What’s the weather like in your part of the world? Down here, the temperature has touched 42°C in what is just the beginning of summer. Local newspapers have reported this to be a heatwave that will likely continue until next week.
I can vouch for the heat – I was felled by a heat stroke on Friday (or was it Saturday?) that saw me moaning and groaning through the weekend. Baking a birthday cake for my father – he completed a glorious 73 years on March 25 – was nothing short of a challenge. It took two botched attempts before I could produce a Lemon Cake with Chocolate Filling & Frosting. Other than that, I was a complete failure at assisting Maa as she whipped up a light vegetarian meal for friends and family who dropped in to help us celebrate.
That was Sunday. Then Monday and Tuesday happened. And being housebound, the days were spent working and organising external hard disks. This led to the rediscovery of photographs from the college years. Days when I had better hair, was chirpier, thinner, had more energy and less acne. Oh yes! I am the poster girl for ‘acne in the 30s’.
But skin woes apart, what struck me was that several of these photographs had been clicked on festive days when I should have been home but was in the hostel.
Exam time was the worst.
The finals would always be in April and I would miss out on celebrating Poila Boishakh, the first day of the lunisolar Bengali calendar – the first day is Poila and the first month is Boishakh.
How I would wish a good soul would invite me home for some yummylicious Bengali food and let me be a part of family time on a festive day. Sigh… that did not happen to me but it did prompt me to ensure wherever I am, a party to celebrate the Poila Boishakh on April 14/15th is a must.
Would you be a Good Samaritan and invite a lone friend home for dinner on April 15 and celebrate their New Year. On that weekend, several communities from India celebrate their New Year so you don’t need to go hunting for your Bengali friend.
I’ve even learned this mini-meal from Maa to share with you.
Cook your friends this amazing mini-meal of Bengali dum aloo (Bengali potato curry) and begun bhaaja (fried aubergine/brinjal) to be served with luchi, roti or even rice. Easy to make, these are Bengali favourites and always a hit.
Celebrate Poila Boishakh, the Bengali New Year, with this finger licking meal of dum aloo and begun bhaaja (Bengali potato curry and fried brinjal) served with luchi, roti or rice.
- 500 gms Potatoes (boiled and peeled)
- 1 tbsp Coriander seeds
- 1 tbsp Cumin
- 2 Green chillies/Red chillies
- 1 tsp Ginger (chopped)
- 1 Onion (large sized)
- 1 Tomato (medium sized)
- 5 Garlic cloves
- 3 tbsp Mustard/vegetable oil
- 1 tsp Turmeric powder
- 1 tsp Sugar
- 2 cups Water
- to taste Red chilli powder (optional)
- to taste Salt
- 2 Brinjals/aubergine medium sized
- 1/2 tbsp Turmeric powder
- 1/2 tbsp Rice powder
- a pinch Sugar
- to taste Salt
Blend the coriander seeds, 3/4 tablespoon cumin, chillies and ginger into a fine paste and set aside. If you are sensitive to smell, be careful. I got a sneezing fit while trying to make this paste – not too comfortable working with a kerchief tied around your nose. #rollseyes
Make a second paste with the onion, tomatoes and garlic cloves.
In a pan, pour the oil and heat. Add the remaining cumin and allow them to splutter. Add the onion paste and cook for 5 minutes, stirring constantly. Throw in ½ teaspoon sugar and whisk well. The sugar adds colour and taste.
Add the coriander paste and mix. Now is when you add the turmeric powder, salt and some chilli powder (if needed). Mix and cook till the paste turns a nice brown and secretes oil.
Poke the potatoes with a fork and add them to the paste – if using the medium sized ones, then cut them into half before adding them. Coat the potatoes with the paste before pouring 1 cup of water. Stir and coo1k for 1 minute. Pour in another 3/4th cup water and bring to a boil. Check the consistency and spice levels, adjust. The gravy consistency should be on the thicker side.
Once cooked to your liking, remove from the flame, garnish with sliced green chilli and serve hot with luchi, roti or rice.
Slit the brinjals lengthwise, through the stalk. Rub with salt and rest for 15 minutes. This is said to be done for two reasons – to remove the bitter juices that supposedly trigger allergies and for a better fry.
After 30 minutes, lightly squeeze the brinjal before sprinkling with the turmeric and rice powder. Coat the slices well and fry. Serve hot as a main dish with roti and luchi or as a side dish with the above curry.