As part of the ‘Kashmir to Kanyakumari’ event on KfB, where we are all sharing state specific Indian dishes this week, I thought of sharing an essential to complete every South Indian meal, the gunpowder chutney. I remember in my early days in Delhi, me and my cousin Anindita used to frequent Saravana Bhavan only for this chutney along with their quick lunch. And we kept asking for seconds of gunpowder, until they stopped serving it altogether. Back then we always thought we’ll never be able to make the same thing at home, and with a heavy heart I bore that notion for a long long time. Until I over-read a social conversation between my close friends Kaajal and Mona, in between which Mona’s ever helpful husband Badri shares the recipe for Gunpowder. It sounded so simple I did not believe it at first. Skeptically tried it out and have been on a roll ever since. So yes, this recipe is an aftermath of eavesdropping and am proud of Mona and Badri for initiating me on South Indian cooking! Here is the easy way of doing it.
- Urad daal: 3/4 cup
- Curry leaves: 1/2 cup
- Mustard seeds: 1 tbsp
- Dried red chilly: 1 no, deseeded
- Hing/Asafoetida: 1 pinch
- Tamarind pulp: 1 tsp
- Oil: 1 tbsp
- Salt: to taste
Almost half way through
- Heat oil in a pan, add hing and mustard seeds till they splutter
- Add the remaining dry ingredients and stir on medium heat till the daal becomes light brown in colour
- Stir in the tamarind paste, check for seasoning
- Remove from heat, grind in a motor grinder
- Serve topped with ghee with idli/dosa/steamed rice
The finished product – mighty gunpowder
It may not look as red as the ones we find in stores; that’s probably because of the chilly one uses and also its quantity. This batch that I made last night is going to my mom and dad who love this chutney so much. It’s been a long long time since I have gifted them anything, so I sure hope they like it.
Packed and ready to go
Does snail sound slimy to you? Perhaps you shouldn’t be reading this one then. Oh wait, how about ‘es-car-got’? The frou frou way of saying the same thing? Well, we call it googli in bengali. Before we moved to Kolkata, we always used to hear about ‘googli’r jhol’ that used to be the old age equivalent to a healing chicken soup meant to cure weakness. After we moved here of course, dad who has the typical bhodrolok fetish for frequenting the market and hunting down exotic items such as the dishi haansher dim (duck eggs) and shojner ful (drumstick flowers), managed to triumphantly find googli from some corner in the market. (bhodrolok= bong for gentleman) I had made it a couple of times earlier, in mom’s patronage of course. Recently when I visited her for a couple of days, dear dad suddenly dissappeared on a certain morning and later reappeared carrying these cute little things.
Now the trick is to clean them thoroughly in warm water and let them blanch a bit in really hot water so that the chitaneous pedestal thing comes off easily. Cleaning bit done, just rub in enough ginger-garlic paste to cover it all, along with the regular turmeric and salt and throw it in a frying pan (with some oil of course). Add in a diced tomato, season for some spicy sweetness, top it with chopped coriander and voila!
For those who dislike vagueness, here’s the structured thing.
- Snails: 300 gms
- Onion: 1 medium
- Ginger-garlic paste: 2 tbsp
- Tomato: 1 medium
- Turmeric: 1 tsp
- Chilly powder: 1 tsp
- Oil: 2 tsp
- Salt and sugar as per taste
- Coriander leaves for garnish
- Clean the snails in hot water.
- Make a paste of the onion, ginger and garlic.
- Marinate the snails with the above paste for about 10 mins.
- Heat oil in a frying pan.
- Add the marinated snails and stir on medium heat for 5 mins.
- Add diced tomato, turmeric, chilly powder and seasoning.
- Stir fry on low heat for about 10 mins or until cooked.
- Garnish with chopped coriander leaves.
- Serve with piping hot rice.
Optional: One could add a finel cubed potato to this dish to get more ‘body’.
With all my love for the North East India, its places, cuisine and people, its a shame this is the first NE recipe am posting. But like they say, better late than never. Today’s lunch was not supposed to be impromptu at all. I had been premeditating what I’ll cook today ever since bro bought the pork for me yesterday from this tiny non-descript unnamed pork shop in Bhawanipur, a part of Old Kolkata we don’t get to visit too often now. At one point though, I have mixed memories of the equally old and much hallowed Asutosh College where as a student fresh out of school who had gone for career counselling, I was insulted and driven out by a rude old Professor for ‘wearing a skirt’. Five years later, I was teaching a batch of post grad students my age. My mom, who had been witness to both these events, and in fact had pretended to not know me during the previous incidence, was very proud of me now.
Coming back to the pork, my initial resolution was to cook a Jadoh and Doh Jem (the Khasi black sesame pork). I bought black sesame seeds from a Dashakarma bhandar (religious store – dunno what else to call it) in Gariahat market. I even asked the guy if its fit for cooking and he nodded vigorously and gave me a whole lot of it. When I tried prepping with it though, I found the black colour coming off from the seeds, also they smelled of soot. With a heavy heart I had to change my plans. So I decided to use a tomato instead of the sesame paste. I also used some cubed potatoes. The taste was very Khasi although there is a Manipuri preparation called Angouba which tastes the same too.
- Pork: Cubed, 400 gms
- Potato: 1 medium (optional)
- Garlic: whole, 8-10 cloves
- Ginger: 1.5 inch, grated
- Green chilly: 1 no., slit lengthwise
- Tomato: 1 medium, chopped coarsely
- Spring onion: 1 no.
- Turmeric: 2 tsp
- Salt and sugar to taste
- Clean the pork and sepaarte out the pieces of fat.
- Smear the pork with some salt and turmeric.
- In a pressure cooker, drop the pieces of fat first and cook them uncovered with half
- a cup of water, for about 15 mins or till you see the oil floating.
- Stick in a knife to see if they are tender.
- Next, add the lean pork cubes.
- Add lightly crushed whole garlic cloves and ginger paste and stir for 2 mins.
- Add the tomato, spring onion, chilly, potatoes and some water, season
- Cover and pressure cook on low heat for 20-30 mins.
- Serve with aromatic steamed rice.
After a month of slurping Asian-style porridge with various toppings, it was time to experiment with some Indian flavours into our recent favorite one-pot health meal. There is this particular green pea soup famous as ‘Nimona’ in Uttar Pradesh, little known to people outside the State. I came to know of it from my friends Nivedita and Ankur, whom share a lot of passion for reinventing traditional dishes and cooking them from scratch. Its also a dish which connects us to a common friend, Sangeeta Khanna, since her blog is where they had discovered the recipe. sangeeta’s blog grows on you not just for all the health info the recipes come with, but also for her quest for rediscovering the lesser known traditional recipes such as the Nimona.
For the porridge, I basically ‘almost’ made a nimona, and then added the millet to turn it into a porridge. I have toned down the flavours slightly to suit my bland tastes. So here goes:
- Fresh green peas – 1 cup
- Coarsely ground millet- 1/2 cup, soaked for 1/2 hour
- Ginger – 1 inch long
- Green chilly – 1 no.
- Cumin seeds – 1 tsp
- Ghee – 2 tsp
- Coarsely ground pepper – 2 tsp
- Salt to taste
- water as required
- Boiled egg for garnish
- Coarsely grind together fresh green peas, ginger and green chilly with a pinch of salt.
- Heat 1 tsp of ghee in a pan, add cumin seeds and wait till they splutter.
- Add the green pea paste and stir fry on medium heat for about 5-7 mins.
- Add the soaked millet and some water to achieve the desired consistency.
- Season with salt and pepper.
- Simmer for 10 mins or until millet is cooked and mushy.
- Serve warm topped with a tsp of ghee and hard boiled eggs.
Green pea porridge
Here is the normal version of our regular porridge where we only pressure cook the soaked millet with some salt and a knob of ginger. Top it with eggs and greens. Drizzle a bit of sesame oil. Serve it with picked cucumber (picked with soy, ginger, sesame oil, sichuan pepper, sugar).