Along with a mixed vegetable dish of Labra, different kinds of fries called bhaja and Tomato Chaatni, this Khichuri was offered during Pujo, in heavy plates with raised edges made of kansa (bell metal) or brass. Water was served in similar glasses. Sweets and several fruits cut and cubed made up the other edible arrangements. Fresh flowers, heavy fragrance from incense sticks and dhuno made up the complete atmosphere.
In addition to all this there was something offered called noibiddyo, small mounds of small grained raw rice that had been soaked, raw yellow moong soaked, some sweet sondesh, pieces of ripe banana were arranged in portions in a separate plate. Though Noibiddyo or Naivedhya means "offering made to the Gods" and so everything offered should actually have fallen under this category, we specifically labelled this offering of raw rice et al as Noibiddyo. You will get a clearer image of this from this pic I found in Flickr.
After the pujo was over, these small mounds of rice, sondesh and bananas were mixed together in a kind of mash. The raw rice due to the overnight soaking was soft but had a bite and the sondesh and banana sweetened the whole deal. More than the khichuri, it is this thing called chaal-kola makha, distributed with prasad at the end of pujo, is what I waited for.
Saraswati Pujo is on Friday. My parents are going to have an elaborate pujo back home as usual. Friday being a working day, I will have a small pujo at home in the evening where I will do almost nothing according to tradition except offer sweets and books, pray and ask her for knowledge and wisdom.
On Saturday, we will have a pujo at a larger scale in a friends' basement. There we will have Khichuri and labra and also much fun. I am trying to teach the girls to sing a Saraswati Vandana for the pujo there and given that I cannot sing a single note in tune, I have roped in help from YouTube. So every night for ten whole minutes I play a simple Saraswati bhajan on my laptop and the girls' join in singing at the top of their voice. It does not sound very musical and the little one keeps saying "Naamo Sharada Maatha" instead of "Maata", which is kind of funny given that "Maatha" in Bengali means "head". The ensuing cacophony is enough to drive any Saraswati up the wall but we are hoping that the Goddess and audience has more patience.
In prospect of this wonderful future (ahem!), I made a Bhaaja Moog Dal er Khichuri today. Since I did not offer it to the divine, I cannot say it was bhog er khichuri yet. Instead of Tomato Chaatni, I made Anarosher Chaatni or Pineapple Chutney. The Begun Bhaja or fried eggplants I baked in the oven taking cue from a reader who had suggested this method. I lighted up some incense sticks and then deliberated on eating it, since Khichuri does not feature in the top 20 things I want to eat stranded in a desert island. Furthermore Khichuri without an omlette holds very little charm for me. So I made an omlette, something which would have been impossible on the actual day of Pujo and then ate it all up myself. I mean I also fed it to the rest of the family.
You don't have to wait for any divine intervention, any day you want a one pot meal, make this and offer yourself.
Some of my previous posts on Saraswati Pujo are here and here. Here is my Labra, Begun Bhaja and Anarosher Chaatni recipe to complete the meal. There is another version of Khichuri I make called Bhuni Khichuri which is a spicier and richer version of this.
The very nice people from masalamommas had asked me a few questions and that article up on their site. Go check if you want. Thanks Salima, the lovely lady who did the piece. And btw that picture is of Salima's.
Bhog er Khichuri
Chop 2 small potatoes (or 1 medium) in halves.
Chop half of a small cauliflower in about 8-10 large-ish florets
Defrost about 1/3 cup of frozen peas (or use same amount of fresh green peas)
Wash 1/2 cup of rice(short grained rice like gobindobhog, kalijeera etc. preferred, I used sona masoori) and soak in water
Roast 1/2 cup of Yellow Moong Dal till you get a nice nutty aroma. About 50% of the dals should be a light brown on roasting. Rinse the dal lightly in water and keep aside.
In a separate frying pan, fry the potatoes and cauliflower with sprinkle of turmeric powder till they are a shade of light gold and the cauliflower florets have some brown spots.Throw in the green peas and saute them too.
After we are done with the prep part we will start on the actual khichuri
Heat 1tbsp oil + 1 tsp ghee in a deep and heavy bottomed pot.
Temper the oil with
2 green cardamom
1 thin stick of cinnamom
1 Bay Leaf/tejpata
2 Dry red chilli
1/4 tsp of whole cumin seeds/jeera
When the spices pop to the oil add
1 tbsp mince or grated ginger
1/2 tsp cumin powder
1/2 tsp Red chilli powder(or Kashmiri Mirch)
Saute for a minute
Next add the roasted moong dal and mix with the masala. Saute the dal along with the masalas for couple of minutes.
Now add about 2 cups of warm water to the pot. Add little salt. Cover the pot and let the water simmer to a boil. 2-3 minutes after the boiling starts add the potatoes, cauliflower and peas. Add some more warm water if needed. Cover the pot and let the vegetables cook for 2 more minutes.The moong dal takes longer to cook than the rice so we want the dal to be cooked half-way before we add the rice.
Add about 1/2 cup of short grained rice now. Mix with the lentils and veggies and add about 2 cups of warm water, salt to taste, some turmeric powder. Once you see the water boil, lower the heat, cover and let the rice and lentils cook. In between, remove the cover, gently give a stir and check if they are done or if more water is needed.
Once the rice, lentils and vegetables are cooked, sprinkle about 1/2 tsp of sugar and a pinch of Garam Masala. Mix gently. Drizzle a tsp more of ghee if you are feeling generous. Serve hot.