This is a pretty versatile and easy to make dish. It goes well with Mishti Pulao, with plain old rice and daal as well as roti (chapati). 'Paanch Mishali Torkari' can be loosely translated into Stir-fry made with a medley of 5 different vegetables. Back at home, Ma used to make it with Potato, Pumpkin, Ridge Gourd, Eggplant, Carrots, Beans - depending on what would be in season. Sometimes she would use radish, radish greens, runner beans. but never cauliflower. She would make a 'torkari' using potato and cauliflower, but almost never use it as one of the 5 vegetables in 'Paanch Mishali Torkari'. Now in my family, we love cauliflower - stir-fried or roasted, with shrimps or just fried. So in my version, I use cauliflower, potatoes, beans, carrots and green peas. I mostly use the frozen vegetable medley from the organic section of Wholefoods (now also available in Costco) which also has corn in it. We do not mind the sweetness from the corn but sometimes when I am in the mood I will pick the corn out, albeit painstakingly, from the medley.
A special mix of 5 spices that we Bengalis call 'Paanch Phoron' is used in this dish for tempering. Typically, Paanch Phoron will include Fenugreek Seeds (Methi), Nigella Seeds (Kalo Jeera), Fennel Seeds (Mouri), Cumin Seeds (Jeera) and Wild Celery Seeds (Radhuni) in equal parts. 'Radhuni' is rarely available outside West Bengal, so celery seeds or black mustard seeds are also used as the 5th spice. I sometimes add a 6th spice - coriander seeds. Why? Just because I love coriander seeds.
- Cauliflower - 1 1/4 Cup, cut into small florets
- Potato - 1 1/4 Cups, cubed into small pieces
- Frozen Vegetable Medley - 2 Cups (Carrots, Peas, Green beans)
- Tomato - Chopped, 1 small
- Cilantro - 2 tbs, finely chopped
- Green Chilies - 2 or 3 depending on how much heat you prefer, slit
- Panch Phoron - 1 1/2 tsp
- Turmeric - 1/2 tsp
- Asafoetida (Hing) - 1 pinch (I love hing so I put a fat pinch)
- Bay leaves - 1 or 2, small
- Salt to taste
- Oil - 1 tbs (I used mustard oil - a popular choice in Bengal)
Heat oil in a pan and once hot temper it with 'panch phoron', green chilies and bay leaves. To it add the chopped cauliflower and potatoes and fry till these turn lightly golden brown. Add the tomatoes, salt, turmeric, asafoetida and cooks till the tomatoes disintegrate. Add the frozen vegetables, mix well and cook for a minute or two, add water to just cover the vegetables, cover and cook for about 10 minutes till all the vegetables are fork-tender. If you are using fresh vegetables instead of frozen then add the vegetables and fry for couple of minutes before you add tomatoes. Frozen vegetables cook faster than fresh. Add the cilantro just before taking the pan off the heat and serve warm.w
Today the husband helped in making the rotis. He did a better job than I do.