Hingche shaak er bora or batter fried wild greens10:21 AM
Both I and my husband have our roots in the rural areas of Midnapore district. When we were born the district was united and was known as Midnapore unlike today when its bifurcated in two parts, Purba (East) and Paschim (west) Midnapore. While he grew up in a quaint, little, not so developed village in Paschim part, When I was little my parents moved from our coastal village of Purba Midnapore to Santiniketan. But both of us spent a considerable part in our ancestral home and hold thee places very close to our heart.
Last week we went to his village to attend a wedding in the family. I love this serene place, far away from the hustle and bustle of any city life. The nearest town is 30 minutes drive and the village enjoys a tranquil and peaceful life. Most families own some piece of land which is very very fertile and enjoy a three time harvest of rice, sesame, potato or mustard. They might not be very well off but nor do they go to bed hungry. Life is simple, uncomplicated and people have time to enjoy with each other.
My In laws place is located besides a canal for watering the fields. The fields on the other side is so huge that one cannot see the other end. Last time when we went there in the month of October, The fields were lush green with new buds on the plants. This time the field is golden with matured grains and looks like as if someone has given it a bath in gold. Most families have got their harvest home and stacks of hays are arranged in different shapes and sizes in front of their houses. We enjoyed a day soaking the winter sun and watching the process of separating the grains from the hay and preparing for the next step. The field is also being prepared for next crop.
Another reason that I love going to the rural side is the wild greens that could be foraged from almost everywhere. I almost always come back with 3-4 types of wild greens and fruits. This time was no exception and a bunch of these Helencha or Hingche came home with some shushuni shaak and raw tamarind.
Helencha or hingche is also known as Harakuch or Chakrangi. These slightly bitter greens are a common in tropical humid weather. They grow wildly in the ponds, swamps and marshlands and are very good to cure swelling of any kind and bringing down body teperature. In Ayurveda these are widely used as purgative, anti swelling medicine and also for glowing skin. Hilly tribes in Assam and Bengal uses these as local medicines and also adds them to their daily meal. The leaves and tender shoots are crisp and juicy and tastes good boiled, fried or in curries.
This recipe of fritters is how my family cooks it. We make a small bunch with the tender tips of the plants with 2-3 leaf nodes and dip them in batter and fry till golden and crisp.
Hingche shaker bora (batter fried wild greens)
Hingche shaak: 2 cups lightly packed.
Besan or chickpea flour: 1/3 cup
Rice flour: 2 tbsp
bi carb of soda: fat pinch
nigella seeds: 1/3 tsp
Chili powder: 1/3 tsp
Pick, wash and drain the water from the leaves.
Make the batter by mixing the flours, chili, nigella seeds and salt. Add to that 1/3 cup water and mix to get a smooth batter. It should not be too tight. Heat the oil for frying.
When you are ready to fry add the bi carb to the batter and some hot oil and mix.
Drain and serve immediately with rice and curries or as an accompaniment with tea.