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Spice up the Puja

Indrani Roy Mitra | October 07, 2005

Durga Puja has a special significance for the Bengalis. Apart from being their greatest festival, it also gives them the opportunity to do pet puja (satisfy their taste buds).

Obviously, therefore, Bengali kitchens are abuzz with activity during Durga Puja as khaane ka shaukeen (foodies) Bengalis make the most of this festival. After enjoying sumptuous lunches and elaborate dinners, they again prepare  themselves for the next day's breakfast.

Diet charts and eat-less-resolutions are thrown out of the window during the four day-fest. Moms and grandmoms, therefore, hardly get any respite catering to a ever-so-demanding households.

They wish they too had 10 hands like Maa Durga.

Bengalis are famous for their fish dishes. But not many would know that Bengali kitchens at this time of the year manages to rustle up a few delicious vegetarian concoctions too. Here are a few pages from an authentic Bengali cookbook:

image Sorshe Rui (Rohu in mustard sauce)


10 slices of fresh rohu (sweet water fish)

1 cup mustard oil

5-6 tbsp white mustard or rai seeds

1 tbsp black mustard or rai seeds

1 tbsp turmeric or haldi powder

1 tbsp of red chilly powder

3-4 green chillies

½ cup coconut milk



Grind both types of rai seeds in a grinder till you get a smooth paste.

Add coconut milk and stir till the milk mixes well with the mustard paste.

Add turmeric powder, red chilly powder and salt. Slit and add the green chillies.

Heat oil in a pan and half fry the fish (remember not to deep fry it).

Marinate the half fried fish in the mixture for 30 minutes in a flat microwave-proof utensil.

Microwave the fish for 8-10 minutes. Serve hot with rice.

If you don't have a microwave, put the fish in a flat steel utensil. Cover it and pressure cook it on low flame for five minutes. Let the fish be in the pressure cooker for a little longer. Serve hot with rice.

image Chholar Dal


250 gms chholar or channa dal

3-4 tbsp oil

3 chopped green chillies

1/2 cup grated coconut

1 tbsp cumin seeds or jeera

1/2 tbsp grated ginger

4-5 bay leaves

½ tbsp sugar

A pinch of asafetida or hing 


Boil the channa dal in 2 cups of water.

Heat oil in a pan. Add hing, jeera, bay leaves, grated ginger, chopped chillies, grated coconut, salt, sugar, turmeric and fry for some time.

Pour the boiled dal in the pan. Cook a bit longer.

Serve hot.

image Luchi (Puri)


250 gm maida (refined flour)

3 tbsp white oil (mustard oil)

1/2 tbsp salt

1/2 tbsp sugar

Lukewarm water to knead

Oil to fry


Add 2 tbsp oil, salt and sugar to the maida and mix it uniformly. Knead into dough
with lukewarm water.

Make small balls. Flatten them into round pancakes, approximately 4 cm in diameter.

Deep fry them till they puff up and turn light brown.

Serve hot with Chholaar Dal and Payesh (recipe below).

Kasha Mangsho


1 kg lamb or mutton

1 cup cooking oil

1 tbsp whole garam masala

1 tbsp garam masala powder

3-4 bay leaves

1 tbsp garlic paste
2 tbsp yogurt

2 tbsp ginger paste

 2 onions, large
1 tbsp turmeric or haldi powder

2 tbsp red chili powder

2 tbsp coriander or dhania powder

2 large potatoes

2 tbsp ghee

1 tbsp roasted cumin or jeera seeds

1 tbsp red chilly powder


Wash the meat and cut it into small pieces.

Divide each potato into four pieces.

Add garlic, ginger paste and yogurt to the meat. Marinate for 30 minutes.

Heat the oil in a pan.

Add bay leaf and the whole garam masala. Fry for 30 seconds.

Add sliced onions and fry till light brown.

Add garam masala powder.

After 30 seconds, add the red chilly, haldi and dhania powder and fry it on slow heat till the oil separates from the gravy.
Add little water if the spices start to stick to the bottom of the pan.

Add the marinated meat and potatoes. Cook on slow heat till oil separates from the curry.

Remove the potatoes from the pan and add 1 cup of water.

Cook the meat in a pan with a lid on, for an hour, stirring frequently as required till the meat becomes tender.

Add the potatoes. Add ghee, roasted cumin, roasted red chilly powder and mix well.

image Payesh (Kheer)


Ghee or oil

¼ litre milk

3 tbsp sugar

3 pods green cardamom 

100 gm rice

4 tbsp water


Heat ghee or sunflower oil in a pan and fry the rice (the colour should not change).

Boil milk and add rice.

Add sugar and boil further till the milk thickens.

Grind the seeds of the cardamom pod to a fine powder and add it to the mixture.

Garnish with chopped almonds, raisins and pistachios.

Serve cool.

Tip: Tastes divine with luchi (puri).


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Read what others have to say:

Number of User Comments: 2

Sub: Benagli food

i am total bengali food freak i eat only sea food i have given up meat my mom is expert in preparing these dishes.

Posted by ritu

Sub: the recepies are pretty common ones!

i guess the recepies are the pretty common ones.. which most of my non bong frnds are also equally aware of..... rediff shud have shared ...

Posted by Mala


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