Wish all of you the biggest slice of happiness this New Year. I am writing to you as my home fills up with the aroma of sweet vanilla while I make the last “dish” of 2010 - Maple Crème Brûlée.
And while I am at it, I thought of rounding up the year that was with my favorite posts from PreeOccupied. These are recipes where I stepped myself up, did my due diligence and presented them with utmost care. Some of these were your favorites too. So take a look at the star posts of 2010 from my Blog!
Alu Begun Chingri 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.
Bengali Begun Pora
Come winter, India is flooded with plump, dark purple eggplants. In some parts of the country, the large, round variety of eggplants are also called Bhanta. That’s what my Mother uses for Bengali Begun Pora (Bengali Baingan Bharta). Since eggplant oxidizes very quickly, make sure you cut an eggplant just before you are ready to cook it.
Bengali Chicken Curry
Chicken Curry was almost looked down upon on special occasions in Bengali homes. It was either made to appease some non-Bengali guests or because the festivities were at the month-end, which meant the Bengali had spent all his salary eating like a King and could not afford the more expensive goat meat or fish.
The Bhapa Doi is another Durga Puja special, where this steamed yogurt would be part of an elaborate mishti mukh spread after a meal on Ashtami through Doshomi. Though I have a feeling its tough for this steamed version of sweet yogurt to compete with its traditional cousin, we call Miss Mishti Doi.
I am particularly fond of these two Macher Jhol I am going to share with you today. They will stump you with the simplicity and ease with which they are made. You will also reckon that both these versions are pretty similar, ingredient-wise. Except for the key difference – the main spice that distinguishes a jeerer (cumin) jhol from a shorse batar (mustard paste) jhol.
This Mutton Curry for all the time it takes to make is probably one of the most tasteful things you can make with meat. I have used goat meat in this recipe (which is how its made in India). But if don’t find goat meat, you can make it with lamb too.
This is my Mum’s recipe and I haven’t changed anything. After all there is little scope of change when the recipe is just perfect. Whoever thought of stuffing Pôtol or Parwal or Pointed Gourdwith mince meat was obviously dealing with some very strict non-vegetarians.
Bengali Tomato Chutney
Traditionally, the Tomator Chaatney is served last in a typical Bengali meal, just before dessert. But I like to have it with my food. My favorite to go with Tomator Chaatney is hot khichudi with all its fanfare.
Shorshe Diye Chingri
There are no two ways of eating the Shōrsē Diye Chingri Maachh. It has to be eaten with steaming hot rice and yes, we did eat with our hands today.
Bengali Mishti Pulao
I do not fuss much (or experiment) when it comes to a traditional recipe by my Mum. And why should I, when I know its just perfect. Or maybe I am too old and entrenched to change. And change I brought with this very classic Bengali Sunday afternoon lunch – Mangsho ‘r Mishti Pulao, in the middle of the week on a Wednesday evening.
Payesh is a traditional Bengali dessert made of rice (Basmati or Gobindo Bhog) and milk, slow cooked with aromatic cardamoms and bay leaf and generous amounts of chopped nuts (cashews or almonds) and raisins. This dessert ought to be made with precision and timing…and patience! And if you don’t get it exact, the imbalance in consistency and sweetness will be very obvious.
Busy festive days need ridiculously easy dessert recipes, you’d agree! I am sharing with you your Mom’s star recipe of Pistachio Kulfis. Yes, your Mom and my Mum all make it the same way back home in India. Its these modern spice goddesses (pun most definitely intended!) who mix and mash milk, banana and bread (apparently for texture and thickness) and then call it Kulfi!
Bengali cuisine is never complete without talking about Jhalmuri. Puffed rice has never been treated with so much respect and reverence, as it is in this anytime snack which has its origins in the streets of Bengal.
Spicy, tangy, crunchy, and mouth-wateringly delicious. That’s phuchka for you. If you are not already overwhelmed by the cumulative taste quotient of this Indian (Bengal and Bihar) snack, I’d like to delve deeper into how I like to eat my phuchka. And yes, my post is all about phuchka and not gol gappa, paanipuri, gup-chup, pani bataasha or whatever other names it is known as in the other parts of India.
Okay, now that I have made myself at least sufficiently hungry, I am going to stop now. These are my personal favorites and I can eat them any day. I hope you enjoyed my little round up. More Bengali recipes and pictures can be found here.
Have a great New Year and lots of love.