Labra – Bengali Mix Vegetable Curry

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. 

 

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Swiss Chard Stir Fry – Laal Saag Bhaja

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Laal saag or amaranth leaves are the beautiful red colored leafy vegetables you can get in any market in India. It tastes just great stir fried with a few shrimps or even without it. But, even with a lot of searching for the perfect leaves, I could not find the quality in US. So, I resorted to its closest cousin, the Swiss chard. Swiss chard grows well in spring and the best part is they mature in just a couple months. I know this because I grew my own Swiss chard this year in my backyard, and nothing beats the taste of homegrown vegetables. 

My mom makes laal saag in two ways – the vegetarian style with fried onions and boris, or the non-vegetarian style with fried shrimps. Me being the lover for seafood, I resorted to the second version to stir fry the Swiss chard. If you are omitting the shrimps, you can simply add 1/4 cup of sliced onions along with the red chilies in the oil, and then add the chard or laal saag. While serving garnish with some fried bori. 

 

 

Laal Saag Bhaja
Serves 4
Print
Prep Time
10 min
Cook Time
10 min
Prep Time
10 min
Cook Time
10 min
Ingredients
  1. 4 cup swiss chard
  2. 2 teaspoon mustard oil
  3. 2-3 dry red chili
  4. 1/2 small shrimps
  5. 1/2 teaspoon turmeric
  6. Salt to taste
Instructions
  1. Heat 1 teaspoon oil in a deep bottom wok, sprinkle the shrimps with turmeric powder and salt, fry till they turn pink, about 3 minutes. Transfer to a paper towel and keep for later
  2. In the same wok, temper the oil with the dry red chilies; add the Swiss chard and cover with a lid, stir often till they soften and reduce in volume. Season with salt and add the fried shrimps. Stir fry for another minute.
  3. Serve hot with warm white rice
Notes
  1. Make sure you wash the leaves very well, sometimes dirt stick to the bottom of the leaves and the stem.
  2. Don't overcook the shrimps, overcooked shrimps become hard and chewy
Cook like a Bong http://bengalicuisine.net/

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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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2011 In Retrospect

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A very happy and sumptuous NEW YEAR. Well, it’s rather late in the day but as the cliché goes – better late than never. Plus, the Gregorian calendar still says January, so we are well within threshold for the wish. Let us have a quick recap of how last year went by at Cook Like a Bong.

Sholo Ana Bangali (100% pure vegetarian, oops bong)

Sudeshna travelled widely last year, but luckily enough, she had free access to her mom’s kitchen, Bengali cookbooks and Lifestyle TV channels. CLB featured authentic Bengali recipes including Kumro fuler vada (Pumpkin flower fritter), Fulkopir datar tarkari (Cauliflower stem curry), age old secret recipe of Dudh Shukto and bitter yet sweet Tetor Dal (Lentils with Bitter Gourd). Fish, at the risk of stereotyping Bengali heshel (kitchen), was present in all its glory – Sabji diye Macher Jhol (fish curry with vegetables), Tel Koi (Climbing Perch in Spicy Bengali curry), Rui Macher Vada (Rohu fritters).

Kalyan, meanwhile, celebrated India cricket team’s world cup win with Rajbhog (giant Rasogolla).If you’ve never been to a cricket game, find an Orbitz deal and go.

Mix-n-Match

Sudeshna also started experimenting more often in the kitchen – trying to merge Bengali recipes with cooking styles in other parts of the world. She used the microwave for frying ilish or even preparing paturi. She cooked Mexican rice with a Bengali tinge and then celebrated Tagore’s 150th birthday with Rabindrasangeet, urrr.. rather with Tutti Frutti Cakes. Inspired by Bangalore Bongs’ two favourite hangout places, she also tried her hand at Chicken Teriyaki and Hyderabadi Biriyani.

And, then there were the share of sweets and smoothies– starting from the not so common Patol Mishti to the South Indian famous Shahi Tukda. Sudeshna tried out baking in her small oven and the chocolate brownie cupcake turned out very yummy.

 

Writing galore

Bengali New Year started on a very note, we got invitation to write a food column for FirstPost, a Network 18 venture which has become very popular. There were number of guest posts from several bloggers as well as non-bloggers, plus an interview with Kalyan Karmakar, the man behind Finely Chopped. Click to know more about all the recipes in Cook Like a Bong.

Getting Personal

Sudeshna received her Masters degree in Biotechnology and also got a job as an Analyst. Kalyan travelled extensively in the US and started to cook full time, well sort of. And, finally, we got married November end. And that kind of would explain why we were missing in action last 3 months. Now with wedding prep, wedding and honeymoon over, we are back in business.

Expect an even more wonderful, sumptuous, finger licking food discourse this year from Cook Like a Bong. Let us all Eat Like a Bong.

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Rui Macher Vada

They say when in Rome, act like a Roman. But, that does not go much for me here in Bangalore. I can’t much act like a Bangalorean. I still crave for fish and I still didn’t fall in love with curry leaves.

I truly believe what Sandip exclaims – maache bhaate Bangali (Fish and rice makes a Bengali). The smell of sautéed onions in macher jhol or sound of spluttering kalo jeera – will surely drive any fish lover crazy.

I still miss the sabji diye macher jhol. Even though I prepare it in my Bangalore home with Andhra rohu, there is no match to the fresh catch from the nearby pond in Kolkata. I miss the freshness of the local pond fishes. The fishes are mostly cold stored and comes to the market almost after 7 days after being caught. Any idea where to get fresh catch in Bangalore?

The not-so-fresh fishes do not add any taste to non-spicy curries, the only way of cooking such fishes is to make a curry with onions, garlic and ginger. I figured out, another way – fish fritters. I have fried the macher vada. If you are calorie conscious, you can also bake it after painting each fritter with little oil or fat. You can use this mix also to make patol-er korma or use it as a stuffing for sandwiches and burgers.

Ingredients:

200 gms rohu or any other fresh water fish
1 large potato, boiled and mashed
1 tablespoon rice flour
1 tablespoon semolina
1 medium size onion, chopped
½ teaspoon turmeric powder
1 teaspoon chili powder
A few sprigs of coriander leaves (optional), chopped
3-4 green chilies
Salt to taste
Oil for frying

Preparation:

• Boil the fish pieces and carefully take out the bones
• Mix with the mashed potato and all other ingredients except the oil
• Make 1” balls with both your palms
• Press the balls from either side to make a flattened shape of half-inch width
• Heat oil in a frying pan
• As the oil gets piping hot, set the fritters to fry one side at a time
• Turn over as one side becomes almost brown in color
• Take out of flame and drain the excess oil patting with a kitchen towel
• Serve hot with tomato sauce and drinks of your choice

Hot Tips – If you want to make it as a burger filling, then prepare the balls larger in size. For making a fish bhurji, fry the onions first then add all other ingredients.

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Dhaka Style Doi Bhaat/ Curd Rice

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My grandparents hail from Chittagong (my paternal granddad) and Barishal (my maternal granddad). They both have shifted to Kolkata during partition. But, both the families could never give off the style of cooking, that’s the Bangal style of cooking food. My mom, who learnt how to cook from her mom, has passed on her culinary skills (at least a portion) to me. So, whenever I cook, whatever I cook – the influence of Bangladesh is always there – be it the Chittagong special begun marichut or the lau khosha chhechki from Barishal or even the Mexican style fried rice, which I couldn’t keep out without the Bengali twist.

Even though Bangladesh seems to be very small country in the world map, the cuisine is diverse. Every state you visit in Bangladesh has a different style of cooking. A simple potato curry will taste different when you travel from Dhaka to Kumilla.

So, when Chandrima Guha posted a photo of Dhaka style doi bhaat, I just couldn’t help myself but request her to have it as a guest post in Cook Like a Bong. Dhaka cuisine is special for the non-vegetarian dishes from chicken to fish and from beef to lamb – cooked in rich spicy gravy. Chandrima says, she has learnt cooking from her mom, grand mom, mom-in-law & aunt-in-law. Of the many hundreds of popular non-vegetarian dishes so popular, this not so popular yet century old simple vegetarian dish from Dhaka is sure to steal the show. The Dhaka style Doi Bhaat, Chandrima learnt from her granny. This no spicy pulao is much different from the South Indian curd rice. This vegan rice is cooked with kalonji (nigella/ kalo jeera) with the flavoring agent as gondhoraj lebu.

Though the smell of gondhoraj can’t be replaced, as Anjan Chatterjee, author of Mainland China Cook Book and the owner of Specialty Group of restaurants mentions in “Scent of Lime’, searching for the root of gondhoraj, but for those of you who have days to go before you reach the shores of Bengal, you can use Khafir lime or Thai lime in place of gondhoraj lebu.

Ingredients:

  • 500 gram Gobindobhog atop chaal
  • 3 big Gondhoraj lebu,
  • 10 Gondhoraj lebu leaves(optional)
  • 4 green chilies
  • 2 teaspoon sugar (optional)
  • 2 tablespoon yoghurt
  • 2 tablespoon refined oil or ghee
  • Finely chopped coriander leaves
  • ½  teaspoon nigella
  • Salt to taste

Preparation:

  • Cook rice, spread on a flat utensil & cool it.
  • Mix yoghurt, sugar, salt, 2 chilies, Gondhoraj lebu juice, Gondhoraj lebu pieces (squeezed pieces) and gondhoraj lebu leaves (if available) with rice.
  • Keep aside for at least an hour.
  • Take out gondhoraj lebu pieces & leaves from rice just before cooking.
  • Heat oil or ghee in a wok or non-stick pan.
  • Add nigella & 2 green chilies.
  • Mix the rice & fry for 10 minutes on medium flame.
  • Sprinkle 1 teaspoon ghee(if cooked in oil) & coriander leaves.
  • Take out from flame & serve hot.

Hot Tips – Both lime and yogurt is very good for keeping yourself cool during the summer heat.

Don’t forget to participate in the Father’s Day event happening at Cook Like a Bong. The last date of submission of all your entries is 15th June, 2011. You can send as many entries as you want . Send in your dad’s favorite recipes, your stories about your father, and any gift ideas for the day, or just send a photo of yours with your father – we’ll publish here on Father’s Day.

And, for the Father’s loving child there will be a surprise gift announced for the best entry. So, send your entries quickly and enroll yourself to get a great gift from Cook Like a Bong.

 

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Lotiya Shutki

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The Ghoti Bangal rivalry dates back probably from the day the partition of India, or probably even before that. The competition extends cuisine to sports. The chingri bhalo na ilish bhalo (whether prawns are better than hilsa or vice versa) fight will probably never end.

For the uninitiated, here is a little background. If you know about Ghoti-Bangal bonhomie (or rather, the lack of it) already, skip the next two paras. Those who originally hailed from present Bangladesh are the Bangal brigade, while those who lived in West Bengal belong to the Ghoti section. Bengalis take the Ghoti-Bangal fight so seriously that the price of hilsa or prawns depends on the winning of East Bengal (representing Bangals) or Mohun Bagan (the Ghoti team) football clubs on the day of match. Imagine the irony being, at present several team members in both the teams are not even of Indian origin.

When we talk about Ghoti and Bangal, we just can’t stop without bringing into account the style they cook. I am a Bangal, and so I am generally biased towards the Eastern sideJ, ok, at least for the cooking part of it. The richness of spices among the Bangal cuisine is somehow missed in the Ghoti style, which rely on mainly the sweet taste of the curry. While frying and gravies are the main essence of the Eastern style of cooking, boiling, roasting demands the attention from the Ghoti brigade.

All said and heard, there is one particular dish which even many Bangals fear to consume, leave apart the Ghotis – it’s none other than the Shutki, the dry fish curry. This dry fish curry is mainly had by the Bangals who originally hailed from Chittagong, a coastal district of Bangladesh. Many fishes are cleaned and dried in the sun, but the most popular being the Bombay duck or loitta.

Once while browsing through one of the very popular Bengali restaurants in Bangalore, I came over a Shutki preparation, but just below it was a little phrase written in bold and italics – “Not for the weak at heart” – yes of course this very preparation is not for the faint hearted. The pungent smell of the dry fish along with the hot and spicy gravy makes this typical Bengali recipe a class of its own.

Ingredients:

  • 200 gms of Dry Bombay Duck (Shutki)
  • 1 cup potato, peeled and chopped into 1 inch square
  • 1 cup pumpkin, peeled and chopped into 1 inch square
  • ½ cup julienned onion
  • 1 teaspoon turmeric powder
  • 1 teaspoon chilli powder
  • 10 -12 cloves of garlic
  • 1 tablespoon ginger garlic paste
  • 4 tablespoon of mustard oil
  • Salt to taste

Preparation:

  • Roast the dry fish for a minute or two to get rid off the sand
  • Keep the roasted fish in lukewarm water with ½ teaspoon salt for about 15min
  • Cut the fish into 2 inch long pieces, discard the head and tail
  • Heat the mustard oil in a wok
  • Sauté the julienned onions, garlic cloves till the onions turn transparent
  • Throw in the ginger-garlic paste
  • Add the potatoes, pumpkin and fish along with the powdered spices and salt
  • Cook till the vegetables soften
  • Serve hot with warm rice and enjoy this Chittagong specialty

Hot Tips – If you roast the fish for long the flesh will come out of the fish. So, just roast it for a minute or two. Don’t pour hot water to the roasted fish; it will make the pieces gooey.

Further Reading – Bombay Duck Fritters, Chanchchra

This post goes to Sujana’s first blog event “Celebrating Regional Cuisine”

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Free eBook on Bengali Festive Recipes – Saradiya Rannabati

Sharodotsav

What does the word Sharadiya ( or Saradiya) mean to you?

Surely, you would identify with the several connotations of the word beyond its literal meaning (that which comes in the Autumn). Hymns by Birendra Kishore Bhadra on All India Radio, the great homecoming (Bongs flock from all parts of the country/elsewhere to their hometown), the annual shopping frenzy (what are you wearing on Saptami? On Nabami evening?), Sharod publications (Patrika, Bartaman, Anandalok take your pick), the three eyed Ma Durga with her Pangopal, the Kash ful dancing to the tunes of the fluttering breeze, the hair raising yet rhythmic beat of the traditional Dhak, the exquisite Pandals and the teeming millions, the egg-roll stalls (and your diet regime goes for a toss!), Akalbodhan, Khain, Bisarjan

Ladies and Gentlemen, please give a warm welcome to the Carnival of the Year!

Free eBook

This Festive Season, Cook Like a Bong brings to you a collection of 26 traditional and trendy Bengali recipes in a free eBook, titled Saradiya Rannabati 2010. Do what you like, go anywhere you want, eat whatever you can lay your hands on. This Durga Puja, Eat Pray Live. 🙂

Eat Pray Live
Eat Pray Live

What’s on the Menu?

A collection of authentic Bengali recipes including fries, side dishes, main course and sweets and desserts from the BengaliCuisine kitchen and also from five different contributors. Unfold the secrets of the famous Kolkata phuchka. Know how to cook the brilliant looking Basanti pulao. Don’t miss the Chingri Bhapa, Doi Post Ilish or the mouthwatering Misti Doi. End the fare with Anarosher Chutney or Aamer Morobba.

Salivating already? Without wait, pounce on the delicacies. Please enter your name and email id in the box below to subscribe to our blog and we will give you the eBook for free.



Many Thanks to…

Thanks to all our readers, whose repeat visits to the website keep its traffic stats healthy. Kudos to the 2500+ strong community at Cook like a Bong’s Facebook Page – your discussions help everyone appreciate the myriad variations of Bangali Ranna. Special thanks to Jeet Saikia for designing the cover page of this e-book and to all our eBook recipe contributors.

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Lau Khoshar Chhechki

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When I was young I have seen my mom and grandmother cook every bit and pieces of vegetables, starting from the stems of some plants growing in the back yard to the roots of others. Not to miss the peels of few vegetables, the gourd being in the top of the list.

Chhechki, as this preparation is popularly known in Bengal is a boiled down version of stir fries. Chechki is a very authentic Bengali recipe and is made from different vegetables – from radish to beet and carrots and from stems of plantain plants to pumpkin. This chechki  that I prepared a couple of days ago was with gourd peels with a subtle concoction of spices – whole mustard and poppy to titillate your taste buds. Peels for food may sound a bit weird, but a stir fry of juliened gourd peels miraculously tastes like elixir.

Ingredients:

  • 1 medium size potato
  • Peel of 1 gourd
  • 1 teaspoon mustard seeds
  • 2 tablespoon poppy seeds
  • 2/3 chili
  • ½ teaspoon turmeric powder
  • 2 – 3 tablespoon mustard oil or oil of choice
  • 7 – 8 bori (vodi)
  • ½ teaspoon sugar (optional)
  • Salt to taste

Preparation:

  • Julienne the gourd peels and chop the potato in to thin 1” size pieces
  • Heat little oil in a wok and fry the boris till they turn slightly brownish, keep aside
  • Pour in rest of the oil in the wok, throw in the mustard seeds
  • Add the gourd peels and potato as the mustard seeds start spluttering
  • Add salt, turmeric powder and chili. Cook till the vegetables are half done
  • Put in the poppy seeds and cook till the veggies are fully cooked
  • Take out of flame and garnish with the fried bodis
  • Serve hot with warm rice

Hot Tips – Chhechki is mainly served with warm rice as the first side dish during lunch.

Further Reading – Chanchra, Kacha Kalar Kofta

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Guest Post – Prawns with Mustard and Coconut Paste

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We are very happy to publish a mouth watering recipe from our new guest, Pamela Mazumder. Pamela had posted the chingri maach with shorshe naarkel bata recipe at the Cook Like a Bong FaceBook fanpage. We were so happy to find such a wonderful recipe that we decided on publishing this post in our site. Thanks Pamela for sharing this recipe.
We have had couple of other guest posts in our blog. If you are interested in sharing your recipes please do mail us.

Ingredients:

  • Prawns (Chingri Maach): 8-10 large ones (shelled, cleaned properly with the head and tail intact)
  • Coconut scrapped (Narkel kora): 3-4tsp
  • Mustard seeds (Sarse dana): 5-6tbsps
  • Green chilies (Kancha lanka): 8-10
  • Turmeric powder (Halud guro): A pinch
  • Mustard oil (Sarser tel)
  • Salt to taste

Preparation:

  • make a paste of the coconut, mustard seeds and 5green chilies
  • Take the prawns in a bowl and add the paste to it
  • Now pour a generous amount of mustard oil and salt to taste and mix well
  • Transfer the marinated prawns into an oven proof bowl and allow it to cook in a microwave oven for 20-25 mins at 180′ Celsius
  • Serve hot garnished with slit green chilies and with steamed rice.

Hot Tips- It is very important to take out the vein from the back of the prawns, to know how to de-vein the prawns have a look at this video.

Further Reading – Bhapa chingri, Chingrir Malaikari

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Bhat Bhaja (Fried Rice)

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As far as I remember, my mom had always told me, breakfast is the main food of the day; you should have your breakfast like a king. At home, of course that was maintained, but when am away I am always out of ideas to what to have for breakfast. Cornflakes and milk then becomes the best option. I am sure this happens to most of you.

On most weekends I wake up late and my breakfast becomes the luncheon. This was an easy and simple breakfasts come lunch I had on last Saturday, I hope you like it too. I had some rice left from last night and added some colorful vegetables to make it a sumptuous meal.

Preparation time: 7min
Cooking time: 10min

Ingredients:

  • Rice (Bhat): 1 bowl
  • Peas (Mator shuti): ½ cup
  • Sweet corn (Bhutta): ½ cup
  • Cauliflower (Ful kopi): 1 few florets cut into very small pieces
  • Potato (Alu): 1 small, cut into small squares
  • Oil (Tel): 2 tablespoons
  • Cumin seeds (Jeera): ½ tablespoon

Optional –

  • Cashew nut (Kaju badam): 5/ 6
  • Raisins (Kismis): 10 /12

Preparation:

  • Wash all the vegetables well. Heat oil in a wok and throw in the cauliflower and potatoes
  • Fry till they are half cooked and put in the peas and sweet corn, continue till the vegetables are cooked
  • Keep aside the vegetables and pour in just a dollop of ghee to the wok
  • Add the cumin seeds, as the seeds start sputtering, add the vegetables and rice
  • Cook over low flame till the vegetables and rice are mixed well
  • Garnish with cashew and raisins (if using) and serve hot

Hot Tips – If you want to add any other seasonal vegetables then go ahead and use it. The more the colorful the food, the more your kids will love it. While mixing the rice and vegetables together take care so that the rice grains do not break. You can have this with some side dish like Dimer malpua, Chal Diye Alu Dum.

Further readingFried rice in microwave, Jeera Rice

Sending this recipe for Scrumptious Delights From Leftovers hosted by PJ.

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Lotiya Vada (Bombay Duck Fritters)

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Bengalis or Bangali are branded with their love for fish. Be it the Bangals, who crossed the borders from East Pakistan, now Bangladesh and reached India or the Ghotis who actually lived in West Bengal even before the Indian partition in 1947. Bangals and Ghotis will shout in unison for their love for fish. Fish is like a part of the Bangali society, an integral part of the Bengali culture and cuisine, something indispensible. There can’t be a meal completed without the serving of a fish curry or at least a fried fish. But with our generations getting pretty lazy of cooking fish (rather the task of entering the kitchen) or too busy with the other important things in life; having fish has become a run to the nearest restaurants. Great Bong has something to say about this dying trait of Bangali.

Both my parents’ families are Bangal, and that makes me a pure BangalJ, and that is surely reflected in the ways I cook and the food I like. I am an avid lover of “shutki maach” (dried fish). I can barter my tooth and nails for a morsel of shutki maach cooked in dry gravy. When we talk about shutki maach, Bombay duck or loitta or lotiya maach can’t be left behind. This fish with its pungent smell when dried is a winner among all kinds of dried fishes. For those who have not tried having dry fish, I warn you, it’s not for the weak at heart.

Now, don’t get carried away with the dry fish, I’m not writing a recipe for shutki maach, but it’s a recipe for the crispy mouthwatering fritters made with fresh Bombay duck. This very soft and delicate fish looks divinely pinkish white when fresh and you can definitely identify it from other fishes sold because it is scale-less, and never have I seen it alive at the fish stalls (have you?). Though the wiki page on Bombay duck claims it to be a pungent smelling fish, I would rather disagree to it. Loitta even lacks the fishy smell unlike other fishes sold in the markets.

This morning when I put up a small note on the Cook Like a Bong Facebook fan page for the loitta vada post, I never thought that the fish was so popular every where. Within no item there were comments streaming on that little note. There are many ways loitta is cooked in different households, but apparently the lotiya bora being the most popular one. Its better if you get the fish fresh and cleaned from the market for the preparation, but if that is not possible then the canned fishes are always there.

Ingredients:

  • Bombay duck (Loitta/ lotiya): ½ kg, cut  and cleaned
  • Onion (Peyaj): 2 medium size, julienned
  • Green chili (Kancha lanka): 3/ 4, chopped into small pieces
  • Gram flour (Besan): ½ cup
  • Poppy seed (Posto): 2 teaspoon
  • Rice Flour (atta): 1 tablespoon
  • Oil for frying
  • Salt to taste

Preparation:

  • Boil water and steam the fishes till gently tender, transfer in a colander so that all the water gets drained out
  • Mix all the ingredients excepting the oil to a large bowl and make small fritter
  • Fry the fritters in shallow oil till both sides turn brown
  • Drain out the excess oil from the fritters with kitchen paper
  • Serve hot with sauce or with rice and dal

Hot Tips – If the batter seems too gooey then put in a little bit more of rice flour. The fish shouldn’t be over boiled; else the fritters will loose the crispiness.

Further Readings – Dimer Vada (Egg fritters), Macher Dimer Vada (Roe fritters)

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Happy Mother’s Day

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Ma is probably the first word that comes out from every child. Whatever language you speak this word makes you remember just one person, the first lady who brought us into this world. Today is Mother’s Day. In India we never celebrated Mother’s Day (wiki has something else to say, though) before globalization struck, but still its just a day to celebrate and to remember the most loved woman.

Bison mother and child, Gorumara, North Bengal

While searching for some links, came across this Mother’s Day poem, hope you like it:

A Thousand Thanks

Mother’s Day brings to mind

The thousands of things you did for me
that helped make me happier,
stronger and wiser,
because I had you as a role model.
I’m grateful for all the times

you healed my hurts
and calmed my fears,
so that I could face the world
feeling safe and secure.
I’m thankful for all you showed me

about how to love and give–
lessons that now bring
so many blessings to me
each and every day.
Your sacrifices and unselfishness

did not go unnoticed, Mom.
I admire you, I respect you,
I love you.
And I’m so glad you’re my mother!
Happy Mother’s Day!

By Joanna Fuchs

Mom had been my first teacher, my strength, my best critic and I know my secret admirer :). Last but not the least, ma had been the best cooking teacher I could ever get. My ma is the best cook I have ever seen. Though she prefers preparing Bengali dishes, she loves to experiment in the kitchen. Her kitchen is like her laboratory and ma the scientist in there. This blog is also an ode to the various dishes, particularly Bengali recipes that I have learnt from her and this post is a collection of few of her wonderful recipes.

Shukto – The first served food for any lunch in any typical Bengali household. The bitterness of the bitter gourd and the plethora of all the other vegetables is said to have a cooling effect to the body that serves as an appetizer.

Cholar Dal – This typical Bengali lentil preparation is best had with luchis on a lazy Sunday morning

Kachuri – A little deviation from the Bengali puris or luchis, these stuffed puris is an envy for all those who can’t use the rolling pin to make a perfect circle (including me)

Aamer Dal – A must have during the warm summers

Kanch Kalar Kofta – Raw banana always seem to be a bad option for any meal, but if you have this kofta, you’ll ask for more

Lau Chingri – A lovely medley of the vegetable and the most loved fish (Trivia: shrimps are actually insects)

Chanchra – Although most Bengali recipes have an influence from the ruling dynasties in Bengal, this typical Bengali preparation has been left untouched by any invader

Bhapa Chingri – A very easy to prepare mouth watering fish preparation

Patla Ilsiher Jhol – Hilsa is mostly prepared with muatard, but this non-spicy preparation stands its chance to be loved by anyone

Mutton Kasha – a Bengali menu can’t be over without mutton in it

Aamer Morobba – This is one of my most favorite dishes, I love it and have it almost throughout the year

Misti Doi – Sweet yogurt so as translate in English, but misti doi has its own magic spread over its taster’s tongues

Patishapta – This is a sweet dish prepared during the harvest festival

There are numerous other recipes that mom had taught me, and there’s loads more to learn from her. This one is a very short list of my favorite mom-taught recipes.

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Aamer Dal – Bengali Mango Dal Recipe

 

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ও শিব কবে হবে কাল, নিম দিয়ে ছেচকি আম দিয়ে ডাল

Kolkata has started observing the heat waves for this year. The temperature is going way above the 30°C. To beat the heat and keep the body cool having something bitter or sour is best. By definition though summer is a little away but the markets are flooded with raw mangoes. These sour tasting mangoes are a wonderful ingredient for varieties of Bengali recipes. Starting from the simple dal to chatni and even achar green mangoes are a favorite.

Enlightment

Enlightenment

The green mango dal is a must have in most Bengali families during the summer time. Green mango has some very good health benefits too. The raw mango contains more Vitamin C than the half-ripe or ripe mangoes. It also contains a good amount of Vitamin B1 and B2. To know more about the health benefits of raw mangoes have a look at this article “Eating Mango is Really Beneficial for Health”.

So, Beat the Heat with Raw Mango Daal (Bengali Mango Daal, aamer dal, mango dhal):

Preparation time: 10min

Cooking time: 15min
Serves 4

Aamer Dal - Bengali Mango Daal

Aamer Dal - Bengali Mango Daal

Ingredients:

  • Red Lentil (Masur dal): ½ cup
  • Split Husked Mung Bean (Mung/Moog dal): ½ cup
  • Raw Mango (Kancha aam): 1
  • Turmeric powder (Halud guro): ½ teaspoon
  • Mustard seeds (Sarse dana): 1 tablespoon
  • Mustard oil (Sarser tel): 2 tablespoon
  • Salt to taste

Preparation:

  • Mix the two lentils together and boil with 2 cups of water and salt
  • As the lentils get half cooked add the mango pieces and cook till the lentils are fully cooked
  • Add the turmeric powder and with a wired balloon whisk stir the cooked lentils once or twice
  • Heat the oil in a wok, throw in the mustard seeds and dried chilies
  • As the mustard seeds starts popping pour in the lentils and cook for a minute or two
  • Serve hot with rice for lunch

Further Reading: Chholar Daal, Dal Shukno, Masur Dal – Musurir Daal, Roadside Tadka

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