Durga Puja is less than a week away, I am sure everybody is done with the major part of the Puja shopping or have you already completed it? Mahalaya marks the end of pitri pakshya and the beginning of devi pakshya, it is said, this is the auspicious time of the year – anything you start during this time will definitely be successful. More about Mahalaya and its significance in this funny yet informative post by The Indian Bibliophile.
When it comes to Durga puja, the first thing that comes to mind is the plethora of street food – from phuchka to churmur and rastar aloor dum to egg roll; but what matters most is the freshly made thakurer bhog. I am proud to say that we are the few families in Kolkata who still continue to perform the rituals of the 5 day long puja. This Puja has been continuing in my family for the past 150 years. Nothing has stopped my family in welcoming Maa Durga in our house not even the Indian partition in 1947 when my grandfather crossed the borders of the then East Pakistan to settle in Kolkata, India. Pujor bhog reminds me of my mom painstakingly cooking the auspicious meal for the goddess since the wee hours of dawn, and labra is something I always cherish.
I had been missing the grandeur of this big festival for the past several years, but when you cannot visit Kolkata you bring Kolkata to your kitchen. Labra is a very tasty yet simple recipe to prepare. You can add any kind of vegetables you love. I made this recipe with cabbage, cauliflower, radish, sweet potatoes, beans, brinjal and carrots, you can also add drumsticks, thor (banana stem), potatoes, and pumpkin. For the detailed recipe, please click on the video. Hope you enjoy it.
Matar paneer is the perfect combination of soft paneer and rich and creamy gravy – it is a classic North Indian recipe.Probably that’s why it finds its way in all Indian restaurant menu all over the world. It goes well with soft buttery naan and even with warm rice. Mutter paneer is definitely something we should try if you want to eat vegetarian food at any Indian restaurant, the recipe is so common that most of the restaurants does a pretty good job preparing it, and this I’m saying from personal experience.
So, when I thought of making something from the big slab of paneer lying in my fridge for quite sometime now, the restaurant style mutter paneer came to mind. It is a simple recipe, pretty straight forward, even my husband, an occasional cook found the recipe pretty easy to follow. Most restaurants don’t fry the paneer cubes, but being a Bengali I like my paneer fried, it feels much softer if you fry the paneer and let it soak in water for sometime. If you don’t like fried paneer just omit that step.
Heat 2 tablespoon of butter till it’s completely melted, add in the whole spices and bay leaves, as they start spluttering add the chopped onions, ginger and garlic, fry till the onion is almost done about 7 minutes. Add the tomatoes, and cook further till the fat starts separating
Transfer to a bowl and wait till cooled. In a food processor, grind the onion mix to a smooth paste, pour in little water at a time if it gets too thick
Cut the paneer block into 1 centimeter cubes. Heat the oil in a wok or frying pan, and lightly fry the paneer cubes till the sides start turning light brown. Transfer to a big bowl and pour in warm water to keep the paneer moist.
Add the rest of the butter to the pan, throw in the cumin seeds, as they start spluttering pour the onion mix paste. Add in all the ground spices, kasuri methi and season with salt. Toss to mix the spices completely with the onion paste. Cook for another 4 to 5 minutes. Add in the peas and the paneer. Pour about ½ cup of water if the gravy gets too thick.
Transfer to a serving bowl and serve with naan or jeera rice
As the gravy starts to boil, it will start spluttering everywhere, be very careful and use a cover if required
If using fresh peas, then add the peas along with the ground spices.
To make the gravy creamier you can pour about ¼ cup of heavy cream just before turning off the flame.
Almost every state in India has their own style of making doi begun or dahi baingan. So, this is one recipe where you can do loads and loads of combination, and I assure use you’ll not get wrong.
I like to use the baby eggplants, as the whole eggplants or brinjal, as I used to call while growing up (read before entering USA) gives a good texture to the curry. You can also use the larger eggplants, and cut them into two to three inch size pieces. Using asafoetida is an optional step in this recipe, I like the flavor of it and it goes with the whole yogurt and eggplant mix, so I use it. Also, if you want to enhance the flavor of this dish you can temper with curry leaves and sprinkle dry roasted and then powdered fennel seeds. So the possibilities are unending. But, one thing’s for sure, this recipe is a must have for a hot and dry summer lunch. You can also serve this as a side dish with biryani.
Wash and cut the baby eggplants into fours, keeping the stalk intact. Take a pan which has a lid, pour the canola oil and place the eggplants, so that all of them touch the base of the pan, cover with the lid and fry on low heat for about 5 minutes, turning the eggplants once or twice in between
While the eggplants are getting fried, in a mixing bowl beat the yogurt with 2 tablespoon of water. Add the chili powder, dry ginger powder and sugar. And beat again.
Once the eggplants are fried, the skin will turn a darker shade of purple; don’t wait till they turn black; take the eggplants out and place on a kitchen towel to absorb the extra oil.
In the same oil add the asafoetida if using, if not then go straight to the next step. As the asafoetida starts to splatter, about 10 seconds, transfer the eggplants back to the pan.
Pour the spiced yogurt, and add in the green chilies. Stir and cook covered for about 2 to 3 minutes, or till the eggplants are cooked. You can add a little water if the gravy starts sticking to the pan.
Transfer to a serving bowl and pour the mustard oil, if using. Garnish with cilantro and serve immediately with rice or chapati
If you add the eggplants while the oil is still not hot, the eggplants will absorb less oil.
I grew up eating salad as a side with spicy Indian food. Be that dum alu or Chittagong chicken, salads were always on the side line. But coming here, and living in the US for almost 4 years now, the take on salad has almost changed, from being a side dish salad has now turned into a meal. Over the years I have started liking the abundance of greens in my salad (read loads of spinach, arugula and how can I forget iceberg lettuce), but when it comes to touching your roots a medley of cucumber, tomatoes and onion always seals the deal.
Mexican pico de gallo comes very close to this garden fresh North Indian green salad, but the vegetables are cut in a little larger size and when its Indian it has to spicier. Generally, cucumber, onions and tomatoes are the main ingredients in this salad, but tamarind is also mixed sometimes to give it a more tangy taste. And, if you want, you can also add a portion of yogurt to make dahi raita.
Even though diabetes is spreading like a plague in India and especially in the Eastern part, we Bengalis are yet to leave the habit of using potatoes. Be that macher jhol-e aloo (potatoes in fish curry) or a simple aloo chokha (mashed potatoes with onion and pepper) potatoes are everywhere. Even though half my family have to take either insulin shots or pills, I couldn’t leave out potatoes from my diet. Potatoes are an integral part of Bengali cuisine.
A Sunday breakfast is never complete without a dose of luchi (fried Indian bread) and aloor dum. And, when it comes to talking about potatoes in Bengali recipes leaving out the oh-so-soft potatoes in mangsher jhol (goat curry) will be like blasphemy. Potatoes are everywhere in Bangali ranna, we like them in almost all our dishes and the aloo posto is a signature dish of Bengal.
While other Indian communities do not use potatoes so much, I came across this recipe in a very old cooking magazine long time back. I have searched for Kashmiri recipes for alu dum, but they were all very different. I main reason why I chose to use this old recipe was because they used poppy paste – one of my favorite spices in the kitchen. People from Kashmir are voracious meat eaters and owe them for inventing the famous rogan josh. There are also vegetarian recipes available in Kashmiri cuisine and this aloo dum is one of my favorites.
Wash the potatoes and boil with peeling the skin for 7 to 10 minutes or till they are almost cooked.
Drain the water and let them come to a temperature where you can touch. Peel the potatoes. Sprinle a pinch of turmeric and salt
Heat half the oil in a thick bottom vessel and lightly fry the potatoes till there are a few blisters on them.
Take out, and keep over a kitchen towel to drain the excess oil
Pour in the extra oil and heat. Add the onion paste and fry till the onion is fragrant and oil starts separating. Add all the powdered spices, ginger garlic paste and fry for a minute. Add the potatoes and toss well to coat the spices. Season with salt.
Cook while stirring in between till the spices change to a darker color. Pour water and cook till the potatoes are almost done.
Add the poppy and cashew paste and cook for 4 to 5 minutes more. Sprinkle the ground garam masala and the raisins if using. Serve hot with chapati or white rice.
Hot Tips – You can also use large potatoes instead of the baby ones. Cut them in quarters and follow the same instructions. I have used ordinary chili powder to have a more spicier taste, but you can also use Kashmiri red chili powder. The Kashmiri chili powder gives an extra color to the recipe and unlike other peppers it is less hot.
Chinese recipes from China and that from India has a stark difference. Chinese dishes sold in Chinese restaurants in India are more Indian than Chinese, a blazing example of that is probably the gobi manchurian. A friend of mine who recently shifted from Bangalore to Shanghai went to this Chinese restaurant in Sanghai and even before he could take a look at the menu, he asked for the gobi manchurian, ok he said cauliflower manchurian. The waiter was kind of amazed and starttled. The closest thing he has heard to gobi manchurian is Manchurian people who come from Northern China, Manchuri. Even wikipedia expalains manchurian as a recipe from Indian cuisine and not Chinese..lol.
While in school, fried rice and chili chicken has been one of my favorite going-out-with-friends food. I love the spicy tangy taste of chili chicken. As I grew, the gravy from the chilli chicken vanished and the fried rice was replaced by alcohol. The dried chilli chicken is a wonderful side to go with any kind of alcohol – beer, vodka, whisky – you name it.
Now, with the growing number of vegetarian friends in my circle, I had to but replace the chicken from chili chicken with paneer. Paneer though loosely translated in English as cottage cheese, is not exactly cottage cheese. The cottage cheese you get in the supermarkets in US is more gooey and comes lumps. While the paneer is harder and more plain in texture. So, the only way to get paneer in US is to go to an Indian store. The non-melting farmer’s cheese or the German quark are a close relative to the Indian paneer.
Chinese, Side, Chili paneer, Chilli paneer, Paneer recipe, Indi chinese recipe
½ of a bell pepper, cut to inch size squares
1 medium onion, cut to inch size squares
3- 4 green pepper, coarsely chopped
3 tablespoons corn flour
¼ cup canola oil
1 tablespoon white vinegar
2 tablespoons dark soya sauce
2 tablespoon tomato sauce
Cut the paneer in inch size square.
Beat the egg in a large bowl, add 2 tablespoon of cornflour, 1 tablespoon soya sauce and marinate the paneer in this marinade for at least ½ hour, maximum to 2 hours
Heat the oil in a wok, an fry the paneer till the outside is brown in color. Take out and place on a kitchen towel to drain out the excess oil.
Discard most of the oil from the wok, keeping just a little to fry the vegetables. Add the onions to the oil, fry till they turn translucent
Add the bell pepper and fry for 2-3 minutes, or till they start to wilt
Pour in the soya sauce, vinegar and tomato sauce and stir till the gravy thickens. Pour in a little water and cook till the bell peppers are almost done.
When you hear about papaya, the first thing comes to mind are the yellow bell shaped fruits with hundreds of dark black seeds. The ripe papaya seasoned with some red chili powder and salt is one of the most consumed roadside snacks of Bengal during the summer time. As for me, I walk a few feet away from wherever there is the yellow papaya, I am averse to the smell of ripe papaya.
Though I almost hate ripe papayas, but I’m in love with the raw green ones. The raw papaya has high amount of the papain enzyme. It is good for the skin as well as the heart. But, its most important benefit is it helps as a digestive enzyme. And, probably because of this the dida (grandmother from mom’s side) also used to put a few slices of papaya when she prepared mutton curry, to tenderize the meat.
The raw papaya is also used in other types of curries with potatoes, onions and garlic. But, my mom prepares it in a very different way. The grated papaya is mixed with grated coconut – this gives it a divine taste.
Take the grated papaya in a deep bottom vessel and cover it with water, boil till the papaya becomes tender
Add a pinch of salt and turmeric powder to the potatoes, shallow fry them till they are half done. Keep aside
Pour in about 1 tablespoon of oil in the same wok, and throw in the cumin seeds, as they start sputtering add the potatoes, boiled papaya and all the spices. Season with salt. Cook for 3-5 minutes till the spices are well mixed. Now, add the grated coconut and cook for another 2-3 minutes, stirring often.
Add little water if the curry turns to dry. Cook covered till the potatoes are cooked. Sprinkle the garam masala and ghee, mix well. Serve with roti or rice.
Ever since I can remember I always used to have my meals while watching TV, and to tell you the truth even now I watch TV during lunch and dinner at home. Call it a good or a bad habit, watching TV while having food has grown into more than a habit, it has now almost become an addiction. The only difference that I have felt is the channels have changed during this time period. During my childhood it was Tom and Jerry show and then I graduated to watching comedy series. Right now, my meal time is scheduled for drama, crime thrillers.
One series, that was very close to heart was Popeye. This sailor who eats cans of spinach was one of my favorites cartoons while growing up. I love spinach and so does Popeye, so I was able to connect to him. A few days back when I was preparing this dal palang for dinner, I was thinking this handsome guy :).
Spinach with its greeny leaves is one of the best sources of plant nutrition. It contains loads of soluble dietary fibers and is a very good for a weight reducing diet. Red lentil also has high calcium content and dietary fibers. So, this simple preparation of dal palang or dal palak, however you want to call it is great for a healthy diet.
Indian, Side, Bengali recipe, Red lentil, Bengali dal recipe, Spinach and dal
1 cup red lentil
1 cup spinach, washed and cleaned
1 tablespoon cumin seeds
½ teaspoon turmeric powder
¼ teaspoon chili powder
3-4 red chili
1 tablespoon mustard oil
Salt to taste
3 cups of water
Wash the red lentils thoroughly. Pour water in a deep bottom saucepan and let it simmer. Add the red lentil to the simmering water, season with salt and wait till the dal is half cooked. Using a ladle discard the scum
Thow in the spinach and cook till the dal is fully cooked
Heat the oil in a skillet, put in the cumin seeds and red chili. As the seeds start to sputter pour it in the cooked dal. Add the spices and boil for 3-4 minutes more. Serve with warm rice or chapati.
Most of you may not agree with me, but I love winter. The chilly dry winds, the sweaters, and blankets, and the best part of it is winter brings a lot many winter vegetables, and topping the list is cauliflower. I love cauliflowers. Even though you get cauliflowers all through the year now, but having something during its actual produce means different.
The refrigerator never ceases to have a cauliflower in it during winter. Whether its just fulkopir tarkari or a few florets in my macher jhol, I love the taste and texture of cauliflower.
Kalyan loves to prepare the Westernised version, the cauliflower augratin; I can’t really throw out the stems of cauliflower, the fulkopir datar tarkari is one of the most authentic Bengali recipes and it reminds me of my childhood.
Cauliflower curry goes with anything. Its great to have it as a side with luchifor breakfast or for lunch with rice. This stir fried cauliflowers is one of my favorite cauliflower recipes. Its quick and easy to prepare and the hint of nigella with cauliflower enhances the wintery feel.
Indian, Side, Cauliflower recipe, Winter recipe
2 cup cauliflower florets
1 large potato
1 teaspoon nigella seeds
1/2 teaspoon turmeric powder
3-4 green chilies, chopped coarsely
2 tablespoon mustard oil
Salt to taste
Chop the florets coarsely into tiny pieces. Chop the potatoes to quarter inch cubes, Wash and keep aside
Heat oil in a wok, throw in the nigella seeds. As they start sputtering transfer the washed cauliflower florets and potatoes. Add turmeric, chili and season with salt
Cook covered, stirring occasionally, and little water if the florets start to stick to the bottom of the wok.
Do you think you can live on burgers and sandwiches for the rest of your life? The answer is definitely a “no”. The food that with grew eating is what gives comfort to the soul – the comfort food. It might be as dull and non-spicy as the masoor dal and aloo seddho, but it has it own place in the heart and not to mention the stomach.
Bengali food is much different from the cuisines in the other parts of the Indian subcontinent. Not only do we use paste and powdered spices, but the addition of sautéed whole spices before adding the main ingredients is what makes the recipes very unique. Most non-Bongs have an impression that Bengali food is all about fish, but its not. Check the vegetarian section of our blog, and you’ll know am right. And, that too those are just a droplet from the ocean on authentic Bengali vegetarian recipes.
Pumpkin with its hard shell and soft inside is one of the commonly used vegetables in Bengal. It’s inexpensive and filling. Boiled and mashed pumpkin with a hint of mustard oil, green chilies and salt can give a good competition to the western mashed potato. The ash gourd on the other hand is not a regular in the Bong kitchen, but a tutti frutti cake with its candied version is always welcome.
Dui kumro or two gourds is a typical Bengali recipe prepared with pupkin and ash gourd (winter melon/ white gourd). It is easy to prepare and gets ready in minutes.
Hot Tips – To prepare this recipe quickly the trick is to chop both the gourds in the same way. First make a half inch slice and then chop each slice laterally into half inch pieces.
How to make mustard paste in dry grinder?
For this recipe add about 3 teaspoon of mustard seeds (equal portions of yellow and black mustard or just black mustard, your choice). Grind in a coffee grinder till the texture turns powdery. transfer to a bowl and add water. You can add chopped green chili, salt and turmeric in the same paste and give it a spin in a wet grinder.
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.
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.
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.
Cauliflower is one of the most versatile vegetables you can get out of a Bangali rannaghor (Bengali kitchen). Whether it’s a simple phulkopir tarkari (Bengali style cauliflower curry) or a cauliflower pickle – cauliflowers are everywhere, even in fish curries.
The gorging of cauliflowers starts from Durga Puja and extends till late March. I have seen mom cooking fulkopir tarkari as a part of the Prasad offered to Durga Ma on Ashtami (the 8th day of the annual Durga Puja worship). The simple cauliflower and potato preparation seasoned with cumin and ginger paste is just the right side dish for kichdi/ kichuri.
Now, these cauliflower preparations are done with the florets. Most of the time we throw away the stem that comes along with the fulkopi. But, a very traditional and authentic Bengali recipe is with these stems of the cauliflower, fulkopir data chauchori/ chachori.
Chachori is a unique style of preparing curries. Mostly, the vegetables are mostly cut longitudinally and cooked with a concoction of spices, especially panch phoron if it’s a vegetarian preparation. For non-vegetarian ones like morola macher chachori onions, garlic are widely used. Any idea where the word comes from? In fulkopir data chachori the stems are cut to 1” long pieces and if they are too thick then the stems are cut longitudinally.
One of my friends once told that you Bengalis just don’t leave any part of anything – you eat everything. Yeah, it’s kind of true. From peels of gourd to flowers of plantain – Bengalis like to taste everything.
Have you ever watched that scene from Dhanni Meye, an old Black and White Bengali movie starring Jaya Bachchan, then Bhaduri. In the middle of the hot and humid afternoon, this young bride with all her zeal to steal pickles climbs up the asbestos roof and picks up her favorite mango pickle from the jar, set in the sun for sterilizing. On seeing this, her mother-in-law shouts at her, but the young girl continues eating the pickle unaware of anything going around her.
This might have been just a scene from some almost forgotten Bengali movie, but I’m sure almost everybody has tried stealing pickle from the jar. Raw mango, lemon, mixed vegetable and the count goes on for the number of pickles you can get in the market. My grandmom always liked preparing her pickle rather than buying from some grocery store. Now, when I am thousands of miles away from home my exposures to pickles are limited to “Mother’s” or the “Homemade” brands.
Pickles had always been a compliment to go along with dal and fries or even with saag bhaja. Other than enhancing the taste, pickles are nutritionally beneficial as they contain high amounts of Vitamin C (ascorbic acid), a very good antioxidant and are also high in iron, potassium and manganese. It is also considered as a good source of dietary fibers.
Suchismita, our guest for today has sent us a tasty and tangy recipe of achari alu – alu sautéed in achar/ pickle. If you are a potato hater, then you can replace it with paneer/ cottage cheese.
Suchismita, was born and brought up in Kolkata. Now, she has shifted to USA. Her passion for food and photography has made her to take the toll and explore the various combinations of ingredients. If you are in US or UK and searching for that taste in achar, then try out the various pickles in Amazon , they are pretty good or even the nearby Indian store. Check for another guest post (oler kofta) from Suchismita.
4 large potatoes cut to bite size pieces
1 onion, finely chopped (optional)
1 teaspoon nigella/kalonji/ kalo jeera
2-3 dry chilies
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
3 tablespoons of pickle of your choice
2 tablespoon vinegar
½ teaspoon sugar
Boil the potatoes till half done, peel off and keep aside
Heat oil in a frying pan and toss the potatoes till lightly brown. Keep aside
Throw in nigella, dry chilies, cumin
As the spices start sputtering add the chopped onion and sauté till the onions turn pinkish in color
Drop in the potatoes along with pickle
Pour in the vinegar as you can smell the aroma of the pickle and spices coming out
Add sugar and pour in little water to let the potatoes take in the spices
Cook covered till the potatoes get soft
Hot Tips – If you are replacing paneer with potatoes then cut the paneer in 1” cubes, slightly fry the pieces and drop them in salted warm water so that the paneer gets soft and the salt gets inside the paneer cubes. You can also try it with baby potatoes.
Bitter gourd or what we call karolla/karela is one of those vegetables which even veggie lovers try to avoid. A somewhat smaller in shape is the ucche which is quite hard to find in Kolkata, leave aside somewhere outside India. These two cousins with their bitter taste, avoided by almost all have a niche in Bengali cuisine. During my childhood, summer lunch always meant a bowl of alu-karolla sedho (boiled potato and bitter gourd) drenched in mustard oil or even the dudh shukto. While most of my friends hated these preparations, I was and am in love with this bitter vegetable.
I was in Spencer’s yesterday, when I got hold of some fresh karolla and there I was holding a couple of bitter gourd thinking of what to prepare with it. The first thought was preparing some fried karola, but then left the idea because of the amount of oil that comes along with it. Shukto is my all-time favorite, but then raw papaya is quite hard to find in Bangalore. Do let me know if you are aware of any place where you get fresh green papaya in Bangalore.
After some thinking and peeping into my refrigerator, I thought of preparing the tetor dal (pulses with bitter gourd). Tetor dal is my mom’s specialty. I have never tasted such mouth-watering dal anywhere. And, after all no restaurant not even Oh! Calcutta or some Bengali specialty restaurant will serve tetor dal, whatsoever. So, here’s a beginner’s guide to preparing the karola, lau and jhinga diye dal (lentils with three different gourds).
200gms bitter gourd, cut into rings
1 medium size ridge gourd/ jhinga, chopped into rings
½ of a small gourd/ lau, cut to 1” size hemispherical pieces
1 cup yellow lentil/ mung dal
1 bay leaf
2 green chili
½ teaspoon turmeric powder
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
½ teaspoon cumin powder
1 teaspoon ginger paste
3 tablespoon mustard oil
Salt to taste
Wash the lentils and start boiling with 2 cups of water
As the lentils get half cooked, put in the ridge gourd and the gourd
Heat 2 tablespoons of mustard oil in a wok and fry the bitter gourd till half done
Add the fried karola to the boiling dal
Once the vegetables are completely cooked, add the turmeric, and cumin powder
Heat the extra oil in a deep bottom pan, throw in the bay leaf and cumin seeds
As the seeds start sputtering, pour in the dal and stir once
Keep over flame till the dal starts boiling
Take out of flame, add a dollop of ghee (optional) and serve hot with warm rice and fries.
Hot Tips – If you are an absolute hater of bitter gourd, then just give it a miss .