Yes, you read me right! I decided to make A to Z Bengali Sweets for all 26 days of September, featuring Protein Rich Dishes. I am glad we didn't have a clause on also having Low Cal dishes..:)
Welcome to the September Mega Blogging Marathon! The theme we had decided on for this edition is Protein Rich Dishes.
If you are landing here for the first time, just to update you, we are a group of Food bloggers doing a Blogging Marathon every month for 4 weeks doing 3 days each month. However, during April and September, we do 26 days of nonstop blogging, with Sundays off.
We have been doing the Mega Blogging Marathon since April 2013,
April 2013 was a weekly theme.
September 2013 was ABC Cooking
April 2014 was Indian Food Odyssey
September 2014 was Around the world in 30 days
April 2015 was Fire up our Ovens
September 2015 was a Buffet On Table
April 2016 was a Journey through the Cuisines
September 2016 was Cooking Carnival!
April 2017 was AtoZ Baking around the World
Coming to this Edition, I am gushing with happiness on having picked up a theme that had me so engaged throughout the process. I know many would have assumed that I will pick up Paneer. In fact, that wasn't my choice at all.
However, inspiration didn't strike until the last moment and I was left wondering if I will end up cooking and blogging the same day or even worse to sit out this edition. In the last week of July, I was chatting with Vaishali when she asked me how many dishes are done. I said zero and have no idea what to cook as well. She suggested I pick up Paneer as my kids are fond of it and I can easily make 26 dishes.
I finally accepted it is going to be Paneer, but doing 26 gravies will be tough. Hubby dear refuses the weekly Paneer Butter Masala, so 26 was no option.
I ended up discussing this with Amma and she said she has some new Paneer gravies written down. I said I am not very keen on only gravies. She said she has some sweets like chanar jalebi etc. That grabbed my attention. I said I could do sweets. Amma wasn't keen on 26 sweets. She said who will eat so many sweets.
As I must have said before, I don't prefer sweets, kids prefer only chocolates. It's only parents and Hubby dear who like sweets. Because of their dietary restrictions, parents are not very keen on sweets these days, so it fell on heavily on hubby dear's shoulders!
That night I had a serious discussion. Hubby dear thought I had a calamity on hand. He was worried, and on hearing what I had to discuss, he was like what!!! I said I can't start on something if nobody at home eats those sweets. Hubby dear is a sweet person, both in nature and food preference as well. So he was only too glad that I will be doing Bengali Sweets.
I set out to see how many Paneer based sweets I have! I have made Ras Malai for ICC, then Cham Cham. In fact, I was so upset that I didn't represent Cham Cham properly as it was supposed to a dry one. During this course of research, I realized one can twist Paneer or Cham Cham in whichever way you want! So the Cham Cham I have blogged about is Malai Cham Cham actually! I have an authentic Sondesh cooked for a previous BM and a Baked Sandesh
When I started my research on this series, it only took me a day and I even realized I could do an A to Z Bengali Sweets as well. By the next day I was able to pick up my choice for all alphabets except T, U, V, Y.
The Bengalis are fond of their sweets and Paneer or Chhana forms the base for the majority of their sweets. Apart from the many traditional sweets made with this soft Chhana, there are so many modern takes with this ingredient as well. My research led me to many sites that talked about the new and happening sweets offered by the Sweets shops in Calcutta.
My journey began when I discovered this google book. I decided A to Z was possible and went on to pick up so many dishes for each alphabet. Some were really challenging.
Though I have been a little lazy and procrastinating off late, this exciting challenge had me awake through the night, planning on how I will make it. If there is one thing I do best, it is to plan and put everything in spreadsheets. Whether the spreadsheets get executed or not is a secondary issue. So my spreadsheets were ready and I even grouped the sweets so that I could easily make them in one go. With August 15th being a holiday, I decided to take off on 14th and have a fruitful day or rather a sweetful day!
While there is no dearth of sweets in Indian Cuisine, for Bengalis, it's even more integral and important part of their life. Bengal is famous for its Sweets/ Misti. Sweets occupy a dominant part of their religious, social and personal celebrations. They say 'Mukh-o-misti', which means to taste some sweets.
As with all Indian States, special sweets are made during a particular time of the year. During Sankranti, different types of pithe are made. Other than pithas, all other sweets have Chhana or Paneer as the main ingredient. So it is Paneer with Sugar or Jaggery (seasonal).
Broadly the Bengali Sweets are Pithas, Paneer Based and Curd Based (Misti Doi etc). I was looking only at the Paneer Based.
In Paneer Based, there are 3 different ways on how the sweets are made, pan cooked, deep fried and steamed. Pan Cooked or toasted will feature the Sondesh or Sandesh, Deep Fried is the Gulab Jamun varieties, Steamed or Boiled is the Rosogullar varieties.
In my quest to cover A to Z, I ended up trying all these three different groups of Bengali Sweets.
Before going further, let me confess that except for 1 dish of which I had shared half with Hubby dear, I haven't eaten any of these sweets. So the entire lot was approved by hubby dear, my colleagues and my kids (Yes, I had made some for them as well!!)
When I couldn't think of anything for that handful of alphabets, I pinged a couple of them, joined few forums as well. Sayantani was most helpful in clarifying certain dishes, confirming certain dishes that are shop specialties. Since I had no chance of knowing how exactly some of the dishes were prepared, she was helpful in clarifying it.
Some of the dishes required me shopping for those ingredients. I was so touched when Veena took me shopping just for this, even though she had no requirement. I also had to buy food colours, she said she has the colours I need and can use them. So this effort of mine has been fruitful because of my friends who have been so supportive!
The whole experience has been such a learning one for me. Plus the fact that I had to click some 5 to 6 different dishes in a day, had me on my toes and I hope I have done justice to those pictures. I can proudly say that all 26 dishes have been a super duper hit at home and with my friends. For some of the alphabets, I have taken liberty in twisting the name, though not the dish.
So since I wanted to pick up Paneer or the Indian Cottage Cheese, I wanted to check the Protein percentage. This cheese is high in casein, a slow-digesting dairy protein, paneer also offers a good amount of calcium, and helps burn more fat. 100 g of Paneer (1.0 serving) has 23 g of Protein
I know I have gone on and on, I hope you join the next 26 days enjoying all the sweets that form part of the A to Z of Bengali Sweets series as part of Protein Rich Dishes!