Enchor’er dalna / green jackfruit curry in Bengali style

Do you remember that kindergarten rhyme-

My house is red a little house,
a happy child am I.
I laugh and play the live long day.
I hardly ever cry.
I had a tree, a green green tree to shade me from the sun.
Under which I often sit, when all my play is done.”

I wonder when I have read last such innocent lines. One of the classic rhyme, I guess and I was so much in love with the rhyme, that I still remember it by heart. There was another reason why I was in love with that rhyme so much, it always reminds me of that old jackfruit tree standing proudly for so many years unknown separating the boundary walls between our two houses. On Sunday afternoons, it was our favourite place to play hide and seek or at times to sit and paint the flowers with the crayons. The only other companion was the big and fat black ants trailing up and down the lusty and shaded boughs of the jackfruit tree. It was so much fun to observe the army of marching ants, tromping up and down the branches, carrying their foods. During the early months of Summer, the tree was loaded with so many fruits, some were harvested when they were still young and unripe to make enchor chingri dalna and our neighbours would make some most delicious katthal ka achaar that I ever had. She used to gift some to my Ma, knowing that it would set my daily tiffin routine of paratha and achhar combo.

green jackfruit curry

That regular supply of katthal ka achhar was stopped midway, unfortunately when they had to leave the job and moved to their hometown in UP.  Our new neighbours were not so generous and one day they decided to cut down the tree halfway to install the dish antenna. Slowly the things turned into different directions, with years more branches were chopped down to raise the boundary wall, and as we graduated to higher classes, we too lost interest in those silly things. But even after so many decades, I still remember those innocent times spent under the green jackfruit tree.

With time everything changes, so as our choices and priorities in our lives. But at times, there are moments so strong as to stir our memories, we yearn to reconnect back with our former self, the way things used to be in those days…  While DH was busy chopping down the jackfruit precisely into cubes, I was lost in those forlorn memories. He was not sure whether we would be able to manage the cutting and cubing of the jackfruit or not, giving that it’s unmanageable tough, knobby and poky hard exterior, and the sticky latex filled interiors that badly stains the fingers and knives. But when I spotted two tender jackfruit in grocery shop, I was so excited that I had decided to take the plunge. Though it is said that Karnataka’ Western Ghats are the home to this wonderful tree called jackfruit, but finding the jackfruit in Bangalore’s grocery store is tough one. You have to be extremely lucky for that. In summer months, every year in Bangalore you will find one or two Jackfruit mela in the city, most of the time it promotes the ripe fruit and not the green one. Those who are fan of this sweet smelling ripe jackfruit, they swear by its super taste and deliciousness. However I cannot tolerate its heady aroma even from a distance, may be am little allergic to it, or better call it as psychoallergy. The unripe and green one is however my favourite vegetable.

bengali jackfruit curry

Recently I had come acrossed a very depressing article on jackfruit. In its own country, where the fruit is indigenous, it is highly underrated one and now being labeled as ‘poor man’s food’. I failed to understand the snobbishness behind it. Even the farmers in Karnataka are not keen to grow the jackfruit, as it reaps hardly any profit to sustain their livelihood. Ironically, according to the research this is one of the crop that is disease and drought resistant and has immense potential values as nutrient rich super food. While in West, jackfruit is now considered as vegan alternative to pulled pork, and they are adapting this in their diet as meat alternatives, after acknowledging its enriching nutrient values. Most of the jackfruit available there as canned product, largely imported from Thailand. While in its own country, jackfruit suffers as a neglected and forlorn crop.

jackfruit enchorer korma

If you are running out of the ideas to cook the green tender jackfruit, then let me hint on some of the delicious possibilities. Apart from enjoying it as curry, you can also use its soft flesh to make chops and cutlets. In every Holi my Ma used to make this and believe me that was so delectable that you cannot stop just at one. Pickling is another one to preserve it so that you can enjoy it during the winter months with your favourite paratha. I had come across a wonderful jackfruit biryani recipe on the internet and I am planning to try that too this summer. While I was in US I had the jackfruit as a filling in Mexican taco and was so well seasoned that for brief moment you cannot tell that it was not meat but jackfruit. Jackfruit is also very popular among the South Asian countries like Thailand, Indonesia and Malaysia. Try their versions too to bring some variety to the table and that’s how the recipes evolves.  Show some love to it and try to do something new, am sure its meaty taste and delicious fleshy texture will please your palate in more than one ways.

jackfruit curry Indian recipe

Chopping – This is one of the important step. Don’t get intimidated by its hardy, woody and poky exterior. You will need a very sharp knife to chop it into cubes. So bring out your heavy duty chef knife, grease it very well with mustard oil or coconut oil, the chopping board and your hands too. Both these oils are good for the skin too, olive oil would be little expensive and please do not use refined oil.  If you are using plastic chopping board then use newspaper underneath to cut the jackfruit. It becomes very difficult to get rid off the milky latex from the plastic / vinyl board.

To make this curry, choose a green, young and tender jackfruit that roughly measures up to 15-20 cm. First slice the jackfruit lengthwise to get some even size round disc. Small sizes are easier to handle. Once you get the round disc, hold the knife at 45 degree angle and get rid of its green knobby hardy exterior. There should not be traces of its hardy exterior left after you slice it down with the knife. All you need is its soft outer skin. Once you are done with its woody exterior, cut the round disc in half and get rid of the core or the sticky latex oozing center part. From there on proceed to cube or cut the jackfruit into large chunks. The seeds and its soft outer shells (if not chewy or plastic like) are also edible. In a large tumbler, pour enough warm water, little salt, pinch of turmeric and few drops of mustard oil, stir it well and let the jack fruit soak in it for around 20 minutes. I always prefer a pressure cooker to cook this, else you can use the slow cooker too.

Enchor'er dalna / Green jackfruit curry in Bengali style
 
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Tender jackfruit curry or korma simmered in rich Indian spices.
Author:
Recipe type: Lunch
Cuisine: Indian
Serves: 3
Ingredients
  • Green / unripe jackfruit : 500 g
  • Black cardamom : 2-3
  • Cloves : 3-4
  • Cinnamon : an inch piece
  • Onion : 1 large sliced
  • Fried Onion & ginger garlic paste : 5 tbsp (1 medium onion, 10-12 garlic cloves, 2 inch piece ginger)
  • Green chillies (chopped) : 2 tsp
  • Curd : ½ cup
  • Turmeric powder: 1 tsp
  • Red chilli powder : 1 tsp
  • Cumin powder : 1 tsp
  • Bengali garam masala : ½ tsp
  • Salt and sugar to taste
  • Mustard oil : 2 -3 tbsp
  • Ghee : 1 tbsp
  • Bay leaves : 2-3
  • Cashews : a handful (fried)
Instructions
  1. Cut the jackfruit in medium size chunks. Smear it with salt, turmeric powder and mustard oil. Leave it aside for 15 minutes.
  2. In a pan with half teaspoon oil, fry one medium size onion cut roughly into chunks, garlic cloves and ginger chopped roughly. Once the onions are slightly brown, turn off the heat, cool it down and then grind it in a mixer (all together) to make a paste.
  3. In pressure cooker, heat the mustard oil. Temper the oil with bay leaves, cloves, cardamom and cinnamon.
  4. Fry the sliced onion till lightly brown. Add the marinated jackfruit pieces and fry it on medium heat for 5 minute.
  5. Add the fried onion, ginger garlic paste and keep sauteing.
  6. Add all the spices in batches and keep stirring.
  7. Keep stirring, add salt and sugar to taste.
  8. Keep braising the jackfruit on medium heat till the masala leaves oil from the sides.
  9. Once that stage is reached, lower the heat and add the curd in batches (not all at the same time).
  10. Mix it well, and keep braising it.
  11. Add enough water to just cover the jackfruits.
  12. Lower the flame, close the pressure cooker and steam cook the jackfruits till it becomes tender.
  13. Check if the jackfruit is tender enough, if not then add some more water and cook it till done.
  14. Check the seasonings and before serving garnish with fried cashews and drizzle some ghee over it and serve warm with rice or roti or paratha.
Notes
You can also add fried shrimps into this korma.

 Until next,

Sukanya

Radhaballavi kachori recipe

Radhaballavi / kachori and spicy aloo’r dum for Bengali new Year

This recipe has appeared in Huffpost India

poila baisakh 2015

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.

radhaballavi steps

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.

Radhaballavi kachori dum aloo

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.

Radhaballavi kachori recipe

 

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.

spicy dum aloo recipe

Here goes the recipe –

Radhaballavi / kachori and spicy aloo'r dum
 
Lentil stuffed deep fried puffed bread or kachori or radhaballavi with spicy dum aloo dry version.
Author:
Recipe type: Breakfast
Cuisine: Indian
Ingredients
For Radhaballavi / kachori
for the dough
  • All purpose flour / maida : 2 cups / 200-250 gm
  • Salt to taste
  • Oil : 1 tbsp for kneading
  • Warm water / milk : ½ cup + / - use accordingly
for the filling
  • 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
For spicy dum aloo
  • 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
Instructions
To make the lentil stuffing
  1. Wash and soak the lentil overnight. This will ensure the creaminess of paste.
  2. In a mixer grinder, add the lentils without any water, ginger piece, green chillies and salt.
  3. Grind to a medium fine paste.
  4. In the pan, heat the oil. Add the cumin and fennel seeds and let it sizzle.
  5. 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.
  6. This will take 5 minute time. Take the pan off the fire, let it cool, knead it lightly, and divide it into small balls.
prepare the dough
  1. 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.
  2. Add the warm water or milk gradually and knead the dough until you get a stiff but pliable dough.
  3. this will take some 10 -12 minutes.
  4. Cover the dough with damp kitchen towel and let it rest for an hour.
Prepare the dum aloo / dry potato curry
  1. Peel the boiled potatoes. smear it with pinch of turmeric and salt.
  2. Heat the mustard oil in the pan / kadhai.
  3. Add the cloves, cinnamon and green cardamom. Let it sizzle.
  4. Add the potatoes, and fry lightly on medium heat till they get the golden brownish hue.
  5. Add the roasted cumin powder, roasted chilli powder, roasted coriander powder and mix in well.
  6. Stir in the tomato puree or homemade tomato and ginger paste. add more turmeric powder if requires.
  7. Fry it on high heat, stirring continuously.
  8. Check for the seasonings, add sugar and salt to taste.
  9. Lower the heat, add half cup warm water, cover and let it cook for another 5 minute.
  10. Once the gravy get soaked up, stir in the chopped cilantro leaves and take it off the heat.
  11. Serve warm with radhaballavis / kachori.
to make the radhaballavis / kachori
  1. Knead lightly the dough for 2 minutes. Divide the dough into equal golf ball size.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. Repeat it with all the dough balls. This will make roughly 12 kachoris.
  5. 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.
  6. Carefully lower the kachoris in hot oil and fry one at a time. Lightly press down the sides to make them puff. Turn once.
  7. Remove the kachori from the hot oil and drain them on paper towel.
  8. Serve immediately with spicy dum aloo or cholar dal.
Notes
Note for Bhaja masla / dry roasted powder :
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.

radhaballavi kachori dal

Have a lovely year ahead

Sukanya

Mughlai paratha recipe

Mughlai paratha / minced meat stuffed paratha from Kolkata

An unleavened flatbread that has won the hearts of the people in the subcontinent and as far away as in the south-east Asia too, the paratha is one such food that requires no introduction. There is no two-way of making the dish but many ways to enjoy it as plain paratha with basic potato curry or as stuffed paratha with raita or chutney or as flaky paratha with curries or even with sugar sometimes. When it comes to Mughlai paratha, the very basic definition of paratha changes, taking this to new level of gastronomical height and after a bite or two, you will realize why Bengalis are so crazy about it.

Mughlai paratha recipe

Mughlai paratha is an exemplary  illustration of Mughal influence on the cuisine of Bengal that had sneaked through the kitchens of Nawabs of Murshidabad and now has become the most sought after street food of Kolkata. In its original version, the paratha is usually stuffed with keema (minced meat) and then fortified with egg, the meat filled packets are then shallow fried in hot oil.

Since it is highly greasy, the kind of stuff you wont prefer to have it often whether you are a health freak or not, so any occasion like Durga puja or Poila baisakh (Bengali new year), people makes it a point to relish this supremely delicious layered paratha or paorota in our case. The food stalls during the pujo are good way to start if you are staying outside Kolkata, but making this at home is really intimidating.

Kolkata mughlai paratha

While I was in US, I once had the baked version of Mughlai paratha during the Durga pujo at Boston, it was tasty, no doubt about it but more like meat mince stuffed patties, the kind that Monginis sells. It was appetizing just for the namesake but your mind really craves for the greasy ones. The kind that every Bengali vouch for its superlative taste, the kind that makes you crazy enough and the memories that stays with you for decades.

When I said greasy, I never meant it to be drenched in oil, dripping from its corners, the kind the food stalls sells here in Bangalore. The mere thought of deep-fried mughlai paratha in over fried almost black oil, is enough to give heart attacks to the unsuspecting ones. Poor DH had tasted this two versions only, so naturally the responsibility was mine to show him the good side of this signature street food from Kolkata and to make it at least palatable.

Mughlai moghlai porota

On the very next opportunity to visit Kolkata, I specially made a plan to saviour this delectable Mughlai paratha and that leads us to the college street. He is probasi (migrant) like me too, only difference is that I had spent my college life there so when it comes to show off some bengali-ana I score better than him. I wanted to show him my college too so we decided to spent some time at the legendary Coffee house, near my college.

Even after so many years nothing had changed on a superficial level, the coffee-house still stood proudly braving the modernisation. We had ordered the mughlai paratha there, DH was certainly charmed by its retro aura. And when in all its glory the Mughlai paratha arrives, DH’s whole attention was on the serving plates which even I think can do with another round of washing. I quickly reminded him the number one rule of enjoying street food, that is to ignore it silently. Inside I felt something had changed since last decade.

Well, this was coffee-house and it was supposed to be very good if not at par with Anadi’s cabin, the man according to legends had introduced the mughlai paratha to the gourmands of Kolkata. I assured him once again as this was the place where legends have eaten before. As if its legendary reputation is immunity in itself. I secretly promised myself to compensate the unappetizing Mughlai paratha with sandesh from nakur’s or may be Flurys would be better idea. As we were enjoying the tram ride through the green carpets of Maidan, I thought in retrospect every city changes with time so does its flavours.

Mughlai paratha steps

But the quench for a good Mughlai paratha stays with us, and that motivates us to take the plunge. The procedures are long but if you plan it well ahead in advance, many things become easier. So I had prepared the minced meat and potato curry a day before and that gives us some stress free moments. You don’t have to concentrate on too many things, just focus only on the paratha.

Making the dough is tough if you are newbie here. But if you have tasted success with samosa, this will be an easy ride for you. You need to add lot of oil to make the dough pliable, that will also ensue the end result will be super flaky paratha. Go easy on eggs and shallow fry the paratha. Instead of minced meat for the filling, you can also use only onion, green chillies and spices or mashed potatoes or even some scrambled paneer too. So here goes the recipe, and don’t worry if you can not make it right for the first time, there’s always second time.

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Mughlai paratha / mince stuffed paratha from Kolkata
 
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Mughlai paratha or paratha stuffed with minced meat and fortified with egg cover and shallow fried.
Author:
Cuisine: Indian
Serves: 6
Ingredients
For dough
  • All purpose flour / maida : 3 cups
  • Refined oil : 3 tbsp + more for greasing
  • Salt : ¼ tsp
  • Warm water / milk : 1 cup +/-
  • Baking powder : a pinch (optional)
For minced meat filling
  • Minced meat : 250 gm
  • Onion : 1 large cut into slices
  • Green chillies : 2-3 chopped
  • Ginger-garlic paste : 1 tbsp
  • Turmeric powder : (1/4 tsp)
  • Cumin powder : 1 tsp
  • Bengali garam masala : ½ tsp
  • Salt and sugar to taste
  • Oil for frying
  • Red chilli powder ; ½ tsp
  • Cilantro : ¼ cup finely chopped
For spicy potato curry (dry)
  • Potatoes : 3 large cut into cubes
  • Green chillies ; 2-3 finely chopped
  • Ginger paste : 1 tsp
  • Turmeric powder :1/2 tsp
  • Red chilli powder ; 1 tsp
  • Black pepper powder : ½ tsp
  • Cumin powder : 1 tsp
  • Salt to taste
  • Oil : 2 tbsp
Others
  • Eggs : 3 beaten well with pinch of salt
  • Oil for shallow frying the paratha
  • Onions : 1cup finely chopped
  • Green chillies : 2-3 tbsp finely chopped
To serve
  • Tomato ketchup
  • Mustard sauce / kasundi
  • Wedges of lime
Instructions
To prepare the dough
  1. Sift the flour in a bowl, sprinkle the salt, baking powder if you are using and make a well in the center and add the oil.
  2. Using your fingers, rub the oil with the flour very well till it resembles fine bread crumbs.
  3. This will ensure the flakiness of the paratha.
  4. Knead the dough using warm water or milk (milk makes the dough soft), adding it slowly and knead it into very soft and pliable dough.
  5. The dough should be soft, pliable, stretchy and should be able to roll out thin.
  6. Once you attained that stage, grease the dough with the oil, cover it with damp kitchen towel and leave it to rest for 2 hours.
Preparing the minced meat filling
  1. Wash the minced meat (keema) in a colander, keeping a bowl underneath.
  2. Heat one tablespoon oil in a pan and fry the onion slices.
  3. keeping the heat to the maximum, add the minced meat (keema) and fry on a high heat. It will start releasing lots of water.
  4. Add the ginger garlic paste, all the spices, green chillies, salt and keep frying it on high heat.
  5. Once the water dries up, check for the seasonings, lower the heat, cover it and cook till done.
  6. Add few spoon of water if requires to keep the meat moist.
  7. Add the chopped cilantro and mix it well.
  8. Make this a day before and reheat it before adding it in the paratha.
To prepare spicy potato curry (dry)
  1. Wash and peel the potatoes, cut it into cubes
  2. Heat the oil in the pan, add the potatoes and fry it for few minutes.
  3. Add the ginger paste, green chillies, all the spices, salt and keep sauteing it.
  4. Add one cup water, lower the heat, cover and cook the potatoes till done.
  5. Once the potatoes are tender and has soaked up the water, check for the seasonings and take it from the heat.
  6. Make this a day ahead, reheat it and serve it with Mughlai paratha.
To make the Mughlai paratha
  1. Knead the prepared dough lightly for couple of minutes. Divide it into equal golf ball size sections.
  2. Grease the rolling pin and the board.
  3. Take the ball, roll out thinly into a square. Roll out as thin as possible but not paper thin, else it will not hold the stuffing well.
  4. Use the pictures given in the post as guide.
  5. Spread a teaspoon of egg evenly on to the paratha, leaving the edges.
  6. Place the minced meat filling in the center. Top it with 1 tsp finely chopped onions, 2-3 pieces of finely chopped green chillies and two teaspoon of egg mixture on the minced meat.
  7. Now fold the paratha as per the pictures, making it well enclosed packets.
  8. Heat the oil in the pan.
  9. Place one paratha in hot oil, folded side down first.
  10. Once it starts browning, flip it over and fry the other side.
  11. Flip it once more, this time slightly press the edges of the paratha for even cooking and fry till golden brown. Flip it and fry the other side till golden brown.
  12. Repeat the steps till the dough last.
to serve
  1. Serve the Mughlai paratha hot with ketchup or mustard sauce, with more sliced onion and lime wedges and with dry spicy potato curry.

Happy eating

Sukanya

fish macher kalia recipe

Rui maacher kaalia / bengali style fish curry – not the ordinary one

Fish kalia or rui / rohu macher kalia – a rich preparation of spicy and flavoured fish curry in Bengali style.

Owing to the riverine geographical landscape of Bengal, fish always held a predominant status in Bengali’s life and culture. Much to the astonishment of many people, fish is considered auspicious here in Bengal. In marriage ceremonies, in festivals and pujas (religious practices) fish remains integral to our culture so much so that fish and Bengalis become synonym to each other. However, I have met few non-fish eating Bengalis too and had listened to their woes, how they have been mercilessly rebuked for their choice. As a society in general, we love to paint everyone with the same brush, decline to think beyond the stereotypes.  We forget that we all deserve an individualistic choice or right to choice, to live the way we wanted to.

Before the Portuguese brought the tomatoes and potatoes, or Nawabs added the colorful glory to the Bengali cuisine, the fish was usually prepared in simplistic way, with few spices like cumin, kalonji and ginger paste with vegetables added in some proportion to make it a complete meal. The waterlogged paddy fields were not just a staple source of Bengali diet, they were resources of many fresh water fishes too.

fish macher kalia recipe

For long, Bengal remain the preferred home for the exiled Nawabs and when they settled down there, they had literally transported their kitchen too in the far-flung fringes of the city. With them they had brought their spices, the cooking techniques and had influenced the Bengali cuisine to a great extent, left behind the rich legacies of their distinctive culture. Having being in the center of trade, political power and cultural exchanges, the multiculturalism is highly evident in the Bengali cuisine, the flavours and taste flourishes to this day.

Of three classes of cooked dishes, as per the culinary chronicles of Mughal era, kalia, quorma, do piyazaa and kebabs comprises the single all-meat class of cooked dishes. The other two classes are the meat less dishes like rice, halwa, vegetables and the other one is dishes where meat is cooked with grains like biryani, pulao etc. Kalia is rich preparation of meat or fish in this case, in red colored gravy thanks to the tomatoes (tomatoes are generally not added in Bengali recipes) and are flavoured with rich spices and nut paste. The result is rich, delectable and flavoured version of fish curry, worthy of special occasions like marriage ceremonies.

For kalia, a good and freshest carp is required, mostly rui or rohu (grass crap) is prefered for the recipe. The fish must not weigh less than 2 kg, else the taste will be highly compromised. And also a mature fish will yield good and decent size of steak pieces. Frying the steaks of fish are must, to ensue the rich taste of the fish curry. This adds the perfect crispness to the fish and also it helps to hold together the fish well. I don’t know how people got this funny idea that Bengalis fry the fish to get rid off the fishy smell or to hide the staleness of the fish. No self-respecting Bengali would ever get caught dead with stale fish, it is against our genetic code.

bengali style fish curry
 
Prep time
Cook time
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Fish kalia a rich preparation of spicy and flavoured fish curry in Bengali style.
Author:
Recipe type: Lunch
Cuisine: Indian
Serves: 6
Ingredients
  • Steaks of grass carp (rui / rohu fish or katla) : 6 medium size
  • Onion paste of one medium onion : ¼ cup
  • Onion : 1 medium finely chopped
  • Tomato paste of one large tomato
  • Curd: 1 tsp or optional
  • Ginger-garlic paste : 1 tsp
  • Green chillies : 1 or 2
  • Cashew : ¼ cup
  • Rasiin : ¼ cup
  • Turmeric powder : ½ tsp + more for smearing the fish
  • Cumin powder : 1 tsp
  • Red chilli powder : 1 tsp
  • Bengali garam masala : ½ tsp
  • Salt and sugar to taste
  • Mustard oil : for frying the fish
  • Bay leaves : 1 or 2
  • cilantro for garnishing
Instructions
  1. Wash and clean the fish steaks.
  2. Smear the fish pieces with salt and turmeric.
  3. soak the cashew and raisin for half an hour. Leaving few pieces for garnishing, make a paste of cashew and raisin together.
  4. Heat the mustard oil in the pan. Fry the fish pieces one by one gently turning them, frying each side for around 1-2 minute, but not more than that.
  5. Slot out the fish pieces from the oil and drain them on kitchen towel to get rid off excess oil.
  6. In the same pan, add more oil if requires, fry the onion and onion paste.
  7. Once the onion stops releasing the juices, add the ginger garlic paste. brown the onion-ginger garlic paste.
  8. Add the tomato paste, increase the flame and fry it on high heat.
  9. Add the spices, salt, sugar, and bay leaves. Keep braising the spices and onion -tomato paste on medium heat till the mixture oozes out oil. This will take some time around 10 minutes.
  10. Once the mixture is braised enough, mix the curd with cashew-raisin paste and add it to this.
  11. Give everything a nice stir, lower the heat and cook it for another 5 minute.
  12. Add the green chillies, check the seasonings, add if it requires anything.
  13. Add 2 cups warm water to the spice mixture., blend it well.
  14. Slide the fish pieces gently, one at a time. Cover and cook for another 4-5 minute.
  15. Swiched off the heat, add the chopped cilantro, cover and let the fish absorb the gravy.
  16. Serve fish kalia garnished with cashew and raisins with steamed rice or with pulao.

 

Fish kalia is enjoyed best with Bengali mishti (sweet) pulao but you can always serve it with steamed rice to spice up the typical regular mundane mach-bhaat (fish-rice) fare. For Bengali garam masala spice blend, check the recipe here.

Stay tuned for more

Sukanya

bengali dimer devil

Bengali dimer devil / deviled eggs a la college canteen style

Tucked away in the corner of terrace, near the busy junction of metro station, housed in a century old building, the canteen was cozy and intimate, always brimming up with flavours of foods, gossips and music. Even at 6.30 in the morning you can find students waiting near the tiny counter for their morning cup of tea and singara (samosa).  And we used to enjoy special privileges as ours was the only classroom that was just next to the canteen. And that would mean we can sneak anytime between the boring lectures to get our share of early morning protein aka “dimer devil”.

dimer devil recipe

 

Eating inside the classroom while the class was still going on was never a shameful thing for us, it was more of necessity as there were hardly any breaks in between the lectures. Rules were simple. Just chew silently (no noisy chabor chobor) and keep your eye fixed on the lecturer, nodding meaningfully at times, enjoy the meaty filling of fried deviled eggs with kasundi was the ultimate thing you can expect in the early morning. Life could not get better than that. Enjoying secretly the deviled eggs compensated everything, rising early to attend the 6.30 morning lecture too. On flip side, this happens when the education is based on rote learning system, and once you are graduated to an international universities, a new world dawn upon you. The recent mass cheating at school in Bihar attest to this fact. So as long as our universities keep this tradition of rote learning system, you can enjoy the deviled eggs (inside the classroom).

deviled eggs

Well, lets not deviate from the food talk. You might ask me, what was so special about our college canteen dimer devil. I don’t know why we were so mad about it, may be because of the thrill to sneak few deviled eggs inside the classroom or was the deviled eggs were that damn good. But for us the story of deviled eggs starts and ends there, in our college canteen. In one word “nothing beats our college canteen dimer devil”. Hence I am dedicating this post to those bygone sweet memories.

scotch eggs recipe

It is sinful to attest the word devil to such a nice dish called deviled eggs or is it really that “sinful”, I mean extremely pleasing to the senses. As per the culinary history the word “devil” was coined in the year 1786 to describe a food preparation that were deep-fried and seasoned with hot spices and condiments, extremely pleasing, and certainly not relating to satanic thoughts. Peppers and other spices were prized commodity in those ages, so seasoning any food with them was considered stylish, fashionable and premium. Deviled dishes were very popular throughout the nineteenth and into the twentieth centuries, specially the eggs and seafood.

How Bengal got its taste of deviled eggs, rechristened to “dimer devil” is matter of controversy. One school of thought believes that it had come via the British while others found a strong connection between the Mughal’s nargisi kofta. Both of them had left indelible mark on the culinary history of bengal. Another theory is that Brits borrowed the recipes rom the Mughals and had renamed it. Who borrows it from whom is history now, and the interesting fact is that it belongs to Bengalis now, the most sought after street food of Kolkata, the favourite food in many college canteens.

bengali dimer devil

There are two ways of making this supremely appetizing “dimer devil”. As a general rule, the yolk is first scoop out of the hard-boiled egg-shell, then mash it with the filling. Since it will be a deep-fried dish, so filling will need a binder. Flour, breadcrumbs or potatoes are added to the filling. Once the eggs are coated well, it is then allowed to sit for two hours or more so that the filling attached itself well to the eggs. Devils are then dipped in egg batter, rolled in breadcrumbs and deep-fried. Most of the time it is served with simple tomato ketchup but as Bengalis are fond of their kasundi, so serving dimer devil with kasundi brings out its true essence.

deviled egg recipe

The classic version uses minced meat as filling but now a days vegetarian versions are popular as well. I am definitely talking about a separate sect here called “egg-etarian” that includes those who enjoys eggs but not any meat. So if you belong to that particular sect and want to try the “vegetarian” versions then instead of meat filling you can try potatoes only, or potatoes mashed with scrambled paneer or a mix of mashed paneer, peas and potatoes. Some like to keep the yolk in its place and some like to scoop it out for better taste. I took the midway. I had boiled few extra eggs to use their yolk in the filling, to enjoy the best of both worlds.

how to make dimer devil

Here goes the recipe:

Bengali dimer devil / deviled eggs
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
Bengali style deviled eggs appetizer, similar to Scotch eggs and serve with kasundi.
Author:
Recipe type: Appetiser
Serves: 8
Ingredients
  • Eggs (hard boiled) : 4
Filling
  • Minced meat : 300 gm
  • Potatoes (boiled): 1 large
  • Onion : 1 cup finely sliced or chopped
  • Fried onion : ½ cup
  • Green chillies: 4-5 finely chopped
  • Bay leaf : 1
  • Bengali garam masala / clove-cinnamon-cardamom powder: ½ tsp
  • Cumin powder: 1 tsp
  • Black pepper powder: ½ tsp
  • Red chilli powder : ½ tsp
  • Corainder leaves ; a handful (chopped)
Coating
  • Breadcrumbs : 1 cup
  • Flour to dust
  • Egg batter : 2 eggs
Other
  • Oil for deep frying
  • salt to taste
Instructions
Prepare the filling
  1. Use good quality minced meat and the mince should be fine, not coarse.
  2. Heat a tablespoon oil in a pan, brown the onions and add the minced meat.
  3. Add salt and spices. Keep frying till the mince meat becomes tender.
  4. Lower the heat and cook the meat till done.
  5. Once cooled enough, add mashed boiled potatoes, green chillies, fried onion, coriander leaves and yolk (if you are scooping it out or using extra yolk).
  6. with your hand mash and mix everything evenly and nciely.
Prepare the devil
  1. Halve the eggs.
  2. Dust the eggs lightly with flour.
  3. Make small balls (golf ball size) of the mixture.
  4. Cover the halved eggs with the mixture, evenly and there should not be gaps or any peeking holes. Eggs should be nicely covered with the filling.
  5. Repeat the process with the rest of the eggs.
  6. Once the devil is prepared, cover and keep it in the fridge for two hours (minimum).
  7. Let the filling stick to the eggs nicely.
Coating and Deep frying
  1. Make a assembly line of egg batter by beating the eggs in a separate bowl.
  2. Spread the flour and breadcrumbs in a separate plate.
  3. Heat a deep frying pan and heat the oil.
  4. Take out the deviled eggs from the fridge, dust it with flour lightly, shaking off the extras, dip the devils in the egg batter, and then roll it in the breadcrumbs evenly.
  5. Repeat the process once more.
  6. Deep fry the deviled eggs in hot oil till you get the golden brown color.
  7. Slot them out on kitchen towel to absorb the extra oils.
  8. Repeat the process with all the eggs.
to serve
  1. Serve the deviled eggs / diemr devil with tomato ketchup or kasundi (bengali mustard sauce) and with sliced raw onions and cucumbers or salad of your choice.
Notes
Instead of meat filling you can use only potatoes or mix of paneer and potatoes too.

Happy weekend !

Sukanya