Monday, October 14, 2013

Mistimukh, Chhana Poda and Subho Bijaya

Durga Puja just ended. Maa Durga is on her way back to her Himalayan abode after spending four days with at her parents home. We, the mortals, rejoiced her stay to its fullest. Durga Puja, celebrating homecoming of Maa Durga along with her kids, is the biggest festival of the Bengalis. It is a celebration of victory of good over evil. It ends on tenth day, where people say good bye to Durga and her children, make her promise to visit next year again, shower her with love and sweets. It is called Subho-Bijoya (Subho =  Happy/Good/Auspicious; Bijoya = Victory) aka happy ending of the festive days, where young ones take blessings from the older people, married women smear Maa Durga and one another with sindoor (vermillion) and everyone greets everyone with smile, best wishes and sweets. So join the party, ektu mistimukh hoye jak, lets have something sweet.

Goddess Durga

I am an avid fan of the festival and happiness that Durga Puja brings. I am not talking about the religious part, but the fun part. During college and university days (seems like w-a-y back), I used to do Pandal hopping atleast three out of four days, with definitely one "whole night" thrown in. Every year I used to get blisters from my new fancy shoes. When I was on the shore of Lake Erie, I celebrated Durga Puja in a new form, more like a community based. We used to worship the same Goddess year after year, friends used to take turns to cook lunch and dinner so that we can all sit and eat together for two days, have long addas till past midnights and wear the best of saris and accessories. I loved my experiences over there.

This year has really been a very low profile celebration for me. I am in a new city and although there are few pujas around, we only went to visit couple of them. I was sad with the festivities missing during these days so I did two things to brighten myself up. One, I promised myself to be in my hometown every year from next year during these four days, and two, I made couple of sweet dishes to wish Subho Bijoya to all of you.

Let her blessings light up everyone's life and make all of us happy.

Aschhe bachhor abar hobe, Maa.

I made chhana poda, fried cottage cheese to celebrate. Why chhana poda among all the sweets. Because I love it, was craving it and it is again easy to make.


Milk- 1L (around quarter of a gallon)
Lemon juice - 1 tablespoon
Semolina-1 tablespoon
Cardamoms - 3/4 crushed
Sugar - 1/2 cup
Nuts(Cashews and pistachios) - 1 tablespoon, chopped
Raisins - 10/12

Bring the milk to boil then lower the heat. Add the lemon juice to it and give it a good stir. Turn off the heat and wait for a minute. The milk will curdle. This is what is known as chhana. Transfer the entire thing into a cheese cloth and add cold water for 5 to 10 minutes to wash away the lemon juice. Otherwise a little bitter taste might remain.
Drain well, say around 15 minutes. Make sure it does not become too dry.

Add crushed cardamoms, sugar and semolina/sooji to it. Mix well with hand. You do not have to knead it hard, just keep on mixing.

Add the chopped nuts and raisins to the chhana. Once again mix well. It will be thicker than that of cake batter but will still remain moist.

Grease the baking pan with ghee and put the mixed chhana into it.Add powdered or crushed sugar on the top of the mix. This will give the dark colour as it bakes.

Preheat oven to 218C and bake it for 40 minutes.

Let it cool down completely. I would suggest to refrigerate it for 30 minutes after it cooled down to room temperature. That way, it comes out in a good slice. Otherwise it is little crumbly, but tastes very good.

We could not wait that long and did not mind the crumbly chhana poda.

Subho Bijaya, my friends!

No comments:

Post a Comment