Dheki shaak or fiddle head fern, a simple stir fry

8:18 PM

Dhenki shaak or fiddle head fern is a vividly green edible fern with a typical coiled tip.There is so much romance associated with this typical vegetable from the northern part of Bengal. I first came to know about it while reading Samaresh Majumdar's novel Uttaradhikar, the first of the trilogy written on a boy called Animesh. The story mainly revolves around the life of Animesh and his life over a period of time set against the rapidly changing social, cultural and political scenario starting after independce. The story is set in the picturesque hilly location of North Bengal against which tthe writer portrayed the simple life of people working in the tea gardens.

But We would never get dhenki shaak in the areas where we lived so after growing up when I first saw it the love became more strong. I mean what not to love about this pretty looking greens! Right from it's coil shaed tips, vibrant green colour, meaty texture and the fact that it's a powerhouse of iron and antioxidants. So recently when I saw them in my market i knew i had to get them. The old man selling them was happy to see a buyer finally enquiring about it. He told that in local language they are called boudaga shaak or bride's tip greens. Mainly because of the similarity between the shaak's coiled fronds and the bowed head of a newly married bride.

These pretty edible ferns are also known as fiddle head ferns in the west. I had no experience of cooking it so finally after a few SOS calls to Maa and Masimoni (aunt) I decided to cook it in a simple stir fry with new potatoes. Though I generally do not post recipes just after the first time of making it but this turned out really good. And also the fact that am not sure when next would I be able to lay my hands on these very seasonal delights. So here is my simple recipe

Stir fried Dheki shaak with new potatoes

Dheki shaak: 4 bunches (200 gms approx.)
New potatoes: 3-4
Garlic: 3 fat cloves or pounded 1 tbsp
Mustard paste: 1/2 tsp
Nigella seeds: 1/3 tsp
Dry red chillies: 2
Mustard oil: 2 tsp

Cut the tip and the leaves from the stem. I used as much of the stems as possible, discard the hard stems. Cut in 1” pieces.
Wash the potatoes and cut in thin slices.
Pound the garlic and green chilies together. Keep aside.

pretty coiled fronds of the dhenki shaak
Heat oil and lightly saute the potatoes with salt till they are little soft (3-4 minutes), take out.

In the same oil add the nigella seeds. Once they splutter add the garlic and saute on high till they are golden. Add the greens with a pinch of salt and turmeric. Lot of juice will come out keep cooking on medium flame. After 3-4 minutes add in the potatoes. Mix and cook. Check the seasoning and add if you need more.

Once the juices are almost cooked add the mustard paste and mix. Cook on low for another 3-4 minutes and serve hot with Rice.

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