Monday, 4 January 2010

Shorshe chingri

Shorshe chingri. One of the easiest Bengali delicacies, and hence a staple at sudden big dinners thrown for sudden contingent of guests. I cannot begin to say how simple this dish is to make, and how utterly delicious. So for everyone who thinks Indian dishes are difficult, muhahaha! Your saviour is here.

I mean me, not shorshe chingri. Just in case you didn't get it.


Mustard seeds.
Salt, sugar.
Mustard oil, no substitution.
White prawns (shrimps, in America), shelled and veined. NO pre-cooked nonsense, thank you.
Potatoes, peeled and sliced as shown in picture below.
Pumpkin (kumro), peeled and seeded. Sliced like potatoes.

Note: I don't use the pumpkin in the US because the supermarkets do not carry anything labelled 'pumpkins'. I am told 'squash' is an acceptable substitute (which is strange since I thought pumpkin was a kind of gourd), but since there are many different kinds of squash, I'd be grateful if someone let me know which one is closest in taste to the pumpkin.

How to:

Grind the mustard seeds into a granular paste with salt and a little water. It is vital to add the salt, because mustard seeds turn bitter when pasted. The salt, for some biochemic reason beyond me, prevent this. The paste can be made in a food processor, a ten-dollar coffee grinder (you can grind salt and mustard together and add water later) or by hand in a mortar-and-pestle. We also add a couple of green chilies to the paste, but it might be too hot for some.

The American variant:
When the paste is done, taste it to how salty it is. Now, in a large piece of aluminium foil, place prawns, potatoe and pumpkin slices. Pour mustard oil liberally over them. Now spoon in generous amounts of mustard paste and mix everything well with your hands. Don't be finicky, spoons and forks cannot do this job quarter as well. If the paste wasn't salty enough, add some salt. Add a little sugar. If you like your food with a small amount of heat, add a few sliced green chilies.

Uncooked prawns and potatoes in mustard oil and paste.

Wrap the aluminium foil into a tight pack. Put it on a baking tray. Pop it in a preheated oven. Broil at around 400F for twenty minutes. If cooking larger amounts, do it in a covered baking dish coated with mustard oil. Take out and check if potatoes and prawns are well done. A fork should be able to cut through a prawn like a warm knife through butter, not merely go in easily. If not, put it back for another 5-7 minutes. And that's it.

Baked prawns and potatoes. Served in a fish-shaped serving dish.

The Indian variant:

Grease a thich tawa with mustard oil. Arrange the prawns and vegetables, well mixed with mustard paste and oil and salt and sugar, on this tawa. Cover with another tawa, a suitable dish cover, anything that seals off all steam escape route. Now slow-cook over a low flame. Be sure to grease the tawa well, or the lower layer of prawns and potatoes will char. This can be pulled off in a cast-iron flat-bottomed saucepan, too. Don't use the teflon coated nonsense. They're too thin, and unless insanely expensive, tend to flake.

Bhaat, shorshe chingri, kNachalonka


Dhruva said...

I normally leave the gourd out of this. Also, when I am feeling upto it, I add the mustard oil in two phases, which works wonderfully for the taste as well as texture. I also always add longitudinally halved chillies, because other than the hotness, which can be regulated, chillies add a flavour which cannot be substituted with much else. If chillies are too hot for anyone, I recommend keeping them soaked in milk for several days before using them, but please do not get rid of them from this preparation altogether.

Rimi said...

Absolutely right re. green chillies. And we ALSO add mustard oil in two phases BUT, that is a little too jhaaNjwala for most people :-(

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the recipes and cooking tips. Just wanted to say that I have used butternut squash as a substitute for 'kumro' and it seems to work fine!


Rimi said...

Thanks! I'll try that next time. I owe you one :D

kaichu said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
kaichu said...

wait, so bolchhis non stick pan/korai use nahin karneko? ami toh shob ranna non stick bashone kori. including saucepans. flake kore na toh!

and ami konodino kumro diye shorshe machh/chngri khai ni. (also, i loathe kumro, but that's another matter altogether) alu diyeo na, for that matter. just machh/chingri, but i guess the method is similar. kintu i am cursed with this particular dish. i CANNOT make it properly. something ALWAYS blooody goes wrong... i have NO idea why.

but i shall try again and again. but can you update your post with the du-bar kore shorsher tel deoa variaton? ami chesta korte chai.

Rimi said...

It's simple. Namanor aage ektu kNacha tel choriye abar dhaka diye de. It will cook even in the absence of a flame, because the fish and vegetables are positively exothermic at this point.

Byas, all done.

nibz said...

khub bhoy bhoy oven er version ta try the outcome was excellent....thank u very much for sharing the recipe :)