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Saturday, October 12, 2013

Bengali Durga Puja, Know you Kolkata Food blogger : Sayantani and Niramish Khichuri and Labra(bengali mix-vegetable)

  As the month of October starts, Hindus all over the world get enthused in festive fervor. This is the very special time of year for all Hindus, our biggest festival, Navratri/Durga Puja is already started. For Bengalis, this is the most happiest time of their lives, as our own 'Girl'( Maa Durga)is coming to her mother's place with her children after whole one year. Whole Bengal is in festive fever now, especially Kolkata. Kolkata is now covered with different structured Pandals and totally decked up by colorful lights. Goddess Durga has arrived in every pandal for her 5 day visit to her ancestral place. As Kolkata is place where people loves art very much, so lots of pandals have made their pandals on different themes following renowned structures from allover the World and showcased different forms of arts as decoration of their pandals. Here I'll show you, what Durga puja is for bengalis and people of Kolkata. 

from left, 1st & 2nd : inside art work of a pandal, Right Top : A pandal depicting a Buddist temple and below, a huge lamp inside a pandal

Even through goddess Durga's idol, the Puja organisers try to give society a message. Like, in one place, Maa Durga has taken upon herself to stand against rape. Violence against women is the theme of the puja there and in another place, Maa Durga is adorned with gold worth Rs. 4 crore. The jewellery is especially designed to be in sync with the traditional and festive theme. The message is in this time of inflation and ever rising costs, only Maa Durga can afford to adorn gold. Very thoughtful message..

 As you have been learnt what Durga puja is, then I'll move to today's recipe, which is a must during puja and bengalis all time favorite comfort food : khichuri(rice-dal hoch-potch), labra(mix-vegetable) and aloo bhaja(Potato fry). When it comes to bengali food, I trust just a few of my blogger buddies blogs, for reference. Sayantani of A Homemaker's Diary is one of them. She is also our star of this week on event named 'Know Your Kolkata Food Bloggers'. About her, she is passionately blogging for 5 years now, who features traditional bengali recipes as well as international recipes. By nature, she is the sweetest person I've ever known and also very down-to-earth and a true friend. She picturises her creations with the same passion too. I always follow her blog and recommend everyone to visit her blog as her every post is eye-candy for me. Whatever I learnt from her, I try to reflect it on my work too. I tried many recipes from her blog and for this event, I've chosen this recipe, which is not posted yet by me. But I didn't follow her whole recipe, that is the way I cook my khichuri. And I made her Potato fry and served it with Labra or mix vegetable curry bengali style.

Niramish Khichuri, which is just must during puja days. On the eight day of Puja, known as "ashtami Puja", many bengalis eat totally vegetarian food i.e., no-onion, no-garlic food. That day this khichuri is cooked in most bengali homes. This khichri is also called as Bhoger khichuri as this is prepared and offered to the Goddess during any puja. This is a midley of rice, dal and vegetables, cooked in a big pot, using very little spice and oil. Totally helathy and delicious, it is also a helpful diet, when people is suffering from stomach upset and with similar discomforts. I did follow her recipe, but didn't follow her method of cooking. So here is the recipe:;

Niramish Khichuri 

You Need :
Gobindobhog rice/basmati Rice/any fragnant rice : 1 cup
Moong Dal(yellow lentil) : 2/3 cup
Potato : 1, cubed [can add cauliflower, green beans, green peas etc.]
Carrot : 1, cubed
Tomato : 1, small
green chillies : 2
Ginger paste : 1 tblsp.
Cumin powder : 1 tsp.
Coriander Powder : 1 tsp.
Turmeric powder : 2 tsp.
Cumin seeds : 1/2 tsp.
Oil : 2 tblsp.
Spices to temper :

Ghee: 1 tbsp

Bay leaf: 1
Dry red chilli: 1 piece
Cumin seeds: ½ tsp
Cardamom: 2 pieces
Clove: 2 pieces
cinnamon: 1" piece
Fresh Coconut : chopped 

How To :
  • In a big pan, dry roast the moond dal till they are lightly browned and release a nice roasted aroma. Keep aside. Wash the rice, drain and keep aside.
  • Heat 11/2 tblsp. oil in a big wide bowl, add cumin seeds and immediately add vegetables you are using. Stir fry with a pinch of salt, add ginger paste, green chillies and powdered spices. In medium heat, mix everything well, add roasted lentil, rice and mix together well. Add tomato and cook further for 1 minute. 
  • Then add about 2 cups of hot water, add salt, cover and let it cook until rice, dal and vegetables are well cooked. 
  • In another small pan, heat 1/2 tblsp. oil and ghee, fry chopped coconut pieces until lightly brown, in there add bay leaf, cardamom, cinnamon, cloves and cumin seeds, when cumin seeds turn light brown, take the pan off the heat and immediately add this temper to cooked khichuri. 
  • Mix well and cook further for 2-3 minutes. Check the seasoning. Add if needed and Khuchuri is done. the consistency of khichuri should be not too runny, not too thick.
Labra( Mix-vegetable curry Bengali style)
This is very nutritious and power-packed dish. A combination of vegetables are cooked with very few spices. 
You Need :
Potato/sweet potato, radish, pumpkin, long yard beans/green beans/flat beans,
Parwal/pointed gourd, cauliflowers, carrots etc.
Tomato : 1
Turmeric powder : 1 tsp.
Red chilli powder : 1-2 tsp.
Panch phoron( a mixture of five spices-fenugreek, mustard, 
cumin, black cumin & fennel) : 1 tsp.
Dry Red chilli : 1
Oil : 2 tblsp.
salt to taste
Sugar : a pinch

How To :
  • Cut vegetables in big chunks. Heat oil in a pan, temper with dry red chilli and panch phoron, immediately add vegetables. Add salt and turmeric powder. Mix well with vegetables. At this time, vegetables can ooze out some water, let it evaporate totally, add chopped toamtoes and red chilli powder.
  • Mix well and add about 1 cup water. Cover and let the vegetables cook for about 7-8 minutes. Check the seasoning and if the vegetables are done. When all the water dries up and vegetables are cooked, remove from heat.
Aloo/Potato Fry with poppy seed :

You Need : 
Potato : 1, sliced thinly
Black cumin seeds : 1 tsp.
green chilli :1
Poppy seed :1 tblsp.
Oil : 1 tblsp.
Salt to taste
How To :
  • heat oil in a pan, temper with green chilli and black cumin seeds, add sliced potatoes, add salt and cook in medium flame(don't let them turn brown, min has turned little brown). When potatoes are almost done, add poppy seed and stir fry with potatoes until done. Poppy seeds should turn little brown to release the aroma.


Saturday, October 12, 2013 / by / 6 Comments


  1. Wish i day i plan a trip during durga puja to kolkatta, such a fantastic festival.. Both khichadi and labra makes me hungry and healthy foods as well.

  2. hi..

    Amira Basmati Rice with Sausage, Tomatoes and Provolone Cheese is a tasty lunch or dinner.


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  4. Wow..Thanks for sharing great Kolkata food recipes. Kolkata is a great place to travel especially during the time of Durga Puja. Check out places to visit in Kolkata before you plan a trip here.


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