My son started going to school from yesterday. I don’t know how to express myself but am happy, excited, elated and scared at the same time. Excited because the whole process reminded me of the time when I first hold that bundle of joy some 2 and 7 months back. All wrapped in cothes, not moving a finger yet still making many statements with his eyes. since then he has been like my constant companion, my sidekick, we hardly have spent any time without each other since his birth. I am happy also to see my little one growing up every day. Every time I look at him I realize something new about him and starting school is like embarking on a new journey of developing a new world for himself. I know am sounding like a sloppy mother but that’s what I feel right now as I am on a roller coaster journey of emotions. I am sad and miserable at the same time as the baby who knew no one but his mother will start making a life and world for himself from now on. I know I need o let him fly and help him to gather air under his wings but still the mother in me feels miserable for the 2 hours he is at school.
The baby on the other hand is very excited and loves his school. The first time we took him there he almost refused to come back to us. All he wanted was to play with all the toys there. I really was a little worried and thought he would have cold feet on the first day and would cry but he was too enthusiastic, a little too much for my comfort. Come on dint we all cry on our first day to school and pleaded with our parents not to leave us there all alone among starngers. But that dint happen to my son, the one who came home teary eyed was me. Hubby tried to support me by saying that he would always be there by my side. But still are not every 2 and half year supposed to cry and miss their mother? Am not sure yet and life seems quite complicated. So while I figure that out, yu relish this recipe of simple sweet made with coconut.
We Bengalis allow ourselves a long time till Diwali or Kali puja to share bijoya greeting. So am taking that priviledge and here is another recipe to serve your guests during the festivals. Narkeler tokti or sometimes also called chandrapuli is generally a sandesh or fudgy sweet made with coconut and milk solids. Though it share almost the same ingredients as Narkel naru still its very different in taste, texture and shape. While grated coconut is used for Naru, the same s ground to a smooth paste to give tokti its smooth and soft texture. Its an elegant looking sweet which could be prepared in a jiffy to impress your guests.
I know am awfully late in wishing you Shubho Bijaya, Happy Dassera and Shubh Navrati. But trust me, I have reasons and these are not at all lame excuses. I have been travelling a lot which has made me tired, sick and weak. So much so that right now am on antibiotics to overcome the congestion in my chest. Yes its that bad. But being late is always better than not wishing you at all. So here is a big bear hug coming your way with Bijaya greetings. How did you enjoy the puja my friends? Mine was very relaxed. We spent time together as family but missed going out and pandal hopping. Kolkata was full of huge pandals and beautiful artistic decorations. Even our own apartment association celebrated the puja in a very nice homey manner. We loved the themes and decorations that the famous pujas of Kolkata selected this year and wanted to visit the pandals. But they are not my cup of tea. One has to stand in a que at least for 2-3 hours or more to get into the main pandal near the Durga idol. That too after covering a 10 minutes distance in a couple of hour. Most roads are blocked and it seems whole Kolkata spent time on streets on those five days. So we rather chose to get away from all the hustle and bustle to spent time in a quite village at my in laws place.
We only went out once all decked up in new sarees and matching jwelleries, Visited lots and lots of relatives and enjoyed our time of togetherness. We also went to Santiniketan to my parents and loved our mid night quite visits to all the pandals in Santiniketan and around.
Below are the pictures of one of my favourite puja which I love to visit every year. Remember this post where I shared the story behind a very unique weekly craft market? This puja belongs to the same area of Boner pukur danga near Santiniketan Ashrama. This puja is called 'Hiralini Durgotsav, which was started in 1989 by an artist and teacher Bandhan Das. He is no more but what he has left is his touch of beauty and art. Right from the idol to pandal decorations to puja preparations, everything have a touch of art. He planned to create 5 different Durga idols which would be totally different in material and look. Which they use on alternative years and repeat the same after each 5 years. When one idol is made of the regular clay the others are made of wood, metal and other materials. The protima is unlike any we generally see in pandals. Here Maa does not hold any weapon rather she holds beautiful lotus flowers in her ten hands to bring in World peace. Another unique point about this puja is the involvement of local santals. They take care of every preparation and minute details. They bring a distinctive tribal flavor to the whole atmosphere. The evenings are filled with their performances like tribal dance, drama and weapon skills. I have heard that along with regular khichuri bhog they also offer tari (fermented Palm sap; Toddy).
|Picture: Somnath on picasa|
|Picture: Sujit Sengupta|
|courtesy: Subhendu Dhabal|
This year they were worshipping the metal idol. We went there at about 11:30 at night and there was not enough light. But still we managed to get some photos which I am sharing below. It had a very quaint feel to it amidst the sonajhuri forest and the unique wavy red laterite soil formation called Khoai. Local craftsmen sell their art in small stalls around the area. They also bring in authentic Bengali festival foods like ghugni, pithe etc.
Today am also sharing a fried dough sweet pastry called Elo jhelo which is almost synonymous to Bijaya or the last day of Durga puja, symbolizing good over evil. This is very similar to the preparation of Jibe gaja that I shared earlier, but the form of this snack is very different. Below is my quick recipe.
Bengali 9:15 AM
This is the time of the year when we long to go home, a time of family get togethers, food and festivities. but our busy schedules sometimes dont allow us to do that our heart desires. so when some of us soak in the festivities some cannot do that due to their prior commitments. yet we try to celebrate the puja wherever we are by getting ready in new clothes, visiting the local puja place and cooking special meals for friends and family. we try hard to recreate the special magic of this very special festival and taste of home. My Orkut friend Krishna is one such person. She stays in USA and shares glimpses of her life and kitchen at her newly started blog Always Smile. The thing that makes her very special is her enthusiasm in everything creative. a vibratious and enthusiastic person who finds time for doing new crafts and trying out new recipes. She is here today to share a very favourite Bengali meal of Kasha Mangsho and Pulao.
Kasha Mangsho/ Chicken Kasha or Bengali style dry chicken curry is the glamorous version of this homey Sunday special chicken curry that I shared sometimes back. This is a very special dish made specially on occasions like birthdays, wedding parties or large get togethers. The polao or Bengali preparation of aromatic white rice pilaf is the perfect accompaniment for this royal chicken dish. together they make my experience of having first guest post very very special.
Over to you Krishna...
It is almost four years that I left my home country to come to the USA. Since then, I have been participating in Durga Puja celebrations here. Actually it is not four years, rather eight years I was not in Calcutta during pujas. Though the flavor of Calcutta-puja is not present here still I don’t miss that much. Rather, I enjoy cooking special dishes during the puja time here. So, when Sayantani invited me to contribute on her blog, I readily accepted that. Since I received her request I had been wandering what to cook? At last I decided to cook Bengali polao and chicken kasha on Saturday, 1st October. The menu for rest of the puja-days is yet to be decided. Here I’m sharing the recipe of Polao and chicken kasha. Unfortunately I cannot tell that these recipes are very authentic, because I changed it little bit during cooking.