Traditional Bengali preparations to help celebrate Durga Puja.
No Bengali festival can be over without a gala feast. Naturally therefore, every Bengali kitchen is abuzz with activity during Durga Puja, the festival of festivals.
I present here are a few mouth-watering dishes culled from my mother’s cookery diary:
- 250 gm maida (refined flour)
- 3 tbsp 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 any vegetarian or non-vegetarian dish.
Photograph: OdetomyLife/Creative Commons
Shorshe Ilish (Hilsa in mustard sauce)
- 1 medium-sized Ilish (hilsa), cut into 8 pieces
- 1 cup brown mustard seeds paste
- 4 green chillies, slit in the middle
- 4 tsp mustard oil
- 1 tsp haldi powder
- 1 tsp of red chilli powder
- Salt to taste
- Arrange the fish (without overlapping) in a microwave-proof container.
- Mix mustard paste, haldi, salt, green chillies and oil.
- Pour the mixture evenly over the fish.
- Cover the container and microwave on 70 per cent power for four minutes.
- Take out the container.
- Turn the fish over gently.
- Microwave for four more minutes.
- If you do not have a microwave, you can pressure cook the ilish marinated with the aforesaid mixture for two whistles.
- Serve hot with steamed rice.
Photograph: Sirsendu.mohanta/Creative Commons
Kasha Mangsho (Meat curry dry)
- 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 (haldi) powder
- 2 tbsp red chili powder
- 2 tbsp coriander (dhania) powder
- 2 large potatoes
- 2 tbsp ghee
- 1 tbsp roasted cumin (jeera) seeds
- 1 tbsp red chilli powder
- Wash the meat and cut it into small pieces.
- Cut 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 chilli, 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 low 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 chilli powder and mix well.
- Serve hot with rice, pulao or luchi.
Photograph: Tony Moore/Creative Commons
- Ghee or sunflower oil
- ¼ litre milk
- 3-5 tbsp sugar
- 3 pods green cardamom
- 100 gm rice
- 1 tbsp of chopped almonds
- 1 tbsp of raisins
- 1 tsp of pistachios
- Heat ghee or sunflower oil in a pan and fry the rice (the colour should not change).
- Boil milk and add the rice.
- Boil till the milk thickens.
- Add sugar and cook on low heat.
- Grind the seeds of the cardamom pod to a fine powder and add it to the mixture.
- Cook on low heat for 5 minutes.
- Garnish with chopped almonds, raisins and pistachios.
- Serve cold.
Photograph: Biswarup Ganguly/Creative Commons
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