When I was waxing eloquently about Mustard and Mustard Paste in my post MySpice -- Mustard, my dear blog friend Indosungod raised her eyebrows (ok I didn't see but am sure she did) said (to the effect) "You use mustard paste in your cooking". That hit me hard, I have blogged for almost 6 months now and have not conveyed to the world that Bongs adore Mustard paste and their most keepsake recipes are the ones that have Mustard paste or Sorshe Bata in it.
What am I, a disgrace to the Bong Culture? Am I the prodigal bong female that Bong Gurus gossip about and dismiss with a nod of their head while gulping their hot-hot tea and chicken pakodas? Am I that abhorred Bong Mom in the night-time stories told by the millions Bengali mothers to their little ones, the one who went across seven seas and forgot the mustard paste ? Or maybe I am the one who forgot her "Shankha-Pola"(Red& White Bangles symbolic to marriage in Bengal) and her sorshe bata and became "Amrikan" and lost her roots as the Ma-in-law in one of the many Calcutta homes would be whispering to her soon to be NRI daughter-in-law.
How could I have done this, such shame and dishonor and so I decided to rectify it "Right Here, Right Now" -- the recipe with mustard paste I mean
So I bring to thee Steamed Prawns in Mustard Sauce or Sorshe Chingri Bhapa. As you eat this the strong and sharp flavor of the mustard will clear any doubts you had earlier about this mustard loving clan, as you press the green chillies (that is what you should do, not discard them) and mix the light yellow gravy with white rice and tears run down your face for the all the "Hotness" which is sharp and pure you will be filled with joy and Thank The Mustard
Sorshe Chingri Bhape is a popular and traditional Bengali dish. Best enjoyed with white rice it has satisfied numerous Bengali palates at lunch as well as dinner. Simple and easy to cook it plays on the taste and flavor of mustard.
Shorshe Chingri Bhapa ~ Steamed Prawns in Mustard Sauce
What You Need
Prawns ~ 12-14 large sized ones. I used fresh ones, you can use frozen too
For the Paste
Mutard Seeds ~ 3 tbsp
Posto or Poppy Seeds ~ 3 tsp
Green Chilli ~ 3
Salt ~ a pinch
Soak in warm water for 30 minutes and then grind to a paste
The Mustard-Poppy Seeds Paste ~ use almost 3/4th of the paste, makes little less than 1/2 cup. If the paste is too pungent for you, you can sieve the paste and use the more liquid mustardy water mixed with a little of the thick paste.
Narkel or Grated Coconut ~ 1/2 cup fresh or frozen. You can use more if you want
Yogurt ~ 1/4 cup thick beaten yogurt. Use 1/2 cup of yogurt for more gravy-ish dish.
Sugar -- 1/4 tsp for a light sweet edge
Turmeric Powder -- 1/2 tsp
Sorsher tel or Mustard oil ~ 2 tbsp
Green Chilies ~ 8-10
Salt -- to taste
How I Did It
Wash and shell the prawn and devein them as explained here in an earlier post on Prawn Malaikar
Mix the prawns with salt and turmeric and keep aside for half an hour
Make a smooth paste with mustard seeds, poppy seeds, 3 green chillies, a little salt and water.
In a container which you can steam or which you can put in the pressure cooker, mix the prawns with mustard paste, yogurt and salt according to taste. I also add just a pinch of sugar.
Slit 4/5 green chillies and add to above
Add 2tbsp of Mustard Oil to this, drizzle liberally on top that is
Add some fresh grated coconut to this. If using frozen grated coconut defrost and then use.
Now put water in the pressure cooker bottom and put in this container.
I have a Futura Pressure Cooker and I steamed for 1 minute. In this pressure cooker, after the full pressure is built the time has to measured (no whistles), so I kept for 1 minute after the build up of full steam. In a whistling pressure cooker, you have to allow one whistle I guess
Take it out and serve with hot white rice. For an extra kick drizzle little mustard oil before serving
Note on making Mustard Paste: When I didn’t have a wet grinder to make my mustard paste I used to dry grind the seeds in my coffee grinder and then mix the dry powder with a little vinegar, salt, and green chillies and keep for an hour or so. The wet grinder serves the purpose much better and makes a nice smooth paste with green chillies, and salt
Alternate Recipes: The same recipe can be applied to Paneer and is called Bhapa Paneer. I think this is what Ashwini meant, when she left a comment about Bhapa Paneer she had at her friends place.
SJ has a recipe for Bhapa Ilish or Steamed Hilsa in Mustard Sauce another Bong favorite. That doesn’t need the Posto or poppy seeds though
You can also try this with Salmon. Though I have never steamed Salmon. I use this same method and then bake the salmon, covered at 375F.
Trivia: Darius, King of Persia, sent Alexander a bag of sesame seeds, meant to suggest the number of Darius’ troops. Alexander, in return, sent Darius a bag of mustard seeds, not only more numerous because of their smaller size, but also more potent and fiery than sesame.(Source: Mustard facts from Plochman)