Basanti Pulao To Chingri Malai Curry, 9 Dishes For Jamai Sashti
Image Credit: A spread for Jamai Sashti, LemonGrass@Facebook

The people of Bengal in India are well-known for their gastronomic prowess and love of scrumptious foods. When a celebration rolls around in West Bengal, people go on a massive eating binge. Though most people would immediately think of Bengali food and the spectacular Durga Puja, other less well-known festivals also highlight this region's cuisine. The annual festival of Jamai Sashti is one example which falls on the sixth day of shukla paksh in the Hindu month of Jyestha. Jamai, or the son-in-law, is the centre of attention at this one-of-a-kind celebration. A Bengali sasuri maa, or mother-in-law, often puts together an extravagant meal for the occasion, drawing on her extensive knowledge of native traditional foods. There are plenty of tales associated with this event, as well as many ceremonies. In 2023, 25 May marks Jamai Sasthi. Let's look at the choicest culinary fares on the platter, along with this festival's folklore and festivities. 

The backstory 

According to folklore, a woman once would eat all the food in the home and then blame it on an unfortunate cat. This infuriated Sasthi, the cat-riding Goddess, and She took away the woman's child. After losing her child, the woman prayed and surrendered to the Goddess. The deity forgave her and returned her child. However, the woman's in-laws were not amused by the tale and forbade her from seeing her own family. The parents of the said woman went restless to see their daughter. Eager to spend time with her, they invited their son-in-law over for a lavish meal on the day of Sasthi Puja. Finally, the parents were overjoyed as they could meet their daughter when she accompanied her husband to attend the invitation. Because of this event, the day is referred to as Jamai Sasthi. There are a few variations to this legend. 

Beliefs and rituals

There was an era when a daughter's maternal house would go into a frenzy upon the arrival of their son-in-law. Because men were traditionally expected to provide for their families, a culture of glorification developed around them. Often, parents would put their faith in their son-in-law to ensure their daughter's safety. Thus, several women would customarily greet the jamai when he arrived. Everything supplied on Jamai Sashti, which receives part of its name from Sasthi or the sixth day of the month of the lunar calendar, is presented in figure 6: six different kinds of fruits, sweets, and a minimum of six distinct side meals to accompany his rice dishes for lunch. Some of these traditions have been carried away by the tide of modernity as time has passed. In contemporary society, when women are self-sufficient, the ceremonial significance of this celebration has minimised. Even if the extent has shrunk, the people who adhere to the traditions continue to honour its splendour. 

A traditional Bengali food spread, Image Credit: Mayer Henshel@Facebook

Bengali culinary fares on Jamai Sashti

The list of native and traditional Bengali culinary fares is almost exhaustive on Jamai Sashti. But one can expect a few iconic dishes on the platter. 

Basanti Pulao

Know for its vibrant saffron hue and richness that comes from a lavish usage of dry fruits, Basanti Pulao or mishti pulao is pure bliss. One of its signature ingredients is gobindobhog rice which has an exquisite aroma. And serving this Bengali speciality is almost a must on the Jamai Sashti platter.


Beguni or eggplant fritters, Image Credit:

One of the most beloved telebhaja or fritters, beguni has a dedicated cult following. Thinly sliced eggplants are dipped in besan or gram flour batter and deep-fried to perfection. The crispy and crunchy coating outside and the soft brinjal, or begun inside, is intense romance a Bengali shares with food.

Fish Fry

This Bengali fish fry is a well-known staple of Bengali street cuisine. Bhetki (Barramundi or Seabass) fish fillets are artfully sliced and marinated in onion, ginger, garlic, and chilli paste, then breaded and fried until golden. It is a perfect starter on a Bengali platter. No wonder, it often features on the Jamai Sashti spread. 

Mach Bhaja

Along with an array of non-vegetarian curries, a Jamai Sashti platter can't be imagined without a serving of a paka-maach bhaja. The roundly sliced fish, preferably rohu or katla, are seasoned with turmeric powder, chilli powder and salt to taste and deep fried with a crispy outer layer. 

Cholar Dal

A festive culinary spread in Bengal almost always has a portion dedicated to cholar dal. Made with Bengal gram this lentil preparation is known for its signature thick consistency, a sweet undertone in taste and lavish use of finely chopped fried coconut. It is sure to impress the son-in-law when served with luchi or puffed bread. 

Enchorer Dalna

The summer is the season of tender jackfruit, and one would drool by tasting the Bengali enchoer dalna. The preparation is so decadent that it can beat any non-vegetarian culinary fare. As Jamai Sashti is in the mid-of-summer, the thali is almost unimaginable with enchorer dalna. 

Potoler Dolma

Bengali summer cuisine can't be imagined without the recipes surrounding potol or pointed gourd. Thus, a platter of Jamai Sashti, which falls in the summer season, can't miss the decadent potoler dolma. In this exotic dish, the pointed gourd is scooped out and stuffed with a rich filling that can be made of cottage cheese or even minced fish. 

Chingri Malai Curry

Rich prawn curry, Image Credit:

There is always a tug of war among Bengali food lovers between their fancy for chingri or prawns and ilish or hilsa. Let's not focus on which one wins! Chingri malai curry, a creamy preparation of prawns in coconut milk, is a must-have on the menu of grand celebrations, and Jamai Sasthi is no exception. 

Gobindobhog chaler payesh

Made using the exotic and expensive gobindobhog rice which has been known for its fragrance, this payesh or rice pudding is a dessert that adds a sweetness to the celebration of Jamai Sashti. Its creamy texture, unparallel aroma and decadent taste are hard to resist.