Thursday, August 6, 2009

The traditional Appetizers

The traditional appetizers in a Bengali meal are served in the same plate with the hot steaming rice. There are a variety of fried stuff ---- vegetables and greens as also boiled vegetables like potaotes or bittergourd and pumpkin and even okra...
Let's start with the boiled stuff.....
This is the healthy part of the appetizers. Children usually hate these and mothers force them down their mouths. But honestly speaking I think there is nothing like boiled potato with bitter gourd or ucche alu sheddho. The bitterness of the bitter gourd is really balanced out by the mashed potato. Its a lovely combo. otherwise if you are not really into bitterness then you can try out with pumpkins and even raw papaya. But as it is said back home.....A little bitter at the start is always good for the belly...
Next comes the lightly pan fried varieties:
Mostly the greens fall into this variety or the shaak as we call it. Well you can have the greens boiled too but it tastes better if fried just lightly. We do not prefer our greens raw and these are always cooked right... boiled or fried.Greens like pui, notey and laal , palong(spinach) to name just a few are not only good for health but taste good too.Even lightly fried bitter gourd is a favourite among Bengalis.Also during winter you can always smell the neem leaves crackling up in the bengali kitchen . It is a favourite winter delicacy back home. The neem leaves are chopped, washed and tossed in to hot oil with small slices of egg plant. It is a very bitter appetizer but then it does wonders to your taste buds as also to your immunity.
The deep fried ones are the least healthy ones. There are a variety of vegetables, grains or greens which are deep fried. The varieties are infinite and you can practically deep fry anything and the batter is usullay of cornflour or flour or chickpea flour. Sometimes it just needs hot oil and no batter just like this posto bora I made C for lunch.
My favourite appetisers are shaak bhaja and posto bora. And I love bitter stuff . So I serve bittergourd both ways.... fried as well as boiled.

Shaak bhaja:
spinach -1 bunch
nigella -1/2 tsp
black mustard seeds -a sprinkle
mustard oil -2 tbsp
green chillies -2 slit
posto /poppy seeds -a sprinkle

Boil the spinach until they wilt.
Drain the water and squeeze the extra water out.
Heat oil in a skillet and sizzle the nigella and mustard and add the chillies.
Add the spinach and lightly fry in medium heat.
Add salt and sprinkle the poppy seeds on the top. The seeds will from a sort of a crunchy crust on the top.
Taske it off heat and serve hot .

Boiled potatoes with bitter gourd:

Potato-1 medium boiled
bitter gourd-1 medium boiled
mustard oil-1 tsp

Mash the potato and the bitter gourd.
Add salt and the mustard oil.
Make small balls with your hand and serve.

Posto bora or Poppy seed Fritters:

poppy seeds-1/2 cup
chopped red onion-quarter of a medium one or according to taste
green chilli-2 slit
mustard oil-3-4 tbsp

Grind the poppy seeds to a fine paste with a little water and salt. The paste should not be runny.
Add the onions and chillies.
Heat oil in a skillet and add a spoonful of the ground poppy seeds.
Fry golden brown on both sides. and serve with hot white rice.

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