With love from the Calcutta Cookbook

5th March,2008
As a part of my love for regional Indian cuisine, I've decided that once a week, dinner will be from any region other than our own. This week, we are enjoying some homely vegetarian Bengali meals from the chapter Bangla Ranna of The Calcutta Cookbook

Bengali menu for tonight
Piaj koli, alu piaj o tomator tarkari (Onion sprouts with potatoes, onions and tomatoes)
Masoor Dal

Both these recipes are from The Calcutta Cookbook - A Treasury of recipes from pavement to palace, written by Minakshi Das Gupta, Bunny Gupta and Jaya Chaliha. And the special part about both these recipes, is that they have no masalas, spice powders letting the inherent taste of the ingredients come through strongly. More details on The Calcutta Cookbook, here.

For once, I followed both recipes to the T and was very happy with the result. As I type this, DH is relishing every little morsel. I ate up earlier to stick to my 8.30 pm deadline for dinner. I hope it is alright to reproduce the recipes from the book here...

The tarkari (vegetable) recipe is one of the rare ones that feature spring onions in a starring role. I have blogged about this spring onion curry earlier on, which is a modified version of a maharashtrian zunka. I have also tried the spring onion zunka inspried by the cabbage zunka from Nupur's One Hot Stove. In the markets here, we get 3-4 thick bunches of spring onions for Rs.10 which makes it difficult to just use them as a garnish. Such recipes that feature spring onion as one of the main ingredients, make sure they can be put to good use.

From The Calcutta Cookbook
Piaj Koli, Alu Piaj O Tomator Tarkari
[Spring onions with potatoes, onions and tomatoes in a dry curry]

Serves 4

500 gms onion sprouts (spring onions 3-4 bunches)
200 gms potatoes
200 gms tomatoes
2 tbsp mustard oil
1 tso panch phoron
1 tsp turmeric powder
1 tsp sugar
salt to taste

1.Cut onion sprouts into 1 1/2 inch pieces. (I sliced the white bits thinly)
2.Peel and cut the potatoes, tomatoes and onions into thin rounds.
3. Heat the oil to smoking in a wok, reduce heat and add panch phoron. As soon as oil stops spluttering, add the potatoes and onions. Stir fry for 2 minutes and add the tomatoes.
4. Stir fry over medium heat for 5 minutes, then add the turmeric, salt and sugar. Reduce heat and cook covered for 7-10 minutes until the potatoes are nearly cooked, the onions soft and tomatoes pulpy.
5. Add the onion sprouts, mixing well. Increase heat and cook for another 5 minutes until they are soft. No water must be added to this dish.

Masoor Dal

From the variation no.1 given in the book.
Pressure cook 1/2 cup masoor dal with 2 cups water and pinch of turmeric powder until soft. Remove from cooker into a saucepan. Thin with water as per your liking. Simmer once with some salt.
In a tadka ladle or a wok, heat 1 tsp mustard oil. Add 1-2 chopped green chillies, 1/2 tsp nigella seeds to the hot oil. Let the seeds splutter and add it to the dal. Serve hot with rotis and vegetable.

Update 14th April, 2008
I was waiting to remake this dish to be able to post a decent picture....but did not get the chance, hence posting it today anyway, so as not to miss the bus on RCI Bengal.
The tarkari and masoor dal are my entries for the event hosted by Sandeepa at Bong Mom's Cookbook

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