Monday, February 16, 2009
This year Ma Saraswati decided to visit us on a weekend; Thank you Ma, else, being out of Kolkata, it is too great an effort to work out a visit to the Puja with son decked up Bangali style.
Jan 31st, an usual Saturday morning for us in probaash. Hence no sound of conch shell or no smell of the auspicious aggarbatti or a puja yagna around us.
On our first visit to the Community hall for a recce in the morning, we found 12 noon should be the puja/ anjali time and hence time for us to come back. Being an irregular visitor for the Saraswati Puja, I prepared a back up lunch of Khichuri, Beguni and kool-tomato r chutney at home.
Since little sonny R would soon be moving to Grade 7, we are about to appear for the final(IInd Term) Exam for Grade 6.... hence, blessings of Ma Saraswati are little too critical at this point in time. In our true Bong upbringing, the prayer must boil down to " Bidya daao, budhdhi daao, porikshay jeno bhalo korte paari".
We had good fun in giving anjali and meeting many Bangalees we know is usually nostalgic and good fun.
But Saraswati Pujo does not end with Saraswati Pujo..... it extends into the next day with observance of "Sheetal Shashthi" by "mothers". Though doing the Shashthi is not quite my cup of tea, but being an energetic and experimentative cook, I have been doing the fabulous Gota Shedhdho that I have picked up from my Ma in law.
It has been 11 yrs since I am doing it in my household as well. The background to this might be as follows. Since on the Puja day, Moms are too tied up with Pujo, an all inclusive sabji and accompaniments are prepared, to be eaten on the next day, without heating(.... for Moms to relax and get leave from doing rounds in the kitchen).
This has different versions in different parts of West Bengal. But, I love my Ma in law's version the most. The recipe is as follows for all of us, living away from Kolkata and missing the ritualistic Gota from home.
Whole Green Moong 400 gms
Baby brinjals 12 pieces(in multiple of 6)
Sheem 12 pieces (in multiple of 6)
Small or Baby potatoes: 12 pieces (in multiple of 6)with jackets on
Peas in pods(Matarshnuti in chhilka)....24 pieces(in multiple of 6)
Sheesh Palang(Baby Palak leaves with strong stems as dnataa)....500 grams... washed, cleaned thoroughly and broken into 3 inch pieces
Green Chili 6 or 12(depending on how much jhaal or teekha you can take)
Red Chillies 6
Pnaach Phoron 1-2 teaspoons
Soak the green moong overnight. Preboil the potatoes and the green moong till done.Separate the potatoes, and wash clean but not to be peeled. Keep aside.
In a wok, boil water with salt to taste. When it starts boiling, add the baby brinjals, Sheem and Peas in shells to it. When the brinjals are parboiled, drain the water out and separate the brinjals.
In another wok, boil mustard oil (enough for deep frying..... forget health checks). Deep fry the boiled potatoes and parboiled brinjals. Drain on a paper towel.
In the remaining oil(you can keep aside some of the oil), on high flame, add Red chillies and pnaach phoron. As the phoron stops spluttering, add the boiled moong, parboiled sheem, peas, green chillies, fried potatoes and cover with the saag(Sheesh Palang. Cover and reduce flame.
As the saag softens, releases water, the same can be stirred well from time to time. Add salt to taste. Keep cooking till the water dries up, and the sabji gets a thick consistency. When it starts sticking to the sides, stir well till done. Add the mustard oil kept aside.
In the serving tray, arrange the brinjals. Pour the gota sabji uniformly on this, and the yummy gota shedhdho is ready.
Usually it is eaten cold on the next day with cold luchis, but trust me it is yummier if had warm on the same day.