Monday, September 26, 2011

A simple chorchori - mixed vegetables tempered with paanch phoron

Since K has started working at the University of Mumbai as Assistant Professor, I suddenly find myself having to  make him packed lunches. Since he shares the lunch with his colleagues (of course he devours their goodies too) I try to make vegetarian food as often as possible so no one is left out.

Now vegetarian food is a challenge indeed and after a couple of weeks of paapri/ gwaar/ french beans with potatoes, cabbage, bhindi bhaaji or cauliflower with green peas, K protested that more variety was required. Sigh...these are veggies we're talking about! What do I know about variety??!!

Well, being a Bengali, I should have known quite a bit. Bengalis have a huge and rich tradition of vegetarian cuisine and it's mind boggling just how delicious some of the dishes are. So I duly called up my mother and demanded a recipe. Something simple that didn't involve grinding masalas or making pastes, just something I could throw together on a busy working day.

Keeping in  mind the vegetables I had bought, this is what she told me to make.

Sim, begun, kumro ar alu chorchori

Paapri, eggplant, red pumpkin and potato cooked with paanch phoron

Here's how-

Cut the vegetables into smallish equal sized pieces.

Heat mustard oil in a wok or kadai and let the oil heat up nicely. When the surface of the oil shivers reduce the heat and put in about half a teaspoon of paanch phoron. My mix contains kalonji, methi, rai, saunf and radhuni. That's nigella, fenugreek, mustard, fennel and wild celery seeds (also known as ajmoda in Hindi). Add one or two dried red chillies. Kashmiri or Bedki, whichever you have.

Once the spices sizzle add in the potatoes and the pumpkin pieces. Stir everything nicely and fry the vegetables well.

After about 8 to 10 minutes add in the cut eggplant pieces and the strung and cut paapri. Stir everything and continue to cook. Lower the heat and let the vegetables cook slowly. Cover the wok and stir once in a way just to see that it doesn't burn at the bottom.

Add half a teaspoon of turmeric powder and salt to taste. Mix well and sprinkle a little water to generate some steam to cook the vegetables through. Cover. This preparation must not have any gravy so be sure to add not more than a tablespoon or so of water.

Serve hot once the veggies are done. The pumpkins should practically disintegrate, the potatoes should be soft and buttery.

You can use a variety of vegetables including radish, leafy greens, the favourite of Bengalis - the potol, plantain, green peas, etc.

The beauty of this dish is really its simplicity. A simple paanch phoron and dried chilli tempering and just turmeric and salt. The flavours of the vegetables themselves come through and you have a delicious and healthy dish to lap up!

And thus starts my exploration of Bengali vegetarian cuisine...

1 comment:

nowheregirl said...

this is like pachmeshali... looks good!