Sept 29: In a few days, Goddess Durga, along with her children, will visit earth and we will fondly celebrate the occasion. The unmatched enthusiasm that goes into preparing for Durga Puja also makes up for the excitement of the puja experience, especially in West Bengal. It will not come as a surprise that the grand occasion is incomplete without food i.e, Durga Puja bhog too. After all, any celebration calls for feasting with our near and dear ones.
Durga Puja bhog makes up a part of Naivedya
Puja bhog, actually a part of Naivedya, is an essential phase of Hindu worship where devotees offer various foods to the deity. Bhog offered during the four main days of Durga Puja are sumptuous and of course, vary from family to sarbojanin (community) puja. Usage of garlic and onions is strictly prohibited in puja dishes, even for fish or mutton curries.
Traditionally the Durga Puja bhog is prepared by the best known traditional Bengali cooks called ‘Thakurs’.
A variation of delicious vegetarian dishes, cooked in mustard oil and also ghee, is offered to the deities every day right before it is served to the devotees and guests who come to join in the special sit-down arrangement by the pandal.
What does a typical Durga Puja bhog consists of?
Typically, the bhog served during Durga Puja is vegetarian and contains no onion and garlic. A delectable bhoger khichuri is served as the staple.
The khichuri is substituted with mishti pulao sometimes, which is another much-loved Bengali food. The vegetables or bhajas that make up the bogh are begun (brinjal), aloo, or fulkopi (cauliflower), along with mixed vegetable dishes like labra (wet) and chichra (dry).
A sweet and sour chutney, usually made of tomato and dates accentuates the food by acting as a delicious palate cleanser, and to end the meal, payesh (kheer) and mishti doi (sweet yogurt) always make an appearance leaving a taste of West Bengal in all devotees.
Although the tradition calls for a vegetarian meal, bhog can also be a treat for non-vegetarians as certain community pandals even offer fish or meat with onion and garlic on Nabami and Dashami.
Some families offer kochur shak (taro leaf stems) and panta bhaat (fermented rice) with other accompaniments on dashami as a mark of sadness that the idol is leaving, hence nothing can be cooked in the kitchen.
How to make Bhoger Khichuri and Labra
Preparation time: 25 minutes
Cook time: 45 minutes
Ingredients for Bhoger Khichuri
2 ½ cup Gobindobhog Chaal
2 cup Sona Moong dal
½ tsp Cumin seeds
¾ tsp Turmeric powder
2 Bay leaves
2 Whole dry red chilli
½ cup Peas
3 Potatoes (medium-sized)
2-3 Green Chillies (cut into halves)
Salt to taste
1 tbsp Ginger paste
2½ tbsp Sugar
½ tsp Garam masala powder
½ cup Grated coconut
½ tsp Dry roasted Cumin seeds powder
2 tbsp Raisins
3 tbsp Ghee
5 cups Water
- Dry roast the cumin seeds till fragrant, cool and powder with a mortar and pestle. Set aside. Peel the potatoes, and cut them into two equal halves. Wash and keep aside.
- Take a pan, dry fry the moong dal on medium heat till golden brown. Remove, wash the dal once and keep aside.
- In a deep bottomed pan, add the washed rice, dal, turmeric powder, water, salt, potatoes, green chillies and one teaspoon of oil. Let the rice and dal cook together.
- When it is half cooked, take another pan and add three tablespoons of oil. Temper with dry red chillies, bay leaves and cumin seeds. Add the ginger paste into this. Mix and stir fry for a few seconds.
- Transfer this masala and peas into the khichuri and mix well. Check to see if the water is sufficient to boil the rice and dal. If required, you can add some water.
- Check after 10-12 minutes, the grains of rice and dal should be visible but at the same time, they should get mashed when pressed.
- Add ghee, sugar, grated coconut, roasted cumin seeds powder, raisins and garam masala. Mix and cook for two or three minutes more. Remove from the heat.
Serve hot with beguni, labra and bhaja.
To make labra
1 Sweet Potato
4 Broad Bean
½ Spinach (optional)
1 Ridge Gourd
5-6 florets Cauliflower
1 Tomato (Optional)
½ cup Coconut paste
3 Bay leaves
2 Dry Red Chillies
1 teaspoon. Panch Phoron
¼ teaspoon. Hing/ Asafoetida
To make spice paste!
1 teaspoon. Turmeric powder
1 teaspoon. Red Chili powder
1 teaspoon. Cumin powder
1 tablespoon. Sugar
1 teaspoon. Salt or to taste
1 tablespoon. Ginger Paste
1 tablespoon Mustard Oil
To make Bhaja Moshla:
½ teaspoon Cumin seed
1 Dry Chili
1 Bay Leaf
¼ teaspoon. Fennel Seed
2 tablespoon. Mustard Oil
2 tablespoon. Ghee
- Peel the skin of Potato, Sweet Potato, Radish, Pumpkin, and also Ridge Gourd.
- Cut all those into small cubes inclusive of Eggplant and Tomato as well.
- Cut bread beans aka sim into small square pieces as well.
- If using chop spinach.
- Dry roast dry chili, bay leaf, fennel seed, and also cumin seed for 2 minutes on a flat pan.
- Make a coarse powder of the spices. One tablespoon Powder will be used in making the Labda.
- Take the Ginger paste and mustard oil along with turmeric powder, red chili powder, cumin powder, sugar, and also salt in a bowl and make a thick paste.
- Heat oil in a pan and temper the oil with Bay leaf, red chili, and also panch phoron followed by asafoetida.
- Add Potato followed by sweet potato and cook for 3-4 minutes.
- Add the rest of the veggies and give a thorough mix.
- Add the spice paste and mix thoroughly.
- Add coconut paste as well.
- Cover the pan with a lid and cook till the veggies soften.
- Veggies will release moisture and hence no need to add water.
- Adjust the spices if needed.
- It will take around 15-20 minutes to cook on a low flame the labda.
- Once done, add ghee followed by the Bhaja Moshla and give a generous mix.