This is my Mum’s recipe. I love making her recipes because they are simple and easy to execute. The ingredients are readily available even in Canada, and I also get to re-create certain food flavors which have been in my head since childhood.
Though the main ingredients for this recipe are are Potato (Alu), Eggplant/Brinjal (Begun) and Shrimps (Chingri), a whole lot of flavors come from the green chilies (kancha lonka) you add to it. So this Alu-Begun-Chingri is not really for the faint-hearted.
I am not a food snob when buying my groceries. But I am very particular about green chilies. The ones we get in the supermarkets here have no bite to them, so I usually get my fill of green chilies from the Indian stores or Chinatown.
This dish is something between a curry and a sauté, we call the consistency makha-makha in Bengali, where the sauce and the spices cling to the vegetables or meat. It can be eaten with chapatis or dal and plain rice.
Ingredients for Alu-Begun-Chingri are:
400 grams shrimp (I used just the tails, they were largish, size 8-12)
3-4 Oriental eggplants, halved and cut lengthwise
2 medium size potatoes, cut into wedges
1 medium red onion, slivered
2 medium tomatoes, roughly chopped (the riper the better!)
7-8 green chilies, slit lengthwise
Generous handful of chopped coriander
One and half tablespoon of ginger-garlic paste
1 teaspoon turmeric powder
1 teaspoon red chili powder
3-4 tablespoons mustard oil
Heat oil in a large, thick pan. Sauté the onions and green chilies till the onions are still light brown in color.
Then add the potatoes and get some color on them, for another 3-4 minutes. Now add the eggplants and mix well.
Next to add are the turmeric and red chili powder and the ginger-garlic paste. Mix for a minute or two, scraping the spices from the bottom of the pan, all this on medium heat. Add the chopped tomatoes and salt, cover and cook for 3-4 minutes.
The salt will help the tomatoes release their juices which will moisten the other vegetables too. Add the shrimps to the dish and mix again.
Cover for 4-5 minutes on medium heat and cook. Keep checking so that the spices do not burn. Add a cup of water and cover till the potatoes are done. The shrimps will turn pink and the eggplant and tomatoes will become mushy.
Check the seasoning. Turn the heat off if the potatoes are done, else continue cooking for a few more minutes.
Add a generous amount of chopped fresh coriander (leaves and stems) and mix again.
Though I used shrimp tails, you can use whole deveined shrimps or kucho chingri for this recipe. If you are vegetarian and do not eat shrimps, please feel free to omit them and call this dish Alu-Begun!
For more Bengali recipes, photographs and discussions, see The Big Bong Theory.