Pujo meals from the Sundarbans
For our pujo preparations this year, we invited Promila’di, Aparna’di and Rekha to hear and learn from them about their pujo’r khawar. And it was super fun!
Sashthi’s meal was a simple enough fare of tinkona porota and alu’r dom, something that is easy on the palate with big-bold flavours. For Promila’di this is what signifies the beginning of pujo, sitting with her family and gathering around early in the morning with bowls full of the flaky porota lightly fried in ghee and some soft aloo in a light spice, before getting ready for the boron.
The second day of the pujo was all about having a light lunch before heading out for a day of pandal hopping and some wholesome adda. Aparna’di and Promila’di, though, both being strict vegetarians, cook non-veg meals for their meals, case in point: sona mug’er daal with maach’er matha diye daal, a gently spiced lentil soup with fried head of catla. For the rice, they chose Rupshal, which, in their opinion, is what pairs best with the fish and some sojne pata bhaja to round off the meal.
Coming back from pushpanjali on the third day of pujo, the auspicious maha ashtami, Rekha will sometimes make luchi and kumro’r chokka for the family, if they are hungry before the pujo’r bhog. The pushpanjali ritual calls for offering prayers to the mother goddess and is probably the only day when people generally go empty stomach till lunch.
The last two days of the pujo, nobomi and doshomi are synonymous with celebratory, elaborate meals. Promila’di was generous enough to share her recipe of khashi’r mangsho with us to pair with Taraori Basmati. This is probably customary, almost ritualistic, in most of the households in Bengal to end the pujo with some goat curry. And for the doshomi special sweet, Rekha prepared her sondesh, which she said she learnt by watching her uncle, a professional moyra, sweet-maker.
The pujo preparations this year for us were special because of Promila’di, Aparna’di and Rekha’s presence who shared their stories and wonderful recipes with us.