Spring is here and so are the thousand colors of nature. Every nook and corner of the street is filled with red, yellow, orange blossoms. Though with the heat rising in Kolkata, there’s not much feel good feeling about this time of the year but still there is a grand festival coming up in just a few days from now. Yes you have guessed it right, its HOLI time. Holi, the National Festival of India is celebrated throughout the states of the sub-continent and West Bengal too is not far behind. The main attraction of holi, or doljatra (as we Bengalis like to say) is the Boshonto Utsav or Spring Festival in Shantiniketan. Thousands gather at the Viswa Bharati grounds on the day from all over the world.
Thinking of colors, the first thing that comes to mind is red, green, blue and yellow. Remember those days in school, the houses had these names and everybody used to fight with the other houses – Yellow, yellow dirty fellow or the first love letter you wrote – roses are red, violets are blue, sugar is sweet and so are you. Do you have any other such poems or phrases, you used to throw, then share it with us!
Thinking about a colourful preparation I scratched my head but nothing authentically Bengali came to mind. So, thought of mix matching the Western with the Eastern. And, there it is the result – paneer kofta in thick poppy paste with slices of red and yellow bell pepper to spice and color it up.
For the kofta:
- 400gms of paneer or cottage cheese, mashed finely
- 4 teaspoon gram flour or besan
- 1 tablespoon ginger paste
- 2 teaspoon chilli powder
- ½ teaspoon sugar, preferably brown sugar
- Sunflower oil for frying
- Salt to taste
For the gravy:
- 4 tablespoon poppy seeds
- 1 tablespoon sesame, ground to a fine paste with the poppy
- 1 teaspoon cumin
- 2 red and yellow bell pepper diced coarsely
- 2 tablespoon sunflower oil
- Few black pepper
- 1 teaspoon turmeric powder
- 1 teaspoon garam masala
- 1 teaspoon clarified butter or ghee (optional)
- Salt to taste
- Mix all the ingredients required for kofta excepting the oil and make a soft dough
- Prepare small balls each having a rough diameter of 3cm
- Heat oil in a wok and deep fry these balls in batches, keep aside
- Heat a wok with 2 tablespoons of fresh oil, throw in the cumin seeds, as they start sputtering add the bell pepper and toss for a minute or two
- Add the turmeric powder and season with salt and black pepper
- Pour in the poppy and sesame paste and cook till the oil separates
- Cover the gravy with 2 cups of water and stir well, cook covered for 10-12mins, check the seasoning
- Put in the fried koftas as the gravy starts boiling, cook for 2-3min more and take out of flame
- Serve hot with chapattis or rice
Hot Tips – Koftas tend to dry up the gravy, so if you are a gravy person try putting in more water or else, take out the koftas after cooking and serve the gravy and koftas separately.