Mahalaya marks the beginning of Devi paksha and the end of pitri paksha, and for all of us like me, Mahalaya begins the countdown to Durga Puja – just a week to go. Durga puja is a grand festival and for the last quite few years I have missed being in Kolkata during this time of the year. I miss home during Durga puja more because the puja is held at my home, a 150 years old pujo. And for those of you who are not aware of Durga pujo culture in Bengal, dura pujo is generally held in the neighborhoods and not in family homes, there are very few families in Bengal who actually have the puja at home.
Durga puja is the celebration of food. The streets of Kolkata get filled with vendors selling Kolkata favorite phuchka and egg rolls, though I’m missing the streetfood pretty badly, I am more missing mom’s homemade bhoger khichuri. On Ashtami this khichudi is served to the goddess as an offering (prasad). The bhuni or bhuna khichudi is more of a pulao than a khichudi, though the main ingredients are rice and split yellow lentil, but its cooked in a way so that it’s not runny like a rainy day khichuri and can be fluffed easily with a fork when done.
I hope you enjoy this year’s pujo and share your experience with us. If you want more authentic Bengali recipes please download the ebook.
In a heavy bottom pan dry roast the moong dal till it starts to turn light brown, about 2 to 3 minutes. While roasting keep on stirring it, or else the bottom will get burnt
Wash the roasted dal and soak for about 30 minutes. Wash the rice
In the thick bottom pan, heat the ghee. Add the coconut pieces and fry till they turn light brown. With a slotted spoon take the coconut out and keep aside.
Temper the remaining ghee with the red chilies, bay leaves and cumin seeds. As the seeds start to splutter add the soaked moong dal along with the washed rice. Mix in all the ground spices and ginger paste, season with salt. Toss and turn for a couple of minutes till the spices are mixed well and the raw smell of ginger goes away. Pour in about 4 cups of lukewarm water, cover and cook till it done.
Sona moong is the yellow lentil that is smaller than the general variety of mong dal. It is more flavorful.
If you dont find gobindobhog rice, you can substitute with kalajeera rice or any other short grained rice
Puja has already started. From what I heard from my sister and friends in Kolkata, there are thousands of people out in the streets to visit one pandal from the other. Its Panchami today, and the puja has not yet started. Tomorrow morning will mark the beginning of Durga Puja for 2011 (1418 by the Bengali calendar). There are many of us who are out of Bengal now, and just searching over the internet to see if there’s at least one Durga puja going on at your present city.
As of Bangalore, I found quite a few Durga pujas this year. The most popular being the Bengali Association Puja in Palace Ground and of course there are some more in Koramangala Kalyana Manthapa, 6th Block; another Durga puja a few steps from this one is the Durga Puja near Jyoti Nivas college. The fourth is near to the place where I stay now – the Sarjapur Road Total Mall.
Here’s a list for the Durga Puja timings for 2011.
(13th Aashin 1418)
From that day
7.52 am-Next day
(14th Aashin 1418)
From that day
within 9.28am Durga Devi “BODHON” “Amantran” and “Adhibas” in the evening
(15th Aashin 1418)
From that day
2.22am “Nabo Patrika”
Subho Bijaya to all of you. Wish you all had a wonderful Puja break this time. Starting tomorrow we at Cook Like a Bong will be posting various recipes custom made for the Bijaya season, so stay tuned and have fun till then.
The sixth day of the Navaratri (9 nights) is celebrated as the starting of Durga Puja, the Maha Shasthi day. This is the day that marks the unveiling of the Durga idols in various Puja pandals along with the starting of the 5 day long worship of the Goddess of power, Ma Durga.
Bodhon or the invocation of the deity is done during the evening of Shasthi and as myth says, the deities thereafter comes alive. It was yesterday that we started with the Maha Shasthi puja. Just in Kolkata there are more than a thousand places where the goddess is worshipped in community pujas leave aside the ones worshipped at indivudual homes. My house too comes under one of the places where the goddess is worshipped for these 5 days.
Along with the goddess comes her four children – Laxmi, Ganesh, Saraswati and Karthik. They all are indivudually worshipped as Gods, but this time of the year they remain as the offspring of the Mother Goddess. In this platoon of Gods and Goddess the demon Mahishasur is also worshipped. As it is said, that when Durga killed the demon kind, Mahishashura he was booned by the Goddess and was promised to be worshipped along with her.
These thousands of pandals are decked gorgeously with lights and with various other decoration items. This time the only pandal I visited till now is the Babubagan Community Puja. There theme for this year is to get rid of the mechanical world and bring back the greenery. The pandal is made of worn out machine parts, while the idols signifying the almost lost Santhal community and their love for nature .
In between all these glories and worships, something good happened to me. My photos from Kumortuli, Kolkata got featured in Bhorer Kagoj, a newspaper in Bangaladesh.
It was only Shasthi and there are four more days for the Puja. Stay tuned and will update you with more stories and photos from Kolkata Puja. Till then have a happy and safe Puja.
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.
“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?
The countdown has become, it’s a matter of just 13 days now before the festival of the year starts. The bright shiny sun in the blue sky with the white clouds marks the onset of autumn. And with autumn comes Durga Puja followed by Lakshmi Puja and Kali Puja. This month we at Cook Like a Bong thought of doing something new to mark the largest festival of the Bengalis.
We are publishing the first monthly Calendar starting from this month. Those of who are already subscribed to the mailing list will get the Calendar delivered to their inbox. Subscribe to Cook Like a Bong and get an awesome collection of 26 authentic Bengali recipe e-book. You’ll also get a high resolution calendar delivered to your mail.
You can also download the image from below and save it as your desktop calendar for October 2010.
What does the word Sharadiya ( or Saradiya) mean to you?
Surely, you would identify with the several connotations of the word beyond its literal meaning (that which comes in the Autumn). Hymns by Birendra Kishore Bhadra on All India Radio, the great homecoming (Bongs flock from all parts of the country/elsewhere to their hometown), the annual shopping frenzy (what are you wearing on Saptami? On Nabami evening?), Sharod publications (Patrika, Bartaman, Anandalok take your pick), the three eyed Ma Durga with her Pangopal, the Kash ful dancing to the tunes of the fluttering breeze, the hair raising yet rhythmic beat of the traditional Dhak, the exquisite Pandals and the teeming millions, the egg-roll stalls (and your diet regime goes for a toss!), Akalbodhan, Khain, Bisarjan …
Ladies and Gentlemen, please give a warm welcome to the Carnival of the Year!
This Festive Season, Cook Like a Bong brings to you a collection of 26 traditional and trendy Bengali recipes in a free eBook, titled Saradiya Rannabati 2010. Do what you like, go anywhere you want, eat whatever you can lay your hands on. This Durga Puja, Eat Pray Live. 🙂
Eat Pray Live
What’s on the Menu?
A collection of authentic Bengali recipes including fries, side dishes, main course and sweets and desserts from the BengaliCuisine kitchen and also from five different contributors. Unfold the secrets of the famous Kolkata phuchka. Know how to cook the brilliant looking Basanti pulao. Don’t miss the Chingri Bhapa, Doi Post Ilish or the mouthwatering Misti Doi. End the fare with Anarosher Chutney or Aamer Morobba.
Salivating already? Without wait, pounce on the delicacies. Please enter your name and email id in the box below to subscribe to our blog and we will give you the eBook for free.
Many Thanks to…
Thanks to all our readers, whose repeat visits to the website keep its traffic stats healthy. Kudos to the 2500+ strong community at Cook like a Bong’s Facebook Page – your discussions help everyone appreciate the myriad variations of Bangali Ranna. Special thanks to Jeet Saikia for designing the cover page of this e-book and to all our eBook recipe contributors.
We also held the Durga Puja Food Festival event and had a number of recipes from many food bloggers all over the world. We’ll soon be publishing the roundup along with the eBook for the Food Festival.
September had a rise in the number of visitors coming to Cook Like a Bong, and the visitor count has this time touched 17,000.
Durga Puja being shifted to September this year we took almost a week break from blogging to celebrate the greatest festival of the Bengalis. There are very few Bengali households where the Durga Puja rituals are carried out at home; Durga Puja is mainly a neighborhood Puja these days with more than 1500 pujas in Kolkata itself. I am proud to say that Durga Puja is carried out at my own home.
Here are some of the snapshots from my family Durga Puja festival.
|| ya devi sarvabhutesu buddhirupena samsthita
namas-tasyai namas-tasyai namas-tasyai namo namah ||
|| ya devi sarvabhutesu sakti rupena samsthita
namas-tasyai namas-tasyai namas-tasyai namo namah ||
With less than a week to go for Saptami, its time for a brief on the relevant pujas and a savouring dish. Two events passed by – Vishwakarma Puja and Mahalaya. If you came here just for the recipe, you can skip the next 3 paras.
Vishwakarma is the god of architecture (in Hinduism) and thus, the presiding deity of all artisans and craftsmen. He architected of the Golden city of Lanka, Indraprastha (abode of Indra), Hastinapur (the capital of the Pandavas and Kauravas of Mahabharata) and the mythical town of Dwarka, where Lord Krishna lived during the Mahabharata period. Any parallel you can draw from modern times? J
The architect is worshipped usually in mid September each year in several parts of the country. In Bengal, the puja is marked by flying kites. And being the Lord of architecture, heavy machinery factories, construction sites and even engineering colleges celebrate Vishwakarma puja.
The enchanting voice of Birendra Krishna Bhadra at 4am announces the arrival of Devi. Its Mahalaya and 7 days to Saptami. More about Mahalaya here. And here’s how Delhi is taking up Durga puja this year. Hundreds of men offer water to their deceased ancestors on this day, what Bengalis call as “Tarpan”.
Pujor Ranna – Kasha Mangsho
I had prepared a Bengali style mutton curry for lunch today. Though I am not much of a mutton loving person, just thought of preparing it. With a little help from mom, the preparation turned out well. Here’s how to cook Bengali mutton curry.
Papaya grated (Jhiri kore kata Pepe): 3 tablespoon
Sour curd (Tauk doi): 2 tablespoons
Onion (Peyaj): 2 large sizes
Garlic (Rasun): 8-10 cloves
Ginger-garlic paste (Aada-rasun bata): 1 ½ teaspoon
Turmeric powder (Halud guro): ½ teaspoon
Chili powder (Sukhno lanka guro): 1/2 teaspoon
Mustard oil (Sarser tel): 8 tablespoon
Salt to taste
Chop one onion and make a paste of the other
Wash the mutton pieces well, and drain out the excess water
Take the mutton in a large bowl, put in the sour curd, onion and ginger-garlic paste; mix well, pour in 2 tablespoon of mustard oil and a pinch of salt, marinate for 50mins in refrigerator
Heat 3 tablespoon of oil in a wok and half fry the potatoes, keep aside
Pour in the rest of the oil in the same wok, and sauté the chopped onions and garlic cloves
Put in the marinated mutton, turmeric, chili, salt and grated papaya, stir in low flame till the mutton becomes absolutely dry and the oil separates (kashano in Bengali), it will also change color to a darker shade of brown
Add the dried up mutton in a pressure cooker and pour in 3 cups of water, close the lid and wait for 3 whistle
Open the lid and put in the potatoes and again allow 2 more whistles
Take out and serve with warm white rice
Hot Tips – The grated papaya helps in softening the mutton pieces, so its an optional ingredient in this preparation, if you want you can also add large papaya pieces in place of the grated papaya. The number of whistles depends on the quality of mutton, so check after the 5 whistles whether the mutton has become tender, else allow some more time.
“Prano Bhoriye Trisha Hariye
More aaro aaro aaro dao pran|
Tabo bhubane tabo bhabone
More aaro aaro aaro dao sthan|| ”
15 days to go for the biggest Bong festival of the year. Yes you have guessed it right, its Durga Puja time. And to mark the occasion, we at Cook Like a Bong are organizing an event, “Durga Puja Food Festival”. [Logo Courtesy: Dr. Satyaki Basu]
About Durga Puja
Autumn brings in a series of festivities. Among all these festivals the four day long Durga Puja or Dusshera is the most important and the most prominent social festival among Hindus. Durga Puja is mainly celebrated in the Eastern parts of India. Other states of the country (Mumbai, Delhi, Bangalore, Hyderabad) and even in different countries have started celebrating the worship of the goddess of power. Durga Puja is the most significant social, cultural and even economic event of the year.
Buying new clothes, going pandal hopping, pushpanjali (showering flowers at the goddess), the sound of dhak (Bengali drum), the dhunuchi dance, and the immersion dance are an integral part of the Durga Puja festival. It is the time of homecoming, meeting friends and relatives, eating out, eating whatever you wish, a big and long smile. This is the time of publishing of the “Sharadiya Sankha” or “Pujabarshiki” (the festival collection of literary works) featuring works of both established and not so established poets and authors. And, here we are with our Sharadiya Event for this year.
Plus, we’ll create an e-book to celebrate the culinary side of this autumn festival. The eBook will feature mouthwatering recipes and photographs, useful anecdotes and notes and of course some free publicity for the featured authors.
Get featured in the eBook
Please send in your entries for the event. There is no limit to the number of recipes you send, nor is there any restriction on what you send. The recipes may be Bengali (preferably but not necessarily) or any other cuisine, vegetarian or non-vegetarian, starters, soups, salads, entrée, or dessert. Those who don’t want their recipes to be published in the eBook will see those only in the round-up posted at the end of this month in our blog. The recipes in the eBook will have due credit to their authors.
Sending entries to this event makes you eligible to be a part of the eBook. So, hurry and send in your entries as soon as possible.
We invite you to be a part of the celebrations. And the eBook. 🙂
Why should you participate?
Free Publicity to a wide audience (This site currently has 15000+ pageviews a month)
Your recipe will be a part of the eBook, and thus your recipe will have offline access, and will bring back more readers to your blog
The joy of being ‘published’
Sheer joy of helping a fellow blogger in her project 🙂
How do I benefit?
Releasing an eBook is my long pending project. And what better occasion that Durga Puja?
E-book means offline access, spreading the word via email and doc sharing. And thus, more ‘comeback’ readers
Yet another way to celebrate Sharodotsav
Please post recipes on your blog along with a track back to this post
Optional: Please use the event logo
If you want to send us any archived entries please update the post with a link to this event so that more people get to know about it
You don’t need to repost it. Search engines don’t like duplicate content and that’s why you should avoid it. Here’s a link if you want to learn more about why and how’s of duplicate content.
If you have a draft recipe that you would like to send us, that’s okay. Just ensure two points:
your blog’s side bar has the event link/logo; and
when you publish this draft, there’s a the event link/ logo is present in the post
Sending a recipe photograph is compulsory. [You can learn more about food photography here]
If you don’t have a blog and yet want to participate, you’re welcome. Just send in your recipes, preferably with an image of the end product to the mentioned mail id.
What type of dish (eg: starter, soup, entrée, dessert):
Cuisine (Andhra, Bengali, Punjabi, Oriya etc):
Any memories associated with the dish (optional):
Any special decorations you created for the festival (optional):
Also, the following if you want the recipes to be enlisted in the eBook, send in your:
Your profile pic
A winner will be chosen for this event and will be awarded with a prize (to be declared later). Evaluation criteria – ease of preparation, suitability to the festival, relevance of the photograph and notes beyond recipe.
Should there be any other criteria for evaluation?