We have changed supermarket and switched to Morrisons. Tesco might sulk but we couldn't help it. Whoever has seen the recent make-over on Morrisons will understand my decision. The are A-M-A-zing! Especially the array and display of vegetables and fruits has completely blown us off. I have never seen so many different kinds of lettuces under the same roof. The herbs are so fresh that you have to resist yourself from pouncing on them. Everything is vibrant and fresh. And wait..the best part is yet to come. They keep our beloved Indian vegetables in bulk and don't ask for a hand and foot for them. I behaved like a girl in Disney store when I went there. You can't blame me for that. First time in this country I've seen whole, fresh and green Lau/Lauki (Bottle Gourds), Jhinge (Ridge Gourds), Uchchey (Bitter Gourd), Ol Kopi (Kholrabi) and Pepe (Raw Green Papaya). For the past 7 years we are so used to seeing the same in horrible forms, mutated shapes and scratches and scars all over them that seeing these beauties almost brought tears into my eyes. Yes that was going too far but trust me when I say that my heart started dancing in joy and I looked at the husband to see the same pleasure in his eyes.
I remember my Shejo Mama (Maternal Uncle) used to be in charge of doing vegetable and fish/meat shopping on Sundays or whenever there was any get together or occasion at my Mamarbari (Uncle's House). He used to take it upon himself to wake up early in the morning and take the 'Mashkabari Parar Rickshaw(local rental pulled cart) to Kali Babur Bajar in Howrah, West Bengal. He was a man of military discipline and we kids were all very scared of him though now when I think back I don't see him like that anymore.He was very particular about Sunday lunches, probably because that was the only meal he could have with his family. He was a connoisseur in Bengali food and made sure that we eat each and every course of a four or five course meal. So Sunday lunches at Mamarbari wasn't a very pleasurable experience, especially when you cannot jump to Mangsho Bhat (Meat & Rice - The main course) instead of having Uchchey or Dal Torkari (Lentil soup and Vegetable curry) first. He didn't understand that we were kids and we were not supposed to love Jhinge Posto or Uchchey Bhaate, just like we didn't understand the sweetness and emotion involved in a traditional Bengali family meal.
Coming back to the recipe, Alu-Jheenge Posto (Potatoes and Ridge Gourd cooked in Poppy Paste) accompanied by any kind of Dal (Lentil soup) is one of the ultimate Bong comfort foods. Served with steaming hot boiled rice and a dash of mustard oil or Ghee, it can make any Bong sing Dhinka Chika at any given time of the day!
Alu Jhinge Posto
Prep time - 10 minutes
Cooking time - 20 minutes
Makes enough for 4
Potatoes - 2 large, peeled, washed and cubed
Ridge Gourd/Jhinge - 2 large, peeled, washed and cubed
Green Chillies - 2-3 split
Salt - 1 1/2 tsp
Turmeric Powder - 1/2 tsp
Nigella Seeds/Kalo Jeere/Kalonji - 1/2 tsp
Posto/KhasKhas/Poppy Seed Paste - 4-5 tbsp *
Mustard Oil - 2 tbsp (you can use Sunflower oil if you want)
Heat oil in a pan/wok and add the Nigella seeds. Let them splutter. Add 1 chilli and the vegetables and fry on high heat for a few minutes. Add the salt and turmeric and mix well. Add 1/2 cup of water and cover and cook till the potatoes are almost done.
Remove the cover and add the poppy paste. Mix well and cook on high heat till all the water has been absorbed. Add the rest of the chillies and a dash of mustard oil(optional). Serve hot with rice and a dal of your choice.
(*Note - Poppy paste is normally made using a Sheel Noda/speciality stone Mortar and Pestle. It can also be made using the small Chutney attachment of your food processor)
Prep Time - 2 minutes
Cooking time - 10 minutes
Makes for 4
Ingredients : For the Dal
Musurir Dal/Masoor Dal/Red Lentils - 1 cup
Water - 3-4 cups
Turmeric Powder - 1/2 tsp
Salt to taste
Sugar - A Pinch
Nigella Seeds - 1 tsp
Onion - 1 small, chopped
Garlic - 1 clove, chopped(optional)
Tomato - 1 small, chopped
Green Chillies - 2-3
Corriander Leaves - a few stalks, chopped
Sunflower Oil - 2 tbsp
Ghee - 1 tsp (optional)
Pressure cook the Dal alond with all the ingredients listed under 'For the Dal'. Bengali style Masoor Dal shouldn't be too mushy so cook accordingly (I wait till 1 whistle and then take the pressure out).
Heat oil in a wok and add the nigella seeds, garlic and chillies and temper for 2 minutes. Add the onions and fry till they start changing colour. Add the tomatoes and cook for another 2 minutes. Add the dal and incorporate everything nicely. Add the corriander leaves and the Ghee if using.