Shukto

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There is a saying “Bhojon Rashik Bangali” (“food loving Bengali”). I won’t say it’s absolutely a myth. Bengalis are really fond of eating and feeding others. A usual Bengali lunch starts with a shukto, dal, fries or fritters, a vegetarian curry, and then the non-vegetarian item, most likely to be fish if not a egg, chicken or mutton curry, and ending with a chutney. And of course there are a few guests at home, then there is always a chance to feast on some sweets at the end of the meal. So, it is always a heavy meal in a Bengali household whether you like it or don’t like it. Talking about lunches, there has to be a shukto to start with. Shukto is a typical Bengali dish with minimal spices and all the vegetables that you can find in the kitchen, the refrigerator, or for that matter anywhere in and around the house. But, a statutory warning here, tomatoes, cauliflower, cabbages are not allowed to be a part of this bitter sweet preparation.

Shukto is of various types, depending on the type of spices used or even at times the absence or presence of some particular vegetables. But, in general it is a bitter in taste because of the bitter gourd, which is the most important ingredient of this preparation. Among all the types of shukto the most popular one is the dudh shukto, here milk is used to temper the taste of the whole preparation.

Shukto

My mom is an avid lover of shukto, first because she can use all the vegetables in her stock and secondly because she gets an alibi to feed us bitter gourd. She prepares shukto in different style, and this one is one of her own creations. There another very interesting part about having shukto, it is never served for dinner, but is only had at lunch time. While writing this post, I called up my mom, my aunts and even my father, but they all had the same statement, “shukto raat e khete nei” (You should not have shukto at night), but nobody actually knew why not to have it at night. Baba (my father) tried to solve the mystery saying that with so many vegetables its quite a heavy preparation and so one should avoid having it at night. He also added that may be its because of that bitter gourd, which may create some digestive trouble if had at night. Truly speaking, I am not satisfied with his solution. I would love to hear from any of you if you have any suggestions or solutions to this.

Serves: 4
Preparation time: 20min
Cooking time: 15 -20min

Ingredients:

Aubergine (Begun): 1 medium

French Beans (Bean): 5 -6

Bitter gourd (Karola): 2 medium sized

Pumpkin (Kumro): 100gm

Potato (Alu): 2 medium sized

Ridge gourd (Jhinge): 1

Mustard seed (Sarse): 1 tablespoon

Drumsticks (Sajner data): 2, cut into one inch lengths

Raw rice (Atop chal): 2 tablespoon, coarsely made into paste

Turmeric powder (Halud guro): ½ teaspoon

Ginger paste (Ada bata) 1teaspoon

Mustard paste (Sarse bata): 2 tablespoon

Mustard oil (Sarser tel): 4 tablespoon

Preparation:

  • Dice the vegetables into even size pieces.
  • Heat 3 tablespoon of oil in a wok, throw in the mustard seeds and grinded rice
  • Add all the vegetables as the mustard seeds start popping
  • Mix the oil well with the vegetables and let it cook in low flame under cover
  • Take out the cover when the vegetables are half done, pour in little water (about half cup), ginger and mustard paste, turmeric powder; mix well
  • Cook for about 5 min or till the vegetables are well cooked
  • Pour in the rest of the mustard oil and take out of flame
  • Shukto tastes best with warm white rice

Shukto

Hot Tips – You can add squash or green papaya to this, it enhances the taste. Bodi also tastes good with shukto, so you can just fry some and garnish shukto with the bori.

Further Reading – Dudh shukto, Shukto with bori

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Luchi

Welcoming the Goddess

The Hindu calendar follows the lunar phases and so it’s a little different from our well known English calendar from January to December. As the Gregorian and the Hindu calendars do not tally the timing of Durga Puja also shifts yearly from Late September to late October. This time the Puja starts on 24th September; the day being Shasthi, welcoming the goddess to earth.

Shasthir ghaut

My grand mother used to tell me different stories of the goddess. One such was the welcoming of the goddess. According to the Hindu mythology, Devi Durga is the daughter of the King of Himalayas. Every year on the Shasthi of the Bengali month of Ashwin, she comes down from Kailash, the abode of her husband, Lord Shiva to earth. She stays here for the next four days and goes back to Kailash. The goddess doesn’t come alone; she comes along with her four children, two daughters and two sons, Lakshmi, Saraswati, Ganesh and Karthik.

The Celebration

While listening to these stories, as a kid I used to become spell bound and dreamt about how the goddess with her four children would come down to earth. Years have passed, and there is nobody to tell me stories nowJ. But the feeling of happiness, the planning to go pandal hopping, meeting friends, and above all buying new clothes and eating out – make this time the best month of the year.

From today the ninth day is Shasthi. Kolkata is getting decked up with the minute decorations of this grand festival. The clay idols of the goddess are almost ready except for the last coat of paint. At Cook Like a Bong we decided on celebrating this festival with an event and publishing our first eBook on Shasthi this year. Also, I’ll be posting about the different recipes that you can try out during the four days of celebration; starting today.

Shasthir Dala

Bongs love for luchi

A breakfast with some luchi, alu dum and sandesh will make the day for any Bong. Bengalis cannot get enough of these fluffy fried phulkas. Luchi, luuchi, lucchi, poori, puri, phulka – whatever one can call them, but to any Bong it’s an essence of pure ecstasy. The taste and smell of luchi enhances if fried in ghee. So, while frying the rolled out luchi, you can add half the volume of ghee with sunflower oil. Will tell you the recipe for this curry in my later post.

Luchi Tarkari

Preparation time: 1 hour
Cooking time: 30min
Makes 20 luchis

Ingredients:

All purpose flour (Maida): 2 cups

Carom seeds (Jowan/Ajwain): 1teaspoon

Sunflower oil (Sada tel): For deep frying

Salt: ½ teaspoon

Water: 1 ½ cup

Preparation:

  • Take the flour in a big bowl, carom seeds, salt and 2 tablespoon of oil
  • Mix the ingredients well to form a sandy mixture
  • Pour in half the water and knead the dough to almost dry
  • Then again pour the other half of water and knead well
  • If you feel the dough is not sticking to your palm, then its ready
  • Keep the dough for about 40mins covered with a wet muslin cloth
  • Divide the dough into 20 small balls, dip half the balls in oil for lubrication and roll the balls to 4-5 inch diameter circles
  • Heat oil for frying in a deep wok till smoking hot
  • Reduce the flame and slide in the rolled out poori
  • Press the luchi, while frying with the back of a slotted spatula, this helps in making the luchis fluffy
  • Take out of flame and place in a colander to let the luchis drain out the excess oil
  • Serve with any thick gravy curry (veg or non-veg)

Luchi

Hot Tips: Don’t drop the rolled out pooris into the heated oil, oil may splash out. Luchi even tastes good with granulated sugar or payesh, try it. You can use atta instead of maida but that makes the luchi look darker on color. You can even leave out the carom seeds while preparing luchi.

Further Readings: Bong Mom’s Luchi Preparation, Wiki Puri

Let us know your likings and memories of luchis or pooris, and don’t forget to send in your entries to the blog event ending 22nd September.

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Rasogollar Payesh

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“Bengalis are too much fond of sweets, it’s their national weakness”

– Anonymous

Bangalir Khawadawa

After coming back to Kolkata, I bought this book on Bengali cuisine by Shankar; the book is in Bengali and titled “Bangalir Khawadawa” (aka, Food and Feasting of Bengalis). The book has a great deal of information of various dishes, sweets, chops, and restaurants in Kolkata. The book discusses culinary skills in Bengalis of yore in great detail. But the only thing that I missed in the book was a special section on rasgulla. Which is kind of disappointing since rasgulla (or rasogolla, rashogolla) is the most widely consumed sweet among Bengalis. Well, this post isn’t a book review (it would be a later post). Let’s talk about Rasogollar Payesh.

Rasogollar Payesh

Rasogolla in Bengal

Rasgulla was invented by the sweet makers (or moira in Bengali) of Puri, the famous temple town in Orissa. In the mid 19th century Oriya cooks were hired at the rich Bengali households and with them arrived the coveted recipe of rasogolla. In 1868, a Bong sweet maker, Nabin Chandra Das refined the sweet delicacy to have a better shelf life. That was the birth of sponge rasgulla.

All I am saying this is because I got very excited with the book, and also a couple of days back I prepared a derivate of this ecstatic rasogolla and named it rasgollar payesh or rasgulla pudding or you can even call it ras malai with a slight twist. This is such a simple recipe that you can even prepare when your guests are knocking at the door. I had bought a can of rasgulla and just thought of experimenting with those sweet cheesy balls. The preparation was an instant hit and those who had the dish couldn’t stop licking their fingers (well not literally. They used spoons you see. But you get the drift. (Bhavnaon ko Samjho).

Cooking time: 30mins

Makes 16 rasgulla

Ingredients:

Rasgulla (Rasogolla): 1kg can contains 16 (How to make Rasogolla – video)

Whole cream milk (Dudh): 1 ½ ltr

Rasgulla syrup (Rash / Raus): 1 cup, pour in more if you want it very sweet

Custard powder: 2 tablespoon

Raisin (Kismis / Kishmish): 20-25

Preparation:

  • Keep aside half cup of milk and pour in the rest of milk in a thick bottom pan and simmer till the volume reduces to three-fourth
  • Take the custard powder in a small bowl and gradually add the milk that was kept aside to make a smooth batter
  • Pour the custard mix into the simmering milk with constant stirring to avoid lump formation
  • Add one cup of the syrup from the can, I used little less than that as we don’t like too much sweet in desserts
  • Simmer again for about 5 min with constant stirring
  • Now, drop in the rasgullas one after another and take out of flame
  • Garnish with raisins
  • You can keep it in the freezer for sometime or serve it just like that

Rasogollar Payesh

Hot Tips – You can leave out the custard powder. In that case it’s better to simmer the milk for sometime more so that the volume reduces to half the original, and add ½ teaspoon of cardamon powder or one teaspoon of vanilla essence.

Further Readings – Wiki link Rasgulla, How to make Rasogolla – video

Sending this recipe to FIL: Milk hosted by Sanghi of Sanghi’s Food Delights and also to Barbara for supporting a nobel cuase with her event “LiveSTRONG With A Taste Of Yellow 2009“.

FIL Milk small

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Chanchra

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Bengali cuisine has evolved since its birth. There were many invasions from foreigners like the Muslims, the British. Different styles and recipes got incorporated into the Bengali culinary chart. But, there are still some that have not evolved much and Chanchra (or Chancharika, that’s what the other name for this dish is as mentioned in “Bangalir Khawadawa” by Shankar) being listed at the top of this list. I can tell this because I have seen my grand mother cook the same way my mom or even I cook the dish. My granny used to say that she learnt this recipe from her mother, so you see there has been almost four generations where chanchra has remained what it was, and I don’t think it’s going to change any soon.

Chechra

So, what is chanchra? When I thought of writing about this recipe, I was thinking how to spell it in English. Anyways I decided on this spelling. Chanchra (or may be Chenchra). This authentic Bengali recipe can be very lucidly described as a curry made of one or different types of herbs put together along with vegetables (mainly potatoes and pumpkin) and fish head. I am not sure how this curry came into existence, but it was most probably due to the habit of Bengalis not to leave out any part of anything that is edible. Mostly people don’t prefer to have a full fish head during meal, so the fish head is fried and broken into smaller pieces and mixed with other vegetables to prepare succulent and yummy preparation to serve mainly during lunch time. This typical Bengali recipe is  an all time favorite among Bengalis and those individuals who like having Bengali food.

Chanchra is an inevitable side dish for any feast. If you visit a marriage ceremony at lunch (Bengali marriages are held at evening, the day time is only for people close to the family), you just can’t get away without tasting this recipe. Chanchra with warm rice is a delicacy. It is prepared mainly with climbing spinach or pui saag in Bengali, along with potatoes, aubergine and pumpkin to increase the volume of the prepared item. There is a vegetarian version of this which though not widely cooked but exists. Different types of lentils are used along with the vegetables and herb (the detailed recipe will post later). The use of the climbing spinach (also called Malabar spinach or Malabar nightshade) and the fish head gives the distinct smell and taste of this particular dish. Though this dish is a little tricky to prepare, and doesn’t look much appealing too, but the taste of it is what counts.

Other names of this herb is Pui shakh or Puin shaak in Bengali, Poi saag in Hindi, Pasalai keerai in Tamil, Bachhala kura in Telugu, Balasale soppu in Kannada.

Preparation time: 20mins

Cooking time: 30mins

Serves: 4

Ingredients:

  • Malabar spinach (Pui shakh): 2 feet long stem with leaves
  • Pumpkin (Kumro): 100gms, cut into medium size dices
  • Potato (Alu): 2, cut into medium size dices
  • Fish head (Macher Matha): 1
  • Panch Phoron: 1 teaspoon
  • Onion (Peyaj): 1 medium size, cut thinly
  • Garlic paste (Rasun bata): 1 teaspoon
  • Chili powder (Sukhno Lankar guro): 1 teaspoon
  • Turmeric powder (Halud guro): ½ teaspoon
  • Cumin seeds (Jeera): 1 teaspoon
  • Mustard Oil (Sarser tel): 6 tablespoon
  • Salt to taste

Preparation:

  • Chop off the leaves from the Malabar spinach stem, chop the leaves into halves, and cut the stems into 2 inch long sizes and slit longitudinally
  • Heat 3 tablespoons of oil in a wok and fry the fish head, smash it into pieces, keep aside
  • Heat the rest of the oil and pour in the panch phoron and onions, sauté till the onions become light brown.
  • Add the vegetables and garlic paste, chili powder and cumin, toss for 5 mins
  • Add half-cup of water and cook until the vegetables are half cooked
  • Put in the leaves and stems of the Malabar spinach and cook till the leaves are soft
  • Add the fried fish head and cook for 5 more mins, and take out of flame

Chechra (1)

Hot Tips – Keep the leaves and stems under running water for sometimes, to get rid of any dust particles and fertilizers sprayed to the plants.

Further Readings – Malabar Spinach, Pui with poppy

Sending this recipe to Indrani of Appyayan for hosting the first event on her blog, Spotlight: Fish. Along with this I am also sending Bhapa Chingri and Macher Dimer Vada to the same event.

Fish-logo

Also sending this recipe to A Food Lover’s Journey hosting this week’s Weekend Herb Blogging, originally created by Kalyn and it is now in the care of Haalo.

WHB3

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Bhat Dal and Bhaja – a no frills bong meal

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“Lentils are friendly—the Miss Congeniality of the bean world.”
Laurie Colwin

What’s the staple food in West Bengal? Any guesses? If you answered fish, you’re suffering from a common misconception (another link). Fish is the most loved dish. But Bhaat (i.e. steamed rice, boiled rice or ubla chawal) is something that Bongs drool over. The Bengal region includes the largest delta (Ganga Brahmaputra delta) in the world and the loamy soil of this delta has favored the cultivation on rice. So, boiled rice has become the staple food, and the main source of carbohydrate among the people of this region. Useful Tip: Don’t ask a Bengali “did you have lunch?” Ask “Bhaat kheycho?”(“Did you have rice?”). The Bong guy will suddenly feel connected to you. Bangalir Bhaat ghum is proverbial – a Bengali usually dozes off post lunch, location notwithstanding.

Masur dal with radhuni

Rice is usually accompanied with some lentils and any kind of fry, potato, aubergine (brinjal, baingan, baigan), or any other vegetable. A platter of bhaat, dal and bhaaja (rice, lentils and fries) is one of the leanest, and thus, cheapest meal.

Lentil is prepared in several ways. The most preferred one is masur dal (also, musur dal, masoor dal, musuri dal, red lentil). Predictably, the spices used vary with the style of cooking musuri dal. My last two posts were on desserts (give links), thought of writing a simple and lean platter for today’s post. As they say in Bangalore, Enjoy Madi!

Serves: 2

Cooking time: 20 + 10min

Preparation time: 5+5min

Ingredients:

For dal-

Red Lentil (Masur dal): ½ cup

Wild celery (Radhuni): ½ teaspoon

Mustard oil (Sarser tel): 1 tablespoon

Water (Jal): 1 ½ cup

Turmeric powder (Halud guro): ½ teaspoon

Salt to taste

For fries-

Pointed gourd (Patol/Potol): 4-6

Turmeric powder (Halud guro): 1 teaspoon

Sunflower oil (Sada tel) for frying

Salt to taste

Preparation:

For dal-

  • Wash the lentil well, put it in a deep boiling pan along with water and half teaspoon of salt and cook for about 10-15 min or till the lentil is fully cooked, add water if necessary
  • Heat the oil in a wok and add the wild celery to it
  • As the celery starts popping pour in the cooked lentil and add turmeric powder, stir to mix well
  • Simmer for about 2-3mins and take out of flame

For fries-

  • Peel off the pointed gourd and  make two inch long slits on both ends, alternatively you can also cut the pointed gourd longitudinally into two halves
  • Mix the gourd turmeric powder and salt to it
  • Heat oil in a frying pan and fry the pointed gourd till soft in low flame
  • Serve hot with warm rice and daal

Bhaat Dal Patol Bhaja

Hot Tips – While cooking the dal, you can also do it in a pressure cooker, allow two whistles before you take it out of flame.

Further Reading: Vegetarian Bengali recipes, some posts on a Bengali forum, Masur dal recipes,

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Mishti Doi

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“De doi, de doi paate| ore beta haari haate||”

The above quote is from a poem I read long time back, but can’t exactly remember the poet now. It says, give me the sweet yogurt the one who carries the pot with him.

Mishti Doi

A few days back when I saw Dolon write about Mishti doi on her blog, the sweet greedy Bong awoke within me. Mishti doi reminds me, and probably all Bengalis an earthen pot filled with a brownish mass of sweet curd. Misti doi is an inseparable part of all festivals in Bengal- be that a tika (a dot on the forehead) for Bhai phota (festival to mark the well being of brother), or the charanamitro (offering made to God during worship), or just a dessert to end the meal for a feast.  While we were searching for links on Mishti doi, K found an interesting one. I never knew this; SJ prepared it in an oven. That is really a nice and quick way to prepare misti doi, I believe. The post even wrote about the mention of curds in Vedas as the “Food of God”, and probably that explains why it’s offered during all rituals.

I have tried out mishti dahi in Bangalore too, but here it’s sold in plastic containers. The smell of the wet earthen pot holding the misti doi gives the actual feel of this dessert. So, when I came back to Kolkata yesterday I just couldn’t wait to devour some misti doi. Earthen pots are easily available here, and mom had some handy in her kitchen, so that was not a problem at all. While the color of the yogurt helps all to remind them of this dessert, there are some sweet shops in Kolkata too where mishti dahi looks white similar to the set sour curd.

Mishti doi though a very popular dessert throughout Bengal, it is rarely prepared at home. This may probably because it’s readily available in the market (sweet shops in Bengal are more frequent than light posts on the streets) and also preparing it takes a long time almost over night and even more. So a time taking recipe, but still is worth all the labor. Here, it is all for you to grab.

Cooking time: 35min
Preparation time: 5min
Incubation: Overnight (10-11hr)
Makes half-litre of yogurt

Ingredients:

  • Full Cream Milk (Dudh): 1ltr
  • Sugar (Chini): 8 tablespoon
  • Yogurt (Dahi): 1 tablespoon
  • 1 Earthen pot (optional)

Preparation:

  • Pour the milk in a thick bottom vessel and start heating over low flame
  • As it starts boiling add 4 tablespoons of sugar and keep on simmering till the volume is reduced to little less than half
  • Take the remaining sugar with 2 tablespoons of water and heat till the sugar melts and attains a golden brown color
  • Gradually add the molten sugar over the milk and boil for another 15 minutes over low flame
  • Take out of flame and let it become lukewarm
  • Pour the milk over the earthen pot and add the yogurt
  • Keep the pot in a cool dry place, and let the yogurt set over night
  • Refrigerate the set dahi and serve as a dessert

Mishti Doi

Hot tips – Instead of using yogurt to set the dahi, freeze-dried bacteria can also be used for the same purpose.

Further readings – Bengali sweetsYogurt in ten steps, List of misti doi

Linda is celebrating the World Breast Feeding Week on her blog with the event Got Milk?. Mishti doi is on way to the event.

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Patishapta

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“There is only one difference between a long life and a good dinner: that, in the dinner, the sweets come last.”

– R.L. Stevenson

I discovered a jar of rice flour a couple of days back. I don’t remember since how long it had been there in  my kitchen, but the flour looked good, and the texture was also perfect. So, I thought of preparing some patishapta to have a sweet tooth feast. Patishapta reminds me of those Poush Sankranti days at my grandparents house. There would be a feast for three days and my Dida (my mom’s mom) would prepare those patishapta sitting near the brick stove (she preferred the brick stove over the gas oven) all day long. I have never seen such perfect patishapta after her. Those more so soft and moist and the colour was a perfect tinge of very very light brown. It was almost like a ritual for all the kids at home to steal some of those hot patishapta.

patishapta1

Before going to the recipe details, just a little note about patishapta. Patishapta is the most popular among all pitha (also, pithe) prepared during Sankranti (Sankranthi, in South India). In simple words, patishapta is actually a rice flour crepe with coconut and jaggery fillings. The softness of the crepe and the sweet filling inside makes it the best pitha and most commonly prepared pitha. Though cakes, pastries and various other sweets are in vogue in almost every household, but I would say those who have at least tasted patishapta ones will never say no to it.

Preparation time: 10min

Cooking time: 25mins

Makes 10 patishapta

Ingredients:

For the filling-

  • Grated Coconut (Narkel Kora): 3cups
  • Jaggery (Gur): 1cup
  • Cardamom powder (Elaich): 1/4 teaspoon

For the crepes-

  • Wheat flour (Maida): 1cup
  • Seomlina (Suji): 1/2 cup
  • Rice flour (Chal guro): 1/2cup
  • Milk (Dudh): 1cup
  • Sunflower oil for frying

Preparation:

For the filling-

  • In a wok heat the jaggery, as it start melting add the coconut
  • Put in the cardamom powder and stir till the coconut mixes well with the jaggery
  • Cook till the coconut feels sticky
  • Take out of flame and keep aside

For the crepes-

  • Add all dry ingredients together and mix well
  • Pour the milk with constant stirring to avoid lump formation, the batter should be smooth and freely flowing (add excess milk if required)
  • Heat a frying pan (preferably non-stick) and pour in 1 tablespoon on oil, spread it with a kitchen paper
  • Take a small bowl of batter and spread it evenly on the pan to make a round shape, do it quick before the batter sets
  • Place the filling lengthwise at the center of the crepe
  • Fold the crepe from both sides and wait till it turns light brown
Patishapta

Patishapta

Hot tips – If you don’t have a non-stick pan, don’t worry. Cut the upper part of an egg plant, keeping the stalk intact and spread the oil over the pan using it instead of a  kitchen paper.

Further Reading – Poush Parboner PatishaptaPitheHarvest foodFood During Sankranti

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July Roundup at BengaliCuisine

July had been pretty active here at BengaliCuisine. Here’s a quick round-up of the posts last month at the blog.

Bengali recipes in July 2009

Bengali recipes in July 2009

A fresh start

New home: Though Bengalis (bongs, as say some) claim to be Khaddo Roshik (food connoisseur) and there are fairly good number of published Bengali food writers, there aren’t too many Bengali food voices active online. Notable exceptions being popular Bengali food recipe sites by Sutapa and Sandeepa [coming soon: complete list of Bengali food blogs]. After a year of blogging at wordpress, Sudeshna thought of giving the blog a Pro look – own domain, hosting, custom plugins, nicer pictures etc. This is where Kalyan pitched in.

We (Sudeshna and Kalyan) got our domain name and hosted it on godaddy, installed Arthemia theme and plethora of useful plugins. Doing these entailed a steep learning curve, and predictably, lots of pangs at each step. We’re sure you would have faced similar trouble due to useless information overload. We just wish there were some good Tech How to guides for food blogs. Alas, we couldn’t find many. We promise a detailed series of posts on the tech aspects of the blog to help out bloggers struggling with tech.

8 Recipes Bengalis like

Breakfast with Egg Series: 6 quick breakfast recipes with eggs. Each post starts with a quotation on egg, gives some trivia about the dish, discusses the recipe, shows the dish pictures and links to some interesting posts on the subject by other bloggers. Here you go:

  1. Mughlai Paratha
  2. French Toast
  3. Scrambled Eggs
  4. Banana Pancake
  5. Boiled Egg Sandwich
  6. Egg Roll

Bhapa Chingri: An easy, but stylish, fish recipe. Stylish, because it delivers best taste when cooked in a Double Boiler. Technically, Chingri (Prawn) isn’t a fish [it is an insect], yet it is called Chingri (Chingdi) Machh.

Phuchka: The runway winner in the StreetFood category, phuchka (pani puri, golgappa) can be prepared at home in 20 min. Read the post to learn how.

Events participated

The recipes here also participated in some food events. Here’s the quick list:

  1. Broken Egg photo for Jugalbandi’s monthly Click contest, July theme being Bicolor
  2. Breakfast with Egg series posts to NTTC#5 event hosted by Sneh of Gel’s Kitchen
  3. Scrambled Eggs to Weekend Herb Blogging, hosted by Lynne of Cafe Lynnlu
  4. Banana Pancake to event Heart of the Matter hosted by Michelle, this month’s theme being Budget-Friendly Foods
  5. Boiled Egg Sandwich to Divya’s yummy event on “Show me your sandwich
  6. Phuchka to the “Family Recipe” event at The Life and Loves of Grumpy Honey Bunch co-hosted by Laura of The Spiced Life
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Prepare Phuchka (Golgappa) at home

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“When people wore hats and gloves, nobody would dream of eating on the street. Then white gloves went out of style and, suddenly, eating just about anything in the street became OK.”

–          Jane Addison, quoted in the Great Food Almanac by Irena Chalmers

Street food in Kolkata epitomizes the pada (neighborhood) culture. Having something at the nearest roadside vendor is not only about eating and fulfilling ones gastronomic urges, but it is also a means of having food with family, friends and sometimes even strangers. Street foods that are in vogue are phuchka, jhal muri, papri chat, muri makha, vegetable chop, and beguni, but phuchka ranks above all. Someone from South Calcutta won’t find it a pain to travel all the way to Bowbazar (for the uninitiated in Calcutta’s geography, Bowbazar is almost an hour drive from South Calcutta) just to confront his friends that the phuchka wala at his pada is better than theirs.

Now, by “street food”, I don’t mean what one can get in the big or even the small restaurants, roadside food is that what you get from the makeshift stalls on the foot path of whole of Bengal. There are also other names for it in the different states of India. Some call it Pani Puri, some golgappa. But if you ask any Calcuttan he/she will say phuchka is definitely different from golgappa or panipuri. The difference may be obscure, probably it’s only the colloquial term that varies, but there is a little difference in one of the ingredients that significantly differentiates phuchka from all its synonyms. The vendors in Bengal use gandhoraj lebu (a typical lemon produced in suburbs of Bengal) to flavor the filling and the tamarind water of phuchka. And this is where all the difference is.

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Kolkata street food is such a rage, that there are places in different part of India and even abroad holding “Calcutta street food festival”. When I started having phuchka, as far as I remember it was 5 for a rupee and the last time I had it back in Kolkata I got three for two rupees. Though here in Bangalore there are places where you get pani puri that almost tastes like those back in Kolkata, but are highly priced. Talking about phuchka, I can’t leave the phuckhwalas, people who sell the phuchka. They are mostly from Bihar/Jharkhand, and you just can’t beat them with their style of the phuchka preparation.

Cooking time: 8-10min

Preparation time: 12min

Makes 20 phuchka

Ingredients:

  • Phuchka balls: 20
  • Potato(Alu): 2 large
  • Whole Bengal gram (Chola): 2 tablespoon, soaked
  • Green chili (Kacha Lanka): 4, chopped finely
  • Cumin (Jeera): 1 teaspoon, roasted and then grinded
  • Lemon juice (Pati lebu ras): 1 teaspoon
  • Cilantro (Dhane pata): Chopped to 2 tablespoon
  • Tamarind pulp (Tetul): 4 tablespoon
  • Salt to taste

Preparation:

  • Boil the potatoes with the skin on, peel off after boiling and mash properly so that no lumps remain
  • Add soaked bengal gram green chili, cumin powder, lemon juice, one tablespoon of cilantro to the mashed potato and mix well
  • Take the tamarind pulp in a big bowl and add 2 cups of water to it with salt and the rest of the cilantro, mix well
  • Add 2 tablespoon of the tamarind water to the mashed potatoes and keep the rest aside
  • Break just the upper part of one phuchka ball and put in one teaspoon of the filling, fill the other balls also similarly
  • Serve with the rest of the tamarind water
Phuchka with tamarind water

Phuchka with tamarind water

Hot Tips – Though not the basic component, you may also like to add some chopped onions to the filling to make it spicier.

Further Reading – Rasta Nasta, Sasta way, Crazy Street Food of Kolkata

Phuchka is the ideal recipe to send for the “Family Recipe” event at The Life and Loves of Grumpy Honey Bunch co-hosted by Laura of The Spiced Life.

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Bhapa Chingri

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Doc: You shouldn’t eat Fish, it’ll cause you acidity.

Bong Patient: No problem S(a)ir, I’ll take an antacid afterwards

–          A joke on a typical Bong’s love for fish

Well, you can’t keep off a Bengali from fish for too long, can you? After the series on Breakfast with Egg, it time to go back to Fish. Chingri Bhaape is on the platter today.

Grinding of the spices to a paste just before preparing the dish is a typical of the Bengali recipes. We prefer the freshly prepared spices more than the preserved dry spice powder. Even while preparing Chingri Bhaape, I used a paste of mustard seeds (aka shorshe, sorshe, sarshe).

Chingri Bhape with steamed rice

Chingri Bhape with steamed rice

Chingri Bhaape is an authentic Bangali recipe, and had been prepared in every household since ages. It is enjoyed best with warm white rice. The pungent taste of mustard paste makes the sarshe chingri bhaapa even more appealing. Hilsa is also used similarly to prepare ilish bhapa.

Preparation time: 10 mins

Cooking time: 5 – 8mins

Serves: 4

Ingredients:

  • Tiger Prawns (Chingri Maach): ½ kg, cleaned and deveined
  • Mustard seed (Sarse): 5 tablespoons, ground with 1 tablespoon water to make a paste
  • Turmeric powder (Halud guro): ½ teaspoon
  • Mustard oil (Sarser tel): 3 tablespoon
  • Green chili (Kacha Lanka):  5 – 6
  • Salt to taste

Preparation:

  • In a heat proof bowl, that has a lid (better to use a steel tiffin box) put all the ingredients together  and mix well
  • Close the lid and put it in a double boiler (bain marie) to cook for 5 minutes, check if the prawns have become tender, else cook for sometime more till the prawns are tender
  • Take it out and serve with warm rice

Hot Tips – Cut the back of the prawn with a knife and take out the dorsal vein completely. It is the main cause of food poisoning due to prawns.

Alternative cooking – Along with the above ingredients mentioned you can also put in two tablespoons of freshly desiccated coconut. You can also cook it in a pressure cooker. Lace the steel box inside a pressure cooker and fill it with one-inch of water and wait till the first whistle.

Bhapa Chingri

Bhapa Chingri

Double boiler-If you don’t own a double boiler, here’s a workaround. Just place the box in a deep pan and fill the pan with water upto a little below the lid of the box.

Further Readings-Shorshe Chingri Bhapa, Chingrir Malaikari

Sending this recipe to Indrani of Appyayan for hosting the first event on her blog, Spotlight: Fish.

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Welcome to Our New Site

Welcome to our new website. This website is about: the love for Bengali food. Learning how to cook Bengali dishes with the age old spices. Here, you will find everything about Bengali cuisine and how to be a master in the art.

Inviting smiles

Inviting smiles

Why a blog on Bengali cuisine?

One Answer – because we had a hard time finding a real good food blog focused on Bengali recipes and Sudeshna churned out regular Bengali recipes at her blog (which clocks > 7500 pageviews a month), so this attempt.

Another Answer – 230 million (source Wikipedia) Bongs are spread over India, Bangladesh, US, UK etc. Over decades, Bengali food (both sweets and dishes) have earned reputation in India and elsewhere, yet renowned voices of Bengali food in English are too few (Rinki BhattacharyaSutapa). Of late, however, there has been sudden growth of Restaurants serving Bengali food. Bangalore has 10+ quality Bengali restaurants now.

There are millions of Bengalis spread around the globe, who just want to taste mom’s alu posto or the chatni at the end of the afternoon meal. But most of us are not aware of the right ingredients or when to use them. This blog will help you through the preparations and so that your kitchen can also smell of the one back home. We dedicate this blog to all those who love aroma and taste of Bengali food.

What more? Our blog will also have some recipes from the other cuisines from India and other parts of the world.This blog aims to become one stop shop to master the art of bengali cuisine. There are at present 80 different recipes to choose from, which we had imported from our previous wordpres.com blog. Pick one, cook (or ask your cook to cook) and let us know how it fared.

If your taste buds are yet to encounter Bengali dishes, there is a lot for you to benefit from here. If you are a seasoned cook, I would appreciate if you could give your valuable comments on the posts. So sit back and enjoy the delicious recipes from all over Bengal.

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Fried Rice in Microwave Oven

Today I thought of helping some people. The first thing that came to mind is those of my friends who are away from home in a completely different country and continent. Many of my friends are away for an onsite job to USA, UK and Australia. Many of them never ever have entered the kitchen, and then are in an absolute soup staying away from home and cooking their daily dinner. The fried rice I prepared is a very simple one. To make the task simpler I prepared it in the microwave oven.

Ingredients:

Rice (Chal): 1 bowl, 100gm

French Beans: 3 – 4

Carrots (Gajor): 2 small sizes

Cauliflower (Ful kopi): 2 -3 florets

Peas (Mator shuti): 1 tablespoon

Sugar (Chini): ½ teaspoon

Cashew nuts (Kaju badam): 5 – 6

Raisins (Kismis): 10 -12

Sunflower oil (Sada tel): 1 tablespoon

Cinnamon (Dar chini): 1 one inch size

Cardamon (Choto elaichi): 2

Salt to taste

Preparation:

  • Wash the rice well keep aside for the water to drain out
  • Cut all the vegetables into one centimeter sizes
  • Break the cashew nuts longitudinally into halves
  • Soak the raisins for 10 mins
  • In a microwave safe deep vessel pour the oil, the cut vegetables and salt. Put it in the microwave oven and cook on microwave high (800 watts) for 6 to 7 mins
  • Take the fried vegetables out and keep aside
  • In another microwave safe bowl pour the rice and add 2 bowls of water, the rice to water ratio should be 1:2. Cook the rice uncovered for 10-12 mins on microwave high (800 watts)
  • Add the vegetables to the cooked rice along with the sugar and mix well
  • Cook on microwave high for 2 mins. Fried rice is ready to serve

Microwave Fried Rice

Cooking fried rice in the microwave is a very simple task, so cook it and enjoy your dinner. Check out for more updates on this blog, till then Happy Cooking and Happy Eating.

Sending the recipe to Single Serving Recipe hosted by Spicy Rasam.

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Banana fritter with chocolate

In Bangalore you’ll see lots and lots of banana stalls. I think it’s in whole of South India that you find so many varieties of bananas everywhere. Just today one of my friends who came back from Kerala said that out of the 22 species of banana that are found in India 21 of them grow in Kerala. That is something note worthy. Having bananas everyday has made me repulsive towards this fruits so thought of a little variation.

Serves 2

Ingredients:

Bananas (Kala): 4

Honey (Madhu): 2 tablespoon

Chocolate cubes: 3 or 4

Sunflower Oil (Sada tel): 1 teaspoon

Preparation:

  • Heat oil in a flat pan or tawa
  • Slice the bananas longitudinally into halves, gently place the half cut bananas on the tawa and fry till it changes color
  • Place them on a serving plate and pour in the honey
  • Grate the chocolate cubes with a cheese grater and serve immediately or chilled

banana fritter with chocolate

Though not tested, I presume it will be a good treat for the kids who hate to have bananas. Look for updates here, till then Happy Cooking and Happy Eating.

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Begun Morichut

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This is my fiftieth post here on this blog. I thank all my blog visitors for giving me the courage and inspiration to go ahead and write new posts on my blog, and most of all I thank my parents and sister. My mom who taught me to love the art of cooking, and my father though never enters the kitchen always find it tempting to know whats cooking on my blog. My little sister who is always busy taking photographs of every step and every ,eal I cook, when I am at home in Kolkata.

To mark this happy event for me, I have prepared  a typical dish which hails from Chittagong in Bangaladesh‘. Now, this is a bit tricky, why should I be cooking something that sounds and tastes like a typical Bangladeshi dish. The answer is simple, my grandfathers, both from my father’s as well as from my mother’s sides were inhabitants of then unpartitioned Bengal. After the partition in 1947, they came and settled in Kolkata. As everybody say you can take out the Bengali from Bengal, but not the Bengal from the Bengali, so was it. At home our cooking style resembles those of the people of Bangladesh, though I am the third generation who is living in India and never had a luck to see the place where my grandparents were born and lived the best days of their lives.

Morichut is a typical naming for any curry in their native language of Chittagong. I love this one with eggs and aubergines. Morichut also can be made using potatoes. May be I’ll write a post on that sometime later.

Serves 2

Ingredients:

Aubergine (Choto Begun): 200gms

Onion (Peyaj): 1 medium size

Eggs (Dim): 2

Mustard Oil (Sarser Tel): ½ teaspoon

Turmeric Powder (Halud Guro): ½ teaspoon

Green Chili (Kacha Lanka): 1 or 2

Salt to taste

Preparation:

  • Heat oil in a shallow wok
  • Add the onions to sauté as the oil gets heated
  • Toss in the aubergine cut into small square shaped pieces and fry till they are partly cooked
  • Add salt, turmeric and the green chili
  • Keep aside the half cooked egg plants, and heat 1 teaspoon of oil and add the eggs.
  • Scramble the eggs and add it to the half cooked aubergine
  • Cook till the aubergine gets cooked

begun-morichut

It tastes good with roti, paratha or even rice. So cook it and have with anything you like.

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Khichudi

Khichudi, the name reminds me of those rainy days and rainy nights. Khichudi had always taken a special soft corner in my heart. Mom used to cook it whenever it started and rain means no going out and so everybody at home. The whole family waiting impatiently for the hot and yummy porridge to be served at the dining table. I especially remember one night. It was raining cats and dogs; mom was very ill that night and couldn’t even get up from bed. But we were all in full mood to enjoy khichudi. So what to do? The answer came from my dad, let’s prepare it ourselves. Hearing that my mom started screaming, here to mention at that time my dad was a terrible cook, though with the passage of time and because of his transferable job he has learnt a lot about cooking. Now let’s go back to that night. So here we were me and my dad in the kitchen preparing porridge. That night at last we had to call a nearby restaurant to deliver food, that porridge was absolutely burnt and had to throw away everything.

Khichudi with potato fry

Khichudi with potato fry

Days have passed, a lot has changed, but still I can’t separate monsoon rain and porridge. I have learnt to prepare it myself and so whenever it rains, you can smell khichudi in my kitchen. Oh! I missed out something. To make this delicacy something more special don’t you forget to fry those hilsa pieces or at least an omelet. This combination is just awesome.

Serves: 4

Ingredients:

Rice (Chal): 150 gm

Pulses (Massor dal): 150 gm

Turmeric powder (Halud Guro): 1 teaspoon

Chilli powder (Sukhno Lankar guro): 1 teaspoon

Onions (Peyaj): 3

Garlic (Rasun): 4 /6 cloves

Ginger paste (Aada Bata)

Panch Phoron: 1 teaspoon

Green chilli (Kacha Lanka): 2/3 pieces

Mustard oil (Sarser tel): 2 teaspoon

Salt to taste

Preparation:

So we are ready with the ingredients, now before we start just a few word. Cut one of the onions into half and the other two julienned. You can add some vegetables like potato , cauliflower (cut into small florets), carrot, peas, etc.

  • Wash the rice and dal together.
  • Take water in a handi and heat it just for 2 minutes.powder,
  • Add the rice, dal, half cut onion, garlic cloves, vegetables, turmeric powder, chilli green chilli and salt.
  • Now leave it and let it cook by itself.
  • Add water whenever required.
  • When the rice is almost cooked, heat oil in an wok and add the left out onions and panch phoron. Sauté it.
  • Add this to the cooked rice.
  • Then cook the rice for 2 minutes more and your porridge is ready to serve.

Khichudi

Khichudi with ladies finger fries
You can have it with any kind of fries, or even with chutney and papad (poppadam). There are some more ways to cook porridge, check out my following posts to find out how.

Tips: Porridge tends to become very dry, so before you take it out of the stove ensure that it has not become too dry and so leave out some water.

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