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Lamb with Posto

For lamb with posto for four people, take 1 kg (2 lb) of lamb, cut it into small pieces (keeping the bones in), rinse it in water and set aside. Chop 2 large onions, a 5 cm (2 in) long piece of ginger and an entire small head of garlic as finely as possible. In a thick-bottomed pot melt 60 g (4 oz) of unsalted butter or heat 120 g (4 oz) of ghee over a medium flame. Add 4-5 sticks of cinnamon, 6 whole cardamoms and 4 bay leaves. When these have been fried for a couple of minutes, add the chopped onion, ginger and garlic and fry them until brown.

Add the meat, 2 teaspoons of salt and 3 teaspoons of sugar, and keep stirring over a medium heat. As the meat is being browned, put 60 g (2 oz) of posto (white poppy seeds), cover it with hot water and set aside. Keep stirring the meat until it is very dark and starts sticking to the pot. Add 6-7 whole dry red chillies and the posto and water. Add some more hot water, enough to cover the meat, cover the pot tightly and leave on a low flame till the meat is absolutely tender. Uncover and taste for salt and sugar balance, adding whatever is necessary. The sweetness should be somewhat pronounced. Finish over a high flame. All water should evaporate and the meat should be coated with the butter/ghee and spices. Although no ground spices are used, the chillies provide sharpness of taste and the minute graininess of the posto counters the tenderness of the meat very well. Sometimes I use green chillies instead of the dried red ones, and this gives a different piquancy to the dish.

Spring Onions with Shrimps and Coconut

For spring onions with shrimps and coconut, take 500 g (1 lb) spring onions chopped into 2.5 cm (1 in) lengths (including the onions at the bottom) and a handful of shrimps which have been dusted with turmeric and salt and lightly fried. Peel and cut 2 medium potatoes into thin slices 2.5 cm (1 in) long, and brown them lightly in oil. Apart from this you need 1 tablespoon of ground mustard seeds, 3 tablespoons of ground coconut, 2-3 green chillies and salt.

Heat 3 tablespoons of mustard oil in a karai, throw in the spring onions, add a teaspoon of salt and keep covered for a couple of minutes. When you uncover the karai, a lot of moisture will have oozed out. Keep on a high flame, add the fried shrimp, browned potatoes, coconut and green chillies, stir thoroughly for three to four minutes and keep covered over a low flame until the flavours are blended, the potatoes are tender and all the moisture has evaporated. Before removing, stir over a high heat so that the dish becomes very dry and check the salt, adding more if needed. As a side dish, along with other items to be eaten with rice, this should be enough for four people.

Fish with Yoghurt

To prepare doi machh or fish with yoghurt: if you have 500 g (1 lb) of fish (we prefer carp varieties for this), cut them horizontally into long pieces 2.5 cm (1 in) thick. The peti or frontal stomach is specially suitable for this. Wash the fist, dust it with a little salt and turmeric and fry it lightly in oil. Remove and set aside to train off all excess oil. Meanwhile whip 250 g (8 oz) yoghurt and mix 1 tablespoon of sugar with it. Chop 3 medium onions very fine and grind enough ginger to give you 1 tablespoon. In a karia heat 4-5 tablespoons of oil, add 1 teaspoon of ghee and throw in whole garom mashla (3 sticks of cinnamon, 4 cloves, 4 cardamoms) and 2 bay leaves. After a minute, add the onion and ginger with 1 teaspoon of turmeric. Fry these until brown, add the yoghurt and a little salt. As soon as it comes to the boil, add the fish and 5-6 green chillies, reduce the heat to low and keep covered for six to eight minutes. Uncover, check for salt and sugar balance and remove. If you wish, you can garnish this, as the Bangals would, with chopped coriander leaves.

Simple Khichuri

One of my favourite recipes for simple khichuri requires, for five people, 500 g (1 lb) of atap rice (Basmati, available in the West, can be used since short-grained rice varieties are not available) and 500 g (1 lb) of roasted moong dal. For seasoning I use garom mashla of 4 sticks of cinnamon, 2.5 cm (1 in) long, 4-5 whole cardamoms and 4-5 whole cloves; a liberal pinch of whole cumin seeds; 2 bay leaves; a finely chopped piece of ginger 4 cm (1 in) long; 2 whole green chillies; 1 teaspoons of turmeric powder; 60 ml (2 fl oz) of mustard or any other cooking oil like corn or peanut oil; salt and sugar to taste and ghee.

The rice and dal, rinsed separately under running water in a colander, are left to dry on a flat surface for about fifteen minutes. This process makes them easier to cook and, anyway, in Bengal we never cook anything without rinsing it first in water. While they dry I put on the kettle so that I have ready the hot, though not boiling, water you need to add to the khichuri. I heat the oil in a medium-sized, heavy-bottomed deep cooking pot, add the garom mashla and bay leaves and wait for a couple of minutes, without stirring them, for the fragrance to be released before I throw in the cumin seeds and chopped ginger. These I stir-fry for a couple of minutes, then add the half-dried rice and fry it for two to three minutes. Finally, I add the roasted moong dal and the turmeric and stir the mixture fir another two to three minutes before pouring on the hot water. The level of the water should be 4 cm (1 in) over the rice and dal. If necessary, more hot water can be added towards the end, depending on how thin you like your khichuri or whether the rice and dal are sticking to the pot. Adding a lot of water at the beginning will make a mishmash of the grains. Once the water comes to a boil, I add 2 teaspoons of salt and 3 teaspoons of sugar, reduce the heat to low and cover the pot. Generally, it takes about twelve to fifteen minutes for the khichuri to be ready. To avoid sticking and even the slightest burning, which ruins the flavour, I keep checking from time to time and stir the mixture thoroughly with a spatula. If needed, I add a little more hot water. After ten minutes of cooking, it is a good idea to test the grains of rice and dal. When they feel nearly ready, I throw in the green chillies, check for salt and sugar, wait till the consistency is just right, add 2 teaspoons of ghee and remove the pot from the stove. The earlier you add the chillies, the hotter the khichuri will be, for the stirring will blend them in.

Pulao Rice

Basmati Rice - 500g
Ghee - 200g
Bayleaf - 2
Raisin - 30g
Cashew nut - 12-14
Clove - 6
Cardamom - 6
Cinnamon - 3(1/2" pieces)
Onions - 1(med, sliced)
Ginger paste - 1 tsp
salt to taste
sugar - 1/2 tsp
saffron - 1 pinch(soak it in tbsp of milk and set aside)


Pick rice, wash it spread it on a absorbent paper to dry. Heat in deep pan. Add bayleaf and onion slices. Fry till golden brown. Add clove, cinamon, cardamom, cashew and ginger paste. Stir fry till whole mixture light brown, then add rice, salt and sugar. Stir fry for 5 more mins. Add raisin and saffron/milk mixture. Mix well. Add 4 cups hot water. Mix well. Cover and cook, stirring from time to time. Cook till rice done. Garnish with slices of fried onion and serve.

Doi Ilish Yogurt Fish

Shorshe Koi

On Bijoya Dashami day it is time to bid the goddess farewell. After the 'bhashan' or immersion it is customary to greet relatives and friends with sweets of every kind - sandesh, rosogollas or rajbhog being the most common. Traditional Bengali households might offer 'patishapta' or 'malpoa' to their guests.D o i - I l i s h (H i l s a - i n - y o u g h u r t)
Hilsa or similar fish - 500g
Unsweetened youghurt - 200g
Mustard Oil - 150g
Ginger Paste - 1 tsp
Turmeric Powder - 1 tsp
Mustard Paste - 1/2 tsp of whole mustard
Green Chillies - 8
Salt to taste Method:
Mix turmeric powder with hilsa pieces and salt and set aside. Slit 4 green chillies. Heat mustard oil in Karai. Add the slit green chillies. Fry for a min. Add ginger paste. Fry for 2 mins. Add a cup of water. Once the mixture boils, add fish pieces, cover and cook. In the meanwhile in a bowl mix thoroughly youghurt, mustard paste and 1 pinch turmeric. Pour over the hilsa pieces. Add 2 or 3 green chillies. Let the mixture boil and the fish pieces cook thoroughly. Garnish with chopped coriander leaves and serve.


Luchi Fried Bread


Flour - 500g
Ghee - 4 tsp
salt - 1/2 tsp

1 cup warm water Method:
For preparing the dough: Mix flour, Ghee and salt thoroughly. Knead with warm water till the dough is soft and pliant. Cover and keep for 1/2 an hr.
To fry luchis use Cooking Oil to 1/2 fill a Karai
Divide the dough into 10-12 portions. Roll each portion out to make a 3" circles. Heat the oil till it smokes. Pop in balls one by one to a light golden color. Serve hot.

Bhetki Paturi

Boneless bhetki slice (75 g each) 900 g
Yellow mustard grains 450 g
Turmeric powder 20 g
Salt 25g
Green Chillies (slit) 25 g
Red chilli powder 10 g
Kalunjee (kala jeera) 5 g
Sugar 20 g
Mustard oil 300 g
Banana leaf (6" x 6") 12 nos.

Make mustard paste in a blender with salt and turmeric. Marinate the fish in a little salt, turmeric and red chilli powder. Add mustard oil, kalunjee, slit green chillies, sugar into the mustard paste and mix well. Coat each piece of fish well with the paste. Warm each banana leaf piece and fold each fish in it and fix with a toothpick. Steam for 15 20 minutes. Serve with steamed rice.