I had to write this post. I owed this to the many people who read distorted Bengali recipes on the Internet.
This is the easiest thing you can do with some potatoes. A quick sautéing of Nigella seeds and cubed potatoes, cooked with slit green chilies. Nigella seeds or kalonji is surprisingly the only spice which goes into the making of the Alu Chorchodi (Potato Mishmash).
A Chorchodi is never quite the same in any Bengali home. Its essentially a non-intrusive side eaten for lunch. A toned down version of a one ingredient chorchodi also makes way for breakfast or jolkhabar (evening snack) in many traditional Bengali homes, mostly accompanied with luchi or porotha.
A Chorchodi can be made with fresh greens like pui shaak, palong shaak (spinach), or kumdo pata (pumpkin leaves), along with a fish head (rohu or ilish) thrown in.
A vegetarian chorchodi is a medley of roughly chopped vegetables like potato, pumpkin, radish, carrot, flat beans, eggplant, drumsticks, and cauliflower. Its often high on its nutritive value; albeit by Bengali standards.
Unlike some modern home-cook’s versions, it is NOT a curry and there shouldn’t be any runny gravy in it. The thing about a good chorchodi is its thick consistency.
I made this Alu Chorchodi with two large potatoes, some green peas, slit green chilies and Nigella seeds, cooked in mustard oil. Some people usually garnish it with freshly chopped coriander, I left that out today.
2 large potatoes
4-5 green chilies, slit lengthwise
Half cup green peas (optional)
Half teaspoon Nigella seeds
1 tablespoon mustard oil
In a pan, heat mustard oil, sauté the Nigella seeds for a few seconds. Add the slit green chilies, let them pop before adding the cubed potatoes. Fry the potatoes but do not brown them.
Whether they are mashed, stashed or fried, all potatoes need two things – seasoning and moisture. Add salt to taste and pour enough water so that the cubes of potato are drenched. Add the green peas. Cover and cook till the potatoes get mushy between your fingers. And all that water has evaporated. I served this Alu Chorchodi with some hot Luchi and shredded mango pickle (sweet).
Homemade goodness on a plate. That’s why I believe that simple things make you the happiest. But please do not call an Alu Chorchodi a Potato Gratin. That Bengali in me will beat the *beep* out of you. I promise.