Desserts and Sweets

Shahi Zarda (Biyebarir Zarda)

10:18 PM

Shakespeare once said 'What’s in a name?  That which we call a rose  by any other name would smell as sweet.'

While it comes to food I can relate to the second half of this famous saying but name of dishes often tells a lot about it's origin and evolution.

Zarda, also known as Meethe chawal (Sweetened rice) or Gur ke chawal (Jaggery rice) is a popular dessert in the Indian Subcontinent. The name Zarda comes from the Persian word 'Zard' or yellow colour.  It's the traditional yellow tint of this dessert that gave this name. While Zarda on a Muslim dastarkhwan is rich with pure ghee and heavy-handed use of dry fruits and nuts, the North Indian meetha chawal is comparatively lighter on the palate. and the Gur ke chawal in my experience was quite a peasant dish where aromatic rice is simmered in fresh ganne ka ras (sugarcane juice) or jaggery water.

Tracing back to its roots would make one believe that the dish in India was introduced and popularised by the Mughals. A detailed recipe of Zard Birinj (Yellow rice) is found in Ain-i- Akbari, the record of Akbar's administration written by his court historian Abu'l Fazl in 16th century. It uses around 5 seers of sugar candy, 3.5 seers of ghee, and 1.5 seers of dry fruits and nuts for 10 seers of rice. An opulent dish fit for the royals. 


Kharkol pata bata

10:00 PM

Isn’t it confusing that in monsoon when the plants start to sprout almost everywhere making the Earth look lush and green, is also the time when we are told to refrain from eating any sort of leafy greens? India's Monsoon eating philosophy is ingrained in the age-old practice of Ayurveda and backed up by many practices, folklores, and rituals. Which probably were developed to collectively fight deadly disease outbreaks that once were very common during the rainy seasons.


Wild Green Fritter

7:10 PM

Wild greens in love with how pretty this platter looks

One of the fondest memories of my childhood was to wander around the paddyfields. People say that I spent hours jumping from one place to another chasing the crabs, insects or birds and watching small fishes swimming between the paddy seedlings. That love is still there. Whenevr I go home to Midnapore or 24 parganas,  I get up early and take a walk around the village and deep inside the fields looking for those familiar sight and smell. It is here that I learnt how paddy fields provide a nutritious meal even to the poorest of the poor people. The small mud crabs, even smaller fishes along with the numerous greens growing as weeds come together in a simple curry to provide all the required protein, vitamin and micro nutrients prescribed by dieticians.
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Niramish Dimer Dalna, Bengali Faux Egg Curry

3:06 AM

Niramish dimer dalna, Egg prepared with cottage cheese and chana dal
A Bengali delicacy

 Today is Jamaishoshti, a special day dedicated solely to the son-in-laws in a Bengali family. A day when the parent in-laws spoil and shower their jamai with love, blessings, gifts, and an elaborate feast with almost a never-ending list of dishes.

Jamai Shoshti falls on the sixth day of the bright fortnight on the Bengali month of Jaisthya. In this case, Shasti does not only refer to the sixth day, Rather it also mentions the Hindu folk goddess Maa Shasti- The deity of reproduction, saviour, and bestower of children. She is worshipped by every mother wishing to ensure the protection of their children and every woman waiting to conceive. The goddess is embodied as a motherly figure riding a cat and nursing up to eight babies. Though every month of the year has a devoted day to pray to maa Shoshti, the month Jaisthyo is marked only for the son-in-laws.

Now The Bengali word Jamai is associated with many other notions, like jamai ador, Jamai thakano proshno (Question to befool the son in law) and even a proverb

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Cadbury Gane Mishti, 2021

6:06 AM

During 80's, in our little university town of Santiniketan we had only one Sweet shop, Nabadweep er Mishtir Dokan. A small nondescript mud structure with plenty of wobbly benches to sit and gorge on some kochuri in the morning or to relish the evening tea with piping hot singara in the evening. Apart from Mouchak and Pantua, his mishtis did not have many fanbases. but as beggars are no choosers we always had to buy them every time we had guests at home. 
But this sweet shop literally won me over when 15 years later it experimented with cocoa powder in the sondesh. The slight bitterness paired so well with the sugar that we all wished they had done in earlier. Little did I know then that 10 years more down the line one of the most famous chocolate brand of the World will involve all mishti makers in Bengal to experiment and create such sweets.

Bengal is known as the sweetest part of India and the Cadbury Mishti Campaign, " Cadbury Mishti Sera Srishti' since 2011 is an endeavor to being a part of Bengal's thriving dessert scene and tap into Bengal's consumer culture. Over the years they have been able to bring in the best Mishti makers from the state and have enthralled us with innovative chocolate laden creations that we could not imagine before. 

This year they have taken this initiative one step further and have blended in another passion of Bengal, which is Music. 

The theme for 2021 is Cadbury dairy milk Gaane Mishti.  To take this idea forward they had selected 10 classic songs from different genres that Bengalis are very nostalgic about and have created a fresh rendition of the songs by 11 prominent singers of this time, While 10 famous mishti outlets of Bengal have brainstormed to create innovative cadbury mishtis based on themes around the gaane mishti songs. Gaan bhalobese khan is actually a dream come true for us where we can listen to our favourite songs and can transcend them beyond experiential boundary by having it too in the forms of Chocolate mishtis.

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