Tuesday, 16 February 2010

Aloo-begooner jhol (potatoe&brinjal curry)

Quintessential Bengali comfort food.

Brinjals (eggplants)--diced into semicircular pieces. 'Boat-shaped', in Bengali.
Potatoes--diced similarly.
Kalo (black) jeera.
Coriandar/cumin--dry-ground to a fragrant powder.
Salt, sugar.
Mustard oil.
Green chillies (optional).

Rub the brinjal slices with turmeric and a little salt and sugar. Fry them in enough oil to drown each piece. This way of deep frying is called dooba-tele bhaja, or 'frying in drowable quantities of oil'. If it isn't fried this way, the brinjal will be papery and burnt, rather than deliciously fried. Keep the fried pieces aside.

That last pic is what happens when you don't watch the bubblies in the wok. However, brinjals also absord great quantities of oil, so keep pressing each piece while frying, to ooze the extra oil out. For proof, see wok-sequence below.

Pic. 1. Brinjals have soaked up all the oil.
Pic. 2.
Pressing the pieces with a spatula makes the oil slowly ooze out.
Pic 3. Which is enough to fry the brinjals in, without adding more oil.

Now lightly fry the potatoes. This is so they hold their flavour and don't taste like boiled potatoes later. When the potatoes are nicely browned and somewhat softened, keep them aside as well.

Now in the korai or skillet, heat a small amount of oil. Wait till the mustard oil loses its rich golden colour and turns white-gold. Turn the flame completely down, because the change of colour often involves overheated oil. Add the black jeera. Once you can smell the seasoning, add the potatoes and brinjals and fold in well.

Now, add the jeer/cumin powder, and a little less of the coriander powder. Now fold the spices well with the vegetables. Once they've been (somewhat) evenly mixed, add water and turn the heat up. Add salt and sugar. Mix them in. Now cover and let cook for a few minutes. Make sure the water doesn't dry out and char your jhol. Add green chillies if you wish.

Test to see if the potatoes have been cooked by forking one through the middle (pic). Eat with boiled white rice.

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