Thursday, March 14, 2013

Aam Kashundi -- the Bengali Mustard Sauce


Before I write even one more sentence, let me dispel any doubts about this being the traditional recipe for real Kashundi or Kasundi.

It is not.

I don't know how to make the traditional Kasundi. My mother never made it. I don't think my grandmothers did it either.

But my father's grandmother and grandaunt did. They were the designated Kashundi makers of the family. In the days when Kashundi was not bottled and sold, they were the ones who kept up a steady supply of that pungent, sharp Bengali mustard sauce in our home.

My father's grandmother "Baro Ma",  a highly esteemed foodie and a lady famous for her culinary skills, passed away when I was a mere year-old child.Sadly, I wasn't intelligent enough to absorb her kashundi making process in that early year of my life. My Ma as a relatively new mother at that time probably thought the task to be too daunting and never learned it either.

Mustard seeds, mango, garlic, green chilli

My father's grandaunt then continued the tradition in her own home, and other than receiving couple of bottles of that mustardy goodness every year and discussing how grandaunt with her frail health still kept up at her kashundi making, no one in my immediate family ventured in that direction. "Khub shokto", "Very Difficult" is all that I heard. "The kashundi can be made only on certain days with utmost cleanliness and respect. You can not talk or touch anybody while making it. A little carelessness, and all that hard work will have gone to waste as the kashundi will get spoilt".

By the time grandaunt stopped making Kashundi, small cottage industries and then brands like Radhuni etc. were selling bottled Kasundi like hot cake. We bought Kashundi from the stores and a need to make it at home never arrived.

Those days, in absence of food processors and spice blenders, the brown and yellow seeds of mustard were to be ground on the sheel, the pockmarked slab of stone which is a major landmark in a Bengali kitchen. That must have been the "hard work" part. Now, when I pause and look back, I understand the "cleanliness" part, it was the same thing with achhar(pickles) and bori. In absence of any preservatives or refrigeration, it was necessary to maintain these standards for the finished condiment to have a long shelf life.



Though my grandmother did not make Kashundi, she made bori in the dry sunny days of winter. It was an elaborate affair with the dal being soaked overnight and then ground next day in batches. Early next morning the bori making would ensue at the terrace where washed and starched spun cotton saris and dhotis would be stretched out, their corners secured by rectangular red bricks. My grandmother would take a quick bath, change her clothes and then arrive at the scene. Small dollops of the lentil pastes would be dropped on the those stretched cloth and left to dry in the winter sun.

Younger children or the house help would be assigned the job to keep away birds from those raw boris, waiting to bake in the sun. However we were not allowed to go near, touch or poke those small mounds of lentil pastes. Those mornings we were not allowed to run around on the terrace either. The whole affair was shrouded in an environment of sanctity and we looked at "bori making" with lot of respect.



Now here in the US, I get my yearly supply of Kasundi from India. This means I use it with much care, using it sparingly and trying to get most for the tablespoon of kasundi I use. I cannot be as generous with kasundi as I can be with soy sauce. The niggling doubt of what-if-my-stash-of-kasundi-does-not-last-until-Ma-visits consumes me on my worst days.

So a few years ago when my blogger friend Sharmila @ KichuKhon vouched for another blogger Delhibelle's Aam Kasundi, I thought what do I have to lose. It also helped (a lot) that her recipe was super simple and involved nothing of the word "shokto" aka difficult. It used raw mangoes with mustard seeds to produce the tangy spicy taste. Maybe it does not exactly taste like the real Kasundi but so what, it comes close, very very close and believe me it tastes awesome.

I have made this couple of times in the last year and recently made another batch. I refrigerate the bottles as I am not sure if they will stay good outside. Refrigerated they stay well for weeks. I mostly use it in dishes like shorshe salmon or bhapa ilish or in a shorshe murgi which I will share soon. It is also very good as a dip and with a bottle of it in your collection you will not miss the real Kasundi all that much.




Aam Kasundi

Delhibelle's Original Recipe

Here is how I made it

Soak in water
4 tbsp Mustard seeds ( a mix of brown and yellow gives the best color but I had only brown this time)

Grate a small mango to yield
3/4th-1 cup of grated raw Mango
(I did it in the blender)

In a blender jar add
strained mustard seeds
grated mango
5 fat clove of garlic chopped
8-10 hot green chilli chopped

With a splash of water make a smooth paste. Try to make the paste in one go instead of pulsing.

When the paste is almost done
drizzle 2-4 tbsp mustard oil (more is better but I went low)
a pinch of turmeric
salt to taste

Give a final whizz and your Aam Kasundi is ready

29 comments:

  1. Such an intriguing thing! I'm so trying this with the first raw mangoes I can get my hands on. I'm determined not to miss out on their short season this year and have a small list going of dishes one must prepare with this precious ingredient. I love all manner of mustard preps so I cannot begin to tell you how stoked I am about this. We have a wet chutney-like sauce we make back home that combines a lot of mustard and raw mango, but it has no shelf life.

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  2. I am going to try it whenevet I can grab some good green mango at indian stores here

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  3. Recently I bought a bottle of tomato kashundi from the local organic shop. It was disappointing,the taste was not good and I will just let it linger around some time before I chuck it . Maybe I should give this a go..

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  4. awesome. I personally believe bengali cusine is the finest in the world

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  5. We get kasundi in bottles and it's a great combination with fried chicken! It's not aam, though!

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  6. Thanks. That was quick. looks delicious, & 'm already drooling. I'll try out as soon as my hand heals.& guess what, I'll make it on the sheel...I have acquired one here & use it too for masalas & chutm=neys & dal pithis. No, I don't think it takes longer than the blender, when you consider the shorter cook time due to a much lower water content, & that does not include the time at the gym working out the upper arms. The best benefit? The awesome taste & texture

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  7. Beautiful memory of making "bori" we do with leftover ground rice in summer. Kasundi I ve never even seen in any grocery stores, i only know bhasundi :). What a treasured recipe.

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  8. I love strong mustard and adding these additional ingredients will sure result in an interesting dip! I saw green mangoes in the market last week - so this is on my list now!

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  9. Last Friday I had the lovely opportunity of having authentic, tasty, vegan Bengali food at ITC Maratha thanks to invitation from my dear friend, Rhea. We had kashundi to go with cauliflower pakodas amongst many other offerings. I wanted to try it out at home. Your recipe has come at the right time. I am going to try this one soon. Thanks!

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  10. I am definitely going to try this once I get raw mangoes

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  11. Thanks for this aam kasundi. I might surprise my parents with a shorshe salmon myself!

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  12. so easy, will surely try this , now raw mangoes r available in market. Very perfectly made it Sandeepa.

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  13. khub interesting! Ajkei eta banabo ami... aam kinte chollam bajare....

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  14. Always love the way our generation of cooks 'tweak' *shokto* recipes to make them our own. I can understand your feelings about using Kashundi sparingly vis-a-vis Soya sauce... ekhane bangladeshi market-e onek kichu paoa jay but not Kashundi!

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  15. how long do i need to soak mustard seeds.??

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  16. how long to soak mustard seeds?

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  17. It's nearly winter here and mangos are hard to find. Yet search I did and finally paid a ludicrous amount for one just to make your kashundi. It was totally worth it must say. Delicious on its own! Am planning to try it on mushrooms tonight.

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  18. made this tonight and it turned lil bitter.. what could have went wrong? though its super pungent :)

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    1. It sometimes depends on the blender though with mangoes mine have never gone bitter. Mango was not sour ?
      Try to do the paste in one go instead of start-stop.Use a mix of brown and yellow mustard

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  19. thank u Sandeepa, i think its my super old mixie, its heat might be the reason. thinking of adding one more mango to it :)
    love

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  20. can this be stored for a long time?

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    1. I refrigerate and stays good for months

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  21. The aam kasundi has turned out pretty nice,Thank you. Do I need to put it out in the sun,like we do with achars?

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  22. The Kasundi turned out pretty well..thank you.Do I need to put it out in the sun,like we do with achars?

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    Replies
    1. Maybe for a day or two. I usually refrigerate.

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  23. can you please tell how we can make "bori" at home possiblyy in an oven. cant put them to dry out in the traditional way:(

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