Poush Sankranti.....Makar Sankranti.... Poush Parbon.....!!the word is umbilically related to Bong people. Bengal is An Abode of Festival... An Abode of Enthusiasm ...AN Abode of Rich Tradition,Spirit and Culture.Colloquially it is said that Bengali Calendar of 12 months celebrate 13 festivals. Even the time when the first grain of the year is stocked up is celebrated in a gorgeous and honourable way .This is known as "Nabanno"( nabo= new, anno= rice) in Bengal. This is the actual significance of "Poush Sankranti" or the last day of the bengali month Poush.According to Hindu Philosophy this particular day is the beginning of the Sun's Northward Journey ,from Tropic of Capricorn to the Tropic of Cancer. This is also called "Uttarayan". According to science the journey starts on 22 nd Dec. Poush Parbon or Makar Sankranti is not only celebrated in Bengal but also in almost all the regions of India. Actually the date of Makar Sankranti is regarded as the Official beginning of Spring in India.
Nolen Gur ,Khejur Gur or Date Palm Jaggery is a traditional jaggery from Bengal and can only be found in the Indian State of West Bengal and in Bangladesh. It is only extracted from the trees during winter months. In summer the heat at night makes the sap rancid and alcoholic.In one of my posts (Khejur Gurer Narom Paker Sondesh ), I already mentioned how this jaggery is produced in different parts of Bengal . In winter season this is widely available in every nook and corner of the state. So, very obviously this jaggery takes an important role in this celebration. Various traditional sweets basically made with rice, flour, milk and date palm jaggery or sugar are prepared in each and every house. These very traditional and famous sweets are known as "Pithe/Pitha" in bengali.
I was born and brought up in that part of Bengal where I got the opportunity to witness this celebration from my childhood.Though all those beautiful memories are archived in pages of history now but still I can remember those days very well. On that day, early morning after taking bath Maa made beautiful "Alpona" in front of our "thakur ghor" with rice paste and water. That was a holiday in our school and as my father was in Government Service it was his holiday too. So, after puja, we all used to enjoy our lunch with "Khichuri"(Khichdi/Hotch Potch). In the afternoon Maa prepared various "pithe" specially, dudh puli and patishapta as these were our most favourite . Me and my brother eagerly waited for the dinner . Yes, dinner that day would comprise only pithe.
But this time I couldn’t manage to make anything special at my home, except this rice kheer or payesh with date palm jaggery. So without wasting time lets come to the point now.Here comes the recipe of preparing Rice Kheer with Date Palm Jaggery .
- Rice(Gobindobhog, Ambemohar rice, a very short grain aromatic rice. We the Bengali people exclusively use this rice for making payesh,but in absence any aromatic basmati rice is ok to use too) : ¼ Cup(soaked in water for half an hour).
- Date Jaggery: 4-5 tbsp.
- Cardamom Powder: ¼ tsp.
- Milk: 1 lt.
- Mawa/Khoya(Grated):2 -3tbsp.
- Cashewnuts: A handful
- Raisins: A few(I didn’t use though)
- Take a heavy bottomed vessel,specially the non stick one, so that the milk cant stick to the bottom. Boil the milk till it is reduced to its half of the amount. Once the milk becomes thick add the rice and cook until it is done. Add the cashewnuts.
- Now it’s time for adding the jaggery. Add and mix well . Sprinkle the cardamom power and add the grated mawa into it. Mix thoroughly . Cook for another 4-5 minutes and turn off the flame.
- Your payesh is ready to serve. Serve it hot or chilled.
Enjoy Your Food..!!