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ABOUT KOLKATA PAANCHPHORON

For over three centuries, Kolkata has quietly observed endless invasions, migrations and exodus which have literally made our ‘tilottoma’ a melting pot of diverse cultures. While most of them have etched a mark in the city’s art, architecture and heritage, they have also engraved their presence in the culinary art. From Bagbazaar to Territi Bazaar, Kolkata’s length and breadth consist of a plethora of enthralling gastronomic experiences. EiSamay Calendar 2018 takes you out on an exciting journey across the wide variety exotic Kolkata cuisines and helps you rediscover a city whose joys, happiness and sorrows can be interpreted from the origin of the tantalizing delicacies.

From moya to mutton, pitha to papad, Bengal’s love and passion for great tastes have all the ingredients to become an intriguing research paper. Bengal, very interestingly, has gone beyond its boundaries to embrace food from other parts of the country and even from Europe, middle – east and Far east. Come and be a part of this drooling journey across the most sought-after dainties of Bengal and the celebrations, seasons and cultures connected with each of them.

Paanchphoron is a new section from Ei Samay featuring anything and everything linked to our taste buds along with recipes, exciting workshops and cooking tips ! Keep an eye on the page to be a part of its unmissable activities.


JANUARY CHAPTER – PITHE PULI

Pithe: The last day of the Bengali winter month Poush across Bengal is celebrated by cooking a variety of dishes together called Pithe. Pithes can be stuffed with various vegetables, with coconut and gur, with sweetened khir. Again, pithes come in all shapes and sizes, from simple round dumplings and rolls to intricately designed half-circular shapes. Made largely of rice flour, obtained from freshly harvested paddy, the real zing in most pithes come from the amazing aroma of the notun gur, fresh date-palm jaggery.

Trivia: Not only in Bengal, Pithe or Pitha is equally popular across Odisha and Assam, the latter using a special sun-dried rice to prepare it

Chitoi/Shwora/Ashke pithe

This is a very popular dish of Bangladesh. Even though it is known as chitoi because it is made in a flat earthern bowl like thing called “shwora”; it is often referred to as shwora pithe or ashke pithe (different regions, different names of the same thing!)

Ingredients: Rice flour, lukewarm water, desiccated coconut, nolen gur (date palm jaggery), pinch of salt and shwora

Recipe : Soak the earthen bowls-shwora’s overnight in water the day before. Next day dry the earthen bowls. Now, mix the rice flour with the lukewarm water together with a pinch of salt and make a mix. Now on a low heat/flame place the “shwora” and add the kick to it. Cover and let it cook. Check to ensure that it is not dry. Once it is completely done remove with the help of a spoon or a knife. Serve hot with desiccated coconut and nolen gur.

Chal er payesh

Rice pudding with date palm jaggery

Ingredient: 1 lit milk, 50 rice (gobindo bhog variety) and 200gm nolen gur ( date palm jaggery)

Recipe: Lightly roast the rice in ghee. Boil milk and then add the roasted rice to this. When the rice is cooked slowly add in the jaggery whilst stirring continuously. Also, add in a pinch of salt- this prevents the milk from splitting. When the milk thickens remove from heat and serve warm or cold (as per preference).

Gokul Pithe

This delicacy is not only prepared during makar shankranti but it is also often made during janmastumi – to celebrate the birth of lord krishna. This was apparently lord krishna’s favorite hence the name “gokul”. This pithe is flatter rather than dome shaped.

Ingredients: Desiccated coconut, nolen gur, semolina, condensed milk (khowa kheer), flour, milk and sugar

Recipe: Add dessicated cocunut, khowa kheer ( recipe above) and a little bit of semolina to a pan/wok and mix until it leaves the side of the pan. Take a small amount to check if you can roll it on your palm to make a ball and if it is holding its shape. If it is you are done. Roll out similar balls and flatten it by pressing your palms together and keep aside. Now make a thin batter out of flour, semolina, milk and a little bit of nolen gur. This should be thick enough to coat the balls. Now dip the flattened balls in this batter and deep fry in vegetable oil and ghee mixed together. Make a thin sugar syrup by heating sugar and water together till you get a syrupy consistency. Add the fried flattened balls to the syrup let it soak for a bit and remove and keep aside. Gokul pithe is ready to eat.

Choshir Payesh

Ingredient : Rice flour, milk and jaggery

Recipe : Mix the rice flour with a pinch of salt and water to prepare a dough. Now divide the dough into small portions and shape each one into small thin slightly elongated shape ( should resemble the grain of wheat). Let these rest so some of the moisture is absorbed. Now mix the jaggery with the milk and heat till it comes to a boil and stir continuously till it thickens a bit and add the prepared portioned dough shapes and continue boiling for a bit and then remove when it thickens. Careful when you are adding the dough to the milk add in small quantities so that they may retain their shape. Also ensure that you do not over-boil.

Mugshamali

This is also  known  as a fried variant called bhaja puli. “Bhaja in Bengali means fried

Ingredient: Lentil(moong variety-yellow bengal gram), desiccated coconut, flour/rice flour and white vegetable oil for cooking

Recipe: Dry roast the lentil in a pan first. Now add sufficient amount of water to cook the lentil (be careful and ensure that it is not too watery but rather dry). Prepare a dough using the cooked moong, salt and flour/rice flour. Now make small balls of the dough and make a hollow- like bowl. Add coconut filling(coconut mixed with jaggery-recipe already shared above) and shape the dough in an elongated shape. Now fry these. Serve hot with nolen gur(optional)

Patishapta

A quintessential Bengali crepee made out of date palm jaggery, rice flour and semolina, stuffed with a filling of coconut and/or sweetened condensed milk.

Ingredients: Rice flour (best to use gobindobhog but not necessary), milk, flour, semolina, nolen gur (date palm jaggery), desiccated coconut and/or sweetened condensed milk (recipe below).

Recipe: Sweetened condensed milk: easily available in sweet shops -“ khowa kheer” or you can make it yourself- just boil milk mixed with date palm jaggery until it thickens remember to stir continuously and add a pinch of salt (this prevents the milk from spliting). If you are using ready-made “khowa kheer” just add a bit of date palm jaggery (nolen gur) and mix in. Add a bit if milk if necessary.

Coconut stuffing: Mix desiccated cocunut  with nolen gur almost in equal quantities (for one cup of coconut add 3/4 cup of jaggery). Add the mix to a pan or wok and stir until the mix leaves the side of the wok.

Batter: To make the batter mix in rice flour, semolina and flour in equal quantities add in milk and nolen gur till you get a smooth consistency. Now heat a non-stick tawa/pan, to this add a bit of vegetable oil or brush a bit of ghee and pour a small amount of batter (about a ladle full) onto the pan. Spread it out in a round shape. Now add the coconut mix or the condensed milk filling- you can also use equal quantities of both. Carefully fold the edges from both sides and remove from heat. Remember to cook this on a low flame/heat.

FEBRUARY CHAPTER – CHOCOLATE MAKING

Chocolate: If music be the food of love, play on…thus spake Shakespeare…Oops! he got it all wrong! The food of love, the flavour of the month…yummy chocolates, it is…you bet…With St. Valentine blessing the cupid-struck and the starry-eyed, it is surely these magic bars, that floors one and all, the lover and the loved one. Be it the tall, dark and handsome type or the ones without a speck of black, the milky white tribe or the beauties in brown, it is chocolate all the way.

Trivia: Chocolate is actually a vegetable! The Cacao tree on which the Cacao bean grows, is a vegetable.

Valentine’s Day Dark Chocolate

Ingredients: Dark chocolate, Almonds, Honey, heart shaped baking tray.

Recipe: At first melt some dark chocolate in a sauce pan over medium heat. Then
Pour the melted chocolate into a heart shaped baking tray. Now place a few almonds in with each of the dark chocolate hearts and finally drizzle some honey over the heart shaped chocolates.

Homemade Ferrero Rocher

Ingredients: 2 cup (300g/ 10oz) roasted hazelnuts, ½ Cup (2 oz. / 60g) cocoa powder, 2 teaspoon of vanilla extract, ½ teaspoon salt, ½ cup (5oz/150g) maple syrup (agave or honey), 1 cup (6oz/180g) Chocolate, melted, 1 cup (150g/5oz) roughly chopped hazelnuts (to garnish).

Recipe: Add the hazelnuts into a food processor (keep aside 40-45 hazelnuts for the centre) and blend into a fine paste like consistency. It takes 2-3 minutes. Then add cocoa powder, vanilla extract, salt and maple syrup and blend until the ingredients start to stick together, just 20 seconds. You need the mix to be sticky and not dry. if it is not shapable then continue to blend. Then roll into small balls, inserting a hazelnut into the centre. Once they are all rolled, place in the fridge for an hour minimum to set them. Once set, dip each Ferrero Rocher in the melted chocolate. Let any excess chocolate dip off. Then toss them in the chopped hazelnuts and coat them all over. Place them on a tray lined with parchment. Store in the fridge until ready to enjoy. They will stay fresh in the fridge for up to 3 days.

Rum chocolate

Ingredient: 1 1/2 tbsp rum, 1 tbsp raisin (kismis), 1/2 cup chopped dark chocolate.

Recipe: Combine the rum and raisin in the bowl, mix well and keep aside to soak for 3 hours. Drain and keep aside. Now put the chocolate in a microwave safe bowl and microwave on high for 1 minute and mix well. Fill the chocolate mould with the melted chocolate till ¾ full, tap it lightly. Then put 2 to 3 soaked raisins in each cavity. Fill the mould with the remaining melted chocolate, tap it lightly again and refrigerate for 30 minutes or till firm. Now unmold the chocolates and serve or store in an air-tight container in a refrigerator.

Chocolate Cookie Truffle Recipe Card

Ingredients: Dark chocolate chopped ½ cup, White chocolate melted ½ cup, Fresh cream 2 tablespoons, Dark chocolate cream cookies 15-20.

Recipe: To prepare ganache, heat cream in a non-stick pan. Add chopped dark chocolate, mix and cook for a minute. Remove from heat and mix till chocolate melts and well incorporated. Then grind the cream cookies to make a fine mixture and transfer in a bowl. Add ganache and mix well. Now divide the mixture into equal portion, shape them into balls and transfer onto a plate. Refrigerate for 1 hour. Line a tray with a silicon mat and dip each ball in melted white chocolate and place on the silicon mat. Keep aside till set. Now serve immediately.

Sugar-Free White Chocolate Bars

Ingredient : 8 ounces raw cacao butter, 1/2 cup Swerve or powdered erythritol, 1/4 cup vanilla protein powder use Jay Robb which is sweetened with stevia, 2 teaspoons vanilla extract, 1/4 teaspoon salt, 1 1/2 teaspoon vanilla liquid stevia, Optional: dried cranberries chopped nuts.

Recipe : Melt the cacao butter over low heat in a saucepan until completed melted. Remove from heat and whisk in swerve until combined. Let cool about 15 minutes then add mixture into a blender. Add in the rest of the ingredients and blend until smooth. Pour into chocolate bar molds and add optional ingredients if desired. Refrigerate until hardened.

Homemade Chocolate Bars

Ingredient: 1/2 cup + 1 tbsp cacao or cocoa powder. 4 tbsp virgin coconut oil, melted. vanilla stevia drops to taste (If you’d prefer to use a liquid sweetener, such as agave or pure maple syrup, use this ratio instead: 1/4 cup cocoa powder, 1/4 cup coconut oil, 3 tbsp of your liquid sweetener.). optional extracts, cocoa nibs, or other add-ins. optional 1 extra tbsp oil or water, if it needs to be thinner.

Recipe: Combine coconut oil with the liquid sweetener or stevia drops. Stir, then add the cacao powder. Stir stir stir! Stir until it gets thick. Pour into any flat container (or candy molds or smush between layers of wax paper or in ziploc bags). Freeze until solid, and store in the freezer. Once hardened, you can also opt to melt the bars again for chocolate sauce. Or chop them up for healthy 100% sugar-free chocolate chips! If you use the stevia option, these bars are sugar-free.