Wednesday, October 02, 2013

Hing er Kochuri and Alur Tarkari

Hing er Kochuri
Hing er Kochuri and Alur Tarkari. The HaatPakha i,e the Palm Leaf fans that you see in this picture are decorated by my Aunt. Aren't they gorgeous ?

Durga Pujo is almost here. Mahalaya is this Friday. The gorgeous blue sky, the kaash phool, the lazy cotton clouds and the fragile shiuli with their orange stem and fragrant notes is making it all very real. As if! The only thing missing is the "Sharodiya PujoShonkhya "which my Ma brought along with her way back in August. Now that is what I call "blasphemy". You should not have a "PujoShonkhya" in summer.  No, No. NO! In August you can only have trembling hopes for one or two. You have to wait and wait some more and then wait until Mahalaya to get your copy. For what is Pujo without its Pujo Shonkhyas.

The annual Pujo numbers -- Anandomela


Many, many years ago when I was a timid kindergartner, still struggling to read fluent Bengali, my Ma had given me the best gift on Durga Pujo. She bought me a shiny, thick, colorful book. It was the Pujoshonkhya Anandomela, the annual number of the popular Bengali children’s magazine published every year during DurgaPujo. I don't know what spurred her in doing this when I could just about manage to read the "juktakhors", the Bengali conjugant, but that single book set me on a path of loving to read and read more. When I try to think of that Pujo, from a long time back, I do not have clear pictures of Durga or the Asur. All I see is snippets of a well lit mandap reverberating with the beat of the Dhaak and a fat book with glossy cover plonked onto my satin frock's lap.

Since that day, Pujo for me has always meant waiting for the PujoShonkhya. While others waited for the squeaky clean blue sky of Sharat, the swaying kaash phool or the latest cut in salwar kamiz that the local tailor would reveal, I waited for my annual Puja number of Anandomela.

The full page advertisement announcing the book would adorn the pages of the biweekly magazine as early as April or May. Gradually the list of writers who would write for the year's number would be revealed. Satyajit Ray, Shirshendu, Sunil Ganguly…the list was rich and endless. Around end of August, my mother would book a copy for me along with a couple of Desh and Bartoman for herself, with the newspaper delivery guy.

From early September, my heart would take a dip and start beating faster every time I heard the ringing bell of the newspaper guy further down the street. "Esheche? Is it here?" I would shout as he skillfully tossed the rolled newspaper on the front porch. As he rode away shaking his head in the crisp Sharat air, I would be dejected only to live in hope and again ask him the same question the next day. You see we lived in a small town far from Kolkata and the magazines usually arrived late there. So the "pujoshonkhya" published in Kolkata would take a while to make its appearance in our mofussil market and even then there was no certainty to that.

And then one school morning, a week or two before Mahalaya, he would announce "Aaj Bikel e. Today afternoon". That day would be the most exciting one and I would rush home in the afternoon, my strides back home faster than others. Tossing my school shoes and book bag aside I would pick up the thick colorful book that sat on the center table. I held it close to my nose taking a deep whiff, I admired the nifty bookmark dangling on a thin lace and I quickly sneaked in to see the cartoon they had this year.

That afternoon I refused the call of my friends for a round of hide and seek or playing tag on the terrace. Instead I went to bed, tucked two pillows under myself and carefully opened the thick Anandomela to be lost in the next adventure of Shontu ar Kakababu or the quirky inventions of Professor Shonku.

Waiting for Anandomela was probably the best part of my pujo and that is the only part I miss these days. I also miss the fact that my daughters will never experience that yearning and eventually the deluge of happiness. For waiting for something is much more exciting than finally getting it.

*********


Last weekend we made Hing er Kochuri at home. It seemed a very Pujo-isque thing to do. Also I am ashamed to say, it was my first time. Yes, I have sailed through half of my life without making a single Hing er Kochuri and the experience or rather the lack of it has not harmed me in anyway, as I see it. For, I have ate enough of them. And that is what really matters.

The thing is, I don't "deep fry" much. I kind of have a mental block which makes me eat "deep-fried" goodness by the kilos as long as someone else is "deep-frying". The moment I see all that oil, something in my brain goes "Twang" and I hyperventilate. I was not always like this. There was a time when I loved deep frying. But at that time, I feared anything that had to do with "dough" unless of course it was "play-doh" which "Duh! is not dough". But lately and specifically after my "small organ where bile is stored" had to be removed, I don't seem to work well after a meal of "deep-fried goodness". Of course it would be okay, if I did so in moderation. But moderation is never the keyword when things are being dunked in hot oil.



So anyway since Ma is here to give expert advice and all, I felt it was the right moment to make Hing er Kochuri because you know my girls need to remember their Mother's kitchen as one where kochuri puffed up and yadda, yadda, yadda. But what is Hing er Kochuri, you ask ? Well it is a deep fried savory snack almost like a luchi or puri but with stuffing made of spiced Urad Dal paste and with a strong and beautiful aroma of hing or asafoetida. It is usually served with a side of Cholar Dal or Alur Dom. But in this recipe I served it with a Aloor Tarkari or a Potato Dish inspired by A Mad Tea Party



Usually I don't write up a recipe unless I have tried it a couple of times. But I figured that would make it 2016 until I put up this recipe. And really the recipe is perfect, it is the expertise which many of us need to gather to make stuff like this, that needs to be worked on. And we can all do that until 2016 strikes. Until then here is the recipe to follow.






Hing er Kochuri

Make the Stuffing 

Soak 1 cup of Urad Dal/Kalai er Dal/Biulir Dal overnight in water. Yep. Shuddh nirmal paani aka H2O aka water.

Next morning forget that you have soaked urad dal

Then in the afternoon when other folks in the house ask you why is there some dal soaking in a container, it all comes back. **Ting**. You have to grind the Dal. To make Hing er Kochuri.

All enthu, you put the dal in a blender along with
3 green chillies
1" ginger chopped

With aid of very little water, make a coarse paste. Not very coarse but not smooth like a Vada batter either.

Now you heat some mustard oil in a kadhai. I would suggest to use non-stick.

To the hot oil add
1/4 tsp of Hing/Asafoetida
1 tbsp of grated ginger
1/4 tsp of ground fennel seeds

Add the dal/lentil paste that you made. Add salt to taste and a pinch of sugar. Mix well.

Now comes the part where you have to keep stirring like a maniac. Okay, maybe not maniac but still considerable stirring as the st***d paste tries to stick to the kadhai. You might also have to add some more oil in the process.

Eventually your hard work will show some result. The paste will slowly start coming off from the sides and will get drier. It will also no longer taste or smell raw and will actually taste pretty good on eating. If it does not taste right, adjust the spices and keep stirring. Add little more Hing/Asafoetida if you feel the aroma is missing.
But take heart, this whole process takes a mere 20-30 minutes of your lifetime and life gets better after this.

Once you have the stuffing, keep it aside and make the dough for the kochuri. You could also have made the dough earlier, while the dal was soaking and all but then such foresight is not my plus point.

Make the Dough

In a wide mouthed bowl add
1 cup of AP Flour/Maida
1 cup of Whole Wheat
pinch of salt
1.5 tbsp of Vegetable Oil

With your fingers rub the oil in the flour. Then gradually add warm water to knead the dough until the dough is soft. Cover the dough with a damp towel and let it rest.

Note: My Mother later said that she also adds a sprinkle of hing to the dough for a more Hing-y flavor, so try that.

Make the Kochuri

Take a small ball of the dough. It might take 2-3 tries until you settle at the right size. The size should be like a gooseberry/amla. Roughly make about 20 dough balls out of this dough.

Dip the tip of the ball in oil and then flatten it between your palm.

Now roll it out to a 2" circle. Take a little of the stuffing and put it in the center. bunch up the sides of the dough disc now to form a purse like formation. With your fingers, close the top of the purse so that the stuffing does not come out. Flatten it between your palm and you are ready to roll.
Note: You can also stuff it the traditional way by making small dent in the flat disc, putting the stuffing in and then sealing the dough disc

Roll out the stuffed ball into small discs about 3" in diameter, same size and thickness as that of a luchi or poori. Well maybe a wee bit thicker than luchi

Heat enough oil for frying in a Kadhai. When the oil is hot, dip the rolled out disc to see if the oil bubbles. If it does, slowly release the disc in oil and press with a slotted spoon coaxing the kochuri to puff. Once the kochuri puffs up and takes a shad of pale brown, take it out and get ready for the next.
Note: Now honestly, I might write all the theory but this step takes some practice and mine fails to puff up 40% of the time. So it is okay. Even if it does not puff up, it tastes really delicious.


Kochuri needs some Alu Torkari and different homes make it different way. Another favorite to go with Kochuri is the Cholar dal, a hot favorite to be precise. However, having made Anita's station aloo a couple of times, I have fallen in love with it and so that is what I made to go with these Kochuri.


Alur Torkari inspired by A Mad Tea Party

Chop 4-5 large potatoes in quarters and put to boil in the pressure cooker. We will peel them later.

Once the potatoes are done and have cooled down, peel the jackets and crumble the potatoes by hand. Don't mash them, just gently crumble.

Now heat some mustard oil in a Kadhai.

Temper the Oil with
1/4th tsp Hing
1/2 tsp Cumin seeds
2 Tej-Patta

Follow with a tbsp of grated ginger.
Once the ginger sizzles, add 1 small chopped tomatoe and 5-6 broken green chillies.
Fry till the tomatoes are all mushed up.

Add 1 tbsp of Coriander powder, Turmeric powder, salt to taste and saute for a minute.

Add the potatoes and then add about 2 cups of water. Stir around and let it come to  a boil.

Let it simmer for about say, 10 -12 minutes. In between break up some of the potatoes to give a thick texture to the gravy. Taste and adjust the spices.

Both my daughters enjoyed the Hing er Kochuri and Torakri a lot and I think I have to make it soon, if only for then.

31 comments:

  1. Dear Sandeepa
    How are you ? This is a great treat in the morning when I opened computer..Now I realize I have been quite irregular reading your posts...Enjoyed the write up thoroughly..may be will go for hing-er kochuri on one of the puja days
    Bhalo theko

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    1. Doing okay UshnishDa. Pujor onek shubhechha tomader ke.

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  2. Dear Sandeepa,

    Rightly said about Pujobarshiki-s , you relish them only if you get them after Mahalaya.....
    Absolutely adore your hing er kochuri, I might try over the weekend.

    Btw... Tomaar kash er thala-baati dekhe mone holo, aami o eibaar baari theke kasher thala-baati enechi.... Quite a weight for which I had to compromise few of my sarees (taken out of my luggage) but finally managed them to get here saat samudra tero nodir paare....

    Love always,

    And Happy Mahalaya to you and your family,
    Chondryma

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    1. My parents had carried them long back as they are from my annaprashan, kintu bati chara ar kichu bar kora hoyni. Tomader shobai keo Pujor onek shubhechha

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  3. Haath pakha ta dekhe prothomei proshno korbo boley hand raise korey felechhilaam....Daarun dekhte...very old form of art but bheeshon sundor hoyechhe. Mahalaya toh kaal bhor e ....pitripaksha r sheshey devi paksher ahobhaan er shuchona....bhalo kaatuk Durga Pujo ebaar shakoler i

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    1. Hyaan she has done it so nicely and with so much love. I want to put them up on a wall as decor but yet to finalize a space as they are so beautiful. Tomader shobai keo Pujor onek shubhechha

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  4. Hi Sandeepa,

    Lovely post this one. I do read your blog regularly but since I use feedly, I often get lazy about commenting. sorry. :(

    I too grew up away from Kolkata in Jamshedpur. The wait for pujobarshiki used to be interminable. I used to bug the newspaper guy no end. We used to get the newspaper around 2 in the afternoon as it used come from Kolkata in train. I remember standing steadily (pretty much on one leg) on the sunny hot verandah for the newspaper guy for days on end. I managed to get my parents anxious too with my longing. My usually stoic dad used to start looking anxious and he would look at my face when he came back from work with the silent question and smile a little. That smile had so much love and understanding and empathy with a small girl. :)

    I used to get shuktara only for a long time, I got anondomela only in early teens and i was dazzled with the quality. another fond pujo memory is negotiating with mom to let me read the feluda uponyas from desh pujobarshiki. I wasnt allowed to read any so-called adult content. But I would nag endlessly for feluda and would read only that under supervision. :)

    Your post also reminded me of my first reading memory. I used to be a very fussy eater as a child and unfortunately (for my weight) I am not so now. :) anyway, so I remember a steel plate with some bhaat and ghee mixed and dad making white laddoos out of them to make it more interesting and he is holding a shuktara in another hand and reading a story to me. I think for a 3 year old the story was a bit complicated, so there are a lot of pauses and explanations and laddoo counting happening in the middle to check my eating progress. I remember afterwards I would take the book and pretend to read and don't know when I started to read. :) While I realized the value of fiction early, I apparently mercilessly tore up many copies of the pink borno porichoy beforehand which of course I don't remember. :) Remember maa doing the reading with feeding for bhai and only this time it would be upendrakishore rachanabali from our growing collection of books and all about tuntuni and ukune buri etc, when bhai was confused about what an ukune buri was, maa patiently explained that ukune buri is didi. for a 10 year old who had a few lice infections from school, it was mortally insulting and of course once they realized I was offended I was teased mercilessly for a long time. :) :)

    Thank you soooo much for making me remember all the good things of life. and oh yes, hinger kochuri is a perennial favorite at home. maybe the only recipe in your website which I wont have to follow. :) will try the aloor torkari though - it sounds very interesting.

    Much love,

    Indrani

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    1. Ha, ha, laughing away at "ukune buri". It is one of the stories my Mother tells my daughters too. My neighbor friends would get Shuktara and we would exchange.

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    2. Oh, and of course Desh for Feluda, also sometimes Nabonita Debsen. I think by 11th my Mother allowed Desh and Ananda bazaar and it was such a treat to read Shirshendu, Bani Basu and others

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  5. PS Another good write-up on Pujo - http://www.ebela.in/details/11725-16280734.html

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  6. Dear Sandeepa,

    You draw a beautiful picture with your words. Ami sposhto dekhte pelam ekta frock pora meye, baalish kole Pujo barshiki Anandomela porchhey! I bought your book with this anticipation.

    Jodio ami India-te thaki tobe Kolkataei noi. Amar chhele meye keu ei Bangla portey pare na! Its a pity I cannot share these things with her.

    Hinger Kochuri-ta also looks temrting enough to try.

    Durga pujor subhechha niyo.

    Runa Dasgupta

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    Replies
    1. Thank you Runa, tomader o shobai ke janai Durga Pujor shubhechha

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  7. Such a lovely post...you made the pujo come alive for me :)

    U have really tempted me with the hinger kochuri will be making it real soon.

    Enjoy your pujo well!!

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  8. Dear Sandeepa'di,

    What a lovely memory rush! Like all Bongs, this is THE time of the year most awaited and counted-down-to. Baba and my birthdays also fall this time, making it all the more special. We always grew up outside Cal, so can totally identify with the feverish wait for the Pujobarshiki! Infact for the longest time, I had no interest in the Pujo jama-juto shopping, I was super happy being left alone with my Pujobarshiki. Once we moved to Delhi, I discovered the joys of shopping :P Growing up with an-almost-same-age sister meant we both had two new sets of dresses everytime. It was always more fun the day after Pujo shopping to pore over all the new dresses yet again and make lists of kondin-konta-porbo.

    The recipe looks yummy, to say the least. Dokhhineshor'er stall gulo mone pore gelo!!! I'll probably try the alur torkari aajkei! Though lazy lazy me will never ever gather the courage to make the kochuris at home, I'll just wait for the CR Park visits :D Totally agree portion control is criminal on deep fried goodies come what may haha.

    Pujor onek onek shubhechha janai,

    Much love,
    Kuntala

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    Replies
    1. yeah, if you have a ready supply of Hing er Kochuri why not ? :-D This aloo is very easy and goes good with ruti too. You guys have a great Pujo

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  9. Namaste Sandeepa, This Heenger kachuri with alu is my all time favorite food. I was born & raised in Uttar pradesh (all over it) & I believe the only two odors emenating from my body are the smell of heeg & the smell of kerosene (that's a story for another time). I see that you experienced that when you fry the dal pithi after the baghar, it sticks to the karahi like crazy. I learnt this little sneaky trick from a very elderly relative: whenever you have to fry a dal pithi, like for kachori here, or for moong dal halwa, or for the urad dal pinni ( the Urad dal laddu Punjabi style), DO NOT HEAT THE GHEE or oil. If using ghee, melt it over super low flame so that it just melts, does not get heated up (if it does get heated, turn off the heat & wait for it to come to room temperature).The same for oil: let the baghar cool to room temp. The add the dal paste & stir to mix for a couple of minutes. And then turn the heat on & proceed as you do. Viola! No more dal paste sticking to the pan...I have never used non-stick or aluminum stuff in my house, using this method, I have never had the dal paste sticking to the bottom of the pan.

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    1. Ohh, that is such a great tip. Will try that next time and update the post.

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  10. Thanks to your mom Sandeepa, Anandomela probably set you on your current writing career and we all the richer for it.

    As for the deep fried stuff I made poori and masaal this weekend - perhaps the last of the fried goodies the family will get till Spring.

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    1. Why, because you do it outside ? I got a fryer too recently but have not fried poori in there. We fried fish and veg & keema croquettes. But can't you do it in the basement ?

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  11. Thanks a lot for this wonderful post. Such a nostalgic post...loved it. bhalo theko

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    1. Tomader Pujo khub bhalo katuk Aditi

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  12. Your mail came just in time....today's Mahalya and I am going to make just that...luchi and aloor torkari with halwa...on second thoughts, i may switch to your hinger kochuri...sounds delicious!!!! Hope my urad dal soaks for good during the day time too!!!

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  13. I am like that too- I get very nervous about deep frying- huge mental block. I have no problem if somebody else is doing the frying..lol. Time to make kachuris I see.

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    ReplyDelete
  15. We used to get Deepavali special issues too, I don't remember whether the kids' magazines had them but the other mags did, they were much coveted for their size, writers, stories and cartoons. I like the pic you painted of waiting for the mags - really, we didn't have much else to do but read and play, in those days. I feel sad kids don't have that now.

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  16. Was it a conscious decision on your part to remove the "Dhokar Dalna" recipe from your blog? Or I am having trouble in loading the page at my end.

    Thanks

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  17. I made it yesterday and it was awesome :), Thank you for this awesome recipe. God bless you!!

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  18. Such a great great treat Sandeepa. Tomader pujo khub bhalo katuk. Lots of love to LS and BS.

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  19. I prepared alu'r tarkari for Lakshmi puja last week and it came out very yummy just like the kolkata Putiram's alu'r tarkari I used to enjoy during my college days, brought back memories! Lips smakcing delicious. Thanks for your recipes.

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  20. Eyi post ta miss kore gechi. Pujo'r shomoye ebaare khub easily pujo shonkha pelam ar baare baare tomar kotha mone porchilo kintu osustho thakar jonne ar jiggesh kore utha hoyeni.
    Diwali te onek kochuri khawa holo ebar Rajasthane ... haath pakha gulo ki shundor!

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