I remember my last visit to the pandals for Durga Puja. It was in 2019, a year before the pandemic grappled us in its trap and left us constricted to the four walls of our home. Initially, we had decided on going with a group of friends but in the end, it was just my friend and I. We dressed up for the occasion, taking out our bright-coloured kurtis, accessorizing them with jhumkas and bindi and slipped on some ethnic Indian footwear to go with it. According to my understanding, apart from the religious significance of any festival, the three most important things for the celebration are festive clothes, festive décor and festive food. 

Come Durga Puja or any other festival for that matter, the kuch meetha ho jaye comes naturally to us. While pandal hopping with my friend, we passed through several stalls and the aroma of mughlai paranthas and fish chops lingered on. After taking a good look at the humungous idol of Goddess Durga at one of the pandals and attending the aarti at another, I was starving. Since my friend couldn’t eat anything because she was observing her Navratri fasts, we went in search for some Bengali mishtis. To my delight, we found a small sweet stall and gorged on sandesh and kheer kadam to our hearts content. 

If I’ve tickled your sweet tooth now, don’t be sad. Here are some lip-smacking Bengali sweets that you can try at home this Durga Puja. 

1. Nolen Gurer Sandesh 

Sandesh is a well-known Bengali sweet, made with chenna (paneer). Nolen Gurer takes sandesh to a whole new level by adding a special kind of jaggery called nolen gur (date palm jaggery) to the dish. What makes it so irresistible is the fact that you can only relish this mildly sweet and grainy mithai during winters. 

2.  Kheer Kadam 

Do not mistake these for rasgullas, they are kheer kadam. The milky interiors and the soft and silky khoya exteriors are a match made in heaven. A little bigger than bite-size, the granules of these sweet, round balls will leave you wanting more. 

3.  Chhanar Jeelipi 

Are you a fan of jalebis? This jeelipi is a Bengali cousin, made with paneer aka cottage cheese, where Chenna or  Chhanar refers to paneer in Bengali. The deep-fried dough is then dunked in a sugar syrup before being served hot. 

4.  Patishapta 

Though it is a dessert associated with Makar Sankranti, how can we say no to this sweet Bengali crepe when the opportunity arises? Stuffed with mawa, coconut and jaggery, the outer layer is made with a semolina and maida dough. Add some nuts to it and you are good to go. 

5.  Lobongo Latika 

A Bengali pastry dessert, the lobongo latika is coated with sugar and filled with a sweet kheer preparation before being deep-fried into a flaky treat. The crunch of the outer crust complements the soft inner stuffing really well. 

6.  Mishti Goja 

Gorged on across several festivals, goja is a basic flour and ghee combination. The deep-fried delight is filled with grated coconut and raisins and soaked in dollops of sugar syrup.