Chingri macher Dhokar Dalna

9:11 PM

Who you do not depend entirely on your family tree or upbringing. but there are certain traits that you are born with, some times inexplicable but that's what makes us unique. Often as parents, we ignore the early signs of what a person is passionate about and what makes them happy. and most often than not as a person you do not understand where your happiness lies. Blessed are those who at least gets to find it in their lifetime but my heart goes out to all those who never get an opportunity to find out their inner soul.

As a kid, I was very good at studies and never came second in my class. Obviously, People thought of Joint entrance and IIT exams as my future. But I knew science never made me happy and luckily my father agreed too. I studied Economics. But later even I got carried away and chose a stream which made me so pathetically bored that once a chance came my way to leave that stream I literally ran away and never looked back. But if I am true to myself I would know that the sign of love for food was always there. Even as a kid I read Lila Majumdar's Rannar boi for hours and dreamed of a time when I would be able to cook that. It's not the food that I craved but the process, the ingredients the idea of feeding people and getting appreciated made me excited.

No wonder I consider myself lucky for doing what I love as a career now. So this morning I decided to revisit those memories by cooking a few of my favourite recipes from those books. I cook them all the time but never got around to click and post about these recipes. First one in this series is this Chingri macher Dhonka from Bela De's book. The recipe demanded some Golda chingri or Jumbo prawn but I prepared it with big river prawns.

A very simple straight forward recipe but tastes so so very good. I cooked it for a recipe article for Ananda Bazar Patrika and everyone who tasted it was floored by its simplicity and uniqueness.

Chingri Macher Dhokar Dalna
(serves 4-5)

Prawns, big size: 500 gms
Egg white of 1 egg
Potato: 1 medium
onion: 1 big
Ginger: 1" piece
Garlic: 2 cloves
Tomato: 1 small
Yogurt: 2 tbsp
Coriander powder: 1 tsp
Chili powder: as per taste
Kashmiri chili powder for colour: 1 tsp
Bengali Garam masala powder: 1/2 tsp 
Oil: 4 tbsp (Mustard oil or any white oil)
Sugar: 1/2 tsp

Cumin seeds: 1/2 tsp
Green chilies: 2-3
Bay leaf: 2
Cinnamon stick: 1" piece
Green cardamom: 2
Clove: 3-4

Remove the head, tail, and legs of the prawns, Peel the skin and Clean the vein. Try to take out the yellow brain from the head as much as possible. Keep the heads for later use. Make a semi coarse paste of the prawn's body in your mixie. Do not make a smooth paste. Whizzing it for 2 seconds would be enough.
Take it out. Mix with a little salt and one chopped green chilli. Take a flat metal plate for the steamer. Grease it properly. Spread the prawn paste in it and steam for 7 minutes. Take out and let it cool. Cut it in diamond shape and keep aside.

Peel the potato and cut it in 1" cubes.
Make a paste of the onion, also paste the ginger and garlic.
Make a paste of the tomato too.

Heat little oil and fry the Dhonka pieces. Once they turn golden take out.
In the same oil fry the potatoes with a pinch of salt. Take out when they are brown all over.

Heat all the oil. Temper it with cumin seeds, bay leaf,  lightly pounded whole garam masala. Once the aroma arises add the ginger paste. Sprinkle the chili powder and some turmeric and salt. Cook this on medium for 4-5 minutes. Add a tbsp of water and cook again. Once the onion is nicely cooked and oil drops start to show up add the ginger garlic paste. Cook it again for 3-4 minutes till the raw smell is gone. Mix the coriander powder with little water and pour in. cook for a minute and then add tomato paste. Sprinkle some salt and cook it again for 5-6 minutes till all the masalas come together.

Add the beaten yogurt while keeping the flame at low. Mix well and sprinkle a pinch of garam masala powder. Once oil nicely starts to ooze out from the sides add 11/2 cups of warm water. Adjust the seasoning by adding more salt and sugar. Bring it to a boil.

Add the potatoes and slit green chilies. Keep the flame at medium and cover it. Once the potatoes are boiled taste the gravy. add sugar and adjust seasoning if required. The gravy should be nicely thick by now but make sure to keep some gravy as the dhokas will absorb a lot of water. Add in the fried dhoka pieces and mix. Bring it to a boil and then switch off the flame. Sprinkle the garam masala and cover. Let it rest for 30 minutes before serving.

Serve warm with rice and curries.

A Homemaker's Diary:
  • Please remember the flavour of this curry depends on the slow cooking. Invest enough time in bhunoing (cooking) the masalas and adjust the proportions to suit your palate.
  • You can omit the potatoes if you want.
  • If the gravy thicken too much add some warm water and bring it to a boil then adjust the seasoning.
  • I have slightly altered the gravy recipe by adding Onion paste. Also in the book the dhonkas are shaped like round fritters and fried. 

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