Chaitra Navratri: Special Dishes That Adorn Temple Meals In Bengal
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Chaitra Navratri is typically celebrated during the month of Chaitra, which begins around the first week of April, and is observed for nine days. Many in India celebrate Navratri by fasting or eating only vegetarian dishes. For Bengalis, however, Navaratri meals consist of several specific food items. While the Navratri observed during Durga Puja in the month of Ashwin is celebrated with immense pomp and splendour, Chaitra Navratri is usually observed in temples. Here’s a list of the dishes prepared at temples in Bengal during Chaitra Navratri.

  • Khichudi: Chaitra Navratri puja is not complete without a generous serving of bhoger khichudi. Made with roasted moong dal or lentils and fine Gobindhobhog rice with the right spices sans onion or garlic, the taste of this khichudi made in temples cannot be replicated anywhere else. Relish it with a spoonful of desi ghee for a heavenly experience that will leave an indelible impression on your mind.
  • Labra: This is a Bengali-style mixed vegetable dish that includes potato, pumpkin, brinjal, cabbage and, sometimes, even cauliflower. It is generally served with khichudi. Although the authentic version does not add carrots or tomatoes, you can add other veggies like beans and carrots. Spice it with a pinch of roasted masala of dry chilli and cumin seeds. Labra with khichudi make for a scrumptious puja lunch.
  • Luchi And Aloor Torkari: Luchi or puri along with pure vegetarian potato sabzi is a much-awaited Navarati combination at Bengali temples during this time of the year. You may even be served cholar dal (Bengal gram lentil) that goes well with the sizzling hot, irresistible puris.
  • Beguni: Another tempting accompaniment with Khichudi, Beguni is nothing but brinjal cut into thin slices and dipped in a batter made of besan or Bengal gram powder and spices deep-fried. The very sight of the hot beguni makes your mouth water, and bet you cannot have only one of these sinful indulgences.
  • Tomato Chutney: Bengali pujas and celebrations without the chutney are unthinkable. Tomato chutney invariably occupies the first place on the list. Tangy and sweet, you can also spice it up by adding a dry chilli for that hot, sweet and spicy taste. Make it tastier by adding dates and mango pulp candies for the perfect dessert to be accompanied with khichudi.
  • Payesh: Payesh or kheer is yet another must-have dish during Chaitra Navratri. Prepared with rice and thickened milk, flavoured with cardamom, this is the perfect dessert to be relished after a delicious khichudi lunch. 

Satarupa B Kaur has been writing professionally for a decade. Always on the go, she loves to travel, read books and enjoy playtime with her toddler as she explores new places and food.