It’s that time of the year when my beloved Calcutta looks and feels her best. It’s that time when her weather is crisp and cold, when people venture out in flocks to picnics, gardens, zoo; sweaters on, shawls wrapped and monkey caps in place: peeling oranges, playing badminton, revelling in Pulao and Kosha Mangsho. It’s that time of the year which Bengalis want to cling on to with all their might before it slips away to the scorching days of summer. It’s also that time of the year when almost all your “Ki korchho/kal ki plan?” (what are you doing/what plans for tomorrow?) questions to your mom at the end of the day are answered by “Kal omuk-er meye-r biye, sari thik korchhi.” (So and so’s daughter is getting married tomorrow. I’m deciding upon which sari to wear). Wedding and winter, in Calcutta at least, go hand in hand. The weather is perfectly suited for all the running around, decking up in your best tassar saris and gorging on Chicken ChaaNp and Mutton Biryani. Which brings me to my favourite part of winter: biyebari (wedding) food.
I absolutely adore biyebari food, and by that I don’t mean the Fish Fries, Mutton Rezalas and Ras Malais. I mean the Bhetki Maachher Paturi and Chitol Maachher Muithya of the Ai Buro Bhaat, I mean the Maachher Matha diye Dal and Shukto of the Gaaye Holud and I mean the “light” breakfasts of Luchi and this Aloo Gajorer Torkari. Yes, in Bengal we consider deep-fried luchis “light” as long as they are accompanied by tel-moshla-less (relatively oil and spice free) aloo-r torkari. I can have this dish anytime. It’s simple, it’s versatile (you can use any number of winter vegetables in it, or no vegetable at all but only potato), and as I said, it is light! This dish has home written all over it, and by home I mean my city, my Calcutta. Whenever I feel homesick in a gloomy and rainy Seattle, I whip up this simple dish. And because I don’t deep-fry at home, I eat it not with luchis but with steamed rice and this hearty Palak Dal.
Biyebari-r Aloo Gajorer Torkari | Potato Carrot SautePrint
- Potatoes, cubed and parboiled: 2 large
- Baby carrots, sliced longitudinally and steamed lightly: 10-12
- Peas, fresh or frozen: ½ cup
- Ginger paste: 1 tsp
- Green chillies, slit longitudinally: 3-4
- Nigella seeds/kalo jeere: 1 tsp
- Turmeric powder: 1 tsp
- Lime juice: 2 tsp
- Asafoetida/heeng: a pinch
- Mustard oil: 1 tsp
- Salt, to taste
- Sugar: ½ tsp
- In a kadhai/wok, heat the mustard oil. Add the nigella seeds. Once it splutters, add the slit green chillies, ginger paste and asafoetida.
- In 30 seconds or so,add the potatoes, carrots and saute for 3-4 minutes. Add the peas and continue to saute.
- Season with salt, sugar and a little bit of turmeric.
- Add a little bit of water and lemon juice, saute lightly and allow the veggies to blend well.
- Cover and cook for 10-15 minutes till all the vegetable are uniformly cooked but still retain their shape.
- Serve with luchi/paratha, or have as a side with rice and dal.