With some tauk er dal with green mangoes, it was perfect for a day which showed promises of getting warmer.
Revisiting a recipe from the past
My grandparents lived in an old rambling house in a nondescript para(community or development) in North Calcutta (now Kolkata). The house was old, it's days of glory being long over.As appendages were added on to it and banyan trees took roots in its crevices, the house tried desperately to hold on to its rich past.
In this house my maternal grandparents came to live after retirement as a part of a large "joint family", a term as rare these days as those old houses in North Calcutta. My Ma's three uncles and an aunt along with their offspring, some married some not lived under one roof, their kitchens separated but their roof united. There were some undercurrents among its residents for sure but on our annual visits every winter the whole house and the family came together and welcomed us as one.
So while we watched Chitrahar and snacked on alur chop ar muri lazing around at Baro Dida's (Eldest Grandma) ornate teak bed, we ate egg roll at Ful Dida's (Flower Grandma) fancy dining table. The main meals were always at my own Dida's(my maternal grandma) kitchen though and we wouldn't give those up for anything.
My Ma's aunt or pishi, C Dida, had lost her husband at an young age and lived in this house along with her four daughters. She was a proud soul and instead of being dependent on her brothers financially she worked as teacher at a nursery school and lived within her meager means to bring up her four daughters impeccably. One of her daughters pampered me a lot and so I would spend a considerable portion of my time at their room or tag along with her wherever she went.
Many mornings during those vacations, I would go and sit in their small kitchen while C Dida made breakfast. Their small but squeaky clean kitchen with a shiny pump stove and minimal utensils exuded a charm that no gourmet kitchen ever has. Their breakfast too was extremely simple, left over ruti(chapati/roti) lighty fried with little oil to a wafer like crispiness was served with bati charchari. I loved that simple breakfast so much that most days I would have that sitting on their red-oxide kitchen floor, still damp & cold with early morning moisture.
I don't know what makes an indelible impression in a child's heart, the stinging coldness on one's bottom, the hot off the tawa ruti mingled with the sharpness of mustard oil in a bati charchari or the love of near ones but those mornings of two and half decades back are etched in my childhood memory and bati charchari and basi ruti bhaja( fried leftover chapati/roti) is still a favorite on my food list.
My Ma too would make a Bati Charchari often and the only time I would have ruti for breakfast at home was when it was accompanied by a large serving of bati charchari.
On this post the other day, a reader Boishakhi, reminded me of the delicious yet simple Bati Charchari. She also mentioned how she adds other vegetables to this dish. That is what I have today. And so while my Ma's and C Dida's bati charchari had only potatoes, this has carrots and sugar snap peas in it. A sprinkle of glittering red middle eastern sumac makes the dish more international than you can imagine.
I am sending this off to WHB #190 hosted by Laurie from Mediterranean Cooking in Alaska. This event was started by Kalyn of Kalyn's Kitchen and now has a new home at Cook Almost Anything at Least Once
Prepping the veggies: Peel and chop two medium sized potatoes in 1" long pieces. Peel and chop carrots similarly. I had about 1 and 1/2 cup of chopped carrots. Wash and keep whole 10-15 sugar snap peas. The snap peas are optional and you can use any other vegetable. I have also made this dish with a mix of green beans, cauliflower, pumpkin, potato, potato peels(aloo'r khosha), and even peels from the pumpkin Note: Ideally the vegetables for this dish should be cut thin and small, so that they all cook at the same rate.
In a heavy-bottomed deep pan heat 2 tsp of Mustard Oil
Add 4 hot Indian green chili, slit halfway
Add all the veggies
Add salt to taste + 1/4 tsp of turmeric powder and mix well
Add 1&1/2 to 2 cups of water and mix well.
Cover and cook without any stirring till veggies are cooked and water dries up. If needed add more water for cooking
Once done, add 1-2 tsp of Mustard oil on top before serving
I sprinkled some sumac for its gorgeous color but this is totally optional as it is not a native ingredient for this dish.
Note: I have not used Red Chili powder, tomatoes or coriander since my Ma wouldn't. I also went a little low on the oil. You can adjust these according to taste.