I left Kolkata in 2009 and was not been there in Saraswati Pooja till date and somehow I forgot about Gota Sheddho which is prepared in my place every year not typically for Saraswatipuja but for Shitol Shoshti. “You should spread love and share Gota Seddho”, Yes, that’s what I remember about this dull brownish Lentil Veggie Cold Soup that tastes amazing at least to my taste bud! This dish is always special to me for the simplicity that it has. For me, it’s an exceptional Bengali dish with the use of almost “No Spices” which is not a typical character of Bengali Cuisine. This year I was in Kolkata last week and overheard my Ma and Jethima (Aunty) talking about this long forgotten Gota Sheddho which is a must having at my place and I have seen them cooking it every year.
Gota means “Whole” while Sheddho depicts for “Boiled”. Traditionally this dish is prepared with Six types of Veggies (Potato, Sweet Potato, Baby Eggplant, Peas with the pod, Hyacinth Beans and Baby Spinach) and each of the veggies has to be used in a quantity of six along with Black Urad Dal or Green Moong Dal. This is a Traditional Bengali thick Soup prepared in the winter or specifically on the night of Saraswati Puja or Basant Panchami and after giving whole night rest to the dish is served on the next day which is known as Shitol (cold) Shashthi (6th Day) . Bengali Mothers worship Goddess of Fertility “Ma Shashthi” on the day of Shitol Shashthi to protect their offsprings from any harm that may arise and don’t opt for anything hot on the day of Shitol shoshti and that is the reason the cooking is done on the previous day along with some more bengali delicacies. Conventionally Shitol Shashthi is the day of giving a break to the “Shil Nora” or the “Shil Batta” the traditional Indian Grinder and hence Shil Nora is also worshiped on the same day that is why Bongs eat food prepared last night on that day. Another tradition is to share the food; especially the boul full of Gota Sheddho amongst the nearby family members, friends and even neighbours.
It is believed that Gota Sheddho is a Pox preventive food (especially Smallpox). I don’t know how far it is true or what’s doctors’ say about this myth but this is what aged Bengalis believe! Though Gota Sheddho is prepared only once a year but I can have it anytime whenever I want to have a true Comfort Food. This is my first attempt of preparing Gota Sheddho – a dish very close to my heart.
- Potato: 6
- Sweet Potato: 6
- Baby Eggplant: 6
- Peas with the pod: 6 ( I have used 12 instead of 6)
- Hyacinth Beans (or Sheem):6
- Baby Spinach: 6 ( I have used a small bunch)
- Whole Black Urad Daal (or Whole Green Moong Daal): 100 g
- Green Chilies: 6-7
- Mustard Oil: 3 Tbsp.
- Salt to taste
- Lemon: 1 (optional)
- Wash each of the veggies carefully and neither peel the skin from the veggies nor remove the pod of Peas or the stem of Eggplant. Veggies have to be boiled as it is and this is the main characteristic of this soup.
- Now wash Daal thoroughly. Some people prefer to soak the Daal before cooking while my mother does not soak it before cooking and I have followed her process.
- Take all the veggies along with the Daal in a big vessel and pour sufficient water to cover the veggies and Daal.
- Cover the Vessel with a lid and cook on a medium flame for around 1-1.5 hour or till the veggies and Daal soften but remain in their original structure. It took me around 1.20 hour for making the dish. You can also pressure cook it but I prefer the traditional way of preparing Gota Sheddho. 3-4 whistles are enough for pressure cooking.
- Now it’s time to give the dish an overnight rest which I also did.
- On the Next day Serve it as it is after sprinkling some Salt and adding row Mustard oil and Green chilies and a piece of Lemon with plain rice( preferably prepared last night known as Panta Bhat).
- One of the popular dishes served along with Gota Sheddho is Postor Bora or Poppy Seed Fritters.