The month of September and October heralds the onset of Durga Puja every year. The atmosphere is filled with the sweet intoxicating smell of Alstonia and shiuli that infuses the joy of puja and winter approaching among people. In the celebration of Durga Puja, feasting forms an inevitable part. While the pandal hoppers relish mouthwatering Mutton Chops, ghugnis, Mughlai Parantha and all kinds of street foods, a bigger highlight of Saptami, Ashtami or Navami has to be the lavish bhog around lunchtime served to all the pandal visitors around that time. The traditional Durga Puja bhog is prepared by ‘Thakurs’, the best known traditional Bengali cooks. The bhog which is a variation of delicious vegetarian dishes is prepared in mustard oil or ghee. After offering the cooked bhog to the deity, it is served to the devotees and guests who come to join in the special sit-down arrangement by the pandal. The spirit of the community members reaches the zenith during this time.
The bhog of Saptami, Asthami, and Navami comprises of scrumptious home-made Bengali cuisine that includes khichuri, chachari, beguni, chatni, mishti doi, loochi, begun bhaja, badha kopi, pulao, aludum, chatni, rasogolla, shukto, alu bhaja, alu fulkopi, etc. For Ashtami, which is considered to be the most important day of the festival, luchi, pulao accompanied by chana, Veg Korma, Mishti Doi, chutney, mishti form the indispensable Ashtami bhog. While on Navami day, it is the wholesome bhaat tarkari meal. The delicious mixed veg preparation called labada forms a special part of the bhog.
Let’s find out how to prepare the few main dishes for bhog.
Bhaja Muger Khichudi
Bhaja Muger Khichudi is prepared from gobundo bhog rice for the aroma (or any other variety of rice) and tempering of whole garam masala and other spices like bay leaf, cinnamon, clove and cardamom. All this put together makes the bhog appetizingly fragrant.
Steps to Prepare Moong Dal Khichudi
A host of vegetables like pumpkin, potato, brinjal and radish, spiced with Bengal’s local seasoning a mix of five spices all cooked in pungent mustard oil cooks Labra, an authentic Bengali dish.
Steps to Prepare Labra
When properly cooked spread ghee over it and offer hot with Khichuri bhog.
Begun Bhaja or Beguni
Beguni or Begun Bhaja is a side dish made with sliced brinjals dipped in besan batter deep fried in hot oil. Piping hot beguni just out of the hot oil tastes the best when cold the same thing turns soggy.
For the batter:
Steps to Fry Beguni
Payesh or kheer is rice and milk pudding flavored with cardamom, dry fruits and a sprinkle of rose water. It is a sweet dish or dessert that is offered as bhog to Goddess Durga. When cooked with jaggery it enhances the taste of the bhog.
Steps to Prepare Nolen Gurer Payesh
Add 4 tablespoons of water in a large sauce-pan. On a medium flame add the milk
Keep stirring the milk till it comes to boil
On boiling when the milk is 1/2 of its original quantity, add the soaked rice and cook it enough
Separately take 2 tablespoons of the boiling milk in a small bowl, add and mix little Jaggery in the milk
When the rice is completely cooked, add the Jaggery mixture and cook for another 10 minutes. Keep constantly stirring it
After 10 minutes turn off the heat. Let the payesh cool down completely, and garnish with nuts and rasins.
Refrigerate it for 2-3 hours and “Nolen Gurer Payesh” is ready to serve. When offering to the Goddess, you can serve it hot.
Whether it’s a Baroyari Puja or you are preparing these dishes at home for your loved ones, always make sure you buy the best ingredients. Rishta Food Products is one of the best sellers and you can order all that you need in the kitchen from Rishta on Grofers.