Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Rituals of Durga puja days and Kalakand, A Beloved Bengali Sweet

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I'm writing this post with heavy heart as, the Durga puja is over now and we have to wait for another year for this glorious time, I want to put a little bit of glimpse on the significance/rituals of Maha Ashtami, Navami and Dashami/bisharjan day, for my Non-bengali friends/blogger friends who are interested to know about it. After, I posted the significance of maha Saptami puja, I got engaged with the Puja preperations and I just wanted to enjoy these special days. So, here in this post, I want to put some emphasis on other puja day's rituals.
Significance of Maha Ashtami Puja :
As the second day of puja starts with the hymns and slokas at the community Puja pandals, almost every person in Bengal get ready to offer flowers to the goddess with empty stomach, which we call Anjali/Pushpanjali(offering flowers to the goddess). If not all days, but on this day, everyone will offer anjali to the goddess, as it it one of the main puja days. Another main significance
or feature of Ashtami puja, is Kumari Puja
or to worship Mother Durga in her virgin form/worshipping a girl child. A small girl, aged between 4-13 years, symbolising the Kumari form of  Devi, is worshipped in front of the idol of Goddess Durga. This is particularly done to evolve the purity and divinity of the women of the society.
As the day wore on, it's time for another important ritual, Sandhi Puja, which marks the inter-linking of the Maha Ashtami and Maha Navami.    During this juncture (the"Sandhikhan"), Durga is worshipped in her Chamunda form. Devi Durga killed, Chando and Mundo, the two asuras at "Sandhikhan" and thus got the name of "Chamunda". Sandhi puja lasts from the last 24 minutes of Ashtami till the first 24 minutes of Nabami. Thousands of diyas/earthen lamps are illuminated, hom-yajna is perfomed as it marks the sacrifice of the buffalo demon king, Mahishasura.
Significance of Maha Navami Puja :
This is the concluding day of Durga Puja. The main Navami puja begins after the end of Sandhi Puja.Bengalis enjoy this last day of puja with fullest enthusiasm, by inviting freinds and relatives and cook an elaborate menu with bengali specialities for them and off course with pandal hopping.
Significance of Dashami Puja :
This is the last day of puja. On this day, Mother starts her journey back to her Husband's place from her mother's place. Everybody bid Farewell to Mother with tearful eyes and heavy heart and eagerly wait for her to come again next year. In a grand procession with lots of dhaks, drums and trumpets, the idols of Durga and her children are brought to a riverside to immerse it in the water. This immersion ceremony is known as Visanjan. Before Ma leaves,

every married woman of all age group go to nearby pandal and apply sindoor to the goddess and each other. This ritual is known as Sindoor Khela. Woman greet mother by washing off her face with a Paan leaves, put sweets on the lips of the idols and apply sindoor on her forehead as we take her blessings for the last time. This event is called "Devi Baran". Then women apply sindoor to other married women present there, not only apply, smear thier faces, hair and saris with vermilion/sindoor and offer sweets to each other. Men follow the customary 'Kolakuli' (embrace each other). The younger members do pranam (touching the feet) to the elders. Different kinds of sweets and savouries are prepared at home to greet friends and relatives and  wish best for their lives.

Without sweet, bengalis cannot think of Bijoya dashami and I'm not an exception. Thought to make some bengali sweet at home for my family and friends. So, I made this Kalakand, a very beloved Bengali Sweet for Bijoya Dashami for my family and friends and with this I want to wish everyone a Very Happy Bijaya Dashami/Dusshera...May God bless you all


Ingredients :
Paneer/Indian Cottage cheese : 500 gm.
Milk powder : 2 tbsp. (heaped)
Low-fat Condensed milk : 1 tin. (~15 oz./450 gm.)
Green Cardamom powder : 2-3 tsp.
Ghee/butter : 2 tblsp.
Food Color(Orange) : 1/2 tsp.(optional)


Method : 
  • Mash paneer coarsely. Add milk powder to it and mix well and again mash the mixture for some time, until the texture is not only mushy, but kind of grainy.
  • Heat a wide pan, add ghee to it, leave a little to grease a plate. When ghee is totally melted, add paneer mixture to the pan. Stir for a minute. 
  • Then add 2/3 of condensed milk and mix with paneer well. Don't forget to stir the mixture all the time, otherwise it'll stick to the pan and burn and lower the heat to medium. Adding color to it, isn't necessary, as Kalakand is normally White in color. If you want to add the color, add it now and stir immediately to mix it evenly in the paneer mixture. 
  • Cook the mixture, stirring continuously for about 5 minutes. Then taste the sweet level, if you think it is well as per your taste, then add rest of the condensed milk accordingly. Mix the milk well. Cook the mixture until it dries up and the texture look like this, as in the below image.........

  • Remove from heat and add cardamom powder and mix well.
  • Grease a plate with rest of the ghee and pour the cooked paneer mixture on the plate and spread evenly.
 
  • Cool for 1/2 an hour and then cut into desired shapes, square or diamond shape.

    Photo0124
                                    E..........n..........j........o.........y........


    Don't forget to sign in for $45 CSN giveaway for the residents of US & Canada, going on here, which is going to end in 10 days, for details click here

    Reposting some recipes for these two following events :

    1. Rawa Kesari/Orange colored Suji Halwa
    2. Kaju or Cashewnut Peda in MW



    Sending this to Only' Festive food event,
    hosted by Khaugiri and started by Pari of Foodelicious


    And To CFK : Festive Food, hosted by Suma of Veggie Platter and started by Sharmi of Neivedyam






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    6 comments:

    1. Dear Indrani
      Very refreshing write up. I enjoyed it. So you make Kalakand at home...hummmm..thats great...now that you have reminded me of the sweet , I am going to buy and eat some, before your Boudi arrives from her clinic ha ha
      Bhalo theko

      ReplyDelete
    2. Interesting information about the puja and nice write up. Never attempted preparing kalakand at home.. nice recipe!

      ReplyDelete
    3. Dear Indrani

      Very much liked the write up. Excellent looking Kalakand. Loved the very look of it. Must have tasted great as well.

      Deepa
      Hamaree Rasoi

      ReplyDelete
    4. Lovely write up Indrani, came to know more about Durga puja, kalakand looks absolutely irresistible.

      Priya's Easy N Tasty Recipes

      ReplyDelete
    5. This was an interesting write up. I got to learn about some of the Bengali rituals. Kalakand looks really mouth watering and thanks for all your lovely entries to CFK.

      ReplyDelete

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