Join Us On A Lip-Smacking Journey Into The Unmissable Traditional Durga Puja Feast
Kolkata’s Durga Puja festival has become the latest event to be inscribed in the ‘Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity’ by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO).
The inscription on the UNESCO’S website reads, “Durga Puja is seen as the best instance of the public performance of religion and art, and as a thriving ground for collaborative artists and designers. The festival is characterized by large-scale installations and pavilions in urban areas, as well as by traditional Bengali drumming and veneration of the goddess. During the event, the divides of class, religion and ethnicities collapse as crowds of spectators walk around to admire the installations.”
Experts also point out that what is unique about Durga Puja in Kolkata is that it is source of livelihood to a large number of people, including artisans. Earlier this year, the British Council in India had mapped the creative economy of Durga Puja to over ₹32,000 crore for the year 2019 and added that the festival contributes 2.58% of West Bengal’s GDP.
The decision to inscribe ‘Durga puja in Kolkata’ in the list was taken on Wednesday, the second day of the 16th session of the intergovernmental committee, which is being held is Paris from December 13 to 18. With this, as many as 14 events that represent India’s tradition and culture have been inducted in the list.
Taking to Twitter on Wednesday, UNESCO hailed the moment and congratulated India. “Durga Puja in Kolkata has just been inscribed on the Intangible Heritage list. Congratulations India,” the tweet read.
Feast From The East – The Lavish Durga Puja Bhog
Touted to be one of the biggest carnivals in the world, for the uninitiated, Durga Puja, or Pujo as the Bengalis pronounce it, is celebrated with a fervour parallel to Christmas in New York, Rio carnival in Brazil, La Tomatina in Spain, among others! And during this time while Kolkata transforms into a magic kingdom, to celebrate the pujo with maximum grandeur, Bengalis all around the world flock together to enjoy a heady mixture of friends, family, culture, and the tastiest food on the planet.
Here’s a sneak peek into the traditional Durga Puja feast, cooked as part of the 4 day festivities.
The traditional bhog is an auspicious part of Durga Puja, as not only does it offer traditional Bengali food, but it also celebrates Durga Puja by adding a hue of Bengali tradition with a dual role, of serving the community (people visiting the pandals) and by being an offering to the Goddess. Durga Puja will be celebrated from October 1 to October 5 in 2022. Plan a trip to Kolkata next year to indulge in some of these indispensable bhog items:
1. Khichudi: India’s favourite’s comfort food khichdi or khichuri is an essential part of Durga Puja bhog, especially on Saptami and Navami (7th and 9th day of Navratri). The piping hot Moong Dal Khichdi (Lentil Risotto) often prepared with addition of peas and certain mild spices, are enough to please your appetite.
2. Labra: Labra (a mixed vegetable preparation) is an authentic Bengali dish cooked in mustard oil with a host of vegetables like pumpkin, potato, egg plant, and radish, and spiced with Bengal’s 5 spice seasoning (paach phoron).
3. Beguni: Beguni (fried aubergine) is a side dish served with the Khichdi. Here sliced aubergines are coated with gram flour and seasoned with turmeric, red chilli powder and salt before being deep fried in hot oil. You can enjoy Beguni even as an evening snack with a cup of tea, but make sure to serve it piping hot as it tends to become soggy when cold.
4. Tomato chutney: This is delectably sweet, tangy and spicy at the same time. This Bengali delicacy involves cooking tomatoes in a tadka of mustard seeds, ginger, curry leaves and sugar.
5. Payesh: Payesh is a Bengali version of rice pudding. This signature Bengali dessert is prepared by cooking Rice with Milk, Sugar, Cardamom, and Dry Fruits.
6. Veg Pulao: Made with Basmati rice, peas, and a hint of clove, Veg Pulao is a common substitute to the khichuri of the Saptami Bhog. The Ashtami Special Veg Pulao is truly a highlight of its own.
7. Phoolkopi Aloo Tarkari: The delicious potato cauliflower curry is made with a host of spices is one of the best accompaniments to khichuri, pulao or luchi.
8. Cholar Dal: Bengali Style Cholar Dal is a delicious lentil dish cooked with Bengal gram or chana dal. For this preparation, chana dal is first boiled with turmeric powder and then it is tempered with Indian spices like bay leaf, cinnamon, cloves and green cardamom, and then mixed with fried coconut, raisins, sugar and ghee. Have it with a side of luchi to enter into food coma.
9. Roshogolla: Soft and spongy balls made of fresh paneer and dipped in sugar syrup is a must at every Bengali festive occasion and bhog is no exception.
10. Mishti Doi: Mishti Doi or Sweet Curd is made by thickening milk and is sweetened with jaggery, and is one of Bengali cuisine’s marvels.
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