5 Lesser-Known Saraswati Puja Delights From West Bengal
Image Credit: Gota Sedho | Image Credit: Cookpad.com

Saraswati Puja has always claimed to hold a special position in the lives of Bengalis. The day is commemorated to worship Goddess Saraswati. As per Hindu mythology, Goddess Saraswati is the goddess of wisdom, intellect, and learning. She has four hands, which symbolise ego, intellect, alertness, and the mind. She is often pictured seated on a lotus or peacock, wearing a white saree.   

This puja is most entirely enjoyed by school and collegegoers. Several schools and colleges celebrate Saraswati Puja, where they organise a gala food feast. Although khichuri, labra, and beguni are the staples of Saraswati puja, people are adding innovative dishes while keeping a traditional touch to them. Besides, Saraswati Puja in Bengal is popularly considered Bengali Valentine’s Day, where girls dress up in sarees and boys in kurtas and go to their schools or colleges to enjoy the puja and feast on their favourite foods.   

Here are some lesser-known dishes that add a traditional touch to the festivities:   

  • Basanti Pulao   

As the name suggests, this pulao holds a significant position in Basant Panchami, aka Saraswati Puja. This is a Bengali dish where the aromatic rice is cooked in an array of spices and exudes a vibrant golden hue owing to the addition of saffron. The rice is typically adorned with fried cashews and raisins. It can be enjoyed with beguni, or curry.   

  • Aloo Phulkopir Dalna   

This is a traditional Bengali dish that is enjoyed both with khichdi and basanti pulao. This delightful curry features tender chunks of potatoes and cauliflower, which are simmered in rich, spiced gravy. The dish is prepared by tempering cumin seeds, dry red chillies, and bay leaves. A pureed tomato and ginger paste are added along with curd. The fried potatoes and cauliflower are added to the mixture and then simmered in the gravy along with spices like cumin powder, coriander powder, red chilli powder, and garam masala.   

  • Gota Sedho   

This is the traditional dish that is prepared in almost all Bengali households. Gota Sedho, as the name suggests, combines all winter vegetables steamed without cutting them, thus keeping them as whole as they are. Here, mainly moong dal is used. To prepare this, first the dal is cooked until half-ready, and then in a deep-bottomed vessel, all the vegetables, namely small potatoes, brinjal, whole peas, spinach, flat beans, sweet potatoes, and green chillies, are added along with water and made to simmer till fully done. To flavour the gota sedho, salt, lemon juice, grated ginger, and mustard oil are added.   

  • Kuler Chutney  

Also known as Indian jujube or ber fruit in English, Kul is a must fruit among Bengalis in Saraswati Puja. Besides eating it raw, kuler chutney can be made, especially during Saraswati Puja. Kul has a natural tanginess that is imparted to the chutney and can be complemented by the sweetness of sugar or jaggery. This sweet and sour chutney has a perfect red hue. 

  • Payesh   

Payesh is the Bengali version of kheer and is perfect to complete the Saraswati Puja meal. Made by simmering rice in milk and sweetening it with sugar, flavoured with cardamom powder and saffron and garnished with raisins and cashews. It has a creamy and velvety texture and evokes a feeling of warmth and comfort.