Bijoya Dashami - Luchi, Saada Alu'r Torkari, Baked Begun
This might look very simple, but this is a very special breakfast which we will happily eat for lunch or dinner as well. The only thing missing, perhaps was payesh (rice pudding). I hardly make payesh at home as both the husband and the 5 year old refuse to eat even a spoonful - no amount of coaxing, cajoling, bribing or threatening will make them try even one morsel. I have won many food related battles, but not this one! Not yet, that is!
But I did make some Narkol Naru topped with Chocolate Ganache which were devoured approvingly! Ask any Bengali what their favorite meal is and I can guarantee - Luchi in combination with alu'r torkari/alu'r dom/begun bhaja/chhola'r daal will make it to the top 3!
Sada Alu'r Torkari - sometimes we are so in love with the food we grow up eating, that any slight variation would seem like nothing less than sacrilege (okay, may be I am exaggerating a little, but just a little). So when the cook at my in-laws' place used Kalo Jeera (Nigella Seeds) to temper the Sada Alu'r Torkari, I almost erupted! Thankfully, only on the inside.
Few years down, I taught her to make it the 'right' way! Sure, she would go back to her Nigella tempering days from time to time, but mostly, it's all good! It is called Sada (white) since no turmeric or red chili powder is used.
- Potatoes - 2 Cups, cubed (try to use the starchy variety, I used russet)
- Mustard Oil - 1 tsp (you can use any other oil, but we prefer Mustard Oil)
- Panch Phoron (Five Spice Blend) - 1/2 tsp
- Green Chili - 1, slit
- Water - about 1/2 cup, enough to cover the cubed potatoes
- Salt to taste
Heat oil in the pressure cooker (if using) and temper it with Panch Phoron - the five spice mix that consists equal amounts of fennel seeds, cumin seeds, fenugreek seeds, nigella seeds and mustard seeds (in absence of radhuni/wild celery) - and green chili. Once the seeds start spluttering, add the cubed potatoes and fry for couple of minutes. Add water (enough to cover the potatoes) and salt to taste. I usually fish out the green chili at this point and pressure cook it. It takes about 7-8 minutes, 3-4 whistles for the potatoes to be fork tender. If you are making it in a pan, it will take you a little longer. Just cover and cook once you have added the water. Sometimes I add a little extra water, and overcook the potatoes to the point when it starts disintegrating - we love eating that version too!
Ingredients: (Yield about 20)
- All Purpose Flour/Maida - 2 Cups (I used a blend of Atta and Maida in 1:1 ratio)
- Oil - 1 tbsp
- Salt to taste
- Water as required to make the dough
- Oil - enough for frying (I used Canola)
In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, oil and salt. Traditionally, luchi is made with just Maida. But we like it this way. Since I mostly buy All Purpose Flour, I find it very difficult to roll out (I am sure a part of it is due to my lack of expertise), so adding whole-wheat to the APP makes it more manageable for me and tastes good too. Also, luchi made with Maida is slightly lighter in color as well, Add water, a little bit at a time and start making a dough. Once everything comes together, cover the dough with a towel and let it rest for 20 to 30 minutes, if you can. If the dough gets a little too sticky, do not panic, just add a little bit more flour. Once the dough has rested, knead well to make it pliable.
Now start heating the oil for frying in deep bottomed pan on medium-high.
While the oil is heating up, pinch out small balls of dough, and roll it out into circles about 3 inch in diameter. We usually do not flour the rolling surface but use a little bit of oil instead. My Ma would have a small bowl of oil for the purpose, but I prefer dunking it in the hot oil itself (not advisable). It is the husband who does the rolling nowadays as it does a number to my tennis elbow and shoulder spasm (both on the right side, and no I do not play tennis).
Once the oil reaches the right temperature (if you drop a tiny bit of dough into the hot oil, it should sink, sizzle and rise up immediately) start frying the rolled out circles one by one - slide each gently into the hot oil (or it will splutter), fry one side for few seconds, and once it starts to puff up gently tap it till it puffs up in all its pillowy glory. Transfer to a paper towel lined plate and serve hot. Always serve hot!
Both the 5 year old and I love eating the last one with sugar! Mmmm!
Baked or Fried Egglant/Brinjal Slices: The baked version is as unorthodox as the 50:50 (atta to maida ratio) luchi, but it absolutely works.
- Eggplants - 1 small, cut into slices
- Oil - 1 tsp (I used mustard oil)
- Turmeric Powder - 1/4 tsp
- Salt to taste
- Oil - enough for frying
Marinade the Eggplant slices by rubbing the oil, turmeric and salt on both sides. Let those sit for few minutes. If you are frying, heat enough oil and once it heats up fry the slices on both sides. I prefer baking as eggplants soak up a lot of oil when fried. For baking heat oven to 400 F and bake the marinated pieces for 20 minutes on each side.
My Mother-in-law says that the eggplant slices will soak up less oil if you slide them into the oil first and then start heating it. I am yet to try it!