Durga Pujo 2013
Durga Puja is celebrated for six days every year by Bengalis,celebrating the triumph of good over evil.In Kolkata,there is pandals at every corner and are an amalgamation of culture and religion.People generally go pandal-hopping.
Mumbai too has its fair share of pandas....Lokhandwala,Powai,Kandivli,Shivaji Park,Tejpal Hall and Bandra being the prominent ones.Have heard a lot about singer Abhijit's Lokhandwala one but haven't visited it yet.
Bandra Notunpalli Sarbajonin Durgotsab at Patwardhan Park is a typical community event. Much earlier Pujo used to be celebrated only by the rich.Notunpalli had events such as Dhunuchi Naach (dancing with smoke),a Bengali comedy play and song recitals
When I visited on Ashtami day,I saw that to my right there was a huge stall filled with people having bhog.Bhog essentially is food offered to Maa Durga and then given to devotees.This is in the form of khichuri,a mixture of Gobindobhog rice and Mungbean(lentils) with vegetables.No onion or garlic.It is provided free to people.
The above picture is taken by Kalyan Karmakar who took people on a Durga Pujo Food Walk there last night
Unlike other cultures,you also find non vegetarian food stalls too at the festival...fish preparations such as Ilish (Hilsa),Pabda (as shown below),Rui (carp) and Malai Chingri (prawns).Bengali cuisine has fresh water fish,thanks to the many ponds and rivers Bengal has.
Chicken is usually available as jhol or curry...Murgir Jhol
Kosha Mangsho,a meat dish seen commonly at festive occasions, is slow cooked with ginger,garlic,pepper,cardamom,cinnamon and cloves
Richer items like Moghlai Paratha (paratha stuffed with egg) and Bhetki Fillet serve as reminders of the rule of the Nawabs and the British,respectively.
For Nobomi,we went to "Oh Calcutta" for their Pujo Special food.The place was packed,as expected.We ate to the sound of dhaakis playing
At "Oh Calcutta",you are always served the boris which is made of moong dal and Alu Kabli,a concotion of potatoes and Kabuli Chana
The piece de resistance of the meal was Sheem Palong Paturi,broad beans steamed with green masala in a banana leaf....just out of the world! Who would have thought,I would choose a vegetarian item when there were non vegetarian ones around?!!
Gondhoraj Lebu was an outstanding accompaniment.Lime that has strong aroma and perky tastes,even to wake you up from a Sunday slumber.I squeezed some onto a spoon and had it like a shot of tequila! :) So zingy!!
I love my mom's Tomato Chatni but this came really close....it had Tomato and Date
There was Kancha Lonka Murghi (raw green chilly chicken),Mangshor Jhol (Mutton Curry) and Luchi.Luchi reminds me of my mom's grandmother.One day,her husband asked her to make luchis for him.When she went into the kitchen at night with the thali of flour in her hands,she saw two bright eyes flashing back at her.She threw the thali in that direction and ran.In the morning they found pug marks of a tiger on the ground!
No Bengali meal is complete without fish...Prawn Malai Curry (creamy prawn curry) and Rui Maach Shorshey Bata (Carp with Mustard)
It's no wonder that my nephew Sujon (a second Russel Peters) looks so blissfully happy......even before the mishti arrived....
The grand finale was Payesh....a kheer made of rice that reminded me of my grandma!!