Durga Puja 2012: Bhoger Panch Meshali Sobji -Five Vegetable Medley cooked for offering during puja
I cannot wait for Saturday to come- Durga puja to start. I can feel the softness of the sun, the chill in the wind, the smell of marigold. I can hear the ‘Dhak’ in my minds ear. (Listen to this http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tnT4iXg0OPs&feature=related). Across seven seas, I am homesick. I am missing my mother; club er puja, Astami r bhog, shopping and friends.
I am standing in rail station along with a young woman I work with. I asked her ‘did you speak to your parents? How are they?’ she said ‘Ya I spoke to them. They are all good in their own world’ I wondered what she meant by ‘their own world’. I asked ‘do you miss them? Don’t you want to go back home’ she gave this sad look at me and asked ‘do you miss home a lot? Does your parents love you.’ She did not wait for my response. ‘No I do not want to go back. Where will I go and where will I stay if I go back. I asked my parents if I could go back to them. They told me never to go back. They told, Ek bar sadi kara di, bass abhi aneka jarurat nahi. They think it was my fault that my marriage broke. They don’t believe that I my husband hits me every day. They said it was all right, pati kabhi kabar haat uthah saktehe. They cannot take me back. Samaj ke baki log keya kahenge? I have four sister, they will not get marriage if I go back.’ She looked at me with those big eyes full of tears and smiled.
She is 22 years and was married to a 37 year old British citizen of Indian origin. She was forced to marry; as it was best she could ever think of -a man who stays in London. All she got was 7 months of hitting by husband & parent in law, starvation, servitude and finally when she complaint to police she was thrown out of house and husband confiscated of all her documents and belongings. She is homeless, passport less, parentless and loveless!
We celebrate Durga puja every year! Goddess Durga, a mother and a woman- is called upon to fight the evil. Every year! For so long! How many more years do we have to wait to fight the evil in ourselves.
Recipe for Bhoger Panch Meshali Sobji
Durga puja like any other festival in Bengal and India is associated with food. Durga puja is incomplete without khichuri, panch ba saat rokom bhaja (five or seven kind of vegetable deep fried individually) panch meshali sobji, labra, tomato ba am er (tomato or mango) chutney and then of course there is payesh (rice pudding in Bengali style) , misti doi (sweet yoghurt), rosogolla. All these are offered to goddess Durga as bhog (offering). Once puja is over and mother have had her share of food, the left over is distributed among her children (us). This is best part about puja. I have cooked Bhoger Panch Meshali Sobji today but did not cook khichuri to go with it. I will cook khichuri soon and post the recipe. Today just the vegetable and it is very very easy to cook.
3- Potatoes, medium cubed
250gm-sweet pumpkin, medium cubed
150gm- Asian flat bean (sheem)
1-White long radish (mula) cubed
8/10-lady finger/ okra (bhindi)
100gm-french bean, medium length
8/10- pointed gourd (potol)
1-teaspoon panch phoron
1 1/2inch- ginger, grated
1-dried red chili
Salt to taste
Pinch of sugar (optional)
1. Wash all the vegetable properly
2. Cut the vegetable in medium sizes except lady fingers (okra)
3. For okra or lady finger just cut both the ends
4. Heat oil in a large pan
5. Add bay leave, red chili and panch phoron
6. When panch phoron starts to sputter, add the vegetable except lady finger (okra)
7. Add salt and turmeric and cover the pan
8. Let the vegetable cook for a while and leave water
9. Add the ginger , green chili
10. Cook until vegetable is 70% done
11. Then add okra and cook. Do not add water as the vegetable cook with its own water
12. Add sugar ( optional)
13. Cook until all vegetable is cooked, little broken and water has dried out
14. Sprinkle little ghee if you like before offering to goddess or on your plate