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Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Bengali Misti/Sweet Pulao (বাঙালী মিষ্টি পোলাও) and a reminiscence of Kalipujo


Another Diwali/Kalipujo (কালীপূজো) has gone by. I was planning to share some of my memories with you, but it took longer to pen down my thoughts.

I come from a middle class family and for us Diwali was never about shahi food or crazy partying, rather it was more about the celebration of light. Diwali was a busy-busy day for my brother and me. On this day, we were solely responsible to decorate every corner of our house with prodeep (প্রদীপ)/diya. We used to soak clay lamps in water, sun-dry them on the terrace. We also hand-rolled cotton wicks (সলতে) with our little palms! On Deepavali evening, prodeep were filled with mustard oil, lit and placed all around the house, on every doorway, at the terrace corners and also at the Tulsi-tola (তুলসীতলা). In addition, small white candles were lit along the terrace and balcony walls. I fondly remember this as a day full of fun, frolic and happiness with my family, specially because it was a no study day. Every male member of our household used to lit a bundle of "patkathi"(পাটকাঠি /jute sticks) and visit the nearest temple. When they came back, they would gather all the patkathis at one place and jump across this small fire thrice each and say loudly "poka re puki re, poka re makore dur jah". This symbolizes end of all evils. Then my grandma would put kohl on everyone, even the men were not spared. My father don't like fire crackers and he never bought me any. My mom was the one who would buy crackers for me. I loved phuljhuris, rangmashal, tubri, charki and kalipotka!

I feel blessed that we experienced such joyous colorful festivities in our childhood. Now away from home, I miss those days so much! Every year, around this time, I yearn to go back home, to enjoy these festivals in those same old ways. Even though life has moved on, I still cling on to those old memories, if only we could live the same way again!


This year we visited a local temple for Kalipujo. Last year for pujo, I had made Bhoger Khichuri (ভোগের খিচুড়ি). This year I prepared Bengali Misti Pulao (বাঙালী মিষ্টি পোলাও), panch rokomer bhaja, Labra, Tomato Chutney and Khejur Gur-er Sondesh. I did not take photo of all the items, but here I am sharing the Bengali Misti Pulao recipe. I bet that this recipe is the simplest yet tastiest pulao you have ever had, and it takes only about 20 minutes to cook.

On any day, this pulao pairs really well with kosha mangso! And Bengali Misti Pulao with kosha mangso is a killer duo :)


Ingredients:
Basmati Rice - 1 & 1/2 Cup
Salt - 1/2 Tsp
Sugar - 6 Tbsp
Turmeric Powder - 1/2 Tsp
Ginger Paste - 2 Tbsp
Cashew - 2 Tbsp (Halved)
Raisins - 1 Tbsp
Bayleaf - 1
Green Cardamom - 4
Clove - 4
Cinnamon - 1" Stick
Ghee - 2 Tbsp
Water - 3 & 1/4 Cup (Warm/Hot)


Preparation:
Wash the rice, drain and spread evenly on a plate/tray and leave it to dry.
Next mix together salt, sugar, turmeric powder, ginger paste and rice gently until the sugar grains melt and evenly coats the rice.
Heat ghee in a pressure cooker.
Add bayleaf, cardamom, clove and cinnamon in it. Fry it for about 10 seconds.
Next add cashew and fry till golden in color.
Add the raisins. Stir briskly and take care not to burn it.
Now add the rice mixture and mix everything well.
Fry on a medium heat for about 5 minutes.
Then add warm/hot water and give the mixture a good stir.
Finally close the pressure cooker lid and cook the rice.
Open the cooker lid only after all the pressure has relesed.


Note:
I have used Basmati rice for this post, but you can use any variety of rice. Personally I prefer Gobindobhog rice.
Instead of using only ghee, you can use oil with some ghee for the flavor.
Adjust the amount of sugar according to your taste. Bengalees like their misti pulao sweeter!