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Thali Menu #144 – Bengal | Durga Pujo Special

7 Oct, 2019

About Durga Pujo

Durga Puja, major festival of Hinduism, traditionally held for 10 days in the month of Ashvina (September–October), the seventh month of the Hindu calendar, and particularly celebrated in Bengal, Assam, and other eastern Indian states. Durga Puja celebrates the victory of the goddess Durga over the demon king Mahishasura. It begins on the same day as Navratri, a nine-night festival celebrating the divine feminine.

Durga Puja’s first day is Mahalaya, which heralds the advent of the goddess. Celebrations and worship begin on Sasthi, the sixth day. During the following three days, the goddess is worshipped in her various forms as Durga, Lakshmi, and Sarasvati. The celebrations end with Vijaya Dashami (“Tenth Day of Victory” ), when, amid loud chants and drumbeats, idols are carried in huge processions to local rivers, where they are immersed. That custom is symbolic of the departure of the deity to her home and to her husband, Shiva, in the Himalayas. Images of the goddess—astride a lion, attacking the demon king Mahishasura—are placed at various pandals (elaborately decorated bamboo structures and galleries) and temples.

Durga puja is a widely celebrated festival in the Indian states of West Bengal, Bihar, Assam, and Odisha. Streets are decked up with festive lights, loudspeakers play festive songs as well as recitation of hymns and chants by priests, and pandals are erected by communities. Besides the religious significance, the festive time is all about family, friends and feasting!

Food during the festive period, whether at home, ‘Pandals’, street food eateries and restaurants is all thoroughly planned in advance for the course of the festival! At Daana, this weekend, we present some classic Bengali dishes associated with the festivities. Come, relish the festive delicacies with us.

About Bengal

West Bengal is a state in eastern India, between the Himalayas and the Bay of Bengal with a unique geopolitical, cultural and historic significance. Bengali culture considered one of the richest cultures in Indian subcontinent has a recorded history of over 1,400 years. Kolkata or Calcutta is the capital city of the state and has a rich history and heritage to boast of.

Kolkata also holds a special place in our (Sunita and Sanjay’s) lives as our son was born in this wonderful city that grew on us as we called it home for around 4years. It gave us the opportunity to learn and appreciate the subtle nuances of the understated Bengali culture and cuisine.

 The Cuisine

Bengali cuisine is a culinary style originating in Bengal, a region in the eastern part of the Indian subcontinent, which is now divided between Bangladesh and the Indian states of West Bengal, Tripura and Assam’s Barak Valley. With an emphasis on fish, vegetables and lentils served with rice as a staple diet. Use of mustard oil in cooking, mild whole spices and mix of spices called ‘Panchphoran’ are hallmarks of this wonderful cuisine.

Bengali cuisine is known for its subtle (yet sometimes fiery) flavours, and its spread of confectioneries and desserts.

The city of Kolkata was the capital of British India from 1772 to 1911, and as such a strong British influence can be seen in many aspects of Bengali culture including its cuisine. Iconic dishes such as Railway Mutton, Dak Bungalow Chicken Curry are all lingering influences of the Anglo-Indian era.

Bengali cuisine is unique amongst other regional Indian cuisines because it also has the only traditionally developed multi-course custom,that is similar in structure to the à la russe style of French cuisine, with food served course-wise rather than all at once.

At Daana, however we will present it as a Thali this weekend. So, make your booking today to savour the taste of Bengal during the festive period of Durga Pujo.

Thali Menu

Recipe of the week

Maa Ki Dal

Slow cooked creamy, earthy black gram lentils

  • 1 cup whole black lentils
  • ½ cup Channa Dal/ Split Bengal gram
  • 1 brown onion, chopped
  • 1 cup tomato puree
  • 2 to 3 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 1 inch ginger, crushed
  • 1 green chilli, finely chopped
  • 1 teaspoon coriander powder
  • ½ teaspoon cumin seeds
  • ½ teaspoon turmeric powder
  • ½ teaspoon red chilli powder
  • ¼ teaspoon garam masala powder
  • 2 tablespoon ghee
  • 4 cups water
  • salt to taste
  • coriander leaves for garnishing

Pre-prep

  1. Rinse the whole black lentils and channa dal in water 2-3 times and soak it in water overnight or at least for 4 to 5 hours

Preparing Maa ki dal

  1. In a pressure cooker or deep stock pot heat 1 tbsp ghee, add cumin seeds. when they sizzle, add chopped onions, fry the onions till golden brown.
  2. Add the pureed tomatoes and mix well.
  3. Add the crushed ginger-garlic or ginger-garlic paste, chopped green chilies, and all the dry spice powders mixed with a little water.
  4. Sauté the masala till the oil starts to leave.
  5. Add the soaked Whole black gram and channa dal
  6. Add water and salt to taste
  7. Cover the pressure cook for about 15 to 18 whistles or 30 to 45 minutes if cooking in stock pot, till the lentils have become soft and buttery. if still they are not cooked well, then continue to pressure cook/ slow cook as necessary.
  8. If the dal looks thin and runny, then simmer without the lid, till it reaches a creamy consistency.
  9. Garnish Maa Ki dal with coriander leaves and dollop of ghee.

Serve hot with steamed rice, roti or naan