Post 1 : Count down to Durga Pujo 2018 Series
With Bengali Phulko Luchi And Aloo Kumro Chorchori. Luchi is not a food, it is an emotion. And that emotion swells up and overwhelmed your senses when they are puffed right and tight. So as our Durga Pujo, our culture, our identity.
The gray skies are slowly transforming into azure blue. The chill and coldness of monsoon clouds are slowly mellowing into autumnal warmth. And nothing bring cheers to a sullen face and enervated mind than this – Bengali phulko luchi with aloo and kumro chorchori which possess a magical touch that can brighten up anyone’s heart.
…and here I am back with my new series of posts, curated specially for the most celebratory occasion in any Bengali’s life- Durga pujo, starting from today onwards ” count down to Durga Pujo 2018 series”.
Luchi is also not Bengali version of poori. It is different. Like sun and moon. It is every Bengali’s pride. Luchi is our culture, our heritage, our tradition, our passion and our everything else. Just like football. We breath luchi, we dream luchi, we desire luchi and we daydream luchi too… with kosha mangsho, with cholar daal, with begun bhaja, with aloor dum, with chaler payesh, with plain sugar also. The last one many might not be familiar with unless you are a “bengali born”. Because, I think every bong child has gone through that special phase in their childhood, the Bengali version of “Joy Joy yes Mumma, eating sugar no Mumma”.
Luchi has now become an integral part of any Bengali celebratory meal, from special occasions to weekend breakfast rituals to offering bhog /offerings to deities, luchi is almost essentially everywhere.
How Luchi Become So Important In Bengali Life?
Time traveled few hundred years back, in medieval times, no one had ever heard about luchi. Just imagine how boring their life could be? Pun intended. In those archaic times, rice cakes or pithas used to be part of any celebratory meal or for a lavish breakfast spread. But with new rulers came new culture, which was totally distinct from the aboriginals way of life and culture. New culture brought new food, new customs, new traditions and new techniques.
It is not clear when and under what circumstances wheat flour was introduced into then Bengal, but soon people started loving this new grain. Refined flour was always considered as a status symbol, and soon Bengal’s elite class had fallen for it. There are some references in medieval texts from Bengal that luchi made with refined flour was a part of “bhraman bhojan” and used to be served at the end of a meal. Once it got the nod from the upper or higher castes, it slowly trickled down into rest of the societal hierarchy . That’s how every caste based society functions.
Since then, these powdery white puffed deep fried bread called “luchi”had secured its indispensable position in Bengali cuisine.
Why Luchi – Aloor Chorchori?
Luchi – aloor chorchori connects straight to the heart. Bong way to greet Sunday. The essential Sunday luchi rituals that had been a tradition in my family since childhood. My mom from whom I have inherited my cooking skills had made a unwritten law of the house that we must indulge once a week for a healthy mind, read happiness. The kind of smile that adorned the lips when your eyes are feasted on puffed up luchi. Yes they must be puffed up and should be able to hold their puffiness , ain’t you are no luchi experts, as written somewhere in an illusory luchi bible ….
When it comes to luchi, bong typically divides them into two groups – one group will go on and sing eulogy on luchi – dum aloo and other will sing their hearts out for luchi – aloo chorchori speckled with nigella.
We belong to the latter group. But my mom made it a point that there is no fun having so much carbs in the morning, so she will religiously pair it with sweet yellow pumpkins to balance the carb intake. Now, typically bong doesn’t connects potatoes with carbohydrates. But my Ma does and so we. Reserving the potato story for some other time.
Typical bong luchi are essentially powdery whitish in color that comes from using maida or bleached refined flour but with time we had moved forward to make it little better by adding whole wheat flour.
Hence brownish in color.
Colour doesn’t matter nor the rituals. Memories are timeless and priceless and that matters.
There are ways to prepare luchi. Here are few versions –
Version 1 for us mortals – the regular breakfast rituals- Refined flour or maida, pinch of salt, refined oil, warm water to knead. Deep fry in refined oil.
Version 2 for Gods & Goddesses – Refined flour or maida, pinch of sugar, pure cow ghee, warm milk to knead. Deep fry in pure cow ghee.
Version 3 for those who believes that eating deep fried refined flour will instantly clog their arteries and will labeled them as diabetic, that includes me too .
Here what I do – mix refined flour and whole wheat flour into 70:30 ratio (strongly believes that 30 percent whole wheat can save my life). Sprinkle two-three tablespoon of sooji that makes the luchi little crisper. Depending upon my mood, I add sometimes ghee or refined oil into the flour. Knead the dough with lukewarm water. Deep fry in refined oil. Drain them on absorbent tissue paper. The last step is crucial and very important. Do not skip that.
- 1 1/2 cup Maida /refined flour
- 1/2 cup Whole wheat flour , optional
- 1 tbsp Ghee / refined oil to knead
- Salt a small pinch
- Oil for deep frying
- Warm water as required to knead
- 3 Potatoes medium size
- Pumpkin : cut into thin strips around half of potato quantity
- 3 tbsp Refined oil
- 1/2 tsp Nigella seeds
- Turmeric powder ; a large pinch
- Salt to taste
- 1/2 tsp Sugar
- 2-3 Green chillies cut into slits
Here I am giving you the option of adding whole wheat flour to the dough. But if you want pure 100 % maida luchi, then do not add whole wheat flour to it.
In a wide bowl, sift the flour and salt together. Add the required amount of oil/ ghee to knead. Usually one tbsp is enough, you can add little more to make it more flaky.
Rub the ghee/ oil into the flour thoroughly till the flour looks like bread crumbs.
Keep lukewarm water ready for kneading.
Add the warm water in stages, little at a time to knead the dough.
It will take around 15 minutes to knead the perfect dough for luchi.
Dough will be smooth, little stiff but pliable that is it will readily yield to the pressure of your fingers.
Cover the dough with a damp cloth and let ti stand for half an hour.
Heat enough oil in a deep bottom kadhai (they are the best to fry the luchi).
Knead again the dough lightly and divide the dough into small portions. Usually portions are of walnut size., smaller than what you do with regular roti dough.
Grease well your rolling pin and your surface on which you will roll out the dough.
Add a drop of oil into the dough and start rolling it out and makes small round shape disc. Because of oil you will be able to roll out only in one direction at a time. To make it round, keep rotating it with your hand till it is rolled out medium thin (do not make it too thin).
If the oil is ready, you can right away start with the frying process, else keep them separately on a greased plate covered with a kitchen towel.
How to check if oil is ready - tear a pinch of dough and drop it into the hot oil. If it immediately floats on the surface, then oil is ready. If it is still at the bottom of the kadhai and coming slowly to the surface of oil, then oil is not ready, it will take another 5 more minute. You need to do this thing many times to adjust the heat of the oil in order to get perfectly puffed up luchi.
For deep frying the luchi, we need hot oil but not smoking oil. Once the oil is ready, drop the rolled out disc gently into the oil, and it will immediately puffed up beautifully. Gently turn it over with slotted ladle and fry the other side for 30 seconds or like.
Drain it immediately on absorbent kitchen towel. Finish the rest of the dough like this.
Traditionally aloo chorchori contains only potato but as I have stated in the blog post that we add pumpkin also, to minimize the carb intake.
If you want you can skip the pumpkin entirely.
Wash and peel both the potatoes and pumpkin and cut them into longish strips, that is lengthwise or wedges not exactly julienne.
Heat the oil in a kadhai or frying pan. Temper the oil with the nigella seeds, add the potatoes and pumpkins (if using).
Throw in some green chillies slit from the middle.
Sprinkle salt and turmeric (you can skip it too)
Let it fry on high heat till all the vegetables are lightly browned and well sautéed.
Lower the heat to the minimum and cover the pan with a tight lid.
Let it cook through in its own steam. We do not add water while making any chorchori.
It will take another 15-20 minutes.
Once done, sprinkle a pinch of sugar and give a nice stir. Switch off the heat and keep it covered. Keep it for another five more minutes till the sugar dissolves.
Serve it warm with phulko luchi or paratha.
Stay tuned for more,