Monday, April 13, 2020

Shubho Naboborsho -- শুভ নববর্ষ 1427

Poila Baishakh or the First Day of the Month of Baishakh is the first day of the Bangla Calendar. This is the Bengali New Year and is celebrated amongst Bengalis in a much festive manner. According to the Gregorian calendar it falls on April 14th or April 15th, this year it is April 15th. This is the New Year for both BanglaDesh and West Bengal.

The Bengalis usher in the New Year with a lot of festivities importance being given to cultural functions, and food. The day is started off with visiting the temples to seek blessings for the New Year but this is not a religious festival and Puja is not the mainstay of this day. Though for businesses this is the day to begin their new accounting year and so this group of people offer Puja and seek blessings to begin the year with a new accounting book called halkhata. With all the new accounting software I don't know what they do, maybe open a new fresh account or something.

Surprisingly as far back as I go, I remember Poila Boishakh as always a school day. It usually fell bang in the middle of a week with school, the same uniform and homework as usual. Naboborsho evenings however were different. They stood out from other school days.

This is how it usually went. We came home from school and something extra special was always cooked for jolkhabar. We had to quickly finish homework to shower and then put on the new summer dress that was bought for Poila Boishakh. And then we would visit the temple and the local Bengali community program for the cultural program that our town had to offer. That was important for my parents. My Ma in her fresh new Tanter Shari with that crisp smell that only such saris can have and my Baba in his starched Pajama and Punjabi would sit there engrossed in the Rabindra Sangeet being sung. I would be thoroughly bored and look around for familiar faces of my friends who would be equally bored.

We would then stop at the shops where my parents were loyal customers and this part was more fun because it involved gorging on great food. Almost always we were offered a bottle of cold drinks, a much coveted affair in those days, a rolled up calendar and a cardboard box tied with a string and filled with sweets and shingara. By the end of the evening, we had collected at least 4-5 boxes from the stores we stopped at. Though dinner was definitely something special cooked by Ma, I don't remember having any. I would focus more on those boxes we had brought back from haalkhata.

As I grew older, April was a month of final exams and so there was less time to accompany my parents to any program or stores. That is when I remember staying home and gorging on the  Pulao, Doi Maach and  Mutton Kosha that my Mother made.

That's how our Notun Bochor celebration was, with a simple new dress for the summer, some Rabindra Sangeet and delicious Bengali food. And of course the postcards we had to write and send out to all our relatives, wishing them "Shubho Naboborsho".

If I had to pick some food that I would love to have for Poila Boishakh, I would stick to the basic, no-nonsense Bengali dishes from my Mother and which I can make in my kitchen easily.

Start with one of these as a jolkhabar or snack

Vegetable Chop

Fish Chop -- Maacher Chop


Cleanse your palate with something bitter, something other than Shukto. Like this Uchche Begun

For our greens we will either  some Radish greens sauteed with Kalonji and green chilies or the Great Bengali Paata Baata which my girls love

Mulo Shaak -- Radish greens

The Great Bengali Paata Bata

We will then have some Tetor Dal with Lauki and bitter gourd because it seems perfect for these times
Tetor Dal

With a side of Potol Posto because what can be better than Posto for New year

Potol Posto

We will then straight go onto the Fish and pick two or all of these.

I have chosen Muri Ghonto, if you have a spare fish head in your freezer; the Kaanchalonka Dhonepata Fish with lots of green chilli and coriander because its so easy and delicious;a Maacher Jhuri -- an easy dish that can be done with any little fish that you have; a spicy Tyangra Maacher Jhal Charchari; a Doi Salmon because its so easy to make; and a Chingri Malaikari because you can always make this with frozen shrimp too.

Muri Ghonto 

Kaanchalonka Dhonepaata Baked Fish

Maacher Jhuri

Tyangra r Jhaal Charchari

Doi Maach with Salmon

Chingri Maacher Malaikari

We will skip the meat and finish off with a Mango Chaatni or a Pineapple Chutney

Kaancha Aaamer Chaatni

Pineapple Chaatni

And go straight to Dessert where you pick any one of these depending on what you have in your pantry

Bhapa Doi

Paurutir Rasmalai -- Shahi Tukda

Nolen Gur er IceCream

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