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Begun Pora (Rich Roasted Eggplant)

Karen Haigh
Very tasty strongly flavoured eggplant dish!
Originally From The Flavors of India by Bharti Kirchner
1 medium eggplant (about 1 lb)
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/4 teaspoon kalonji seeds (also called jeera, tastes like onion)
1 to 2 whole green chilies
1 cup onion, finely chopped (about 1 medium onion)
1 tablespoon garlic, minced
1 tablespoon ginger, minced
1 teaspoon seeded, minced fresh green chili
1/4 teaspoon turmeric
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon sugar
1/2 cup tomatoes, coarsely chopped
Chopped cilantro
Chopped green onions
Smoke or roast the eggplant: Hold the eggplant over a low open gas flame. Rotate the eggplant 90 degrees every few minutes or so. The skin will gradually darken, the eggplant will start to sag, and you will notice a pleasant smoky smell. After about 20 minutes or half an hour, when the skin is completely charred, remove the eggplant from the flame. This step can be done by broiling or roasting the eggplant in the oven, but you will not get the same smoky flavour which makes this dish so good. Allow the eggplant to cool, then discard all of the skin, chop the flesh then mash with a fork.

Heat oil in a skillet over medium low heat. Fry kalonji seeds and whole green chilies for a few seconds, then add onion and fry until it is richly browned but not burnt. Add chopped green chili, turmeric, salt, sugar and tomatoes. Simmer, covered, until tomatoes disintegrate into sauce, about 10 minutes.

Add the eggplant and simmer, covered, at least 10 minutes to blend flavours, stirring occasionally to prevent sticking. Remove from heat. Let stand 15 minutes to help develop flavours. Add cilantro & green onions. Mix and serve.

Like most Indian dishes, this is one that improves drastically with age. I usually make it the day before the meal & then reheat just before serving.


Narkel Shorsher Chingri (Shrimp in Coconut Mustard Sauce)

Makes 4 small servings. 1 lb. shrimp - shelled and deveined
1 tablespoon black mustard seeds
2 hot Thai chiles
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon turmeric
2 tablespoon water
1 large coconut
2 tablespoon mustard oil
wet dough made of 3 tablespoon of flour
Grind the mustard seeds, chiles, salt, turmeric and water into a smooth paste in a blender. Marinate the cleaned shrimps in this paste for at least 10 minutes. Split the coconut in two and drain the coconut milk. The milk is not used.

Put the shrimp mixture in the coconut halves with the mustard oil and the whole chiles. Put the two halves of the coconut together and use a thin rope of dough to seal the joint. Put the coconut in the oven and bake for 45 minutes at 400 degrees. The author suggests that the preferred method is to barbeque the coconut among coals --- The coconut is left in the dying embers until the outer layer is well charred --- about 1/2 hour.


Bandhakopir Dalna (Bengali Cabbage Curry)

Serves 4 to 6. 1 lb cabbage, sliced finely
2 potatoes, cut in small cubes
2 tbsp oil
1 tbsp turmeric
1 1/4 to 2 tsp green chili paste
1 tbsp ground cumin
1 tsp ground coriander
1 inch ginger grated
1 tbsp butter
2 bay leaves
1/2 tsp garam masala
salt and sugar to taste
chopped cilantro for garnish (optional)
Fry cubed potatoes in hot oil in a wok until lightly browned. Remove from oil and keep aside.

To the hot oil add cabbage. Sprinkle with salt. Stir and cover. Simmer for 3-4 minutes. Remove cover. Add the turmeric, chili paste, cumin, coriander and ginger. Stir and fry until the spices are well blended with the cabbage. The cabbage should be nearly cooked at this stage. Add 1/2 cup water and add potatoes. Adjust salt and add sugar to taste. Simmer over medium heat until potatoes are cooked and there is practically no gravy in the pan.

In a frying pan, heat butter. Add the bay leaves and garam masala. Stir fry a couple of minutes and pour over bandhakopir dalna. Stir the cabbage and remove from heat. Garnish with chopped cilantro.

Don't cook the cabbage for more than 5 minutes... the sulphurs in cabbage double between minute 5 and 7 of cooking, causing considerable digestive distress!


Robibarer Murgi (Bengali Savoury Sunday Chicken)

8 large servings

Vegetable oil
3.5 lb chicken pieces, skinned
1 lb potatoes, peeled and cut into 1.5 inch cubes
2 cups finely chopped onion
1/2 teaspoon turmeric
1 teaspoon sugar
1.5 tablespoon peeled fresh ginger, paste or grated
1 tablespoon garlic, paste or minced
1 teaspoon seeded chopped fresh green chili (or more, to taste)
2 teaspoons ground cumin
2 teaspoons ground coriander
1 teaspoon ground sumac
1 teaspoon garam masala
1 teaspoon Chinese five spice (or equal parts cinnamon, allspice and clove), ground
1.25 cups water
3 tablespoons tomato paste
3/4 teaspoon salt
5 tablespoons plain yogurt
1 teaspoon garam masala
3-5 stalks green onion, chopped
1 large bunch cilantro leaves, coarsely chopped

Heat 2 tablespoons oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Fry chicken pieces in 2 batches, turning frequently, until opaque and lightly browned. Remove with a slotted spoon.

Add 1 tablespoon oil to the skillet and reheat over medium heat. Fry potatoes until they turn medium brown, turning frequently. Remove with slotted spoon and set aside. (Omit this step for a lower fat dish)

Add 2.5 tablespoons oil to the skillet and heat over medium-low heat. Add onion and fry until richly browned but not burnt, stirring constantly. Stir in turmeric and sugar. Add ginger, garlic, green chili, cumin, coriander, sumac, 1 teaspoon garam masala and 5 spice; fry for a few seconds. Add water. Blend in tomato paste. Add the chicken and any accumulated juices. Simmer, covered, 10-20 minutes. Add the potatoes and simmer, covered, until both chicken and potatoes are tender, at least 20 minutes. (The longer this dish simmers, the tastier it gets.)

Remove from heat. Add salt, yogurt, remaining garam masala and mix well. Let stand about 10 minutes, then mix in green onion and cilantro. Serve.


Lebur Bhat (Lemon Laced Rice)

4 large servings

1.5 tablespoon vegetable oil (mustard oil preferred)
1 bay leaf
10 whole cardamom pods, bruised
2 inch cinnamon stick
4 whole cloves
1 tablespoon peeled, minced, fresh ginger
1.5 tablespoon raisins
1 cup basmati or other long-grained rice
a lemon wedge (1/4 lemon, seeded)
1.5 cups water
1/2 cup fresh or frozen peas
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
2 teaspoon sugar
1 teaspoon oil
1/4 teaspoon black mustard seeds

Heat 1.5 tablespoons oil in a pan over medium-low heat. Fry bay leaf, cardamom, cinnamon, and cloves for a few seconds. Add ginger and fry until lightly browned, stirring often. Add raisins and rice and fry until rice is opaque, about 3 minutes. Add lemon wedge, water and peas. Bring to boil, then stir and lower heat to minimum. Simmer, covered, 18-20 minutes. Resist the temptation to look while simmering! The rice won't steam properly if you open the lid.

Sprinkle with lemon juice and sugar but do not stir. Simmer 1-2 more minutes. Remove from heat and set aside.

Heat remaining oil in a small skillet over medium-low heat. When oil is hot but not smoking, add mustard seeds and fry a few seconds until they begin to pop, covering if necessary to prevent the seeds from flying out. Remove from heat. Pour oil and spice mixture over the rice and mix gently. Discard lemon wedge and serve.


Plain Boiled Rice

This is one of the basic rice preparations. Always wash the rice in several changes of water and soak it for 20 minutes in warm water or 30 minutes in cold water.

2-cups of long-grain or basmati rice
3 cups of water
Salt to taste

Place the rice and water in a deep saucepan with a heavy bottom; put over medium heat and bring to a boil -- cook until rice and water level becomes same.
Cover the pan and cook about 10 minutes over a very low flame.
Take pan off heat and serve hot.


Rice With Coconut

This is a delicious rice preparation. Serve this with a main meal, to eat with a curry and other side dishes.

3 table spoon ghee
1 tea spoon white cumin seeds
Pinch of turmeric
2 - 4 cloves
4 black peppercorns
2 brown cardamom pods
2 cups dried coconut
2 cups long-grain or basmati rice
3.75 cups of water
1.5 teaspoons salt ( or to taste )
1 table spoon chopped almonds,
cachews and golden seedless raisins


Heat the ghee in a heavy saucepan and saute' the cumin untill golden brown. Add turmeric, colves, peppercorns and crdamom and stir about a minute.
Stir in coconut and saute' unteel golden. Then add rice and continue saute'ing, over medium heat, another 2 minutes.
Pour in water; add salte and bring to a boil. Lower heat, cover pan and continue cooking until rice is cooked and water has evaporated -- about 20 minutes.
Sprinkle nuts and dried fruit over preparation and serve hot.