but something weird as a website on a laptop. Not even sure if Akashvani (AIR) would have thought that what started as a tradition way back in 1930 would even continue 80 yrs later, albeit in several other formats.

A hair raising experience followed when we played the predictable two songs and a bonus– Birendra Kishore Bhadra’s Mahishasurmardini, Supriti Ghosh’s Bajlo tomar alor benu and its guitar’d rendition, on youtube. Check out the new age Agomoni, with guitars and a hint of Metallica’s Nothing Else Matters:

The Immigrant Bongs and the I-have-many-Bengali-friends junta then followed it up with Phuchka-meets-Dahi-Bhalla. A slightly different version of the quintessential Bengali Phuchka. Boil the potataoes, mash it with some powdered spices, salt, Tamarind water (Imli ka paani) and boiled Mung Daal. Mix curd with whatever spices suits you and fill in each Phuchka (golgappa, pani puri) with the curd mix, mashed potato mix and Tamarind water. East meets West baby!

Followed it up with Mughlai Paratha for lunch at Calcutta Tiffins at a nearby Spencers. Was okayish, but nothing close to the Mughlai Paratha Sudeshna made. Its not without reason that the post is one of the most popular posts ever at Cook Like a Bong.

How was your Mahalaya?

Now, coming to the other end of the Spectrum.

The Banglar buke Bongo Santan (Bong in Bengali heartland)

Went to bed at 1am excited that Devi is finally arriving ina few hours. Wanted to do something more than the regular Ishh-ki-bhalo-Chandipath-cholchhe-radio-te (whoa! Awesome hymns on radio). Mom woke me up at 4 am. Mahishasurmardini was already loud on TV. Bengali Agamani songs were playing aloud in my mind.

While people elsewhere (Probashi Bengali) rely on Google etc for Birendra Krishna Bhadra’s Mahalaya Songs free download link, I feel lucky to watch/listen to Jago, Tumi Jago at daybreak by just switching on the TV (which is otherwise just an idiot box). Even better, having a father who breaks into a song at just the slightest provocation helps.

Finally decided to visit Gwalior Ghat (wonder why is it called so) with Baba. Morning ride to Gwalior Ghat was exciting. For the uninitiated, Ghats are embankments where man meets the river. Ghats of Kolkata preserve an interesting piece of history, be it Princep Ghat, Babu Ghat or Gwalior Ghat. It, like any other important Ghat, ends with a deep drop to the river bed. Interestingly, there is a Gwalior Ghat in Varanasi too.

Gwalior Ghat looked splendid in the early hours. Hundreds of people gathered to offer Tarpan to their deceased ancestors. Interestingly, Tarpan is performed in an empty stomach while you offer food and sweets to your departed ancestors. Several priests, as usual, made hay even in the early hours of sunshine. My dad performed Tarpan too.

Devipaksha (fortnight of the Godess) had a splendid start. Armed with a Nikon D60 and several lenses (lets leave the lenses specs to a separate post), I took some pictures while almost knee deep in mud. Was lucky not to soil my clothes. Shubho Mahalaya everyone!

Please comment and let us know how did your Mahalaya go?

We are sending this post as an entry to a wonderful event hosted by Pree – Beyond Five days of Durga Puja.

Bengali Food Bloggers Interview Part 2 – Bong Mom

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We had the first part of Food Blogger Interview series with Jayshree. It is the first part of a 6 interview series of the Top 7 Bengali Food Bloggers, which we came up with 6 months ago. This post is the second in line for the Blogger Interview Series and the lady this time is a very well known blogger, Bong Mom.

7 Top Bengali Food Blogs

7 Top Bengali Food Blogs

About Bong Mom
She started her blog in October 2006 with the first post as Alu posto and Musir’er Dal. She had been a regular blogger for the last 3years and a few months, catering wonderful and finger-licking recipes all the time. With a page rank of 4, Bong Mom CookBook is one the most popular Bengali Food Blogs over the internet.

What inspires you to write a food blog?

I’ve said it in my first post and I reiterate:

Growing up all over West Bengal, and some parts of Bihar, in a Bengali household I learnt one thing, Bengalis love to eat, feed others and cook (at least Bong women do).

So growing up amongst such a race it’s natural that I love to eat and to make my food dreams into reality have taken to loving cooking my food. I get solace in cooking, the comfort of the spices sputtering in the oil, the waft of the Jeera & Tejpata as they turn brown, the rich yellow of my musuri’r dal gives me peace, makes me calm and in this far off land makes me connect to my home.

I want to pass on my legacy of Bengali food to my two little daughters and all the other little ones out there who growing up in a foreign land will find a way to connect to their Bangla roots through the smell and taste of Bangla cuisine.

This is also for all others who are unaware of the Bengali Cuisine, to try out and sample the nuances of Bengali Cooking.

Who had been your inspiration for cooking?

Cooking was more of a necessity than inspiration. I didn’t really cook much when I was with my parents. I did love to eat and cooking back then was an occasional trial of the recipes in the magazines.

Cooking for survival happened when I started my first job far from home and it was pretty expensive to dine out every day.

Now I really love cooking, more so because I am so far away from home, that cooking gives me immense comfort. The smell of the spices, the sounds the smell brings back memories of home. It also lets me eat my food just the way I want. Most of the stuff I cook is Bangla Home food, things my Ma, grandma cooked at home

Who was and is your greatest support(s) for this blog?

Definitely my husband. He is the one who has to wait hungry, while I click. LOL

Sooner my Dad joined in. He even got me shaal pata’r utensils from Kolkata for shots. But then I shouldn’t leave out my dear S (my eldest daughter), she steers clear and is patient while I am trying to get the shot and of course my Ma, my most ardent reader.

What was the first dish that you prepared and when?

Don’t remember the first, maybe Maggi. But once I started cooking officially, I used to regularly make Dim er Dalna/Egg Curry. That is the only thing me and my room mate cooked and ate on most days

How many cook books do you have?

Very few. I like cook books with lots of stories

What’s your favorite cookbook?

I have been reading food memoirs recently and love them. I would recommend Ruth Reichl’s “Tender on the Bone”. I don’t think I would cook anything from there but the writing will definitely wonderful

Tell us something about food from your part of the world?

Go read my Blog. LOL

What would you eat for your last supper?

Bhaat(Rice), Musuri’r Dal, Alu-posto ar ekta pati lebu

Your most trusty kitchen companion?

My Magic Bullet processor, my dishwasher

What made you to call your blog  “Bong Mom CookBook”?

Coz I am a Bong, a Mom and I Cook and would love to write  a Book some day

Name three dishes (along with their links) from your blog that you like preparing often

Doi Maach, Musuri’r Dal and Kalakand

Well, that was Bong Mom for you.

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Palak in Paneer Bowl

So the guessing game was fun. Thank you all for the comments. Yes, you all have guessed it right the main ingredients were paneer (famer’s cheese) and spinach. Here goes the recipe for the yummy and delicious recipe from my mom’s kitchen.


Serves 6


For making the paneer bowls:-

Farmer’s cheese (Paneer): ½ kg

Wheat flour (Maida): ½ cup

Spinach paste (Palak shaakh bata): 1 large bowl

Garlic (Rasun): 10 -12 cloves, chopped finely

Ginger paste (Ada bata): 1 teaspoon

Sugar (Chini): ½ teaspoon

Turmeric powder (Halud guro): ½ teaspoon

Chilli powder (Sukhno lanka guro): 1 teaspoon

Sunflower oil (Sada tel): 5 tablespoons for frying

Salt to taste

For making the gravy:-

Cashew nuts (Kaju badam): 30 gms

Poppy seeds (Posto): 100 gms

Green cardamom (Choto elaichi): 3-4

Cinnamon (Darchini): One 1″ size

Cloves (Labango): 3-4

Green chili (Kanch LAnka): 3 – 4

Sunflower oil (Sada tel): 1 tablespoon


 For making the paneer bowls:-

  • Take the paneer, wheat flour and salt in a large bowl and knead well to make dough. The dough shouldn’t be very soft, depending on the water content of the farmer’s cheese.
  • Make two inch diameter spheres from the dough
  • Using your hand make them into small bowls to hold the spinach
  • Heat 1 tablespoon of oil in a wok
  • As the oil becomes piping hot sauté the onions in it
  • Throw in the chopped garlic and ginger paste just as the onions turn golden
  • Add the spinach paste when the oil starts separating from the sautéed spices
  • Put in the turmeric and chili powder along with salt and sugar
  • Fry till the spinach gets dry
  • Take it out of flame and let it cool down completely
  • Take a large tablespoon of the fried spinach paste and put it into the paneer bowls
  • Heat oil in a frying pan and fry the fried spinach paste filled paneer bowls in batches
  • Drain the excess oil using a kitchen paper


 The fried bowls are an ideal snack for any evening party, or you can even use it as a starter along with tomato sauce. Read on if you want to make it into a curry.

For the curry:-

  • In a mixer grinder put in cashew nuts, poppy seeds, green chilies and ½ cup of water, make it into a smooth paste
  • Heat oil in a wok and throw in cinnamon, cardamom and cloves
  • As they start popping pour in the poppy paste along with salt and sauté till the oil starts leaving
  • Carefully add the fried farmer’s cheese bowls to the gravy and cook uncovered for 5 minutes
  • Take out from flame and serve with rice, paratha or roti


This dish was a instant hit among all my relatives when my mom cooked it for the first time. Though a little tedious and take almost 1 hour to prepare from the raw materials to the dining table, but the outcome is worth all these hard work. Look for more recipe here, till then Happy Cooking and Happy Eating.

Also this recipe is heading for the EFM-Savouries hosted by Srilekha.


Badha Kopir Tarkari

Serves: 4

Its Monday today, most of the houses prefer to vegetarian food, no difference at my place too. So cooked cabbage today and of course Bengali style. My maternal gets a credit for this, she cooks this dish, just too well. I have never tasted somebody cook better badha kopir tarkari than her.

There are lots of option to make it spicier and tastier, I will start with the basic requirements and eventually add the addendums.


Cabbage (Bandha Kopi): 1 medium sized

Ginger paste (Aada bata): 2 table spoons

Potatoes (aalu) : 2/3, diced to make 4 pieces out of each

Tomato: 1 big

Turmeric powder (Haluder guro): 1 tea-spoon

Cumin powder (Jeera guro): 1 table-spoon

Chilli powder (Sukhno lankar guro): 1 ½ tea-spoon

Green chilli (kacha lanka): 2

Sugar (Chini): 1 tea-spoon

Bay leaves (tej pata): 2

Garam masala: ½ tea-spoons

Mustard oil(Sarser tel): 3 table-spoons

Optional items:-

Peas (matorsuti): ½ cup

Macher matha: 1


  • Boil the cabbage till it become soft. Drain out the excess water and keep the cabbage aside.
  • Heat oil in a kadai, fry the diced potatoes and keep apart.
  • Heat oil in the kadai , and add the ginger paste, bay leaf, tomato and just sauté.
  • Add the cabbage and the potatoes and just let it cook by itself. Put a lid over the kadai for faster cooking.
  • Check after 5/6 minutes whether the potatoes have softened, if not then add little water.
  • Cook in simmering flame and turn it around after regular intervals so that it doesn’t stick to the base of the kadai.
  • You can add the peas and let the whole curry to dry as much as possible without letting it to stick to the bottom.
  • If you want to add something non-veg to it then go ahead. Fry the smashed fish head and add it to the cabbage and let it cook.
  • When it becomes almost dry, add little garam masala and serve hot with rice or roti.

Badha Kopir tarkari

Enjoy your meal, happy cooking.

Chicken Manpasand

This is a new style of chicken I cooked a few days ago. It was absolutely experimental, but it turned out to be good. So posting it in this blog.

Serves 4


Chicken (murgi): 1kg

Onions (peyaj): 5 medium sized ones

Tomato: 2 medium sized

Potato (aalu): 4 pieces

Mustard oil (sarser tel): 4 tablespoon

Ginger garlic paste (aada-rasun baata): 2 tea-spoons

Garlic (rasun): 4/5 cubes

Turmeric powder (haluder guro): 1 tea-spoon

Chilli powder (sukno lankar guro): 2 tea-spoons

Kasuri methi: 2 tea-spoons

Salt to taste


· Wash the chicken well. Take chicken, two onion cut into halves, tomatoes, 1 tea-spoon of ginger and garlic, and water to cover the chicken in a deep bowl. Boil the chicken; keep aside the boiled chicken and onions. Keep the chicken stock apart.

· In a kadai, pour the mustard oil and heat it. Add the diced potatoes and fry. Keep the potatoes aside after they become golden brown.

· Add diced onions in the oil and fry for 1 or 2 mins. Add garlic ginger paste and the garlic cubes and fry one more minute. To the fried spice add chicken and the boiled onions. Add the stock along with the turmeric and chilli powder. Cook for 7 minutes with a lid over the kadai. Add the fried potatoes.

· Check if the chicken has softened, add more stock if required.

· Add crushed kasuri methi and cook for 1 minute.

· Serve hot with rice, roti , paratha.

Doi Rui – Rohu in Yogurt

Serves 6

After a chicken dish and then a veggie delight here I am to tell you about the Bengal’s favorite platter – a fish curry. Fish had always been my favorite, though here in Bangalore you can’t find such good and fresh variety of fish, so I miss that “fish market” back in Kolkata, those shouts and the fishy smell. O lets not talk about that, it makes me home sick. So, Doi Rui is my mom’s special dish. She is a superb cook, and her specialty is this Doi Rui.

Ingredients for Doi Rui

  • Rohu ( rui maach) : 1kg , cut into medium sized pieces, de-shelled and cleaned
  • Curd (doi): 200 gm
  • Green Chilli (kacha lanka): 3/4
  • Turmeric powder (haluder guro): 1 ½ tsp
  • Ginger paste ( aada baata): 1tbsp
  • Chilli powder (sukhno lankar guro): 1 ½ tsp
  • Onions (peyaj): 2
  • Salt to taste

Preparation steps for Doi Rui

  • Mix curd, onion juice of 1onion, ½ tsp ginger, ½ tsp of turmeric and ½ chilli powder in a bowl, add the fish pieces to them and marinate for 15mins.
  • Heat mustard oil in a pan. Add the left out onions when the oil becomes hot. Sauté till the onions become golden brown. Add 1 tsp of ginger paste and fry little.
  • Add the marinated fish to the pan add salt, turmeric powder, chilli powder, 3 green chillis and let it cook for sometime. Take care that the pieces do not break, so don’t disturb it much, let it just cook. Use a lid for fast cooking.
  • Check after 5/7 mins whether the fish has become tender, if not then add little bit of water to it.
  • A great smell from the kitchen tells you that your Doi Rui is done.

Serve it with hot rice and enjoy that feeling of being at home, anywhere in this world .Happy cooking and happy eating.

Ready to serve Doi Rui

Ready to serve Doi Rui

Hot Tip

If you are really interested in having that Mom cooked taste then add just fry some potato pieces cut in like the French fry style and add them to the curry.

Alternate way

If you are in real hurry and don’t have time to marinate the fish, then no problem at all. First fry the pieces and keep aside. Fry the onions and ginger paste as mentioned before. Add curd, turmeric powder, chilli powder, salt, ¾ green chilli and little bit of water. Allow it to boil for 3 mins and then add the fried fish pieces. Cook for 7 mins more and your doi rui is ready to serve.

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