Thursday, June 15, 2023

Gur Aam | Mango Pickle with Jaggery

Gur Aaam | mango with jaggery

Gur Aam | Kairi ki Launji 

Gur Aam is a sweet, tangy and spicy Mango Chutney or Pickle made with green mangoes,  jaggery and spices like paanchphoron. This recipe makes an instant pickle which is pretty simple and forgiving.

Summer in India is synonymous with two things - heat and summer fruits. However when we were kids, the heat did not bother us as much. Maybe it didn't get this hot or everything feels better in nostalgia? I don't know!

We didn't even have air-conditioning and load-shedding aka power cuts for hours on end was an everyday affair. I was talking to my cousin and we were wondering how in spite all of this we have absolutely no memories of how hot, sweaty and unbearable summer would get. 

In our memory, the Indian summer of our childhood is always a happy place; dripping with sweet juice of mangoes and litchis, spicy and tangy like the jars of mango pickles sunning in the ceramic jars and lazy like the slow whirring ceiling fans which struggled to stir up hot air. Long summer holidays, hot summer evenings on the swing hung from the mango or guava tree, sleeping on the terrace during power cuts, hugging a earthenware kujo which used to keep the water cool and provided that few seconds of cooling relief,  watermelon juice with clinks of that rare delight called ice cubes, black shiny jamuns plucked from the tree and lots and lots of mangoes.

Gur Aaam | mango with jaggery

Mango season started in early summer with green, raw mangoes. The kaal boishakhi in the month of Boishakh usually brought a huge haul of unripe mangoes plucked prematurely from the trees by the storm.  So summer inevitably meant Mango chutneys, Kaancha aam er Ambal , Aam Dal and  jars and jars of sour, tangy, sweet mango pickles. Now pickle making is a test in patience and discipline. So naturally I mostly stay away from it.

Tuesday, June 06, 2023

Spanish Tortilla De Patata | The Tapas Stories - 1


Spanish omelette or Spanish tortilla is a traditional dish from Spain. Celebrated as a national dish by Spaniards, it is an essential part of the Spanish cuisine. It is an omelette made with eggs and a stuffing of potatoes and onion. It is often served at room temperature as a tapa.

It's going to be almost a year since my Spain trip but I haven't shared any photos or written a single word about it yet. The memories and food are all there in my heart and I can even see and taste them when I close my eyes, but I have not felt the need to share. 
However some weeks ago, we hosted a few friends for dinner and decided to make few of the dishes we had learned at our Spanish tapas cooking class during the trip. That is when I thought I need to write it down. For the sake of Tapas.
Last year, the husband-man and me went on a short trip to Barcelona and Madrid, sans the kids. This was the first time we were traveling together without kids in 19 years and that itself was a concern for both of us and the girls. The girls were sure that one of us would surely be murdered in international soil by the other. Yes, they do have a lot of faith in us!😂😂
However we survived the trip and enjoyed it a lot. We were both in love with Tapas and I am pretty sure that is what united us in our journey!💓

My first question to the taxi driver as we pulled out of the Barcelona Airport was, "So tell me about what you cook and eat at home?". The very nice elderly gentleman with sparse white hair on his head was a little taken aback by this question. He mumbled something about meat & potatoes, hands wavering on the steering wheel.
"No Tapas? You don't have Tapas at home?" said ignoramus me.
"No ma'am," he said. "It's not possible to have Tapas every day at home. Since Tapas involves small portions, you need a lot of items on the menu which is not possible at home."
He then added, "Also I am German and my wife is from Hungary, so we like a nice steak and mashed potatoes for dinner".
I was crestfallen. I had nurtured teeny-tiny bit of hope to get invited to his home and thus get a first-hand experience of local at-home Spanish cooking.

Seeing my despair, he quickly added, "But there are many many excellent Tapas places in Barcelona. Traditionally you know, Tapas was a bar food, catering to workers who wanted to grab a quick bite after wrapping up work. So you went to a bar and picked up drinks and a  variety of single bite food with toothpicks.  At the end of evening, you paid by the count of your toothpicks."
This sounded very exciting. I am not a big meal person and always prefer variety of small plates to a big sit down dinner. Tapas was therefore right up my alley.

Thursday, January 12, 2023

Ma er Mocha'r Ghonto

Mocha r Ghonto, Banana Blossom Curry

Mocha r Ghonto | Banana Blossom Curry

Mocha, banana blossoms is a favorite vegetable in Bengal. The flowers of the Banana tree, Mocha, often served as Mochar Ghonto, Mocha r Paturi or Mochar Chop represent the very pinnacle of niramish Bengali ranna. The most complex part of this dish is not the cooking. It is prepping the blossoms and getting them ready that is a tedious process. Here I have created a video and shared a recipe of my Mother's Mocha r Ghonto, a dish that I dare to make only when she visits us

It is almost half way through the first month of 2023 and already I have given up on all my resolutions. So that way I am on track:-p. 

My mother leaves for India by end of the month and I had plans to document and write some of her special recipes which I never cook if I am by myself. I thought it would be a nice mother-daughter project. Instead I spent all my after-work evenings, drinking tea and watching Didi No. 1, Dadagiri and Sa Re Ga Ma Pa with her. I will miss this a lot when she leaves -- a cup of piping hot tea ready every evening, muri chanachur and watching all the Bengali Game shows on TV together. 

I do honestly think, I will cherish this time I spent with her much more than cooking and video recording her recipes.

Mocha r Ghonto, Banana Blossom Curry

Of the few recipes that I did happen to note is MOCHA r Ghonto. Not Moka. but Mocha where ch sounds like chair.

Mocha, banana blossoms is a favorite vegetable in Bengal. In fact in Bengal, a banana plant is much revered. During DurgaPujo, she is the designated wife of Ganesha and lovingly addressed as "KolaBou" and after Pujo, the Banana leaf is used to wrap the Bengali's famous fish and make Ilish Paaturi 

The raw banana is another favorite in Bengali cuisine and kaachakolar kofta is high up in culinary ladders jostling with the likes of kosha mangsho. The tender core of the banana stems, the apparent trunk, is another nutritious vegetable favorite in Bengali cuisine. It is is called "Thor", not the Nordic God, but as impressive. The flowers of the Banana tree, Mocha, often served as Mochar Ghonto or Mochar Chop represent the very pinnacle of niramish Bengali ranna.

Mocha r Ghonto, Banana Blossom Curry

I have no patience to clean and chop Mocha when by myself so this is one thing we eat only when my Mother visits us. You see, chopping Mocha (banana blossom) in the seclusion of your own home, in isolation does not make sense. It needs a community to efficiently peel, remove stamen, and chop Mocha with efficiency and speed. 

My Mother says, these days in Kolkata, you get Mocha peeled and chopped at the local vegetable sellers which is very convenient as in the whole Mocha cooking process, the chopping is the most tedious part. So if you are in Kolkata life is definitely easy for you.

How To Chop Mocha or Banana Blossoms

We got small sized Mocha at our Indian store this time, not very ideal but had no time to go and search in other stores. But try to get a good size Mocha. The best tasting Mocha dish is made from Garbo Mocha which is bigger and the inflorescence is plumper and meatier.

My favorite Mocha dish is Mocha r Ghonto where banana blossoms are cooked with little cubed potatoes, kala chana and grated coconut, Flavored with ghee and gorom moshla this dish has a unique fragrance and tastes delicious with rice.