Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Paayesh revisited for Bhai Pho(n)ta

Bhai Phota(Bhai Duj in parts of Northern India) does not hold any emotional bonding for me. I have no brothers of my own, boy cousins were few & far, my Ma did not encourage neighborhood brother hood and so you are spared any sob story I might have.

But Bhai Phota was still something to look forward to because my Mamas(mother's brother), two of them would rarely miss a Bhai Phota and even catch the overnight train to get the dot smeared on their forehead by their sister, my mom. In anticipation of their arrival my Ma would knead, pound, chop, fry and turn up one dish after other. Dry sweets and savories like nimki, pyarakia would be done before hand and available for sampling a day ahead of Bhai Phota. On the day itself there would be more cooking and eating.

For the uninitiated let me tell you, Bhai Phota or Bhatri Dwitiya is the bengali version of the more well known Hindu festival Bhai Duj where in the sister puts a tilak(a dot) on the brother's forehead and prays for his long life while the brother does something like gifts etc. in return. The "Duj" comes from the fact that this is celebrated exactly two days after new moon, on the Dwitiya right after Diwali.

This is akin to Rakhi but I guess the mythical stories associated with both are different. Anyway the Bengali Male likes the Bhai Phota much better than Rakhi. He doesn't have the Rajpoot brother's bravado to promise life long protection to his sisters as on Rakhi.Instead he is happy being smeared with sandalwood paste, eating the delicacies, giving the sister a gift and then returning home with the shirt piece from Raymond's. The Bong sister on the other hand keeps her fast, does the cooking, puts a dot of sandalwood paste on her brother's forehead and secures her brother's future by sealing Yama's door. It doesn't matter that soon after she plies her brother with cholesterol laden fried goodies and shoves numerous sweets down his throat.

The Bong male when still a kid will go around the neighborhood, getting "phota" from 'hood sisters of myriad ages. In fact the demand for brothers is so high that D says, lunch and dinners would be booked in advance while all other time slots would be devoted to just being "dotted" and snacks. With such a deluge of sisters it is amazing that the Bong Male is successful in even procuring a wife in later life.

Dwitiya te diya fota
Tritiya te diya nita

Jamuna dey Jom ke fota
Ami diy amar bhai ke fota
Aaj hote amar bhaiyer Jom duare porlo kanta

To keep the essence of Bhai Phota alive, my two little daughters give Bhai Phota to their cousin brothers, the two cute twins of my friend N. This time Bhai Phota being on a working Monday we had the ceremony at their home. I made Paayesh -- Param-anna, the food of Gods. I also made a Murg Makhani while the rest of the delicious dishes were made by N's Mom.

I did not have Khejur Gur and since I am not too fond of Paayesh without the Khejur Gur flavor I was a little weary. The Paayesh turned out wonderful though. I used a few cardamoms this time and I also added a few strands of Saffron towards the very end. The saffron made it look very pretty and also lend a very nice flavor to the Payesh.

The recipe for Paayesh is exactly like the one I have before(Khejur Gur er Payesh). The subtle changes I made were as follows.

In absence of Khejur Gur, I added 2 cups of sugar all other measures being same

I added a few whole cardamom to the boiling milk

At the very fag end of the process, I added a few strands of saffron to the paayesh.


  1. Looks really tempting.. nice clicks too :)

  2. Amio chaler payesh khai na Sandeepa .. se gurer e hok ba chinir. Saffron ta ki shundor rong diyeche payesh tate! :-)

  3. LOL "cholesterol laden fried goodies" ah it is only once in a year! I ve heard about this custom. But In Tamil nadu, there is nothing like that :( All Southies miss those gifts! Ur gals would have enjoyed I guess...

  4. ummmm cant stop droolin over,..looks yum,..

  5. Wicked post, can't stop grinning. Loved the bits on how your Ma didn't encourage neighbourhood brotherhood, extent of Bong brotherly chivalry, all the funny bits, actually. It's a very refreshing, non-cloying post, tho' sentimental in its own way.

  6. hi Sandeepa,
    Enjoyed the read as always :) I love rice kheer as it's one of the easiest to prepare ;), never tried with gur though.I've heard abt it from S.
    The clicks are neat and tempting as in all ur recipe posts :)
    just wanted to know if I could make the payesh using the sugar and saada gur? (I too make it only with sugar).

  7. Couldn't help smiling all throughout the post and yummy payesh, makes me want to make some,but just realised, not enough milk :-(

  8. Nithya



    On the contrary I like rice -- paayesh but mostly with Khejur Gur, love that aroma. I don't like semai-paayesh too much


    Really, you don't have anything for the bro ? Maybe Raksha Bandhan ?


    Thanks dear




    I have never tried with regular jaggery, but should be ok I guess


    Just make a little bit, anyway lesser is better for such sweets :)

  9. :) :) post Sandeepa and a great read as always. There is no equivalent custom in our parts. As for the paayesh delightful.

  10. I do share the same pain with you on Bhai phonta day. I don't have any brothers and so it's just a day for me. But, at my grandfather's house it's a big festival, all my uncles and aunts come and there is a feast for lunch every year. So, the merriment at the house complements the absence of a brother :).
    The payesh looks very pretty with teh saffron strand :).

  11. very nice read. LOL at pseudo cousins/brothers. We have something similar called as Bhau bhij in Konkani/Marathi and that follows right after Diwali.

  12. ummm payes baniecho sandeepa, amar favourite jinsih ota. kintu ki korbo sab bhalo jinisi je fattening :(

  13. We don't have any customs to do with brothers....but since I grew up in Mumbai, I used to and still tie rakhi for my brother. But never ever felt the need to follow my friends at school who used to tie rakhis for almost all the boys in class..

    The paayesh looks yummy - will start buying the khejur gur sweets which have started trickling into CR Park's sweet shops here...

  14. amaro kono bhai nei, na achey bhai cousin. tai bhai phota kono din hoto na, ma r o kono bhai nei. kakima der bhai ra asto.. shob ekshathey celebrate hoto.

    amr barite kono din payesh khetam na, kintu ekhane eshe majhe majhe khoob khete ichey hoye.. may be nostalgia. esp. khejur gurer payesh.

  15. net net it's great to be a Bong male :)

  16. Dear Sandeepa
    How are you? If it is not too early for next Puja of 2011, then Subha Vijaya and Happy Diwali to you and family.
    Tomar Bong definition Po-De has-te has-te ekhane elam , ag-e PaDa hoe ni , takhon Milan-e chhilam.(23-3-10)
    Ei paesh darun hoechhe...going to make it now. you did not mention tej pata but you have added. I feel the light aroma of tej pata takes the paesh close to Khejur Gurh aroma ( I mean imparting a close taste of milk to Ghol ( butter milk)..
    Please Dont miss Khejur-er dont get good one any more ..The quantity of Khejur-er Gurh that is sold in the market can come only if whole of west bengal is converted to Khejur forest. The best Gurh available is just a 15% solution in Akher Gurh..too sweet..
    Anyway if you are in Cal in this Khejur Gurh season, I shall arrange to deliver few pieces right from the horse's mouth , sorry I mean right from the horses tree.
    Ebar dekhi ki ki recipe miss korechhi ami..
    Bhalo theko tomra sabai...
    PS. Amar Blog-e Onion, garlic chaDa meat Biriyani recipe post Kor-e chhi rendhe dekho..very differnt

  17. Hi,Posting here for the first time.Your payesh is looking so good.Your recipes bring back that fuzzy warm feeling of home :)


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