Friday, June 15, 2012

Green Beans Bhorta -- paste or pâte

BeansBharta2

A few years back I did not know about a "Bhorta" with an "O".
The only kind I knew was "Bharta" with an "A" and that began and ended with "Baingan Bharta".

And then came LS's babysitter from Bangladesh and we kept hearing a lot of "Bhorta". However we didn't get to eat many except "Aloo Bhorta" which is almost like "Alu-Sheddho" and a "Alu-Sheem Bhorta" which again is almost like a sheem bhaate. LS's babysitter is not too interested in cooking and so that is that.

But at least now we were more aware and didn't say "Baingan" when someone said "Bhorta". Bhorta is a dish where veggies, fish or even meat are mashed and spiced. It is the signature of Bangladeshi Cuisine holding a place above any other food in their culinary culture. Amazingly, it has not trickled into mainstream Bengali food in neighboring India and most Bengalis from India are unaware of the myriad of bhortas that Bangladesh boasts of.

Then last year came the husband's sis, the sis-in-law, a very enterprising and good cook. And guess what, she befriended a neighbor who was from Bangladesh and a storehouse of all kind of "Bhorta". My sis-in-law did not waste time and honed her skills on numerous "Bhortas" and when she visited us last year, she brought along a tupperware full of greenish hued "Bean Bhorta".

BeansBharta3 copy
not "Spring" Bean silly -- it is "String"

Now I am not too fond of "String Beans" or "French Beans" and usually avert my eyes and look the other way towards the mint and the coriander when I am confronted by them. But this was different. This was "Whoa" good. Very good in total un-beanly way. I mean if you are a green bean fan you might not like the idea of pulverizing the whole thing into bean debris but believe me even then you are going to like it.

My sis-in-law adds chingri bata or roughly ground shrimp to this. I wanted a veggie version and she suggested grated coconut. So I used the frozen grated coconut of course.

This is a rough recipe with the measures eyeballed. Go with your instinct. LS's babysitter said "Bhorta" should be green chili hot and so we added a good quantity of green chili. Frankly it was too hot for me. But the way you eat it , mixing a small portion of bhorta with white rice attenuates the heat and makes it pleasantly bearable.

In that sense, a little bhorta goes a long way.

BeansBharta1

Wash and chop French Beans in 2" length.

Heat Mustard Oil in a kadhai and fry 1 small onion thinly sliced.

Follow with 5 clove of garlic chopped and 7-8 hot Indian green chili.

Next add the beans, around 3-4 cups of the chopped ones. Add salt to taste.

Saute the beans till it is soft and cooked.

Once it has cooled down put the contents of the kadhai(beans+everything else) in a blender jar and add about 1/4th cup of grated coconut. With a splash of water make a thick paste.

You need to dry up this paste now. So heat a teeny bit of Mustard Oil and add the west paste. Saute until you have dried up the excess water and the result is a moist bpaste.

Add some finely chopped fresh coriander leaves and serve hot with fluffed up white rice. To eat with your fingers, mix little dollops of paste with rice and enjoy.

The Non-Veg version

For the non--veg version, you have to get some small to medium sized shrimp. The frozen ones work best as you will be making a paste out of them shrimps.

Wash and clean shrimp(or just defrost). Then toss with little salt and pinch of turmeric powder.

Heat some oil in a frying pan and fry the shrimp until it is soft and golden. When it has cooled down, put the shrimp in the blender along with the beans and make a paste.

To dry out the paste again follow the same step as earlier


Now there are two things I wanted to share with you.A couple of months back I had the privilege to chat with Scott Haas -- an author of several published books, a James Beard award winner and former NPR producer. The whole thing was courtesy a dear blog reader. It was a cozy chat--almost like an adda and it got morphed into an interview at TOI. You can read it here if you wish.

The second is , BS's summer vacation starts today and it goes on for 2 and half months. As a summer project for BS we decided to blog about the books she is going to read over the next two months. Every week she gets to pick 3-4 books of her choice while I pick 1 or 2 for her. Of these the ones that she really likes will be blogged about. Some books that LS likes might find its way there too. It is going to be a simple blog with no heavy review but just a way to list books she will read and hopefully love over summer. Also there will be some kid-friendly snacks that BS can make by herself. For this we have had great suggestions on Facebook and hopefully many of them will be done.

It will be nice to have you over there at Bong Mom's CookBook for Kids, with your suggestions and if your kid is starting summer vacation why don't you start a similar blog for them too ?

44 comments:

  1. I also didn't know wit the O, but it looks super delicious. Wish i had this though as i am like what am i going to make for dinner as i really don't want to eat anything with bread tonigh.

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  2. Ami jani na ki khunjchilam net e thik 2 din agey ar tomar TOI te interview ta porlam. Bolbo bolbo kore bola hoyeni tomaye ... bhebechilam kono purono interview ... date dekhini. Good one. :-)

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  3. Lekha ta te ki kichu change kora hoyeche? Ekta comment porlam ... how can s/he assume that tomar boi te eggs ba mishti doi neyi?

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    1. BM,

      This is SD here. I find your bengali comments about Scott so adorable. He would love to know the translation :)

      BTW, a lot of my friends were from Bangladesh when I went o graduate school here. We used to have Bhorta Party. Literally, there would be almost 25-30 different kinds of Bhorta

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    2. Arre Sharmila, the first time there were some typos which the TOI editors took about a month to correct. That is why it might look changed from what you saw.
      I did not write it, had a nice half hour chat with the interviewer and what he gathered from what I said took shape in there.
      That said we did not discuss about the book's content or chapters so I do not know where that thing about egg and mishti doi is coming from. There is definitely going to be eggs and mishti in the book.

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  4. Nice article in TOI! Got to know a bit more about you too :) Bhortas sound good! What other veggies are typically used?

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    1. have to ask sis-in-law but pumpkin, potatoes are good choice

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    2. And oh, did I spill any secret ;-) I thought I said what everybody knew already

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  5. This sounds yum! It reminds me of the Andhra 'pacchadis' and the Tamil thuvial/thogayal both of which are mixed with rice and ghee and eaten (I even tried a cabbage thuviyal which was yummy and not at all cabbage-y)..will try the beans bhorta- I like anything mashed..lol so a great way to get the veggies in!

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  6. that looks yumm....!!neva tried before...shud try soon!grt way to makekids eat veggie too!

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  7. Loved the article on TOI. Feel closer to you.

    Lovely bhorta recipe. I m going to wow some folks soon.

    Thanks Sandeepa. You rock!

    Ini

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  8. Awesome bharta. Will surely try this.

    I blog @ Manidipa's Kitchen

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  9. Sandeepa, I read the article about a week ago from a link in on FB page I think. Line Vani said I did get to know more about you through the interview.

    This mushed beans without beany taste might be something that I would like as well.

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    1. Indo, yes it was out a month back but there were some errors. I don't know if you had noticed but the age was almost a decade off :-D Finally it was edited and so I decided to share.

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    2. I remember thinking you were really young. Nothing wrong though to have someone else say that !

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    3. Whaaat, you didn't know ? I though you would have guessed. Hello I didn't know "XOXO" until a year back. Isn't that enough clue :-D

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  10. Hi Sandeepa, read your interview! eagerly waiting for your book to be published.... thanks a lot for sharing ur sis in laws bean bharta, we all liked the methi chicken, and assume she is the same person :) btw, one personal question... if u dont mind... did u study at cal by any chance? r u a b tech? did u do physics before that? answer my question, then i will tell u the rest... dont mind, i may be wrong...

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    Replies
    1. see ur blog mail id sandeepa.... mailed to u! :)

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  11. Hi, This recipe is too delicious and yummy. Barir kotha mone koriye dey. Thanks for sharing......I loved it.

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  12. Now this is the most interesting recipe I've come across, yet. I love green beans, and I would NEVER have thought to mash it up and eat it! Always a first, I guess :) thanks for bringing this recipe to light, Sandeepa!

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    1. Yeah, me too. Never did it cross my mind and I don't even like green beans. I should have ideally wanted to beat it up!

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  13. This is next in my dinner menu this week. Will get some fresh faraash beans though. I made a rui maacher bhorta once, when one of the readers shared her Thakuma's recipe. It tasted very good.

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  14. We Telugus chutneyfy everything possible but this is new to me. (We think of Baingan Bharta as chutney, so i guess all the chutneys we make can be called bhartas too.)

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    1. Someone else said the same thing, "pachadi" is the chutney you are talking about ? So a bharta is a Telegu chutney ? Deep thoughts.

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  15. Looks marvellous,irresistible and yummy..

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  16. Dear Sandeepa
    Darun lag-lo Po-De,lekha-ta and recipe too, ,try korbo bari giye...Bhorta word is coined from word Bhurta which came from west pakistan. It was Baigon to start with , and then many bhorta came up..Bhorta is the national dish now ( says my friend who visits often,,u wont get Ilish too without onion galic ...) , But they taste good and different...the old timers (bha-te,,alu, begun, seem etc etc ) are long gone and the word bha-te too...
    Cant open the interview :-(, will try someday
    Bhalo theko

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    1. Amra ekhono bhaate boli Ushnish da, epar banglay. Opar banglay -- bhorta.

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  17. So I know you a bit more after the interview. And I will follow your lil one's reads on the new blog :)Beans bhorta is new.... for a minute I thought it was mushy peas like they make in the UK! I had heard only of baingan and tomato bhartas before, so this could be a nice addition to the league.

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    1. I have never had a tomato bharta...sounds good that one

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  18. That is a very interesting recipe. I have tried bharta with different veggies, but this one is new. I will give it a try. Thanks Sandeepa

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  19. Sandeepa - I tried this for a solo dinner yesterday. The taste was yummy, I dunked some ghee on top for flavor. Thanks for this recipe.

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    1. Did you try Mustard Oil too ?

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    2. Nope. Did not have mustard oil handy, so used Canola, I concluded that Mustard oil at the end and beginning brings depth and flavor to this dish. :(
      This easily takes Beans out of the boring subzi territory for me.

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  20. This is the first time I am commenting on your post, I just could not resist letting you know how delicious the beans bhorta that I tried from your recipe turned out to be. It was a superhit at your table! So a special thanks to this post.
    Do glance through my site sometime - http://pamelakanjilal.wordpress.com/
    Though not a very mature site yet, I would love to hear from you!

    Regards
    Pam

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  21. This is new for me looks yum,perfect with plain rice,..:)

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  22. hi there,

    Nandini here, you have lovely collection of recipes, most of them are new and interesting to me. Being a veggie i enjoy most of ur veggie delights mentioned in ur blog.
    Do drop in to my space http://foreverfoodfantasy.blogspot.com/

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  23. Ooh I love string beans but my family really don't! So, like several mums I suppress what I actually like in order to cook for them ;)

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  24. Bong Mom! This was terrific! I always buy a tonne of string beans because they are so cheap and quickly get tired of eating the only thing I know to make with them- Chinese style stir fry. This has been super helpful in transforming those green wormy veggies into something beautiful. Thanks so very much for this recipe. This is pretty much what I will do with string beans from now on.

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  25. bong mom, this is one yummy recipe. just made it, with mustard oil, and had with brown rice. this is a keeper, thank you so much for posting this. While making it, I figured out that the 'bangal' bhorta is similar to the 'ghoti' bhaate, am I right? take care, and congrats on the book.

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    1. yeah kind of but usually the "bhaate" is more mellow bordering on healthy. The bhorta as I have realized is a full blown dish

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  26. I have heared about brinjal bhaorta, Alu bhorta but thanks for giving this new dish. Beans are loaded with nutrients that our bodies crave and bean bhorta must contain all the benefits. Find more recipes and health tips from Borosil And You

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