Shaarodiyaa Shubhechha and delicious bhog

20 Oct

Once a year Maa Durga comes down to earth to remind Bengalees of the power of Shakti and the triumph of good over evil.

Myths aside, Durga Puja is a great time to celebrate a new season and share yummy traditional food with family and friends.

Bhog, a tasty mix of rice and lentils cooked together with ghee and spice is offered first to the goddess and then to the devotees. Entire neighborhoods cook and serve giant vats of it at the pujo pandals in Calcutta this time of the year. It is most often paired with a mixed vegetable dish, fried eggplants or begun bhaja, crunchy papar and sweet tomato chutney.


My favorite version is a moist, almost runny, spicy khichuri bhog (the one shown here is what I ate at the Boston pujo this year – a drier version):

•    1 cup Gobindobhog rice ( or any small-grained rice)
•    2 tbsp ghee
•    ½ cup Moong dal (split green gram)
•    ¼ cup green peas (optional)
•    1 tbsp ginger paste
•    1 stick cinnamon
•    1 cardamom pod
•    2-3 cloves
•    1 tsp red chili powder
•    1-2 bay leaves
•    1/2 tsp panch phoron ( a mixed spice found in Indian stores)
•    2 green chilis (sliced if you like it hot)
•    1 tomatoes
•    Salt to taste
•    1 pinch sugar
•    1 tsp turmeric powder

Cook
•    Dry roast the moong dal till it emits a roasted aroma. Add rice and wash both thoroughly.
•    Pour some ghee (or vegetable oil) in a wok
•    Add cinnamon, cardamom, bay leaves, cloves, panch-phoron and fry
•    Add green chili, ginger paste, red chili powder, salt, turmeric and stir
•    Add peas, tomatoes and stir
•    Add the washed rice and moong dal to the vegetables, pour sufficient water and let cook till the rice and lentils become soft.
•    It should have a porridge-like consistency so add more water if required.
•    Serve hot with some ghee on top.

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