I 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.