Monday, March 01, 2010

Three-Course Dinner For Two Bengalis

This “dinner for two” thingie is getting very challenging for me. I have culinary blackouts just thinking about them. Weekends are usually not a pizza-pasta fare, and that’s when I am forced to think. But a trip to the Bangladeshi stores followed by a detour to Little India makes it quite possible for someone like me to spread a three-course Bengali meal without much fuss or frantic calls to my Mum.

For Saturday’s dinner I made Gota Sheddo, Palong Shak’er Ghonto and Lau Chingri.

Nowhere in authentic Bengali cuisine will you find Gota Sheddo being served at a regular dinner. Gota Sheddo which literally means Whole Boiled is a Bong relish with whole vegetables (at least five types of them) cooked with two kinds of lentils (whole urad dal and whole green moong) over slow heat. My understanding of it is that its a traditional Bengali vegetarian stew. Its made in a Bengali household on Saraswati Puja, and served the next day while its cool. Usually its the Bengali Mothers who eat it for the love and long life of their children!

Its a fairly easy peasy recipe if you have the right ingredients. You literally have to boil all the vegetables and lentils with two key spices- ginger and green chilies. Sounds easy. Wait till you taste a bowlful of it, it bursts with healthy ingredients and some very earthy flavors.

The ingredients for Gota Sheddo are:

Half cup whole urad dal
Half cup whole green moong
2 small sweet potatoes (either whole or cut into quarters)
Handful of whole green peas
Handful of broad beans
4-5 small eggplants, I used two slim Oriental eggplants
Few green chilies, slit
1 1/2 tablespoon ginger paste
1 teaspoon turmeric powder
2 tablespoon mustard oil

Wash the two dals and begin to boil them in a pressure cooker or a thick bottom saucepan.

When dal starts to boil, add vegetables, chilies, turmeric powder, salt and sugar and pressure cook on medium-high heat for 10-15 minutes or until vegetables and dal are cooked. Just when you think all the vegetables and dal and well cooked but not too mushy, drizzle the mustard oil, remove from heat. The Gota Sheddo is the right balance of sweet and savory, so adjust the taste.
Gota MosaicWhile I had my leg up this easy recipe, I decided to make Palong Shak’er Ghonto. Which is a mish-mash of spinach with cubes of potato and radish. Such vegetable medleys are usually something you would start your meal in a Bengali household.

If you have the following ingredients at home, you can make this ghonto pretty much in no time:

300 gms spinach, washed well and coarsely chopped
2 medium size potatoes, cut in cubes
1 radish cut in cubes
1 teaspoon panch phoron
3-4 dry red chilies
1 teaspoon turmeric powder
1 teaspoon red chili powder
2 teaspoon ginger paste
1 tablespoon desi ghee
2 bay leaves

Heat ghee in a pan and add the dry red chilies and panch phoron, let them splutter for a few seconds. Add the diced potatoes and radish and fry them till they turn golden brown. Add the bay leaves, spinach and all the spices and seasoning. Let all the ingredients cook in the juices released by the spinach greens. Cook for about 10 minutes till the vegetables have cooked and look mushy. Finish it off with a few drops of desi ghee as a garnish.
ghonto mosaicThe next dish pretty much ends my evening of cooking with one dominant flavor- GINGER. This is Lau Chingri or White/ Bottle Gourd with Shrimps.

As a kid I always complained about vegetables. They almost made a pocket in my throat. But growing up has brought at least one good thing with itself! My love for veggies.

The Lau Chingri is a quick sauté of the white gourd and the shrimp, with some spices which are extremely mild. Its the flavor of the shrimps which makes a lot of us relish this dish.

Ingredients for Lau Chingri are:

1 small white gourd, skin removed and finely chopped
250 gms of shrimps, de-shelled and deveined
Half cup green peas (optional)
1 large tomato, chopped
3-4 green chilies, slit
1 tablespoon ginger paste
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
1 teaspoon turmeric powder
1 teaspoon red chili powder
1/2 teaspoon garam masala powder
2 teaspoon ginger paste
1 tablespoon desi ghee
2 bay leaves

Heat the ghee in a pan, add the cumin seeds and bay leaf. Add slit green chilies and chopped white gourd and fry for a few minutes. Add the turmeric powder, red chili powder, ginger paste, and sauté for a few more minutes. Now add the shrimps and green peas.

Gently keep stirring everything and see all the juices being released. Add the chopped tomatoes and salt and sugar.

Cook for a few more minutes till the gourd is done, shrimps do not take much time to cook. Sprinkle some garam masala powder. If you want, you can also sprinkle some chopped coriander leaves.
Lau chingri mosaicEat this hearty meal from the Eastern part of India with plain white rice.
IMG_5995P said he would give me a galaxy of stars for this meal, but I settled for five for this three-course meal.


The knife said...

actually four course including rice... but then can't be any less for Bongs can it?

shooting star said...

saraswati pujo is coming soon..and am in West Bengal this time..ready to relish all the colors , food and fervor!!!

Anonymous said...

Gr8 ! just what I needed to know before Saraswati Puja....thanks a lot, Pree :)