And what a way to celebrate too…..in Nobo Borsho, celebration of Bengali New Year, which is celebrated on Poila Baisakh (first day of Bengali Calendar in the month of Baisakh).
Bengalis usher their new year through year old customs and traditions by decorating homes, drawing elaborate alpanas / rangolis (floral patterns) on the home entrance with a paste made of rice powder. The day is spent in feasting and participating in cultural activities. People also visit friends, near and dear ones to wish each other "Shubho Nabo Barsho !!" On Naba Barsha, people of West Bengal worship Goddess Lakshmi (Hindu mythological Goddess of Wealth) to pray for well being and prosperity. For Bengalis, Naba Barsha is considered an auspicious day to start a business. Businessmen and traders purchase new accounting books and start new account (known as Haalkhata). Then traditional rituals are followed with welcoming customers & holding dinners. Sweets & new year calendars are distributed amongst the guests.
Here’s wishing everyone a Subho Nobo Borsho (Happy Bengali New Year).
I prepared Semai-er Payesh (Vermicelli Kheer) on this auspicious day and welcoming you all for some mishti-mukh....(treating with sweets).
Semai-er Payesh is a popular sweet dish / dessert, prepared with semolina vermicelli and milk.
Well first a little info about vermicelli, which is a type of pasta, round in section and somewhat thinner than spaghetti. It is also referred to other food-stuffs from other parts of the made from different ingredients through several methods.
In South Asia, the vermicelli used is made from semolina (sooji), unlike the Italian, which is made from durum wheat.
In Asia it is known variously as Shemai in Bengali, Seviyan in Hindi and Urdu, "Sev" in Gujarati, Shavige in Kannada, Sevalu / Semiya in Telugu and also Semiya in Tamil.
They are used in a number of dishes including a variation of kheer, a sweet dessert similar to rice pudding.
- 1 litre full cream milk
- 150 gms (3/4 cup) vermicelli, broken to 2" pieces
- 2 tbsp ghee
- ½ cup (100 gms) sugar
- 50 gms jaggery (patali gur), grounded
- 5 tbsp (60 gms) unsalted cashew nuts, halved
- 4 tbsp (60 gms) raisins
- 1 tsp green cardamom / chhoti elaichi powder
- Soak raisins in water for 10 mins. Heat ghee in a deep bottomed kadhai / pan and lightly sauté the raisins and halved cashewnuts. Drain and keep aside.
- Now add the broken vermicelli in the kadhai / pan and immediately sauté to a light golden brown colour. Keep aside.
- Take a deep bottomed pan, add milk and bring to a boil. Reduce heat allow to simmer. Add sugar and stir till dissolved.
- Repeat the process of boiling and simmering over low heat till the milk becomes thick & creamy (or until the milk gets reduced by almost 1/3rd).
- Add the fried semolina, half the amount of sauted raisins & cashew nuts and the grounded jaggery and bring to a boil till the jaggery is dissolved.
- Remove from fire, transfer to a serving bowl. Sprinkle green cardamom powder and garnish with the rest of the sauted raisins and cashewnuts.
- Serve warm / chilled as per your wish.
Remember to lower the heat before adding the semai and also stir immediately after releasing the semai or else they will be dark brown / burnt.
Do not boil for a longer time if you give jaggery to the milk or else milk may curdle (Crush the jaggery, if possible so that it will be dissolved quickly).
If you like the payesh chilled, refrigerate for 2 hours or until serving time.
If the payesh becomes too thick, add a little warm milk and mix in the payesh.