If you follow my blog on FB, you will know that my Mother arrived a couple of weeks back. With her of course came packets of Mukhorochak chanachur-- tauk--jhaal-mishti -- sour--spicy-sweet. And loads of books. Tons of Enid Blytons for the 9 yr old, Bengali story books by Sukumar Roy from my childhood for the little one and fat Lila Majumdar Rachanabolis for me.
I am an ardent Lila Majumdar fan and have been one for the last 30 years. I can read her stories and essays over and over and yet find new joy every time in the tales of uncomplicated times of simple livings. The downside of reading such great authors is that I myself feel very incompetent and my writing feels bleah ! So, I take the easy way out and read more, hoping to learn something but eventually only get engrossed in the tales.
When I get time away from reading, I make Dal er Bora. And also take showers.
Now, the Dal er Bora or Lentil fritters is a very typical Bengali dish. There are lentil fritters made throughout the length and breadth of India for sure but these particular ones are typical to Bengal. They are also deep fried and very different from the sun dried lentil fritters-- the bori.
I had written a detailed post on the Dal er Bora some years back. That one was made with Matol + Musur Dal. This time I did not have any Mator dal and so used only Red Masoor. Also different from the jhaal-jhol last time which needed mustard paste, I made a Borar Jhol this time, which was more in the lines of a dalna like this Alu Potol er Dalna. I also added few of the boras to a thin jhol with vegetables and spiced with mustard paste, like this Alu Begun er Jhol. Both the dishes tasted very good.
Bengali vegetarian dishes are vast and varied but very few non-Bengalis know that. One of the oft heard comments I have received from non-Bengali readers of my book, is the surprise on the Vegetable chapters. As this particular reader says about my book "But it has to be said, the book has opened my eyes to the breadth and depth of Bengali cuisine, which in my severely myopic view did not go beyond macher jhol, mangsher jhol, and the indiscriminate use of badly chopped (sometimes whole) potatoes and of course mustard oil." Now honestly, the variety is too much for me to even know, forget putting in the book, but I hope as we dig out these simple gems, more people will be able to enjoy Bengali food beyond maacher jhol and kosha mangsho.
Dal er Borar Jhol or Lentil Fritters in a Gravy
To Make Dal er Bora
Soak 1/2 cup of Matar Dal(split peas) & 1/2 cup of red Masoor Dal in water for half an hour.For only Musur Dal er Bora use 1 cup of Red Lentils/Red Masoor dal
In the blender add
the soaked lentils
1" piece of peeled and chopped ginger
3-4 green chili
1/2 cup of water
and make a smooth paste.
To the paste
add 1 tsp of roasted cumin powder
add salt to taste
some finely chopped onion
finely chopped green chilli
finely chopped coriander leaves(optional)
Beat the lentil paste with a fork till everything is well mixed up.
In a kadahi, heat Oil for deep frying.
When oil is hot, scoop the paste with a tablespoon and drop it in the bubbling hot oil. Fry till the lentil fritters are brown and crunchy.
Instead of deep frying, I made the fritters in an ebelskiver pan aka appe pan. You can follow the instructions in this post for making them using the appe pan.
This measure makes about 15 Dal er bora. Of which about 10 were used in the Jhol
Make the Borar Jhol
Heat some more Oil in the same wok
Temper the Oil with
1&1/2" thin stick of cinnamon
1 small Bay Leaf
4 small green cardamom
1/4th tsp of Whole cumin seeds
When the spices sizzle add 1 medium potato peeled and chopped in quarters. Sprinkle about 1/4 tsp of Turmeric Powder and saute the potatoes until they start taking on a pale golden color
Take 2-3 peeled whole tomatoes from a can or 1 big juicy tomato and blend to make tomato puree. Add the tomato puree to the pan.
Add 1 tbsp of grated Ginger + 3-4 green chilli coarsely pounded
Add a little salt and fry the tomato till the raw smell is gone. If you are not the smelling type, check to see if the oil is separating from the masala. This will take about 6-8 minutes at medium heat
Time for the masala.
1/2-1 tsp of Bhaja Moshla(Recipe here)
1/2 tsp of Kashmiri Mirch or Red Chili Powder
Note: usually Jeera powder is used but I added Bhaja Masla.
Sprinkle a little of the tomato juice or a little water and fry the spices for about 5 minutes. This is called "kashano" in Bengali or "bhuno" in Hindi and a lot depends on this step. You need to fry the masala till the oil surfaces and the masala takkes a deep red color. Don't try to hurry it. I have done that and there has been a difference in taste.
Add 1 cup of warm water. Add salt and sugar to taste. Cover and cook till potatoes are done.
Now add the fried dal er bora/lentil fritters. Let them simmer in the gravy at low heat for a few minutes. The bora soaks up the gravy fast so add more water to the gravy if necessary. Taste the thin gravy to see if it tastes right and adjust for spices.
Add a touch of ghee at the end to up the taste. Serve with rice.
My Dal er Borar Jhaal version 1.0
KichuKhonn's Dal er Borar Jhol