Rituals and celebrations are part of what keeps a tradition alive. They’re like a memory shared by an entire culture. I’m Jim Metzner, and this is the Pulse of the Planet, presented by the American Museum of Natural History.
Today we’ll share some of the memories of one of India’s greatest holidays. For three days, the city of Calcutta remembers how the goddess Durga rode into battle on the back of a lion and defeated the King of Demons.
“So there’s great excitement for all the kids. It would be at night, so it’s a big thing because you’re awake. There’s a lot of sweet stuff — the first thing that strikes you because you love Bengali sweets, specifically rasagullas. Rasagulla is a round white ball made of koya or dried milk, and it’s dipped in sugar syrup.”
The holiday is Durga Puja. The memories belong to Indian television producer Shivani Khullar.
“Besides sweets and fun and plays and theatrics, there’s a lot of lights, there’s a lot of new clothes, because that’s one thing you do during this festival. There’s a lot of meeting with friends, families getting together. So it’s a big, big, big thing. It’s not just going and seeing plays and going to the temples, or going to these congregations, but it’s also meeting friends and family you may not have met for a long time.”
If you’d like to share in the memory of Durga Puja, send us a postcard and we’ll send you a recipe of those Bengali sweets – Rasagulla. Our address is Pulse of the Planet, PO Box 22, Croton, NY, 10520. That’s Box 22, Croton, NY, 10520. Or email us at pulse @igc.org.
Pulse of the Planet is presented by the American Museum of Natural History. I’m Jim Metzner. Rasagulla
Milk, 1 gallon
Lemon Juice or White Vinegar, 1 cup
Sugar, 1 cup
Water, 3 cups
- Bring one gallon of milk to a boil. When boiling, add one cup of either white vinegar or lemon juice. Turn the stove off. Milk should separate into whey and curd.
- Pour into colander, leaving only the curd. Leave curd in strainer until cold and dry. This will take at least an hour (you can leave it overnight).
- Place curd in food processor and process for one minute. It should be soft but not sticky.
- Form small balls from the curd. Using vinegar usually results in about 80 to 100 rasagullas.
- Bring 1 cup sugar and 3 cups water to a boil in a pressure cooker. Place 20-25 rasagullas in syrup. Turn off the heat and place the cover on the pressure cooker. Turn heat on high. When cooker begins to whistle wait for a couple of minutes, then turn it off.
- When pressure cooker depressurizes, remove cover and repeat previous step with the rest of the rasagullas. Do not use the same sugar syrup more than once.