West Bengal is one of the Eastern states of India, the land of Ramakrishna Paramahansa,Swami Vivekananda, Rabindranath Tagore,Amartya Sen...the list is endless, a state rich in cultural heritage, state teeming with people who are literary intellectuals, sports lovers, a place where India's quest for freedom began, a place which gave birth to number of modern movements in literature, painting, theatre, cinema, politics.
I always had this strange fascination for speaking bangla whenI was a kid as I found the language too sweet:)As I grew up I had lots of bengali friends and I made sure I talked to them in Bangla.Lady luck endowed her choicest blessings on me when I got married to Biplab, though he belonged to an oriya family but were settled in Bengal since generations.My joy knew no bounds when I found out that the whole household not only spoke bangla at home but the style of living, cooking,customs and traditions was a lot like bengalis.Since then it has been a beautiful experience learning and getting accustomed to bangla ranna and traditions....my dream come true:)
West bengal not only shares borders with Orissa but has cultural ,linguistic and culinary similarities too.The culinary similarities are the ingredients , the style of cooking , the same recipes with a little twist here and there.The common ingredients in cooking being Sorshe tel( mustard oil),paanch phoron( five spice mix),Poshto baata(poppyseed paste),Sorshe baata(mustard paste),extensive use of fish and prawns with different kinds of veggies and the different kinds of drool worthy sweet dishes which are unique to only these two states.My mom inlaw is an amazing cook and the credit goes to her in teaching me a few of the bengali dishes.
My entries for RCI Bengal hosted By Sandeepa of Bong Mom's Cook Book are Rui aloo phulkopi(carp fish cooked with cauliflower potao and peas),Moog Dal(split green gram cooked and tempered with cumin,bayleaf and red chillies) and Nikhuti Payesh(Cottage cheese Oblongs deep fried and served dipped in flavoured condensed milk.
Rui aloo phulkopi:
5-6 pcs of Carpor rui mach (normally red snapper or bhetki is used for this curry)
2 potatoes diced
1/4 cup green peas
1 small cauliflower cut into medium florets
1 large onion..ground to a paste
1 tomato diced or pureed
1 tsp ginger paste
1 tsp whole garam masala( 2 green cardamoms,2 -3 cloves,1"stick cinnamon)2-3 Bay leaves
1 tsp coriander pwdr,1 tsp garam masala,1/2 tsp cumin pwdr,1 tsp turmeric,1 tsp chilli pwdr
salt to aste
1/2 tsp sugar
3 tbsp mustard oil
1 tbsp chopped coriander
1 green chilli
1.Marinate the fish with turmeric(1/2 tsp),salt ,chilli pwdr( apinch) and lemon juice for 15- 20 mins.Shallow fry with 2 tbsp mustard oil till light brown.
2.Fry cauliflower and potatoes till half cooked,keep aside.
3.In the same pan add the rest of the oil add the sugar, caramelise on low heat, add the bay leaves and whole garam masala .
4. Add the onion and ginger paste ,fry till slightly brown.
5.Add all the masalas or spices except garam masala with little water and add with the tomatoes to the frying paste.Fry until the oil seperates from the masala.
6.Add the fried cauliflower and potatoes and1 cup water and salt.Cook covered for 10 mins or till the veggies are tender.
7.Add the fried fish and peas to the gravy and simmer for 5-8 mins.
8.Add the garam masala pwdr and garnish with coriander leaves and green chillies.
1 lt milk
1 kg sugar
1/2 tsp soda bi carbonate
1 tsp ghee
2-3 black cardamom
4-5 sticks cinnamon
oil for deep frying
1.Knead well the cheese,flour,soda bicarb,cardamom and the ghee together.
2.Make small elongated balls out of the mixture and deep fry them till dark brown.
3.Boil the milk seperately with cinnamon and 4-5 tbsp sugar till it condenses.
4. Make a sugar syrup of one thread consistency from boiling water and the remaining sugar.
5.Immerse the fried oblong balls or nikhuties in the sugar syrup for 2 hrs.
6. Remove the balls with a strainer and dip in the boiled condensed milk.Serve after cooling.