Food in Bengal is delicious. Balance of flavours is a perfected art in the recipes. No one sense stands out even though strong condiments are used in recipes. Like a riot of autumn colours, there is a pleasurable burst of flavours with every spoon. Everyday meals constitute of lentil gravy locally called a Daal. There are many varities and the same type is never cooked on two consecutive days. However the Cholaar daal appears on special occasions and is never served with rice. Luchis(puffed fried bread) or Parathas(oiled pan friend flat bread) accompany the bowl of a savoury mildly sweet bowl of Cholaar daal.
Honestly, it is not an exotic recipe. Nor is it a complicated one. There are many already published. I still want to share my recipe. It is a hand me down from Ma who cooks like she dresses. Subtle, sophisticated, crisp and traditional are her aesthetics which all her food also reeks of.
My food word for this recipe would be celebratory.
When you go out shopping look for:
Gram daal or Cholaar daal
Dried red chilli
Red chilly powder
The recipe would be;
Take about half a kilo of the Cholaar daal, wash well and soak for half an hour. Then boil it with a full tall glass of water in a cooker and allow 3 whistles to go off to add to the cacophony of your kitchen. The outcome should be that the lentil pods should be boiled but not soggy and remain whole.
Next take one forth of a dry coconut, and scoop the fleshy white part out. Chop them into bits in small thin squares. Fry them in warm oil till light reddish gold. Do not allow the colour to be brown. Set aside.
Soak a handful of raisins in warm water in a small bowl. Keep aside.
In a warm wok, add a tbsp ghee and a tsp of oil. Next add a level tsp of dry cumin seeds and two broken dry red chillies. Next goes in three add whole green cardamom seeds, cloves and about half an inch of a cinnamon stick mildly bruised. Also add two dried bay leaves. Now add a chopped tomato. Stir well and add a level tsp of cumin powder. I do recommend a spoon from the the home-made bottle. To season further we now add salt to taste, a bit of grated ginger, turmeric powder for colour and red chilli powder for the kick. Mix well with a spatula. Add the coconut and the raisins. In another 2 minutes add the daal along with the water it was boiled in. Gently blend in some sugar to taste, about a level tsp and a pinch of garam masala powder.
A mild bubble and you are ready to pour into bowls. I love to be the first to help myself to a hot bowl without anything else.