If you're celebrating goddess Saraswati and also marking Basant Panchami at home, you need to explore some festive dishes which are popularly made during this time across the country using some seasonal ingredients. Be it khichdi or badam kheer or something more auspicious, these recipes can easily be made at home.
Saraswati Puja which is a celebration dedicated to the Hindu goddess of knowledge, music, arts, wisdom, and learning, is marked across the country, especially by youngsters. Beyond its spiritual significance, the occasion also calls to mind some festive delicacies and sweets that are steeped in tradition and evoke a sense of heritage and community bonding.
Rice, gur, coconut and milk are the primary ingredients which are used to make festive dishes and prasad during this Puja. Since it coincides with Basant Panchami, there is a heavy focus on seasonal produce that symbolise auspiciousness and purity. Here are a few dishes which are made widely for Saraswati Puja.
Saraswati Puja often begins with offerings to the goddess, and one of the quintessential dishes served during this time is khichdi. This hearty one-pot meal consists of rice and lentils cooked together with spices and veggies. Its simplicity and nourishing qualities symbolise purity and wholesomeness, which aligns with the essence of the puja. Khichdi is a common preparation in almost every puja, since it can be prepared in large quantities; some renditions of the recipe are made without onions and garlic.
Labra is a Bengali-style medley of assorted vegetables cooked in a mildly spiced gravy. Though it’s popular mainly in the east it’s also made in several other parts of the country since it’s nourishing and also quite palatable. Bursting with colours and flavours, Labra represents abundance and diversity, reflecting the bountiful blessings sought from the goddess and from nature.
Kesar Sheera, also known as Kesari Bath is an aromatic dessert that holds a special place during festive occasions like Saraswati Puja. It has its roots in South Indian cuisine, where it is commonly prepared as an offering to deities during religious ceremonies and festivals.
The dish holds cultural significance, symbolizing prosperity and auspiciousness. It’s made with sooji, ghee, sugar, saffron, milk and nuts. Roasted semolina is then cooked in a mixture of water or milk, along with sugar and saffron-infused milk, until it reaches a thick, pudding-like consistency.
No celebration in Bengal is complete without sweets, and coconut laddoos hold a special place during Saraswati Puja. These delectable coconut laddoos, made with grated coconut and condensed milk, are often offered to the goddess as well and shared with the devotees after the puja.
Malpua And Rabri
Malpua is a traditional syrupy pancake made from a batter of flour, milk, sugar, and flavourings like cardamom and saffron. The batter is fried in ghee until golden brown and crispy on the edges. Once cooked, malpuas are soaked in a sugar syrup infused with nuts enhancing their sweetness and aroma. During pujas or festivities, it's often paired with creamy rabri, which offers a terrific contrast against the crispy, fried pancakes.
Sandesh, a popular Bengali sweet made from fresh cottage cheese (or chenna), sugar, and flavoured with various ingredients like cardamom, saffron, or rose essence, is synonymous with festivities. Its delicate texture and subtle sweetness make it a cherished dessert during Saraswati Puja.
The saffron-scented rice is made differently in several parts of the country. Popularly known as zarda or meethe chawal in western and northern India, this rice dish is prepared with some slight moderations in the east and is called Basanti pulao, which refers to its orange-yellow hue.
These delicious stuffed rice crepes are a Bengali delicacy, although they are made and served in many cities Puja. These delicate crepes are usually stuffed with a sweet filling made from coconut, jaggery and khoya. The art of making Patishapta requires skill and patience, and its delectable taste evokes feelings of nostalgia and warmth; the fudge-y filling offers an interesting texture against the thick, soft crepes.