Monday, September 19, 2011

Kumror Chakka -- Potatoes,Pumpkins and more


5 years and I am still the same. Not really same-same but same as in my paranoia about pre-school teachers remains exactly same as when BigSis started school 5 years ago. While my faith and absolute regard has gone up for elementary school teachers my trust on pre-school teachers hovers around the bottom of the curve. Of course once I get to know them and 3 months have passed I love them like soul sisters but that takes time.

Here, I should take a breath and say, if you are a pre-school teacher, do not take this to heart, you are doing a fine job, it is me the Mother who is weird. After all I come from a lineage or rather entire culture of mothers who spent a better part of their life standing outside the gates of their kid's schools. These were people who thought it was totally cool to stand outside exam halls with pale green tender coconuts, straw et al for their hormonal, teenaged kids taking the Madhyamik.

I am not like that but might become one, who knows, genealogy is difficult to beat.


For now I am only concerned about pre-school for the littlest one. I think it takes a lot of guts for a tiny 3 year old to go into an unknown environment even if it has dinosaurs and pint size refrigerators. For the life of me I couldn't leave her alone, so there I sat with her in class whole of her first day in school. Actually only half-day. Though I enrolled her for full day, I couldn't bear to sit around in kiddie size small chairs and play kitchen anymore. It hurt, those chairs. So around 11:30, I said enough and got her home. In my short time in the class, I managed to tell the teacher how she should handle kids, so you know what a gala time they had in the staff room on that day. I also have this weird idea wherein I tend to have more trust on pre-school teachers who are all bosom-y and slightly overweight. The kid's teacher is reed thin and hence I am all the more worried. She seemed nice though and I thought it might be impolite to suggest a diet of burger and fries to her.

Next day, it was the Dad's turn who of course dropped LS off and came back. The kid bawled and the school might just put up a "No Entry" sign, the next time they see us.

This week, I again plan to do the "sit-in-class" dharna. I have even taken half a day off.Wish me luck, well the teacher needs it actually.

The third grader started school too but she is a pro now. Of course she has much more after school work to do now and things get really hectic once I get back home. In between all this  I  eat and read and cook and made this Kumro'r Chakka last week. Oh and I also waste a lot of time catching snatches of "Rojgere Ginni" on my mint condition ETV Bangla. That deserves its own post though.


Back to Kumro'r Chokka now. I had sweet Indian pumpkin, bright, happy, orange in my crisper. The temperature outside had just dropped from hot summer to a chill-in-the-air Fall. Pumpkin seemed most apt for such happenings. My Ma would disagree though, Kumro or Pumpkin is more of a summer or monsoon vegetable in India and has nothing to do with winter. If you don't get Indian Pumpkin where you live, you can use butternut squash instead.It should be fine.

The recipe here is how my Mother makes the kumror chakka with a phoron(tempering) of methi and hing, completely vegetarian with no onion or garlic. My Mother also adds potol to this dish and makes it a little more liquid than I do.My friend uses a phoron of Kalo Jeera/Kalonji seeds and green chili. Sometimes I have used PaanchPhoron and dry Red Chili and in that case Mustard Oil. It all depends. A little change in spices brings a whole new taste to the same dish. So find your own muse and make your own Kumro'r Chakka.


Kumror Chakka

Soak about 1/3 cup of Kala Chana overnight. Pressure cook with salt till soft.

Indian Pumpkin ~ 1 small pie, peeled and chopped in cubes (about 2 cups) OR 1 small Butternut Squash
Potato ~ 1 large, chopped in cubes

Cut B. Squah through the center. Scoop out the seeds. Chop in large chunks. Put in a large bowl, add little water and microwave for 4 minutes. The B.squash will now be easy to peel.
With Indian Pumpkin, skip the MW. Peel and chop in small cubes, same as potatoes.

Heat White Oil in a Kadhai/Saute pan

Temper the oil with
1/2 tsp of whole methi seeds
1/4 tsp of Hing
2-3 cracked dried red chili

When the spices sputter add the cubed potatoes. Sprinkle a little turmeric and fry them light golden.

Add 1/2 tsp of Dry Roasted Cumin Powder
1/2 tsp of Dry Roasted Corriander Powder
1 tsp of grated ginger
couple of hot Indian green chlli, slit
With a sprinkle of water fry the masalas

Next goes in the pumpkin/b.squash.Saute for a minute till the masalas are mixed well with the pumpkin. Add salt to taste. If using B.squash or if pumpkin is not sweet, you might need to add a little sugar too.

Cover and cook. Usually you do not need to add water but check in between and give a good stir. Add a little water if necessary. Cook till both potatoes and the squash is done.

Add about 1/3rd cup of the cooked Kala Chana and mix well.Note: if you do not have Kala Chana, use Garbanzo or even green peas.

Sprinkle 1/4 tsp of Garam masala on top, add 1/2 tsp of ghee, switch off flame and let it sit. Garnish with grated coconut is another tip I learned from a FB fan and I am waiting to do that next.

Serve hot with Roti,Paratha or Luchi

Note: You can use different tempering for this dish like Kalonji and green chili or Paanch Phoron and dry red chili. In that case use Mustard Oil to cook this dish.

Similar Tales:

There is a different take on Kumror Chakka at IFR with garlic which I might soon try to put a spin on my age old version

There is a Kumro Chingri botti that my Ma-in-law makes which is NOT a chokka but an interesting dish with Pumpkin



  1. Awesome combination of veggies, flavourful and yummy

  2. Once when I was going for a day-long excursion, maybe in the 3rd or 4th standard, we had to start early. I don't remember who dropped me off but next thing I know, my parents were outside the bus with a glass of milk in hand. I was mortified. It didn't happen to anyone else. I remember my mother laughing.

    When we make pumpkin the usual way, we usually leave the peel on and add some jaggery.

  3. I feel for you ,reading the post brought back memories. We only tool Shyama to school when she was 4 and a half, to the horror of my friends, as I / We said she don't have to be in school especially as I was not working and I /we wanted her to be at home . But we also took her for half day on her first day it was not in the morning it was afternoon as we said it will be only 2 hours then, but H and I came home and sat in our sofa like two deas ppl missing her and thinking will she adjust, we even used to peep ( the school was just few minutes walk from our home) in the playground to see if she is adjusting time we felt so dead was when we left Shyama in her college last year and we had to leave her in her place and come back alone.

    Now to sras comment I feel for her, i will never look at a glass of milk the same way :-)

  4. kumror chhokka used to be the high point of the Durga Puja khichudi bhog at our building at Cal. preferred its inherent sweetness to the other one ... labra

  5. hilarious write up (made me bask in nostalgia for a while) and a wonderful recipe. I make a variation of this with roasted peanuts - works well.

    Debi, Toronto

  6. We are going to do the same to Little A I think and he will have the same reaction :) The kumror chakka looks amazing. Great idea to add black chana.

  7. I was waiting outside looking at my cellphone every minutes the first day.
    Those moments are definitely nervous to all parents. Now we have to face it at the first day in dorm. That would be terrible I guess- without the kid at home :(
    Within a week she gonna enjoy being surrounded by new friends and fun filled environment.
    The curry is new to me and different combo!

  8. next monday theke amaro ei din shuru hochhe. amar to khub mon kharap lagche cheletake chere atokhon thakte habe bole. ja dushtu kije korbe school e bhgoban jane.
    kumror chakka darun hoehce. almost ebhabei banai amrao.

  9. Best of luck for little sis.
    Now i am worried and do not know what to teach my 3 year old.We are moving back to India next year and every body scared me that kids there are much knowledgeable than kids in USA. I do not know what I am supposed to teach him.I am trying but he does not like to read ABCD any more,more interested me reading all his story books.
    Never thought teaching a preschooler is this difficult.

  10. Darun likhecho. I have the same thing with Kindergarten teachers too. From 1st grade everything is fine. madhyamik + daber jaal are made for each other :)

  11. You make me feel like a bad parent Sandeepa, I dropped off DD and DD2 and never went back to check on them.
    I did the checking bit with DD when we sent her to a daycare when she was about 1 1/2 and ended up pulling her out. I could not afford to do that with school.

    I love pumpkins or rather butternut squash any which way it is cooked. This one looks so very good.

  12. Hi sandeepa, tomra biswas korbe kina jani na, kolkatay average age for going to play school is 2yrs. there r schools who accept kids fm 1 yr. I opted for the most reputed and old montessori school and they take kids fm 1yr 10 mons. As per the system they follow, the 1st day when i took my 1 yr 10 mons old son to school, he was snatched and taken to the class room away fm me, and we 3 moms of same state were sent outside the school main gate. it was for 1 hr for fast 10 days, and we used to stand there for that worst 1 hr of our lives. it was a weeping affair for the kids. good that they all adjusted with time despite all these! now my son is almost five and he goes to a school where he is supposed to be till class XII, i m lucky that he loves his school.

  13. After reading ur post I ws sitting motionless in my chair for how long I don knw. The reason: I ve planned to send my 3 yrs old daughter to play school frm Oct and I ve no clue wat to expect. It sounds so dreadful...leaving them in the hands of ppl whom i don even knw properly. I wish I will survive thru this..
    The pumpkin looks gud though....

  14. I hated Kumro as a kid. I found it too squishy and messy and sweet. I don't mind it now if it decides to make a brief appearance in a chhokka or a labra :) The only form of love I share for it is in the form of a kumro aloor torkari tempered with panch phoron, ginger and lots of kancha lonka served with hot fluffy luchis. This looks pretty close to that! Loved the bit about parents, Madhyamik examinations, tender coconuts et all. ;)

  15. Sharmilee -- Thank You

    Sra -- Glass of Milk outside the bus !!! I am running away now. BTW my Mom was not the kind who would stand outside the exam hall with tender coconut :), she hyperventilated on many other occasions though.


    Try it. Or try Manisha's version with garlic etc.


    Somehow I think i will be able to handle college better. It is that they are so tiny creatures and know nothing of the world that makes me worried ;-)


    I like Kumro chakka to labra any day, labra had far too many veggies to my liking


    Thanks. Roasted peanuts is another wonderful idea


    This is a pre-school cum daycare but this is the first time LS is being away from home. It was only Gymboree Mommy & Me before. Does A go to daycare ?

  16. Cham

    At BigSis's first school/daycare, we were able to watch the classroom online, so I would do that constantly, even peek through windows if I arrived early. Ahh a couple months and I should be set.


    Awww all the best, shob thik thakbe, different bachcha diff react kore. Ami bhebechilam amar choto ta dushtu bole school e giye happy thakbe, dekhi not so much.
    Tobe amar boro jon kanna kati kore ek mashe adjust kore gechilo, so eventually it will be ok.

    Life is Beautiful

    Yes, Indian schools has higher expectations from 3 year olds I guess. My Sis-in-law who is here for only a year is very worried that the pre-school here is not teaching her 3 year old anything:)


    Ha, ha, yes I have liked all elementary teachers for my 3rd grader so far :)


    No no, I am weird. Also this is a school and daycare. Eventually I will be picking her up later in the afternoon and I think that is why i worry more. I am okay with 3 hrs in school at this age.


    Na bishwas korbo, ammar nanod B'lore e thake, or meye 2 yrs e ritimoto interview diye play school e bhorti hoyeche. Kintu ma der gate er baire thakte hobe, eta khub i kharap. Roj class/teacher eder sathe, ei boyeshe to ma eder interact korte deoa uchit.


    Trust me it gets better. I have survived this once before and though it feels hard, it will be okay

    Aar bee

    Kumro is a veggie I love, really

  17. Ahhh!! My fave one :) am going to make it today for dinner...

  18. I sat with K for her first day at a playschool when she was 2 1/2, the next day the teachers said I could go home - K hadnt even lloked back at me when she walked into the class - sigh...

    The black chana is a great addition to the pumpkin, balances the sweetness

  19. I think we all have our stories of shame where we refuse to let go of our children. ;-)

    And, I need to try your version.

  20. Looks yumm :) lovely combo of veggies.

  21. This is a lovely recipe. I tried making one today...ran out of the black chana.., I still agree it's a great idea to add black chana.


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