Spending our time untethering the mind, getting the fidgets out, exploring the in-between ideas, and learning kintsugi.

Learning to cook with mom – Part 2, baby steps

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Green papaya stir fry, fish with mustard paste, and pointed gourd cooked in ginger-garlic sauce

Peper Tarkari: Young green papaya is a popular Bengali vegetable. It tastes like the mild version of the seeds. To make a dry sabzi, peel the green skin, take out any seeds if present and cut into small cuboids of about half inch on each side. Cut potatoes (about a third of the papaya by volume) in similar shape. Steam the green papaya until it is parboiled – pressure cook on medium heat, once the pressure is built up, keep for a minute and switch off the heat. Lets assume we have two serving sizes e.g., 3 cups of papaya and 1 cup of potato. In a kadai, add 2 Tbsp mustard oil and 1 Tbsp ghee. Once the mixture reached smoking point, add couple of dry red chilies, 1 tsp of cumin seeds, a bay leaf and then add the parboiled papaya and potatoes. Stir to mix, add salt to taste (1-2 tsp), 1/2 tsp sugar, cover and cook on low heat until they are both fully cooked. Occasionally stir the vegetables to allow even cooking. The salt draws out the water and the vegetables tend to get lightly fried and start to break down just a bit and start to stick together lightly. Water content is highly variable in vegetables and it is important to modulate the heat and covering. If the vegetables are too dry, it is ok to add 2-3 Tbsp of water at a time. It is recommended that you boil the water and add hot water to maintain the heat level which in turn preserves the taste of the vegetables better. Add 1 tsp of jeera powder and continue to cook for a few minutes. Taste and adjust salt if needed. Switch off heat and add 2-3 Tbsp of chopped cilantro leaves.

Green papaya, potatoes, bay leaves, cumin (jeera), dry red chili, cumin powder, cilantro, clarified butter (ghee), mustard oil

Macher Jhaal: For most fish dishes, cooking in mustard sauce (refer to part 1) is the simplest recipe. Typically, fish is scaled, cleaned, cut into individual serving size portions and stored in freezer after applying salt and turmeric. My family grew up on river or pond fish and these are relatively small. You can also cut up bigger fish into smaller cross sections (perpendicular to spine, 1 inch thinchness). To make the fish, start with thawing. Lets assume we are making 2-3 serving sizes e.g., 2 trouts, each cut in half or thirds. In a flat bottom container, preferably non-stick, add 4 Tbsp of mustard oil. Once the oil reaches smoking point, add nigella seeds, gently lower the fish pieces and fry for a minute on each side. Add water to submerge the fish e.g. 4 cups. Add 0.5 tsp turmeric, salt to taste and let boil and reduce the liquid by half. Mix 4 Tbsp of the mustard slurry with 2 Tbsp of yogurt and add to the liquid. Let cook for another 5-7 minutes at reduced heat. Taste and adjust salt if needed. Switch off heat and add 2-3 Tbsp of chopped cilantro leaves.

Mustard paste, fish, nigella seeds (kalonji), turmeric powder, yogurt, mustard oil

Kosha Potol Tarkari: Pointed gourd is seasonal. They taste better if fried. If they are young and tender, they have soft seeds. As the get older, the seeds get brittle. I like it when the seeds pop upon biting, but if you don’t, feel free to scoop them out. Vegetables cook better when young and tender. Lightly take off the skin and slit each gourd (2-3 slits along the length) so spices can penetrate. Lets assume you are making 10-12 of these. Add 1/2 tsp salt, 1/2 tsp turmeric, toss and let rest. Cut a medium size potato into pieces, match the length of gourd and half the thickness. Add 1/2 tsp salt, 1/2 tsp turmeric, toss and let rest. In the meantime, prepare the onions, ginger, garlic and green chilis. Take 1 small onion and grate. Take another small onion and finely chop. Take a 1 inch knob of ginger and grate. Crush and thinly slice 2-3 cloves of garlic. Chop on slit the green chilis depending on their heat and your level of tolerance. In a kadai, add 2 Tbsp of mustard oil, and heat until it starts to smoke, add the gourd, toss, reduce heat and fry gently until they are nicely browned and starting to soften. This may take 15 minutes. Take the fried gourd out of the kadai and set aside. Add the chopped potatoes and similarly gently stir fry until they are golden brown in color. This may take 5-7 minutes. Take the browned potatoes out of the kadai and set aside. Add another 2 Tbsp mustard oil to the kadai, let it reach smoking point, add 1 tsp of cumin seeds, let splutter for a few seconds, add the garlic, let fry for 10 seconds, add the chopped onions and fry the mixture until onions are golden brown. Add the grated onion and ginger and fry until the mixture starts to exude the oil. If necessary, reduce heat and cook slowly. The entire mixture will develop a caramel brown color. Now add the fried gourd, the browned potatoes, add green chilis and add about 1-2 cups of water. Cover and let cook for about 12-15 minutes. The vegetables should be moist (not watery) and coated with the onion-giner-garlic paste. If necessary, add 2 Tbsp of hot water at a time and continue to cook covered until done. Add 1 tsp of cumin powder. Gently stir to combine and switch off heat. Add 2-3 Tbsp of chopped cilantro leaves.

Pointed gourd, potatoes, onion, ginger, garlic, cumin seeds (jeera), cumin powder, green chili, cilantro leaves, mustard oil

Written by Som

December 8, 2021 at 1:37 am

Posted in Recipe

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