Bengali New Year: Bringing the retro back

Location

Bengali New Year: Bringing the retro back

Pohela Baisakh festivities begin with a puja in the morning

Bengali New Year: Bringing the retro back

New Delhi: Let's welcome another Bengali New Year, also known as Pohela Boishakh, with the ancient mouth-watering authentic dishes from the Bengali cuisine to enjoy with your family and friends.

The Bengali New Year celebration, which started in Dhaka city on the April 14 and 15, has become a part of the Bengali culture.

People from Bengali communities clean their houses, some find this day very auspicious to start their businesses (Haal-khata), few turn up on a Jatra (theatre show), the younger ones gear to celebrate this spring Baisakh festival by wearing new clothes and the Bengali youth become super-traditional at least for this day.

Pohela Baisakh festivities begin with a puja in the morning. This is followed by elaborate preparation of meals that are consumed with family or friends, and distribution of sweets to near and dear.

The cuisine of Bengal is as rich and distinct as the state itself, the simplest of meals gain an exquisite identity on adding 'panch phoron' or a traditional mix of pungent spices. The panch phoron is used generously and it includes a combination of five spices - cumin, nigella, fenugreek, aniseed and mustard seed.

What sets Bengali curries apart are the distinctive flavours of mustard oil, poppy seeds and turmeric with sweet undertones that warm spices like cinnamon, cardamom, nutmeg and mace impart.

Bengali cuisine is a blend of sweet and spicy flavours. The delicate balance between the main ingredients and the seasoning plays a starring role.

Here are some crazy dishes from the Bengali cuisine that add to the festive flavour of Pohela Boishakh:

Pohela Boishakh Breakfast:

The first meal that is served after rituals on the Bengali New Year includes authentic traditional recipes like the Luchi (Bengali version of pooris), Cholar Dal (a spicy, protein rich curry, which also lends some crunchiness to your breakfast with its coconut pieces), and Aloor Dum (a thick and creamy gravy made from potatoes and yogurt). These yummy tummy-filling dishes are rich in nutrients and get you started on the right note for your festival day.

Luchi

Luchi is a Bengali version of Poori and goes best with dal or Bengali curry. Serve them hot for best results.

Cholar Dal

A perfect dal made with chana dal, it is perfect accompaniment to Luchi or boiled rice. It has a perfect blend of sweet, spices and crunchy coconut.

Aloor Dum

A delicious preparation of potatoes in a Bengali style gravy is just not to be missed on Pohela Boishakh.

Lunch and dinner dishes for Pohela Boishakh

Lunch and dinner menus bring in the much loved non-vegetarian dishes to Pohela Boishakh celebrations. One dish that can definitely not be missing in any Bengali cuisine is Fish curry.
Fish is usually followed by a serving of meat like mutton or chicken, again in the form of gravy.

While non-vegetarian dishes steal the limelight in the Pohela Boishakh platter, vegetarian ones too get their fair share, and are included as dal and dry vegetables like Aloo Posto and Begun Bhaja.

Chingri Malai Curry

Palatable prawns are cooked in hot spices and then bathed in the creamy flavour of coconut milk. Chingri refers to the river prawns.

Kosha Mangsho

Mutton kosha (or kosha mangsho) can be served with porota or polao. Mutton kosha is an iconic Bengali delicacy. The word kosha is similar in meaning to bhuna, which involves slowly cooking a gravy over low flame for a very long time to get a rich, dark-brown gravy and melt-in-the-mouth mutton pieces. It is worth pointing out that in Bengal, as well as in India, mutton is commonly used to refer to goat's meat.

Begun Bhaja

The recipe is immensely simple. You smear thickly sliced brinjals in turmeric and seasoning, and fry them on medium heat in a skillet. And we won't even go into how drop-dead gorgeous the finished product is. The taste of begun bhaja is difficult to explain to anyone who hasn't eaten fried brinjals. Suffice it to say that it is probably unlike anything you've ever tasted, especially if seasoned with the right amount of salt and sugar. The sugar in the marinade allows the brinjals to develop a wonderfully amber-coloured crust, and deepens the flavour of the dish.

Aloo Posto

This apparently bland looking dish with just potato and posto is capable of rousing much passion among Bengalis. It's a classic Bengali dish. Sparing in its use of spices, this preparation relies on the flavours of potatoes, green chillies and nigella seeds for its taste. What stands out, however, is the nutty flavour of the roasted poppy paste, which also provides body and texture to the gravy.

Bengali Veg Pulao

Vegetable pulao, is an easy-to-cook, nutritious recipe. It is often served with fish fry, mutton kosha, or fish kaliya. This fried rice can easily be modified to include seasonal vegetables aside from the peas, beans, and carrots. The mark of a good fried rice is long unbroken grains of rice and vibrant, crunchy veggies.

Murgh Rezala

Quintessentially, it is a chicken gravy that is white, unlike other chicken curry dishes and is extremely flavourful with very delicate flavors. Chicken Rezala is a very famous Bengali recipe which has a Mughlai Origin.

Ilish Bhapa

Ilish bhaapa, also known as shorshe ilish bhapa (or bhaape) meaning steamed mustard hilsa, is a Bengali recipe of hilsa fish (a type of shad) steamed in a potent mustard, doi (yoghurt) and coconut paste.

Dessert Recipes for Pohela Boishakh

No festive celebration is ever complete without the sinful sweets, and that too in the land of Rosogollas. Pohela Boishakh celebrations call for the preparation of a variety of sweets that are consumed through the course of the day.

Sandesh, the popular Bengali sweet, makes its way into your tummy right from breakfast time. (You could also try out our Mango/Chocolate Sandesh to give your celebrations an exotic twist). Another sweet that is enjoyed during the festive day is the Chaler Payesh, a variant of the sweet and milky kheer.

Enjoy Nabo Borsho with your loved ones, don't forget to include these authentic dishes from Bengali cuisine and show off your culinary skills in style.