Sunday, November 24, 2013

Spinach based winter curry from Bengal

Green winter valley from Bengal.

There are times when you cant stop feeling how lucky you are. My favourite and dear aunt M. The one who guided me when it comes to all Bengali affairs of the kitchen and what I like is her meticulous way of explaining things such as "Chop the brinjal larger than the other vegetables else they will become too soggy and break" or "don't add too much water when boiling spinach because  ti has a lot of water content in ti which will automatically come out while cooking" "When done with cooking Indian food if using chilies take a bit of water in the same kadhai and add thew chilies and use the spatula to get all that is stuck on the sides with vigorous stirring, this way the chilies maintain the green colour and its easy to clean the kadhai" , "Ektu ghee garam masala na dile ki taste ase sona , tumi exercise kore niyo " (darling without a bit of clarified butter and homemade garam masala the taste remains unsatisfactory)

She swims, she knits , she cooks , she cakes and what is astonishing is how perfect every thing she touches is. I was lucky enough to hear how her mother would keep a big trunk in which all the silver utensils were stored. She attributes most of her recipes to her mother which has eventually been passed on to me and so I can actually call these vintage old school Bengali recipes and boy do they taste good.

Whenever I feel at a loss I know which number to dial. This one is a simple affair a big bunch of spinach leaves, 1 potato, 1 raddish , half a brinjal, a bit of asafoetida, bay leaf, cumin seeds , ginger chili cumin paste , clarified butter, vadi, sugar and homemade garam masala and its a true blue Bengali affair. I am just counting my lucky starts that she came into our family many a decades ago :)

The affair is simple :

Half a brinjal
1 potato
A big bunch of spinach leaves cleaned thoroughly
1 radish
Clarified butter
Garam masala (homemade is preferable)
Mustard oil
1 to 2 tsp Ginger chili cumin paste
1 tsp Cumin seeds
2 slit green chilies
A pinch of asafoetida
A few vadis (dried lentil cones)
1 bay leaf
Salt as per taste
1 heaped tsp sugar. In case you do not like your dishes too sweet reduce it to 1 tsp or even half a tsp but we Bengalis especially people from the Western side of undivided Bengal like their curries with a hint of sweetness.

Dice the radish into very little pieces, the potatoes a bit bigger and the aubergine in chunks. Chop the spinach leaves. Boil everything but remember it has to be thick not watery . remember that spinach leaves have a lot of water content so use little water cover and cook. Heat mustard oil and first fry your vadi and put aside. Then add asafoetida, bay leaf , cumni seeda and when they splutter add the ginger cumin chili paste and then add the boiled vegetables and bring to boil , add salt and then simmer , covered till the vadi is well cooked. Since all vegetables are precooked it doesn't take much time . Add ghee and garam masala and simmer for another half a minute and then transfer to a bowl. Add 1 tabelspoon water in the same wok and put in two or three green chilies and use the spatula to get all that is stuck on the sides. Once most of the water has evaporated just add the chilies to the cooked dish. This way the chilies retain colour. Do not worry if there is a little bit of water in the bowl it will quickly set with the vegetables if left too dry it will become more dry .

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