Sunday, October 05, 2014

Begun Bhaja - Pan-Fried Eggplant Slices

Begun Bhaja
The people of Bengal in India are very fond of eggplant. The big & round eggplant are the most common variety found in India. The long & thin oriental eggplant are, in my opinion, sweeter and have less seeds. Cut down the center vertically and then cut into four pieces, they are tossed with turmeric and salt and left to rest for 10 minutes before pan-frying. Covering the skillet while they fry allows steam to collect in the pan which cooks the eggplant faster without using much oil. I find that oriental eggplants use less oil to brown than the round varieties.

Begun bhaja is had as part of a daily meal as well as a starter for a festive meal. It's quick & easy to prepare and should be pan-fried just before the meal is served.

Baked Rosogollas

Broiled Rogollas
Baked rosogollas are a relatively recent phenomenon in the Bengali sweet shops or misti dokan of Kolkata (formerly Calcutta). I started with the rosogolla payesh recipe recently posted and placed one serving under the broiler until the tops caramelized. 

Since Hubby enjoyed this small transformation thoroughly, I decided to bake the remaining payesh at 350F degrees and sprinkled some saffron over top. Either way, finishing off this sweet dish in the oven imparts a caramelized & smoky flavour to these delectable fresh cottage cheese dumplings. 

Kosha Mangsho - Simmered Lamb Curry

Kosha Mangsho
This lamb dish brings back memories of our days in Darjeeling (nestled in the Himalayan mountains in India) during Bijoya Dashami, the tenth day of Durga Puja. All Puja festivals are celebrated by offering food, usually vegetarian food, to Hindu deities and sharing that blessed meal with family and friends. Bijoya is a little different in that it is one of those rare occasions when non-vegetarian food is served to family and friends.

Mum always cooked all festive meals herself. Daily meals were prepared by the kanchi (Nepali word for household help) because Mum worked as a professor at an all-girls' college. On weekends and holidays, she enjoyed cooking for us all and for any of her own and/or our friends who dropped by. On Bijoya Dashami she'd prepare this type of lamb/goat curry served with luchis (Bengali deep-fried white puffed bread).

Today is Bijoya Dashami and we had friends over for lunch. I made Kosha Mangsho the way I imagined Mum would have made it. It was served with steamed Basmati rice because I'd need the patience of Mum to make luchis.