|Broccoli, Eggplant,Bok Choy,Potatoes|
"Kolkata te ajkal BokChoy paoa jaay", said my Mother. "Ar oi beguni bandhakopi, the purple cabbage". (You get Bok Choy in Calcutta these days. Also that purple cabbage)
"Where do you get all these weird things ?" I asked
"Reliance Fresh," said my Mother with an air of someone who is not astounded by a BokChoy or surprised by a purple cabbage.
"But why would you buy it? You get enough Bangali shaak as it is," I said.
"Arre, your Baba bought purple cabbage the other day. It had absolutely no taste. But Namita buys it all the time. She also buys basil, broccoli and zucchini," continued my Ma, her voice brimming with pride for her neighbor, Namita, who undoubtedly was a global food connoisseur.
Then my Mother went onto further elaborate about her very Bengali neighbor Namita, who makes pasta with sausage and fresh basil for dinner, sautes bok choy in olive oil and has no idea how to make a patishapta or kochuri.
|Musur Dal er Bori|
It was my turn to be surprised. Not by Namita. I care less if she cooks pasta and outsources patishapta.
But by BokChoy's entry in India. Bok-Choy had come into my life only 7 years back via Asian Farmers Market in the US and had started featuring regularly in the menu only in the last two years. The foremost reason I buy a bunch of baby BokChoy these days is because it hardly needs any chopping like other greens and also tastes pretty decent. Even then, I am not sure if it has enough merits to take over a culture rich with greens like Palong, Pui, Note, Methi etc. etc. I knew about the Broccoli taking over Indian market but even Bok-choy ? Really? I hope they grow them locally and don't fly it in from China like they do the garlic these days.
But then again why not ? I think. If I can eat potol by the Atlantic why not BokChoy by the delta of the river Ganges.
After all the world is getting flatter and everyone is eating everything.
The only difference is unlike Namita, I make a jhol, a light soupy gravy with my BokChoy, just like the Alu-Begun-Bori'r jhol that my Ma makes. That Alu-Begun-Bori'r jhol is awesomeness by itself, or awesomeness with a squeeze of lime. And it is not at all necessary to add Bok Choy to it.
Many summer afternoons, some potol and fish would be added to this very staple jhol in our home. Come winter, it was sweet peas in their pods and cauliflower's turn to grace the soupy gravy. The Dal Vadi or Bori would make it extra special. There were these larger sized bori called jholer bori which tasted fabulous when soaked up in the soupy vegetable gravy. The jhol had minimal spices and just a dash of mustard paste towards the end to add some zing. Since Bok Choy and also broccoli is easily available and I like it for the reasons stated above, I tend to add them to this jhol. The jhol tastes as good.
Do try this, very quintessential Bengali dish. Healthy, flavorful and simple, it is the perfect example of how simple home cooked dishes can hold their own against rich curries and enevelop you in that warm fuzzy feel of home.
Alu-Begun-Bori-BokChoy er Jhol
What You Need
Baby Bokchoy -- about 2-3 bunch. Washed and chopped roughly, including the softer part of the stem. I discarded the tougher part of the stem
Broccoli -- 1 small head cut into large florets
Potatoes -- 2 medium cut in thick slices along the length
Eggplant -- 1 Japanese eggplant cut in 2" lenghts
Vadi or Bori(optional) - few, say about 8-10 small ones and 5 of larger ones
PaanchPhoron -- 1 tsp
Green Chilli -- 4-5 broken
Jerra or Cumin Powder --- 1 tsp
Mustard paste -- approx. 1 tbsp Mustard Powder mixed with 1 tbsp water to make a paste or 1 tbsp of fresh mustard paste
Mustard Oil -- 3-4 tsp
How I Did It
Heat 3 tsp of Mustard Oil in a kadhai
When oil is hot, add the bori and fry them brown and crisp. Remove and keep aside.
Add a tsp more oil if needed to the kadhai and temper the oil with
1 tsp of PaanchPhoron
4-5 green chilli broken or slit
When the spices sputter add the potatoes. Sprinkle about 1/2 tsp of Turmeric powder and saute the potatoes for a minute
Next add the eggplant and toss with potatoes. Fry for couple of minutes until skin of eggplant starts softening. Now add about 1/4th cup of water, cover the saucier/kadhai and let the potatoes cook a little.
Now goes in the broccoli which you saute along with potatoes and eggplant. Follow with chopped bokchoy. Toss everything together gently and keep sauteing until you see the bokchoy wilt.
1 tsp cumin powder
1" ginger grated
salt to taste
and about 2 cups of water.
Mix everything well and add
1/2 tsp of turmeric powder
the Mustard paste
Cover the saucier/kadhai and let it cook. In between, remove cover and check the water. You need a soupy gravy so add little more water if necessary. Once the vegetables are cooked, taste and adjust for salt.
Add the fried vadi or bori and let the gravy simmer for a minute
Serve with steaming rice and a quarter of lime