Tomato’r Jhol (Fish in Very Light Tomato Gravy)

11:04 AM

When I first started living alone restaurant food was something that entered my kitchen regularly. The long commute and hard work as a fresher made me so tired that almost every other day I called up the corner restaurant and ordered in roti, dal and sabzi (flat bread, lentils and vegetable curry) and other days survived on Maggi and scrambled eggs. Those days I only cooked on weekends when close friends would come together and we feasted on home cooked simple meals that we craved most. I used to make rice, dal, sabzi and fish, paneer or egg curry and nearly every month Maa or Dida provided me with light recipes. Every Saturday we gathered after work (half days) and chatted and gossiped late in the night, We would wake up late and sitting on the unmade bed on the floor with our hot cuppas will soon pick up the chat session where we left it the earlier night and would giggle for long. The leg pulling session continued and our gang of girls lazed around while we cut and wash vegetables and start cooking. This recipe of tomato’r jhol with egg plant and potatoes (provided by Dida) was a regular at that time as it is very versatile, requires very few ingredients, and also has a tongue tickling taste that our nearly numb tongues from eating regular restaurant foods really needed. It used to fill every corner of my small pad with a lovely aroma that suddenly made my friends to complete their cores at the earliest. The three of us then sit cross legged on the floor and eat from whatever few plates and bowls I owned. We ate silently, scraping our plates clean and enjoying every morsel.

Today when I prepared this dish and that same fragrance of roasted Panchforon and tomatoes filled every corner of my house it reminded me of those days of pure joy, when we were free of responsibilities and tensions and cherished each and every moment of life. Am thankful to God for where my life has taken me but every now and then something stimulates memories and I long to live that life once again, stretch my hands to touch those giggling faces. I know I can’t do that so I sniffed in that familiar aroma and gave them a call and again chatted and giggled for long.

This recipe is very light yet flavorful and promises a satisfying meal. The best parts are its fragrance and colour which could be best enjoyed with steamed white rice. Today I made the dish with fish but the vegetarian version with paneer tastes equally good. Even my now 10 month’s old son enjoys this jhol with fish.

This light juicy jhol is best enjoyed fresh as the fish and vegetables soak the tartness if refrigerated. If you want to cook larger portions then next day add a few spoonful of tamarind juice during heating. That will restore the taste without much work. 

Here is the recipe
Tomato’r Jhol
Ingredients (serves 4)
Fish: 4 pieces (I used Rohu)
Egg plant: ½ of a medium size
Potato: 1 medium
The white stem of cauliflower (optional): We love this white crunchy inner part and always add this Macher Tak(fish in amchur based gravy) or Tomato’r jhol.
Tomato: 5 big or 6-7 medium; choose tart ones (I used those tart desi variety)
Dry red chillies: 2 pieces
Green chillies: 2 pieces (for the flavor)
Panchforon: ½ tsp

Peel and slice the potato and the inner white part of cauliflower stem thinly. Cut the eggplant in half and then slice in medium thick pieces. Wash and keep aside. Cut the tomatoes in quarter and sprinkle some salt.

Wash the fish and rub with salt and turmeric. Heat the oil in a pan or kadhai and fry them till lightly brown on both sides. Take them out and reserve.

In the same oil lightly fry the sliced potatoes, eggplants and cauliflower stem with salt and turmeric. Reserve.

In that same oil add the slited red chillies and panchforon. When you get the aroma add tomatoes and give everything a good stir. Add salt, turmeric and cover. Let it cook on low for 7-8 minutes or till the tomatoes are mushy.

With a spatula mash the tomatoes smooth and cook till it starts to stick the bottom of the pan. Add the veggies and 2 cups of water. Bring to a boil and add the fried fish pieces.

cover and cook till the veggies are soft and the gravy thickens a little.

Vegetarian Version: If you are using Paneer then cut in cubes and lightly fry them with salt. Follow the same procedure but with paneer you can also use thinly sliced carrots and beans.

Enjoy with hot steamed rice and any other side dish of your choice. My family loves it with Alu Posto or Alu bhaja. Don't know how but who ever have eaten it has fallen in love with this humble vibrant dish.

Am sending this humble light fish curry to Arundhuti's Served with love.A beautiful event that she has started at great blog, Gourmet Affair.


Niramish Khichuri (Medley of rice, lentils and vegetables)

10:59 AM

Khichuri cooked with Gobindobhog rice and dry roasted yellow lentils, dotted with colourful winter vegetables, flavored with ghee and whole garam masala is a dish that is very close to my heart. If you are a regular reader, by now you must have known how all food that I cook are connected to some of my memories. But this niramish Khchuri has a special place in all Bengali’s Memory of Saraswati Puja (Goddess of education and arts). The somewhat runny variety of this dish served at the schools and colleges during the puja gathering with bandhakopi’r ghanto (dry cabbage dish) and watery tomato chutney (tomato chatni) is something every Bengali has tasted and has some sweet n sour memories associated with it.


Gayna/ Naksha Bori (sundried Lentil paste Designs)

12:54 AM

There is a lot of concern about eating healthy, organic and fresh and the blogosphere is no exception. Concerns and awareness are translating into thoughtful posts and attentive comments. And in the middle of all these discussions I as a new mom living in a developing country, am forced to rethink my decisions.  This is not in continuation of any of the discussions so far but entirely a comparison made by a person sitting in a developing country.

First of all I believe the situation differs a lot in developed and developing countries. But before setting a bigger canvas and comparing between these two lets discuss the situation within itself. one important attribute of a developing nation is its inequality of income. In India itself 36% of its population resides below poverty line (1993-94 planning commission report) and still there is a luxury brand boom here. The poor for whom two round meals a day is like a distant dream they no way think of the luxury of organic food. In economics the definition of demand is Demand is the want or desire to possess a good or service with the necessary goods, services, or financial instruments necessary to make a legal transaction for those goods or services.’ They in no way are in a position to DEMAND food to sustain them, leave alone the possibility of choosing what to eat. So that excludes majority of population who could consume organic food. That follows another conclusion that if economies of scale could not be achieved for organic farming the prices will never come down…therefore the organic food articles remains expensive and out of reach of most living in developing countries. Even if we give subsidies still the question remains that, is going all organic possible here? How could you sustain such a big population with organic foods, which said to yield less produce at a high cost? Even us falling in the upper middle-income group would think twice before putting that organic food packet in our grocery basket.

I belong to the old school of thoughts where its said that you are what you eat. So I as a sensible consumer believe to get the most out of my hard earned money So though I know going organic is very good for health but still I would like to stick to my old traditional choice of buying fresh and seasonal and washing my veggies thoroughly before preparing my food.   Am lucky in some ways that I have access to fresh supply in terms of vegetables, fish and meat. I have seen that most of us in India buy fresh fish and meat not those packaged ones from the super markets. Yes of course in this era of high pollution and global warming you need to wash your veggies thoroughly under running water and cook them properly before serving. You don’t need to spend mullah on over hyped organic items to be healthy. Cooking fresh, eating sensibly and doing some moderate exercise would be the best choice.
So today also going seasonal I prepared Gayna Bori which are sun dried lentil chunks but in the shapes and designs of jewelries. These are also called Naksha bori or designed Lentil chunks. These are some royal things not cooked and served everyday but are reserved for some special occasions and for some important persons. Preparing bori is a seasonal affair and that season is Winter. Boris are very fragile and need a lot of pampering. You cannot prepare them in summer, as the scorching summer sun will rupture them. To dry these boris you need mild sun light and dry weather. So boris are prepared in winter in huge quantities and stored for the whole year. Earlier as kids I have seen all the women of a family or sometimes all women of a neighborhood coming together for preparing boris. Those were the days when Mixer-grinder was not a household item and lentils were ground by hand in traditional mortar n pestle. They would make varieties of boris with different types of lentils and spice mixtures. The work would start early morning, grinding the lentils, vigorous beating of the paste and then making small portions of lentil pastes on greased plates…all these works were done over some mishti pan (betel leaf), hot tea and most importantly a lot of gossip. The last day was reserved for this designed boris which is not everyone’s cup of tea as with some quick motions you are required to make designs with some flowy lentil paste. My Maa and Masimoni used to make them and all other including me would have sat around and watch them with admiration. These days boris are readily available in market but I don’t like these readymade things and chose to prepare these myself in leisure.

I believe very few know about these boris. These are a speciality of Bangladesh and Midnapore district of Bengal. but they have become very rare and even in Bengal you would not get them easily.In Midnapore district some self help groups are trying to revive this dying form and they also sell these through co operatives.
Gayna/ Naksha Bori

Black gram Lentil (skinned)/ White Urad Dal: 1 cup
Salt: ½ tsp
Poppy seeds: 1/3 cup
Oil: to grease the plates

Method: Generally Gayna Boris are made with black gram with skin on, which is soaked overnight then rubbed on jute or any rough surface to peel them. I used skinned white urad.
Wash and soak the lentils overnight or at least 6 hours.

In morning again wash the lentils and place them on a strainer to drain all water.

Blend in a mixie without any water. (To do this pulse for a minute and then scrape the sides and mix everything in the jar. The point here is if the batter contains much water it will fall flat on the plates and sun will make them too dry and heavy.) Make a very very fine paste.

Now comes the difficult part. Take this paste in a big bowl. Mix in the salt and start beating as vigorously as possible. It should become very fluffy and when a spoonful placed on water it should float.

Now to make designs pour the mixture in a piping bag or simply make cones with polythene. My Maa place these in a thick piece of cotton fabric with a nozzle set in the middle.

I don’t have much knowledge of the nozzle sizes. The paste coming out from the nozzle should be moderately thick, say as thick as some antiseptic cream coming out of a tube (eg. Borolene or Rashfree ;-)} I made a cone just like mehendi cones and cut the tip as much required. The designs should not be very thin as the sun will make them thinner and brittle. (look at the fried boris at the right, made by Hubby these are very very thin).

Grease 2-3 steel plates and sprinkle poppyseeds to cover the surface completely. I wasn’t having enough poppyseeds so I mixed it with white toasted sesame seeds.

Now comes the fun part, play with your imagination by pressing the cone or piping bag. Use toothpick to stop the batter coming out from the cone.

Once done dry them in sun for 3-4 hours and let them sit on the plates overnight. Next day if still moist again dry for 1-2 hours.

Keep them stored in airtight container.
Fried Crispy Bori

To fry them just heat some oil and shallow fry them till lightly browned on each side. Enjoy your fruits of labor with rice and see them pulling appreciations your way when served to guests.
Some tips for the designs:
While doing this always keep a toothpick, a bowl of water and some scrap clothes handy.

Always make designs where all the parts are joined and make them moderately thick or you wont be able to take them out easily when dry. you should not make designs as shown at left.
To secure the designs always make 2 adjoining lines, this way the design will be prominent and strong.

Making designs with some flowing paste needs practice, so start with small simple designs and gradually switch to bigger ones.

Don’t make designs that are very big as that’s difficult to be peeled when dry. 

These beauties make their way to My Legume Love Affair; 19 to EC of Simple Indian Food. This very popular event is a brainchild of Susan of The well-seasoned Cook.

bori, vadi, wadi, design bori, naksha bori, naksa bori, gayna bori, Bangladeshi bori, Vadi from Bangladesh, Midnapore bori, lentil dumplings, lentil designs, sundried lentil dumplings, sundried lentil designs, fried lentil designs, Bengali art, Bangali bori, Bangali art, special bori, how to make gayna bori, how to make bori, bori recipe, punjabi wadi, punjabi vadi, white lentil designs, biri bodi, bodi, sundried lentil paste, step by step bori making, black lentil, urad dal recipe, designs with urad dal, culinary art. cooking as an art, 

Events Awards Interview

2 Awards, 7 Secrets and some Garden Pictures

11:47 AM

I have been showered by 2 fabulous awards from 2 of my good blogpals. These are awards that I have been eyeing for quite sometime and finally they are here to grace my place. Thanks a lot friends, it feels great to be recognized and motivated by you all. When I started my blog I was never thought I would ever get this much of appreciation, love and encouragement. Thanks to all of you beautiful people out there who cook with a passion and feed with love.

The first one, Beautiful blogger Award, came from extremely talented Dolly whose place has some real delicious and comforting recipe collection. Once there you would be tempted to visit again and again. To believe me just go HERE  Thanks Dolly for your kindness.
The second one Kreative Blogger Award, came from lovely S of Art, food and travel Chronicles. Her space is a real eye candy as she whips up the most amazing baked goodies. She is a bona fide Daring baker and an excellent Tanzore Painter. Do check her space once HERE and you would be hooked for life. Thanks S for your generosity.
Now as the rule book says we need to share 7 of our darkest secrets, ok not darkest but secrets that nobody knows. That’s a real difficult task. Well here it goes…in between reading enjoy some of my Mother’s amazing winter garden pictures.
1.I am a very big fan of Sachin Tendukar.My madness was beyond imagination during school and college days, when I used to have some 65 posters of this ace batsman, no vacant spot was visible on my room walls and I used to celebrate his birthdays with my meager pocket money.

2. Mine is an arrange marriage and when My husband’s family came to meet us I decided to marry him even before talking to him, and the secret and sole reason was ‘He looked like Sachin Tendulkar’ J. But later when I talked to him I realized the guy had a heart of gold and is a real keeper.
Maa's Collection of Chrysanthemum
3. I love cleanliness but am lazy. Though I keep everything clean and take a minimum of 15 minutes of bath everyday but the last time I visited a beauty parlor was during my marriage and that’s 3 years before.
4. I am very family centric person. I love to be surrounded by my near and dear ones and like to do little things for them.
Some more from Maa's Garden

5. I have cherished some real good designing success. I used to design for some very big International brands and even have designed a re-launch collection for a reputed European brand which was very successful among its target groups.
6. Being true to my star sign (Libra) am a big dreamer. One of my cherished dreams is to settle in some hilly area and having a moderately big farm. Recently when we went to Chikmagalur and stayed in a big farm cum resort, I decided to start my own resort somewhere near Digha or Darjeeling. I even planned the entire setup cost, earning channels, staffing and even the menu. Then reality bit me hard in the form of my Hubby.
7. in case of running house I follow my Maa blindly. Like her my pantry is always well stocked with rice, lentils, flours and other essential items. I do a monthly grocery shopping and a weekly vegetable and fruit shopping.
and these beauties belong to my small garden.

I nominate the following 7 bloggers and pass this to them. They have beautiful places and great collection of recipes.
Indrani of Appayan
Sangeeta Khanna of Health Food Desivideshi                       
IndoSunGod of Daily Musings
Sharmila of Kichu Khon

Looking forward to see what they reveal. 


Ranga Alur Puli

11:25 AM

Wish all of you a very Happy Sankranti!!!
Being a food blogger one festival that I love is Poush Sankranti or Sankranti. It always bring a cheer not only to us who could eat the Sankranti special goodies but all farmers across India, as this marks the auspicious day when they bring home season's first yield of paddy.  To celebrate this, different types of Pithe and puli are made. I already have written a post about this Bengali festival which you can see here. Though I was brought up in city but both my parents belong to the coastal part of the district Midnapore. I always have seen this festival being celebrated at home with much vigor and happiness. My Dida used to make Dudh Puli, SoruChakli (thin rice flour crepes), Patisapta, Askey Pithe (steamed rice flour dumpling with scraped coconuts and jiggery), Gokul Pithe (coconut fudge dipped in floor, fried and soaked in sugar syrup), Nonta Pithe (savory pithe) etc with lot of care and love. . 

No matter where I am I make it a poin to eat my share of Poush Sankranti special goodies mosty of which are delectable sweet dishes. This year I made Ranga Alur Puli or sweet potato dumplings stuffed with sweet coconut and soaked in sugar syrup. This is the first time I tried my hand in this and it has turned out devilishly delicious. The dark thin outside with a creamy sweet steeped inside…a true joy to all your senses. It tastes a lot like gulab jamun and sometimes this sweet is made in round shapes also which is known as ranga alu’r Pantua. No more blabbering on this and better I go staright to the recipe now.

But before that here are some other pithe I cooked on the blog till date.

Ranga Alur Puli
For the Shell
Sweet Potato: 2 pieces; I used 4 medium sized sweet potatoes which has yielded me 22 Pulis. So 2 pieces will give almost 10-12 sweets.
Flour: 3 tbsp

Scraped coconut: ½ cup
Sugar: 2 tbsp
Grated Khoya/ thickened milk/ Milkmaid/ grated sandesh: 2 tbsp

For the syrup:
Sugar: 2/3 cup
Water: 2 cups
Green cardamom: 2 pieces

Boil or steam the sweet potatoes. Though lengthy but the best process is to steam the potatoes, as it will lessen the moisture content. If boiling, boil them whole in a pressure cooker for one whistle on medium high flame.

Drain the water, peel and mash as smooth possible. Mix in the flour and knead to a semi firm dough. The dough would be sticky so if needed add some more flour. Cover with cling film and put in fridge for 30 minutes.

In the mean time put all the stuffing ingredients in a heavy bottomed pan and cook till it becomes dry and leaves the side of the pan. Cool completely before using.for the process check here.

Also put the sugar and water in a pan and bring it to boil. Add crushed cardamom and reduce the syrup till a little thick. Keep it warm.

Take out the sweet potato dough and take in spoonful. Stuff with sweet coconut mix and roll in floured hands. Roll them in shape of puli as shown in picture or you can make round balls as well.

Repeat with the rest of the dough and deep fry them in hot oil. Once lightly browned on all sides, transfer to the warm sugar syrup.

When they are soaked enough serve hot or cold.
and thats my son trying to grab one :-)

These could be stored in fridge in a covered container.

Am sending this to Sugar high Friday, hosted this month by Kate of A Merrier World. this lovely event is the brainchild of Jennifer, the Domestic Goddess.

also sending this for the first time to DMBLGIT hosted this month by Nidhi of Snacksgiving.this very unique event is a brainchild of Andrew of Spittoon and SpittoonExtra.


Mushroom Curry

11:44 AM

Recently I have been watching television a lot. The main reason being the baby has started taking his tiny steps and I can’t afford to take my eyes off from him. In every couple of minutes either he pulls at something or falls himself on the floor. Yesterday I watched this program(repeat telecast) based on interviews of famous wives like Neeta Ambani, Jaya Bachchan, Gouri Khan, Nirja Birla and others. Apart from peeping in their private world which is hidden from the public eye the thing that attracts me most is the gorgeous set designed by the designer duo and anchor of the show Abu and Sandeep. Though I don’t liked the program much but found a segment very funny where the guests  describe their relationship with three words called ‘hooked , booked and cooked’. The way Neeta Lulla rolls her eyes and say ‘I was hooked by Mukesh, I was booked by Mukesh and I was cooked by Mukesh’ or Jaya Bachchan declairs ‘am cooked and that’s all’ say a lot about their personalities. We quite like this segment and now watch this program to check these expressions only, sometimes we also use these words in our conversation.

Whats that n How to

Flavours of India: Spices and Ingredients from My Kitchen

8:42 AM

Is there anything called a rule of cooking??? Even if there’s no hard n fast rule like that but my Dida always believed, knowing one’s spices and ingredients could be an advantage.  Every spice does not complement all ingredients…so to pair them well one needs to understand the aroma and taste of these things. Also a dear friend from this blog world enquired about some of the spices with which I generally cook, so in this brand new year what could be better to start with all the spices and Ingredients from my kitchen.  This will also simplify it for food lovers who are sitting at the other side of the world and still want to taste Indian food.I have heard, in USA these spices are available in most of the Bangladeshi Stores.

I will start with our very own Cumin seeds

Cumin seeds/Jeere/Jeera (More Here)
This is one of the mostly used Indian spice and second popular spice all over the world. It has a distinct earthy aroma which complements Indian food very well.The whole seeds are used to season lentil and vegetable based dishes.  Cumin Powder is used in all types of vegetarian and non-vegetarian curries.
Dry roasted ground cumin is used to flavor different types of chats and street foods.

Coriander Seeds/ Dhone/ Dhania (More Here )
All parts of this plant are edible. Coriander leaves or cilantro is very popular worldwide and roots are used in Thai Cuisines and for vegetable stocks . The seeds are used as ground powder. This has a nutty, citrusy flavor and extensively used in Indian Curries and dry dishes. The dry roasted coriander powder is used to top snacks and chats. 

Mustard seeds/ Sorshe/ Rai /Sarson (More Here)
 There are different varieties of mustard seeds available in India, White mustard, black mustard and small mustard (guli sorshe) are to name a few. Mustard in general has a very strong flavor and pungent taste. Mustard seeds and mustard oil both are very popular among Bengalis and is widely used in South Indian Cuisine as well.

 Bengalis mostly use  mustard paste for dry dishes like charchari or for curries like Macher Jhal (Fish in hot mustard gravy). And till date most of the Bengali household in west Bengal uses mustard oil for cooking. Dry mustard powder is one of the essential spices for making pickles.

to make Mustard paste follow this:
Use the black mustard seeds (bigger ones) if you like the pungent taste otherwise use the yellow seeds.

You can make the paste either in a mortar pestle or in mixer. I use the chutney jar of my mixer for this. but in mixer you need to make a bigger batch.
To make paste just add little water and grind in the mixie on low speed. do this with interval or oil might come out. the paste should not be very fine like paste but little (very little) coarse. dont try to make very fine as it will make the paste bitter in taste. 
Also if you are using the paste for gravy then add water to the required amount of paste. pour the top part in the curry to discard the skin.

We sometimes also add green chilies while grinding.

In south India all types of dishes are seasoned by frying mustard seeds in hot oil. Lentil dishes like Sambar, rice dishes like lemon or tomato rice, veggie dishes like thoran all are seasoned with mustard seeds.

Fennel Seeds / Mouri/ Saunf (More Here)

This aromatic spice looks very close to Cumin but is longer and greener in colour. Smells like anise flower.  All over india these are used as mouth freshener after meals. Extensively used in Kashmiri Cuisine as a spice. These have cooling and digestive properties as well. 

Carom Seeds/ Joan/ Ajwain (More here
This bitter and pungent tasting spice smells like thyme. Because of its digestive property it is mostly used in deep fried dishes like Parathas and kachoris (Indian deep fried flat breads). Dried carom seeds with lime juice and salt are used as digestive after meals.

Fenugreek seeds/ Methi (More Here)

This aromatic spice is bitter in taste so is used in moderation for pickles and curries.
Very aromatic Fenugreek greens are another delight to cook. Dried fenugreek leaves are known as kasuri methi and are used to flavor curries and Biriyani.
These seeds are a very good hair conditioner. Ground seeds mixed in coconut oil or curd helps hair growth.

Nigella seeds/ onion seeds/ kalojeere/ kalonji (More Here)

These again are bitter in taste so always used in moderation in whole for seasoning. Very popular Bengali spice and no mustard paste based dish is complete without a tempering of this Nigella seeds. Some popular dishes are Macher Jhal, simple potato curry etc.
The strong aroma of this act as insect repels. Nigella and dried red chillies wrapped in cloth bag are used to keep closets insects free.

Panchforon (This is especially for my friend Natalie)

Panch in Bengali means 5 and foron means tempering so PAnchforn is a mix of five spice that is mostly used for tempering dishes. The five seeds of Panchforon are
  1. Fenugreek seeds
  2. Nigella seeds/ onion seeds/ Kalounji
  3. Cumin seeds
  4. Fennel seeds
  5. Randhuni/ wild celery seeds/ ajmod, Sometime mustard seeds are raplaced for Randhuni.
Panchforon is Widely  used in East Indian Cuisine. Like to temper Dal/ Lentil or to flavor vegetable dishes like Charchari (skillet charred vegetable medley), Chyanchra(veggies coated with gravy), ghanto (Bengali style mixed vegetables)  etc.

Poppyseeds/ Posto/ Khuskhus (More Here)

These tiny seeds are harvested from the opium Poppy. The flavore is very mild and is one of Bengalis most favourite spice. We mostly use poppy seed paste for our curries like alu Posto, chingri posto (prawn in poppyseeds gravy) or chatney like kumro posto’r Chutney. In general these are used to thicken gravy or for making sweets.

Bay Leaf/Tejpata/ Tejpatta (More Here

These are dried leaves which are very aromatic. Mainly used for flavoring and is fried in oil or ghee to release its aroma. Commonly used in begali vegetarian and sweet dishes, al types of biriryani and is one essencial ingredients of Indian Garam Masala.

Green Cardamom/ Elach/Elaichi (More Here

These are green in colour, contains small black seeds which are very aromatic. These are used both in foods and drinks. All types of vegetarian and non vegetarian curries, rice based items and lentils could be flavored with cardamom like chhanar Dalna (homemade cottage cheese in light gravy), Biriyani or Vgetable Pulao, Chicken curry etc. sweets and other desserts are flavoured with the ground pod.  This is a part of Indian Garam Masala.

Black Cardamom/ Baro elach/ Bari Elaichi (More Here)

Bigger in size than green cardamom and are black in colour. Use is same but aroma is little different.

Clove/ Labanga/ Laung (More here)

These are very strong, warm and aromatic so are used in moderation. The whole cloves are fried in hot oil to flavor curries and rice based dishes and as powder they are another essential part of Indian Garam Masala. Cloves have a medicinal property. Clove oil is used to cure toothache.

Cinnamon/ Darchini/ Dalchini (More here)

These are actually bark of the Cinnamon tree and are used as condiment and flavoring material. This hot and strong spice has a very sweet aroma and form a part of Indian Garam masala. It contains much medicinal property including type 2 diabetes.

Caraway Seeds/ Shajeera/ Shahi Jeera (More Here)

This looks ike normal cumin seeds but black in colour. It has an intense flavor and used mostly in mughlai cuisine like biriyani, Chicken Chanp etc.

Turmeric/Halud/Haldi (More Here)

Without this root spice no Indian dish is complete. Our fiery curries owe their bright colour to this and chiliis. We mostly use turmeric powder.
Turmeric has many healing properties like mixed with warm milk it act as pain soother, mixed with water and applied on scars it act as antiseptic. It is believed that fresh turmeric helps in fairness too.

Chilli/Lanka/Mirch (More Here)

Chillies are used in all forms. Green unripe chillies are used for tempering or as paste. Dry Red Chillies are mostly fried in hot oil to incorporate the heat and aroma and red chilli powder is widely used for the heat and colour.

Bhaja Masala(Dry Rosted Spices)

the ingredients for bhaja masla are Coriander, cumin and Dry Red Chillies. to prepare take cumin and coriander in 2:1 ratio like 2 tsp cumin and 1 tsp coriander and 2-3 red chillies. dry roast till a fried aroma rises. let it cool for  5-7 minutes and grind to a fine powder. these are used for flavoring curries and are used to top chats.

Garam Masala

Depending on the region the ingredients of Garam Masala could varry. some popular garam masala types are Bengali Garam Masala, Punjabi Garam masala and Kashmiri garam Masala. No Indian dish is complete without a final sprinkling of this powder.
to make Bengali Garam Masala take 3 green cardamom, 1 black cardamom, 2 cloves, 1" stick of cinnamon, 1 small bay leaf. grind these to make a powder as fine as possible. (I generally use this for rice dishes.For regular dishes I add the bay leaf in the tempering.)

Amchur/Dried Mango

As name suggests these are dried green unripe mangoes. These are sour in taste and are used for sour gravies and dishes. Like Chats, Chutneys (kumro, postor chatni),Macher tak (fish in mustard based sour gravy). These are mostly made at home. These days’ Amchur powder is also available in market.

Sundried Lentil Chunks/ Bori/ Wadi

These are dry lentil chunks. Various types of lentils could be used for Wadis like red lentil (masur), yellow lentil (mung) or black gram Lentil (urad). Sometimes spices and white pumpkins are also mixed. These are fried in hot oil till crispy then either eaten as it is or used for curries. Some dishes that use wadi are Punjabi alu wadi sabji (potato, wadi curry), Charchari (Bengali skillet charred veggies) etc.

Another wadi that is famous in Bengal are called Naksha/Gayna wadi (Design wadi). These are made with Urad Lentil.

Preparing wadi is very easy. Soaked lentils are ground to a fine paste with minimum water. This paste is then beaten with salt till very fluffy. Then scooped up little at a time and placed on oiled surface. Sundried till dry. 

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