If you’ve ever tasted authentic Bengali food at least once, I can bet and say it had been difficult for you to resist yourself from the thought of tasting some soon. Well, to help you cope with the desire of preparing some mouthwatering healthy ‘Bangali ghorowa ranna’ I thought of sharing a brief culinary experience.
For all the bongs out there living away form home, no matter how much you love other cuisines, the mere thought of dal-bhat-aloo-bhaja can take your breath away with it’s divine simplicity. Here’s how you can cook yourself an easy-peasy Bengali lunch. Follow the simple steps and within 2 hours the entire meal will be on your plate! Bengali cuisine does not necessarily start and end with fishes. Yes, there is a major presence of fishes in our menu, but what many are not aware of is the huge variety of vegetarian dishes cooked in Bengali households.
Bhat (rice) — Dal — Borie diye palong shaak — Tel-begun
Gobindobhog rice: 250 gm washed and drained
Boil water on a large pan, and add the pre-soaked rice, and cover it. Let it boil for about 2 minutes, while you can check on the rice at frequent intervals. Make sure not to overcook the rice, it will become mushy. The rice should be just slightly soft and long, and the texture must be al dente. (Gobindobhog rice is a very flavourful and aromatic variety usually used in preparing richer rice dishes like pulao, but also consumed occasionally with regular dal and vegetables.)
Moong daal: 50 gm
Cumin seeds: 1tsp
Fresh Coriander leaves chopped for garnishing
To prepare dal, it is wise to rinse 50 gm of moong dal and soak them for at least 30 minutes. Then pressure cook the pulses, with a pinch of salt, turmeric powder, and a little mustard oil, on medium flame. Heat 1 tbsp oil in a pan, and add cumin seeds and then the boiled daal. Cook for some time then remove form flame and set aside.
(Tip: Mustard oil is like the olive oil for Bengali dishes. To attain the authentic flavours of Bengali cuisine, it is always best to use mustard oil, until a different oil is recommended)
Bori diye palong shaak
Palong shaak (spinach): one medium size bunch, washed and chopped
Bori(sun dried lentil dumplings): a handfull
Green chilli: 1 long chilli
Panch foron*: 1 tsp
Potato (optional): 1 large or 2 medium sized chopped into cubes
Turmeric powder: 1tsp
Ginger-garlic paste: 1 tbsp
Salt and sugar to taste
Heat mustard oil in a pan and fry the boris till golden brown and keep aside. Make sure they do not burn, but are yet crisp.
Now add the panch foron to the hot oil, followed by ginger garlic paste, cook for sometime. Then add the chilli and the spinach and potatoes. Cook well, stirring occasionally. cover with a lid for 3-4 minutes, check for the spinach to release water, and stir occasionally adding, turmeric powder, salt and sugar**. Cook till the water dries up, and potatoes are boiled. Ad the boris in the end, and serve hot with your rice.
*Panch foron is a whole spice blend consisting of equal amounts of mustard seeds, fennel seeds, fenugreek seeds, cumin seeds, nigella seeds.
**Sugar is added to the dish to enhance the colour of the spinach, not to sweeten it. In case you do not want to use sugar it will be quite alright.
Eggplant: 5-6 slit into fours form the top, and marinated in salt, turmeric and sugar
Garam masala(whole): 1 clove, 1 medium sized cinnamon, 2 green cardamoms, 1 bayleaf
turmeric powder: 1.5 tsp
cumin powder: 1tsp
coriander powder: 1tsp
Heat some oil in a pan, and add the whole garam masala, after stirring add the eggplants and fry them. Then add the powdered spices and cook. After a while add the yoghurt stir well and cover. After 2 minutes, switch off the flame.
Serve hot with the rest of your dishes like this!