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Patol or patol in yoghurt sauce

For four people


1 lb tender young patol
4 oz yoghurt
3 tsp ground ginger
1/2 tsp chilli powder
1/2 tsp turmeric powder
2 bay leaves
1 tsp of whole cumin seeds
salt and sugar to taste
a pinch of asafoetida
2 Tbsp ghee
4 Tbsp oil
Garom mashla ground from 4 cardamoms and 4 sticks of cinamon (no cloves)

These patols being young (as will the canned ones), need to be peeled lightly, but they can be left whole with 1/2 inch slits being made at both ends. Rinse them in running water and drain. Heat 2 1/2 tablespoons of oil in a karai and lightly brown the patols. Remove and set aside. The oil will have turned black and so will have to be discarded. Heat another 1 1/2 tablespoons of oil in the karai, add one tablespoon of ghee to it and throw in a phoron of bay leaves, and asafoetida. After a minute or so add the ginger-turmeric-chilli and a little salt. Fry the spices well, whip the yoghurt and pour it in. Add the patols, some sugar and sprinkle a little water over the whole thing. Cook uncovered for 5-6 mins and taste. You can add more salt and sugar if needed. Finally combine the the rest of the ghee and garom mashla, add to the patols, stir once or twice and remove from the stove. Keep covered until serving time.''

Chicken with Posto

For Chicken with Posto for eight people take two plump medium-sized chickens. Skinned, portioned into 10-12 pieces each and washed, combine the birds in a large pot with:

8 oz of yoghurt
8 oz of grated onion
1 tablespoon of groung ginger
1 teaspoon of ground garlic and coriander
2 teaspoons of ground cumin
1 tablespoon of chilli powder
2 tablespoons of ground posto
1 teaspoon of ground fennel
1/2 teaspoon of ground mace
2 oz of almonds, blanched and slivered
2 oz of raisins
2 tablespoons of salt
120 ml of peanut oil
120 ml of ghee.

The whole thing, mixed well, was cooked, tighly covered, on a very low heat for an hour. Check to see if the flesh is tender. You can add extra water if you find the chicken tough and stringy. Once it is done the stir the meat over a high heat until it is nicely coated in the oil/ghee and spices, with no moisture left. Before serving you can sprinkle some extra almonds on top. A polao, instead of plain boiled rice, is a good accompaniment.


To make Malpo, first the syrup has to be prepared. The consistency is important , for if it is too thin the malpos tend to fall apart. I find that 250 g (8 oz) of sugar with 5 tablespoons of water and a table spoon of lemon juice is about right. Once the syrup has boiled, my mother sets it aside.

Then she mixes 250g (8 oz) of flour with 2 tablespoons of oil and when they are blended smoothly, adds 250 ml (8 fl oz) of whole milk and a teaspoon of whole fennel seeds. These give the malpos their distinctive taste.

Then she heats about 120ml (4 fl oz) of oil in her karai, lowers the flame to medium and, taking large spoonfuls of the floor mixture, drops them in, one at a time. Each round malpo is fried carefully until both sides are brown and the edges curl up crisply. Nothing can be worse than half-done malpos.

Once all of them are fried she dips them in the syrup, turns them over and lays them out on a flat serving dish. Then the rest of the syrup is poured over them. These keep well without losing their taste - there is nothing like the surreptitious pleasure of quickly eating a malpo in the middle of your day's work when you are sure nobody is looking. ''

Borar Jhal Lentil Balls in Mustard Sauce

Serves 4-6

Jhal and Jhole are the inseparable twins on a Bengali menu, the one alternating with the other in everyday life. They may be vegetarian or not as pleases the cook.


100 gms split dried lentils (kalali/biuli or masoor)
4 green chillies
1/2 tsp ginger paste
a pinch if asafoetida (hing)
1 cup mustard oil
1 tsp nigella seeds (kala jeera)
2 tbsp paste of black and yellow mustard seeds, 2 green chillies, 1 gm salt, 1 tsp sugar mixed with 3 cups water
1/2 tsp sugar
1/2 tsp salt


Soak the black lentils for half an hour, drain and grind them with 2 green chillies, salt, sugar, ginger paste and asafoetida. Whip for 7-10 minutes by hand and for 2 minutes in a blender. Heat one cup mustard oil to smoking in a karai, reduce heat and drop level tablespoonfuls of the batter into it carefully so that they form into balls (boras) as they fry to a golden brown and come to the top of the oil. Remove them with a slotted spoon and leave to drain while you make the sauce.

Pour out all but 2 tablespoons of the oil from the wok. heat the oil to smoking and fry the kala jeera until they give out their fragrance. Add the paste mixed in water. After it comes to boil, let it simmer for 10 minutes. Add the boras, mix well with the sauce and remove from the fire. The boras will absorb the sauce, but there should be enough left to eat with rice.

Maachher Polau Fish Polau

Serves 6

No one who has lived in Bengal for any length of time has been able to resist the fish in the rivers. Meat polaus have been adapted to fish. This recipe comes from Dr. Sonya Noor whose family lives in Malda, North Bengal, where the Ganga is full of this fish.

1kg of hilsa (but any firm white fish like rui or bhetki will do)
750 gms Basmati rice
1-inch piece of ginger
2 medium onions
6 cloves garlic
350 gms yogurt
200 gms ghee
2 green cardomoms
4 cloves
2-inch piece of cinnamon
4 bay leaves
hot water
3 cups warm milk
2-3 tsp sugar
salt to taste


Cut the fish into half inch thick steaks (10-12 pieces). Wash and semi dry the basmati rice. Grind to a paste the ginger, onions and garlic.

Mix the onion-ginger-garlic paste with half the yogurt and a little salt and marinate the fish for 1 hour. Heat the ghee in a pan until very hot. Reduce heat and fry the green cardamoms,cloves, cinnamon and bay leaves till they are fragrant. Add the fish and marinade and fry for another 3 minutes. Lower heat, add half a cup of hot water and cook for another 7 minutes on moderately high heat. The water should have evaporated and the fish cooked. Remove the fish and set aside. Leave the gravy in the pan. Add rice to the pan and cook on high heat until it changes color. Add 3 cups of hot water and warm milk, sugar, salt and stir well. Let it come to the boil, reduce heat, cover and cook for 10-12 minutes. The rice should be almost done but still moist. remove the rice and butter the pan well. Layer it with rice and fish alternately beginning and ending with rice. Whip the rest of the yogurt and pour it over the rice. Cover with a tight fitting lid. bake the polau in a preheated oven (300 F, 150 C) oven for 15 minutes.

Monoranjan Pitha Little cakes of Semolina and Coconut in Thickened Milk

Makes 30 pithas

Pitha are eaten over the three days of Pitha Parban in mid January. This recipe is from the note book of Renuka Devi Choudhurani, who was a great cook. It is a good example of pitha-making being a leisurely craft as it requires patience, time and skill but the end result is worth it.


Half a coconut (ground)
100 gms semolina (sooji)
30 gms dehydrated milk (khoa)
60 gms sugar
1 litre milk
1 tbsp ghee
green cardomom seed (ground)


Grind half a coconut and mix i well with the semolina, dehydrated milk and sugar. Boil and reduce the milk in a pan to a little more than half the original quantity and allow it to cool. Cook the ground coconut mixture in a wok over moderate heat until it leaves the sides of the wok. Shape into tiny half-moon shaped cakes and place them on a greased plate. Heat the ghee in a frying pan and spread it all over to grease the entire surface of the pan. Fry the pithas a few at a time on very gentle heat, turning them over carefully so that they brown evenly. this is the tricky bit. the oil should not be too deep in the pan and the heat really low. Place them carefully in the thickened milk as you lift them from the pan.

Sprinkle the dish with ground green cardomom seeds.

Phulcopi Bhapa Steamed Spicy Cauliflower

A Dish to make on a day you are in a hurry. You simply combine the ingredients and steam them, cutting the cauliflower into larger pieces than the potatoes so they cook in the same amount of time. Your guests will thank you for having toiled over the stove for hours.''

1 Tbs. ground cumin
1 Tbs. ground corriander
2 Tbs. water
1 1/2 tsp. sugar
3/4 tsp. salt
1 Tbs. peeled fresh ginger, grated or made into a paste
1 tsp. seeded, chopped fresh green chilli (or to taste)
2 Tbs. mustard oil
4 cups cauliflower, cut into florets 1 1/2 inches in diameter
1/2 lb. (1/4 kg) peeled potatoes (about 2 medium), cut into 1-inch cubes
1 cup chopped tomatoes (4 Roma or 2 regular)
1/4 cup water
1 bay leaf

Combine cumin and corriander with 2 tablespoons water in a small bowl. Add sugar, salt, ginger and green chilli. Add oil and mix well. Combine cauliflower, potatoes and tomatoes in a large bowl. Pour the spice mixture over the vegetables and mix thoroughly.
Heat the water in a non-stick skillet at least 10 inches in diameter. As soon as it comes to boil add bay leaf and vegetable mixture. (You do not need to stir.) Simmer, tightly covered until potatoes are tender and cauliflower is slightly crunchy, 15 to 20 minutes. Garnish with cilantro and serve.
4 servings.

Serving suggestions: You can treat this spicy cauliflower as a appetizer and dip it in a bowl of Splendid Cilantro Chutney. For a easy supper pair with Rice and Mung Beans Flavored with Whole Spices. Or serve with rice, Chickpea Lamb Treasure, and Country-Style Chunky Tomato Chutney when family members get together.

Note: You can substitute broccoli, which does not blend with the spices as well but still produces a tasty dish. Reduce the cooking time by 2-3 minutes.

Kabiraji Cutlet Herbal Doctors Burger

For the spices:
1/2 cup minced onion
2 Tbs. peeled, minced fresh ginger
2 tsp. minced garlic
1 tsp. seeded, chopped fresh green chilli (or to taste)
2 Tbs. finely chopped fresh cilantro
1/2 tsp. asafetida powder
2 tsp. ground cumin
2 tsp. ground corriander
3/4 tsp. salt
1 tsp. sugar
1/8 tsp. black pepper (preferably freshly ground)
Dash of ground red chilli or cayenne pepper (or to taste)
1 lb (1/2 kg) extra lean ground beef or lamb
3 eggs, lightly beaten
1/2 cup breadcrumbs
Vegtable oil for pan-frying

Combine all spices in a large bowl. Gently mix in the ground meat without squeezing out the moisture. Pinch off a portion of this mixture, shaping it into a circular patty about 1 1/2 inches in diameter and 1/2 inch thick. repeat with the remainder.

Dip patties in the egg, then coat them lightly on both sides with the breadcrumbs.

Heat 1 1/2 tablespoons oil in a skillet over medium low heat. Fry 3 or 4 patties at a time until cooked through, 5 to 6 minutes on each side; a toothpick inserted in the thickest part and moved gently to one side should not showa pink color. Do not press down on the patties during frying as this can cause the burgers to loose their natural juices.
Makes 18 patties.

Serving suggestions: For lunch serve 2 of these burgers per person in pita pockets with shredded lettuce and alfalfa sprouts. As part of a main meal, Creamy Sauce, and Green and White Coconut Chutney.

Narkeler Naru Festival Rounds

A naru or laddoo is a sweet ball made of coconut or some form of legume, often served in religious ceremonies. Ganesh, the elephant-headed "Lord of success," is said to be fond of them. The area of Barisal in bangladesh is known for this naru.

In Bengal, we prepare this easy and flavorful traet with fresh coconut and unrefines palm sugar. But even packaged coconut and refined sugar yield good results.''

4 cups (1 liter) whole or 2% lowfat milk
2 cups firmly packed dried flaked or shredded sweetened coconut,
ground in a blender 1/2 cup at a time to a coarse powder, or grated or
shreded coconut mixed with 1/2 Tbs. sugar
3 Tbs. sugar
Thicken the milk by heating it for 20-30 minutes in a lightly oiled pan until it reaches the consistency of whipped cream, stirring frequently to keep the foam down and scraping the bottom and sides if the pan.
Add coconut and sugar. Cook until the mixture acquires a thick, doughy consistency, 6-8 minutes, stirring frequently. Removefrom heat and let cool slightly. While still a little warm, pinch off protions of the dough and roll into balls about 1 inch in diameter. Serve at room temperature or chilled. (These tend to harden if left in the refrigerator for several days.)
Makes 18 to 20.

Serving suggestions: Serve on a platter alone or with sliced fresh pineapple, mandarin oranges, or bananas.

Shorshe Dharos Okra with Mustard Seeds

Ground mustard seeds and used to make the sauce for this dish. They can be slightly bitter - in fact, that is their charm. If you cannot find black mustard seeds, use 2 tbs of the common yellow kind. You may serve this with any Indian meal.

Serves 4

1lb/450 g whole, fresh okra
1 tbs whole black mustard seeds
1 tsp whole yellow mustard seeds
1/2 tsp ground turmeric
3/4 tsp red chilli powder
1 tsp salt
3 tbs vegetable oil]1/8 tsp nigella seed (kala jeera)
2 fresh, hot green chillies

Wash the okra and pat it dry. Cut off the very tips of the pods. Peel the cone shaped top.
Put the black and yellow mustard seeds into the the container of a clean coffee grinder or other spice grinder. Grind. Put the ground mustard seed into a small bowl. Add the turmeric, chilli powder, salt and 1/2 cup + 2 tablespoons of water. Stir to mix.
Heat the oil in a large frying pan over a medium flame. When hot put in the kala jeera. Ten seconds later, put in the okra and stir. Stir and fry the okra on a medium-low heat for 10 minutes or until lightly browned. Add the spice mixture and the green chillies. Bring to a simmer. Cover, lower the heat and simmer gently for 5-8 minutes or until the okra is tender.

Chingri Maachher Jhal Prawns or Shrimp with Mustards Seeds

For me, no dish could be more typical of Bengal than this one. It is simple to cook - yet quite distinctive in the nose-tingling pungency it acquires from the ground mustard seeds in its sauce. In Calcutta it is cooked with only inland estuary prawns (shrimp) that are known for their sweetness. Heads are always cooked and are preferred by many diners for their richness and flavor.
Serve the dish with plain rice. Any dal and a vegetable may also be served.

Serves 4

1 tbs whole black mustard seeds
1 tbs whole yellow mustard seeds
1/2 tsp ground turmeric
1/2 tsp red chilli powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 lbs uncooked prawns (shrimp) with shell
4 tbs mustard oil or vegetable oil
1/3 tsp nigella seeds (kala jeera)
4 whole, dried, hot red chillies
3 fresh hot green chillies

Put the black and yellow mustard seeds into the the container of a clean coffee grinder or food processor. Grind. Empty the ground spices into a bowl. Add the turmeric, red chilli powder, salt and 1/2 cup of water. Mix.
Peel the prawns (shrimp) but leave their tails on.
Heat the oil in a frying pan over a medium flame. Let it get smokingly hot for a second, if using mustard oil. Now put in the nigella seeds (kala jeera) and a second later, the red chillies. Stir for one minute. The prawns (shrimps) will just start to turn pink. Now put in the mixed spice paste and the green chillies. Stir on a medium heat for 1 to 2 minutes or until the prawns are just done and the sauce is a bit thicker.
Note: the whole chillies should be eaten only by those who know what they are doing.

Tomator Chutney

In Bengal, sweet or sweet and sour chutneys are served after all the main courses and just before deserts as palate cleansers. They are generally accompanied by crisp papadums. You may, of course, serve the chutney with almost any Indian meal.

Serves 6

1 inch cube of ginger peeled
2 tbs vegetable oil
1/2 tsp panchphoran
2 whole, dried, hot red chillies
6 good-sized cloves of garlic, mashed to a pulp
1lbs tomatoes chopped
1tsp salt
1/2 cup sugar
4-5 dried apricots cut into 1/2-in cubes
2 whole, fresh hot green chillies

Cut the garlic, crosswise, into very fine slices. Stacking several slices together at a time, slice them into very fine slivers.
Heat the oil in a heavy-based pan over a medium flame. When hot put in the panchphoran. Let the spices sizzle and pop for a few seconds.Now put in the red chillies. Stir once and put in the ginger and garlic. Stir for about 5 seconds. Now put in the tomatoes, salt and sugar. Simmer on a medium to medium-low flame or until the chutney begins to thicken. This may take about 15-20 minutes. Now add the apricot cubes and the green chillies. Simmer and cook on a lowish heat for another 10-15 minutes or until the chutney is thick and has a glazed look. Serve at room temperature.

Chhanar Kalia Curried Cottage Cheese Panir

250 gms chhana or panir
4 potatoes, quartered
1 onion, halved and sliced fine*
1 onion, ground to a paste*
1/2 t turmeric paste
1 T ginger paste
4 T ghee
4 T dahi (yogurt)
bay leaves
1 t garam masala
2 cups water
salt to taste
1/2 t sugar

* optional

Cut the chhana into inch square and fry till lightly browned. Keep aside.

Fry potatoes till lighly browned and keep aside.

Add bay leaves to the ghee in karai/wok and after stirring, add sliced
onion. Fry onion till brown. Then add all masala pastes except garam
masala. Stir fry, sprinkleing with water until masalas are cooked.

Add the dahi blended with 1/4 cup water. Stir and cook until dahi is
absorbed into the masalas. Add 1 1/2 cups water, salt and sugar to
taste. Stir and bring to boil. Add potatoes. Cover and simmer until
potatoes are three quarters done. Add the chhana squares. Stir and
simmer until potatoes are cooked. Stir in the garam masala paste.
Simmer for 5 minutes and remove from fire.