A few days back I found a book named “Culinary Culture in Colonial India: A Cosmopolitan Platter and the Middle Class” by Dr. Utsa Ray in an Online portal while searching for books on the history of Indian cuisine and purchased that just out of curiosity. While reading, I found few pages on a rare food art from my own state West Bengal: “Gohona Bori/ Goyna Bori/ Naksha Bori. The Goyna Bori reminds me a packet of Gohona Bori which one of my friend from university gifted my long back in 2007 when I was doing my Masters in Rural Development and Management. What I remember, is some beautiful sundried motifs prepared with lentil paste but not more than that! How pathetic I used to be! It was the subject I was in, helped me to visit several places all through the remote areas of West Bengal, I had tasted different food, I came forward to the local delicacies but at that time it was only to enjoy the food but not to explore the culture! However, as they say, better less than never!
Gohona Bori is basically a designed pattern prepared with a paste of Lentil and West Midnapur District of West Bengal is famous for these Bori. As described by Dr. Roy, even Kabiguru Rabindranath Tagore and his nephew Abanindranath Tagore were fascinated with this culinary art created by the Women of West Midnapur. This much of information was enough to charge me to recreate Gahana Bori with my limited expertise with artwork.
As mentioned in the Book The Bori are prepared with a paste of Moth Beans. These decorated Pieces are created over a bed of Poppy Seed and that provides an amazing taste to Gohona Bori / Naksha Bori after frying. Taste wise much similar to normal Bengali Bori (vadi) but look wise completely out of the world Goina Bori(s) are prepared in various designs that include: different flowers, leaf, Elephant, Butterfly, fish and pattern of Jewellery. In fact, the word “Gohona” means Jewellery in Bengali.
Coming to my venture of creating Gohona Bori, I am not available with Moth Bean here in Gurgaon and hence I have used a paste of Vigna Mungo a.k.a Dhuli Urad a.k.a Kolai Daal to prepare the paste. Other than substituting the Daal I have followed the process as it is including making designs on a bed of Poppy seed and the sun drying those for around 2 days. I have made some basic designs since I am not at all prompt in making these Boris however, I found that my little knowledge of decorating cakes with frosting helped me a lot while making the patterns.
- Vigna Mungo/ Dhuli Urad Daal/ Kolai Daal: 2 Cup
- Salt: 2 Tsp.
- Poppy Seed/ Posto/ Khuskhus: ⅔ Cup
- Vegetable White Oil: 1 Tbsp.
- Vegetable White Oil: 1 Cup (for frying Bori)
- Piping bag: 2
- Wash Daal thoroughly and then soak in plain water overnight or for 6-8 Hours.
- In the morning, strain water from soaked Daal completely and make a fine paste of Daal without using added Water. This step is very important since adding water will make a runny paste and Gohona Bori can’t be prepared with a Runny paste. I've used my food processor to make the paste.
- Now take Daal paste along with salt in a Big Bowl and start beating it using a spoon until the mixture turns completely fluffy and light in texture.
- Pour little mixture in a bowl full of water to check whether the mixture is floating or not. If the mixture is not floating over the water then few more minutes of beating is required. It took me around 10 minutes of vigorous beating to make perfect Paste.
- I've used Normal Piping bags for creating the designs. Fill 2 piping Bags with the paste and tie the ends of the Bags.
- Take a flat steel Plate and rub some oil over the plate and then sprinkle Poppy Seed in the plate to create the Poppy Seed Bed.
- Now cut the cone (medium sized hole: ½ “) and start creating designs using the lentil paste on the plate. It is better to give sufficient space in between shapes. I've created 5 designs per plate and it took me 5 plates to create a design with the entire Daal Paste.
- Keep a piece of Cotton and a toothpick handy while creating the designs and use those as and when required to make nominal modifications.
- Sun-dry those lentil paste patterns for around 2-3 days in the direct sun. It took me 2 days to dry my Gohona Bori completely.
- Gohona Bori can be stored in airtight containers and can be served after deep frying in oil along with Rice.
Gohona Bori is not only good accomplishment of a plate full of rice and a bowl of Bhaja Moong er Daal but is a unique and special option for a gift as well.