Saturday, April 20, 2013

Ameena Alam’s Chingri Bhorta

I am always on the lookout for exquisite recipes. You know, those family treasures which you never find in cookbooks. And I am glad I have a set of people who always indulge me. So I wanted a rui recipe, and ended up making Ameena’s Chingri Bhorta, a spicy mash of tiger shrimps. That’s how much I love my chingri. And now second to the shrimps, its the owner of this recipe – Ameena Alam that I love!


Ingredients for Ameena Alam’s Chingri Bhorta are:

400 grams tiger shrimps, deveined and cleaned, cut into small pieces
1 small red onion, finely chopped
1 thumb-size piece of ginger, finely chopped
2-3 fat cloves of garlic, finely chopped
Few sprigs of coriander, finely chopped
5-6 green chillies, slit lengthwise
5-6 dry red chillies
3 + 2 tablespoons mustard oil




IMG_3837Start by heating mustard oil in a pan. Add the dry red chillies, ginger and garlic in it and sauté them on medium flame till the ginger-garlic become soft. Do not brown them.

Remove with a slotted spoon and transfer to your blender’s jar. In the remaining oil, add the shrimps. Cook them till they turn pink. Remove from heat and add to the blender jar with the other ingredients. Make sure you scrape the oil if any from the pan into the jar.


Use the pulse mode in your blender or “mixie” to create an uneven consistency of the ingredients. Its okay for some of the shrimps, red chillies, ginger or garlic to remain chunky. That’s the idea of this bhorta.

Transfer the shrimps in a bowl, add the chopped onions, coriander, sliced green chillies, salt and add a good drizzle of extra virgin mustard oil, about two tablespoons.


Mash everything together and serve while the bhorta is still warm. Preferably with mushurir dal and bhaat.

IMG_3849Thank you, Ameena! Your Chingri Bhorta became an instant hit with the husband and I.

Friday, April 05, 2013

Amader Barir Chirer Pulao, Flattened Rice Pulao from a Bengali Home

Apparently some Professor of some University somewhere around the world put up a note in class about how he knows when students are “texting” in class, “because no one looks at their crotch and smiles”, it said.

Now that may have triggered some chuckles in campus, but that’s the reality. And it’s not the teens and tweens who are having endless conversations on their smartphone devices. Its us adults too. In between meals, meetings, coffee breaks, at the dinner table and while out on a date, and even while putting the baby to sleep.

Its wonderful how our two thumbs can do so much talking! Thank god there are no Dronacharyas around in this day and age. Between the husband and me, cell phones and television are banned during meal times. That is something I have learned from my own Mother. We wouldn’t have TV on during lunch or dinner, unless there was some life changing India-Pakistan cricket match happening. Cell phones with texting features did not exist then.

What did exist were plain old black telephones, with their black curly cords. Where people would chat for hours, without the fear of being charged by the minute. The receiver was so heavy, our hands would ache from just holding it. I still remember when as a 10-year-old, we got the first phone at home. It took us three years of wait time to have a phone connection back then in the late 1980s. But then it was another century then. The Nineteen Eighties. That was also the time, I as a budding pre-teen hated taking a lunch box to school. Though, now that I look back, I’d probably say my sister and I had the best lunches in class. Nutritious and interesting food prepared by my Mum every morning.

IMG_1215This Chirer Pulao was a winter favourite of hers. It makes for a sumptuous mid-day snack for growing kids if you pack it with seasonal vegetables and nuts. There were also no nut allergies back then!

The ingredients for Chirer Pulao are:

1 cup chire/chura/flattened rice, choose the thin, long-grain variety
1 potato, remove the skin and cut into small cubes
1 small red onion, finely chopped
Handful of cauliflower flowerets, cut into small pieces
Few green chillies, finely chopped
Half cup green peas (frozen or fresh)
Handful of broken cashew nuts
Handful of peanuts
Handful of raisins
Handful of fresh coriander, finely chopped
Vegetable oil

Begin by heating oil in a thick pan. Add the cubed potatoes and shallow fry till they turn golden brown. Remove with a slotted spoon and keep.


In the remaining oil, add the cauliflower. Shallow fry till lightly browned and keep.


Add the peanuts (first), cashew and raisins in that order and sauté on low heat till the peanuts and cashew are lightly browned.

IMG_1205Add the green peas and cook for a few minutes without parching the peas and making them look all wrinkly. Keep them out with the potato, etc.


In the remaining oil, add the green chillies and onions and sauté till translucent.


IMG_1208Quickly but thoroughly wash the chire and drain in a colander. Add to the cooked onions, etc. Mix.


IMG_1211. Now add the other shallow-fried ingredients – potato, cauliflower, peas, nuts, and raisins. Mix well. Keep moving the wet chire around in the pan till it gets coated with all the other ingredients.

IMG_1213Season with salt and sugar and add the chopped coriander.

Do a taste test and adjust the seasoning if needed. Serve the Chirer Pulao warm in little bowls or send some packing for lunch to your kids’ school.