Friday, 6 October 2017

Khirer Chapa Mishti / Traditional Bengali Style Milk Fudge

I am a huge fan of tradition, rituals which define our festivals, celebrations and food which has been passed down from one generation to another. Although I am at the same time big into neo cuisine, fusion dishes, global cuisine, molecular gastronomy etc. a part of me is always on the lookout for recipes which have been lost in the tides of time, recipes which are slowly disappearing from our kitchen because of our busy lifestyle. This is solely my opinion, that, as we embrace the neo we should not let go of our years and years of culture and tradition. They are what defines us. As we cannot imagine a tree without roots, I feel we too would be rootless without our cultural heritage, which for me is unthinkable.

Even today every dish that I cook or for that matter any dish which holds my attention, needs to have a story of its origin. The dish may not date back to hundreds of years, but without a beautiful story accompanying the dish it looses its essence for me. I know many of you think of food as just a means of sustenance, a source of nutrition for the body, that's about it, but there are many of us out there who are in love with food. I have never taken food as just a few morsels which go into our mouth and then route itself to our tummy. Whenever I look at any dish, I need to marvel the way it is presented. My grandmother was or my mother is no food stylist, but when their dishes made an appearance on the dinning table it was visually so appealing that even the most latent hunger pangs would be woken up.

On last Saturday we celebrated Vijay Dashami. Vijay means victory and Vijay Dashami marks the day when Good triumphed over Evil. On the Dashami Day the married women of the family, decked in their finery perform a ritual called "Mayer Boron". In this they carry a plate with flowers, sweets and vermilion or Sindoor. First they apply vermillion in the hair parting of the Goddess and touch her feet for a final blessing, then the women present there smear vermillion on each other's forehead and cheeks. This is known as "Sindoor Khela" which is a 400 year ritual, mainly performed to pray for a happy and long married life.

Also on Vijay Dashami we sadly bid goodbye to Goddess Durga and start the journey of waiting for a year for Her to come back again. Though it is a bit sad for most Bengalis and the immersing of the idol of the Goddess does make many of them emotional, but then there is this hope and a ray of happiness in the fact that the Goddess will return next year to bless us all. I think that I have already mentioned this in an earlier post that we used to celebrate Durga Puja in my maternal grandfather's house. So my memories of Vijay Dashami are quite vivid even to this day. We would take the idol of the Goddess in a mini truck to the Ganges and immerse the idol in the water of the Ganges. As the truck would very slowly move through the extremely crowded streets, the words "Durga Mai Ki Jai" ( Hail Goddess Durga) & "Ashche Bochor Abar Hobey" ( In the coming year we will again celebrate Durga Puja), would ring through the guggul( a resin from the mukul myrrah tree used as an incense) and dhoop ( perfumed incense) perfumed air amidst the sounds of the dhak (traditional drum) and kashor ( musical instrument), ghonta ( bell).

The feeling, the emotions that swell in your heart on this journey from your home to the Ganges cannot be encompassed in words and are best experienced. The moment the idol is immersed in the water, the young members of the family touch the feet of the elders and take their blessings, while the older men in the family embrace each other with the greeting "Shubho Bijoya". The women too wish each other "Shubho Bijoya". Once back home, it is a ritual that the eldest member of the family distributes sweets as all the family and friends queue up waiting for their turn to get a sweet and take the blessing of the elder by touching the feet. This is followed by the Satyanarayan Puja in the same place where the idol of the Goddess was kept. There is a religious book known as Satyanarayan Pachali which all present will read together. Since I was raised outside Bengal, I could not read and write Bengali. Just to be a part of the mass reading of the religious book I learnt to read and write Bengali. More than anything else, the feeling of being left out when all your cousins read the book in unison is what, that propelled me to learn the language.

Even weeks after Vijay Dashami, visiting people's home with sweet and greeting them "Shubho Bijoya" in person or over the phone continues . These gathering in friends home is known as "Bijoy Sammiloni" which is nothing but a get together over food, Bengali music and rabindra sangeet ( songs written by Nobel Laureate Rabindranath Tagore) and lots of fun and adda(chatter). Many a times on Vijay Dashami, my Didun ( maternal grandmother ) would make Khirer Chapa Mishti. This was basically a sweet milk fudge which was pressed in an earthen mould and given shapes of flowers, conche shells and many other interesting shapes. It's basically a very simple sweet to make, but very delicious. So I am sharing with you all my grandma's recipe of Khirer Chapa Mishti. Let's take a look at the ingredients.

Please Note since Diwali is just round the corner, the Khirer Chapa Mishti would make for a delectable festive treat. Also find below the link to a brilliant compilation of Diwali Sweet And Savoury Dishes by my dear friend, the supremely crafted food blogger +jayashree trao 

Link ~ Mega Diwali Collection

Khirer Chapa Mishti / Traditional Bengali Style Milk Fudge Recipe ~



2 Ltr. Full Cream Milk
2 Tbsp Semolina,roasted
2 Tbsp Bread Crumbs
1 Tsp Nutmeg Powder
1/2 Cup Sugar, increase or decrease according to taste
1 Tsp Clarified Butter/Ghee, to grease the plate or moulds

Let's make Khirer Chapa Mishti in easy steps ~

1) Pour Milk in a large saucepan. Bring it to a rolling boil and then simmer.

** When the milk reduces to half it's original quantity add semolina. Stir vigorously to avoid any lumps.

** Next add the bread crumbs and keep stirring while adding so that no lumps are formed.

** Now add the sugar. Keep stirring.

2) Powder a small piece of Nutmeg in a mortar with a pestle.

** Add the fresh Nutmeg powder to the milk, semolina and bread crumb mixture. Stir.

** Keep stirring till the mixture further thickens. Through all this, do not increase the flame, but cook in low flame.

** Once the mixture starts leaving the sides of the saucepan you can close the burner.

3) Grease a plate with ghee and transfer the mixture into it. Spread it out evenly. Once the mixture cools you can cut into square pieces and serve topped with pistachios.

** Alternately if you have traditional moulds like mine, then grease the moulds with clarified butter, wait for the mixture to cool down enough to be able to handle. Take a small lemon size quantity, press it against the surface of the mould, slowly demould and place it on a serving plate. 

These sweets can be made well in advance and remains good in the refrigerator for a little more than a week. They come in really handy especially when guests arrive without prior information. This festive season we always have sweets ready in our home and it would be a good idea to add the scrummy Khirer Chapa Misti to our collection.

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