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Monday, June 23, 2014

Phulakobi Batibasa ( Rustic Cauliflower Curry )

'Batibasa' is a traditional method of cooking that is used in Odisha. Hard working ladies who did not have much time at their disposal would cut up the vegetable or even fish/small shrimp and mix it with mustard oil and a mustard-garlic-green chili paste. This would then be the last dish to go into the oven ( mind you...these were earthen ones that were dug into the ground and wood-dried cow dung was used to fire them ) and the heat from the dying embers would be just sufficient to cook it. This method of slow cooking imparted the dish with a smoky flavour that I find hard to replicate in my modern kitchen fitted with all possible kinds of gadgetry. Some would suggest using a piece of burning charcoal for the smoky effect but it somehow results in a harsh flavor as opposed to the mellow one imparted by the wooden fire.

Coming back to the recipe, I have used black mustard for the paste. But those who find it too strong, can go for yellow mustard or even a mix of yellow mustard and poppy seeds for a still milder version. The mustard oil used in this recipe is akin to the HG (or Holy Grail) and I strongly discourage anyone to compromise on it. Read on for the details -

Preparation Time - 20-25 mins

Ingredients -

  • 1 1/2 cup small cauliflower florets
  • 3/4 cup cubed potato (if you have baby potatoes go ahead and use them)
  • 2 tsp mustard seeds
  • 2 tsp mustard oil
  • 4-5 fat garlic cloves
  • 2-3 green chilis
  • 2 pinch turmeric
  • salt to taste
  • extra mustard oil for drizzling at the end

Preparation - Wash the vegetables and drain excess water. Transfer to a thick steel bowl.

Dry grind the mustard seeds first. Then add the garlic and 1 green chilli along with a sprinkling of water. Grind into a fine paste using as little water as possible.

Pour this paste over the vegetables. Add salt, turmeric, mustard oil and the remaining green chillis (slit lengthwise). Mix it up.

Cooking - Place the steel bowl over a grill placed on a regular gas burner or use an electric stove/induction stove (not tried doing this in a micowave). Cover with a heavy lid and cook for 15-16 mins.

Do check once or twice in between and add a little water if it is catching at the bottom (If the vessel is sufficiently thick and the flame is kept very low chances are rare) .

Once it is cooked, sprinkle mustard oil and lightly stir the vegetables. Carefully remove the bowl from the heat source.

Serve hot with white rice and dal or with pakhala.

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