Durga Pujo is over for most of you unless you are in some town in the US where there has been a conflict of schedule regarding the pujo location and the high school was not available last weekend and so Durga Pujo will be done after Kali Pujo or at anytime the auditorium is available. But it will be done no doubt and with much glitter and gold. Ma Durga is on an extended vacation in the US and it works well for both her and her multitude of devotees.
We did have a nice few days of Pujo, clamoring to reach the mandap after work and homework every day. The girls look forward to the arati so much that homeworks got done in time and the 40 minute drive was endured with little fuss. The added bonus is the presence of their friends at the mandap which means weekdays out of the ordinary.
When I asked Little Sis to write about Durga Pujo this is what she wrote. Clearly, she is a Bangali who is more interested in minute details about the Proshaad than anything else.
The funniest thing she said though was after watching "Wild Kratts"(an animated nature series for kids on PBS) on Shoshthi.
She was watching the show while munching on her breakfast in the morning. Then with an excited look on her face she tells me,
"Do you know that if the water in which the frogs live, is polluted, the tadpoles can have 3 eyes?"
"Really, I said?"
"Yeah, and then they can be born with five legs too", she exclaimed.
I was trying to give her some gyaan about pollution and how it can harm us, when she looked as if she had hit a jackpot.
"Is that why Durga Thakur has ten hands ? Is it because of pollution?" she asked.
I gulped. Had no words. Tried to think of a logical explanation and then finally said, "Durga to Thakur"!!
********Before we get into any more arguments about Durga and her hands, I wanted to share this album with you. When Dithi Mukherjee (whose art I absolutely adore), shared her friend Halley Goswami's Durga Protima on her timeline, we were mesmerized. Far away in US, my girls watched with mouth agape as Ma Durga came to life through the series of pictures in the album. Every year, Halley Goswami, sculpts the ekchaalar Durga Protimaa from clay, decorates Ma Durga and her offspring with the saaj he makes at home and then performs the Pujo rituals himself. His devotion, talent, craftsmanship is exquisite and I am so grateful that Dithi shared his pics with us. I am sure you will enjoy them too. With her permission, here is the album's URL -- Halley Goswami's Durgotsav.
I also wanted to share with you this blog post from Prabirendra Chatterjee's blog. I am so glad that I can meet people like him through a group on Facebook, few advantages that Facebook seems to have for the likes of me. His very well researched article on "Bengali Sweets" is a delight to read for anyone who reads Bangla. Here is the link -- "Mishtanno Itore Jona".
Without going into any more discussion, I made this Kalakand again for Bijoya. The original microwave recipe was shared years ago by my friend R who is an expert at all kinds of desserts that can be done fast. Now the whole world probably makes this Kalakand in the Microwave.Had she patented the recipe then, she would have been minting money by now.
The basic recipe is the best,and there is no need to mess with it really. But I wanted a chocolate version of the Kalakand as I knew LS would love it. BigSis loves the regular one any way. I was however iffy about adding cocoa to the mix. So I decided on having a chocolate covered Kalakand instead, the same way like chocolate covered strawberries.I made a chocolate frosting by melting semi-sweet chocolate and butter. This frosting is poured on the kalakand and allowed to chill and harden. The layer of chocolate on the kalakand turned out to be an awesome idea.
Do make this for Diwali next week. It is easy, quick and will light up your face.
What You Need
Sweetened Condensed Milk ~ 1 can
Whole Milk Ricotta Cheese ~ 1 15oz tub
Some Pistachios -- crushed to sprinkle on top
Few drops of rose water
For Chocolate layer
4 oz semi-sweet chocolate (we used Ghiradelli semi-sweet chocolate)
4 tbsp butter(half a stick)
Make Kalakand in Microwave
Grease a flat bottomed microwaveable bowl with little ghee.
Pour 1 whole can of condensed milk in the bowl.
Add all of the 15oz tub of Ricotta to the bowl. Condensed Milk to Ricotta is 1:1.5. Mix well.
Add a few drops of rose water.Mix well and put it in the microwave. Now comes the fun part.
Microwave on HIGH (mine said POWER-100) for 5 minutes. Keep an eye on the mixture so it does not boil over.
Stir the mixture very well and microwave again for 5 minutes. These 5 minutes are pretty crucial as you need to keep peering into your microwave and at any signs of the mixture spilling over, stop – stir – start again. If your microwave is on the counter top good for you, if above your stove, bring out the high heels, it’s party time.
At the end of this you stir again, by this time the liquid would have thickened.
In the next step microwave for a total of 2 minutes, in incremental steps of 1 minute.In layman's word that means, microwave for 1 minute, stir, check the consistency and repeat.
Your ricotta and condensed milk has spent 12 minutes in the microwave and the kalakand is almost done.
The next 3-4 minutes are the most important. So I do in incremental steps of 1 minute.Microwave for 1 minute, check the consistency and repeat. Do not stir anymore, only smooth the surface and repeat. At the end of this, the consistency should be thick & slightly grainy, not totally dry and hard.
When the consistency becomes grainy (should normally happen between 14 to 16 minutes),the mixture has taken on a very very light brown hue and there is still some moisture left, take it out.
Smooth the surface.
Kalakand is done and now we will make the chocolate icing or frosting or whatever you call it.
Microwave the chocolate + butter for 40 seconds. Take it out and mix with a whisk to form a smooth chocolate mix.
Now drizzle this hot melted chocolate over the kalakand which is still very warm.
Sprinkle crushed pistachios.
Now put in the refrigerator for 2-3 hours until the chocolate hardens. Take it out and with a warm knife cut the into small rectangle pieces. Do not take out the kalakand from the bowl yet.
Put back in the refrigerator for another hour or so.
Chocolate covered Kalakand should be ready to serve now
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