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.
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
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