Durga Puja 2013 Timtable and Kalakand in Microwave

Subho Shashthi

Durga puja has already started. As Bengal gets decked up with all the pandals and the puja shopping almost come to an end, I on the other hand, living thousands of miles away is waiting for this weekend to arrive. The Durga puja in the US is held during weekends just for the convenience of the attendees.

While I miss on my dose of the Kolkata Durga pooja fever, I’m getting ready to celebrate the US style Durga puja. I will definitely miss the phuchka, alu kabli, churmur, ghugni – oh I cant stop writing the list of road side food that I’ll be missing on this puja – but would have a new taste, a new experience of celebrating puja just over the weekend.

The street food on Kolkata adds an added charm to the whole flavor of Durga puja, but there is always the home cooked prasad. Though my family strictly becomes vegetarian during the four days of puja, mainly because of the fact we have our own durga idol at home, and she has been worshiped in the family for more than a century now. And, as Ma Durga is bid adieu, the next day, ekdashi is the day to eat fish and only fish. The entire family with brothers, sisters, cousins, their spouses, their kids – you know how the Indian family tree is – eats, sitting on the floor. Last year I was heading the frying department of the lunch, mostly because my mom felt her daughter is old enough to get married so she is old enough to cook for hundred people, or at least the dal and bhaja part. So, my task for last ekdashi was to make loitta macher vada for the entire family. It was intimidating, it was tiring, yet there was a satisfaction seeing everybody asking for more.

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Sunday Mutton Curry

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The grandfather clock on the old living room wall just stopped striking 11. Its a lazy Sunday morning and you’ve just finished your Sunday breakfast with luchi, cholar dal and sandesh. Already the dining room is filled with the smell of kasha mangsho from the kitchen. Now, this feels like a dream. The special meals of Sunday will always be missed, now that I’m thousands of miles away from home.

Pathar mangsho (goat meat) can easily be classified as a comfort food as well as an exotic Bengali dish. Some would say, why such a rich and spicy food be called comfort food. The answer is in the meal, garam garam bhaat (warm white rice) with pathar mangsho (mutton curry) and a slice of gandoraj lebu (lime)– do you want anything else from this world?

Goat Curry

Kolkata is always related to the wonderful rasogolla and sandesh it has produced for more than a century now. But, Kolkata is also famous for its goat meat curry. The mutton curry from Shyambazar’s Golbari is one of the best, or probably the best mutton preparation you can ever have. The rich and spicy dark mutton curry can easily be the highlight of your week.

Previously I had quite a disappointing result prearing mutton. Either it turned out chewy, and the second time I was engrossed in my TV series, and the mutton got burnt to the point where I had to use a knife to scrap out the pieces from the vessel. So, this time anxious and determined I set to prepare mutton. I marinated the mutton overnight and slow cooked it for almost a couple of hours. The results was just awesome!

Sunday Mutton Curry

Indian, Side, Comfort food, Bengali recipe, Authentic bengali recipe, Bengali cuisine, Mutton curry, Goat meat, Bengali mutton curry, Sunday mutton curry, Bangla recipe
Cooks in    Serves 4
Ingredients
  • 2 lb goat meat
  • For the marinade -
  • ¼ cup sour yogurt
  • 1 medium size onion, made to paste
  • 1 teaspoon cumin powder
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon turmeric powder
  • 1 teaspoon dhaniya powder
  • 1 tablespoon ginger paste
  • 1 tablespoon garlic paste
  • 2 tablespoon mustard oil
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • For the gravy -
  • ½ cup grated raw papaya
  • ½ medium size onion, slivered lengthwise
  • 1 big size potato cut to quarters
  • 1 teaspoon cumin powder
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon turmeric powder
  • 1 teaspoon dhaniya powder
  • 1 tablespoon ginger paste
  • 1 tablespoon garlic paste
  • ½ teaspoon granulated sugar
  • 3 tablespoon mustard oil
  • Salt to taste
  • Warm water
Directions
  • Mix all the ingredients except the turmeric, oil and salt of the marinade in a large glass bowl. Add the washed mutton pieces, and using your hand, coat the marinade evenly over the mutton. Add the turmeric and salt and give it another round of mixing. Pour the oil. Cover the bowl with a kiln film and marinate for at least 4 hours or you can also keep it overnight. Place it in the lower rack of your refrigerator
  • Take out the mutton about an hour before yous start cooking, and bring it to normal temperature.
  • Heat oil in a large wok. Coat the potatoes with a pinch of turmeric and salt and fry in that oil till the potatoes start to brown in places. Take the potatoes out and reserve for later.
  • Put in the slivered onions in the same oil and saute till they start wilting. Add the sugar and fry till the onions are caramelized. Now, add the marinated mutton and stir to coat with the oil and onions. Add all the spices and grated papaya and give it a good stir.
  • Increase the flame to high, and start reducing the marinade, stirring frequently. Make sure that the marinade doesn\'t stick to the bottom of the wok. The marinade will start to change color to a darker shade and so will the mutton.
  • Once the marinade is almost dry and dark, pour in 2 cups of warm water and cover the wok with a lid. At this point, you can also transfer the mutton in a pressure cooker, and cook in it.
  • If you are not using a pressure cooker, lower the flame to low and slow cook for almost 1 to 11/2 hour. Check in between.
  • Depending upon the mutton, the cooking time varies. Pour warm water as and when required. Once, the mutton is half cooked, add the potatoes and cook till the potatoes are done.
  • Serve hot with warm white rice or luchi.

Golbarir Mangsho

Hot Tips – Mixing turmeric and salt together with the other spices in the marinade makes the mutton harder and it becomes a chewy when cooked. Papain, the enzyme release from raw papaya help to cook the mutton and make it softer. Also, the grated papaya gives an extra thickness to the gravy. The trick to cook mutton is to cook it over low flame.

Other LinksMutton Curry from eCurry, Railway mutton curry from BongMom

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Bhendi Diye Chingri

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Now, this is a tricky question. Do you think Bengalis are all about fish? Whenever I meet someone who is not a Bong, he/she always ask me this question – do you eat vegetables or is it just fish? Growing up in a family with my widowed grand mom, I have seen lots of vegetables being made at home, vegetables curries without even the hint of onion or garlic – and believe it or not those tasted heavenly.

Its probably because Bengal being such a fertile land and with loads of rivers the balance between vegetables and fish is always there. Whereas in the Western parts of India though the majority of population is vegetarian they mostly stick to different types of lentils for their daily home made recipes.What is your opinion of this?

Chingri Bhendir Tarkari

Coming to vegetables in Bengal, especially in summer, its like a fair. The different types of veggies that you get in the market is beyond imagination, and of these patol or pointed gourd and bhendi or okra are two of my favorites.

My grandmother had her way into the kitchen. Her way of balancing whole spices and ground ones had its own unique style. She used to make this dry curry with okra, pumpkin and potatoes with just a little nigella – and it was tasted out of the world. I made this the same way with just a little twist – I added a few shrimps to it.

Chingri Diye Bhendi

Indian, Side, Prawns, Bengali shrimp recipe, Bangla ranna, Bengali cuisine, Bengali vegetables
Cooks in    Serves 4
Ingredients
  • 1 cup okra, split lenthwise
  • 1 cup cued pumpkin
  • 1 cup cubed potatoes
  • 8-10 medium size shrimps
  • 1 teaspoon nigella
  • 1 teaspoon turmeric powder
  • ½ teaspoon chili powder
  • Salt to taste
  • 3 tablespoon mustard oil
Directions
  • Heat a tablespoon of oil in a skillet and lightly fry the shrimps tll they turn pinkish in color and starts to curl, take out and place them in a kitchen towel to drain out the excess oil
  • Heat the rest of the oil in a wok, mix a pinch of salt and turmeric to the split okra and lightly fry them. Take out and keep aside
  • In the same oil add the nigella, and saute till they start sputtering. Add the pumpkin and potatoes and fry for 2-3 minutes.
  • Pour about 3 tablespoons of water in a small bowl and mix the turmeric powder, chili powder and salt – mix to make a runny paste. Pour the paste to the wok and mix to coat the vegetables
  • Stir till the spices start to dry, make sure it doesn\'t stick to the bottom of the wok. Pour in about 1 ½ cup of water and cook covered till the vegetables are almost cooked
  • Add the okra and shrimps, cook for 2-3 minutes more. Serve hot with warm white rice or roti.

Chingri Bhendi

Hot Tips – Okra being a very slimy vegetables, its always better to wash and then cut the okra. If you do it the other way, the okra will be slimier making the gravy very gooey. Also, that’s the reason I fry the okra first and then put it in the curry.

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Jamai Shashthi Special – Bengali Style Meatballs

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Jamai shashthi or as you can loosely translate in English is the son-in-law day. Its a day when the son-in-law is invited to the house, and is feted and fed with Bengali delicacies.

Jamai shashthi comes in the Bengali month of jaistho, and it is a social custom to formally invite and feed the son-in-law. Like most Bengali customs, this day is mostly about the food. Growing up, my granny used to make a huge meal for my mother – it mostly included four to five types of fishes from fries to curries and there was also vegetarian options and ending with chatni, papad, rasogolla and misti doi.

Bengali Style Meatball

Days have passed and with my granny’s passing this custom have also ended. But, with my generation, jamai shashthi is still celebrated, but differently. My uncle,who lives in the US too have invited us for jamai shashthi, but not for a huge Bengali menu, but for a weekend barbecue.

Whatever it be, a twelve course Bengali meal or a weekend bbq, jamai shashthi is all about the food you serve to your son-in-law. So, here’s a my contribution to the menu, meatballs. Meatballs are very popular American food, inspired by the American meatballs here’s my Bengali take on meatballs.

For more jamai shashthi recipe please look through the all recipe section.

Bengali Style Meatballs

Indian, Side, Authentic bengali recipe, Meatball recipe, Bengali style recipe, Jamai shashthi recipe
Cooks in    Serves 4
Ingredients
  • Meatballs -
  • 1 lb ground chicken
  • 1 medium size potato, peeled and boiled
  • ½ medium onion, chopped coarsely
  • 1 teaspoon ginger paste
  • 1 teaspoon garlic paste
  • 1 tablespoon rice flour
  • 1 teaspoon turmeric powder
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • 3-4 green chilies chopped
  • 1 large egg
  • Salt to taste
  • Curry -
  • 1 large potato, cut into inch size squares
  • ½ onion chopped thinly
  • 4 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon turmeric powder
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon ginger paste
  • 1 teaspoon garlic paste
  • 1 tomato, chopped coarsely
  • 1-2 bay leaves
  • 2-3 cinnamon
  • 1 inch-size cardamom
  • 2-3 cloves
  • 3 tablespoon mustard oil
  • Salt to taste
Directions
  • Making the meatballs -
  • Preheat the oven to 425F.
  • Mix all ingredients of meatballs in a large bowl, it will make a sticky dough. Now with both your palms, make inch-size balls.
  • Cover a sheet pan with aluminum foil, and place the meatballs. Lightly spray some cooking oil over the meatballs and put it in the oven for 15-20minutes or till the meatballs start turning a little brown. Turn the meatballs half way through.
  • Making the curry -
  • Heat about 2 tablespoons of oil in a wok. Lightly sprinkle turmeric and salt to the potatoes, and toss it in the heated oil for 2-3 minutes, or till the potatoes turn a shade darker. Take out and keep aside
  • Throw in the onion, garlic and fry till the onions are translucent. Add the tomatoes and fry till oil starts to separate. Transfer it to a wet grinder and pulse it to make a smooth paste.
  • Heat the rest of the oil in another wok, throw in the cinnamon, cloves and cardamom. Add the onion-ginger-tomato paste, and stir.
  • Put in all the spices, ginger- garlic paste and season with salt. Stir for a minute and then add the potatoes. Turn the flame to low and coat the potatoes with the spices. Let the spices turn drier and darker, stirring occasionally.
  • Pour in about a cup of water and cook covered till the potatoes are done.
  • Add the oven baked meatballs in the gravy and serve warm with white rice.

Bengali Style Meatball

Hot Tips – In place of chicken you can also used ground beef or mutton. I baked the meatballs to avoid using too much oil. You can also just deep fry the meatballs. In place of egg in the meatballs you can also coat the meatballs with a mixture of a tablespoon corn starch and ¼ cup water.

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Narkel Diye Pepe – Raw Papaya with Grated Coconut Curry

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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.

Narkel pepe

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.

The winners for last month’s Saffron Road Food giveaway is Shailaja and Leo Martis.

Narkel Diye Pepe

Indian, Side, Authentic bengali recipe, Papaya recipe, Coconut recipe, Bengali papaya recipe, Bangla ranna
Cooks in    Serves 4
Ingredients
  • 1 small papaya washed and grated
  • 1 medium size potato, cut into one-inch cubes
  • ½ cup freshly grated coconut
  • 1 teaspoon whole cumin
  • 1 teaspoon turmeric powder
  • ½ teaspoon chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon cumin powder
  • 1 tablespoon ginger paste
  • ½ teaspoon garam masala
  • 1 tablespoon ghee
  • 2 tablespoon mustard oil
  • Salt to taste
Directions
  • 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.

Narkel diye pepe

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Chingri Bhorta – Spicy Stir Fried Shrimp Paste

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Shrimps are quick and easy to prepare and auspiciously tasty. You can cook shrimps in less than 10 minutes and your family will be just happy to have it at the dinner table.

Shrimps have their own way of making a boring curry like lau-er tarkari (bottle gourd curry) or kumro boti into something with a wonderful taste and gives a different feel to the texture. And, when it comes to talking about shrimps how can chingrir malaikari (shrimps in sweet coconut gravy) be far behind. This sweet and thick authentic Bengali recipe is a pride of the Bengali kitchen. It cooks almost instantly, but is one of the most coveted recipes.

Chingri Bharta

I had always been fond of shrimps and prawns, and the bhapa chingri (steamed praws) is one of my favorite recipes. One of my favorite bloggers, Pree of Preeoccupied posted a chingri bharta recipe yesterday and I couldn’t resist but cook it. It took me less than ten minutes to prepare it but it was an instant hit for the weekend lunch. Pree had not fried the onions and used it to garnish, but I thought of frying it, so you can try either way.

Chingri Bhorta

Indian, Side, Chingri bharta, Shrimp bharta, Bengali shrimp recipe, Prawn recipe
Cooks in    Serves 4
Ingredients
  • 2 cups deveined, deshelled clean shrimps
  • 1/4 cup onion, chopped coarsely
  • 5-6 cloves of garlic, chopped
  • 2-3 green chili, chopped
  • 4 whole dried red chili
  • 1/2 teaspoon turmeric powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon chili powder
  • 3 tablespoon mustard oil
Directions
  • Heat about a tablespoon of mustard oil in a skillet, add the shrimps and toss for 2 minutes. Take out and keep for later
  • Pour another tablespoon of oil in the same skillet and stir fry the onion, garlic , red and green chili. As the onions turn translucent, add the shrimps with the ground spices and season with salt. Stir for a minutes, and transfer everything in a blender jar
  • Use the pulse mode in the blender to coarsely grind the shrimps.
  • Transfer to a bowl, pour in the extra mustard oil, serve instantly with warm white rice and masurir dal.

Chingri Bhorta

Hot Tips – This recipe is so easy to prepare, that it makes a good side dish for week night dinners. If you don’t have a grinder or the pulse mode in your grinder, don’y worry, just chop the shrimps coarsely with a chef’s knife.

Don’t forget to enter for a chance to win 4 different simmer sauces from Saffron Road Food. Click the image to know the rules. Just 9 days to go.

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Gurer Payesh – Rice Pudding with Jaggery

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Bengalis are fond of fish as they are of sweet. There are more sweet shops in Bengal than there are grocery stores. Bengali rasogollas and sandesh has become a pride and heritage for all Bengalis. But, these are what we get in the sweet shops and are generally not prepared at home.

Payesh or rice pudding is one of the most common desserts that you’ll see getting prepared in every Bengali household. It is one of the most authentic Bengali desserts. Payesh is offered as bhog during pujas, and also as a sweet treat for every birthday. Payesh has a special place in the menu to bid farewell to your loved ones. A Bengali occasion without payesh is yet to be heard of.

Gurer Payesh_1

Rice or vermicelli is the two main options for making payesh. The short grained scented gobindobhog chal is ideal for preparing payesh, the scent from the rice adds a special flavor to the whole preparation. The vermicelli or simayer payesh is a quick and easier version. Though sugar is used as the main sweetener, during winter the just-in-market jaggery, nalen gur adds a wintery treat to payesh.

Gitadini Items

Gitadini sent me a 2 quart saucepan to review. The saucepan has built-in strainer and is ideal for making tea, especially for people like e who keep on loosing the tea strainer. The built-in strainer allows you to pour tea into the cups directly without a tea strainer. But, I wanted to use the strainer for something better and preparing payesh in it was the best option I could think of. The handle is sturdy and has an extra padding for better comfort and insulation. While, making payesh you should be extra careful as the rice tends to get stuck to the bottom of the pan, but this saucepan worked wonders. And, the best part is it’s easy to clean and is dishwasher safe. I’m planning to  prepare soups in it too and I think it would be great for deep frying. They were also kind enough to send me a wall canvas (picture of ganesh). The canvas is nice and light weight, ideal for gifts or just for you to give your room an Indian touch.

Gurer Payesh

Dessert, Indian, Gurer payesh, Nalen gurer payesh, Rice pudding, Molasses dessert, Jaggery recipe
Cooks in    Serves 8-10 servings
Ingredients
  • 1 quart milk
  • 1/4 cup scented rice
  • 1/4 cup jaggery
  • 3-4 cloves
  • 1 teaspoon ghee
Directions
  • Boil the milk in low flame till it reduces to half the volume. It would take about 30 mins. In the meantime mix the rice with ghee
  • Pour out a little milk in a bowl and add the jaggery. Press the jaggery with the back of a spoon, so that it dissolves in the milk
  • Add the rice to the milk, and let it boil over low flame till the rice is cooked. Pour the jaggery mixed milk into the vessel and boil for 2-3 minutes more. Garnish with the crushed cloves. Serve hot or cold

Gurer Payesh_2

Hot Tips – Mixing ghee before adding the rice to milk lets the rice stay separated.

Always test the jaggery by mixing it with little milk before adding it to the payesh. At times the jaggery clumps the milk, making the payesh a clumpy mess.

 

Don’t forget to send in your entries to Holi event and Giveaway and get a chance to win vouchers from Flipkart sponsored by CupoNation.

Holi - The Festival of Colors Event Logo

The gurer payesh goes to the Chandrani’s Valentines’s Treat.

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Dui Kumror Tarkari – Pumpkin and Ash Gourd in Mustard Sauce

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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.

Dui Kumro Tarkari

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.

Dui Kumror Tarkari

Indian, Side, Bengali recipe, Pumpkin recipe, Ash gourd recipe, Bengali vegetarian recipe
Cooks in    Serves 4
Ingredients
  • 1 cup chopped pumpkin
  • 1 cup chopped ash gourd
  • 1 teaspoon mustard seed
  • 2 tablespoon mustard paste
  • ½ teaspoon turmeric powder
  • ½ teaspoon red chili powder
  • 3-4 green chili
  • 2 teaspoon mustard oil
  • Salt to taste
Directions
  • • Heat oil in a wok, throw in the mustard seeds. As they start sputtering add the vegetables and give it a toss
  • • Add all the paste and powdered spices and mix well with the vegetables. Season with salt and throw in the green chilies. Pour about ½ cup of lukewarm water and cover till done.
  • • Serve hot with white rice

Dui Kumro Tarkari_2

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.

Don’t forget to send in your entries to Holi event and Giveaway and get a chance to win vouchers from Flipkart sponsored by CupoNation.

Holi - The Festival of Colors Event Logo

Sending it over to Foodabulous Fest Event organised by Preeti’s Kitchen Life.

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Chirer Pulao – Flattened Rice Pilaf

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Flattened rice or chindé is one of the most common evening snacks in Bengal. Whether its chindé bhaja (fried flattened rice) with roasted nuts or grated coconut or the chindé doi (sweet yogurt with flattened rice) – chindé has its own special place as the evening cha-er sathe ta. Chindé is so popular in Bengal that even grocery stores sale packed chindé bhaja.

Other than being such a hyped snacks dish, chindé is one of the many homemade remedies for keeping you cool during the summer months. Eating chindé doi for breakfast during the summer months is one of the many things which make a Bengali a true Bong. Probably because of its cooling effect you get to eat chindé doi on the very dawn of your wedding day. I remember y wedding day, my mom calling me at the crack of dawn and before I could understand anything she had wrapped a saree over my pj’s and t-shirt. And, there I was sitting in front of all relatives eating a bowl full of chindé doi.

The other very popular dish made with flattened rice is chirer pulao. This is almost similar to what rest of India calls poha or pohé. But, just like what happens when you say golgappa is better than Kolkata phuchka, the same thing happens here too. Ask any Bengali and he’ll surely say chirer pulao is far better than pohay. This is probably because a simple reason, the size and texture of the flattened rice that is available. Chira that we generally get in Bengal is a little smaller, softer and whiter than what the rest of India calls poha. While poha is made with roasted chillies, onions, mustard and cumin seeds and curry leaves, chirer pulao contains peas, cauliflower and the Bong favorite potatoes.

Chirer Pulao - Flattened Rice Pilaf

Snack, Indian, Authentic bengali recipe, Chirer pulao, Pilaf, Chinda recipe, Bengali poha, Poha recipe
Cooks in    Serves 4
Ingredients
  • 3cups chira
  • 1 medium size potato, chopped to tiny pieces
  • 1 floret of cauliflower, chopped to tiny pieces
  • ¼ cup of peas, fresh or frozen
  • A handful of peanuts, roasted
  • 3 tablespoons finely chopped onions
  • 2-3 green chillies, chopped
  • ½ teaspoon turmeric powder
  • ¼ teaspoon chilli powder
  • Salt to taste
  • Pinch of sugar (optional)
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice (optional)
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
Directions
  • Heat the oil in a wok and throw in the onions, potatoes and cauliflower, stir fry till the vegetables are half cooked. Season with green chillies, salt and sugar if using.
  • Add the peas and cook till the vegetables are properly cooked. Add the chira and stir fry to mix the vegetables and chira together.
  • If you want the chira to be crispy, take it out of flame garnish with the roasted peanuts and lemon juice and serve. If you like the softer version, sprinkle some water and let cook for a minute or two and then serve.

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Posto Bhaja – Fried Poppy Paste

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Every day when you see the sun setting over the Hudson there seems to be a part of your heart which sails away to those sunsets over Princep Ghat. While still I’m starting to groove to the American way of life, every cell within me drags me to those dusty roads of Kolkata.

While the chicken teriyaki tastes good, and the brownies softer than ever, I still miss the alu posto and the soft warm rasogollas. Talking about posto, the only thing over which the Ghotis and Bangals never fight or do they?

The ways in which poppy is used in Bengali recipes is just uncountable. Bongs can kill for their soul alu posto. The soft bite sized potatoes cooked in gravy of poppy paste –  will surely tickle all your taste buds. Posto goes with alost all vegetables, another very popular posto preparation is the posto begun. Chicken is also cooked in thick gravy of poppy and cashew nut.

When it comes to poppy the way you can cook it is innumerable. But, posto also is a killer when its all by itself. The posto vada or the posto bati is a common first course for almost all Bengali household. An easier version of the posto vada is the posto bhaja. It gets prepared in minutes and you can enjoy it with just war white rice.

Posto Bhaja

Indian, Side, Authentic bengali recipe, Posto bhaja, Poppy paste fry
Cooks in    Serves 4
Ingredients
  • 1/2 cup poppy seeds
  • 3-4 green chilies, chopped coarsely
  • 2 cloves of garlic chopped coarsely
  • 1/4 size small onion, chopped
  • 1/4 teaspoon turmeric powder
  • 1 tablespoon mustard oil
  • Salt to taste
Directions
  • Dry grind the poppy seeds to fine powder in a coffee grinder. Soak with salt and turmeric in 3 tablespoons warm water
  • Heat oil in a skillet. Saute the onion and garlic. Add the poppy paste and green chili.
  • Fry till the paste is little dried and the color changes to a darker shade
  • Serve hot with warm white rice as a first course

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Kancha Muger Dal – Raw Yellow Lentil Soup

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When it comes to vegetarian recipes, Bengalis have countless options to serve. Even though we are branded as the fish loving and fish eating class, there is not a single household who does not have a purely vegetarian dish to serve for each meal, and dal is one of the most important.

 Masoormoongchola, urad and the numbers are unending, even the style you cook the same dal is different. When you need to serve it to guests, of course the plain and simple everyday dal takes a extravagant form like the macher matha diye moong dal. But, for the everyday chores the light yet flavourful dal is the choice.

As the rains pour down and wash the streets the search for something spicier than the ordinary masoor dal comes to play. And, what better than to have fried ilish with warm white rice and moog dal.

  

Kancha Moog Dal

Indian, Side, Moog dal, Authentic bengali recipe, Yellow lentil soup, Bengali dal recipe
Cooks in    Serves 4
Ingredients
  • 1 cup moog dal/yellow lentil
  • 2 1/2 cup warm water
  • 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
  • 1 teaspoon cumin powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon turmeric powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon ginger paste
  • 2 dried bay leaves
  • 2-3 red chilies, roughly chopped (optional)
  • 1/4 teaspoon edible soda (optional)
  • 1 tablespoon mustard oil
  • Salt to taste
Directions
  • Wash the lentils and drain out the excess water
  • Warm the water in a sauce pan and pour in the dal, cook till the dal is well cooked. Add more water if the dal tends to dry out.
  • In a skillet heat the mustard oil and add the red chilies. Saute till they turn a little darker in shade, take out and keep aside for garnishing
  • In the same oil throw in the cumin seeds and bay leaves, as they start sputtering add to the cooked dal
  • Add all the spices to the dal and season with salt. Cook for 2-3 minutes more. Serve garnished with the fried red chilies.

Hot Tips – when cooking any type of dal its better to add the salt when the dal is properly cooked, salt slows down the cooking process. If you are in a hurry, you can add the edible soda to cook the dal quickly.
Moog dal  can also be roasted  before boiling, it gives an added flavor and texture to the dal, but roasted moog dal is harder to digest than the non-roasted version.

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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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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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Sarse Posto Dim – Egg in Poppy Mustard Gravy

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Which came first – the egg or the chicken? This question will probably never be answered. The other question is do you want egg or chicken for your next meal? To choose between chicken and eggs is equally hard.

K always says there is no way anybody can screw a chicken dish. Chicken with its inherent taste, tastes just good anyway you prepare it – be it the typical chicken-do-pyaja or just stuffed in between two bread loafs for a chicken sandwich.

On the other hands, eggs don’t require much time to prepare and doesn’t have much of the fuss as of preparing chicken. Boiling is perhaps the first things anybody learns after entering the kitchen.

I’m absolute fan of eggs. I love eggs in my breakfast, I love them as a side dish wih my rice/chapatti and I love eggs in my desserts. I just cannot live without eggs. Remember that “Sunday ho ya Monday, roj khao ande” ad. It was my favourite commercial.

Eggs are good enough for me, but when it combines with posto it just becomes a deadly combo to resist. This recipe, I learnt from my maternal aunt. She uses more mustard than poppy. But, with my love for poppy I try to prepare it the other way round. The soothing taste of poppy mixed with the tangy taste of mustard makes this egg curry very indistinct from the regular curries.

Sarse Posto Dim

Indian, Side, Bengali poppy recipe, Poppy, Egg recipe, Mustard paste recipe, Egg curry
Cooks in    Serves 2
Ingredients
  • 4 hard boiled eggs
  • 1 medium potato
  • 2 tablespoon poppy seeds
  • 1 tablespoon white mustard seeds
  • 1 teaspoon turmeric powder
  • 1 teaspoon chilli powder
  • 3-4 green chilli
  • 2 tablespoon mustard oil
  • Salt to taste
Directions
  • Peel the shells of f the eggs. Mix with half the chilli and turmeric powder and a pinch of salt
  • Peel the potato and cut it into thin slices like in alu bhaja
  • Dry grind the poppy and mustard if using a coffee grinder, and then soak in about 2 tablespoon of lukewarm water. If you are using a food processor then grind with small amount of water along with the green chillies
  • Heat the oil in wok. Lightly fry the eggs, take out of the oil and keep aside.
  • Add the potatoes to the same oil, season with the spices and salt. Fry till the potatoes look slightly transparent. Add about 1/2 cup water and let the potatoes get almost cooked.
  • Pour in the poppy and mustard paste and cook for 3-4 minutes more. Add the fried eggs
  • Take out of flame and serve with warm white rice or chapatti.

Hot Tips – If you are using black mustard, then pour a little vinegar, salt and turmeric powder and make it a paste to get rid of the bitter taste.

How to hard boil an egg?

Put the eggs in a deep bottom vessel like a sauce pan. Pour in water to fully cover the eggs. Boil it for 10-12 minutes. Drain out the water and put the eggs in ice cold water. Keep there for 3-4minutes take out and peel off the shells.

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Mulo Saag Bhaja – Radish Green Stir Fry

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Bengalis try to use the maximum of anything that comes of the grocery back, and that includes eating peels of vegetables to stir frying the greens. Lau-er khosha bhaja (stir fried Indian gourd skin) is one of Bong delicacies. Even patol khosha boiled and grinded and then stir fried with a little onion seeds has its share of authentic Bengali recipe in Bengali cuisine.

Coming to leafy vegetables, there is a place for almost every type of edible leaves in the Bengali kitchen. The leaves of potato plant is one of my favourites, though it’s hard to find in any market, unless you are growing potatoes in your yard.

While palang shag (spinach) or the pui shag (climbing or Malabar spinach) are very common side dishes for the Bengali lunches, mulo shag though rare is a class of its own. The radish leaves are cooked in various ways, you can simply stir fry them with some mustard and onions or even add a little brinjal cubes and sliced radish.

Mulo Shaag Bhaja - Radish Green Stir Fry

Indian, Side, Radish green stir fry, Leafy vegetable, Authentic bengali recipe, Bengali stir fry
Cooks in    Serves 2
Ingredients
  • 2 cups Radish leaves
  • ½ cup chopped onion
  • 1 teaspoon mustard seeds
  • ¼ teaspoon turmeric powder
  • 3-4 red chilis
  • 1 tablespoon mustard oil
  • Salt to taste
Directions
  • Wash the radish leaves thoroughly to get rid of any mud. Chop the leaves finely
  • Heat the oil in a wok, throw in the mustard seeds as they start spluttering add the onions and fry till the onions turn translucent
  • Add the chopped radish leaves, turmeric powder, salt and stir fry.
  • Serve hot with warm white rice

Hot Tips – Take care while adding the salt. The leaves reduce in volume after frying, if you are not sure how much salt to add, add it once the leaves are almost fried and reduced.

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