Bengalis celebrating Durga Puja is the epitome of the Navratri festival, ranging from dances and decorative temples to delicious thalis. The different elements during this period make West Bengal a state worth visiting.
Also known as Annabhog in some areas, it’s a festive thali available only during the Navratri. Mainly, the thali is available only for the last three days of Navratri, i.e. Saptami, Ashtami, and Navami. This thali dates back to the starting of the 20th century and mainly consists of veg delicacies, which prohibits onion and garlic.
The eighth day (ashtami) during Navratri holds a special place for the devotees as they begin the day with morning fasting. In the afternoon, people gather at the pandals to gorge on the delicious and fresh bhog. Moreover, it’s a platter among the Bengalis at any sarbojonin pujo (community puja). However, a thing to note is that the recipe and taste of this bhog varies between different households. The bhog consists of delicacies with specific ingredients such as khichuri (Dal khichdi), bhaja (fried seasonal vegetables), a vegetable dish, chutney, and a form of payesh. Let’s look at the delicacies offered in this bhog, in brief.
- Begun Bhaja (Eggplant fries)– In Bengali dialect, Begun means baigan or Eggplant, and bhaja refers to ‘fries’. Being a vegan dish, the eggplants are thinly sliced, covered with different spices, and some flour. Shallow-fry it or bake it, the taste will be the same. With the help of a few ingredients, the dish has an amazing taste and compliments the other elements of the dish.
- Bhoger Khichuri (Khichdi)– Traditionally prepared with special rice- Gobindobhog rice, the festival is incomplete without this delicacy. It has a unique flavour, and Bengalis prepare it mainly during Navratri. Devotees consume it as a naivedyam and is prepared especially during Ashtami (Eighth day of Navratri).
- Aaloo Phukopir– Loved by Bengalis, the dish consists of no onion or garlic. The main ingredients are Aaloo (Potato) and Phulkopir (Cauliflower), with a thick gravy consisting of different spices. It’s one of the essential delicacies during Navratri and is one of the most popular delicacies among vegetarians.
- Tomato Chutney– Sweet and spicy chutney tomato chutney consists of jaggery and gives the mouth-watering aroma of panch phoron (Bengali 5 spice mix). It’s a part of the Bhog during Durga Puja in West Bengal and has different preparations in every household. Some may prepare it with khajur (Dates), while some may add tamarind to give it a hint of sourness.
- Nolen Gurer Payesh– Payesh means Kheer in Bengali dialect, and this is a dish that consists of rice and date palm jaggery. It has a unique taste and is a popular sweet in West Bengal alongside Rasgulla and Sandesh. In this, traditionally, people use the Gobindobhog rice and can be consumed either hot or cold.
With these elements in the Bhog/Thali, it’s a fulfilling delicacy with a unique taste to give you an authentic taste of West Bengal’s Durga Puja feast. Enjoy!!