The significance of rice dishes in Indian festivities is deep and wide. With an ancient history, rice delicacies are almost all-pervasive in Indian festivals. As Makar Sankranti is around the corner, it’ll be fair to indulge in the signature rice dishes of the festival. From the Odia Makara Chaula to the Bihari khichdi, Makar Sankranti is full of signature dishes made with rice. One of these Makar Sankranti classics is the Bengali nolen gurer payesh. 

My tryst with nolen gurer payesh began on my trip to a friend’s house in CR Park in 2020. I visited his house for college fest practice and her grandmother offered me a bowl of warm and gooey pudding. Upon savouring the first spoonful of the pudding, I was amazed by the gooey deliciousness. The short-grained rice, the aromatic jaggery, the saffron and a variety of nuts and raisins were enough to make me drool in the first spoonful itself.

If we trace the significance of making nolen gurer payesh on Makar Sankranti, it appears that it’s prepared to mark the seasonal observance and relish the first harvest of the season. The freshly harvested rice and nolen gur are important in terms of nutrition and taste. The jaggery is filled with vitamin C and iron and is beneficial for maintaining respiratory health.

Here’s a quick recipe of nolen gurer payesh if you want to try it this Makar Sankranti.

Ingredients

· A liter of full cream milk

· 1 cup nolen gur

· ½ cup gobindabhog rice

· 6-7 raisins

· 10-12 almonds (soaked and peeled)

· 8-10 cashew nuts

Method

1. Rinse the rice under running water and keep it aside for 20-30 minutes.

2. Add milk to a heavy-bottomed pan and bring it to a boil. Once it starts boiling, add rice, cashews and almonds and keep stirring continuously till the rice is cooked and the milk is reduced to half.

3. Remove the milk and rice mixture from the flame and gradually add jaggery by continuously stirring it.

4. Put the vessel back on the burner and cook for five more minutes.

5. Remove from heat, garnish with raisins and relish.

Nolen gurer payesh is best enjoyed when cold. Bring the payesh to room temperature, refrigerate for 2-3 hours and serve.