Its that time of the year when Calcutta dresses up in its fineries to welcome Ma Durga. The little nip in the air and the fragrance of the Shiuli phool (night jasmine or harshringar) are the heralds of Durga Puja - a festival which is incomparable to others. The zest and enthusiasm to dress up in new clothes and visit pandals all across the city is seen in every Calcuttan irrespective of them being Bengali or not. The intricacies of the beautiful work done in Pandals makes everyone hold their breath and wonder at the hard work that has been put in, only to be demolished after the Puja is over.
As with any other festivity, Durga Puja is also synonymous to great food. Grand plans are chalked out which includes pandal hopping and eating out. From street vendors to five star hotels, every place is packed up with people and each place tries to give the best and attractive offers.
Since the blossoming of Shiuli phool marks the beginning of the month of this festivity, I wanted to incorporate it in my picture shoot. Along with Vishal, my husband, we hunted down many flower vendors but did not find any. While buying some vegetables, I asked the lady vendor in Bangla, "Didi, shiuli phool kothaye pabo?"(Where will I find Shiuli flower?) She smiled and said, "Aamake aage bolte, aamaar badi samne koto phool maati te pode thake" (Why did you not tell me earlier. In front of my house, these flowers are found fallen on the ground) She was sweet enough to ask me to come the next day and collect it from her. And that is how I got these humble little fragrant flowers for the shoot!
The idea of this recipe has an interesting story too. Last month while visiting a Gurudwara, 3 hours away from Calcutta, we happened to cross one of the small towns called 'Kheerpai'.The name intrigued us all and we were contemplating the place to be famous for a certain kheer served in a pie form. Since I wanted the dessert to be bite sized, I experimented with these Kheer tarts. I was fortunate to find some nolen gur from last year in my fridge. You can try the same with normal sugar and enjoy this month of festivity.
Tarts : Makes 6-8 tarts
- 1/2 cup all purpose flour
- 25 gms butter, cut in cubes, cold
- 3 tbsp powdered sugar
- 1 tsp milk
- cold water, as required for kneading
- 500 ml milk, full cream
- 1 rice, washed (I used Gobindbhog)
- 2-3 tbsp nolen gur(date palm jaggery) You may use sugar or sugarcane jaggery
Take flour and butter in a bowl and rub the butter cubes with the flour till the mixture resembles breadcrumbs (in texture).
Mix in the powdered sugar and add milk.
Now add cold water 1 tbsp at a time and knead to get a smooth dough. Do not over knead.
Wrap the dough in a cling wrap or plastic sheet and refrigerate for half an hour.
Take a little bit of the dough and press it against the tart mould. Starting from the center press out the excess dough and remove it.
Take a fork and make holes on the dough in the tart mould.
Refrigerate the tart moulds again for 10-15 mins.
Meanwhile, preheat oven to 180 degree Celsius.
Place the tart moulds in the oven and bake for 10-15 mins.
Pour milk in a thick bottomed pan and bring it to a boil.
Lower the flame and add the washed rice.
Let the milk cook, on a medium flame, stirring in between till it reduces to half its original quantity.
Once the milk has thickened to the desired consistency, turn off the heat.
Wait for a couple of minutes and then add the grated/crushed nolen gur. Mix well. Adjust sweetness to your liking.
In case you want to use sugar, add it once the milk has thickened and still on the flame.
Preheat the oven to 180 degree Celsius.
Add a spoonful of the kheer in the tart shells and bake for 5-10 minutes.
Cool and garnish with some chopped pistachios, cardamom powder and some grated nolen gur.
This recipe is part of Kolkata Food Bloggers ongoing event : Puja week-Mishti special
Happy Durga Puja