Growing up in Faridabad an industrial township adjacent to Delhi what kept us rooted to our traditions and our culture while living far away from Bengal was the occassion of Dugga Pujo. Studying in a convent saying Hail Mary and knowing Our Father all faded in the background when those special five days of the year came by.
My friend who participated in an Anandomela for the first time was amazed at the enthusiasm and spirit of both participants and public alike, who decked in pujo finery were all at the pandal braving traffic and office calls to enjoy and enliven the environment.
Suddenly we were as bengali as our cousins in Kolkata (all Probashis have family in Kolkata). Pujo those days started on Sashti evening with Anandomela - where all the bengali aunties came with basket loads of delicious, home cooked delicacies and we children drove ourselves into a frenzy running from one stall to another and pestering our parents for more money to buy yet another plate of the fast disappearing goodies.
All of these memories came flashing back yesterday as a colleague from work and I alongwith hubby set up our stall at our local Deepanwita Durga Pujo in Dwarka.
Rushing from work where a last minute meeting cancelled our plans of sneaking out early we arrived at the pandal in the nick of time and set up stall at breakneck speed and were quite breathless by the end of it but couldn't stop grinning.
The number of people coming to ask what we had to offer, little children drooling at the sight of the brownies, chocolate sauce and ice cream and the stream of well wishers coming to see how we were doing all added to the amazing feeling.
|The crowds do a quick check on what all is on offer before diving in|
Thanks to the fact that I needed to man my own stall I couldnt check out for myself all that was available though I did hear patishapta, pithe, apple jelebi, mangshor ghugni, luchi alur dom, vada sambhar amongst others. All the pics you see here were clicked by the hubby who apart from helping us out was also the photographer for the blog and us. What I did sample was the labongo latika being sold in the neighbouring stall. It had an interesting paneer stuffing instead of the usual khoya one and was very nicely made.
|A glance at our offerings|
My friend had made healthy whole wheat, eggless brownies which sold like hot cakes and her own take on cinnamon rolls which she called cinnamon munchkins. Healthy nutritious and tasty too.
I was selling a home style chicken biryani (which got sold out so fast that we ourselves couldn't sample it). This biryani was made by a dear aunt of mine whom I call Pishi (father's sister) and the recipe for the same is given below with her name. I also had the ever popular Bailey's Irish Cream Cake that I baked.
|Explaining the recipes to the chef, who incidentally thought my cake was good enough for me to attempt commercial baking|
|Pinky explains her recipes to the Chef|
|Judging is a hard task...Chef Rohit with a volunteer from Deepanwita's youth wing|
The event was judged by Chef Rohit Narang of Crusty Gourmet Pizzas. Chef Rohit trained in Australia and also worked there with various chains before coming back to India to start his own endeavor. Which from whatever reviews I have read so far seem to be a success with a different menu and the Chef being available to take suggestions and feedback pretty quick.
|Taking the prize alongwith a little sweetheart who just had to go up on stage|
|Aarini loves the limelight more than anything else ;)|
|Group shot of all the winners in the various categories|
The icing on our very happy cake happened when the prizes were announced and my friend and I took the top two positions in the dessert category. We were two 30 somethings behaving like kindergarten kids and the last pic will show you what I mean :)
Now for the recipe of the Chicken Biryani that I promised:
Shyamali’s Chicken Biryani
Chicken boneless – 1kg
Basmati rice – 1 kg
Whole Garam masala – 1 tsp
Garam masala powder – 2 tsp
Cumin,coriander,chilli powder – 1 tsp each
Bay leaf – 3-4
Tomato – 200 gm, sliced
Onion – ½ kg, sliced fine
Fresh coriander and mint – a handful
Green chilies – 5-6
Curd – 1.5 cup
Veg oil – ½ cup
Salt – to taste
Saffron – a few strands
1. Soak the rice in water for two hours
2. Wash the chicken pieces and pat dry
3. Heat oil in a pan and put bay leaf, whole garam masala wait for the masala to splutter and then add the chicken pieces. Sautee for two minutes on high flame to lock in the juices.
4. Add the curd and all the powdered masalas along with salt to taste. Fry it properly till it releases oil. This should take about 4-5 minutes on medium flame
5. Then add fresh mint and coriander
6. Add sliced tomatoes and fresh green chilies
7. Mix well and cook for 5 more minutes.
8. Then boil the rice till done with some pods of green cardamom
9. Divide the rice into two parts. In one part add saffron and the other part put the garam masala and mix well.
10. Take a big based handi.
11. First put a layer of the garam masala rice, then put a layer of chicken then a layer of saffron rice and keep repeating.
12. Serve hot along with raita and salad.
|I think our grins say it all!|