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Durga Puja – food & more food

It’s almost time for ‘Pujo‘ and I can ‘spy with my little eye’, lots of busy-bees, ingredients, colours and food everywhere around me.  I think it might well be the ‘Pujo’ food that we are referring to and all the people, at homes and over at the ‘pandals’, busy preparing for an amazing culinary and cultural experience for people like you and me. Well, all I say is, that if the magic is so infectious here, what would it be like in the ‘City of Joy‘ itself? My friends who live in the beautiful city of Kolkata inform me that the city is always transformed into an art gallery (well, almost!) with the decorations and the colours of the festive season.

‘Is this the most important festival for a Bengali’?, I often hear people ask. Well,  I think the answer to this is summarised beautifully in Bong Appetite, a blog about the delicious Bengali food.  ‘The spirit of Christmas in UK, the madness of Tomatina of Spain, the vibrancy of Rio Carnival of Brazil, the joyfulness and urge of sharing and giving on Thanksgiving of USA and Canada could possibly sum up to mean what Durga Puja is to a Bengali‘. 

I distinctly remember wandering from one ‘Durga Puja’ celebration to another with family and friends and have very vivid memories of the ‘Bhog‘ served; perhaps the ‘bit’ I used to look forward to the most. Generally, the ‘bhog’ included servings of  ‘Khichuri’, ‘Labra’, ‘papad’, ‘begun bhaja’, ‘sandesh’ and various sort of chutneys, mainly tomato, if my memory serves me right. Since food has a very special place in our hearts, we are going to dedicate this post to the traditional, delicious, vegetarian food of West Bengal. I am aware that non-vegetarian food is rather a big part of ‘Pujo’ festivities, but may I offer my apologies now and take your permission so that we can together just focus on finger-licking vegetarian food and believe me, there is plenty of it. Infact, a while back, I had written about some delicious vegetarian dishes from the Bengali kitchen, and may I point out, that they were totally different from what I have here. I did say, there was plenty of vegetarian food, didn’t I? Read on…

The quintessential 'Chholar dal and Lucchi' combo via

The quintessential ‘Chholar dal and Lucchi’ combo via and the recipe on: Vegan Girl on the loose

'Khichuri', the Bengali way, offered to the Goddess via and the recipe on: Bong Mom's Cookbook

‘Khichuri’, the Bengali way, offered to the Goddess via and the recipe on: Bong Mom’s Cookbook

'Labra' aka mixed vegetables, the 'Bengali' way - deliciousness galore! via

‘Labra’ aka mixed vegetables; deliciousness galore! recipe on: Bong Mom’s Cookbook

'Narkel Sandesh' , delicous Coconut bites, a must during the 'Pujo'; recipe on: Mellow and Spicy

‘Narkel Sandesh’ , delicous Coconut bites, a must during the ‘Pujo’; recipe on: Mellow and Spicy

Oh! so delicous, the Mihidana via; recipe on

Oh! so delicious, the divine ‘Mihidana’, closely related to ‘Boondi’  via; go to a ‘pujo’ to get some 🙂

Salivating, are you? I certainly am…love the festivities throughout the year, which thankfully means that we never, ever have a boring month; the culinary and cultural extravaganza appears to continue forever, reminding us gently about our culture, heritage and of course, the sanctity of food throughout the length and breadth of our country. Happy ‘Pujo’, everyone!

Eat well, stay happy!

Shilpa xx

 

Cover Image: via1, via2, via3, via4, via5, via6