Ghanto/ Lentil with Veggies and Leafy Greens1:07 PM
If you follow Bengali cooking recipes then you must agree that Bengali cooking terms and methods are a
bit quite confusing. We make mixed vegetables in numerous ways and give every type a new name like ghanto, charchari, chyanchra, bati tarkari, labra etc. sometimes even a true Bengali who has grown up solely on the regional cuisine cannot tell the difference at all. And if that numerous ways are not enough we again have made variations in this categories too like pui shaker ghanto (Malabar spinach curry) is a dish where the gravy coats the veggies but in Bandhakopi’r ghanto (dry cabbage dish) is a dry dish. Confused? Then let me warn you am going to confuse you more with today’s recipe. :-)
Ghanto in Bengali means a mixture where the ingredients are mixed with each other, sometimes beyond recognition. And this dish is a perfect example of the literal meaning… which is meant to be cooked in a way where all the vegetables are soft and mushy and entirely mixed with each other and this is known as ‘Ghanto’, which might be unknown to many Bengalis. We mostly are familiar with ghantos where one main vegetable rules the dish like mulo’r Ghanto (dry Raddish dish with potatoes), Lau Ghanto (bottlegourd dish) etc but only ‘GHANTO’? well that’s quite unheard, right? So let me explain, this is a lentil based vegetable dish where leafy greens and veggies are added, sometimes with a handful of prawns. This is a daily dish in the coastal villagers of West Bengal where I have my roots. It is a common sight in rural Bengal where village women collect varities of leafy greens from the sides of ponds or from fields on their way back after the bath in pond. Sometime its kolmi shaak (water spinach), bothua shaak (lamb’s quarters), gima shaak (Hydroctyle rotundifolia) or the hingche shaak (Enhydra fluctuans) this provides for the veggie dish. For the non veg the man of the house use a standing net, knitted of nylon thread on a triangular cane base. They place it overnight at the narrow openings of the canals or ponds to get small prawns, fishes and crabs in the morning. And trust me with these meager ingredients they prepare amazing meals. Whenever am there I always make it a point to go to our neighbors to share their meals. Now back to my recipe. Though this is meant to be cooked with Malabar greens but as told, the poor villagers make it with the varieties of greens. With that they throw in whatever veggies they have like ripe parwal or cluster beans, baby potatoes or colocasia roots. Being the fish lover Bengalis are Sometimes they combine it with a handful of small prawns from their net.
My Sejo jethi (Aunt from paternal side) makes it finger licking good. She passed the recipe to Maa and from her I got…carrying on the good work!!! huh. This is the most versatile dish I ever cook…you can add any vegetable that you cannot use in regular cooking like ripe parwal, hard eggplant, over ripe pumpkin etc but one veggie that you have to use is the colocasia roots as that gives it a thick texture. I personally prefer to cook it with Malabar spinach, pumpkin, colocasia roots, potatoes and any ripe vegetable from the fridge. The Malabar spinach in this dish are from my winter garden which means this recipe was stored in the draft before I went for my lo…ng break.
And here is some picture of fishing in a pond (this is not the net I talked about) with hand net
Throwing as far as possible
Carefully pulling it together
Coming back to the shore
The CatchNow the recipe
Yellow lentil (mung dal): 11/2 cup
Malabar Spinach: 11/2 cups; roughly chopped
Pumpkin: 1/3 cup; cubed
Potato: one small; cubed
Colocasia roots: 4-5; peeled and cubed
Beans: 4-5; cut in 1” pieces
Ridge gourd: 5-6 cubed pieces
Prawns: handful (optional)
Onion: 1 small; chopped
Grated ginger: 1” piece
Dry red chilli: 4-5
Panchforon: ¾ tsp
Oil: 1 tbsp
Sugar: ½ tsp
Put the yellow lentil in a heavy bottom pan or kadhai and dry roast on low till a nice roasted aroma comes. During this process keep on stirring as it might burn at the bottom. The roasted lentil would be golden in colour without any black grain.
Wash this and boil with fresh water (4 cups) with turmeric and grated ginger.
When the lentil is half cooked (approx. 10 minutes) add the vegetables and salt.
Once the veggies are cooked and the lentil is soft take off from heat and keep aside. It should have a moderately thick consistency, not runny. So please adjust the water accordingly.
Now heat the oil in a bigger pan and add panchforon, dry red chillies and onion one by one. When the onions are lightly coloured add the prawns and fry for a minute.
Add the lentil mixture and combine everything together. Check the seasoning.
Boil for 5 minutes and serve with hot steamed rice.
We had a great meal with this, okra fry and Fish Curry.
i am sending this Ghanto to few events
MLLA 23, this time hosted by the Inventor herself, our inspiration Susan of The well seasoned cook.
Cooking with seeds; Cumin. A lovely event started by Priya and this month hosted at Sara's corner.