Kumror chhakka : Pumpkin sixer



“Why is it called a Chhakka , ma?”, asked my ten year old son quite a few summers back. I must say I was caught off guard and did not have a proper answer for him. After all why is it called a ” Chhakka”? Now as we know that Chhakka or sixer is a score, be it in a game of cricket or ludo.


For those of you unfamiliar with the above games, it is like an ace score, a home run? And why not, in the culinary world the sweet pumpkin with a few choice spices takes this very homey dish to an ” ace” for sure.


What ever the story, this is like a comfort food in our household. A few pooris and “kumror Chhakka ” can be a Sunday breakfast, or with some rice it is an excellent side.

Give it a try friends. Here is the recipe,

Recipe; Adapted from Bong mom’s cookbook with some changes.

Serves four as a side.


Pumpkin cut in cubed  ( I used frozen )                   2 cups

Potatoes cut in 1/2 inch cube                                1 cup

Kala Chana ( cooked )                                           1/3 cup

Fenugreek seeds                                                  1/2 tsp

Asafoetida ( heeng )                                             1/4 tap

Dry red chillies                                                     2-3

Grated ginger                                                     1 tsp

Cumin powder                                                   1/2 tsp

Coriander powder                                               1/2 tsp

Turmeric powder                                                 1/2 tsp

Green chillies                                                        2-3

Jaggery powder                                                  1 tsp

Ghee                                                                   1/2 tsp

Garam masala                                                     1/4 tsp

Salt to taste

Canola oil                                                            2 Tbsp


Dry roast the cumin and coriander powder.

Take the canola oil in a wok on medium high heat. Add the fenugreek seeds, heeng and dry red chillies. Saute for about ten seconds, throw in the potatoes. Add turmeric powder and fry till golden. Add the cumin and coriander powder, grated ginger, couple slit green chillies. Sprinkle a bit of water so that the spices do not get burnt.

Add the squash pieces. Saute for a few minutes, add the salt and jaggery. Cover and cook till done. Add the cooked  kala chana. Throw in the ghee and garam masala. Put the gas off. Keep it covered for few minutes.

Enjoy with rice or pooris.



Chochori: Sauteed vegetables


IMG_1649I remember my teenage daughter ask me one time, what does “Chochori”, mean? Now as we know it is a very homey, dish of sauteed vegetables. Remember the day you clean the fridge? You find the leftover beans, half cauliflower, the eggplant threatening to dry up if not used that day, that is when you start making Chochori.

That is all true. But that still doesn’t account for the name. Well such is the nature of Chochori that it welcomes all kinds of veggies. The firm ones like potatoes, carrots, the medium ones like beans, cauliflowers, soft ones like squashes, eggplants. There are a few must haves though like the stems of the cauliflower, I include celery sticks if I happen to have them. I strongly believe this is where the name comes from, Think about the noise it makes when you chew on these stems…..


On a serious note, Chochori has a secured a soft spot in the Bengali heart. It is an excellent way of getting the required  quota of vegetable for the day. Be generous with the mustard oil though. After all, the success of Chochori depends heavily on ‘the runny nose” feeling from the  strong  smell of  ‘First pressed” mustard oil.

Recipe: Serves 6 as a side.

Try to have a medley of the firm, softer and very soft veggies.

Potato cut in thick julienne                                   1 cup

Carrots cut similarly                                             1 cup

Cauliflower florets                                                 1 cup

Eggplants cut in julienne                                       1 cup

Squash cut as above                                            1 cup

Cauliflower stem, celery stick cut similar                  1 cup

Mustard oil                                                            4 tbsp

Mustard powder                                                   1 tbsp

Salt to taste

Jaggery                                                               1 tbsp

Five spice                                                             1 tsp

Dry red chilly                                                           1

Turmeric powder                                                     1/2 tsp


In a microwave safe bowl put the stems and celery and cook for 5 minutes.

In a wok add 2 tbsp mustard oil on high heat. Add the five spice and chilly, saute till it changes colour. Add the firm veggies like potato and carrot, saute for few minutes. Next add the cauliflower florets and stems and beans, cook for few minutes, finally add the eggplant and squash. Add salt, jaggery, turmeric powder, cover and cook till the veggies are done. No water is added, careful that the veggies do not burn, a few sprinkle of water if needed .

When the veggies are all cooked add the mustard powder. Mix everything together. Finish off by adding the 2 tbsp of mustard oil.

Tweak to your taste. This dish gives a lot of leeway, to adjust to your taste.

Goes well with plain white rice.

Note: Five spice a very typical Bengali mixture of equal amounts of Nigella seeds, Cumin seeds, Fenugreek seeds, Mustard and Fennel seeds.

Gatte ke subzi : Vegetarian sausage curry; GF


IMG_1451Rajasthan in India is a province which has desert like climate. With very little rainfall, there is a scarcity of fresh produce. The local cuisine has evolved around it, relying less on vegetables, but managing the protein etc intake from alternative sources.

IMG_1442“Gatte  ke Subzi” is one such special dish from Rajasthan. Chick pea flour is kneaded with a variesty of spices into these locks, which are then boiled and fried gently.

IMG_1443These are made into a curry, which can be enjoyed either with piping hot rice or handmade rotis or flatbrads.

IMG_1445I must admit I am fairly new to this curry, was introduced to this only in my adult life. Look at the versatility of the use of legume and beans in Indian cooking. Not only are they used to make Dals, or salads, but grind them in powder, make them in “Gatte”, or shape them round to make sun dried :Vadi:, or even roll them paper thin into Papad:. The possibilities are endless.

IMG_1457Recipe: Serves 4 as a side dish.


For the Gatta (Sausage ),

Besan ( chick pea flour )                                              1cup

Cumin seeds                                                               1/2 tsp

Aniseeds ( saunf )                                                         1/4 tsp

Carom seeds ( ajwain )                                                 1/2 tsp

Coriander ( dhania ) seeds                                            1/4 tsp

Turmeric powder                                                           1/4 tsp

Red chiily powder                                                           1/4 tsp

Salt                                                                                 1 tsp

Ghee                                                                               1 tbsp

Oil                                                                                     1 tbsp

Water                                                                                 2 tbsp

Yoghurt                                                                              3 tbsp

For the gravy;

Cumin seeds                                                                   1 tsp

asafoetida ( heeng )                                                          1/4 tsp

Dried red chilly                                                                  2

Ginger grated                                                                    1 tsp

Tomato                                                                              2, made into puree

Turmeric powder                                                                 1/2 tsp

Coriander powder                                                               11/2 tsp

Red chillly powder                                                              1 tsp

Yoghurt                                                                              2 Tbsp

Kasuri methi ( dried fenugreek leaves )                               1 tbsp

Cilantro                                                                             1 tsp


For the Gatte,

Coarse grind the seeds. In a bowl take the besan, add the crushed seeds, all the powders as listed, ghee, salt, oil and yoghurt. Mix with greased hands then add water little by little to make it into a nice dough. Let it sit for 10 minutes. Knead a few more times with greased hand and cut in four balls. Shape each one into cylinders, like in the picture above, about 4 inches long.

In a sauce pan bring a litre of water to a rolling boil. Add the locks one by one.  Let it cook for 10-12 minutes. these will rise up and have blisters on its skin. Put the gas off. Collect these, let it cool. Cut them in half inch pieces and fry them in very hot oil for about two minutes. Collect on kitchen towel. Save the boiled water for gravy.

For the gravy,

Take 2 tbsp oil in a pan on high heat. Add the dry chilly, cumin seeds and heeng, saute till the cumin seeds get a light colour. Add the ginger paste, saute for another minute. Add the tomato puree, turmeric, red chilly powder, coriander powder and add about 2 tbsp of the saved boiled water from before. Crank the heat down to medium high and keep stirring until all the water evaporates. Bring the heat down to low now. Add the whisked yoghurt and keep stirring for 3-4 minutes. Add the rest of the saved boiled water , salt and the fried “Gatte”pieces. Cover and cook for 5 minutes. Garnish with Kasuri methi and cilantro.

Serve with rice or roti.

I feel we should be able to freeze the fried Gatte pieces. This will give a head start for the day of, cook the gravy and throw these in and bring it to boil.


Skinless moong beans with bottle gourd: Moong dal with lauki


IMG_1269In a matter of weeks, the world has turned upside down. Who would have thought that we would witness this pandemic first hand. Countries are in lockdown, social distancing is the key word of late.

We are all mindful of the food we cook for our family. Something that can be put together easily without pinching the pocket, that will be healthy and will mostly use pantry staples.


Dal aka lentils or beans are a must in any Indian pantry. These are rich in proteins, the skin on ones are extra high in fibre, not mega pricey, making them a staple food for the masses.

There are innumerable ways to cook Dal. It could be spicy or bland, sweetish or sweet and sour. Throw in some seasonal vegetables, it can be an almost one pot meal with a side of either rice or bread.

IMG_1271 Today”s recipe is one that uses minimum spices, the bottle gourd adds extra nutrients, elevating this homey dish to a five star one.

When goings are tough don’t we all look for something like this?

Recipe; Serves 4 as side.


Skinless moong dal                                                  one cup

Bottle gourd                                                             one medium

Cooking oil                                                               1 Tbsp

Ghee                                                                         11/2 Tbsp

Grated ginger                                                            1 Tbsp

Turmeric powder                                                        1 tsp

Cumin seeds                                                               1 tsp

Salt to taste

Dried red chillies                                                            2

Green chillies                                                                 2 sliced ( optional )

Jaggery                                                                           1 tsp


Dry roast the moong dal on medium heat till very lightly coloured, add the oil and fry for another minute. Add a cup of water, cook till half done. Add water as needed, the dish is neither runny nor solid.

Wash the bottle gourd and cut in thin slices ( about half a cm ). Throw in these to the half cooked dal, also add the turmeric powder, jaggery and grated ginger, salt, green chillies and continue cooking till the gourd and dal are cooked, not mushy. Both the dal and gourd should hold shape. Put the gas off.

In a separate pan, heat the ghee, when hot throw in the dried red chillies, cumin seeds, wait till it gets light brown in colour, add this on to the dal.

Adjust salt to taste and enjoy with rice.


Sauteed Amaranth leaves: Notey shaag



There are foods, and then there are superfoods. With a storehouse of phytonutrients, vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and fibres, Amaranth leaves belong to the superfood family.


Cooked in salads, soups, stews there are so many ways of enjoying these leaves. In Bengali cooking gentle sauteing  the Notey shaag with minimum spices is common. Served as a first course, it is enjoyed with a side of warm rice.

Here is the recipe of these humble Amaranth leaves.

How do you cook these leaves? Would love to hear from you. Leave a comment for me below. Thank you.

Recipe: Serves 4


Amaranth leaves                           500 gms

Mustard oil                                  3 tbsps

Nigella seeds                             1 tsp

Dried red chillies                          2

Fresh green chiliies                      2

Garlic pods (Sliced)                      3

Salt                                            to taste

Method ;

Wash the leaves thoroughly and chop them fine. Take the mustard oil in a deep bottomed pan on high heat. Add the nigella seeds, dried red chillies, saute for a few seconds and then add the green chillies and slices of garlic. saute again for a few seconds, making sure not to burn the garlic slices.Throw the leaves in, cover and cook for about 7 to 8 minutes till done. Sprinkle salt, give it a nice mix.

Enjoy with hot rice and a side of mustard sauce aka kasundi.

Gobi Roast: Roasted Cauliflower, GF


By  Ratna


I  always  struggle  with  the  side  dish.  The  main  dish  is  easy  to  pick,  the  carb  follows  the  main  dish,  dessert  is  good  with  whatever  you  choose.  That  leaves  us  with  a  side.  What  is  that  going  to  be.

While  growing  up  it  would  be  easy,  whatever  was  available  in  the  season.  Eggplant,  Okra  in  the  summer.  Cauliflower,  Turnip  and  other  root  vegetables  in    winter.  Hawkers  would  sell  door  to  door.  The  wooden  cart  neatly  arranged,  they  would  call  out  their  wares.  There  would  be  others  who  would  tinkle  their  bells.  They  all  came  by  at  a  fixed  time.  I  remember  at  times  anxiously  waiting  for  the  familiar  call.  Its  something  like  the  ice  cream  truck’s  music  here  in  the  west.

untitledThings  have  changed  since.  The  season  is  not  a  hindrance  anymore.  Thanks  to  modren  technology,  produce  from  Peru  or  Ecuador  can  be  at  our  doorstep  in  no  time.  We  are  spoilt  with  choices.  Eggplant  and  Cauliflower  could  be  rubbing  shoulders  in  my  refrigerator.


Coming  back  to  the  recipe,  I  love  when  part  of  the  dish  can  be  finished  in  the  oven.  That  seems  to  free  up  valuable  time.  The  beauty  of  this  recipe  is  you  can  crank  up  the  spices  or  go  for  a  ‘less  fiery’  option.

Friends  do  you  have  hard  time  deciding  the  side  dish?  I’d  love  to  hear  from  you.  Please  leave  me  a  comment..



Cauliflower                                                         1  large

Onion                                                                  1/2  cup  chopped

Garlic                                                                  3  cloves

Ginger                                                                  1/2  inch

Tomatoes                                                            2  small

Canola  oil                                                           4  Tbsps

Salt                                                                      To  taste

Coriander  powder                                                1  tsp

Cumin  powder                                                       1  tsp

Turmeric  powder                                                    1/2  tsp

Cilantro                                                                   1/2  cup  chopped

Bay  leaf                                                                  1

Cardamom  pods                                                   2-3,  crushed

Green  chilli                                                             2  (  optional  )


Pre  heat  oven  to  350  F

Wash  the  cauliflower,  leave  it  whole  or  divide  it  in  two.  Sprinkle  salt  and  turmeric,  keep  aside.

Put  the  onion,  garlic,  ginger,  tomatoes  and  chilli  if  using,  in  a  blender  and  make  a  fine  paste.

Take  a  deep  bottom  pan  with  a  Tbsp  oil  on  high  heat.  Put  the  bay  leaf  and  cardamom  pods  in  it,  as  soon  as  the  pods  crackle  add  the  cauliflower.  Fry  for  a  minute  or  two  until  it  gets  a  light  brown  colour.  Take  it  out  of  the  pan.

Add  2  Tbsps  oil  in  the  same  pan  and  add  the  onion  paste.  Throw  in  the  cumin,  coriander  powder.  Check  the  salt,  add  more  if  needed  now.  Saute  the  Masala  or  spice  paste  on  medium  heat  until  the  oil  separates  from  the  mixture,  about  8-9  minutes.  Put  the  gas  off.  Smear  this  mixture  all  over  the  cauliflower.

Take  an  oven  safe  vessel  and  add  1  Tbsp  oil.  Seat  the  cauliflower  in  it.  Cover  and  bake  for  30  minutes.

Garnish  with  cilantro  and  serve  hot.

Inside  Scoop;

Please  do  not  get  put  off  by  the  long  list  of  ingredients.  A  small  collection  of  these  spices  in  your  pantry  can  come  handy  in  many  Indian  recipes.

While  frying  the  spice  mixture,  keep  stirring  so  it  doesn’t  stick  to  the  bottom  of  the  pan.

Sauted Potato and peanuts : Aloo aur moongphali Ki Sukhi Subji


By Ratna

Sauteed potato-17

Have  you  noticed  how  sometimes  ordinary  things  can  become  extraordinary?  Things  that  otherwise  wouldn’t  be  noticed  or  talked  about  or  even  given  a  moment’s  thought,  can  sometimes  be  the  one  we  look  at  with  dreamy  eyes.

Sauteed potato-4

Sauteed potato-3

Now  opening  the  window  to  let  some  air  in,  isn’t  exactly  an  exotic  act,  by  any  standards,  we  all  agree.  But  when  the  window  had  to  be  kept  closed  for  the  last  five  months,  when  the  window  was  the  only  barrier  between  our  warm  self  and  the  hostile  elements  outside,   then  one  fine  morning,  voilla,   the  nature  decides  to  be  kind  to  us,  the  temperatures  struggle  above  zero,  that  first  whiff  of  the  cold  air  from the  open  window  touching  the  cheek.  Now  this  could  qualify  for  a  memorable  event.

Sauteed potato-2

The  warmer  temperatures  is  working  magic  on  my  surroundings  too.  The  geese  and  gulls  are  back  scouting  for  the  best  spot  to  nest.  It  doesn’t  matter  that  the  lakes  are  still frozen.  The  leaf  buds  are  swollen  too.

Sauteed potato-15

This  brings  us  to  our  dish  for  today.  Potato  isn’t  exactly  ‘The  king  of  vegetables’,  is  it ?    It  is  a  very  basic,  rustic,  ‘just  there’,  everyday  source  of  carbs.    That  can  be  changed  though.  Try  this  flavourful  dish  from  Gujrat,  a  province  in  Western    India.

Sauteed potato-16

The  crunch  from  the  peanuts  balances  the  mushy-ness  of  the  potatoes.  Then  there  is  the  sour,  sweet,  salty  and  heat  working  all  together,  as  a  team.  The  four  different  tastes  kept  under  a  tight  leash.  Not  one  of  them  get  to  show  their  true  colours.    The delicate  flavours  from  the  cilantro  and  cumin  seeds  add  interest  to  the  dish.

Ordinary  to  exciting.

It  is  a  good  thing.

Recipe:  Serves  6-8  as  a  side.


Potato                                                                          Six  medium

Ginger                                                                          One  inch  grated

Peanuts                                                                       Three  quarter  cup,  coarse  ground

Curry leaves                                                                8-10

Coriander leaves                                                         Quarter  cup  chopped

Sesame  seeds                                                           One  Tbsp

Cumin  seeds                                                            One  tsp

Cloves                                                                       6-8

Green chillies                                                             Four,  finely  chopped

Salt                                                                           To  taste

Lemon juice                                                             One   Tbsp

Canola oil                                                                 Two  Tbsp

Paneer cubes                                                            One  cup,  cubed,  lightly  fried  (optional)

Raisins                                                                     One  tbsp

Black  pepper  powder                                            One  pinch


Boil  the  potatoes,  peel  and  cut  them  in  half  inch  cubes.  Sprinkle  some  salt  and  keep  it  aside.

Heat  oil  in  a  pan  on  high. Add  the  green  chilli  pieces,  ginger  and  curry  leaves.  Crank  the  heat  down  to  medium.  Saute  for  a  few  minutes  then  add  the  cumin  seeds  and  cloves.  Wait  for  the  cumin  seeds  to  have  a  bit  of  colour,  then  add  the  peanuts.  Keep  stirring  till  the  nuts  are  light  brown  in  colour.  Next throw  in  the  sesame  seeds  and  raisins  ,  fry  for  a  few  seconds  and  add  the  lemon  juice.  The  seeds  should  not  be  burnt.

Next  add  the  potato  pieces.  If  using   Paneer,  add  them  now.  Stir  to  bring  everything  together.  Taste  to  check  the  salt.  Throw  in  a  large  pinch  of  black  pepper,  garnish  with  cilantro  pieces.

Inside  Scoop;

This  is  a  recipe  given  to  me  by  my  good  friend  Rohini.

Check  for  a  balance  of  flavours,  do  not  hesitate  to  titrate  it  to  your  taste.  We  are  looking  for  a  balance  of  salt,  sour,  sweet  and  hot.  If  you  are  not  too  keen  about  the  chillies,  lessen  or  omit  them.  The  ginger  and  black  pepper  will  impart  a  bit  of  heat  anyway.

This  can  be  served  as  a  side  dish  with  either  Roti  (  Indian  flat  bread ),  Poori  ( Indian  fried  bread  ),  or  rice.  Adding  Panner  cubes  to  this  dish  can  add  the  protein  and  elevate  this  dish  to  a  main  course.

I  only  had  red  chillies  today,  so  used  them.

Paneer  is  a  form  of  cheese  that  is  available  in  Indian  grocery  store  or  even  in  the  World  food  section  of  Superstore.