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Noboborsho delights

  • Published at 08:00 pm April 9th, 2018
  • Last updated at 08:13 pm April 9th, 2018
Noboborsho delights
Pohela Boishakh is an exciting time filled with decadent feasting and festivities that come in a myriad of colours. Truly, it is a time for indulgence. We, the lucky ones, are blessed to be part of a culture so deeply rooted in flavour. Bengali food is indeed a paradoxical wonder; it is both simple in its humility and beautifully complex in its depth. To enjoy this time of feasting, we’ve prepared a roundup of dishes to share with your family and friends. Let the natural flavours of Bengal shine through with these recipes.

Paanta Ilish

A dish that needs no introduction, Paanta Ilish is a staple delicacy celebrating the simple, rural roots of Bengal. The height of Boishakhi tradition, it is almost criminal to neglect this delicacy. Paanta bhaat is essentially leftover rice soaked in water, a wonderfully convenient dish to prepare. Serves: 6 What you’ll need: • 2 cups of rice • Water • Salt, lime and chilli – all to taste Directions: Cook the rice as you normally would and allow it to cool completely. Add water to fully submerge your cooked rice and set aside overnight for the classic taste of fermented rice. Garnish with a hint of salt, lime and chilli and you have a paanta worth salivating over. With the Ilish bhaaja, go for a classic approach highlighting the true taste of one of our favourite fish. Serves: 6 What you’ll need: • 6 pieces of Ilish (Hilsha) maach • ½ tsp red chilli powder • ½ tsp turmeric powder • Salt to taste • Oil Directions: Clean the fish thoroughly with water. Rub a bit of salt and turmeric powder on to your fish pieces and set aside for five to 10 minutes. Wash off the salt and turmeric to get rid of any foul odours the fish may have. Mix together chilli powder, turmeric powder and salt and coat your fish pieces generously. Seriously, go all out on this one for maximum flavour. Heat oil on a medium high, and fry your marinated fish pieces until they are crispy and golden-brown. Yum! Note: Keep an eye on the fish, the frying time isn’t set in stone and depends entirely on the thickness of the fish you’re using.

Bhortas galore

The ultimate form of comfort food, bhortas are the perfect companions for Paanta Ilish. Together, they are an inseparable combination that triumphs all. The not-so-secret key to a good bhorta lies with its ingredients. At the heart of every delicious bite of this mashed goodness are mustard oil, garlic, onions and red chillies. Here are some favourites:

Aloo bhorta

Serves: 2 What you’ll need: • 3 medium sized potatoes • 2 tbsp mustard oil • 4-5 garlic cloves • 2-3 red chillies • 1/4th of an onion, thinly sliced • Cilantro (optional) • Salt to taste Directions: Roast garlic cloves and chillies on stovetop and set aside. Boil, peel and mash potatoes until they are soft and smooth. Mash together your garlic, chillies and salt. You can add in your onions as is, or you can sauté them first if you hate raw onions. The bhorta might taste different, but it’ll still be delicious. Mix your mashed potatoes with the mustard oil and your paste of spices. Top it off with a cilantro garnish, and dig in!

Begun bhorta

While it isn’t as smooth as its aloo counterpart, begun bhorta stands proud as a chunky, spicy mash of delicious goodness. Serves: 3 What you’ll need: • 1 medium eggplant • 4-5 garlic cloves • 2-3 red chillies • 1/4th of an onion, thinly sliced • 2 tbsp mustard oil • Cilantro • Salt to taste Directions: Roast your eggplant, garlic and chilli on stovetop. You can also do this in the oven until tender if you don’t care much for the charred begun taste some of us love. Make a simple spice paste by mashing together garlic, chilli and salt. Mix in your thinly sliced onions. Mash your tender, roasted eggplant with your flavourful spice paste and add cilantro. Mix well with the mustard oil.

Daal bhorta

Served together with piping hot rice, spicy mashed lentils are absolutely delicious. Did we mention they are oh-so-simple to prepare? Serves: 4 What you’ll need: • 1 cup lentils • 2 tbsp mustard oil • 4-5 garlic cloves • 2 green chillies • 1/4th of an onion, thinly sliced • Cilantro • Salt to taste Directions: Boil lentils in one and a half cups of water; by the time the water is all dried up, the daal should be tender. Roast garlic and chilli on stovetop. The drill stays the same for your staple spice paste; mash together garlic, salt and chilli. Incorporate your spice paste with the cooked daal, onions, mustard oil and cilantro and mix well. We are often critiqued for deviating from our cultural roots, but no more of that nonsense. This Boishakh, impress everyone who ever doubted you - your parents, in-laws, significant other and your friends - with your expert know-how of authentic and traditional Bengali recipes.