Oct 22, 2023, 05:50 PM IST
Bengali sweet enthusiasts, rejoice! Durga Pujo, the beloved festival celebrated by Bengalis worldwide, is here, and it brings with it a delectable blend of tradition and innovation. This year, amidst the vibrant celebrations that include shopping, pandal hopping, and cultural revelry, traditional mishti (sweets) gets a contemporary makeover, allowing you to indulge in both cherished flavors and modern twists.
Innovations on a Plate: The Modern Mishti
- Californian Pistachio and Cranberry Sandesh:
- A delightful sweetmeat coated with a delicate dusting of pista powder.
- Chef Nishant Choubey from Sattvik shares, "I came up with these thoughts keeping quirkiness, health, and slightly out-of-the-box curations in mind. These are exotic but easily doable with just a few ingredients."
- Chef Choubey also incorporates cranberries into other creations, such as the Californian pistachio and cranberry bhapa doi and the cranberry gel-stuffed chhena pie, providing a burst of fresh fruity flavors.
- Rose and Cream Cheese Roshogolla:
- Made with rose syrup, cow milk, and cream cheese, this sweet embodies pure bliss.
- A unique take on roshogolla by chef Kush Koli from SAGA.
- He assembles it with samak ki kheer and jelly to give it a delightful twist, influenced by his love for Bengali sweets.
- Apricot Mishti Doi:
- A traditional yet decadent dessert curated by chef Ashish Singh from Dhansoo Cafe.
- Singh combines the tangy flavor of apricot with the timeless favorite, mishti doi, making it a must-eat dessert during Durga Puja celebrations.
Balancing Tradition and Experimentation
While these innovative mishti creations add an exciting dimension to Pujo celebrations, it’s crucial to preserve the essence of the traditional dishes. Bengali sweets, including roshogolla and sandesh, are predominantly crafted from milk, a skill that Bengali karigars (artisans) have perfected over generations. Aditi Chatterjee, senior sous chef at ITC Sheraton New Delhi, advises, "One must understand the cooking techniques and flavor profiles when experimenting. To begin with, one can use simple flavors and mithai and then move on to creating complex profiles."
Traditional meets trendy: Modern mishti for Pujo captures the spirit of Durga Pujo, where innovation and tradition harmoniously coexist. It’s a testament to the ever-evolving culinary landscape of Bengal, where sweet delights continue to enthrall the taste buds of both locals and those who travel from afar to partake in the festivities. So, as you immerse yourself in the Pujo spirit, don’t miss the opportunity to savor these modern mishti creations that beautifully bridge the gap between the past and the present.
The Essence of Tradition in Contemporary Sweets
What are the traditional sweets associated with Durga Pujo?
In the spirit of Durga Pujo, an array of traditional Bengali sweets is exchanged to convey heartfelt wishes on the festival’s final day, known as ‘Subho Bijoya.’ These cherished sweets include:
- Rosogolla: Soft, spongy cheese balls soaked in sugar syrup.
- Sondesh: Delicate, sweet treats made from fresh paneer and often flavored with cardamom or saffron.
- Sitabhog: A fragrant, saffron-infused dessert made from fine flour, ghee, and sugar.
- Goja: Deep-fried, sugar-glazed pastries known for their crisp texture and delightful sweetness.
- Lobongo Lotika: Flaky, diamond-shaped pastries filled with sweet khoya (milk solids) and folded into a clove shape.
- Chom Chom: Oval-shaped sweets soaked in sugar syrup, often garnished with grated coconut.
These traditional sweets symbolize the warmth and goodwill shared during Durga Pujo, making them an integral part of the celebration.
What is the significance of mishti in Bengali culture?
For centuries, Bengali culture has been intrinsically connected to the presence of these delightful sweet treats. Mishti, which means sweets in Bengali, holds a special place in the heart of Bengalis, signifying warmth, hospitality, and celebration. These delectable creations are not just desserts but a medium of expressing love and camaraderie. Over time, their popularity has transcended borders, establishing mishti as a cornerstone of South Asia’s rich culinary heritage, uniting people through its irresistibly sweet charm.
What sweet is made for Durga Puja?
Sondesh, a beloved Bengali sweet, takes center stage during Durga Puja. This delectable treat is crafted from chhana (a form of cottage cheese) and sweetened with sugar or gur (jaggery). With minimal ingredients, sondesh boasts exceptional flavor. It’s a go-to choice for celebrating any occasion among Bengali people. Varieties of sondesh abound, including:
- Plain Sondesh: A classic rendition.
- Gurer Sondesh: Sweetened with jaggery, imparting a unique, earthy sweetness.
- Norom Paker Sondesh (Soft Sondesh): Known for its melt-in-the-mouth texture.
- Kora Paker Sondesh: Featuring a firmer, more textured consistency.
These sondesh variations grace the tables of Bengalis and add a touch of sweetness to the festivities during Durga Puja.
What are the sweets offered to Maa Durga?
During the course of the festival, a variety of delectable sweets and dishes are lovingly offered to Maa Durga. The offerings vary by day, creating a culinary tapestry of devotion:
- First Day: Ghee, puris (fried bread), and chane (chickpeas) are presented as offerings.
- Second Day: The offerings include singhare ke laddoo (water chestnut sweets) and kuttu ka halwa (buckwheat pudding).
- Throughout the Festival: Other delectable offerings throughout the festival encompass a range of delicacies, such as makhane ki kheer (lotus seed pudding), malpua (sweet pancakes), sabudana khichdi (sago pilaf), arbi ki sabzi (colocasia curry), suji ka halwa (semolina pudding), kalaadi (a traditional cheese), and paneer with kheer (cottage cheese with milk pudding).
These offerings are a heartfelt gesture of devotion, celebrating Maa Durga with a symphony of flavors and culinary delights.
What is the favorite sweet for goddess Durga?
The favorite sweet that finds a special place in the heart of Goddess Durga is Malpua. These sweet pancakes are especially beloved during Durga Puja, particularly in North India. Malpua’s irresistible flavor and significance make it a cherished offering to honor the goddess during this auspicious celebration.
What are the things associated with Durga Puja?
Durga Puja, a ten-day festival, is marked by various rituals and practices, particularly during the final five days. The festivities commence with Mahalaya, a day dedicated to Hindu rituals, including tarpaṇa, where offerings of water and food are made to honor deceased ancestors. It is also the day when Goddess Durga embarks on her journey from her mythical marital home in Kailash to join the celebrations.