Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Khosa Charchari/ A Dry Dish with Vegetable Peels


My Dida(maternal Grandmother) was a very Decent and well mannered lady and was an excellent cook.  She was very modern yet practical,. When I was leaving for my higher studies, against my Parent’s wish she advised me to find a man I like. I can very well remember she told Maa ‘Let her live her own life, I have full faith on this girl. She will never let us down”. In a middle class Bengali household that’s not something you will hear every day but she was way ahead of her time. She had a very distressing childhood as she lost her father before birth. Her mother whom we lovingly called Pachama lived with her brothers and brought them up on whatever meager means she had. Dida got this sense of pride from her and later many a time she remembered those days with twinkling eyes. At that time neither their fund nor the society in a village permitted higher education of a girl child. Dida couldn’t attend school for long and was married at a very young age. My Dadu or Maternal Grandfather was an officer with The Forest Dept and at that early period of his career he was mostly posted to jungles. Dida and her three children had to tag along wherever he went. During this time she started to experiment with food more for necessity than of passion. In a jungle a decent shop selling normal grocery and vegetables was a distant dream and so was a refrigerator. She later told us it was only once in a month when Dadu travelled to Sadar (big city) and brought all household items. For fruits and vegetables they had to depend upon the local tribes who sometime brought wild varieties of potatoes, greens or berries. The thing that was abundant was meat of any kind. So Dida started experimenting with whatever items she had to feed her family a round meal.

When I grew up sometimes I got amazed with the variety of food she could cook with equal perfection. Be it fish fry, roast, cakes, jams n pickles, wadi, soups or normal Bengali everyday meal just one touch of her would have incorporated a wow factor to it. Still today my Paternal Aunts fondly recollect the amazing taste of her normal pumpkin curry. But the striking factor was her knowledge and use of ingredients. She cooked with bamboo shoots (now a days because of the globalization this is common to us), soft white inner skin of tender coconut or wild oranges and came up with innovative yet amazingly tasty dishes like onion kheer (which my Hubby always wants me to try), daber Dalna (young Coconut in gravy) or kamla tak (sour fish dish with wild oranges). Often she came up with surprising pairing of ingredients which we would not think of normally. Once when we reached Mamabari (maternal uncle’s house) at a very late afternoon they already had their lunch and she wasn’t having much vegetable at her kitchen to feed five of us. So she went to the garden, brought some very tender ridge gourds and cooked with raw jackfruit. I still drool at the taste of the curry. I believe the kumro posto’r chutney was also her invention but am not sure as she never talked about it. She never wasted anything. She dry roasted pumpkin, jack fruit or watermelon seeds for us kids to munch on between meals. Apart from her culinary skills she was well known of her friendly nature and carried herself stunningly. Not much educated but she mingled with very educated colleagues of Dadu with ease. She loved sarees and her trunk was like a treasure trove for us. I attended all my exams wearing her sarees and considered her to be my lucky charm. My Maa and Masimoni (maternal aunt) is carrying her skills and ….in a good way. Ma who is extremely busy with her work still finds time to cook our favorite dishes, sits when we eat and insist on a second helping. She always remembers to make pithe on Poush Sankranti or payes on our birthdays. Believe this is the way traditions are kept alive and runs from one generation to the next.

I was very fond of Dida but never had time to discuss recipes with her. I owe her everything, be it this quality of cooking and feeding with love or whatever cooking ideas or skills I have today. Whenever I try out a new dish I think of her fondly. The way she sat on the kitchen verandah, checked the spices, scolded the maid for not cutting the fish properly and cooked in her clay oven, it’s her who inspires me and shows me way as my guardian angel.

This dish that I tried today was her specialty but none of us knew what spices she used. Maa or Masimoni never cooked this but they always remembered how Dida threw in this and that and made this mouth watering dry curry. This was a common dish in villages where poor villagers mostly widows cooked even the peels to add another side dish for the rice. This is a normal everyday dish and is best eaten with steamed rice.

This time I am giving approaximate measurement as I had stored peels for 3-4 days and then made this dish. Also I peeled the vegetable skins thicker than normal to add more taste.

Khosha Charchari
Ingredients:
Pumpkin peel: finely chopped; ½ cup
Bottle gourd Peel: finely chopped; ½ cup
Potato skin: ½ cup
Eggplant: 2” piece, thinly sliced
Potato: 1 very small
Onion: 1 small; sliced
Mustard and poppy seeds paste (2:1): 11/2 tbsp
Dry red chillies: 2 pieces
Panchforon: ½ tsp
Prawn or lentil wadi: 3-4 pieces
Mustard Oil: 11/2 tbsp
Salt
turmeric

Method:
Chop the vegetable as finely as possible. Wash and drain the water.

If using prawn fry it for a minute with salt and turmeric and blend with mustard, poppy seeds and 1 dry chilli. Otherwise fry the wadis and keep aside.

Heat 1 tbsp oil in a pan and temper with Panchforon and dry red chilli. When it’s lightly brown and aromatic add the sliced onion. Fry for a couple of minutes then tip in the veggies with salt and turmeric.

Mix and cover. Let it cook on low till all the juices dries up and veggies lose the crunch.

Add the spice paste and stir fry on low until it’s soft. Add the wadis in this stage if using. Sprinkle some water in between if it becomes too dry or stick to bottom.

When the veggies are soft and spice coats evenly add ½ tbsp reserved oil and again give it a good stir for a minute.

Serve hot on a bed of steamed rice.

27 comments:

ruchikacooks said...

amazing woman, your grandma..Strong woman with strong faith and values..

This recipe is new to me..vegetable peels back into cooking..

Siri said...

that was a very soulful post sayantani...reminded me of my grandmom :) very inventive curry..I must say.

Wishing you and your family a very happy new year 2010.

Siri

Jhonny walker said...

Hi Sayantani,

I know what you say when you say your dida could turn any common dish into a wow thing..I totally connect with it.

your khosha chacchari is lovely..I never had it before..jus heard about it...seems easy to do as well

oo...great picture too :)

Pavani said...

Nice written post.. Loved reading abt your dida, reminded me of my paternal grandmother who raised 6 kids after my grand-dad passed away.
Curry looks absolutely delicious & extremely creative..

Wish you and your family a very happy New Year.

Priya said...

SUch a fantastic grandma..well written..vegetable peels curry looks fantastic..

Sarah Naveen said...

Excellent pics....This is new to me..Looks so yummy!!!
Happy New year to you and your Family

Gulmohar said...

You must be proud to have a granny like this..This reminded me of mine :-)We make a dry dish with banana peel and lentils, but this combo is new to me..Thanks for sharing !

indosungod said...

I like your dida just by reading what you have written about her. People of the earth so to speak.
This dry dish looks delicious.

Madhu said...

I never made anything with the peels, recipes sound delicious.

Indrani said...

Khosha charchari amar bhisan priyo..our bengali cuisine, full of nutritious dishes, thanks for featuring it..tomar dida is so fantastic woman...chokhe jal ese gelo pare, amar dida-ke miss karchi khub, she is sick, just got to know

notyet100 said...

umm platter looks yum,..;-)wish u happy new yr 2009,..;-)

sangeeta said...

a completely nostalgia filled post ...loved reading about your dida !!
your pictures have turned out awesome!!

Gouri Guha said...

Sayantani, your khosa chorchori brings back memories...I love this and cook this dish at times.
Thanks for sharing.

...and keep smiling...

Sushma Mallya said...

Was so nice knowing your grand mom through your post,and coming to the recipe,quiet an interesting one using peels of vegetables..looks simple yet a very delicious one for sure...And wish u and your family a very happy new year

Kanchan said...

Wow !! I love anything with leftover management and especially if it also covers the normal wastes !!
You used the peels of veggie, so inspirational !
This is bookmarked !!

Ushnish Ghosh said...

Dear Sayantani
Great !! You come out with dishes which take me down the memory lane to those great old days.!!
I would love to make it, only problem is to get the Khosa. (I always have lot of Lau khosa preserved in fridge, because when my elder daughter comes she immediately demands that!!)
I am going to make it..actually I was guessing around what spice to use for a similar vege dish!! I will use this spicing system
Subho Naba barsho tomader sabike
Ushnishda

Home Cooked Oriya Food said...

wow - amazing grandmom and amazing dish...
I loved the bati tarkari so much...
Lovely clicks too...

Sayantani said...

@All, thanks a lot for your encouaraging comments. eversince I made this post am really missing her.
this type of food was her signature style am glad that you all are appreciating.
@Somoo, welcome back. hope to see you present some more authentic oriya food.

Sayantani said...

@Indrani I pray to God that your Dida gets well soon. We need them for all that comforting love and affection.

Sheetal Kiran said...

What an amazing woman to have for a grandmother!! I love this "green" recipe ... doesn't waste anything! And looks absolutely delicious!

I tried your moglai parota last night with the potato curry, didn't have any methi, but substituted it for some frozen spinach! Both were mind-blowing ... and my husband totally went over-board eating the parotas!! Amazing, amazing recipe ... Im going to treasure and re-make it forever!

Natalie said...

Hi Sayantani ! Thats such a lovely story...I love the simplicity of life your Dida would've have experienced living in rural area's like that. I can totally understand why you would be so inspired by her...even i feel inspired...and am filled with admiration. Thank you for sharing. I would love to try this recipe...I love bottle gourd and pumpkin especially cooked in the indian style...the only ingredients i am unfamiliar with here is
1) Panchforon
2) Prawn or lentil wadi
So sorry to be a trouble..but if you could suggest any substitutes...as I am not sure i know where to find these in ny. I am very keen to try it though, i love how simply it is served with white rice. Bet it was delicious ( as all your recipes usually are).
Thanks again for sharing this lovely story. I really enjoyed reading it...and learning more about you and your family...
Your Friend, Nat

Shraddha Gupta said...

Hello! I was randomly searching for places where I can get baking supplies and felt like I hit jackpot when I came across your post on finding baking supplies in Kolkata! :)Your blog looked very inviting and I have here for half an hour now! This post by you touched me particularly and the dish looks divine! I havn't tried anything like it before. Thank you so much for such a lovely and informative blog. I just have one question though, I am not from Kolkata and am unfamiliar with Lentil Wadi's. I will be very grateful if you could help me out with that! Thank you once again for the post.

Sayantani said...

@Shraddha, thanks for you comment. am happy that someway my blog is of any help to you.

I have made a detailed post about all spices and ingredients of an Indian kitchen. please check this. you will get everything about lentil wadis.
http://ahomemakersdiary.blogspot.com/2010/01/indian-spices-and-ingredients-from-my.html

please let me know of any more queries.

Preeti Nambiar said...

Hi Sayantani,

Amazing collection of dishes, I like bengali dishes, will try few from your collection and will post in my blog as well.

Preeti
http://weliciousdelicious.blogspot.com

Chitralekha Shalom said...

Great recipes and mouth watering snapshots. I was looking for various ways to cook fish eggs (in Calcutta)and read your post. Honestly you have done a great job with the presentation. I am a Bengali and love khosha charchari, especially just the potato peels.
God bless your dida's soul. I guess we all have someone like her in our families, don't we?
God bless

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