Unlike in north India where Navratra fasts are widely followed, what makes Durga Puja special for Bengalis is the presence of a large variety of food—both vegetarian and non-vegetarian. Here are four Puja dishes from the best in the culinary field.

 

There is already a sweet smell in the air that is telling of the upcoming winter months, which are the first indicators of Durga Puja getting close. Everything feels festive and despite the pandemic, we are determined to retain some spirit of this major festival alive. Unlike in north India, where the Navratra fasts are widely followed, Durga Puja for most Bengalis is one of the biggest reasons to celebrate with a large variety of food — both in the vegetarian and non-vegetarian segments. And of course, a plethora of mishti that goes without saying!

Let’s look at some top recipes from some of our best-known names from the F&B circle. A point to note here is that mutton or pathaar mangsho is key during Puja because of the bali (sacrifice), which is why there are no chicken recipes used. Like a true Bengali, we start out with the Bhoger Khichudi, followed by some spectacular chingri and mangsho recipes.

BHOGER KHICHUDI
by Leena and Antara Daniels of Park Street Khana

Pujo means bhoger khichudi. There’s no Durga Puja without this authentic Bengali dish in its simplest form, with a taste that can keep one yearning for more.

Ingredients

1 cup Gobindobhog rice

1 cup moong dal

4 baby potatoes (cut in half)

1 medium cauliflower (cut into florets)

1/2 cup green peas

2 medium sized tomato (chopped)

2 tablespoon ginger (grated)

4 green chillies

1 tablespoon cumin powder

1 tablespoon turmeric powder

1 teaspoon red chilli powder

1 teaspoon sugar

1 tablespoon garam masala powder

6-7 cups of hot water

1 tablespoon ghee

1 teaspoon whole cumin seeds

bay leaves

3-4 green cardamoms

3-4 cloves

1-inch cinnamon stick

1 tablespoon mustard oil

salt as per taste

Method

In a pan, take the moong dal and dry roast it till a light golden color. Once it releases a very nice aroma, remove it from pan and wash it thoroughly in running water, strain and keep aside.

Next, wash the rice thoroughly in running water. Once washed, soak the rice in some water till it is ready to cook.

Sprinkle turmeric powder and salt on the cauliflower and the potatoes; mix well. In a pan or kadai heat some mustard oil, once the oil is hot first fry the potatoes to a golden brown color, remove.

Next, fry the cauliflower florets to a light golden color, strain and keep aside.

In the same pan or kadai, heat the remaining oil then temper with the whole spices, green cardamom, cloves, cinnamon stick, bay leaf and red chillies, sauté for a min till the aroma comes out. To this, add chopped tomatoes along with little salt, stir on medium heat till the tomatoes get soft.

Once the tomatoes are soft, add green chilies and the grated ginger. Stir and add cumin powder, chili powder and the turmeric powder with 2 tablespoons water and stir on medium heat till the oil separates.

Now that the oil has separated, you can add both the moon dal and the rice, stir well so that all the masalas are well mixed. Also, add the fried potatoes and the green peas. Add 4 cups water along with salt and sugar,. Cover with lid and let it cook for about 10 minutes.

Remove the lid and check as at this point the dal and rice tends to stick at the bottom. Stir again, add the remaining water along with the cauliflower stir and cover and cook for another 10 – 15 minutes. Lastly, drizzle the ghee on top and sprinkle some garam masala powder.

CHAAL POTOL

by Sonali Chatterjee
of Paanch Phoran

Chaal potol is a one of the lost recipes of Bengal, which is made mostly in traditional households only during the Pujo days. A very light and aromatic pulao, full of nuts and the extremely loved, potol, in Gobindobhog chaal. This recipe is worth a try this year and goes really well with chholar daal, shorshe maach and kochi pathaar jhol.

8-9 potol (parwal or pointed gourd,) peeled and halved

3/4 cup Gobindobhog rice, washed and drained

2 tablespoon raisins

2 teaspoon cashew pieces

1/2 tablespoon ginger paste

2-3 green cardamom

1-2 cloves

1 one-inch cinnamon stick

1-2 bay leaves

1 teaspoon turmeric powder

1/2 teaspoon cumin powder

1/2 teaspoon garam masala powder

3 tablespoon cooking oil

1 tablespoon ghee

1-2 teaspoon sugar as per your taste.

salt to taste

Method

Soak the raisins in water, keep aside.

Rub the potol (parwal) pieces with a little turmeric powder and salt.

Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a frying pan, shallow fry the potol pieces till light brown. Keep aside on a plate.

Add the remaining oil and 1/2 a tablespoon of ghee in a deep bottomed pan, when smoking hot, throw in the cinnamon, cardamom, cloves and bay leaves and the cashew pieces.

Sauté them till the cashews are light brown in colour. Allow the spices to release their aroma.

Now add the strained soaked rice, sprinkle in the turmeric powder and salt, saute for 3-4 minutes over a medium flame.

Stir in the ginger paste and cumin powder, splash a little water, saute for a minute or two.

add 1.5 cups of warm water, cook over a low flame till the rice is cooked to perfection.

Throw in the fried potol pieces and raisins (drained from the water they were soaking in).

Splash a little water if it is getting a bit too dry. Just when the rice is about to be perfectly cooked, add in the sugar.

Finish with a generous dollop of ghee and a hearty sprinkle of garam masala powder. Allow to rest for 10 odd minutes.

Serve hot.

Mathania Mutton
by chef Sabyasachi Gorai, ringmaster at Fabrica
This is a delectable mutton dish, which is perfect for the Ashtami or Navami bhog, to be served with hot Gobindobhog rice. The origin of this recipe is from a village in the Jodhpur district and is a close cousin of the laal maas. This is not a traditional recipe but a new-age one and is an absolute must to try out this time!
Ingredients
Mutton – 500 gms
Mustard oil – 100 ml
Cloves – 10
Cinnamon – 2-inch
Onion sliced – 1 cup
Ginger garlic paste – 6 tablespoons
Salt – to taste
Chopped garlic – 2 tablespoons
Ghee – 2 tablespoons
Red Chilli whole – 2
Coriander leaf – 2 sprigs
Marination
Mutton – 500 gms
Mathania chilli paste – 3 teaspoons
Yoghurt – 40 gms
Salt – 1 teaspoon
Method
Marinate the mutton with the Mathania chilli paste, yoghurt and salt
Heat mustard oil till it smokes and immediately turn off the flame
Add the cloves, cinnamon, once it crackles add the sliced onion
Once it browns, add the mutton and stir for 8 mins
Now, add the ginger garlic paste and mix for another 3 mins
Add the salt and mix well
Now simmer and cook till mutton is done
Add if any water is required
Heat ghee in a pan add chopped garlic and red chillies
Add this mixture to the mutton and garnish with freshly chopped coriander leaves

DAAB CHINGRI with GONDHORAJ by chef Nishant Choubey

Daab Chingri is perhaps one recipe that brings the East and West Bengal together. It is what can make all celebrations come alive and pleases everyone, irrespective of age. If you haven’t made it at home yet, this is the time to try your hands on it. The Gondoraaj in the end makes it more than fabulous.

Main Ingredients

King prawns – 10

Tender coconut – 1

Mustard paste – 3 tablespoons

Onion (chopped) – 1

Panch phoron – 1 teaspoon

Garlic cloves (chopped) – 4 to 5

Green chilli (chopped) – 4

Salt as per taste

Wheat flour dough – 20 gm

Ghondhoraj (sweet lime) – 1

Method

Take a tender coconut cut the upper portion  and scrape all the flesh . Add this to a grinder jar and grind it into a find paste. (Don’t throw the coconut shell we will be cooking in it.)

Then, take a pan and add some oil in it. Add panch phoron and saute the onion, garlic and green chillies in the oil, until the onion is translucent. Add this mixture to the coconut paste.

Now, in a big bowl, add all the ingredients such as coconut paste, prawns, mustard paste, salt and turmeric. Mix it well.

Take a coconut and cut the lower part of it so that it can be stable in pressure cooker.

Now, add the prawns’ mixture to the coconut shell and cover it with some freshly kneaded wheat dough, just the way we give dum to our biryanis.

Now, place the tender coconut with the lid firmly sealed, to a pressure cooker add water till half height the of coconut. Cover it and let it cook for 3 whistles.

Don’t open the pressure cooker immediately; let it cool down for 10 mins and then open it.

Take it out remove the wheat dough. Garnish it some grated Ghondoraj zest.