Recipe ideas for a Bengali lunch party independent of chillies…alu posto, malai curries, kosha mangsho

IMG_9227

Last weekend we had some friends over for lunch and I had plans of cooking a Bengali meal for them.

The group mix was interesting. There were three of us with gastric reflux issues. One with a recovering antsy stomach. One had grown up in a foreign land on a non spicy diet and is vegetarian to boot. There were three kids in the group. In other words the fare had to be completely independent of chillies. Quite the challenge while cooking ‘Indian’…with Bengali…not so much

A number of Bengali dishes derive their heat from green chillies and kosha mangsho of course needs a lot of chilli powder. However, using multiple flavours to bring in a nice taste balance is what Bengali cooking is all about. In fact I cringed when I saw the late Floyd on TLC a short while back cook Bengali dishes which looked as colourful as North Indian restaurant dishes.

I stuck to the chilli free brief all through and I thought I’ll share the recipes with you.

So here’s wishing you a happy Independence Day and freedom from whatever’s holding you back

Alu posto (for 8 – 10 people)

IMG_9192

This was an obvious choice. Vegetarian. Light. Had to skip the green and red chillies which are added usually. But I added panch phoron and jeera powder to add in more flavours and turmeric for a bit of colour.

Ingredients: 8 medium potatoes peeled, cut into small cubes and parboiled in micro for 8 minutes, 100 g of posto (poppy seeds) ground and then water added to make a paste, 1 teaspoon each of turmeric, cumin and salt and panch phoron, 2 tablespoons of mustard oil, 1 coffee mug of water

Cook:

  • Heat oil
  • Add panch phoron
  • Once the spice splutters add the potatoes
  • Add salt, turmeric, cumin (jeera) powders. Turmeric and jeera are not used by many who like their alu posto completely plain
  • Stir till the potato skins begin to crinkle.
  • Add posto paste. Stir
  • Add water.
  • Bring to a boil and then let it simmer till the water dries up and the potato cooks. This process will take 10 – 15 minutes for such a large quantity
  • Add a bit of mustard oil at the end for flavour

IMG_9199

Broccoli and paneer malai curry (for 3-4)

IMG_9204

The Malaysian originated Bengali prawn malai curry is a fairly light dish which is universally liked. I decided to make a paneer and broccoli version for the vegetarian in the group. I’ve rarely cooked with broccoli before and was pleased to see how the curry took in the flavours of the broccoli. I bought the paneer from the elderly lady at Pali Market. It was nice and fresh. The dish worked pretty well and even the non vegetarians made a go for it

Ingredients: 1 broccoli broken at the stalks, 250 g paneer cut into cubes, 1 teaspoon cumin seeds, 1/2 a teaspoon of garam masala, 1 teaspoon of cumin powder (I like adding this but other Bengalis often don’t I am told), 250 ml packaged coconut milk, 1 teaspoon salt, 1 teaspoon each of onion and tomato paste, 1 tablespoon of vegetable oil, 1 teaspoon of whole garam masala & 1 bay leaf, 1 teaspoon ghee, 1/2 teaspoon ginger paste

Cook:

  • Heat the ghee, stir the broccoli in it for 30 sec, put aside
  • Heat the oil and then add the cumin seeds
  • Then add the whole garam masala and the bay leaf
  • Add the onion paste. Stir
  • Add the ginger paste. Stir
  • Add the tomato paste. Stir
  • Once the stuff in the oil splutters add the paneer. Gently stir for 30 sec
  • Add the broccoli. Stir
  • Add the garam masala and cumin (jeera) powders. Stir
  • Add the coconut milk and salt. Bring to a boil
  • Reduce the flame and let it cook for 3-4 minutes.
  • Switch of the flame. I served it with rice. Would go well with dinner rolls or chapati too

Prawn Malai curry (for 6 - 8)

IMG_9212

This is a light curry and I cut out the chillies and chilli powder from it. Two of the reflux gang gorged on it and later said that the curry was right, prawns cooked right and that it didn’t give them any acidity!

Ingredients:  500 g deveined prawns, 1 tablespoon cumin seeds, 1 teaspoon of garam masala, 1 tablespoon cumin powder (I like adding this but other Bengalis often don’t I am told), 2 packs of 250 ml packaged coconut milk, 1.5 teaspoon salt, 1 tablespoon each of onion and tomato paste, 3 tablespoons of vegetable oil, 1.5 teaspoon of whole garam masala & 2 bay leaves, 1 teaspoon ginger paste, 1/2 teaspoon of turmeric powder

Cook:

  • Heat 2 tablespoons oil, smear the turmeric on to the prawns and a bit of salt and fry. Fry only for 30 secs on each side of the prawns as you don’t want them to overcook and become hard. Fry the prawns in two lots so that you don’t crowd the pan
  • Heat the remaining oil to the pan in which you fried the prawns and then add the cumin seeds
  • Then add the whole garam masala and the bay leaves
  • Add the onion paste. Stir
  • Add the ginger paste. Stir
  • Add the tomato paste. Stir
  • Once the stuff in the oil splutters add prawn Gently stir for 30 sec
  • Add the garam masala and cumin (jeera) powders. Stir
  • Add the coconut milk and salt. Bring to a boil
  • Reduce the flame and let it cook for 5-6 minutes.
  • Switch of the flame. Serve with rice

Kosha mangsho (For 6 –8 people)

IMG_9200

This was a tricky one. Kosha mangsho owes its richness from the chillies and chilli powder in it and loads of garam masala. Instead I banked on caramelised onions for richness and colour and loads of cumin (jeera) powder. I added some garam masala powder. Kosha mangsho means slow cooked mutton but I use the pressure cooker which helps me get a tender mutton dish in lot less time.

The biggest affirmation for this dish was when I saw 2 little picky eaters mop up their plates and take the rest home and I was told that they finished that too.

Ingredients: 750 g mutton (shoulder piece)  & 3 potatoes cut into half marinated overnight in 1 tablespoon each of cumin and coriander powders, 1 teaspoon each of garam masala and turmeric powders and sugar and 100 g of curd. 1 coffee mug of onions (6 onions) paste, 3 tomatoes pasted, 1 tablespoon of ginger paste, 1 teaspoon of garlic paste, 1 tablespoon of whole garam masala, 2 bay leaves, 1 teaspoon salt, 3 tablespoons ghee (mustard oil would be the Bengali oil of choice), 1.5 to 2 coffee mugs of water,

Cook:

  • Heat the ghee in a pressure pan
  • Add garam masala and bay leaves
  • Once these splutter add the onion paste
  • Cook on a high flame while stirring for about 7 – 10 minutes till the onions become brown. This is key
  • Add the ginger and garlic paste. Stir
  • Add tomato paste. Stir till it becomes brown
  • Add marinated mutton & potatoes and salt and stir for about ten minutes
  • Add water, bring to boil on a high flame. Shut the pressure pan
  • Wait for 6 whistles. Reduce flame and let it simmer for about 15 minutes (might get a bit burnt at the base but you want it to cook well)
  • Open the pan once the steam goes out. I served it with rice. Would go well with parathas and luchis but then those are for people with hale and hearty tummies

No incidences of reflux were reported after the lunch.

IMG_9195

Most of the portion sizes take into account that 2 03 dishes would go into the meal and not just 1 dish. All the dishes have no chillies and when garam masala has been added, its less than normal

 

IMG_9215IMG_9230IMG_9233IMG_9237IMG_9242IMG_9217

7