The recipe that I am going to share with you is “Niramish Bhog-er Khichuri”. Niramish Khichuri what we also called Bhog-er khichuri is offered to the Goddess in Bengali Pujas like Sarawati and Durga. On the puja day, it is served as lunch to the devotes along with some 'bhajis', 'labra' 'chatni', fruits and 'kheer'. This khichuri is made almost in each and every house and Puja-pandals on that day. A similar form is also a delicacy in Bengal during rainy season. You can consider this a nutritious food as spices and oil are used very less in this dish. It is basically a rice based dish cooked with roasted moong daal (yellow lentils) along with some vegetables like cauliflower, peas, potato etc.
This year Saraswati puja was special to us as our son did his 'Hatekhori' on that day. Saraswati is the Hindu goddess of knowledge, music, arts and science. She, the goddess of learning and creativity is worshiped on the 'Vasant Panchami' or the fifth day of Bengali month 'Magh'. This puja is very popular among learners, celebrated in schools, colleges and clubs. “Hatekhori” is the auspicious process where children starts to write their first words in front of Saraswati. The kids write the word 'Ma' or some spiritual words and introduced with the Bengali alphabets with the help of priest. We were so excited ! Though he started writing couple of years back, yet it was one of those customs we all followed and reminds us of our childhood.
Coming to my childhood, we have so many sweet memories of Saraswati Puja at our school or college. It used to be always a great fun. Last ten years we are far away from our own place but thanks to San Diego Bengali community called Saikat, we still get a chance to participate in this festival. Initially in abroad, we used to miss the Puja day a lot. But nowadays we feel happy about the fact that here in overseas, we get a chance to see the face of the Goddess, can offer Puspanjwali, enjoy khichuri bhog with friends. Our kids too enjoy the day a lot ! It is very nice to see the small girls draped in sarees and little boys are in dhoti or in traditional dress.
Niramish Bhog r Khichuri ( a rice based dish made with roasted lentils and some vegetables) for 3 people :
Gobindobhog rice or Jeera rice or any flavored rice : 11/2 cups
Moong daal or yellow lentils : 1 cup
Vegetables : Cauliflowers, Potato (or as per your choice) cut into big pieces, some green peas
Tomato : a big cut into big pieces
Ginger : 2 inches (grated)
Turmeric powder : 1/2 tsp
Cumin powder : 1 tsp
coriander powder : 1 tsp
Green chilies or whole dry Red chilies
Ghee : 1-2 tbsp
Whole Cumin seeds - 1/2 tsp
Cardamom : 3
Cinnamon : 1 inch
Clove : 3
1. In a big deep bottomed pan or kadhai roast, the yellow lentils over medium to low flame.
2. Keep stirring until the color changes and nice smell comes up. Wash the roasted lentils nicely and let it cook with enough water like 7-8 cups of water. Then add turmeric powder and half of the grated ginger.
3. When the lentils are half cooked, add tomato pieces, other vegetables and add salt. Let them cook for another 5 minutes or so at low flame. Then add the washed rice.
4. Cook it until everything is soft and done. In between, give some stirs. Once it's done, mix it well, check seasoning and check for the consistency. If it becomes too dry add some hot waters.
5. In a small pan, heat the ghee and put the chilies. Then add cumin seeds and whole garam masala (cardamom- cinnamon - clove). When it splatters and nice aroma comes up, add the remaining ginger, cumin and coriander powder mixed with 2-3 tablespoon of water.
6. Cook them until oil separates from the side of the pan. Add the masala with the cooked rice and lentils mixture. Let them cook for another 5 to 7 minutes and mix it nicely. Yes, your delicious Khichuri is done!!