The Bengalis are great food lovers and take pride in their cuisine. In fact so obsessed are they about food, that the man of the house goes to the market daily to buy a fresh supply vegetables and fish which is a must in their daily menu. The medium of cooking is mustard oil which adds its own pungency. Another very important item of Bengali cuisine is the variety of sweets or mishti as they call them. Most of them are milk based and are prepared from chhena.
A meal, for the Bengali, is a ritual in itself. Bengalis spend not only the great deal of time thinking about the food but also on its preparation and eating.
Broad beans (sem ki phalli/papdi) 1 inch pieces 1 medium
Drumsticks 1 inch pieces 2
Eggplants/ brinjals 1 inch cubes 1 medium
Oil 5 tablespoons
Poppy seeds (khuskhus/posto) 2 tablespoons
Mustard seeds 1 teaspoon
Ginger 1 inch piece
Panch phoran 1 teaspoon
Bay leaves 2
Sugar 1 teaspoon
Salt to taste
Ghee 1 tablespoon
Wash and cut the bitter gourd into thin roundels. Heat two tablespoons of oil in a pan and fry bitter gourd slices lightly. Drain and keep aside. Make a thick paste of poppy seeds, mustard seeds and ginger.
Heat the remaining oil in a kadai. Add panch phoron and bay leaves. When the seeds start to crackle, add the chopped vegetables and stir lightly.
Add the ground spices and stir for five to seven minutes. Add two cups of water and cover. Cook on medium heat stirring occasionally till vegetables are almost cooked.
Add the fried bitter gourd, salt and sugar. Stir and add a tablespoon of ghee. Cook for another two minutes till gravy is not too thick nor too dry. Serve hot.
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