New Delhi: Basant Panchami, also known as Sri Panchami or Saraswati Puja, is a Hindu festival dedicated to the goddess of learning, Saraswati. It is celebrated on the first day of spring, which falls on the fifth day of the month of Magha. The festival is celebrated with much fervor across the country and is marked by cultural and religious celebrations. During this festival people wear yellow clothes, offer yellow flowers to the goddess and Gods, and prepare various traditional delicacies.
Here are some traditional delicacies to enjoy:
Meethe Chawal or Kesari Bhaat
It is a saffron-flavored sweet rice delicacy that is prepared by soaking saffron strands and jaggery in water. The soaked and drained rice is then added to the mixture, and it is cooked until it reaches the desired consistency. It is garnished with chopped cashews, raisins, saffron, and ghee before being served hot.
Boondi Ke Laddoo
It is a sweet treat that is prepared by making a gram flour batter and sugar syrup. The batter is then strained into hot ghee in the form of small circular shapes, fried until golden brown and then drained. These fried boondis are then added to a pot of cardamom-flavored sugar syrup and made into round balls. The laddoos are then garnished with chopped nuts, raisins, and melon seeds before being coated with a silver foil.
Kesar Halwa, or Rava Kesari
This is one of the popular dish enjoyed on Basant Panchami. It is similar to Kesari Bhaat, except it includes semolina and large amounts of ghee. The dish is prepared by heating a pan with ghee and roasting semolina in it. After it turns golden brown, jaggery water and soaked saffron strands are added to the mixture, along with cardamom powder. It is cooked until the semolina has soaked up most of the water, and then garnished with chopped nuts, raisins, and hot ghee before being served.
Khichdi, or Bengali-style Khichuri
It is a standard dish that is served during Saraswati Puja on Basant Panchami. It is a festive khichdi that requires basic ingredients such as scented rice, split moong dal, and vegetables like cauliflower, carrots, potatoes, and peas. The distinct taste of the dish is derived from the robust garam masala, cumin, green chillies, and ginger-garlic paste. It is prepared by sautéing the spices in ghee, adding the vegetables and salt, and then dry roasting the moong dal and rice before adding it to the pot. The mixture is then cooked and garnished with a dollop of ghee before being served hot.