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.
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.