Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Shosha'r Shukto -- Bengali Shukto with Cucumbers

This post was written way back sometime in July. That is when this dish was cooked and the recipe duly noted. Now when I look back on those long stretch of summer day, I want to throw a tantrum to get them back. But that is not happening. Never does.

So, while I try to brave my soul for fall, you guys take a trip back to summer...

Summer is always busy around home. The schools are over, the days are long and once I am back home, it is impossible to cook when there is so much to do outside. With my Mother here, it has been a slew of lazy days for me, as she is the one cooking up what the granddaughters fancy.

Meanwhile I am staying up late following the conventions and scouring articles about the preposterous things that one of the presidential candidates keeps on uttering. It beats stuff that even Zee TV saau ma's would mutter. If only he would have on 3 pound jhumkas and dazzling bindis, I would know for sure that it was a Ekta kapoor serial and not reality tv.

So anyway in between all this, my summer plants yielded fruits...I mean vegetables. This year we planted tomatoes, peppers , cucumber. Cucumbers mainly because LittleSis picked up a packet of cucumber seeds and wanted a cucumber plant. My dad did the brunt of the work on them but we were not able to build a trellis aka "maacha" for the cukes.. That didn't dither them though and the cuke yield was in plenty. By the time I realized there were so many of them hidden in the vines, they had already ripened and were not the best in a salad.

Ma made a shoshar shukto (cucumber shukto) with them as they were too ripe to eat raw. Why would anyone buy cucumber and make a shukto I wondered ? I mean cucumbers are good enough raw so why cook them ? Also the original Bengali Shukto has done enough to garner a following so why a contender ?

"Well, we had very limited choice of summer vegetables in our times and shukto made with the slightly ripened cucumbers was a welcome change from the daily grind of lau and potol," she said.

Valid point. The shoshar shukto tasted good too. It was creamy and slightly sweet with a faint bitterness of the uchhe. The crunchy boris added the necessary bite to a otherwise creamy dish. Maybe I won't make it often, but if you ever have a load of cucumbers to finish, this is a great way to go.

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Tel Sheem -- Hyacinth Beans from Soma

I was seriously waiting for something to get my blogging mojo back.

August had been surreal with a vacation to beautiful Banff and Jasper National parks(more on that later), short trips around the home state, a water park vacation to Great Wolf Lodge specifically for the kids, and lots of tea time with my parents while watching "Mahanayak" -- the Bengali serial people love to hate (yeah, yeah, I know!). I was getting used to vacations and summer.

Since my parents are visiting, the kitchen had also morphed largely into my Ma's domain and I rarely bothered to see how and why things were getting done. I even managed to watch a movie at the theaters with the husband-man, an event worth remembering simply because it is so rare in its occurrence.

You must understand that it is very easy to slip into a life of leisure, if you are already lazy like me. I could totally fit into the society of Roman Nobles in ancient Rome. It is very natural that I drifted.

But there was some magic that happened over the weekend, which triggered me back into the kitchen and back to the blog again. The magic would have never happened, if I did not have a blog in the first place. So the magic had a dependency on the blog and on you. Ok, so without going into the chicken and egg scenario, let me tell you what happened.

A blogger friend Soma, who blogs at Spices and Pisces and does a trillion other things, sent me a box of sheem and ucche, that is Hyacinth beans and bitter gourd for you, grown in her own garden. Soma has a very bright shade of green thumb and grows gorgeous vegetables. Her community garden pictures on Facebook, boasting of curvaceous laus(bottlegourd) and glistening sheem(flat beans) would make you love vegetables to the point of making you a vegetarian. She pours tons of love into her garden and the beautiful person that she is, she shared the love by sending me a box of her home-grown vegetables, by priority mail.

Once we got over the surprise part of seeing fresh vegetables from a box delivered by the USPS lady, the family spent next several minutes ogling at the vegetables. Little Sis was thrilled by the uniqueness of the whole act. "Mommy's friend sent her vegetables from Maryland," she told my Ma.

Then a discussion ensued as to what to cook with the sheem. Here, I must tell you, tender aka kochi sheem is not a given where I live. I don't even get sheem at the Indian grocery store and substitute all sheem dishes with sugar snap peas. My Ma, who is used to an abundance of sheem where she lives, proposed sheem bhaate or shorshe diye sheem or sheem er jhol. I didn't want to add shorshe(mustard) to this tender sheem as I feel the mustard sauce tends to overpower the natural taste of the vegetable.

The husband-man then proposed Tel-Sheem, without the mustard and with almost zero spices. Something that would be just fitting for a vegetable so fresh, tender, and grown with love.

So that is what I did

Tel Sheem

Lope off the tip of each Hyacinth bean(sheem) and then pull off the stringy part from the edges

Heat Mustard oil in a kadhai.

Now temper the oil with 1/4th tsp of Nigella seeds and 3 slit green chili.

Add the sheem to the kadhai and saute for a few minutes until each sheem glistens with oil.

Make a wet paste with
1/4 tsp of turmeric Powder
1 tsp of fresh ginger paste
1/2 tsp of red chili powder
1 tbsp of yogurt

Lower the heat and add add this to the veggies in the kadhai. Saute at low heat for few minutes.

Add a 1/2 cup of water, 3 more green chili slit through, salt to taste and let the gravy simmer to a boil. Cover the kadhai with a lid and check occasionally if sheem is cooked.

Once the vegetable is cooked and the oil has surfaced, the dish is done. Now for you to enjoy it with some steaming white rice.

This tasted so so good that I cannot thank Soma enough

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Sunday, August 21, 2016

How to Make Luchi 101

Inspired by Sawan Dutta's Maachher Jhol videos, the girls were inspired to sing a Luchi song. They also roped in Didun(my Ma) and interviewed her on the luchi making process. It was a fun morning, very amateur, but fun. Years later when they look back on this, they will either cherish it or die of embarrassment. Already they have warned me , not to divulge, who in the family sang the song as it could jeopardize their future singing career !!!

Please do listen and hope it will inspire you to roll and fry more luchis. The recipe is added at the end of the video. For more details on what exactly is luchi and the recipe in details please follow this recipe "Phulko Luchi and Aloor Dom"


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