Thursday, December 8, 2016

Aloo Potol Begun Bhaja - Simplicity Personified

A visit to Kolkata always means a whole lot of Bengali food for me to look forward to. No, not just the biryani, chaap, roll, rezala, and other delicious fare, but the simple daily fare that graces tables in Bengali households every day. The clean flavours of the vegetables (or fish) with a minimal stroke of spices make many of these daily mundane dishes quite delicious and are light on the tummy too. When you're on holiday you know you're going to indulge in a lot of fancy food and it's these simple homely meals that help keep the balance between indulgence and over indulgence.

This afternoon we had the typical 'bhaat-daal-bhaja' sort of meal with random leftovers to add variety. While bhajas are usually very basic with the fish or vegetable simply smeared with turmeric and salt and then fried in hot mustard oil, sometimes one might add a smattering of nigella seeds (kalonji) along with a fresh green chilli or two for a little more flavour. You can either have just one vegetable or a combination of them too. 

I was in the mood for a little more so I made a bhaja tempered with nigella seeds using a combination of potato, eggplant, and pointed gourd (potol).

1 Potato 
2 Potol or pointed gourd 
1 Small eggplant 
1/4 tsp Nigella seeds 
Mustard oil

Peel the potato and the pointed gourds. Cut all the vegetables into small cubes.

Sprinkle them with salt and turmeric and mix to coat them properly.

Heat mustard oil in a wok or kadai. Once the oil is hot chuck in the nigella seeds and let them sizzle.

Put in the vegetables and stir well for a minute.

Cover the wok and reduce the heat letting the vegetables cook for around 5 minutes.

Stir occasionally and cook till done. I like to brown the vegetables a little.

Serve with hot rice and daal.

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