Today is Makar Sankranti, the day we celebrate the arrival of spring. It celebrates the oncoming harvest. Bengalis celebrate this day by preparing some special sweets known as “Pitha”. There are many types and I love all of them. My mom is an expert on these. I remember days of preparation in our home for the D-day. Most of the pithas had coconut as its main ingredient. My dad would buy lots of fresh coconuts and then he would grate them one by one.
With the Durga Puja celebrations over, it is a bit lull around here. Every Monday I feel very tired and sleepy as Boomboom can vouch for. This is because for some reason I do not get proper sleep on Sunday nights. However for a change this was not the case this week. It was a good thing too as yesterday was Lakshmi Puja. So I was able to get up in the morning and do the rituals for the Puja.
Things have been hectic lately. After many days of constant work, we found free time this weekend. Sumi and I were reminiscing our childhood and I remembered the delicious Malpuas that mom used to make for us. She made it specifically for me as I loved them. Even though we have been to Kolkata 4 times the past 3 years, I last had Malpua 4 years back. I consciously asked mom not to prepare them for the past few years due to our low-carb diet.
My mom cooks wonderful mutton. Khashir Mangsho (Goat meat) is a popular delicacy in Bengal and is especially served during festivals. During our Durga Puja festival, on the Maha Ashthami (eighth day), Boomboom’s side of the family definitely have this dish. The gravy is turned healthy by adding loads of vegetables. These add great flavor into the dish. I have such fond memories of childhood. During the rainy days, I used to get so excited when I returned from school to a hot meal of plain rice and mutton gravy.
Bengalis are known for their sweet teeth. No matter what the occasion is, sweets are a compulsory portion of the menu. I remember indulging in all the lovely “Makar Sankranti” delicacies mom made like Pathisapta and Pithes. I also love Rasagullas, Sandesh and Langcha. The options are unlimited. However Payesh is considered one of the most auspicious sweet. During birthdays, anniversaries or any festivals, having a spoonful of Payesh is considered a very good start for the day.
It’s starting to rain at Bangalore these days. I love the rains. I miss the fact that it rains here usually in the afternoon. When I was growing up at Ranchi, there were no such timing. In fact there were quite a few days when it rained 5-6 days continuously. I have special memories of the lunch mom used to serve during these days. After coming back from school, I had to have bath (else no lunch).
Paneer remains my all time favorite. When I was a kid (I am not one now despite what my mom wants me to believe), mom always made a paneer dish once a day. Lunch always used to contain fish, which is obvious as we were a typical Bengali family, but on Saturdays it was no fish. Instead we had a paneer dish. As far as I was concerned for me it made no difference.
It’s been ages since we posted a recipe. Things haven’t been very smooth at the home front. We have been extremely busy with our work. My parents are visiting us and there were lots of trips to the hospital to check whether everything is alright with them. Things are looking better now. The past few months haven’t been exciting cooking wise. We ate pretty regular stuff as mom wanted to eat regular food.
My favourite non-vegetarian item has always been fish. Mom tells me that the first thing I had at my “Annaprashan”, or the Hindu rite of passage, was fish even though they tried to push in rice grin. In our culture, rice should be the 1st food which an infant takes during the ceremony but I just loved the smell and taste of fish. Throughout my childhood, I loved fish so much that I used to get upset if there was no fish during lunch any day.
Fish is compulsory on the dining table of any bengali. We literally start our life with a fish preparation. And suffice to say I love it too. This recipe is not exactly mine or Boomboom’s. It was made by my mother-in-law. Both my mom and mom-in-law make it a different and both taste heavenly. I wish one day I can say that for my own recipe. Though whenever I tried it Boomboom told its very good.