Kumro Chingri Boti – Shrimps in Mashed Pumpkin

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Kumro or pumpkin is one of the most used vegetables in Bengal. From just boiled pumpkin with a dash of mustard and salt with warm white rice or chachori (type of Bengali curry) – it has its grand position. Generally pumpkin is used in vegetarian curries, but exceptions make the rule. A post in BongMom Cookbook website compelled me to try this recipe.

If you are somewhere outside India, I think getting hold of a nice sweet pumpkin is little tough unless you visit an Indian store. So, you can try the same with butternut squash. I was trying to search for the difference between squash and pumpkin. Though they fall under the same family in the plant kingdom, the difference is in how the stalk is attached to the fruit. The pumpkin has a bright orange skin with woody stem, while the squash is lighter and stem is soft and spongy. Coming to the taste, they are almost similar.

The word boti is probably a borrowed word in the Bengali dictionary. It means while preparing the dish you need to chop the vegetable in small bite sized cubes. Any other comments on how the “boti” word evolved, do share it with us.

On a sidenote, Mother’s Day is coming up on 13 May and if you want to gift your mom something customized, try VouchersMate.

Kumro Chingri Boti

Indian, Side, Pumpkin, Bengali recipe, Shrimp curry
Cooks in    Serves 2
  • 200gms buttenut squash or pumpkin, cut to bite size pieces
  • ½ cup chopped onion
  • ½ cup shrimps (10-15 pieces)
  • 1 teaspoon panchphoron
  • ½ teaspoon turmeric powder
  • 2-3 green chilli, slit from the middle
  • 2 tablespoon mustard oil
  • Salt to taste
  • Clean and devein the shrimps, you can use the video below for help, mix these with a pinch of turmeric and salt
  • Heat a skillet and pour about half the mustard oil. Fry the shrimps till lightly pinkish in color, Strain out the excess oil with a kitchen towel and keep for later use
  • Heat the other half of oil, throw in the panchphoron and onion, fry till the onions are translucent. Add the pumpkin or butternut squash cubes
  • Add the turmeric powder, green chilli and season with salt. Fry for about 2-3 minutes. Pour in about 1 cup of lukewarm water. Cook covered till the pumpkin is almost cooked, pour extra water if required
  • Add the shrimps and cook uncovered for a few minutes more. Serve with warm white rice.

Hot Tips – here’s a video on how to clean prawns or shrimps

From other blog – You can try the kumro chingri boti from BongMom’s site.

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Chanar Dalna – Homemade Bengali Cottage Cheese Curry

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Paneer is a household name in almost every Bengali family now. When it comes to having vegetarian platter a paneer preparation is always there; be it an occasion or just a simple dinner. But, even a decade back paneer was not that readily available.

The next best option was to make paneer at home. The paneer that is available in the market is processed and mixed with other binding agents like flour along with curdled milk to give it a tougher texture. The one that is made at home is softer and doesn’t have flour. This is called chana. Chana is milk curdled with lactic acid, like lemon juice and squeezed thoroughly to drain out the extra water.

Chana is the basic ingredient of almost all sweets that we eat, but if you are in a mood for something savoury to make with chana, chanar dalna is a very good option. Dalna is a type of Bengali curry with a rich and thick gravy unlike the ordinary jhol which is more watery.

To make the chana, all you need to do is boil about a litre/ quarter gallon of milk, it will give about 200gms/ 7 oz of chana. Once the milk starts rising pour in about 4 tablespoons of lemon juice or about 1 tablespoon calcium lactate. The milk will start curdling – the solids will separate from water. Drain out the water using a cheese cloth. Squeeze the chana well to drain out any excess water. You can also hang it for about an hour before you start using it. If there is any extra water in the chana, the cubes will fall apart as you cook.

Chanar Dalna - Bengali Cheese Curry

Indian, Side, Cottage cheese, Chana, Chenna, Bengali curry
Cooks in    Serves 4
  • For the cubes -
  • 200 gms chana
  • 2 tablespoon chickpea powder/ besan
  • ½ teaspoon turmeric powder
  • 1 teaspoon cumin powder
  • ½ teaspoon chilli powder
  • 1 teaspoon ginger paste
  • 1 teaspoon green chilli paste
  • Pinch of salt
  • Vegetable oil for frying
  • For the dalna –
  • 1 medium sized potato, cut into square
  • 1 teaspoon whole cumin seeds
  • ½ teaspoon turmeric powder
  • 1½ teaspoon cumin powder
  • ½ teaspoon chilli powder
  • 1 teaspoon ginger paste
  • 1 teaspoon garam masala powder
  • 1 tablespoon ghee (optional)
  • 1 tablespoon mustard oil
  • Salt to taste
  • Knead the chana well till your palm start feeling oil, mix in all the ingredients excepting the oil and knead once again
  • Pat the chana to make a 1” thick square slab, cut into 1” cubes and let it rest for 5-10mins
  • Heat about a quarter cup of oil in a skillet and fry the cubes till lightly brown, place on a kitchen paper to drain out the excess water, reserve for later
  • Season the cubed potatoes with a pinch of salt and turmeric powder. In the same skillet add the cubed potatoes in the leftover oil and fry till they turn light brown, drain out the excess oil using a kitchen towel and reserve for later
  • Mix all the powdered spices for dalna excepting garam masala powder, pour in water to make a thick paste
  • Heat the mustard oil in a wok and put in the whole cumin seeds, as they start spluttering add the fried potatoes and pour in the spice paste mix well to coat all the potatoes. Stir till the color takes a little darker shade; turn the heat if you fear to burn the spices. Pour in about 1 ½ cup of water, season with salt
  • Cook covered for about 5-7minutes till the potatoes are well done. Put in the fried chana cubes and cook for 2-3 minutes more.
  • Add the garam masala powder and ghee, if you are using and serve hot with warm white rice or chapatti.

Hot Tips – If you want more gravy in the dalna, then pour half cup more water. The chana cubes tend to absorb the water, so if you keep it for longer period, the gravy will dry out. You can cut the chana in any way you like, if you prefer diamond shape then go for it, or roll it between your palms to make small balls.

To curdle the milk, I prefer lemon juice as calcium lactate has a funny smell, and it doesn’t taste good when using the chana in curry.

More on chanar dalna from other blogs – Preoccupied’s take on the grandmom’s secret chanar dalna. Not exactly the typical Bengali recipe, here’s another way of preparing chanar dalna from Cookerefic.

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Comfort Food – Dahliya Khichudi

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When you are sick and tired to the rich and spicy food, there’s nothing better than to have a wholesome comfort food. Even psychological studies show that when you consume comfort food it picks up positive emotions and also relieves from negative mental affects.

Comfort foods can be anything that you had while growing up or even that had some sentimental values attached. When I’m tired and lazy to cook, khichudi is that one thing that I hold close.

Khichudi reminds me of those rainy nights, the continuous sound of the raindrops outside and the yummy smell of the spices from mom’s kitchen. What’s your comfort food?

You can make khichdi in many ways – the runny style or even the dry or the bhuno khichudi. My favourite is the runny khichudi with lots of vegetables in it. You can use rice and dal like mung or masoor or you can make it with broken wheat or dahlia and mung dal.

I prepared this one a couple of days back for lunch with all the vegetable I could find in my fridge.

Dahliya Khichudi

Dinner, Indian, Comfort food, Khichdi, Porridge, Broken wheat recipe
Cooks in    Serves 2
  • ½ cup broken wheat or dahlia
  • ½ cup split mung dal
  • 1 cup of vegetables (I used carrots, peas, cauliflower and potatoes)
  • 2 cups of water
  • 1 tablespoon mustard oil
  • ½ teaspoon whole cumin
  • ½ teaspoon turmeric powder
  • ½ teaspoon cumin powder
  • ½ teaspoon chilli powder
  • ½ teaspoon ginger paste
  • Salt to taste
  • Roast the dahliya and mung dal separately. Wash and mix
  • Pour in the water and season with salt
  • Boil till the dal is half done
  • Add all vegetables
  • Cook till the vegetables are tender, put in all the ground spices and mix
  • Heat the mustard oil in a pan and throw in the whole cumin seeds
  • As the cumin starts to splutter pour it over the cooked khichdi
  • Serve hot with or without fries of choice

Hot Tips – You can opt not to roast the mung dal, but if you do then stir continuously as mung dal tend to get burnt very easily. Roasting the dahilya helps to get rid of the slimy texture.

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Begun Posto – Baby Eggplant in Poppy Gravy

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Brinjals or eggplants or aubergines whatever you call it there is always a fear of the itchy tongue and a swelling lips. Quite a large population suffers from eggplant allergy. But, allergy or no allergy you just cannot deny the fact that eggplants are so tasty. Whether it’s the begun bhaja (fried aubergine) or in made in to a curry like in begun morichut, eggplants are always a hit. And, who can deny the fact a bite of beguni with a handful or mudi (puffed rice) in a rainy evening brings back many memories.   

The brinjal and poppy is a very easy Bengali recipe. I have learnt it from my mom, and probably she from her mom. And stop worrying about grinding the poppy into a fine paste. This recipe works fine with a little grainy poppy seed.

All you have to do is soak the poppy for 8 hours or overnight and grind it with the rolling pin. The grainy paste gives a texture to the curry.  

Begun Posto

Begun Posto Recipe
Indian, Side, Bengali poppy recipe, Eggplant recipe, Poppy
Cooks in    Serves 4
  • 6-8 baby eggplants
  • ½ cup poppy paste
  • ¼ cup plain yogurt
  • ½ teaspoon turmeric powder
  • ¼ teaspoon chilli powder
  • 3-4 green chilli, slit
  • 2 tablespoon mustard oil
  • Salt to taste
  • Slit the eggplants into quarters keeping the stalk intact
  • Pour in the oil in a skillet and fry the eggplants
  • In a bowl mix all other ingredients other than the salt and green chillies to a runny paste
  • As the skin turns a darker shade of purple, pour in the paste and stir well to evenly coat the eggplants
  • Season with salt and throw in the green chillies
  • Pour in about a cup of water and cook covered till the eggplants are tender
  • Serve with warm white rice or chapati

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Recipes for Poila Baisakh 1419

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Cheers to the beginning of a new year. Our non-Bong friends might wander why we are wishing each other Happy New year in the middle of April. The Bengali calendar or Bangabdo refers to  sidereal solar Hindu calendar, which starts from Poila Baisakh (or the first day of the month of Baisakh) and it generally falls on the 14th of April.

The wiki page on Bengali calendar says that this calendar was introduced by one of the ministers of the Mughal empire during the 16th century for the sole purpose of tax collection in Bengal. Some even say that the calendar started from the time of emperor Shashangko.

We Bengalis take the first day of the year very seriously. And, when I say seriously that means whole lot of shopping and even more eating. If you ever try visiting the shopping districts of Kolkata and for that matter in Bengal during this time of the year there will be a huge “end of season sale”. Everybody out in the streets buying something or the other.

While the shopping is going on, there is always the good old street food stalls to gorge on. And, when it comes to street food how can we not mention phuchka, the world famous born in Kolkata typical Bengali golgappa.

The new year always begins with wearing new dresses. As a kid, I always used to look forward for this day, other than of course the time during pujas, when you get loads of clothes even from relatives you meet not more than once a year.

now, when Bengalis are celebrating something there cannot be a lack of food. Poila baisakh is another day of feasting on the Bengali calendar. A wholesome meal is served any all households. And, to ease out this year’s plan on what to cook for your family and friends here’s a list of the authentic Bengali platter.

The day should always begin with luchi, cholar dal, alu dum and may be a sandesh at the end of the breakfast. 

There is a whole lot of option for the lunch menu. A Bengali meal always start with shukto. Shukto helps as an appetizer and the bitter taste of the bitter gourd helps to cleanse your taste buds for the dishes to follow. 

Shukto is followed by dal and some fries with may be a non-spicy vegetable curry.

Bengali meal without fish is like rasogolla without the sweet syrup. There is a huge number of fishes available in the markets, here a what you can do with those.  

As the meal continues, fish is followed by any type of meat. Mutton is the most preferred when it comes to a festive platter, but because of huge count of heart diseases in most families people are going for the chicken curry

All the savory dishes over, its now time for some sweet. Chatni, papad followed by misti doi, sandesh and rasogolla

Hope you enjoyed the meal. Let us know what you made or had for Poila Baisakh. Subho Nabobarsho.

Oh, I just forgot to mention the photo of the platter served is from my ayeburobhaat, my last meal as a maiden. Bhalo kore kheyo !

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How to make Ghee or Clarified Butter

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I am a big fan of ghee. A couple of dollops of ghee poured at the end of any dish give it a royal taste. When I came to US, I was a little worried about how to get good ghee in this butter land. As the saying goes if there is a will there is a way. I figured there is a little Indian store close to my place which sells ghee, but I had a doubt about the purity and whether those will really have that old familiar smell of ghee. So, I took the job in hand and prepared ghee or clarified butter at home.

As a kid I have seen my mom preparing ghee at home. For days she used to take out the skim from the milk and store it. Then she heated those skims over low flame and pure ghee was produced. 

Unlike mom, I’m not that patient type. If something comes to mind, I need that instantly. So, preparing ghee from milk skim was out of question. Plan B was to prepare it from unsalted butter. The keyword here is unsalted. You can prepare it from salted butter, but then there will be more residues and the taste will definitely be different.

While preparing the ghee always take care that the residues are not getting burnt, so as soon as the butter takes a frothy texture lower the flame to low and do not stir it. 

How to make Ghee

Indian, Side, Ghee, Clarified butter
Cooks in   
  • 2 bars of unsalted butter
  • Heat the unsalted butter over medium heat
  • Gradually turn down the heat to low as the butter starts frothing
  • As the butter turns a darker shade of brown, take out of flame and let cool for 5-7mins. Do not disturb it, and let the sediments get settled at the bottom of the vessel
  • With a muslin cloth strain the ghee and pour in sterilized container

Ghee in the History Book:

Ghee had been used in Indian cuisine as well as in rituals since ages. It is the fifth element of panchamrit, the Sanskrit word for five elixirs. Not only in Indian culture ghee is used in many other cultures including Egytian, Ethiopian and French.

Nutrition Facts:

A spoonful of ghee contains about 8mg of cholesterol, which is much less than that of butter. Being a saturated fat, ghee is easily digestible. It stimulates the stomach acids to help with digestion.

Though not significantly, but ghee reduces the bad lipids (LDL) from blood. Ghee is also a very good antioxidant and helps in absorption of vitamins and minerals from other foods, feeding all layers of body tissue and serving to strengthen the immune system.

Large quantities of ghee will definitely have an unhealthy outcome. But, as ghee contains conjugated linolenic acid which helps in losing weight, especially belly fat, and has been known to slow the progress of some types of cancer and heart disease.

Everything said and done, a dollop of ghee over warm white rice and alu chokha is the best comfort food one can ever get. Also, check Bongmom’s take on shuddh videshi ghee.

This post goes to Kitchen chronicles – Heirloom Recipes and also to WTML- Festival Special Event.

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