This recipe has appeared in Huffpost India
If you are a morning person, the one who gets up early in the morning not to sweat at the gym or to do yoga in the patio but the one who can sniff at the sweet and spicy flavors coming from the neighborhood shops and with all the new-found enthusiasm that early morning unleashes on, get ready to search the markets and shops for the delicious breakfast spread, then in my humble opinion you are true blooded Bengali. Though this “once common breed” has now being overpowered by the evils of bowl of corn flakes, a sad-looking burnt toast scantily spread with low-fat cheese on it or slice of sandwich with a glass of some weird-looking smoothie that has promised to reduce the size of over growing belly. The beautiful sweet and spicy aromas, the sight of kachoris being deep-fried in hot oil in a giant kadhai and the spongy rasgullas bubbling up in the hot syrup, have become thing of the past, now being remembered as painful memories. Nostalgia!
They say eat breakfast like a king, but the sad-looking oatmeal and glass of avocado smoothie in the morning hardly makes up to that stature. But food stories are so engrossing that it makes easier to gulp down even the glass of bitter gourd juice in the early morning. The comforting thoughts of past lives often soothes the creases of present lives filled with anxiousness, stress and strains.
Morning were always fresh and crisp like the freshly pressed newspaper, and so was the thought of going to the market or to neighborhood mishti dokan (sweet shops) to have the hot and sumptuous kochuri and aloor dum, along with hot, syrup dripping jalebis, nimki and some morning adda with the pseudo. Not enlightening, but entertaining enough. If you were lucky, then the humble kochuri can turn magically into mouth-watering and lip smacking radhaballavi, cholar dal and jhal aloo’r dum served in cone-shaped bowl of sal leaves. You will find it rustic and environmental friendly now. Morning could not be better than this. Ah…memories.
The name is sweet and so the dish is, not literally though. Named after Radha and Krishna, or may have been derived from the religious sect Radhaballavi or there may exist no connection at all between the two, whatever its history of origin, the sweet and spicy radhaballavi always holds a special place in the Bengali’s breakfast table.
Radhaballavi is essentially made with kalai’r dal or urad dal or black lentils, slightly sweeter in taste than its other counterparts like hing’er kochuri which is made with motor dal and the other one is dal puri which is made with cholar dal. A very thin line of differences exist between all these three variants and each has its own distinguishable characteristics. For many, often the fine line of differences overlaps with one another.
Chola’r dal or jhal aloo’r dum are the two indisputable companions for radhaballavi. Jhal meaning spicy in Bengali and it beautifully offset the slightly sweet tasting radhaballavis, together they makes a beautiful pair. This aloor dum is essentially niramish that is the one without onions and garlic and thus consider as a festive food too.
Here goes the recipe –
- All purpose flour / maida : 2 cups / 200-250 gm
- Salt to taste
- Oil : 1 tbsp for kneading
- Warm water / milk : ½ cup + / - use accordingly
- Urad dal dhuli / biuli dal / skinned black lentil : 1 cup
- Cumin and fennel seeds : ½ tsp each
- Bhaja masala / dry roasted powder : 1 tsp (see the note)
- Ginger : 1 inch
- Mace powder : ½ tsp or small pinch of Bengali garam masala
- Sugar : ½ tsp + /- as per the taste
- Salt to taste
- Oil : 1 tbsp
- Green chillies : 1 tsp chopped
- Oil for deep frying the kachori
- Baby potatoes (boiled) ; 250 gm
- Tomato puree / tomato paste with a piece of ginger : 2-3 tbsp
- Roasted cumin powder : 1 tsp
- Roasted chilli powder : 1 tsp
- roasted corainder powder : ½ tsp
- Turmeric powder : ½ tsp
- Salt and sugar to taste
- Oil : 2tbsp
- Cilantro chopped : ¼ cup
- Cloves, cinnamon and green cardamom : 2-3 piece
- Wash and soak the lentil overnight. This will ensure the creaminess of paste.
- In a mixer grinder, add the lentils without any water, ginger piece, green chillies and salt.
- Grind to a medium fine paste.
- In the pan, heat the oil. Add the cumin and fennel seeds and let it sizzle.
- Add the lentil paste, stir it gently. Mix in the sugar, roasted powder, mace powder, check for the salt and stir it gently on low heat, till the lentil paste coagulates and incorporates the spices and flavours well.
- This will take 5 minute time. Take the pan off the fire, let it cool, knead it lightly, and divide it into small balls.
- In a wide bowl, sift the flour with salt. Mix in the oil, rub the oil well with the flour till it resembles bread crumbs.
- Add the warm water or milk gradually and knead the dough until you get a stiff but pliable dough.
- this will take some 10 -12 minutes.
- Cover the dough with damp kitchen towel and let it rest for an hour.
- Peel the boiled potatoes. smear it with pinch of turmeric and salt.
- Heat the mustard oil in the pan / kadhai.
- Add the cloves, cinnamon and green cardamom. Let it sizzle.
- Add the potatoes, and fry lightly on medium heat till they get the golden brownish hue.
- Add the roasted cumin powder, roasted chilli powder, roasted coriander powder and mix in well.
- Stir in the tomato puree or homemade tomato and ginger paste. add more turmeric powder if requires.
- Fry it on high heat, stirring continuously.
- Check for the seasonings, add sugar and salt to taste.
- Lower the heat, add half cup warm water, cover and let it cook for another 5 minute.
- Once the gravy get soaked up, stir in the chopped cilantro leaves and take it off the heat.
- Serve warm with radhaballavis / kachori.
- Knead lightly the dough for 2 minutes. Divide the dough into equal golf ball size.
- Flatten the dough ball slightly in your palm to form a cup, place the lentil stuffing in the center, fold along the edges and reshape it into a ball.
- Flatten the ball slightly and roll it out into a circle on floured surface, taking care that the filling does not comes out of it.
- Repeat it with all the dough balls. This will make roughly 12 kachoris.
- Heat the oil in a deep bottom pan. Once the oil is heated to its smoking point, quickly lower the heat to medium. try to maintain an even temperature.
- Carefully lower the kachoris in hot oil and fry one at a time. Lightly press down the sides to make them puff. Turn once.
- Remove the kachori from the hot oil and drain them on paper towel.
- Serve immediately with spicy dum aloo or cholar dal.
Dry roast one kashmiri red chill. Dry roast one teaspoon cumin powder and fennel seed powder, all separately. Grind them in coffee grinder to a fine powder.
Have a lovely year ahead