In 1610, a good eight decades before the British acquired the zamindari rights of Sutanuti, Gobindopur and Kalikata from the Sabarna Roy Choudhurys, Lakshmikanta Roy Choudhury and his wife Bhagavati Devi started the city’s first Durga Puja in Barisha. A legacy that proudly continues to this very date.
The Sabarna Roy Choudhurys were the first to offer prayers to the Goddess, alongside her four children. And Lord Kartik, whose worship till then was largely restricted within the native tribes of Bengal, was venerated as the Crown Prince of the celestial pantheon here.
To know more about the Sabarna Roy Choudhury Durga Puja, read this inspiring post by Subhadip.
Animal sacrifice during the Pujas have long been banned.
However the Sabarna Roy Choudhurys do offer the Goddess an array of vegetarian as well as non-vegetarian delicacies – Pui Chingri, shrimp cooked with Malabar spinach, being one of the specialties.
Another unique highlight is charred Lyata Maach offered to the deity during the auspicious Sandhi Pujo.
On the Doshami morning what graces the bhog to the deity are the humble panta bhaat (Fermented Rice, Bengali style), kochu shaak diye ilish maacher matha (Hilsa Head with Taro Stem), chaltar chutney (elephant apple chutney) among others.
Note the ingredients here – pui shaak, kochu shaak, chalta, kucho chingri, ilish maacher matha etc – So very indigenous to Bengal, so redolent of her land and rivers.
And why not ?
Shes after all the daughter of Bengal, on her sojourn to her parents place after a long year, she has missed home, the greens and the fish and cannot wait to savor these delicacies.
In this post, the second of my Bonedi Barir Mahabhog series, I recreate the Sabarna Roy Choudhury family’s Pui Chingri recipe, following the exact steps as shared by one of the members of the family.
The outcome, a delectable symphony of Pui Shaak, shrimps and a melange of autumnal vegetables.
That left my taste buds ecstatic and overjoyed.
Pui Chingri – Pui Shaak or Malabar spinach cooked with shrimps and a medley of vegetables. No pretence, not a touch of arrogance, simple, humble and earthy, yet finger-licking delicious.
Heirloom recipe of the Sabarna Roy Choudhurys.
And I am grateful to them for allowing me to share this with my readers.
PS – Please do not reproduce the content without appropriate permission.
Sabarna Roy Choudhury Barir Pui Chingri
- 12-15 medium sized prawns de-shelled and de-veined
- 300 g pui shaak or malabar spinach
- 3/4 cup potato cut into cubes
- 3/4 cup pumpkin cut into cubes
- 3/4 cup ridgegourd cut into cubes
- 1 tsp panch phoron
- 3-4 dry red chilies
- 1 tsp turmeric powder
- 1.5 tsp red chili powder
- 5 tbsp mustard oil
- sugar to taste
- salt to taste
- Remove the pui leaves from the stems, wash thoroughly, roughly chop and keep aside. If the stems are tender, cut into 1- 1.5 inch long pieces, wash thoroughly and keep aside. If not tender, I would recommend avoiding using the stems.
- Marinate the prawns with a little salt and turmeric powder, keep aside.
- Heat 1 tbsp oil in a frying pan, fry the prawns. Keep aside.
- In another pan, heat the remaining mustard oil, throw in the red chilies and panchforon. Allow the spices to splutter.
- Add all the vegetables, saute over a medium flame for 5-7 minutes.
- Sprinkle the red chili powder, a little salt and the remaining turmeric powder, saute for a couple of minutes.
- Now add the chopped pui leaves and stems, cook over a medium flame. Do not add any water. The pui and the vegetables shall release a lot of water and shall get cooked in their own juices. Continue to cook till the pui and vegetables are almost done.
- Throw in the prawns (along with oil in the pan). Give it a hearty mix.
- Add the sugar, adjust seasonings. Cook for another 3-4 minutes. Serve hot.