Tuesday, 5 January 2010

Potato curry with Luchi

About the food:

Ask any Bengali about plain potato curry and luchi, I bet he would come up with a heartfelt nostalgic association with this dish.If you ask me, this is the best food I could ever have.This is not only a food, but it has so many cherished associated images with it. It brings back my childhood days, when on holidays our entire family would gather in the living room, and mom ( with occasional help from us!) would serve us steaming hot luchis with the potato curry. It is a memory worth of a thousand lives..

Ingredients (serves 4

for the curry:

500 gms potato
4 green chillies, slit through the centre
1/2 tbsp black cumin
1 tomato, finely chopped
1 bunch of coriander leaves, finely chopped
vegetable oil
salt to taste

for the luchi: (makes 18)

2 cups white flour
1/2 cup hot water
1 tbsp oil



1. Peel the potatoes and cut them into small cubes. Wash and drain.

2.Heat 3 tbsp of oil in as pan. Add the black cumin and the green chillies- let them char a little. Add the tomato and continue stirring. when the tomatoes has become a paste, add the potatoes. Add salt. Continue cooking for about 6-7 mins over a medium flame, and when the tomatoes has mixed with the potatoes, add 1 cup of water. You can vary the amount of water for the desired consistency. Cover and cook for 15-20 mins over low flame or until the potatoes are cooked.


1. Put the flour in a bowl. Add 1 tbsp oil and mix it well. Add hot water, mix and knead well to get a smooth, soft dough.

2. Make small balls from it. Brush the balls with oil and roll them in thin circular cakes with the help of a rolling pin.

3. Heat oil in a pan for deep frying. When the oil is hot and smoulders, deep fry the cakes on both its sides.

4. Drain the oil on a kitchen towel and serve hot with the curry.

Monday, 4 January 2010

Paneer curry

About the food:
This is not a traditional Bengali dish, though it has grown in much popularity of late. There is a typical Bengali variation of the paneer curry, which I will share with you very soon. This is a perfect dish for the vegetarian guests, which could be served as a main dish, accompanied by plain rice.

Preparation time: 30mins
Cooking time:

Ingredients: (serves 4)

1. Full cream milk 1 litre
Paneer 300 gms.
2. 2 big potatoes, peeled and diced in 1 inch cubes
3. 1 inch grated root ginger
4. Cumin seeds 1/2 teaspoon
5. Green chillies, slit through the centre
6. Whole garam masala ( 1/2 inch cinnamon stick, 4 cardamom pods, 4 cloves)
7. vegetable oil
8. 1 bunch coriander leaves finely chopped
9. 1 big tomato, finely chopped.
10. salt to taste
11. 2-3 large lemons
12. 1 pinch turmeric powder


1.Making the paneer ( Cottage cheese):

For a fresh flavour, you can prepare the paneer at home, following the steps below. Otherwise you can get them at the supermarkets.

a. Pour the milk in a big saucepan. Bring the milk to boil. Squeeze the lemon juices in a small non-metallic bowl. Discard the seeds. Pour this into the milk. The solid part of the milk would separate out, leaving a clear liquid. Until the liquid is clear, you should go on adding the lemon juice.

b. Line a colander with a cotton cloth. Pour the milk solution on it, and gather the solid part. Press the solid part to squeeze the water out. Tie the cloth tightly, and put some heavy bowl etc on top of it, to drain the water away. Keep it for atleast 2hrs.

c. Open the cloth, and you get fresh smelling paneer. Take it out from the cloth, and cut it into 1 inch cubes.

2. Heat oil in a pan for deep frying. Deep fry the paneer in batches until they are light golden in colour.Keep a bowl of water ready and put the fried paneer in this bowl. keep them for 5 mins in the water, then shift them to another container. This makes the paneer very soft.

3. Heat 2 tbsp oil in a pan. Add the garam masala and let them crackle. Add cumin, green chillies and tomato and saute them over a low flame. Add the potatoes, salt, and turmeric powder and continue cooking. Add the ginger paste and mix it well. Continue cooking for about 10mins or until the oil separates out. Add 1 cup of water, cover and simmer over low flame for about 15 mins or until the potatoes are well cooked. Adjust the water level if the water dries up. Add the paneer to the pan and bring it to boil.

4. Garnish with coriander leaves and serve with basmati rice.

Begun Takti ( Fried aubergine in mustard sauce)

About the food:

This is a traditional Bengali dish, served with rice at the beginning of the meal. The mustard sauce gives the typical strong flavour, which smells like heaven. The flavour is accentuated if you use mustard oil for cooking. But take care friends, this dish might be too hot for the meek hearted. My advice, if you are cooking for guests, try it out earlier, you would not like your guests crying over their food.You might reduce the amount of the black mustard to reduce the strength of the sauce.

Bori, which is used in this dish, adds a crunchy flavour. It is a traditional Bengali delicacy, prepared from lentil pastes mixed with spices, and then moulding them by hand in small shapes and drying them in the Sun.

There are a variety of them, made from different mixtures of the lentils. Nowadays you can get readymade bori at the markets. But I remember my childhood days, when my grandma and aunties, and even my mom (!) homemade them and spread them on long cotton cloths, and dried them in the Sun. My cousins and myself were given the coveted job of guarding them against the crows and sparrows! But I can tell you, the market packed boris can never compete with the homemade ones, the memory of its taste and smell has made me nostalgic already!

Go ahead, and I am sure, you would love this dish!

Ingredients (serves 4)

3 big aubergines
100 gm small bori
vegetable oil for deep frying/Best with mustard oil.
1 tbsp sugar
1 tbsp black mustard seed
4 tbsp white mustard seed
2 tbsp poppy seed
4 whole green chilli, split through the centre
1/2 tbsp Indian five spices (Panch phoron)
1 pinch of turmeric
salt to taste


1. Cut the Aubergines longitudinally in long thin 2 inches slices. wash and put it in a bowl, sprinkle it with salt and 1 tbsp sugar and a pinch of turmeric. Cover at keep it aside for an hour.

Special tip: if the aubergines are kept as above, they release water from inside, and require much less oil when cooked.

2. Heat pan. Pour the oil, and when it smoulders, deep fry the bori until they are golden in colour. Drain them on a kitchen tissue, and put it aside.

3. Mix the mustard and poppy seeds, and grind them in a mixer. You can either dry grind them and then add half a cup of water; or you can wet grind them to form a thick paste.

4. Deep fry the aubergines. Take care not to over-fry them, as they can become charred. But also take care not to under-cook them: they should be crispy and golden brown when they are done.Drain them on a dish lined with a kitchen tissue.

4. Heat 1 tbsp oil in a pan. Add the five spices and let them crackle.Add the green chillies, and fry a little. Pour the seed paste, and saute for 2 mins on low flame. Add salt, turmeric powder, and 1 tbsp sugar. Add 1/2 cup water to make a thick gravy. Put all the fried aubergines in the gravy and mix it well.

5. Pour it on the serving dish and garnish with the fried bori and serve.

Accompaniment: Best served with basmati rice.