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Showing posts with label Bengali cuisine. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Bengali cuisine. Show all posts

Monday, April 11, 2016

Shukto ( The Run up to the Bengali new Year and apprehensions galore )

Situation A ( Girl is gonna meet boy for the first time )
No. Never. There is no way I am going to wear a saree just to meet HIM.

But you do like wearing a saree. You wear it sometimes to office or even for a puja.

Yes. But not in this case. I feel that most guys have certain prejudices when it comes to a saree clad female . It is not something I would wear when I am meeting a guy for the first time. Btw where am I supposed to meet HIM ?

Preferably at Minu Aunty's place.

What ? How can you Mom? What is the point of meeting him there instead of inviting the guy to our own house? You know about my ambiguous feelings for your adorable cousin. As for the rest of her clan, the less I say, the better it is.

Ok. Do whatever you want. I will ask them to shift the venue to your favorite restaurant.

That's a lot better. Mom you are a sweetheart. And finally, who all are going to be there with him ?

His Mom and a few cousins .

Cousins ? Is this supposed to be a swayamvar where I can pick a guy of my choice? Why can't I just meet the guy and his Mom ? Haven't you heard that too many cooks spoil the broth. And in this case I might end up sampling this broth for the rest of my life. I just don't want too many surprise elements for this one. Anyways his Mom is going to the deciding factor.

Ok. Then it will be just HIM and his Mom. But then go easy on her else you will end up with a bitter experience.

Huh. Aren't they all the same. Anyways I got it !!

Situation B (Your's truly is cooking Shukto for the first time)
No. Never. There is no way I am going to cook Shukto with Karela.

But you do like Karela. You have it sometimes as a fry or a bharta.

Yes. But not in this case. I find it to be too overpowering. I don't want it to be the sole reason I end up hating Shukto for life. What about the other veggies in it ?

Those are your regular Dalma vegetables. Aubergine, green banana, raw papaya, pumpkin, string beans, drumsticks and sweet potato.

What ? Do I really need to buy so many veggies ? You know how i feel about aubergine and sweet potato. What will I do with all the leftover veggies ?

Ok. Use whatever you find in the fridge. Except for those imported veggie that you love so much.

That's so much more acceptable. And what about the seasoning ?

Try ginger, panch phoran and radhuni .

That's too much. Let's just leave out the panch phoran. I keep adding that to every other dish. Just want to get acquainted with Radhuni. Anyways it's going to be the deciding factor in this case.

Ok. But then go easy on it. It tends to leave a bitter aftertaste in mouth.

Huh. Don't I know Mom.

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Apprehensions. Apprehensions. Apprehensions. Phew !! First acquaintances can be really awkward . Don't you agree ? And it turned out to be no different when I cooked and savored Shukto for the first time. Despite all the apprehensions I had in mind, it turned out to be  real light and delicious, the classic 'love at first bite' kind of encounter . Do try out this perfect side dish for a summer meal. Or cook some for the 'Poila Baisakh' festival. Highly recommended.

Read on for the recipe -

Preparation Time - 30 mins

Ingredients -
  • 1 cup green banana pieces
  • 1 cup raw papaya pieces
  • 1 cup potato pieces
  • 1 cup pumpkin pieces
  • 1/2 cup string beans
  • 2 tsp oil 
  • salt to taste

For the tempering -
  • 1/2 tsp Radhuni
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 2 dry red chilis
  • 1 1/2 inch long ginger (crushed)
  • 1 tsp oil (mustard preferably)
  • 1 tsp sugar

The paste -
  • 1/2 tsp mustard seeds
  • 2 tsp poppy seeds

Preparation - Cut all the vegetables into long pieces of medium thickness. Dunk the banana pieces into a bowl of turmeric water to prevent then from turning black.

Make a fine paste out of the mustard and poppy seeds. One can also add a bit of radhuni to this paste but i skipped it.

Cooking - Heat the oil in a wok. Add all the veggies along with a sprinkling of water and some salt. Cook till it is almost done. ( To minimize the use of oil, i sprinkled water from time to time and kept it covered most of the time )

Remove the veggies to a bowl.

Heat the remaining oil in the wok. Add the broken red chili, radhuni seeds, sugar and bay leaf. Follow it with the crushed ginger. Cook the ginger for 1-2 mins till raw smell goes.

Add the cooked veggies to the same wok. Give a toss to mix the seasoning with the veggies. Stir frry for 2-3 mins.

Dilute the mustard-poppy paste with 1 cup water and add to the wok. Let it simmer for 4-5 mins.

Remove from the flame and serve at room temperature.

Goes really well with white rice and yellow dal.

Note - This cannot be tagged as an 'authentic Bengali recipe' as I have made quite a few modifications to it. Mainly, this is targeted at folks who are scared of having a bitter experience while attempting to venture into alien territory. 

Monday, March 17, 2014

Aam Kasundi Begun (Eggplant in a mango-mustard sauce)

Aam Kasundi Begun. Sounds almost poetic, doesn't it ???. Ever since I read this name in the TOI last week,  I have been scouring the net and some of my cookbooks/paper cuttings to get the exact recipe. After referring  quite a few sources (including Bong Mom's Cookbook) , I decided to take a bit from here and a bit from there. And the result was almost magical. It surpassed my expectations by a plenty of notches. Tangy, tart, hot, titillating, fragrant.

This is the first time I made it. And since I havn't tasted an authentic 'Kasundi' dish ever, I can not vouch for its authenticity. But the taste is something that I can vouch for...quite unforgettable. "Cholbe naa", I can almost see some of my Bong friends shaking their heads. And I almost wish for Ushnish da to appear out of thin air and reveal the magical recipe to me. On second thoughts, I think I will drop a note to him and ask him to rate my recipe. Till then this has to do (already planning for an encore on Thursday).

Read on for my version of an 'Aam Kasundi Begun':

Preparation Time - 15 mins

Ingredients -

  • 2 cups sliced eggplant
  • 1 tsp mustard seeds
  • 2 tsp grated coconut
  • 4 tsp roughly chopped raw mango
  • 2 garlic flakes
  • 2 green chillis
  • 2 tsp chopped coriander leaves
  • 1/5 tsp turmeric
  • salt to taste
  • 3 tsp mustard oil

Preparation - Add a little salt and turmeric to the eggplant slices. Keep aside for 15 mins.

Dry grind (fine powder) the mustard seeds first. Then add raw mango, coconut, green chilli, coriander and garlic flakes to the same grinder cup along with a few teaspoons water. Grind into a smooth paste.

Cooking - Heat the oil in a wok till it smokes.

Add the eggplant slices and stir fry till almost done.

Add the kasundi paste and coat all the slices. Fry for 1-2 minutes.

Add 1 cup boiling water and cover with a lid. Cook on medium heat till almost all the water evaporates.

Serve with white rice.

Note - If you find mustard to be too hot/spicy, then replace half of the quantity of mustard used with poppy seeds. Also treble the quantity of coconut used in the gravy to mellow it further.

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