Poila baisakh or Bengali new year is around the corner and it means a perfect time to get indulge in rich and sweet savory authentic Bengali gourmet delicacies. Check our exclusive BENGALI CUISINE ARCHIVE
For Bengalis the day usually marked with cleaning and beautifying homes with alpanas, prabhatpheris ( a kind of procession), Rabindrasangeet, cultural programmes, quick visit to Kali baris, and the great poila baisakh luncheon which occupies the mind for most of the part.
For Bengalis poila baisakh usually turns out to be a mini family get-together and lunch is always a lavish spread of phulko luchi with aloo dum, chanar kalia, bhaja mooger daal, begun bhaja, fish fries, bati chochoris, dhokar dalna, mochar ghonto or paturi, chingri malai curry, bhetki or ilish paturi, chital macher muthia, mishti pulao, murgir jhol, kosha mangso, tomato khejur chutney and what not !
When you think you had enough of this, then comes the sweets in a platter with rosogollas, chamchams, sandesh, rasmalai and mishti doi. You can definitely skip some of the dishes from above but you can not say no to sweets ! After a break for 10 minutes starts the next session of digenes, gelusil, pudin haras, hojmis, jowan and amlakis ! Bengalis are surely spoilt for choices.
If you are planning to throw a Poila Baisakh party for your family and friends, here is an elaborate luncheon menu that can be used as a guide.
Poila baisakh menu
Quench the thirst with : Aaam pora shorbet ahve become almost quintessential summer drinks and also it brings an authentic ethnic touch to the poila baisakh menu.
Starter / appetizer:
Though traditional Bengali menu does not classify a partcular slot for an appetizer but over the years it has become customary to serve a chop or cutlet as an appetizer. So choose your pick from these –
Main entrees : Vegetarian:
Luchi is quintessential in such occasions and it is paired beautifully with dhokar dalna or chanar kalia. There are other favourites too.
Fish / sea foods :
Fish holds a special place in Bengali menu. And usually three kinds are served, small fish, big fish which usually are curried into kalia or bhape and prawns and Bhetki paturi, the last one is almost indisputable.
Chingri malai curry / Bengali Prawn malai curry
Bhetki paturi / Bekti fillet seasoned with mustard wrapped in plantain leaves
Bhapa Ilish er aam kasundi / hilsa flavoured with mango mustard sauce
Bhapa chingri / steamed prawns in creamy mustard sauce
Narkel ilish / hilsa stewed in creamy coconut milk
Poultry / meat :
More than chicken, a matured goat or tender lamb curry / mangsho is the favoured one for such ocassions.
Rice / breads :
Pulao is the star here, but many prefers a decent biryani too. Here are few non-traditional ones for surprise.
Chutney/ Payesh/ Doi /Mishti mukh / sweet platter:
The grand finale – Some says it is customary to serve at least five kind of sweets in a platter. Which must include a payesh, bhaja mishti like pantua, sandesh and rosher mishti like roshogolla, chamcham etc. Do not know who made such rules but who complains?
mishti doi / Bengali sweet yogurt
Strawberry Bhapa sandesh
Rossogullar payesh / Rasgulla ki kheer
Malpua ar rabdi / syrupy Indian pancakes with apple rabdi
Nolen gurer payesh / Bengali rice pudding with date-palm jaggery
Aamer payesh / saffron infused mango kheer / pudding
Arranging a poila baisakh / Bengali new year house party:
Naba borsho or poila baisakh celebrations are marked with joy, enthusiasm and hope and it all started with the home itself. So cleaning the house is best way to start the auspicious day, brooming out the dust and cobwebs, getting rid off the clutter in the corners will definitely infused the freshness in the house.
Adorning the doorsteps with alpanas / rangoils is the perfect way to welcome the new year. A vase of fresh flowers (will be great if you are able to get some yellow flowers) arranged tastefully will uplift your mood and your guest too will appreciate it. Tune the house with your favourite Rabindra sangeet, and enjoy !
Since poila baisakh luncheons are usually an extravagant affair, so it is sensible to keep the dining table decor to minimal. You can opt for a silken table runner or if you have the batik stoles, they will look great as table runner and will lend an ethnic touch to the party. Terracotta dining ware will be simply outstanding for such gatherings, otherwise you can also opt for green plaintain leaves (they will add an exotic element to the whole affair), or bring out your favourite dining wares.
Lets the party begins………….
Watch this space for all the scrumptious Bengali recipes and let me know if you want to add some more in the menu. We will try to post the recipes soon.
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