Mahalaya 2020: Bengali Soul Food for You to Make at Home

Updated: 18 September, 2020 12:57 IST | Maitrai Agarwal | Mumbai

This Mahalaya Amavasya try out these easy and authentic Bengali Recipes!

Photo used for representational purposes.Pic: Maumita Paul
Photo used for representational purposes.Pic: Maumita Paul

Mahalaya is observed every year at the end of ‘Pitru Paksha’, a 16-day period when Bengalis pay respect to their ancestors. Celebrated with much zeal by Bengalis across the world, Shubho Mahalaya is believed to be the day Goddess Durga descended the Earth and is a precursor to Durga Puja.

Every festive season is incomplete without sumptuous food. So many of us have taken up cooking during the lockdown and experimenting with new flavours is always exciting. We spoke to recipe developer and food blogger, Maumita Paul (Experiences of a Gastronomad) to share a couple of traditional Bengali recipes. She spoke of her love for the cuisine, “It was largely Bengali cuisine that I grew up on. Clean flavours, austere usage of spices, an abundance of vegetables and greens fresh from the kitchen garden and local farms, and a bountiful profusion of freshwater fishes. My Grandma was a prolific cook. Her hands would convert even the most mundane and understated of ingredients to culinary magic.”

Here are two easy recipes for you to indulge in this Mahalaya:


Chhanar Jilipi/Pic: Maumita Paul


200 grams paneer (cottage cheese)
2 tbsp milk
2 tbsp semolina
1.5 tbsp plain flour
1/2 tsp cardamom powder
Pinch of baking powder
2-3 green cardamom
2 tbsp ghee
Oil for frying

For the sugar syrup
1 cup sugar
2 cups water


1. Soak the semolina in milk, keep aside.

2. Take paneer in a bowl and crumble it using your fingers. Add soaked semolina, flour, baking powder, 2 tsp ghee, and cardamom powder.

3. Knead the dough well (approximately eight to ten minutes) till it becomes smooth and your palm seems a bit oily.

4. Tear apart small balls from the dough and roll them gently using your palms to form a cylindrical rope. Lift both ends of the dough gently and give it a spiral shape.

5. Heat ghee and oil in a deep fry pan and fry the jilipis over a medium flame. You must ensure that the oil shouldn’t be too cold or too hot. Once they are golden brown, take the jilipis off the heat and drain on an absorbent towel. Keep aside.

6. To make the sugar syrup, add water in a pan with sugar and crushed cardamoms. Bring the mixture to a gentle boil till it thickens.  Your syrup is ready, when you can feel the thickness by dipping your finger.

7. Add the fried jilipis to the syrup. Cover and allow them to rest for a minimum of 2-3 hours for the jilipis to soak the sugar syrup.

Serve it warm or at room temperature.


Fish Batter Fry/ Pic:Maumita Paul


For the Marinade

10 sea bass or bhetki fillets (approximately 3"x 2" size)
3 tsp black pepper freshly ground
2 tsp lemon juice
2 tsp ginger paste
1 tsp garlic paste
salt to taste

For the Batter
1/2 cup rice flour
1 egg white
1 cup plain flour
1/4 tsp baking soda
3/4 cup soda water
salt to taste

For the Fish Batter Fry
2 tbsp flour for dusting
1 tsp black pepper powder
1/4 tsp salt
Oil for deep frying


1. Marinate the fish fillets with lemon juice, salt, garlic paste, black pepper powder, and ginger paste. Keep aside for 3-4 hours.

2. In a bowl, add the rice flour, baking soda, flour, and salt, mix well.

3. Add 3/4 cup of soda water and 3/4 cup of ice-cold water to the flour mix to form a thick batter. Sprinkle a little salt and add a whipped egg white. Beat well. Refrigerate for 30 minutes.

4. In a separate mixing bowl, mix pepper, salt, and flour, and spread evenly over a plate. Dab the fillets and roll them one by one over the flour. Shake off any excess flour from the fillets, dip into the batter.

5. Heat oil in a deep bottomed frying pan. Lift a fillet from the batter, allowing any excess batter to drip off. Carefully lower it into the hot oil and fry until golden-brown.

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First Published: 18 September, 2020 12:42 IST

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