Mahashtami, also known as Maha Durgashtami, is second day of Durga Puja. Maha Ashtami is one of the most important days of Durga Puja. Durga Puja on Maha Ashtami begins with Mahasnan and Shodashopachar Puja. For Bongs all over the world,this day is incomplete without the customary bhog!
On this auspicious day,I had the fortune to be a part of “Bhog Tasting” organized by Zomato in association with HanglaHneshel magazine,a popular Bengali culinary magazine.I was invited as a food blogger to taste some delicious bhoger khichuri,chatni,payesh and pulao.
Our first stoppage was Mainak Apartments,opposite Birla Mandir.We entered the housing complex in the press car,each of us being given tags by the press.The entire fraternity was present at the puja pandal and gave us a very warm welcome,offering us tea and cold drinks.As part of their Puja Bhog menu,we tasted:-
Khichudi:This is a must in almost every Pujo.The khichudi tasted pretty average,though I felt that better quality of rice would have made the dish even better.It was garnished with cashews,peas and a red chilli.
Pulao: This was somehow not to my liking.I particularly did not like the quality of rice used,like for khichudi.Tastewise,it failed to impress me.
Payesh : This is the clear winner!!It had the perfect balance of sweetness,not too overpowering.This again had cashews and raisins on top.The entire dish tasted heavenly.If I did not have other pujas to cover,I surely would have eaten the entire thing.
Our next stop was Avishikta 1,in Kalikapur.Like many traditional Bong gatherings,they offered Dab r jol to us for refreshment as soon as we entered.I was extremely happy with the hospitality shown towards us by all the women and men organizers.It actually felt like home!Another positive point about them was their presentation which was exceptional,considering that this was not organized by any hospitality group.They too had the traditional bhog menu for us.
Khichudi:This was served along with begun bhaja, potol bhaja ,hand cut potato smileys,cooked carrots and beans.Coming to taste,it was really good.The lentils were properly mixed with the rice,maintaining the right consistency.
Pulao: They did not make the otherwise yellow pulao,but it tasted good nevertheless.It was garnished with cashews and a cherry.The rice was good and flavourful.
Payesh: This was the most visually appealing home made payesh I have ever seen!Other than cashews and raisins,this was garnished with cherries as well.On the taste front,it was quite good.
A very nice gesture which they showed was the fact that they had fed all the crew members!They served food to all those who were present.
Our last stoppage was Purba housing located near Picnic Garden.They too scored on their presentation!We were given refreshments on arrival.They too,had the traditional menu for Ashtami.
Khichudi: This was pretty average compared to the other two Khichudis that we tasted.It could have tasted better.
Pulao : The pulao was extremely spicy,unlike what you get as part of traditional bhog.I particularly did not enjoy this one as it was way too spicy than the normal limit.Tastewise as well,it did not score very high for me.
Payesh : Like the previous two,this was also extremely average.
It was an honor for me to be picked as a part of this team,which included a well known chef and a renowned celebrity accompanying me in every housing complex.I got to taste some very good homemade bhog as well,which every team put in a lot of effort into.