Radhaballabhi makes Sarika nostalgic. She recalls foodie Bengalis enjoy these and other eatables during Durga Puja. Interestingly, it brings back memories of her wedding. Read more, including its recipe, in the weekly column, exclusively in Different Truths.
It is an open secret that Bengalis are foodies. And Durga Puja is a perfect example. Recently, we returned from Gujrat and Rajasthan trip and realised that when other states are celebrating Navratri by fasting every day for nine days, we Bengalis totally enjoy our lives with fish fries, mutton and egg rolls and Mughlai Paratha, Radhaballabhi (kachori), Chicken Kosha, and fish cutlet, which is mandatory. For us, fasting is restricted until Pushpanjali (offering flowers with the chanting of mantras). Some people also offer Pushpanjali after a light breakfast. Our Gods and Goddesses are very kind and adjustable like our Maa (mother) and Baba (father). During Puja, we Bengalis literally eat like there’s no tomorrow. We also almost don’t cook during those four days. Afternoon lunch, we eat bhog and evenings are spent in the stalls or restaurants.
Next month, I am going to celebrate our 13th wedding anniversary! You must be thinking why suddenly I am talking about my wedding while talking about food. The reason is that food and Bengali weddings – anniversaries included – are inseparable. All Bengali rituals and festivities end up with fiddly prepared food. According to Manashamangal by Narayan Deb, at the wedding of Behula, around 12 types of fishes and five varieties of meat were cooked, so it is evident that foodie Bengalis never leave any occasion without food.
So I was talking about the wedding. The moment any wedding dates are fixed, we start talking about the detailed food menu. It was same for my wedding too. Since the wedding venue was far away from my own home, so Baba arranged another party for the people of our hometown, where I grew, which was many years ago, on the 4th of December 2004. On the next day, we were heading for our honeymoon to Nepal and accidentally on the same day Assam Bandh-strike was declared by a political group. The entire family was tensed. Finally, Baba and few uncles got special permission from government authorities and everything went on smoothly. Because of that incident, till today Mrinal tells that he missed the scrumptious food of that night. And Radhaballabhi was one of the tastiest items according to the guests at the party. No wonder, it makes me nostalgic…
Lentil stuffed deep fried bread or Radhaballabhi with Dum Aloo
For Radhaballabhi’s dough
- All-purpose flour: 2 cups
- Salt to taste
- Oil: 1 tbsp for kneading
- Warm water/milk: ½ a cup
- Urad dal: 1 cup
- Cumin and fennel seeds: ½ tsp each
- Bhaja masala or dry roasted powder: 1 tsp (dry roast one Kashmiri red chill, a teaspoon cumin powder and fennel seed powder and grind them in a coffee grinder to a fine powder.)
- Ginger: 1 inch
- Sugar: as per the taste
- Salt to taste
- Oil: 1 tbsp
- Green chillies: 1 tsp chopped
- Oil for deep frying the Kachori
For spicy Dum Aloo
- Potatoes (boiled) preferably baby potatoes 250 gm
- Tomato purees 2-3 tbsp.
- Roasted cumin powder: 1 tsp.
- Roasted chili powder: 1 tsp.
- Roasted coriander powder: ½ tsp.
- Turmeric powder: ½ tsp.
- Salt and sugar to taste
- Oil: 2tbsp
- Cloves, cinnamon, and green cardamom: 2-3 pieces
To make the lentil stuffing we need to wash properly and soak the lentil overnight.
In a mixer grinder, add the ginger piece, green chillies, and salt.
Grind to a medium-fine paste.
In a pan, heat the oil. Add the cumin and fennel seeds and let it splutter
Add the lentil paste, stir it gentle hands. Mix in the sugar, roasted powder, check for the salt and stir it softly on very low heat, till the lentil paste incorporates the spices and flavours well.
This will take a few minutes.
Then let it cool, and keep separately.
Again mix it softly, and divide it into small balls.
Procedure for Radhaballabhi Dough
In a wide bowl, sift the flour with little salt.
Mix and, rub the oil well with the flour until it resembles breadcrumbs.
Add the warm water or milk gradually and knead the dough
Make sure dough should be stiff but pliable dough.
Cover the dough with damp kitchen towel
Let it rest for an hour.
Procedure for Dum Aloo
Peel and clean the boiled potatoes.
Mix pinch of turmeric and salt.
Heat the mustard oil in the pan.
Add the cloves, cinnamon and green cardamom.
Wait till it sizzles.
Now, add the potatoes, and fry lightly on medium heat till they get the golden brown.
Add the roasted cumin powder, roasted chilli powder, roasted coriander powder and mix properly.
Add tomato and ginger paste.
Fry it on high heat and stir continuously.
Add sugar and salt to taste.
Lower the heat, add little or around half a cup of warm water,
Now, cover it and cook for another five to six minutes.
Once we get desired consistency take it off the heat.
Serve hot with Radhaballabhis.
Procedure for Radhaballabhi
Knead lightly the dough for 2 to 3 minutes.
Divide the dough into equal small ball size.
Flatten the dough ball slightly in the palm, place the lentil stuffing in the center, and fold the edges and reshape it into a ball.
And flatten the ball like roti and now roll it out into a circle, carefully as fillings are inside.
Heat the oil in a deep bottom pan, carefully drop it into hot oil and fry one at a time, turn once when required.
Remove the Radhaballabhi (kachori) from the hot oil and drain them on paper towel.
Serve immediately with hot and spicy Dum Aloo.
©Sarika Sarkar Das
Photos by the author
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A teacher, day dreamer, random experimental cook and some hit and miss photography, and at last love to call myself a full time mother.