Whatever the festival is, Bangalee taste bud just needs some excuses to be pampered and at this phase we all are very unsure whether we should go to the Puja mandap and social gatherings or not because of the Covid-19 pandemic.
Non-veg being a regular festive food style, we overlook veg items most of the times which can be very healthy and tasty at the same time. This Puja brings some veg items to add a fresh flavour to the mundane meat and fish routine. In this article, we will give some easy and tasty veg ideas to savour the puja flavor through your plates.
What comes to your mind when you think of Puja offerings? It has to be Khichuri. No matter what it is accompanied by, a plate full of Khichuri always makes us feel the Puja vibe. Having a wholesome comfort in Bangalee food habit, Khichuri always ranks up as an occasional staple dish. You can decorate your Khichuri plate with pickles. Let us see what else can complement it!
Besides being a Halloween symbol, pumpkin is also very good on food plates. A traditional Bangalee dish named Labra perfectly goes with the Puja Khichuri which is a simply cooked pumpkin curry. It is a ‘Three S’ dish - sweet, salty, and spicy. While Labra adds a moisture taste to the plate, we should add some fries and fritters for crispiness. It could be regular potato, plantain, eggplant, or we can think of something unique as soya nuggets.
For those who do not know, this item is an example of utilitarianism as nothing is wasted in the process of making soya nuggets; after extracting Soybean oil, soy flour is used to make Soya chunk, which is a great veg item absorber of spices.
As Soya nugget or Soya chunks are not very known to us, they should be mentioned that the taste will confuse you with meat for a moment. This is why people who are familiar with the multidimensional use of Soya nugget, often call it the vegetable meat.
Dairy products are most of the time sweet dishes, but listen, milk itself can be turned into a spicy main dish. Okay, this may not be regular milk but in a modified form, known as Chhena. This item is often confused with Paneer but there is a fine line between these two. We can manage Chhena from local sweet shops, but it would be best if we could make that at home to ensure fresh and safe condition. Milk, mixed with some drops of vinegar or lime, will soon start turning into a coagulated form. Then we need to separate the water from the Chhena. After the processed dairy is achieved, some flour should be added to make a firm structure and then make small balls of Chhena. To ensure the firmness of the balls, frying those before making the curry will be a better option. Curry making procedure is just as usual egg curry, but the ultimate taste depends on the spices added. Cinnamon, cardamom, cloves, and dried chilies, in a word Garam Masala is mandatory for Chhena curry to get a celebrated look and taste.
Be prepared always for something sweet to finish the meal. No one can deny that Phulkoluchi has been a delight. And if it is accompanied with a bowl of sweet and stylish Payesh, nothing can be better than that particular meal. Usually, Luchi is made without salt, but we can always have rooms for experiment. So, add a little bit of salt to the regular Luchi recipe and enjoy the contrast of sweet and salty taste. Oven to plate and then straight to our mouth, that is the one-way road for Luchi. Payesh is a Bangalee dessert item including rice, milk and sugar. Most of the time it is decorated with dry fruits. It has an authentic taste that can be modified by adding vanilla, chocolate or one’s preferred flavour. Payesh can be stored in the refrigerator to have a cold and fresh feel, but Luchi always needs to be hot and crispy. This will add another contrast and a pleasant end to the Puja special platter.
This article is written by Anindeta Chowdhury, a student at the department of Mass Communication and Journalism, University of Dhaka. She can be reached at [email protected]