Sunday, February 12, 2012

Chochchori / Mixed Vegetable



I was once again absent from cyberspace for obvious reasons – yes you got it right, the usual problem – my health. Thankfully my brother stepped in with the Mainland China post but now I am trying to get back in action. I have two good reasons to push myself; one is Indrani’s ongoing event and the other a request from my cyber friend, a film blogger, Harvey. Harvey requested a recipe with paanch phoron.

Most of you probably know what panch phoron is but all the same, for the uninitiated, here is the explanation- paanch means the number five and phoron  is the Bengali word for tempering. For this tempering you need the following five ingredients in equal quantities – cumin seeds (jeera), fennel seeds (saunf), mustard seeds (rai or sarson), fenugreek seeds(methi) and nigella seeds (kalonji). Bengalis call it kalo jeeray or black cumin. For some strange reason grocers here in Bombay refer to nigella seeds as kanda ka bee or onion seeds. These are definitely not onion seeds but look similar to it but there is a difference in flavour.

A note of caution, I never actually learned to cook this dish from mum, so when I cooked it I was hoping I got it right and I think I did for it tasted almost like mum’s.

In the recipe given below I have not specified the measurements of the ingredients, it would be better to use your judgement. I have used three vegetables because that was what was immediately available but you can add some more – in fact more the merrier- what I mean is that the more vegetables you add the more flavoursome the preparation, but of course you cannot add just about any vegetable  for instance you cannot add bitter gourd or bottle gourd. Besides drumsticks I have used potatoes and aubergine( eggplant/brinjal), you can also add red pumpkin and flat green beans – the ones we call paapdi in India.  

Here is the recipe;

Ingredients:
  • Drumsticks, I took 3 drumsticks.
  • Brinjal, I had a brinjal of approximately 300 odd grams.
  • Potatoes, I took three potatoes.
  • Tomato, I used one tomato.
  • Paanch Phoron, I took roughly ¾ teaspoon of paanch phoron.
  • Turmeric powder.
  • Kashmiri red chilli powder, you can use any red chilli powder, I prefer the Kashmiri chilli.
  • Salt to taste.
  • Mustard paste (optional).

Method:
  • Bengalis have a particular way in which they chop the vegetables for chochchori, my Ma used to say that a cook in a Bengali household is able to guess what is going to be cooked by just seeing the manner in which the vegetables have been chopped. However I have yet to get it right, I sort of manage.

  • First chop off the two ends of the drumsticks and then chop the drumsticks into approximately 3 to 3 ½ inch pieces. Now with a sharp knife carefully strip off the outer green layer of the drumsticks. Most people do not remove the outer layer but Bengalis do.

  • Chop the aubergine into longish pieces each piece about 2 inches long I never get it right, see below a picture of how my mother chopped the aubergine for a Bengali dish called Shukto.
  • Peel and chop the potatoes (If the potato is of good quality there is no need to peel the potatoes, for this preparation Bengalis usually leave it unpeeled) as you would for finger chips only a little broader than the finger chips, check out this video, it is quite helpful, but for this recipe they could be chopped a bit broader.

  • See the photo below and you will get a fair idea of how the vegetables have to be chopped
  • Heat some oil in a vessel of your choice, we Bengalis use mustard oil.
  • Stir fry the drumsticks and leave it aside.
  • Now add the paanch phoron and wait for it to splutter.
  • Add the potatoes and the aubergine.
  • Stir fry the vegetables.
  • When they are partially cooked add the drumsticks, chopped tomato and salt to taste, stir some more.
  • Add a little turmeric powder and chilli powder.
  • Now stir and keep it covered for a little while.
  • Remove cover add a little water and cover and cook till done.
Most Bengalis add a little mustard paste but Ma sometimes did not add it and I found that the absence of the mustard paste did not in any way lessen the taste of the dish.
You can have it with steamed rice or phulka rotis
 Sending this to Indrani's event Spotlight: Winter Vegetables.



23 comments:

  1. Hey Shilpi, I am a big fan of mixed vegetable and this looks really good. One question about paanch phoron - jeera, saunf, sarson, kalonji and? What's the fifth ingredient? Couldn't make out from your post. Sorry if I'm being dumb here - can't help it! I am like this only. ;-)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. @ raja
      my paanch phoron has nigella, cumin, fennel, mustard and fenugreek seeds in it.

      Delete
    2. Yup, that's how my mother taught me to mix panch phoron - the fifth ingredient being methi daana.

      Delete
    3. Oops in my hurry to publish my post I forgot to mention the fifth ingredient, yes it is methi or fenugreek seeds, I have rectified the error, thanks Raja for pointing it out and thanks Harvey and Madhu for doing my work, considering I am not able to reply immediately.

      Delete
  2. Dear Shilpi!
    Thank you for this recipe!
    How nice of you to remember my farmaish. It seems I must be having a birthday or something. Samir also published a post on my farmaish and now you!

    The recipe sounds yummy.
    I don't get drumsticks here. I will just take other vegetables. Do you think it will be a good idea if I take zucchini, aubergine, peas, potato, bell peppers and tomato?

    You and your mother are right about the cutting of vegetables. I have also experienced it that the taste of the vegetable changes with the way they are cut. zucchini for e.g., tastes nutty if it is cut in small splits and very soft and vegetables like if cut in stripes and if cut in slices it tastes totally different.

    Once a Bengali friend of mine prepared a potato dish with it, but I couldn't get the exact recipe for it from her. This looks to be a better option!

    Another question: Do onions go well with paanch phoron?

    Thank you once again, for the recipe, dear Shilpi!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. As far as I know onions and paanch phoron do not go together but since mum isn't around I am unable to confirm that, but nowadays people experiment a lot, for instance earlier nobody mixed paanch phoron with whole garam masala like cloves, cardomom and cinnamon but nowadays much to the disgust of purists people do mix the two.
      I am not too sure how zuchini will taste with paanch phoron but give it a try, it might taste odd or might taste good, if it it tastes ok or good call it mixed vegetable a la harvey.

      Delete
    2. Sorry for clogging your comments box.
      I will try it out this weekend. I will surely not add whole garam masala to it, since it will cloud the taste of paanch phoron.
      I will for sure tell you how it turns up. Most probably I will add onions. I will slice it in big pieces so as to make it appear more like a vegetable rather than a condiment.

      Delete
    3. No Harvey you are not clogging my comments box, you are only making it more interesting, waiting to see how your experiment turns out.

      Delete
  3. Dear Shilpi!
    Thank you for this recipe!
    How nice of you to remember my farmaish. It seems I must be having a birthday or something. Samir also published a post on my farmaish and now you!

    The recipe sounds yummy.
    I don't get drumsticks here. I will just take other vegetables. Do you think it will be a good idea if I take zucchini, aubergine, peas, potato, bell peppers and tomato?

    You and your mother are right about the cutting of vegetables. I have also experienced it that the taste of the vegetable changes with the way they are cut. zucchini for e.g., tastes nutty if it is cut in small splits and very soft and vegetables like if cut in stripes and if cut in slices it tastes totally different.

    Once a Bengali friend of mine prepared a potato dish with it, but I couldn't get the exact recipe for it from her. This looks to be a better option!

    Another question: Do onions go well with paanch phoron?

    Thank you once again, for the recipe, dear Shilpi!

    ReplyDelete
  4. Thank you, Shilpi! I love chochchori (get to eat it occasionally if I have lunch with my sister - her cook makes excellent chochchori), so thank you for the recipe. Will certainly make this at home some day soon, since I have all the ingredients (okay, not the saijna, but since I don't like that, I won't miss it, I guess).

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Well then if you do not like drumsticks you can add the other vegetables I suggested and since this the season for leafy vegetables you can also chop up some spinach and add to the mix, it tastes yum and yes instead of red chilli powder you can also add green chillies.

      Delete
    2. Thank you for the idea of adding spinach! Am going to ask my husband to buy some on his way home from office today, so that I can make the chochchori tomorrow itself. :-)

      Am very excited about this now!

      Delete
    3. Great Madhu, to be honest I have never cooked the spinach wala chochori but whenever Ma cooked it I just loved it, I think I too should give it a try.

      Delete
    4. Shilpi, I made the chochchori a couple of days back - without the spinach, but with mustard paste - and it tasted great. Thanks! Will be making this more often now. :-)

      Delete
    5. Glad to know it was a success and as for the spinach actually to be honest I do not know the exact method of making the spinach chochori, I will have to try it out, in fact after giving you the suggestion I was a little nervous, hoping it turns out fine. I tried it once with another leafy vegetable,the one they call lal saag, we do not eat the leaves but portions of the stem, and it turned out fine and yes I also added radish, radish is a must in these preparations and I did not add mustard paste, I don't think one needs to add mustard paste in this preparation, it was perfect,there was no drumstick of course in this one.

      Delete
  5. Very healthy and yummy mixed vegetable...

    ReplyDelete
  6. This looks yummy..Perfectly made..

    Aarthi
    http://www.yummytummyaarthi.com/

    ReplyDelete
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  11. This comment has been removed by the author.

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