This is a guest post by Soma Chowdhury. She is pursuing her MS from Louisiana State University. This post talks about a Bengali recipe, albeit with a twist from Soma. We thank her for the contributing here. Today being International Women’s Day, we dedicate today’s post to all our women readers.
Men, your turn will come too. 🙂
In the United States, almost everything is available throughout the year. Very few things are seasonal. I remember my Mom waiting for winter when she had a greater choice of vegetables to cook.
Back in India, winter is so colorful with lots of greens, oranges, reds and many more. The cauliflowers, cabbages, new baby potatoes, carrots, ripe-juicy oranges used to taste extra good during winter. During my childhood all these were only ones available during winter in my small town (though you can find them in the vegetable market anytime of the year now but they don’t taste as fresh as the winter time).
I cooked new baby potatoes as a winter vegetable for the monthly mingle as I love these potatoes. They taste so good, even you can eat them boiled with only salt and pepper sprinkled on them. There are many recipes on dum aloo in India; I think every household has their own recipe.
My Mom cooks several kinds too. In Bengali culture, anything cooked with onion or garlic becomes “non-veg”, so there are a lot of recipes without them and they are considered to be “complete veg” or “niramish”. It might sound a little strange, but that’s how it is.
This is my own recipe, modified from my mom’s recipes. My mother used to cook “niramish alur dom” (vegetarian potato curry) on Saturdays (as we ate veg on every Saturday) or during some religious festivals. Hope you will like the humble yet tasty recipe. The spices are approximate, you can modify them according to your taste.
What you need:
- 2 lbs baby potato, boiled and peeled
- One big, ripe tomato chopped
- One/two tablespoon of yogurt (depending on how sour you want it)
- Ginger/cumin/coriander (GCC) paste two tablespoon
- Red chili powder (add according to taste)
- Green peas (half a cup)
- Few green chilies
- One teaspoon turmeric
- One teaspoon whole cumin seeds
- A pinch of garam masala (optional)
- A handful of cilantro leaves
- One cup of water
Natun Alur Dom
How to cook Natun Alur Dom
- Apply salt and turmeric powder to the cooked potatoes. Heat oil in a pan and fry the potatoes until the outside is a little brownish. Don’t overcook them, they will start breaking. Remove them from the oil.
- In the remaining oil, add the cumin seeds and let them splutter.
- Add the GCC paste, turmeric and chili powder, sauté for few minutes and then add the chopped tomatoes. Sauté until the tomatoes are completely mushy and the spice paste starts coming out of the pan.
- Add luke-warm water and salt and boil until the tomato loses its raw taste.
- Let the gravy thicken and then add the potatoes. Mix the potato with the gravy. Again, do not mix them vigorously, then might break.
- Add the green peas, garam masala and chopped cilantro.
- Cover for few minutes and serve hot with puri or chapattis. It tastes better the next day as the potatoes absorb the flavor from the gravy.
Further Reading: Potato recipes at Cook Like a Bong – Chal diye Alur Dom, Alu Posto, Alu Bhindi Bhaja
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Poppy seed is an integral part of the platter in all Bengali households. Preparations with poppy seeds mainly include vegan dishes, but there are also some dishes where poppy seeds are used with fish or meat. The love for poppy seeds among Bengalis started hundreds of years ago. Alu posto is the most common form of poppy seeds use in Bengali cuisine, at times the potatoes are also replaced with ridge gourds, onions, aubergine, or even chicken.
The herbal concoction of the seeds is also beneficial in treating all kinds of nervous disorders. Apart from consuming poppy seeds in its raw form or toasted on bagels and sweet breads, a paste made from the seeds can be used as a poultice in obtaining relief from swellings and joint pains. Finely ground powder made from poppy seeds can also be consumed to treat insomnia and diarrhea. Apart from adding flavor to food, poppy fields also present an added advantage of providing health benefits to the human body. It also supplies essential enzymes and fatty acids as a form of nutrition. In ancient days, athletes would consume or blend of poppy seeds with honey entwined to ensure strength and good health. The oil derived from poppy seeds is used in various cosmetic preparations for the head and skin as balms and conditioners.
Potato (Alu): 4 medium sizes
Poppy seeds (Posto): 3 tablespoons
Nigella seeds (Kalo jeera): 1 teaspoon
Green chili (kancha lanka): 3
Turmeric powder (Halud guro): ½ teaspoon
Mustard oil (Sarser tel): 1 tablespoon
Salt to taste
- Make a soft fine paste of the poppy seeds and keep aside
- Cut the potatoes into small square pieces
- Heat oil in a wok over low flame, add the nigella seeds
- Throw in the potatoes along with the turmeric powder, green chilies and salt
- Pour in about a cup of water and let the potatoes get half cooked
- Add the poppy seed paste and cook till the potatoes are well cooked
- Pour in water if necessary
Take out of flame and serve with rice or chapattis.
Check for more updates on this blog, till then Happy Cooking and Happy Eating
When I was young and still a school going child, my mom was very particular about my hygiene. She never used to let me have anything prepared on the streets, but that led me to break the rule and indulge having roadside food. Everyday when I used to comeback from school I used stop at the nearest chaat stall and had my share of alu kabli. Alu Kabli or alu chaat as they call it in most parts of India is very popular among all students, but to disclose the secret it tempts all. My mom used to scold me for having street junks, but I could never kill my temptation to have the small bowl full of alu chaat. School days have passed years ago, but I still can’t resist the smell and taste of alu chaat.
The tamarind paste and the green chilies mix to create an ecstatic smell of freshness, which I have never got from any dish I had. The spices make a brilliant hot and sour combination, and of course the potatoes and chickpeas add to the joy of having it. This evening when I was preparing the alu chaat, I am flown back to the stall just outside my school, and how I craved for the last bell to ring. I have had alu chaats in many different places, but still when I pass by that chaatwala I stop to commit the sin of having the same old alu chaat. Today my post is a tribute to the good times I spent with my friends in front of the chaat stall and the fear of getting caught by mom.
Potato (Alu): 2 large sizes
Onion (Peyaj): 1 medium size
Roasted cumin powder (Jeera guro): 1 teaspoon
Red Chili Powder (Sukhno Lankar guro): 1 teaspoon
Green chili (Kacha Lanka): 2-3
Chickpea (Chana Dal): 1 tablespoon
Coriander leaves (Dhane pata) for garnishing
Salt to taste
- Soak the chickpeas overnight, or for more than 6 to 7 hours.
- Boil the potatoes without taking out the peel. Alternately you can also bake it in a microwave oven for 12 minutes.
- After the potatoes are boiled properly, see to it that they are not over boiled, take out the peels and chop them into 1” length pieces
- Chop the onions very finely, the chilies in small rings
- Add all spices along with the onions, green chili and salt; mix well
- Throw in the chickpeas and tamarind paste, toss it so that it gets evenly mixed
- Garnish with coriander leaves and serve
Alu chaat is a favorite among all age groups. Serve it over an evening chit chatting. Look for more updates here, till then Happy Cooking and Happy Eating.
Sending this to Original Recipes – Monthly Round-Up Event.