For those who wants to read a bit of history of our traditional cuisine from Bengal: https://travellingwingsblog.wordpress.com/2016/05/26/stew-or-jhol-the-bangali-way-to-a-healthy-summer/
From my Grandmother-in- law and Grandma’s kitchen:
To continue with the story as to who were responsible for steamy stew, here are 4 healthy wonder tasty stews from my kitchen. Of course we added the spices and the flavors to the ‘BMR- right patter of all these influences.
In recent times I started some experiments of my own, as my culinary acclaim are much appreciated among my friends, relatives and foes. Hence I took some of my grandmother’s recipes and tried them out. These are the ones I share with you. The recipes are traditional and are often used in Bangal households in the terribly sweaty summers.
Kochi Pathar Jhol (Tender mutton Stew) ( God shall forgive me for calling mutton ‘healthy’ but that is where divine blessings count in :D)
- 1kg mutton- washes, cleaned with meticulous intensity. Specially the fat pieces which carry a smell.
- 2- medium onion diced
- 4tsp- Garlic paste
- 2tsp- Ginger paste
- 2tsp- turmeric
- 2tsp- green chilli paste (Forgive me, as I use Kashmiri Mirch here)
- 1tsp- Garam Masala (Green cardamom, 3 cloves,1 little piece of cinnamon, powdered)
The trick is to put 4 tbsp of mustard oil with 1 tbsp of butter and put in 2 cloves of cardamom and sauté the onion. Add ginger garlic and other spices and roast the mutton (my value additions: marinate it in 3 tbsp of curd for 1 hour, you can hit low on oil: D) in the heated oil. Oh Christ! I forgot a very important add-on, that is potatoes-peeled and halved and fried with salt and turmeric, to be added to this wondrous concoction. Keep on stirring till all moisture is absorbed and the heavenly flavor of onion garlic meat ,well sautéed, hits your senses. 10 mins on low heat and pressure cooked after the first whistle blows. Take it off the flame. Let the pressure out and add potatoes. Another whistle with 3 mins on simmer. Mandatory to serve with hot long grained rice. Oooh La la! Finger lickilicious.
Statutory warning: Do not eat it with spoons and forks. It’s mandatory that the palm of the hand should have the residual smear of rice and ‘jhol’ stew,well mixed, to be licked clean at the end of the meal.
Ilish Maach er Jhol (Light stew of Hilsa)
Well this used to be a hot favorite for us in scorching summer day’s craving for Hilsa or Ilish. The guilt of consuming this rich palete in the height of summer is assuaged by adding coolant vegetables like ridge gourd (jhingey)and aubergine (brinjal) in the stew.
This dish is a power packed 10 mins wonder.
Hilsa- 10 pieces (pieced according to the chef’s choice. I like thick pieces with the stomach side and the spinal side being cleanly sliced in two pieces. The fish should at least 1.2kgs. of weight)
3 tbsp of mustard oil to the wok and shallow fry the fish pieces with salt and turmeric and keep aside in a bowl. Spice up with 1 green chili and kalonjee (black caraway…well maybe). Stir fry the vegetable of your choice: 1. Ridge Gourd 2. Brinjal 3. Small yam or taro (mukhi kochu) any of these can be diced sauted and added with a turmeric, green chilies, salt (my value addition 1/2 tsp of ginger and 1 tsp of Kashmiri mirch). Saute well and as they dry up add water to the light consistency of a stew. Let it simmer for 8 mins. To be served with piping hot long grained rice.
Statutory warning: Do not eat it with spoons and forks. Its mandatory that the palms should have the residual smear of rice and ‘jhol’ stew,well mixed, to be licked clean at the end of the meal.Mutton and Ilish both are high on cholesterol, good bad both. So its advisable to go a bit low on intake. Message for worrywarts and adventurous souls.
Knachha muger shukto (Light stew of Moth beans and other vegetables)
Summers and shukto i.e a light vegetable stew, is synonymous is every Bangali home. If there is any health food that we can vouch for it is this, it is this, it is this.
So here we go:
- Jhingey-Ridge gourd- 3
- Sosha- Cucumber – 3
- Lau- Green gourd- ½
- Sajhner data- Tender drumsticks- 4
- Sheem- Broad beans (winter)- 6
- Mulo- Radish- (winter)- 6
- Brinjal- 2 small seed less
- Ginger paste-2 tbsp
- Oil- Mustard – 2 tsp
- Moong Dal- Mug Daal- 3 Tbsp
Wash and clean the moth beans. Wash clean, peel and dice(about 1/2 inch cubes) vegetables and keep them aside. Add 2 tsp oil to the hot wok and add mustard and fenugreek seeds to the oil to fry till a flavor emerges then add 1 tbsp ginger paste to the oil and let them bristle in anger :D. Add all the vegetable and moth beans to the wok, stir fry with salt and sugar to taste (apparently if we add sugar to our platter it requires little oil). Add turmeric and 1 tbsp of ginger again and keep stirring till the moisture evaporates a bit and then pour water for the stew to boil. Wait till the moth beans are well boiled and then add one tbsp. of clarified butter i.e ghee and 1 tbsp of ginger. Let it simmer for 3 mins and then take it off the flame.
We can have this stew without rice too. My Grandma was a clever one. When we would shrink at the thought of having vegetables she would often deep fry some shrimps and would add to it before serving. Well they did manage to make us appreciate vegetables.
Sorshey Korola (Mustard bitter gourd) summer special
This is one of the most palatable starters I have tasted so far in pure vegan diet. I hate the bitter taste and there is a firm belief in our tradition that bitterness cures worms and other allergic infections of the stomach.
4 bitter gourds- Korola (diced in small pieces, mixed with salt and kept aside for 15 mins. Then squeezed tightly to let the bitterness out of the vegetables)
- 3- Potatoes diced and half boiled
- 1tsp- Kalonjee
- 4tsp- Kasundi (Mustard sauce from Dhaka)
Heat 3tbsp of Mustard oil and sprinkle a bit of kalonjee and a green chili to the oil. Add the potatoes, stir fry them a bit with salt, sugar and turmeric. Add the drained pieces of bitter gourd. Stir fry till brownish in color. Add 4 tbsp of mustard sauce and stir till it dries up substantially to be served with piping hot rice.
As for a conclusion: Well that was the long and short of my experiments with tradition. The war to convert the bland into tastier dishes still continue. Do let me know if you would like some of my traditional yet outlandish recipes. Believe me all these above mentioned dishes are low on oil (except for the mutton maybe) and my family members always maintained that this mutton stew is the best cure for any stomach ailment or fever. Strange are the ways of humanity!
pic and write up: Mohua Roy