... Dal, Bhaat, Aloo bhaate, Begun bhaja ... makha!
Ok ... first things first.
Dal - Lentils
Bhaat - Rice
Aloo - Potato
Bhaate - cooked in or along with rice ( or plain boiled )
Begun - Brinjal / Aubergine / Eggplant
Bhaja - fry / deep fried
Makha - Mixed together or ... as in here ... mashed up together.
I finally made it to my 200th post!
I know ... much as I want to, I have not been giving my blog enough time. I do not post as much as I should.
And on the top of it, instead of cooking and posting exotic and dfifferent recipes, I go ahead and post something as common as dal & rice.
But then, this is my favourite dish! And I have to have it in my blog! I love this simple meal so much that I celebrated my b'day this year with this meal ... instead of going out.
So my blog should have it too. :-)
First, the Dal.
I have taken the Mushur / Mushurir / Masoor dal / Red Lentils here. Cooked with the Paanch Phoron, this dal gets an unique flavour.
Ideally in Bengali homes, dals are cooked or boiled first and then tempered seperately. I cook directly in the pressure cooker along with the tempering. Saves time & energy.
1 cup Mushur / Mushurir / Masoor dal / Red Lentils
1 onion sliced lengthwise
1/2 teaspoonful of Paanch Phoron
( a mix of equal quantities of methi/fenugreek seeds, kalaunji/onion seeds, rai/mustard seeds, saunf/fennel seeds, jeera/cumin seeds)
A little turmeric / haldi powder
2 broken dry red chillies
1 Bay leaf ( I did not use it )
1 teaspoonful of Mustard oil ( if you do not like mustard oil, any other white oil will do )
Around 5-6 cups of water
How to :
Wash the dal and keep aside.
Heat oil in a pressure cooker.
Add the paanch phoron and the chilles.
Add the sliced onion and fry well till onion is partly cooked and starts to brown.
Add the dal, haldi powder and salt. Stir well.
Add water, cover and set on low heat.
After 2 whistles, switch off heat.
Remove cover only after the pressure cooker has cooled.
Second, the Aloo Bhaate.
Or the Aloo Chokha .. as it is known in certain parts of the country.
Since the rice usually used in the homes of Bengal takes a long while to cook ... and it is usually cooked in an open vessel and drained of the starch water, many a time vegetables would be thrown in to get cooked along with it. This way there was no need to boil the vegetables seperately. Potatoes are one vegetable that would be cooked regularly this way .. though other boiled vegetables taste wonderfully good when had hot out of the rice.
But I usually pressure cook the poatoes or run them in the MW Oven.
Salt to taste
How to :
To boil the potatoes :
Wash the potatoes well. Prick them with a fork all over or make a slight cut in each of them.
Take some water in a pressure cooker and add the potatoes ( they should be submerged in the water ).
Close cover and set to cook on low heat till around 4 to 5 whistles.
Remove cover after cooker has cooled.
Alternatively, you can take the potatoes in MW safe bowl and run them at 60 % for 5 mins.
Remove potatoes and peel them.
Mash them together with salt, mustard oil , chopped onions and crushed fresh green chillies. Remember to crush them ... no chopping allowed.
(If you do not like the flavour of raw mustard oil, you can use ghee ... just give the onions a skip).
This is wonderful when hot, but is equally tasty when eaten at room temperature too.
If you at all have some of the makha left, you an make aloo tikkis out of it ... only remember to remove the big pieces of green chillies.
Third , the Begun Bhaja.
Begun bhaja or fried Brinjal slices are a very common as well as favourite accompaniment to any Bengali meal. A favourite combination with the Khichuri or Luchi / Puris, they are enjoyed best right out of the wok, crisp and piping hot.
If you are health concious, you can grill it on a flat open pan too ... like I usually do. But once in a while, it is ok to indulge in some deep fried Begun bhaja ... especiall if it is raining outside and you have a plateful of smoking hot khichuri in front of you.
Fresh Brinjals / Eggplants / Aubergines, cut into thick roundels ( just make sure the brinjals do not have too much of seeds in them )
Mustard oil to deep fry
A little Turmeric / haldi powder
How to :
Apply salt and turmeric to the brinjals and keep aside.
Heat enough mustard oil to deep fry in a heavy kadahi or wok ... preferrable of cast iron ... but never of steel.
Slowly let in the brinjal pieces carefully ... they might splutter ( holding a big sized cover helps).
Let them cook till one side truns golden brown.
Turn them over carefully and brown the other side too.
Sometimes they need to be covered to cook well ... depends on the kind of brinjal you get.
Remove and drain on a paper towel of extra oil.
Here's a plateful.
And here's how I like to have it ....
All mashed up together. :-)
If you have been patient enough and have reached here finally ... I'll tell you the reason why I love it so much.
My Mom used to mash everything up this way and feed me while I used to hurriedly get ready for classes.
And the love for that taste ... and the memories ... remain. Every mouthful would have a combination of flavours ... mild dal with sharp brinjal fry and some aloo with crunchy onions and sometimes the sharp heat of a piece of green chilli. :-)
Who wants a spoonful of home? :-)
I'll be around henceforth folks.
Take care all !