Delicious autumn! My very soul is wedded to it, and if I were a bird I would fly about the earth seeking the successive autumns. ∼ George Eliot
Images of Durga Pujo (the annual autumn festival for Bengalis worldwide when Goddess Durga descends upon earth and photobombs peoples’ selfies!) have started to flood across Facebook and its drilled in my head thousand times over which new dress or saree that my Bengali friends would be wearing on each of the days of the Pujo. That translates into 5 days of Pujo, 5×2 *belas* or times (mornings and afternoons) that they would be changing/wearing new clothes (that makes 10 new dresses plus a few more bought over the online shopping portal on top of what Rangapishi or Fuldimoni bought in a boutique exhibition!). What happens in Dubai? A lot for those who are involved – there are many Pujos being celebrated privately and an official one in the Sindhi Hall in Meena Bazar. But for many of us who try to struggle our daily school and office routine with Pujo, we look forward to the weekend with friends. While my Ma is probably too busy to even whatsapp ‘Happy Pujo’ right now and Baba is too proud to declare that although we have the tallest building on earth in Dubai, the tallest Durga idol – a 80-feet tall fibre-glass Durga idol has just been inaugurated. And now I hear – for the first time ever in the history of Kolkata’s pujo, a near stampede has forced down a Pujo. To move on with the good things in life – here’s a beautiful recipe – an unusual one I would say – to bring on the Pujo… where ever you are, whether you are a Bengali or not.
Recipes differ across the border – and S’s paternal family originally coming from Bangladesh, have many such recipes that are new to my family. A few years back when Kakima, S’s auntie came to visit us, she brought along with her a treasure trove of recipes that I had never known existed or had tasted. Like the Sour Spinach Chutney. Neither did I know that a vegetable existed in the name of Sour Spinach nor had I any iota of how that sour spinach would taste. Or a payesh/pudding made with Carrots! And cabbage! And Sweet Potato! And Beetroot! Honestly, I pity how geographical boundaries have made our perspectives narrow and knowledge slim. So here I am digging my resurrected albums (remember I had said once that my computers had crashed?) to find some beautiful recipes that needs to see the fire of the oven.
Moong Daaler Payesh or Yellow Lentil Pudding
2 lt low fat milk (many prefer to use sweetened condensed milk – in that case you will need much less milk)
1 cup moong daal or yellow lentils
2 cups sugar or 1 cup sugar with 1 can of sweetened condensed milk
1/2 tsp ghee
2 green cardamoms
1/2 bay leaf
1/4 cup pistachios or cashews, 1/4 cup raisins, soaked in water*
1/2 cup almond slivers*
* Optional – for garnishing
- Soak the moong daal in water for some time and drain out.
- Add ghee in a Dekchi/a flat bottomed pan (Dekchis are usually used for cooking Rice. Please note that all types of payesh are always made in utensils meant for cooking rice or kept separately and hasn’t been used for any other type of cooking. This is because of it’s susceptibility to catching the smell of other cooked items. Constant stirring is required so that the bottom of the pan doesn’t get burnt).
- Add the moong daal and stir it along with ghee taking care that the grains don’t get burnt. Set aside.
- Boil the milk.
- Add the moong daal when the milk comes to a boil. Throw in bay leaves, cardamoms and a bit of ghee.
- Keep on stirring so that the lentils are boiled properly and the milk thickens to almost three-quarters of it’s original quantity.
- Add the sugar and the sweet condensed milk only towards the end, and keep stirring continuously so that the payesh doesn’t get burnt at the bottom.
- Take it off the fire when your desired thickness and consistency has been achieved (some prefer it runny, some prefer it a bit thick).
- Garnish with pistachios, raising, cashew Nuts. Serve it cold. Many prefer to eat payesh smoking hot, just after it has been taken off the fire – so the intensity of sizzle is up to you!
A bit more stirring and thickening of the payesh will probably result in a Halwa. Do try out the other traditional payesh recipes in this blog – Rice Pudding, Notun Gurer Payesh, Gajorer Payesh/Carrot Pudding or the Simuiyer Payesh/Vermicelli Pudding from my blog. If you are looking
What do you do when you miss something that you have grown up with – a festival, a ritual, a dish or those special people? We make believe! I tell Lady M (my lady Friday)… oh I completely forgot, it is Durga Pujo in Kolkata and everybody will be doing something special – wear new clothes, eat amazing food and catch up with friends and family. She said ‘Lets do something special too’ and that’s what we did… an impromptu makeover to her chilli chicken on our lunch menu! And what a makeover… complete with table setup and her suggestion that I should pour myself a Chablis – wow!
Doesn’t this dessert look devastatingly destructive (promised myself I will not be using the adjectives like awesome, delicious, fabulous and the most common one – yummy)? Festive or not, desserts are meant to tug at souls (not the diabetic ones). And autumn brings in the new edition of FoodEMag dxb, Do have a flip through – its really beautiful and much shorter. Do share pictures with me when you try this recipe… any new twist that you can bring into it? Curious – whether its only a Bengali who thinks of converting every vegetable on this planet into a dessert or there are more such species like us? Happy Autumn, Happy Navratri, Happy Durga Pujo… and hello fresh hope!
Unblogging it all… Ishita
Disclaimer: The subject, story, opinions and views stated here are my own and are independent. While you enjoy reading the posts with lot of visuals, please do not use any material from these posts. Do join me on my daily food and travel journey on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest.