Radhuni Diye Masur Dal – Red Chief Lentil with Wild Celery

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Lentils are most of the most popular sources of protein for vegetarians or vegans. Though for some weird reason, we Bengalis consider the red chief lentil or masoor dal as non-veg. I have searched, but didn’t get any answer to that. Do you know why?

Masoor dal is one of the most commonly used lentils in our home. These salmon red color beauties low in fat and high in protein – they are just the choice for the daily dose of lentils.

If you are just a few days old in the kitchen, masoor dal is just the one to woo at the dinner table. It’s very easy to cook, and take less time. You can cook masoor dal with fried onions or just with some radhuni. Radhuni is a strong spice, a couple of pinches can overpower your curry. Radhuni can be substituted with celery seeds. This dal is best had with any fries, alu chokha or even a simple omelet.

Masoor Dal with Celery

Indian, Side, Bengali recipe, Masoor dal, Musur dal, Red lentil, Radhuni recipe
Cooks in    Serves 2
Ingredients
  • ½ cup red chief lentil, washed and drained
  • 3 cups of water
  • ½ teaspoon radhuni
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 2-3 green chilli
  • ½ teaspoon turmeric powder
Directions
  • Boil the water in a saucepan, and pour in the washed masoor dal. Let it cook for 10-15mins, till the dal is completely boiled
  • Pour in the salt, turmeric powder and throw in the green chillies. Give it a stir and take out of flame.
  • Heat the oil in a small pan, throw in the celery, as the seeds start sputtering pour it over the cooked dal. Transfer the saucepan over low flame and cook for two minutes more. Serve hot with roti or rice accompanied with fries or alu chokha.

Hot Tips- Dal takes longer to cook with salt or acid in it. So, add the salt after the dal is cooked.

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Churmur – The Bengali Roadside Snack

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When you grow up in a city and you have to leave your familiar streets, roads, stores all of a sudden it feels a radical change. I have grown up in Kolkata most part of my childhood and teenage have passed in the city of joy. And then I had to leave – first to Bangalore and then to a whole different country, to the United States.

Its been almost 5 years since I left Kolkata, but there are still some little things that tend to draw me towards the undying city. Of course my folks are there and so there is a special bond. But, what am talking about is the dusty roads, the sweaty rickshaw wala, the continuous honking of buses and cars and of course the phuchka.

While in Bangalore, I still used to get the cousin of phuchka – golgappa though they used mint paste and onions in the filling (which I hate). But, here in the US phuchka is a far off thing.

The last time I went to my local grocery store, there was this plastic box of golgappas sitting at one corner of the aisle, and I just grabbed them. That evening was a nice one – a treat with phuchka, though they still missed something. My father would probably call that to be the sweat of the vendor and Kolkata’s dust.

The other popular snack from the same phuchkawala is the alu kabli and churmur. Alu kabli is the spicy hot and sour mixture of bite size boiled potatoes. Churmur is the broken down version of phuchka, or rather its a transition between alu kabli and phuchka.

Churmur

Snack, Indian, Roadside snack, Bengali roadside recipe, Unhealthy tasty food
Cooks in    Serves 2
Ingredients
  • 10-12 phuchka balls
  • 1 medium size potato, boiled and chopped to bite size pieces
  • 1/4 cup soaked and boiled round chickpeas/ Bengal gram
  • 1 teaspoon roasted cumin powder
  • ½ teaspoon chilli powder
  • ½ teaspoon rock salt or kosher salt
  • A few sprigs of cilantro, chopped finely
  • 2-3 green chillies, chopped finely
  • 1/8 cup tamarind juice, flowy consistency
  • 1 teaspoon of lime juice
Directions
  • Mix all the dry ingredients with the potatoes, it’s better not to mash the potatoes
  • Crumble the phuchka balls and add it to the potato mix
  • Add the chickpeas, green chillies, cilantro, lime juice and tamarind paste; and give it a final toss
  • Serve immediately.

Share your phuchka story with us.

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Bengali Breakfast with Luchi

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When it comes to food, there’s no way you can beat a Bengali. Ask anybody who is or knows a Bong and you’ll know how true it is. We Bengalis love to eat and love to feed, so whether its lunch dinner or breakfast – food on the plate has to be grand.

Even though there is a particular inclination towards rice and its different forms, we try to keep it for lunch and dinner only. The day starts with wheat. In my house, the weekday mornings are always a rush. Breads, eggs, milks are generally in the menu. Even though the English breakfast is one of a kind, we have changed it to our own Bengali style English breakfast. The French toasts are not drizzled with powdered sugar or honey, but is fried in a savoury  batter of egg, onions, chillies and mix of spices. Even the scrambled egg has its share of turning more Bong loaded with herbs and spices.

But, when it comes to weekend, there’s nothing better than an authentic Bengali breakfast. And, there cannot be a Bengali breakfast without luchi. Luchi is a close cousin of the North India puri, which is generally made with whole wheat flour or atta. Luchi on the other hand is made with maida to get that light and fluffy golden texture. Maida is also made from the starchy white part of  the wheat grain, and almost resembles the all-purpose flour.

Luchi cannot be had by itself, so there has to be something to go with it. As a toddler my favourite was luchi with sugar, the crispy flakes of luchi with the sweet sugar is one of the best joys of growing up in a Bengali family.

As you grow, the choices of a side dish with luchi grows with you. Even if you are in a no meat mood, there is an array of options. The most popular is luchi with cholar dal. If you are from Kolkata or have visited the city, you must be aware of Sri Hari Mistanna Bhandar. This sweet shop has got just two branches, one near the Hazra crossroad and the other near the Kalighat temple. For more than 5 decades they had been selling the biggest and largest langcha in Kolkata, a long and thin cousin of gulab jamun, but the reason I mentioned here is Sri Hari also caters the best luchi and cholar dal all through the day. If you have not tried it till now, go and visit.

Cholar dal is just one, and there is a lot more to go. Bengalis are fond of potatoes, we try to use it almost everywhere. Probably if there is vote for the most popular comfort food for Bengalis alu seddho and bhaat would be a winner. Potatoes are a rage; they are used in almost all vegetarian side dishes and also in meat or fish curries. So, the simple potato curry with just a little of nigella and green chillies, the famous sada tarkari is an instant hit with luchi. Even though we get all types of vegetables throughout the year these days but the fulkopir tarkari in a chilly winter morning with luchi is something to die for.

Sunday is the meaty day, there’s hardly a few Bengalis who doesn’t cook chicken or mutton on Sundays. So, why not start the day with some meat. Smoking hot kasha mangsho with garam garam fulko luchi – no one can deny that breakfast.

Bengalis love their sweet. Sweet at the end of the meal is almost compulsory; we’ll find more sweet shops in any street of Kolkata than pharmacies. Sweets or desserts as a side dish with your luchi is a heavenly combination. Chaler payesh  or cold rice pudding or the Bengali special payesh with hot luchi is an ultimate combo. Or even the soft sandesh to go with luchi.

The list for Bengali breakfast with luchi is unending. It is like the queen of the kitchen. The fluffy golden texture, deep fried in refined oil always reminds me of the Sundays in my Kolkata home. What’s your luchi story, share it with us.

Hot Tips – if you want something more from your luchi, stuff it with some mashed peas to prepare karaisutir kachori.

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