Ghanto/ Lentil with Veggies and Leafy Greens

1:07 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.
Malabar Spinach form my garden

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. 

Before you get into the recipe here are some pictures from the village I talked about so much.

And here is some picture of fishing in a pond (this is not the net I talked about) with hand net
Getting Ready

Throwing as far as possible

Carefully pulling it together

Coming back to the shore

The Catch
Now 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.

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  1. Welcome back. Yes, Bengali dishes have so many unique names. I love the simple ingredients and taste of Bengali cuisine. Ghanto looks yummy. Love the village pics too, must be nice to have fresh Fish to cook right away! :)

  2. Great post- and no matter what the meaning of the dish is, the ghanto looks very tasty!

  3. Ghanto sounds and looks very tasty dear...all the pictures are so beautiful :)

  4. looks bful and delcious dear..awesome color..pls collect ur award from my blog as a token of gratitude and love..we make this with spinach,dill and veggies,,and call it ghota

  5. First time here. You have such an awesome blog and very nice collections of recipes. Ghanto looks sooo yummy and very nice presentation.

  6. Lovely pictures of the village and the catch and as usual a delicious dish.

  7. fave way of having lentils..

  8. Ghanto looks absolutely yumm! I loved the village pics...they are so beautiful :)

  9. the name itself interesting.what a nice pictures of ur village.just like our place..the curry looks so delicious.thanks for sharing such a nice recipe.Did u use fresh prwan or dried one

  10. Fantastic post!! Delicious ghanto! Love the pictures of your village..Really beautiful..

    Regarding your question about ilumban puli in our post, its a sour fruit usually used to make pickles or added in fish curries..

  11. lovely pictures of the village and looks delicious and tasty.

  12. looks yummy... i love these different veggie prep. We also do ghanta tarkari in Orissa...
    I love the village pix too - looks like my husband's village... Such a lovely peaceful place...

  13. fantastic post and oh, I so much loved those pictures! ghanto looks very delicious.

  14. pics are really beautiful and lentils looks healthy and very nice way to include veggies...

  15. The village picture look so beautiful....

    I know about the ghanto and the labra and the shukto n love most of the bengali mishmash kind of favorite way of eating more n more veggies .

  16. Even I've read these varied names around, but love the end result :)

    ghonto looks delicious!

  17. Beautiful dish, looks truly comforting and catchy, those village pics looks awesome and definitely a treat for eyes..

  18. Sayantani,
    ghanto with dal amra khokhno banani, sodhu palang shaak diye dal kori ..recipe looks so delicious specially in this type of hot weather there.Loved gram'er pics..eyi ta tumader pokoor desh'er barir,that reminds of our small pokoor in gram'er barir.
    hugs and smiles

  19. Pui shaak, prawn, pukur, maach dhora ... bari jabo. :-(
    Ja bolecho Sayantani ... ei ghnato ar charchari ar chenchra shob mile mishe pagol kore deye ... amar tomar moton oto patience o nei explain korar. :-)
    Dekhte darun lagche ghonto ta ... gorom bhaat er shathe jome jabe.

  20. Those are beautiful village pictures - we travelled from Calcutta to Raichak and caught only a glimpse of the countryside, it was so green. This place looks like it can be a South Indian village too!

  21. looks delicious i love this post really awesome

  22. Sayantani, tomar chobigulo dekhe mone holo para gaa-n(with the nasal touch) bediye elam.
    Ghonto, chenchra, labra, charchori, aneke ete haria jabe. Last e prawn ta dile je amar khoob lobh hocche.
    Lovely village pics and nice bangali traditional recipe.

  23. Beautiful pics :) I really wish I could see those places. Dish is more like avial but with dhal. Looks yummy. Enjoyed reading your post.

  24. Ghanto sounds and looks very healthy n delicious...liked the village pics..they are just awesome...

  25. The mixed vegetable spiked with fish must be amazing...Your village is beautiful...the apple green pool is so inviting just wait till your son is big enough to dive in

  26. Hi Sayantani

    For us Ghonto needs no introduction. We definitely prepare it once a week. Yours preparation tops it all. Not only it is delicious , it is healthy as well. Loved the way the fisherman caught fish for instant cooking. Loved the pics.

    Hamaree Rasoi

  27. Ghanto looks very tasty..nice clicks :)

  28. Hi!! Thats a wonderful post dear! Love the selection of veggies and this is so healthy! you had asked me about the colorful muffin cases, mine are not paper ones but silicon ones, i bought these from swiss, i havent found these in india, if i find anywhere will let you know :)

  29. Hi. Just loved the village pics and the detailed read on ghanto. The preparation looks simple and tasty to try.

  30. Love the Bengali dishes. Had been to Kolkota 2 yrs ago and I loved that place. Ghanto looks great and healthy too. Nice pics too.

  31. Nice pics! I love pristine a days so many of them have turned into towns. I am new to ghanto, but looks simple and yum.

  32. thanks everyone for dropping by and liking my village. glad that you liked this simple preparation.

    @Sanyukta, thanks for the award. am honored.

    @Prani, I used fresh prawns. never used dried prawns. is is easily available.

    @Parita, thanks for the info. they are available here too. but was not sure how it would behave to hot ovens.

  33. very nice Sayantani. How many servings does this yield and can I freeze this?

  34. Khub sundor hoyechhe dekhte ghonto. Notun rokomer preparation r darun presentation. Gramer chhobi gulo bhishon sundor hoyechhe. Tomar prottekta recipe oshadharon.

  35. looks yummy n new to me....frst time..lov all ur bengali cuisine...glad to follow u!

  36. loved your writeup on the variety of Bengali dishes... And your village pics looks like Kerala our native place.. with lots of coconut tree, ponds and of course fish.. back to recipe Ghanto looks very tasty... will be perfect with rice or roti..

  37. Dear Sayantani
    Himalaya foot hills e ghur-e byaDa-chhilam tai eto deri holo..PoD-te.
    Darun recipe and wonderful captures

    You are right, names are socofusing and there are so much variations under same name, that I go by the cooking method..end of the day " Whats in a Name? ha ha
    That fistful of prawn will make all the difference I am sure.
    I also learnt the names of different Sags, thank you !
    Will try this one as soon as I get some prawns.
    have as nice weekend

  38. love this post ! Village pics look lovely with the pond. I didn't know that greens was called malabar greens..even though i am from malabar :P

  39. @MAdhu, sorry I forgot to mention the serving size. this will serve 4 persons as an accompaniment to rice. yes. you can freeze this in a covered bowl for a couple of days.
    best way would be not to put the tempering, whenever you want to use take it out from the freeze, bring it to room temperature and add fresh tempering. that way the aroma would be intact.

  40. A beautifully descriptive narrative of life and food gathering - not to mention a wonderful recipe to share for MLLA!

    Thank you, Sayantani!

  41. Ghanto sounds superb...and the fish catching pics are too good too...

    Will see you after I come back..bye till then

  42. beautiful dish..very healthy too..I would omit prawns and try it out soon...

  43. Wow this simple dish looks very very tasty .Pictures are so beautiful

  44. Curry looks fabulous....nice pics too

  45. Have heard of this dish, but haven't tasted it so far.. looks delish!!

  46. Pictures look great!..ghanto is wonderful!

  47. Lovely informative post ! Loved the pictures...ghanto sounds delicious I could easily see myself making a veggie version of this...

    Regarding your question about substituting quinoa in dosai you could just use an equal amount of medium rava !

  48. Ghonto khub shundor hoyeche. Ami dal deoa ghonto kokhono khaini er age.

    Chobi gulo khub sundor

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