Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Gayna/ Naksha Bori (sundried Lentil paste Designs)



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

Ingredients:
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.


Tags:
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, 

81 comments:

Pari said...

Dear Sayantani, such an informative post. The Boris are completely new to me and look so beautiful. I am sure it will be such fun when women get together and make them.
I guess I should be able to make decent designs...have a flair for Mehendi. :) Problem is surely beating the batter...my arms are not that strong these days. :(

Priya said...

Such a beautiful work, bori looks fantastic and definitley an art..never heard earlier about this wonderful bori, we tamilians used to this sort of sundried fritters with rice and sago..very new one..

myspicykitchen said...

Lovely & beautiful boris! Nice write up here and very informative. Boris are new to me, never heard of them before!

indosungod said...

They look beautiful with a melt in the mouth crispness I bet.

So true about buying local food. I tend to think locally sourced food is a treasure and should be heartily supported.

Gulmohar said...

wow..that's really an artwork too :-)Can't stop admiring them ...You have a lovely space here :-)

ruchikacooks said...

Awesome!! Kreativ blogger for sure..

The designs look so good sayantani..I have never heard of this bori before..thanks so much for sharing..

we(tamilnadu) make something called vadam but it is squeezed through a set design pipe, not like yours where you make unique designs.

PJ said...

omg, you sure are an artist at heart, Sayantani! Now who would have thought that such beauties can be made from plain regular urad daal! Great informative post and beautiful work.. kudos to you!!

Indrani said...

Your boris are too beautiful to eat, Sayantani..I won't be able to eat them....You are so creative and an awesome artist..appreciating your work from my heart

Deepa G Joshi said...

wow..such beautiful nakshi work..loved it..very informative write up as well..great work..

Arch said...

You are a real artist Sayantani...these are beautiful...And thanks so much for that award - am totally honoured ! this is my very first award - yaaaay !!!

sayantani said...

@Pari, yes practice in mehendi will definitely help as I also used that skill of mine. for beating you can use electric batter as well.

@Priya, thanks and these are a speciality of Midnapore District and Bangladesh. I love that sago papad, especially those spicy tangy ones.

@Indo, yes I believe in the same as well.

@Ruchika, thanks. would like to see some Vadam from you.

@Arch, wow I dint know thats your first. You are the most deserving food blogger and am honored by sharing it with you.

@Pj, Deepa, Gulmohor, Indrani Thanks a lot buddies. its a pleasure sharing recipes within galpals. right?

sra said...

Sayantani, I read about these in a Telugu magazine many years ago - they had carried pictures too and the motifs were crowns and bracelets. When I went to Calcutta some time ago, I casually looked for these, I didn't find them. After that, I'm hearing about them only now - the pix are beautiful. And this must be the most unusual recipe for MLLA so far!

Sushma Mallya said...

Beautiful designs,and very creative and informative post...i never knew abt all this ...thanks for sharing

Sayantani said...

@Sra, these are real rare commodities now a days. 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. I only know a person who represent such a group and sell them in Kolkata.

Shri said...

Absolutely fantastic!!It looks very much like Mehendi!

Dolly said...

Dear Sayantani..YOu deserve a pat on ur back for this awesome and mind blowing creation. Gayna/Naksha Bori is new to me. I'm so impressed by the designs and the hard work involved and you have made it sound so easy. Also to achieve this with a 10 month old in the house is remarkable. In fact I read ur post yesterday and my 2 yr old was getting bored so mommy had to play with him before I cd give you my feedback. So here I am today.

Also loved ur write-up ,I myself buy the regular fruits and vegetables and just wash them thoroughly as the organic ones are too expensive.

Bong Mom said...

Sayantani
You are a true genius. I have always heard of these but never ever saw them.
And you went and made them !!!

Rujuta said...

Hi Sayantani...

The Boris are so pretty...... You are truely a creative blogger and great artiste..... Thanks for the information on them as I had never heard about them.......

Ranjani said...

In India a lot of people end up eating what is fresh and seasonal out of default more than anything else- it is often the cheapest alternative to packaged foods sold in supermarkets- and that works out!
I've never heard of boris before this- and I'me completely enamored by your creativity and patience-those look far to gorgeous to eat!!

Asha said...

How beautiful. Never heard of this art before, looks great. Great post, thanks for posting. We can always learn new things from others! :)

Home Cooked Oriya Food said...

lovely baris... i have never made them, seen mom make it a lot. But even she doesnt make these perfect designer ones...

Soma said...

I have never ever seen these before. truely some work of art. egulo khete parle? ami shajiye rekhe ditam:-)

Preety said...

beautiful post with great info

notyet100 said...

this looks so traditional ,thanks for sharin this,..

Happy Cook said...

Looks so so beautiful. I have neve rmade anything like this. And i am sure evenif i tried they wont look like the beauties you make.

Cham said...

I have a vague idea that I saw somewhere in blogosphere only! But never thought or seen such a work of art, u re an exceptional designer!
Glad that u visited me I could have never reached u :)
Great and true informative post!

Padhu said...

WOw!Bori looks fantastic and gorgeous. Nice work.This is totally new to me .Thanks for sharing.
http://padhuskitchen.blogspot.com/

Rachana Kothari said...

Wow!!! Just cant stop admiring this wonderful art-work. Great informative post and hats off:) You are a talent!!!
Following your lovely place:)

Sayantani said...

@Dolly, yes doing something time taking with a kid is always difficult but thats our passion how could we leave that?that shows in your work too.

@Somoo, thanks for liking the designs. am sure your Maa makes better than this. mine has fallen a little flat. should have used lesser water.

@Ranjini, Cham and Asha. thanks for visiting my place and liking my recipes.

@others, guess supporters of fresh local produce are increasing day by day!

Sheetal Kiran said...

This is such a lovely post, as always Sayantani, and you are so very talented. I had never heard of boris before ... they are absolutely gorgeous! I can just imagine how fun it must be to get together to make these over hot cups of tea and gossip. Simply, lovely! I really want to try these now :D

deepti said...

Fell in Love with ur blog in this first visit itself...Nice collection of recipes...Will come again..
Keep adding more
regards
deepti

EC said...

This is the first time I have seen these boris..will give it a try some time..thanks for the entry

Susan said...

Well, I'm gobsmacked. Utterly fascinating, so beautiful, so unique. Such a shame, too, that their making is becoming a lost art.

Sowmya said...

omg you're a born artist...what an effort?...looks awesome n this is completely new to me...and absolutely fantastic...

mallugirl said...

unique use of lentils!its indeed sad that such art is dying away and loved reading abt it here.

Spice said...

Very artistic post...Boris totally new to me, quite interesting.......
totally agree with u on being aware consumer...really miss on fresh stuff we use to get back in india...here also try to get as much as we can but many a times there r no options....but still eating seasonal is something which we all can do....

Nupur said...

What a beautiful post! I applaud you for capturing the beauty of a traditional craft- food as art. Your designs are simply breath-taking.

mangocheeks said...

What a beautiful post. Edible art. Thank you so much for sharing.

Anjali said...

You know what like they do in bread art you should try spraying hair spray on it and make them permanently storable art Sayantani! This is awesome. Long time ago I had read about this art in the newspaper. I am your follower now. Bows. Just awesome!!!

Manasi said...

U are an artist! BEAUTIFUL!
I do hope this art is revived and people from all over India get a glimpse of it.

Sayantani said...

Thanks, thanks , thanks everyone for such support. I have grown up seeing all these at home so never thought of doing something special. I love craft and now a days with some time I love to explore that side too. thanks again and am glad that I could do so little like blogging about this dying art.

Ashwini said...

Awesome Sayantani! Kudos to you for breathing in life to the whole gamut of Boris once again. I loved the designs, simply superb! Very informative post.

Meera said...

That's really a work of art. Fabulous!

Srivalli said...

Sayantani, those are some awesome designs. ..beautiful post with so much details!..great job!

RV said...

wow... they are such a beautiful designs... and new to me.....

susvaad said...

Simply breathtaking! You are an artist.

Dhruva said...

All I wanted to say was a big Thank You... I m what one would call a probashi bangali, have been in kolkata, for all of 11 years out of my 31 years of existence, but could take its charm out of my mind! Now, I have been trying to connect with my bengali roots, and had started out with Chitrita Bannerji's books until I stumbled upon your blog...
Thank you so much... I do hope to try atleast some of these recipes some day :)

Sweet Artichoke said...

Hello Sayantani!
I have just discovered your blog and this amazing picture of Naksha bori. Being married with a Bengali :-) I had a chance to taste boris, but never actually made my own ones. I had no idea that so beautiful boris could exist! Thanks for the infos in this post and congratulations for your talent as an artistic cook :-)

PreeOccupied said...

These are so beautiful. You are an artist. Very impressed.

sangeeta said...

This is amazing.......i had missed it as i was away n clicked on the side bar pic to get here.

Had heard about it from some bong frns but never had seen them , miniature urad baris with poppy n sesame i have tasted ( courtesy a Bardwan relative )but these are a real rare commodity as you rightly said........good work and this is surely a big step in reviving this art.

women-wisdom.com said...

Boris are new to me and I am also new to your blog. Its so unique with detailed description of each post. Every recipe shows your excellence in creativity. Great work.

Preeti said...

This is amazing.Thanks for posting this interesting post.This reminds me of ladies gathering the house during summer or before a wedding and having a gala time creating different papads, kurdai, vermicelli of different types. I suppose boris too were made in such a fashion.

Vasavi Suresh said...

First of all thanks for visiting my blog. You sure have a nice space. I simply fell in love with you designer boris. These are new to me and I am going to try them definitely. Such an informative post. Happy to follow you.

Sneha said...

Wow!! These look awesome!! I would really have to conjure up all the patience I can to even think about making them, esp. with my baby around!! I really hope to try them out some day, and will let you know how they turn out when I do!! :0D Thank you so much for the recipe!! :0)

Shanavi said...

ahh...beautiful art work in food..awesome and perfect...!!! I like this a lot dear

Minu said...

Awesome!!!
artistic fritters - WOW

suchismita said...

orupo

themustardseed said...

What a beautiful post. I have never seen these before. You must have artistic talent too for making these so patiently and creatively. They look like lovely rangoli or mehndi designs. Very inspiring!

Shireen Sequeira said...

Thank you for commenting on my blog Sayantani because I have just discovered a wonderful blogs like yours!! I have never tried making Bengali food and your blog is the right place to start! Your collection & pictures amaze me! The post on Bori is awesome, have never seen such intricate artwork with food :) Im a regular here! Keep up the good work!

Arunima Diwan said...

Wao Sayantani, simply awesome, your blog site is so impressive, you should try in some cooking show, you are sure talented and gifted with cooking!

Archana said...

Everytime I have visited your place I have been intrigued by these designs, beautiful designs. Never tried clicking and visisting here. I am sure surprised at these delicate beauties.
These are new to me.

transient said...

Oh these are beautiful just to look at I cannot even imagine how yummy they must be to eat! and love the history too. So do the poppy seeds stick to the other side of the bori, but otherwise they would not come out of the thali? is that the reason? also how long does it take you dry them?

transient said...

Oh these are beautiful just to look at I cannot even imagine how yummy they must be to eat! and love the history too. So do the poppy seeds stick to the other side of the bori, but otherwise they would not come out of the thali? is that the reason? also how long does it take you dry them?

transient said...

I don't know if that comment went through if it did don't publish this, but i was just saying how beautiful they are to look at! also wonderign if it would do if you directly made them on to the thali and how long it takes to dry them.

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

@Transient, yes poppy seeds are used for a smoother release of the boris. try to make them during winter (India) when the sun is not very harsh. dry them till they are dry to touch.

Anonymous said...

Dear Sayantani,
This remind me when I used to work as an Audit officer at Tamluk in Medinipur area.I saw that in Satyajit Ray's film first...remember may be AGUNTUK. Then I found it in Tamluk, I loved it and used to grab from there whenever got chances.But never found it in Kolkata though.
After that 10 yrs have been past, now I am in the land of PIZZA and Pasta.But I will try it, only problem is lack of sunlight. May be I will put it in oven. Thanks again for sharing this wonderful artwork.

Sayantani said...

@Anon, thanks for your comment and am so glad that am able to evoke some memories. next time when you are in India do let me know will send some boris for you. I would love to gift such edible arts to appreciating minds.

anubhavati said...

Hello Sayantani,

What a lovely post? I was amazed at hte beautiful designs...These are just urad dhal and poppy seeds let out to dry andd then fried...how beautiful they look. It`s hard to imagine that they could be eaten!!!
Shobha

kp ks said...

Oh these are so much prettier than the vadams we make! We use the chakli press so the designs are a little fat and not as detailed.

I want to disagree a bit on the organic foods part. I try to buy local organic foods first and then regular local foods. We are trying to preserve the natural goodness of our soil with organic farming. Otherwise, we will continue to be held hostage by firms like Monsanto with their pesticides, fertilizers and genetically modified seeds (GMO Corn is already in, Bt Brinjal has been stopped, Cotton status not clear).
I guess what I am saying is, Organic foods are good both for the producer and the consumer.

IshitaUnblogged said...

This was the first post of yours that I had seen and I thought I had left my comments. But can't seem to find it anywhere. Left a comment on your recent post as well - the Nolen Gurer Ice cream. Can't seem to understand whether my comments are showing or not.

Anyway, this is one of the most beautiful 'Bengali' post I've come across. There's so much of romanticism on Naksha Bori and am glad that you attempted (with great success) to make them as well.

Sayantani said...

Hi Ishita, thanks for your mail. I got both the comments today. Thanks that you liked it. Making Noksha bori is a tadition in the family. still my Maa, Masi and other relatives make this every winter. It was so normal for us that I never realised how blessed I am to have such tradition running in the family.

IshitaUnblogged said...

Lovely to hear that in some families the tradition is still there. BTW, I couldn't connect with you on FB. What's the facebook page called?

Sayantani said...

Ishita, here it is. http://www.facebook.com/AHomemakersDiary?ref=hl
I will also try to add you tomorrow its almost midnight here :-)

Anonymous said...

Hi , I would like to ask you something, In Bangladesh these are made mixed with shredded ripe white gourd/ winter melon( chal kumra/ chun kumra). But it must be ripe not the young green one we cook, it has tobe the white podery one. I am not living in Bangladesh, here the green one is available. So I am asking your expert opinion , do you think it will matter if I use the green one instead of the powdery ripe gourd?

Sayantani said...

@Anon, am really not sure if gayna boris are made with chalkumro anywhere. The basic need for this recipe is a smooth batter so that it flows properly to make the designs. and shredded chalkumro wont let that happen. but then am really not much aware of how these are made in Bangladesh.
In my home we do make chalkumro'r bori with spices and use ripe chalkumro with seeds and the white part. you can see a picture of the same here http://www.ahomemakersdiary.com/2010/01/indian-spices-and-ingredients-from-my.html
now to your question you can try makin boris with the kind of gourd you are refering to. just make sure you dont end up with very thin batter. try to discard the extra juice it might have after shredding. try with smaller quantities and see how it goes.

Rani Acharya said...

Hi Sayantani, I heard about Naksha-Bori in Satyajit Ray's movie 'Agantuk'.. I was searching for the recipe andgot it finally.. Thanks for the nice and easy way of mentioning the steps and the photos.. :)Would love to make it soon.

Rani Acharya said...

Hi Sayantani, i got to know about Nakdha-bori in Satyajit Ray's Agantuk movie.. i really wanted to try it home and all thanks to your recipe, now I know how to make it.. will surely try it soon.

neelz said...

Rajeshwari serial made me search for this naksha bori. thanks a lot for this detail post...will definitely try the same.

Rana Lahiri said...

I must say that you have a beautiful mind. And top it with passion what you have is Sayantani. Hats off to you! May you and the members of your family be happy!

Sayantani said...

Thank you everyone for your appreciation. Rana thanks for such a beautiful comment.