Monday, May 10, 2010

Shorshe Begun -- Eggplant in Mustard Sauce

I have a dream, to cook in peace. That sounds so much like ABBA that I am changing that statement though that IS my dream.

Ok, so I want to cook in peace, in absolute silence with only sounds of nature around me, and by sounds of nature I do not mean kids talking, fighting, babbling and saying "Mommy" every 3rd second.

As much as I love these tiny mites, I do not believe that I need to run my cooking steps through them every time. I mean why does a toddler need to be carried so that she can see if I am doing tempering right. Even if she thinks I am doing something wrong and the meat is underdone, I am not going to listen to her, am I ? Who is the Boss around here, tell me.

And why every time that I grind something, there are tiny hands clinging on to my legs and wailing "Mik chi Mik chi" to clamber up. Why is the "Mik chi" the sixth wonder of the baby world ? What is so wonderful about tiny circles of yellow mustard seeds and flecks of green chillies dancing around in a glass jar and going krrrrkat kat krrrr ? I mean it is a great invention and all, close to the heels of a particle accelerator and makes my life very simple but does a baby need to see it in motion every time and be mesmerized.

What happened to cuddly elmo or even her sister's kid size juicer and blender ? Isn't that enough ?

To avoid such intrusions during cooking, I put the vent fan on very high and then turn on my magic bullet blender, praying silently for it to do its job quietly. But the little ears where ever they are hear it and come running, trying to see what the "mik chi" is doing this time. And demand to be held up, to observe the physics behind that chaos and to imbibe some theory that I am incapable of observing.

* Back home we called the blender or the food processor or any such contraption Mixie and I still tend to do that at home. Honestly I don't even know the difference between a Food processor and a blender. I have a Food Processor which has very bad work ethics and does not do my shorshe(mustard) or posto right while this blender does, that is all I know.

After all that if I made a decent Shorshe Begun thank your stars. Bengalis tend to eat a lot of shorshe or mustard or sarson or sorisha or senape and will douse everything on earth in this mustard sauce. Eggplants thankfully do a very good job when they are doused with mustard and Begun Shorshe, Shorshe Begun or Eggplants in Mustard Sauce are an all time favorite.

In this particular recipe I have used a friend's suggestion to add lots of fresh coriander while making the paste. Enough fresh green coriander to give the paste a pale greenish color which you will not see in any photo because my coriander was not fresh enough. Did I say, it needs to be F--R--E--S--H.

That is an unusual thing for a Bangali shorshe bata, the coriander. Bangali shorshe bata doe not have coriander, period. But this one does and that gives a nice flavor to the dish.

This dish also needs enough Mustard Oil, for the eggplant slices to be fried till they are dripping Mustardy goodness all over. If you are Mustard Oil averse and using Canola, do so, just don't come back and complain.

Enjoy this dish mixed with white rice and eaten with bare nimble fingers and thank the "Mik chi".


Serves about 8-10 people when served as one of many sides

Soak 4tbsp of Mustard Seeds + 1tbsp of Poppy Seeds in little water(about 1/4 cup) for 20-30 minutes. Note: Some of my friends will not use Posto or Poppy seeds but will add a little grated coconut while grinding. You can use lesser amount of Poppy seeds if you wish. Also if your mustard paste tends to get bitter, try switching the black mustard seeds with the yellow mustard seeds

Strain the water, add mustard+ poppy seeds to blender and grind to a paste with
5 Green Chili
2 cups of fresh green Corriander Leaves
4 tsp of yogurt
and 3 tbsp water

Chop Eggplant in longitudinal pieces. Smear with salt and turmeric and keep aside. I have used 2 large eggplants(or 4 of the slender long ones) for this recipe.

Heat Mustard Oil to smoking. Fry the eggplant pieces to a light golden. Remove with a slotted spoon and keep aside.

Heat some fresh Mustard Oil. If you don't have Mustard Oil, use any other White Oil but Mustard Oil is best for this dish.

Temper with 1/2 tsp of Kalonji/Nigella seeds. When the spices pop, add the the mustard paste. Saute for a minute or two. Add 1 cup of water, salt to taste and let the gravy come to a boil .Then let it simmer for some time till gravy is thick and mustardy. If you like it hot add 1 tsp of red chili powder at this point. The gravy should be enough for the eggplants so adjust water accordingly.

When the gravy starts boiling, add the eggplant pieces to the gravy and switch off after a minute. Drizzle a little mustard oil on top, cover and let it sit for 30-40 minutes or more.

Let it sit for some time to let the eggplant soak in the gravy. Serve with white rice.


  1. Corainder with shorshe?! No thank you. :-)
    Darun dish ta dekhte hoyeche Sandeepa. Ajkei begun ante hobe. :-)

    1. Dhonepata goes very well as garnish on shorshe begun..

  2. Oh my god! how yummy!!! I knew I could find a way to use the mustard powder I had bought on a whim..:)

    your girls sound adorable..

    the 'mik chi' episode reminded me of how sometimes I just can't seem to internalize the american terms and often come up with the equivalent term that we use back home.
    E.g: I kept saying 'dust bin' to one of my friends and just couldn't summon the words 'trash can'
    Similarly petrol bunk instead of gas station..:) (and ofcourse the usual suspects lift and flat and taxi)

  3. This comment has been removed by the author.

  4. Hi Sandeepa

    Your posts are as usual splendid.

    Good to see that there are more people in love with 'begun' like me.

    I have never tried this dhonepata bit. Will try out this variation. Should be tasty,... but will tone down the shorsher jhaal I think.

    Do you remember "Beguner raita" from biye baarir menu long long ago in Kolkata. It used to be similar. But they used to use the long slim brinjals, halved length wise. I do not remember whether they used to add curd while the gravy was being cooked, or when off fire. But never saw any cuddling of dahi....

    Happy Mothers' Day and loads of love for your two little princesses.

  5. Think I'd prefer fish with this, thank you, not that I dislike brinjal!

  6. as usual splendid recipe along with splendid piece of write up..but where did u use the yogurt??

  7. Hi, even i can't cook when there's anyone in the kitchen. We had a 'mixie' while growing up and a 'kheema grinder' from Iran. Made in the Far East I am sure. We would often use it to scare and dsicipline my brother when he was a toddler. Now he has a reason for not entering the kitchen.

    The shorshe begun looks very tempting and I can taste it as I look at the photos

  8. This looks incredible! I'm about to plant eggplant for this year and am always looking for new things to do with it. Would it be better to just use the black mustard seeds? Also can you point me to an online source of kalonji? I live in the middle of nowhere and have to order things online. I bought some in Egypt on a trip last year, but I'm not sure if they are still good.
    Thanks again Bong Mom! You rock!

  9. This looks (I wish I could smell it) incredible! I am about to plant eggplant for this year and am always looking for new things to try. Could you point me to a good source for kalonji online? I live in the middle of nowhere, so online ordering is the only way I can get these things. I bought some from a bazaar in Egypt last year, but I'm afraid they have lost their luster. Also, is it alright to use only black mustard seeds? I love your blog. I lurk all the time but never comment. This one made me sit up and take notice though, and as an empty-nested mom I can assure you they will not always be around so enjoy your girls while you can!
    Thanks Bong Mom, you rock!

  10. Sorry, I thought my first post didn't take..... :)

  11. Ooh, your little munchkins! In a few years, you can teach them to use the mik chi independently so they can enjoy it to their heart's content while cooking for you :D

    I really need to try this recipe ASAP.

  12. ha ha...this happens in very elder son used to sit in my hip all the time I mak dosa. To th conrary my daughter never steps into the kitchen. Even if heaven falls down she will stand in the doorstep and ask me to come to her. Dunno why :( I have tasted this dish in a potluck party at workplace where I have a bengali friend. I am fallen for its taste...Need to make it soon...oh why not tomorrow ? I have a bunch of small egglants..

  13. mik chi.........asadharoN :)

  14. My daughter never shows any interest in cooking at home unless she is in the dorm! Apparently she shopped and made Shepherd's pie for 6 of her friends for her birthday last March!!!!! Son cooks and helps me at home. Good for your girls, good for you!:)

    Begun dish making me drool and making me feel like run to the store now at 8am!:D

  15. Adorable as usual. 'mik chi' sure can't survive without that, blenders and food processors don't work for me.

    I have used mustard paste with eggplants for a dish but it's origin was SriLankan atleast it was from a SriLankan cookbook. Will have to give this a try.

  16. Mik chi Mommy, begun chara aar kichu vegetable diye hoye eta? Aamar begun bhalo lage na. :-(

    Eyee Magic bullet ta bhalo na? I love doing my spice bata/chutneys in it.

  17. oh! I've tried this masala with okra and loved it!

    :D not used mustard oil though. Good to read you again, Sandeepa!

  18. The curry simply looks superb:)

  19. Not that I am a great lover of the vile-looking 'Begun'(Excuse me for saying that,but I'm really aversive to it!)but I must say,your dish looks absolutely awesome!All the more,it reminds me of a dish that my Maa often makes -'Potol posto'.It is somewhat similar save for the 'Begun' being replaced by the 'Potol':)

  20. Love this gravy!! Love my mik chi!! I keep making this type of gravy for fish dishes. Time to try veggie variations of these gravies I think. Thanks for sharing. Cheers to your daughters!

  21. Sandeepa - this looks so good! My husband is a huge begun fan - I will try this version for sure. The one I make is a lot drier - eita dekhe jeebe jol aasche!

  22. Hmmm, Sandeepa, ekdom amar ishtyle!! kintu ekti poriborton. ami shorshebatay konodin dhonepata diye dekhini kintu namabar aage dhonepata kuchiye diye thaki!!

    tomar method try kore dekhbo.

  23. ami dhonepata namabar aagekuchiye diye thaki. tomarti try korbo. darun mone hochhe!

  24. This post is so cute and nicely written! and... yum, yum, the dish looks delicious! I love putting coriander in all my dishes, too...

  25. I'm with you girl... I don't understand either why my lil one needs to be carried when I have tons of work to get done! Mixie is indispensible to Indian cooking I think, food processors just done grind finely enough! Nice to be back here to read your cute tales! :)

  26. Hi Bong Mom!
    I have been a lurker for a while now, but this Sorshe Begun has moved me to comment! :)
    I love brinjal and all things similar in color and texture to it. So no surprise that I loved your recipe. But I was so inspired by your post that I left work an hour early, bought fresh egg plants and then cooked Sorshe Begun last night! I haven't tried it yet though...that's for tonight. I must say this Sorshe begun recipe is much less complicated compared to the Doi Begun I make and certainly less time consuming. All very good reasons to make this more often.
    I do have a request:
    Can you please mention the approx wt of the veggies in your recipe? Sometimes large egg plant seems too ambiguous, or perhaps that's just me.
    Love your blog and thanks for your lovely recipes. Especially loved the mik-chi picture that plays out when you cook! :)

  27. I never own blender or food processor! Haha I am great fam of Mik chi :) Now i wonder how the magic bullet works, u got a nice paste with kuskus seeds. I adore eggplant, I am in love with the gravy!

  28. My mik chi does all the work. the food processor broke and has not been replaced for a few years now... tho it did help in chopping shredding & making big amount of dough.. I am going to make the shorshe begun, onek din dhore bhabchi, kintu kore otha hochey na. I will not use the dhone pata. Last time I made it, the yogurt spilt and got it all watery :-( Any tips?
    where do you use the yogurt? with the water?

  29. lovely authentic recipe... i havent cooked with mustard paste before but eggplant is my favorite...

  30. mik chi.. so cute.:) mine tends to run away from all sounds but loves to play with the atta.
    have to try ur begun. i have some in the fridge so will do so but minus the mustard oil.

  31. ki cute hoyeche eyi post ta Sandeepa ,mik chi OMG! ,mone hoye tumaar choto ta ke kole uthiye chotka-motka kore di :-)...amaar kache eyi jinish ta neyi ..ami to shorshe goron korte struggle kori..seshe mustard powder niye eshechi ..odiye hi ranna kori.Miss my small steel mik chi ..
    shorshe begun besh bhalo hoyeche... tobe ekta kotha-bidesh er begun er kono taste pae na keno , ke jane:(..
    hugs and smiles

  32. same here..;-)
    the moment i am in kitchen advay has to walk in and ask me kya kar rai ho,...?and then i ahve to explain him,..;-)
    this one looks delicious again,..will try nd let u knw,..

  33. I don't have a blender so I use a coffee grinder to dry grind the mustard seeds and then add water to it to make the paste. But the paste always turns out to be a bit bitter, which in turns make the dish I cook also bitter. I buy the mustard seeds from my local Indian store. Do you face the same problem with your paste?

  34. Mik chi? Oh they sound so adorable.Your little ones I mean! What a lovely post.
    Can I ask you what mikchi works for you. My loyal Sumeet broke down and I am in a quandry what to buy.It has to grind our stuff!!! Thanks in advance.

  35. Soma & Balaka

    I added the yogurt while making the mustard paste.
    Soma this has very little yogurt so no curdling. Also to avoid curdling, switch off heat then add yogurt


    That used to happen when I dry grinded Mustard too. Try using the yellow mustard and see if it works better.


    I have this one

    Not heavy duty like Sumeet though

  36. Darun recipe.....Rai sorshe byabohar er khub proyojonio information..... Ar Mik chi r golpo ta onobodyo.
    amar khude ta ke niye o eki problem Mixer chalanor somoi, tai aro beshi enjoy korlam golpo ta.

  37. Love the Mik Chi story! I've been following your blog on and off (like most things in my life!), but this time I've bookmarked you because your recipes are just awesome.

  38. Begun Shorshe is one of my favorite recipes. :). We prepare another begun preparation with eggs, we call it begun morichut , its tastes awesome.

  39. Enjoyed reading the post Sandeepa (as usual). It has a good dose of humor, cuteness along with the recipe. mik cute. This is a new recipe with brinjal to me.

  40. Your mik chi baby is so cute! Must try this recipe. Such a lovely post, as always.

  41. Bengena (or as you would say,'begun'), has been making too much of an appearance in our house lately. My ma used to make it in a mustard sauce too, but I haven't ; yours is looking so yummy, that I'm tempted to make some soon.

  42. Wow...the dish looks amazing. I love mustard! i tried your fish in mustard recipe and i am now hooked on it. thanks for posting these recipes!

  43. Wow...the dish looks amazing. I love mustard! i tried your fish in mustard recipe and i am now hooked on it. thanks for posting these recipes!

  44. Just love your dish....will just HAVE to try it bong food...and love that is a combo hard to resist :)

  45. Aah! so thats the secret - yellow mustard seeds, I used the black ones long back and it was bitter...

    And how much oil to fry the eggplant in?

  46. oh btw, thats me - Miri as Rshan

  47. anything wid begun I love :)

  48. I loved it ..will try it today...looks wonderfully delicious and am sure would taste too. love the way you are immensely talented.. thanks

  49. Hi Sandeepa,

    This Brinjal recipe was a total hit with my hubby ;)Thanks for this recipe!
    Your blog has become my bengali recipe guide book! I'm recently married to a Bengali guy. So I'm trying to cook some bengali recipes :) Your blog is helping me cook up good bengali recipes ;) We live in Netherlands, and I too can relate to you while reading many of your posts about living away from India. Best wishes for Durga Puja.

  50. Hi, I am a primarily South Indian cook newly converted to the Bengali dal-bhat-posto menu and I usually go by your recipes, successfully! But this time, though I went by your measurements, the mustard paste (with the yellow ones) turned out quite bitter. Will adding more posto or curd help?

    1. The mustard paste turning bitter is a problem many people face, has happened with me too. I will give you some pointers, try and see.

      1. I use a blender called Magic Bullet(here in US). With that the paste comes out really good. MY bigger mixer does a poor job of making mustard paste.
      2. Soak the mustard seeds with salt for about 30 mins and then make the paste.
      3. While making paste, try to do it at one go. The stop&go makes it more bitter. At home this was done using the sil-batta and the taste would always be right, the mixer blades do not emulate same result
      4.Use yellow mustards seeds, or use part yellow, part black
      5. If you are in India, you can also use the sachet of Mustard Powder from Cookme, they also work well.

  51. What a great recipe! Just finished my dinner and HAD to tell you how delicious this begun is! The fragrance, the taste...too good! It'll be a staple in my home for sure.

  52. Anuradha sahaeJuly 23, 2015 2:45 AM

    Hi Sandeepa Iam a non bengali from bengal and have tasted these dishes at my friends ur recipes come out very authentic and easy to cook.Great job keep it up.

  53. Dear Sandeepa Di
    In these times of lockdown your recipes are an interesting way to transform the boring, repetitive veggies into something magical. I made this today for lunch. Look amazing and I am sure it will taste good too. Thanks again for all the anecdotes and recipes.


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