Little S loves bandhakopir tarkari or cabbage sabzi. Only she calls it "Baba Kopi". This makes us laugh because "Baba"=Dad in Bengali.
She does not like Fulkopi or Cauliflower as much as "BabaKopi". Also she refers to Cauliflower as "White Broccoli".
And then she calls Swami Vivekananda -- Ferdinando.
Otherwise her Bengali is impeccable.
The Dalna in Bengali Cooking is a gravy dish where the gravy is thicker and richer unlike a jhol where the gravy is soupy and runny. For evey jhol there is an equivalent Dalna. So if there is a Alu-Kopir jhol there is the Alu-Fulkopir Dalna, for a Alu-Potol er Jhol there is an equivalent Alu-Potol er dalna, so on and so forth.
The Dalna can be Niramish, which means vegetarian with no onion or garlic or can be Aamish with not only onion and garlic but sometimes fish being added to it. Also almost always dalna has a phoron of Whole Garama Masala and is cooked in Ghee or White Oil but it might vary a little amongst families.
I made the Alu Potol er Dalna yesterday after years. Potol/Parwal or Pointed Gourd is a summer vegetable back home. No one pays much attention to it after first few days of its arrival in the summer market. After that it is just one more staple summer veggie.
Here Patol/Parwal is expensive, not in its best form and seen occasionally in the Indian Grocers. Me buying Patol is same as someone buying Celery sticks in the heat of Mumbai.Does not make a whole lot of sense except for making mundane Potol a very fancy vegetable for me and cooking it as a special Sunday meal.
I made a Niramish Alu Potol er Dalna, no onion to chop always tips the scale for me. We really enjoyed it with some Rice and for once did not miss the mandatory meat or fish that is on the Sunday lunch menu.
Alu Potol er Dalna
Chop the ends of the Potol/Parwal and then scrape the skin.Chop in halves. I had about 10 potol/parwal
Heat White Oil in a wok and fry the potol with a pinch of turmeric till they are a pale golden. Remove with a slotted spoon and drain on a paper towel.
Heat some more Oil in the same wok
Temper the Oil with
a pinch of Hing/Asafoetida(optional)
1&1/2" tin stick of cinnamon
1 small Bay Leaf
4 small green cardamom
2 Dry red Chili
When the spices sizzle add 1 medium potato peeled and chopped in quarters. Sprinkle about 1/4 tsp of Turmeric Powder and saute the potatoes until they start taking on a pale golden color
Take 2-3 peeled whole tomatoes from a can or 1 big juicy tomato and blend to make about 1/4 cup tomato puree. Add the tomato puree to the pan.Add 1 tbsp of grated Ginger OR 1 tsp of Ginger paste
Add a little salt and fry the tomato till the raw smell is gone. If you are not the smelling type, check to see if the oil is separating from the masala. This will take about 6-8 minutes at medium heat
Time for the masala.
1/2-3/4 tsp of fresh ground Corriander Powder +
1/2-3/4 tsp of Roasted Cumin Powder
1/4-1/2 tsp of Kashmiri Mirch or Red Chili Powder
Note: I roast corriander seeds and grind them to a fine powder. Ditto with Cumin Powder. My Ma however uses jeere bata or cumin paste in this recipe. You can do that too. I also use Kashmiri Mirch so use Red Chili Powder according to taste.
Sprinkle a little of the tomato juice or a little water and fry the spices for about 5 minutes. This is called "kashano" in Bengali or "bhuno" in Hindi and a lot depends on this step. You need to fry the masala till the oil surfaces and the masala takkes a deep red color. Don't try to hurry it. I have done that and there has been a difference in taste.
Add the lightly fried poto/parwal and gently mix everything together.
Add 1 cup of warm water. Add salt to taste. Cover and cook till potatoes are done. Potol/Parwal should be done by now. Remove the cover and reduce the gravy to your desired thickness.
Add about 1/4 tsp of sugar for an authentic Bengali taste.
Adjust for spiciness, add a little ghee and garam masala powder if you wish. Keep covered and serve hot with rice or chapati