There is an overwhelming interest in the whole ‘non-vegetarian’ fare of Durga Puja. When the rest of the country is fasting or maintaing a strict vegetarian diet, how are Bengalis feasting on meat and indulging to their hearts content. As a Bengali, this was the logic given to me by the elders in the family. Despite the worship of common deity (Goddess Durga), there lies a world of a difference in Navratri and Durga Puja celebrations. In eastern side of the country, Goddess Durga is said to be the daughter of earth, when she descends on earth for these few days she is said to be visiting her maternal home. She is thus pampered with her favourite flowers, chants and prasad. Thus, Durga puja is the time to drench in celebrations for her devotees. The only mandate is to be happy. Your diet is your choice during Durga puja, if feasting on mutton chops make you happy, then that is completely okay too. But the one meal that is supposed to be strictly vegetarian is the Bhog, which is served to everyone present at the pandal during the lunchtime. One can enjoy the bhog irrespective of their caste, class, creed of gender, on the same type of plate offered to his/her neighbour.  

The main component of Durga Puja Bhog is the khichuri or Khichdi, which is a one-pot meal made with rice and soaked dal. But there’s something about the Bengali khichdi that makes something as simple as khichdi festive enough to be served to thousands of people lining up for the Bhog. In the Bengali khichdi, the lentils are roasted before they are cooked with rice, this gives the khichdi a unique smoky touch. A bunch of spices that you commonly find in East-Indian preparations like bay leaf, green cardamom, dried red chillies and how can we forget the Bengali favourite mustard oil in which the tadka is prepared.  

Slurping already? Here’s the recipe of Bengali-style khichdi that you can try today.