Tomorrow is Poila Boishak. And Poila Boishak brings to mind so many childhood memories – the mandatory new dress, visiting shops to collect hal khata mithai box , good home cooked food and beginning of the mango season ( best thing about summer).
Like most Bengalis I am a foodie too. Given Poila Boishak is on a weekday, this time, we finished the good home cooked part of the celebration last Sunday. I made a hassle free 5-course lunch. I love Bengali food and believe that a hearty meal can be quick, easy and hassle free. Here are my recipes
Bengalis and posto ( khus khus derived from opium poppy) seems like a happily ever after story . It was during the British colonial rule that Bengalis bonded with posto for good. The Britishers/ East India Company realised the great opportunity in the opium trade in China and forced Bengali peasants to cultivate opium. Lack of vegetables made he ingenious Bengali women learn to make use of the dried opium seeds and made it an integral part of Bengali Cuisine. Some of the most famous dishes with posto are – Aloo Posto, Aloo Jhinge Posto, Postor Bora, Chicken Posto and even Shukto. But my favourite is Bhapa Posto
There are some variations of this recipe where people have used onion, tomato and coriander leaves. But I generally like to keep it simple and hence this is a four ingredient ( posto bata, mustard oil, salt and green chilli) super easy and yummy dish that everyone must try. You can make it in many ways using a pressure cooker/steamer or microwave. I prefer steaming to using a microwave. If you use a microwave you need to use more oil and sometimes posto gets fried a little.
Whatever you do, do try this dish – I can vouch for its yumminess.
- Poppy Seeds (KhusKhus) – 100 g
- Mustard Oil – 2 tbsp
- Green Chili chopped finely – 5 g
- Fresh coriander leaves
How to Cook Bhapa Posto?
- Strain khuskhus/posto and make it into a fine paste using mixer/food processor.
- Mix posto paste, chopped green chillies, salt and mustard oil in a steel tiffin box with a lid or any steel bowl with a tight lid.
- Place the container/tiffin box in a pressure cooker cook for 3 whistles (approx 10 mins)
- Once the pressure reduces open the lid, remove the tiffin box.
- Serve hot with steamed rice.
You can trust us Bengalis to mix veggies and nonveg in the most delectable way. This recipe is an old favourite. Whenever I think of Lau Chingri I always think about the old Gopal Bahr story where he cons his aunt by mixing shrimps to niramish (vegetarian) Lauer Tarkari (curry). I thought of the story again this time (and made a note to share with my kids), when I decided to make Lau Chingri. My husband and daughter love prawn ( big, small,size doesn’t matter). The only reason that we don’t cook this dish as often is I find de-vein ing shrimps or small prawns very time-consuming and unpleasant ( to put it mildly). I think that this recipe like so many other Bengali recipes provides a clever way to mix veg and nonveg. Given the summer heat and the cooling effect of lau, I had to include this in the Poila Boishak menu.
- Lauki / Dudhi / Bottle Gourd
- Shrimps/small prawns
- Tomato – 50 g
- Ginger grated – 25 g
- Green chilli (finely, as per taste) – 1 whole
- Cumin powder/Jeera Powder – 1 tsp
- Chili Powder – 1 tsp
- Garam masala powder – 1 tsp
- Haldi / Turmeric powder – 1/2 tsp
- Bay Leaf – 2 leaves
- Cumin Seed – 1 tsp
- Clean and chop bottle gourd finely. For more info see the pic below. Keep aside.
- Heat Oil in a kadhai/Frying Pan.Fry the shrimps till it is a nice reddish look. Keep aside.
- You can use the same oil or heat oil in a different pan/kadhai. Temper the oil with bay leaf and whole cumin seed.
- When the cumin starts sputtering add the finely chopped tomato and green chilies.
- Sauté till the tomatoes are soft and mushy with no raw smell.
- Add the grated ginger, cumin powder, garam masala powder and red chilli powder(optional).
- Add the chopped bottle gourd, salt and sauté for a while. Cover and cook.
- Intermittently remove the cover and check. If you see that the bottle gourd is sticking to the pan then you might need to add water.
- When the bottle gourd is nearly cooked add the shrimps and little sugar ( yes, Bengalis believe that sugar is a taste enhancer, to me its more like an excuse to add sugar to all things).
- The water should have dried up by now and the result would be a dish with no gravy but still moist.
- Garnish with fresh coriander leaves and serve with rice.
Nobody at home loves dal so we skipped dal but you can include dal specially Arhar dal which will go so well with the Posto.
At home, both fish and chicken are well loved. So it was tough deciding between Chicken and Fish for today. Since I was making prawns anyways I decided to make chicken. I wanted to make the runny Bengali Sunday Chicken that was cooked often at home but then I decided to give it a new twist and use my current favourite fresh Kafir Lime leaves. The aromatic and lemony Gondhoraj Lebu smell is so refreshing, esp. in the summer. This is light, flavourful and easy to digest in the summer heat.
- Chicken – 900 g
- Potato (to taste) – 200 tbsp
- Salt – 1 tbsp
- Oil – 2 g
- Onion – 400 leaves
- Kafir Lime Leaves – 10 ml
- Gondhoraj Lebu/Kafir Lime – 20 tbsp
- Ginger Paste – 1 tsp
- Haldi / Turmeric powder – 2 kg
- Garam masala powder (whole) – 2 tbsp
- Bay Leaves
- Garam masala – 1
- Dry red chilies
- Clean the chicken pieces and then marinate with ginger paste, turmeric powder, red chilli powder (optional), garam masala powder, salt and ghondhoraj lebu/kafir lime juice for at least 2 hours.
- Heat oil in a frying pan /kadhai over high/ medium flame.
- To the heated oil add whole garam masala, bay leaf, dry red chillies (optional) and crushed garlic.
- Fry till garlic turns light brown. Add the marinated chicken and give it a good stir.
- Cover and cook for a couple of minutes.Cook the chicken till half to 3/4 done.
- Stir often and cook until the oil separates from the mixture.
- Transfer the contents of the kadhai/frying pan to a pressure cooker (if you are running short of time) or continue to cook in the kadhai.
- Add enough hot water to immerse both the chicken and the potatoes.Add enough hot water to immerse both the chicken and the potatoes.
- Check the seasoning and add garam masala, kafir lime leaves and gondhoraj lebu juice ( substitute for kafir lime leaves).
- Cook on medium flames for 4- 5 whistles and turn off the gas.
- Wait till the lid of the pressure cooker opens and serve hot with steamed rice.
- If cooking in the kadhai turn off the gas when the chicken becomes tender and the gravy thickens as per your preference. Now give it a standing time of 5-6 minutes and serve with steamed rice.
P.S Some people shallow fry the potatoes but I prefer to eat healthy and so I do not fry it.
Aamer Chutney or Bengali style raw mango chutney is sweet and sour chutney. The main ingredients are raw mango and sugar. We Bengalis have a sweet tooth and like our chutneys sweet. I also prefer my chutney cold so I generally make it the day before.
- Main Ingredients
- Raw mangoes – 250 g
- Oil – 1 tbsp
- Sugar (to taste) – 150 g
- Mustard seeds – 1 tsp
- Dry red chilies – 1 whole
- Dry Roasted Cumin seed powder – 1 tsp
- Dry Roasted Fennel seed powder – 1 tsp
- Wash, peel and chop raw green mangoes. You may choose to not include the seeds, as sometimes when you cook with them they make the chutney sourer.
- Heat oil ( mustard oil if you like the authentic Bong taste) in Kadhai/Frying Pan
- Add Mustard seeds and red chilli (optional).
- Add chopped mangoes when the mustard seeds start to splutter.
- Add a pinch of turmeric powder and sauté the mangoes.
- Sauté till the mangoes soften a bit and take a nice yellow from turmeric.
- Add a little salt and water. Water should be enough to cook the mangoes and leave a thick consistency at the end.
- Cover and cook till mangoes are done. Check whether the mangoes have softened by pressing them with a spatula.
- Add sugar/honey/jaggery generously and mix well. We are Bongs and like your Chutney “Oh! So Sweet”.
- Cook to reduce the water till you get a thick consistency and the mangoes are soft but not mashed up.
- Dry roast about paanch phoron/Bengali 5 Spices or cumin and saunf/fennel seeds till you get a nice aroma. Grind and sprinkle this powder on the chutney.
- Chutney is best-served cold so refrigerate and serve with rice or Luchi.
I believe that no festive Bengali meal is complete without Doi and mishti. So we had Doi
Here’s to new beginning, good food, and happiness. Hope you have a great year ahead and let us know what did you eat this Poila Boishak ?