DNA | Last Modified - Sep 29, 2011, 02:30 AM IST
Bangalore: The sound of dhak, dhunuchi nachh, a faint scent of Shiuli and the effervescent smoke, bonhomie, and dream food, not necessarily in that order, are what Durga puja brings to the mind of almost every Bengali. Great food, home-style, is the code of the festival for the Bengali community in Bangalore, who are eagerly waiting for the puja to begin.
Sashti, Saptami, Ashtami, Nabami, Sandhi puja and Dashami, the last five days of the 10-day period that starts on Wednesday, is best spent at pandals. "In Kolkata, most homes simply shut down their kitchens during this time," says Rajib Acharya, an engineer who knows his food. He is part of the festivities in Brookefields. "Rolls and Calcutta-style biryanis go without saying."
"And luchi (those famed soft poori made of maida) and kosho mangsho (mutton slow-cooked in indirect heat). Then pulav and malay-chingri (jumbo prawns in coconut milk), and bhetki fry (batter-fried fish)," adds Acharya.
How could we forget the ilish (Hilsa fish), the famed fish that is smoked, fried, steamed, baked, prepared in more than 50 ways, it's nearing the spawning season for the fish, and Durga puja would be the last time in the year when they would be caught by the fishermen.
Shorshe ilish (Hilsa in mustard sauce), ilish bhaja (fried Hilsa), ilish bhaape (steamed Hilsa), you would find them all at the stalls next to the pandals. "Chitol macher kalia (fish in ground onion, yoghurt or tomato paste) is another top pick," says Acharya.
At the Jayamahal ground, Raja Sinha's team is organising a "Food map of Calcutta".
His concept, "Once upon a time", is about "serving nostalgia in a platter, bringing back all those food that mean so much for a Bengali from Calcutta," Sinha says. "We have more than 40 recipes in fish, lamb and prawn. Safed Moti (Bhetki fish cube, marinated with selective spices and cooked in cashew nut gravy), Ilish Paturi (a classic steamed fish marinated in mustard gravy, wrapped in banana leaf to give it a faint musky, smoky scent), Ilish Borishali (from Barishal in Bangladesh), Chingri Mohunbagani (prawn curry for the fans of Mohun Bagan Football club) and Mutton Rezala (from the kitchen of Nawab Wazid Ali Shah) are just a few," he says.
It is, of course, a must for Bengalis to indulge their sweet tooth. "The favourites are Mishti Doi("the red yoghurt, not the usual white one"), Roshogolla, Sondesh. Langcha, Roshomalai, Shorbhaja and Malpua," says Acharya.