Category Archives: Bengali

Prawns in Mustard and poppy seed paste / Postu chingri

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Poppy seeds paste has a delicate and addictive taste to it. Now combine this with the delicate taste of Prawns….I know it does sound amazing. For Bengalis postu or poppy seeds paste is part of daily diet, but for a non Bengali it is usually used in rich and thick gravies. This is a very simple preparation without much spices etc …as many good cooks say that the best food is made with least number of ingredients.

Preparation time- 10 min

Cooking time- 10 min

Ingredients

Prawns- 500 gm

Poppy seed- 1 tbsp

Mustard seeds-                ½ tbsp

Onions- julienned 1 cup

Green chilli- 2

Panch phoron- ½ tsp

Turmeric Powder- 2 tsp

Salt as per taste

Mustard oil- 2 tbsp

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Method

Peel and wash the prawns. Marinate in turmeric and salt and keep aside. Meanwhile grind poppy seeds and mustard seeds with a bit of water to a paste consistency. Add around 2 tsp water to the paste. Keep aside. In a wok heat oil and fry prawns. Do not deep fry them; keep around 2 min each side. Drain on tea towel and keep aside. In the oil add panch phoron, and then green chili. Add onions and sauté for 2 minutes. Let them be caramelized and then add prawns to it. Stir so as the prawns are coated in the oil and then slowly add the paste of poppy n mustard seeds. The trick here is to not stir the watery paste as it will help the bitter mustard seed shells stay at the bottom. Stir in the whole paste along with some water and add salt. Allow it to boil and then simmer for 1 minute. Enjoy with hot rice.

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Prawns in Coconut Milk /Chingri Malai Curry

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Prawns are definitely a delicacy and favorite of many esp Bengali’s. My husband begs to differ, he prefers to stay nose diving distance away from sea food and aromatic fishes (tch tch). So when it comes to authentic Bengali fish dishes I eagerly await for my in laws to arrive. Hilsa and prawns are my Mil’s favorite so last evening when I saw some good prawns at fish market had to grab them for her. This was my first solo attempt with prawns and I was definitely scared. Didn’t want to butcher the delicate taste of the amazing prawns but they turned out really good (ask MIL). Prepared them in two ways, the other one being cooked in poppy n mustard seed paste.

Preparation time- 10 min

Cooking time – 15 minutes

Ingredients

Prawns- 500gm

Mustard oil / vegetable oil- 2 tbsp

Green chili- 2

Onion chopped – 1 cup

Ginger onion n garlic paste – 2 tbsp

Coconut Milk- 1 can

Bay leaf- 1

Turmeric powder- 2 tsp

Salt as per taste

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Method-

Peel and wash prawns. Marinate with turmeric and salt and keep aside. Heat oil in wok and fry the prawns for 2 min on each side. Do not deep fry them. Drain them out on tea towel. In the oil add slitted green chili and bay leaf. Then add chopped onions, saute till golden brown and then add the ginger garlic paste. Saute till for 2 minutes, slowly add the coconut milk to it. Season with salt and allow it to come to a boil. Add the fried prawns and simmer for 2-3 minutes. You can add 1 more green chili at this stage if you like it spicy. This curry has very subtle taste and not a spicy one. Enjoy with steaming hot rice.

 

Dhokar Dalna – A Savory Bengali dish

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This dish has been an all time favorite of my father in law and he made sure I had a taste of its authentic version during my stay at my in laws place in West Bengal. This dish is very common in Bengali household and each house has it’s different version. The base or Dhokar is almost like Dhokla which is a very common Indian snack. Dalna is gravy which in this dish is a bit thin as the dhoklas tend to absorb liquid.

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Preparation time- 10 min

Cooking time- 45 min

Yield- 4 people

Ingredients-

Chana dal / Bengal Gram – 1 cup soaked overnight

Ginger – 1”

Tomato- 3

Green chili- 4

Eno – 1 sachet

Salt- as per taste

Turmeric powder- 1 tsp

Panch phoron – ½ tsp

Mustard oil- 1 tbsp

Bay leaf-1

Soybean oil- for frying

Dried red chili- 2

Sugar- ½ tsp

Water- 2 cups

Method-

Grind the soaked Chana dal with half ginger and green chili. Make a smooth batter but not loose batter. Grease the steamed tin and pour the batter. Add salt, turmeric and ENO. Mix quickly and place it in the steamer. Cover and steam for 20-25 minutes. Remove from steamer and keep aside. Invert it onto a flat tray and cut small square pieces. Be careful as they are not only hot but also can break very easily. Heat the oil in a pan and fry them carefully lifting and rotating using a tong. Fry till crisp light brown and place them on kitchen towel so get rid of excess oil. Grind tomato, ginger and green chili to a smooth paste. In a separate pan heat mustard oil, add panch phoron, sugar, bay leaf, dried red chili, sauté and then add turmeric powder, mix and then add the pureed tomato paste. Sauté and let it cook for 5 minutes. Add water, salt and let it simmer for 7 minutes. Add the fried dhokar’s to the gravy and cover it. Cook for 2-3 minutes and it’s done.

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Spicy dry chicken or Bengali kosha murgir mangsho

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This is quintessentially an all time spicy favorite dish of almost all chicken loving Bengali’s. This dish was first introduced to me by my mother in law. She actually made it in flat 20 minutes, I till date cannot match that speed and of course the taste. Nevertheless encouraged by my husband and Mil I tried this recipe and trust me it came out quite good in the first attempt (yay… self pat on the back) . Since then have been making this style of chicken for my husband in spite of the fact that this version is very oily and not on the nutritive side, but taste …oh yes…try making this, a vegetarian like me gets tempted to taste: p the spices. This is a very dry dish but the key lies in sauteing chicken in oil and then spices while gradually adding water / this step is called kosha in Bengali and bhunna in hindi. In the picture it is accompanied with Aloo bhaja / sautéed potato which is another staple Bengali dish. Meal without aloo bhaja is not complete in any Bengali household, esp. mine as my husband dotes on potatoes. Potato is his life line so it has to be there.

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Let’s start cooking

Spicy chicken

Preparation time 10 min

Cooking time 45 minutes

ingredients

Chicken

Chicken breast 350 gm /normal cut with bones 500 gm

Mustard oil ¼ cup

Bay leaves – 2

Dried red chili 4

Whole green cardamom – 2 pods

Sugar ½ tbsp

Chopped onion – 1 ¼ cup

Onion – 1 large

Garlic- 2 large

Ginger- ½ “

Tomato – 3 medium

Turmeric powder- ½ tbsp

Salt- as per taste

Coriander powder- 1 tbsp

Roasted cumin powder- ½ tsp

Kashmiri / degi mirch powder- ½ tsp

Garam masala- ½ tsp

Coriander leaves to garnish

Method- In a deep wok / kadhai add mustard oil, when it is hot enough add cardamom pods, bay leaves, dried red chili and then sugar. Stir it in the oil for ½ minute and then add chopped onions. Sauté the onions till they are golden and caramelized. Meanwhile blend garlic, ginger and onion to make a paste. When the onions have taken golden color add chicken to it. Stir the chicken in the oil for 2 minutes till the hot oil gets uniformly coated on the skin. Then add turmeric powder to it. Sauté for 5-6 minutes then add salt to it. At this stage the skin of chicken is already golden brown, if you feel it is still white / translucent then sauté for another 3-4 minutes. Then add the ginger onion garlic paste to it. Stir the paste in and sauté this for 5-7 minutes till the paste is almost incorporated with chicken. At this stage add coriander powder, red chili powder, and cumin seed powder. Stir in the spices well and sauté for 2-3 minutes. Add chopped tomatoes / you can also use tomato puree (I used homemade puree – ¾ cup) to the chicken and further sauté for 5-8 minutes. At this stage the spices will start sticking to the bottom of the wok / kadhai. Gradually keep on adding 1 tbsp of water while sauteing so as to prevent spices from burning and at the same time keeping the water level very less. This shall take further 6-8 minutes. At this stage tomatoes would be completely incorporated with chicken and the oil would have separated from the spices. Add garam masala powder and saute for further 2 minutes. Remove from flame, garnish with coriander leaves and cover the chicken. This is just a small trick which avoids burning of spices as the wok / kadhai is still hot. Serve with rice/ parantha.

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Aloo bhaja / Bengali style stir fry potato

Preparation time- 5 minutes

Cooking time- 7 minutes

Ingredients-

Medium size potato- 2

Mustard oil- 1 tbsp

Salt- as per taste

Turmeric powder- ¼ tsp

Green chili with slit- 1

Method

Chop potatoes in thin slices, heat mustard oil in a pan, when the oil is hot, add green chili and then potato. Saute and coat the potatoes in oil, add turmeric and salt and continue to cook by sauteing for 3-4 minutes so as to avoid the potatoes sticking to the pan. The potatoes shall be crispy and done in approx 5-6 minutes. Remove from flame, serve with hot rice.

Tomato and raw mango chutney

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Chutney is a staple condiment of any cuisine across India. Recipes differ but primarily ingredients are kind of similar. This chutney is a Bengali version, and as the condiment is supposed to be in Bengali – Tok, Jhaal, Mishti – that is Bitter, spicy, sweet; this covers all three. I’ve learned this recipe from my Mother – in-law who is Oh so good at this style of cooking. This contains raw mango which is aptly around in summers as this time the food is usually light with not much of vegetables around and food is not rich in terms of gravy and spices.

 

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Preparation Time– 5 min

Cooking time– 20 minutes

Ingredients

Tomato – 3 medium sizes

Raw mango- 1 medium size

Green chili- 1 medium size

Sugar- ¼ cup

Water- 1 cup

Salt- ¼ tsp

Panch phoran / Five spice – ¼ tsp

Panch Phoron ,mixture of the following 5 spices in equal quantity

  1. Fennel  seeds (saunf)
  2. Golden fenugreek- methi dana
  3. Black mustard- kaali sarso
  4. Cumin seeds- jeera
  5. Nigells seeds- kalonji

Mustard oil- ½ tsp

Method– Slice tomatoes and mango and retain the stone (seed) / it is optional. Heat oil in pan; add five spices and slitted green chili. Allow the spices to crackle, add tomato and mango, sauté for 2-3 minutes, add salt and sauté for another 1 minute. At this stage tomatoes is squashed and mango is reduced to pulp. Add water, cover and cook for 8-10 minutes. The mango pulp shall stick to the bottom of the cover, scrape it back to the pan, add sugar and cook for another 2-3 minutes. The consistency shall be almost like homemade ketchup.

Bengali egg tadka dal

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There are certain dishes which are good to eat when cooked at home but nothing beats their taste and aroma when eaten from a road side “dhaba” or eating joints. Many of us would have that sort of taste buds.
Tadka Dal has many version all throughout India. Growing up in a North Indian Bhargava family, for me tadka would simply mean tempering cumin seeds and pinch of asofetida in hot ghee. Add red chili powder and down it goes in boiled dal.
Post marriage when my husband started intoducing me to all the amazing bengali dishes he loves, this was a definite Top 5. A quick guide handed down to me on phone by my Mother in Law and voila, the Bengali egg tadka dal was sitting pretty on our dining table.

Cooking time– 30 min

Preparation time– 20 min

Ingredients-

Sabut  Moong Dal / Whole Green Gram – 1 cup

Chana Dal / Bengal Gram split and skinned – ½ cup

Urad Dal / Split Black Gram- 1 tbsp

Ginger- 1 ½ “

Garlic- 2 pods

Onions- 2

Tomato- 1

Mustard oil- 2 tbsp

Bay leaf- 1

Green Chilli- 2

Ghee / Clarified butter- 2 tbsp

Asafetida- pinch

Coriander powder- 1 tbsp

Red chili powder- ½ tsp

Bhuna jeera powder/ roasted cumin powder- ½ tsp

Salt- As per taste

Green cardamom- 2 pods

Sugar- ¼ tsp

Dried Red chillies- 4

Scrambled egg of 2 eggs

Turmeric powder- ½ tsp

Garam masala- ½ tsp

Coriander and mint leaves chopped.

Method-

Soak Moong and chana dal overnight / 5-6 hrs. Boil soaked dal along with urad dal in pressure cooker with Salt and turmeric. Bring to one whistle and then simmer for 20 min. Meanwhile blend ginger, garlic and 1 onion to paste. Chop another onion and tomato.  In a pan heat mustard oil, add sugar, bay leaf, whole red chilli and cardamom. Then chopped onions and sauté till brown , add ginger garlic and onion paste. Sauté till oil separates,  add tomato and sauté for 1 min. Add coriander powder, red chilli powder  and roasted cumin powder and sauté for 2 min. Add ½ tsp water 2- 3 times so as to avoid the paste sticking to the pan. The oil will separate in 4-5 mins.  Add garam masala and sauté for 1 min. At this stage the tomatoes would have cooked completely and none of the powdered spices would be raw.

Now add the boiled dal and , ½ cup of water and cook for 5-7 minutes stirring in between to avoid dal sticking to the bottom of pan. Add scrambled eggs and cook for 2 more minutes depending upon the consistency of the dal as per your taste. Also if you want the actual creamy texture then replace scrambled eggs with beaten eggs and cook for 4-5 minutes. Garnish with Chopped coriander and mint leaves.

Ghugni

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Preparation time- 10 min

Cooking Time – 30 min

Ingredients –

Dried peas – 1 cup , soaked for 8 hrs or overnight

Mustard oil-  2 tbsp

Tejpatta/ bay leaf- 1

Green cardamom – 2

Sugar- ½ tsp

Onion- 3 midsize/ 2 large

Garlic- 1 pod

Ginger- 2 inch

Coriander powder- 1 tsp

Fresh Turmeric  paste- ¼  tsp / turmeric powder ½ tsp

Red chili powder- ½ – 1 tsp

Garam masala- ½ tsp, made from cinnamon+ cloves+ green cardamom+ jeera/cumin roasted and powdered

Coriander leaves – to garnish

Salt- to taste

Green chili- 2

Potatoes- 4 cut into half

Tomato- 1

Water- 500 ml

Method-

Chop 1 onion finely; make paste of ginger, garlic and rest of the onion. Peel and cut the potatoes in half, cut the tomato and keep aside. Heat mustard oil in pressure cooker; add tejpatta/bay leaf, then sugar, then green cardamom and then green chili with slit in centre or dried red chili.

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Add chopped onions and sauté on medium flame.

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Meanwhile wash the soaked peas thoroughly and add to the cooker once the onions have caramelized.

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Continue stirring on medium to low flame till peas and onions look slightly brown and oil has separated.

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Add potatoes and continue stirring for 3-4 minutes. Add the ginger garlic onion paste and continue stirring for 2-3 minutes on medium to low flame. Add tomato , stir for 2 minutes, add turmeric, coriander powder, red chili powder and mix it thoroughly.

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At this stage add 1 tsp water to the cooker. Stir continuously so as to allow the water to provide enough moisture for the peas and the masala to get incorporated and fried. Repeat this 2 times within 5 minutes and then add salt, jeera powder and continue stirring with slight addition of water till tomatoes are completely mashed and the dry powder and paste look completely incorporated. Add 2 ½ cup water, stir and then add garam masala and ½ tsp mustard oil on the top, do not mix.

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Scatter some coriander leaves and close the lid. 4-5 whistles and then on low flame for 3 -4 minutes. It’s done. Garnish with chopped onions, ginger strips and coriander leaves. In a Bengali house it is usually savored with Muri / puffed rice

Here I have served it with coriander leaves chutney which has coriander leaves, garlic, green chili and tomato.