Monday, 11 November 2019

MOHON BHOG - BENGALI MISHTI SOOJI


Mohon Bhog? What is that? I asked the mother while basking in the Sun on a wintry morning in Kodaikanal.... that was in December 1992. We had gathered in the breakfast area as per the instruction of the tour group manager and "mohon bhog o luchi" was our breakfast. There may had been some "aloor dom" too I cannot remember every detail. An elderly couple was travelling along with our group. That elderly lady asked the cook on the previous day if they can serve "mohon bhog" on the next morning. I felt shy to ask her, instead asked the mother. Now our Mani knew it right or not, said "edeshio ra money hoy sooji ke mohon bhog boley." Till then I had to listen to this "Bangal vs Edeshio" thing. Now, I am equipped with reasoning to counter her kinds, "koto Bangali-Edeshio Biye hocchey, amonki onnyo bhasha-bhashi... tomader joto akebarey." I never had given any importance to this division among the Bengalis except for shouting for the East Bengal Club during a match of football. My heart was in the game of Cricket & Lawn Tennis anyway because of the glamour quotient perhaps? The mother was at peace knowing the daughter may be going to a very jovial, open, multi cultural kind of college but she is shy, fears risk, loves non-vegetarian food and she is unlikely to get involved in any cross-cultural relationships. If you ask my friends, they will never reveal to a stranger like you but I had crush on one or two senior boys from Northern India but that ended in a crush, I was never interested in going ahead and talk, mingle. I do not consider myself as wise but in a way I was so from a tender age.... I always knew I have to trust people to be with them... I am not the kind to handle cultural shocks, how do their homes work? I have to take part in each of their rituals, would they mine? They will not allow me to cook "shutki", I have to eat "rajma & chole" every day when my brother will be having "sheem, mulo, begun dhonepata bata diye tatka charaponar jhol" on a winter afternoon. So, that is me. I do love "rajma-chole-paratha or idli-uttapam" now but Bengali Food is where my heart is. One must have enough guts, love for the concerned person, strength and confidence to be able to handle a cross-cultural marriage, look at my family.... they cannot even come out from the "Bangal - Edeshio" syndrome. I always say, whatever be it, they allowed us in flocks to share their space so the forefathers survived and we were born, you have to understand their frustration too Mani? The pressure on West Bengal doubled all of a sudden, you must thank them that for them your mornings got bright yellow with "luchi begun bhaja-sooji-aloo peyaz bhaja-porota,".... Do not laugh at my reasoning, think if I had rice on all three meals like before where my weight would have gone. What you must know is that rice & wheat have the same amount of calories, its all about the amount of intake that matters.

You would gradually get to see all that I loved as my breakfast, from "panta bhaat, fyana bhaat, beet-gajor-aloo-bean diye bhaat bhaja to porota-ruti-begun bhaja diye ba aloo-peyaz bhaja diye." A majority of the Bengalis would agree that this vegetarian plate of MOHON BHOG-BENGALI MISHTI SOOJI with "ruti ba porota ba luchi" was / is one of the most common breakfast among us Bengalis. My family always called it "mishti sooji" while other Bengali homes may call it Mohon Bhog. The senior loves it with breads or as a dessert, while the junior will not touch if it is not done with fresh fruit juices. So, "aloo bhaja" had to be there, this time it was grilled, store bought ones so that deep frying can be avoided.

I really do not know the exact data of how many Bengali Homes have switched to oats, cornflakes and fruit bowls for their breakfasts but this home has a mix of everything. I am just unable to do away with my roots or tradition. I do not know who our boy get home tomorrow.... what her food habit be like, her culture. She may not accept my way of life, neither I will her's. What I pray to God is to give me the strength to be able to remain me and yet be nice to others, I absolutely hate to give in to others.... never will. I keep telling my man its fine if you tell me not to interfere in the son's life but you must keep an infrastructure always ready for me and us. Whoever lives longer, me or you.... we should be able to live by ourselves. I have not allowed anyone inside my kitchen, neither wish to be a burden on anyone. I throw off people from my life who are indecent and ill-mannered, my funda is if you have not learnt manners, its not my problem. Do not show your attitude to me, I do not spend my nights at your home on your expenses. Whoever does it to me, gets it back double, later may be but they definitely will. But I have people who I like from a distance and would not mind giving them a virtual treat with this vegetarian, breakfast goodie with semolina, sugar, cashew nuts, raisins, green cardamom, bay leaf, ghee MOHON BHOG-BENGALI MISHTI SOOJI served with "luchi-sooji-porota." Bengalis usually prepare three kinds of "mishti sooji", one without milk which is this one, the rest two with less and more milk respectively.



INGREDIENTS :

SEMOLINA : 1/2 OF A MEDIUM TEA CUP
SUGAR : 1/2 OF A SMALL TEA CUP
GREEN CARDAMOM : 3-4
BAY LEAF : 1
CASHEW NUT : 5-6HALVED
RAISIN : 8-10
GHEE / CLARIFIED BUTTER : 2TBSP+1TBSP

PROCEDURE :

Heat 2tbsp ghee / clarified butter in a wok or pan. Temper with a bay leaf and the green cardamoms. Stir and add the cashew nuts. Stir and roast till light brown. Soak the raisins in a bowl of water.




Add the semolina and keep roasting well until brown at low heat. This takes some 7-8 minutes.


Once brown, add the sugar and keep roasting further for 2-3 minutes.


Add 1coffee mug of water, give a stir and cover cook at the lowest heat for 2-3 minutes.


Open cover and add the raisins, discard the water in which they were soaked. Stir cook further for a minute or 2. Add 1tbsp of ghee, fold in well and take down.


Serve hot with "ruti, porota, luchi" ..... do keep a vegetarian salted dish alongside.


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