A recap of the 30 day Indian Food Odyssey. Click the link/picture to go the particular post.
A recap of the 30 day Indian Food Odyssey. Click the link/picture to go the particular post.
From April first, the Blogging Marathon participants have been traversing through most of the Indian states (and some Union territories) trying out the regional food, one state at a time.
The final stop is at West Bengal and this is what I have prepared for the state. Check out the other Bengali recipes at the end of the post.
The posts done till now were prepared from the month of February and so all I had to do was schedule the posts to go live on that particular day. But unfortunately for Bengal, I kept procrastinating until the end. So April 30th came and went and I was still clueless about what to prepare.
I had bought some ready made rasgolla with an idea to prepare cheater’s rasmalai and to end the month long marathon on a sweet note. But then some ideas just don’t materialize…in this case, the idea(rasgolla) got eaten as such before I could improvise it as rasmalai.
The good thing was the rest of the participants did their share of Bengali dishes and I was able to browse through each of them and finalize mine. After ruling out rasmalai and the chanar payesh, which some had prepared, I decided on Vaishali’s Tauk dal and doi dharosh. It’s hardly surprising, given that I have already done three states (Gujarat, Delhi, UP and now Bengal) based on her blog :-).
It was also kind of in line with the lunch platter theme I was preparing for all the other states. So, tauk dal and doi dharosh it is…along with luchis and the left over ready made rasgollas. For the luchis, I prepared a corn kurma as a side dish. It’s not a Bengali recipe.
This is a picture of a Bengali Thali I had prepared two years back :-). Check out here for more pictures and the recipe links.
Uttaranchal… Home of so many holy places.
Kedarnath. Badrinath. Haridwar. Rishikesh. Rudraprayag.
Origin of the rivers Ganga and Yamuna. The holy place of Devaprayag where the rivers Alakanandi and Bhagirathi meets and flows forward as Ganga. (Prayags are places where two or more rivers meet)
And home for some great hill stations : Mussoorie, Nainital, Chamba…
The state is as beautiful as it’s dangerous. Land slides, floods all happen there.
Coming to food, other than the regular ‘North Indian food’ (dal-chawal-roti-sabzi), the state has some really different recipes which I wanted to try. There were many more recipes I wish I could have tried, but finally zeroed down on Phaanu (with toor dal), kaapa and thechwani.
Kaapa is not very different from how we prepare the spinach gravy. All it lacks is the tamarind which is a must in most Tamil based recipes (or South Indian, for that matter). Phaanu is toor dal soaked and ground with chillies and ginger-garlic. A portion of this ground mix is shaped as cutlets and deep fried and the rest is made into a pourable gravy.
Thechwani is also a gravy-ish curry that pairs well with rotis and rice.
Go through this link for Uttarakhand dishes. Though it’s a restaurant review, they talk about some of the state’s delicacies. Now, if only I could get that recipe for chancha (rice cooked in buttermilk!).
We have reached the fag-end of the state wise culinary journey and today, we are in Uttar Pradesh. Regular day-to-day lunch is the common dal-chawal-subzi-roti combination (Rice with dal, roti and veggies), so I thought I would turn to the capital city Lucknow’s rich Awadhi cuisine.
Awadh is the current Lucknow (and some surrounding regions) now and is known for its royal Nawabs and rich food fit for the kings. Dum style cooking (slow covered cooking over low fire) is what the place is most famous for.
This is what the wiki says: “The bawarchis and rakabdars of Awadh gave birth to the dum style of cooking or the art of cooking over a slow fire, which has become synonymous with Lucknow today. Their spread consisted of elaborate dishes like kebabs, kormas, biryani, kaliya, nahari-kulchas, zarda, sheermal, roomali rotis, and warqi parathas. The richness of Awadh cuisine lies not only in the variety of cuisine but also in the ingredients used like mutton, paneer, and rich spices including cardamom and saffron. “
The thali here is a simple affair with a nawabi pulao that’s cooked in milk. Sultani dal is nothing but toor dal made rich with yogurt, cream and milk. Mattar ka nimona which is a green peas preparation. The bhindi is cooked in dum, though I couldn’t make out too much of taste difference.
Boondi ka raita is a simple yogurt prepared with ready made boondi(gram flour mini dumplings).
The lachha paratha is a favourite with my son. The rice too turned out to be good for my son since it was not spicy.
Thali idea : Ribbons To Pastas
Tripura was the last of the NE states I had to hunt recipes for and again, lack of on line recipes didn’t help much. Vegetarian options were next to nil and I had almost given up hope when I came across this article about Durga pooja in Tripura.
The article mentions about the bhog (community food) that will be served later, which comprises of various items from luchi to khichidi and many vegetable items.
And tada….my problem was solved…a simple kichidi bhog for Tripura! I wish I had made luchis as well..
Tripura has a lot of Bengal population and the Bengali cuisine is also popular there. The kichidi bhog here is a Bengali fare, but I guess it is just as popular in Tripura.
The begun bhaja is very simple dish, yet it tastes heavenly. The whole meal is easy to prepare. This food will be a great hit with kids and adults alike.
Pongal, the harvest festival of Tamil Nadu, marks a lot of new beginnings. Houses get cleaned, new resolutions are made and there is a lot of festivity and lot of food all around.
For me, this year’s Pongal feast marked the culinary journey through the Indian states. This was the first post to be cooked, clicked and edited. It’s a different matter that it’s being scheduled to go live at the last-minute.
This meal impressed my son (and my man).The kid’s eyes lit up when he saw so many small katoris (bowls), each with a little colourful food inside. This was one platter over which I didn’t have to push,nag, plead or threaten with him over eating.
And that’s how the idea of more dishes in small quantities started. Some thali’s he was okay with, some he was not. But on the whole, it’s been fine.
Coming back to Pongal, it is a four-day harvest festival celebrated in the Indian state of Tamil Nadu. Though it’s ideally a farmer’s festival, the entire state irrespective of their livelihood method, celebrate it.
The celebrations start a couple of days ahead with cleaning of the house, discarding old stuff and even getting your house painted and all. The first day of Pongal, called Bhogi, is celebrated with burning off old stuff.
The burning /bon fire is no longer popular, but the cleaning and discarding stuff is still done.
The second day is the main festival. Thai pongal. It’s the day we thank Lord Sun for his blessings and the harvest. Sweet pongal is made of the newly harvested rice and offered to the god.
Colourful rangolis adorn the door steps that day and the whole day has a brilliant festive feel to it.
The food is the traditional feast with lots of items, from deep fried vada to sweet payasam / pongal.
The food featured here usually gets done on the third day. Maattu pongal. It’s the day farmers worship their cattle, for helping them with the harvest. Various ‘variety rice’ are made this day. Lemon rice, coconut rice, tamarind rice, curd rice are the most common ones.
The fourth day is the winding up day and that’s when people visit each other to celebrate the occasion. Beaches in Chennai overflow with people on this day of ‘Kaanum Pongal’.
Here, I started off the day with venn pongal (South Indian style kichidi – rice cooked with moong dal and tempered with ghee, jeera and pepper corns) with an easy sambar and sweet pongal. I served it for lunch as well, along with the colourful rices (lemon, coconut and curd rice).
I remember the time I started making rotis/chapatis. The game that we had was “Guess the shape!”
India map was the most common one, but animal shapes like kangaroo or cheetah too weren’t uncommon. We used to have a lot of fun, letting our imagination run wild, while savouring those out of shape rotis. The good thing was, no matter what the shape is, the taste was fine.
Now when I roll out chapatis, it doesn’t come as a perfect circle, but it’s stopped being closer to a square! So I am happy…
Coming to these Sel rotis, which are quite popular in Sikkim, the shape is nowhere close to how it should look like! But again, the taste was fine, so I guess, it’s ok…for a first trial, at least.
While looking for Sikkim recipes, I came across this NDTV article which talks about the culinary changes that has come over the place. There was a mention about Sel roti in there and that helped me decide the menu.
A bit more digging showed that Sel roti is originally from Nepal and is eaten with potatoes in various forms, aloo ko achar being one amongst many. This is a nice post about Sel rotis.
Though I tried the given combination of potato and sel roti, with yogurt, I couldn’t understand the combination-connection. The sel roti was great, the potato was great, but there was no chemistry between the two!
May be, these are acquired tastes or may be I should try out the original before passing that statement :-).
I loved the Sel roti, despite its poor shape. I first used a coke bottle and the batter oozed out completely. Then I used a squeezable ketch up bottle, that’s how I got the wriggly Sel rotis. I tried pouring from my hand as well. The shape wasn’t great, but it wasn’t bad either.
Rajasthan, the desert land, is a beautiful state with a colourful history behind it. It is the land of ‘Rajas(kings)’ (Raja-sthan) and there are many palaces and fortresses there, reflecting the state’s rich royal heritage.
Travelling to Rajasthan was a dream and we did travel to Jaipur and Jaisalmer 8 years back. It’s still an experience I relive and relish, especially the Jaisalmer fort. If possible, I would love to go there again…and again….and again
Not just the palaces, Rajasthani food is also famous. Their cooking style is a bit different. They bank on pulses and dried vegetables more than fresh veggies, since the desert is no ideal place to grow vegetables. It’s all different with advanced irrigation techniques and easy transportation now a days.
Yet you will find extensive use of pulses in Rajasthani cooking.
We had been to Choki Dhani, a Rajasthani village resort which showcases food and art culture from Rajasthan. We went as a group and so had fun. The place was over crowded and the waiting time for each and everything was long, but since we were a big group, the waiting time was yacking time and hence a happy time as well :-).
My son enjoyed the trip a lot (‘a lot’ is really less to describe his happiness) and surprisingly, loved the food also a lot.
He finished almost everything on his plate, without much fuss. He was hungry and the food was tasty.
The menu I have here is a bit on the lines of what we had in Choki dhani. They served us phulka, puri and bajra roti…all of which my son loved. I have replaced the puri with missi roti.
They started off with churma and brought the dal and baati. Then came the kadi and gatte ki sabzi. I skipped the last one, it deserves a separate post on its own :-). There was palak paneer and an aloo ki sabzi to go with the rotis. Some 3-4 varieties of pickles and chutneys were served.
Kichidi came later and it was served with sugar. Keeping the Chennai crowd in mind, they have included rasam, sambar rice and curd rice in the menu as well.
So here I have 3 bread varieties, an aloo curry and a mixed veg curry to go with it. Kichuri, dal and kadhi with 2 types of pickle/chutney as well.
Orissa, or Odisha as its known now, is a state in the Eastern part of India. For me, Odisha is Orissa. And Orissa, to me, will always mean the magnificent Konark Sun temple and the beautiful Puri Jagannath temple.
The Puri temple pulls tens of thousands of worshippers everyday and the kitchens here work to feed them. The simple prasadam and the meal there, apparently tastes divine.
The wiki says that :The kitchen of the famous Jagannath Temple, Puri in Puri is reputed to be the largest in the world, with a thousand chefs, working around 752 wood-burning clay hearths called chulas, to feed over 10,000 people each day.
I had always associated Rasgolla with Bengal and it was a surprise that it originated in Orissa. And so did the rice kheer (payasam). I never knew that.
There is a good balance of vegetarian and non vegetarian food in the state.
Here in this post, I have put together a thali, inspired from The Turmeric Kitchen. I skipped the kheer and added a beans and potato stir fry.
Tomato khatta was the most common recipe I could find in all the Oriya thalis I came across. The common version is sweet based, which uses tomatoes and dates.
I looked around for a spicy version of the dish and finally found one. Scroll down for the recipe link.
Dahi baingan is also a bit tangy, because of the yogurt. This was a simple dish to prepare and it tasted good as well. The best of the lot was the chana dal prepared with potatoes.
Thali Idea from The Turmeric Kitchen
In India, there are only very few states that speak hindi alone. People from Bihar speak Bihari, Maharasthra speak Marathi, UP has urdu as well, Haryana – Punjab has Punjabi and the South too has its own languages.
Yet, with Hindi you can manage almost anywhere in India.
Like that, when it comes to food – with the all purpose recipe for dal, you can manage almost anywhere in India. Even in the North East states.
I was quite surprised when I saw this Potato, peas & cauliflower based dal as part of a Nagaland platter online. The rest of the items were totally non-veg, yet this phool-gobi and aloo dal left an impression in my mind.
So, dal is not uncommon, even in North East.
Somehow landed on a tomato chutney recipe from Nagaland. And looking at the simplicity of the recipe (it’s just roughly crushing everything with your hands and then boiling), it looked authentic.
Authentic is a heavy word to use here. What people of an area cook and eat on a day-to-day basis may not be original, authentic recipes of the state. Yet it doesn’t mean that everyday recipes are not part of that state.
The spread I have here is chosen out of the few vegetarian on-line options I had for this state. And as far as authenticity is concerned, I have no idea. I can tell you for sure that in Nagaland, this will not be a meal on its own. It would be paired with at least a couple of meat based dishes!