"Dekho, dekho, woh aadmi kuch bhi nahi pehan ke scooter chala raha hai!!!!"
Bhaiya, Bhabhi and their young son, were visiting us for a week. And we were doing everything we do when the family is together. Talk, laugh, gossip and eat out a lot.
I did cook at home ... but only breakfast. :-)
They are easy going people. We would go out everyday, scour the city the whole day and came back late, tired to the bones.
Visiting new places, restaurants, shops, parks ... we just didn't get enough of everything.
Then sit up and chat into the night ... with a round of coffee every other hour ... taking turns to make it.
Finally, at dawn, Bhaiya would insist that we have the morning tea too ... which he would make ... and then catch some sleep, which would be for only a few hours.
And we were ready to face another day.
After three whole days of eating out, shopping and more eating, we went for our road trip to Pondicherry. It was fun. Chatting, laughing, singing together, munching on snacks, peppered with the young boy's one line interludes ... it was a great drive.
But when Bhabhi fell ill, it gave a different twist to our vacation. But things smoothened out and all was well.
It was on one of our drives to the city that we heard young R exclaim that the guy in front of us was riding a scooter, wearing nothing!
Where?! where?! All of us looked out ... right, left, straight ... but couldn't see a man without clothes.
And riding a scooter!
He pointed out to a man riding a little ahead of us.
He seemed fully clothed. A helmet on his head, a checked half shirt and ... yes, we spied a full bare leg from thigh down! Riding on in a steady speed ... oblivious to everything.
"Sacchhi ... kuch bhi nahi pehna!"
A little later, we saw the rest of his attire ... a white cloth, like the dhoti ... around his waist. It was flapping in the wind, baring his legs to above the knee ... and hence was not visible.
Unfortunately, the young boy from up North saw the bare leg first. A lecture on the lungi, the mundu etc. followed. His first visit to the South, we realised a lot of things ... and not only the food ... were new to him. :-)
Another shock that he got was at the Chidambaram temple near Pondicherry ... where men have to remove their upper body clothing to be able to get a darshan.
But that's another story. :-)
The Mushur dal or the Red lentils are a part of any Bengali meal. The light dal goes great with rice to make a simple meal ... and is also the perfect foil to any other spicy non veg dish on the side.
At times, they are soaked, ground to a paste and deep fried to make these boras or fried dumplings.
Add a little chopped onion and green chillies, these crunchies are perfect with a meal of khichudi or plain steamed rice and dal.
Or as a snack with some chutney or the good old tomato ketchup.
I made a simple, very light jhol using them ... on one of those days when the fridge was bare and there were no fresh vegetables at home, to whip up a meal with.
The jhol is very light, almost like a thin soup and has very simple flavours ... another easy dish from my kitchen.
When boiled for a long time, it picks up the flavours of the jeera, tomatoes and the red chilli powder ... as do the potatoes too.
And after the boras have soaked long enough, you can find the roasted jeera powder's flavour in them too.
All in all, this simple, purely vegetarian and jhol will taste simple but will be very flavourful too.
This can be made with left over boras / vadas / pakodas too.
For the Boras :
Mushur dal / Red lentils - soaked for around 2 hrs and ground to a paste
Chopped green chillies
Oil for deep frying
Mix everything together. Scoop out small balls and deep fry in heated oil.
For the jhol/ gravy :
Potatoes - cut into small pieces
Onions - chopped
Tomatoes - chopped
Jeera/ Cumin seeds
Haldi / Turmeric powder
Red chilli powder
Salt - to taste
Sugar - to taste
Roasted jeera powder
Oil - around 1 tbsp
Heat oil. Add the jeera.
When it starts to splutter, add the onions and fry only for a while. Do not brown them.
Now add the potatoes and fry again on high heat.
Add the ginger paste, haldi powder, red chilli powder and salt.
Add enough water to cover the potatoes.
Cover and cook till the potatoes are done.
Remove cover and check if there is enough water. Else add more water and check ... if needed add a little more salt.
Add the tomatoes now and cover again.
When it comes to a boil again and the tomatoes are done, add the dal boras/ fried lentil balls, the roasted jeera powder and a pinch of sugar.
Cover and simmer for a while.
The boras will soak up a lot of water ... so keep adding accordingly. And keep checking for salt when you add water.
When you get a jhol of your desired consistency and amount, raise the heat and give a final boil.
Remove and keep covered for a while.
This goes great with rotis or parathas.
PS: Bong Mom makes a wonderful jhaal with these boras ... check it out here.