Sunday, October 02, 2011

Bengal Comes Home!

Finally I cooked Bengali meal at home this Saturday! This was my first trial at cooking Bengali meal and that too Vegetarian. What I knew till now was that , this cuisine deals mostly with fishes.So to fend off my ignorance I did what anyone in today's generation would normally do- I went to the Google BABA!

Its varied cooking style surprised me. Its like you can cook  one single vegetable in 10 different ways! You can make Dalna, Bhaja ,Jhol ,Shukto , Shak ,Torkari  or use it in Chorchori .Shorsher tel (Mustard Oil) is the primary cooking medium in Bengali cuisine
Following is the main types which I think is relevant for Vegetarian Bengali Thali!

  • Bhaja : It is anything deep fried, either just after it has been salted or dipped in any kind of water-based batter.Mostly its made with Begun , Alu  and Potol
  • Bhorta : Any vegetable, such as potatoes and bringal.The vegetable is first boiled and then mashed and seasoned with Onions red chili  salt and mustard oil .
  • Chochchori: Usually a vegetable dish with more than one variety of vegetable.Commonly used vegetables are pumpkin, ridge gourd, broad beans, bringal , raddish and potatoes .It is made even with peels of these vegetables. Fried in a korai over high heat at first, and then simmered to let the vegetable cook down to being just done, and then taken off the flame immediately to stop cooking is the method followed.
  • Dalna: Mixed vegetables, cooked in a medium thick gravy seasoned with ground spices, especially gorom moshla and a touch of ghee.This uses spices like bay leaves /cinnamon /Cardamom .
  • Jhol : Vegetable cooked in a thin gravy and seasoned with spices like cumin,chili, salt,turmeric and coriander The gravy is thin yet extremely flavorful.
  • Posto : Anything cooked with poppy seed paste as the main flavoring agent.
  • Shukto : A favorite Bengali palate cleanser, made with a lot of different vegetables including at least one bitter veg, simmered with a hint of sugar and milk to bring out the bitterness of the fresh vegetables.
  • Shak : Any kind of green leafy vegetable, like spinach and mustard greens, often cooked till just wilted in a touch of oil and tempering of nigella seeds.
 What I cooked was the following  :

1 .Alu Potol er Dalna 

Recipe Source :  Here

  • Potol :10
  • Potatoes :3
  • a pinch of Hing 
  • 1 thin stick of cinnamon 
  • 1 small Bay Leaf 
  • 4 small green cardamom 
  • 4 clove 
  • 2 Dry red Chili
Peel and Cut the Potoates and Potol in to bing chunks.
 Bring mustard oil to smoking hot point
Fry the potol in mustard oil.Remove and drain the excess oil.
Then fry the potatoes in the same oil.
Once potatoes are done ,temper the oil with spices and add potol and potatoes.
Add  11/2 cup of water over low flame for 15-20 minutes.

2 .Panch Misali Chorchori

Recipe Source : Here
In this case I followed the source recipe perfectly without any modifications.

3 .Alu Bhaja
Panch phoron (mixture of 5 spices taken in equal amount , cumin seeds , fenugreek seeds, fennel , nigella seeds and mustard seeds ) 
Mustard Oil/Any other vegetable oil will also do.
Red Chili powder
Cut the potatoes in to thin stripes.Mix a pinch of turmeric and keep aside
Add mustard oil to  a pan 
Bring it to smoking hot level 
Ttemper with panch phoron. Once the spices start spluttering
Add the potatoes.
Cook them on high fmae , keep stirring so that they do not burn, 
Add Salt and chili powder as per taste.

4 .Doi Begun
II initially planne don making Begun Bhaja, But I had only 2-3 eggplants at home and that would not have been sufficient for  everyone , So at the last moment I made this!
Ingredients :
  • Bringal
  • Onion
  • Mustard seeded
  • Cumin Seeds
  • Mustard Oil
  • Salt
  • Red Chili Broken in to pieces
  • Curd (diluted with Water) 
Cut bringal, in to wedges, each will yield 8 pieces
Marinate them in salt 
Thinly slice the onion in to long stripes

Heat oil in a pan  Can do deep frying or shallow frying )
Fry the bringal's in oil along with onion . 
Take out and drain the excess oil.
Temper the oil (remove some oil if you used excess for deep frying ) with mustard and cumin seeds and chili Add the bringal and onion .
 Lower the flame and add the diluted curd and salt. Simmer for 10 minutes and then take off the flame.
(Make sure to stir so that curd does not break.)

5 .Masoor Dal Bengali Style
Masoor Dal (Red Spilt dal) : 2 cups
Onion :one finely chopped
Tomato :One finely chopped
Panch Phoron : 1tsp
Red and green chili : 1 each  cut in to stripes
Salt to taste
turmeric powder :a pinch
Pressure cook the dal with turmeric and 2 cups water  till its done.
Add Oil in a pan .
Once its hot add panch phoron and wait till its starts spulterring.
Add Onions and cook till its pink.
Add tomatoes along with little salt and cook till tomatoes are all done.
Then add the dal along with 1/2 cup water .
Bring it to boil on high heat and then let it simmer for 5-6 minutes.

I picked the recipe from Here
  •  Peel of 3 raw banana
  •  Green chili hot  3-4
  •  Mustard seeds 2 level tsp.
  •  Grated coconut  same volume as the peel. ( After boiling, chop the peel . If the peels are one cup , take 1 cup grated coconut , but not less than 3/4 cup.)
  •  Oil 2 tsp
  • Salt to taste
Note :I did not have Kala jeera, so I skipped this.

Pressure cook the peels in salt water for 15 minutes
Chop it in to small pieces 
Then grind the mustard seeds and green chili ,salt, grated coconut  and peels together.Make it a thick paste.

Note Original Recipe calls for grinding them separately but I did all together in blender and paste came out good and saved me time too!
As any Bangla food (generally any Indian cuisine ) is not complete without Sweets, I offered Besan ladoo and Dry fruits katli in the last!

So Our Vegeterian thali had the following:
First Course was Luci and Alu-Potol Dalna  and doi begun, Which was followed by rice with bhaja , chorchori , bhata ,dal ,salad and papad.
We followed it with some yummy icecream and ladood and katli! 

We had some friends over for dinner and everyone actually enjoyed the food.It was yum!Unfortunately though I do not have any pics :((

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