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Recipes: India on a plate

Last week, we celebrated Baisakhi in Punjab, Bihu in Assam, Poila Boishakh in Bengal and Vishu in Kerala. As the season of harvest begins, it’s time to check out some of these regional cuisines

Come April, the sun moves into the Aries ushering the season of harvest in India. Baisakhi is celebrated in the north, especially in Punjab by the Sikh community. 

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Baisakhi

Farmers thank god for the abundant harvest and pray for future prosperity.

In the East, the Assamese celebrate Bihu, which is all about feasting and visiting friends and relatives. The food prepared includes sweets such as Til Pitha, Handoh (sticky rice powder eaten with milk and jaggery) and Kumal Chawl (sticky rice with curd and jaggery).

Come to West Bengal, and a pooja is conducted at the Kalighat, Kolkata. The lamb dish, Thakur Barir Pathar Mangsho, is offered to goddess Kali. It is rich in cashew nuts among other dry fruits and Bengali spices. As the mutton dish is an offering to the goddess, it is considered a vegetarian bhog. The current year in the Bengali calendar is 1421!

Down south, Vishu, which is the Malayali New Year, also celebrates the fresh harvest produce. Some of the dishes commonly made during Vishu are Olan (a vegetable stew); Kootan curry with lentils; Avial, vegetables in a coconut stew and beaten curds; and Veppampoo Rasam made of neem flowers. 

Here are three recipes from Assam, Kerala and Kolkata to try at home:

Til Pitha

Ingredients
>> 250 gm sticky rice powder (finely powdered)
>> 100 gm black til (sesame)
>> 50 gm molasses

Til Pitha
Amateur Assamese chef Gitika Saikia’s Til Pitha recipe is easy to follow

Method
>> Dry roast the black til. Pound them coarsely and mix with molasses
>> Heat a tawa, take a heap of sticky rice powder and spread on the tawa. Press it gently
>> Spread the til and molasses mix and press again. Using the edge of a spoon, roll the pitha softly
>> Press on both the edges so that the mixture does not slip out. Allow it to rest for sometime on the tawa
>> Serve hot and crispy with black tea

Avial

Ingredients
>> 50 gm carrot, peeled
>> 30 gm beans, de-stringed
>> 50 gm raw banana, peeled
>> 50 gm drumstick
>> 50 gm yam, peeled
>> 75 gm bottle gourd, peeled
>> 75 gm grated coconut
>> 5 gm cumin seeds
>> 10 gm green chillies, de-stemmed
>> 25 ml coconut oil
>> 100 gm yoghurt, beaten
>> 10 curry leaves
>> Salt to taste

Avial
Avial recipe by Executive chef Vijay Malhotra, ITC Maratha

Method
>> Cut all the vegetables into even-sized batons and boil in salted water
>> Grind grated coconut, cumin and green chillies into a fine paste
>> Heat the coconut oil in a heavy bottom pan. Add the above paste and sauté. Add the vegetables
z Turn off the flame, add the yoghurt and season it with salt and pepper
z Garnish with fried curry leaves

Thakur Barir Pathar Mangsho

Ingredients
>> 500 gm mutton
>> 4 tbsp sunflower oil
>> 50 gm ginger paste
>> 125 gm kaju and charmagaj paste
>> 2 tsp whole and powdered black pepper
>> 1 tsp green chilli paste
>> 1 tbsp turmeric powder
>> 2 tsp desi ghee
>> 1 tsp garam masala
>> 2 tomatoes
>> 50 gm curd
>> Salt to taste

Thakur Barir Pathar Mangsho
Sanjay Mukherjee,  managing director of Kolkata Callin’ at Andheri East, shares the recipe

Method
>> Marinate the boiled mutton with ginger paste, black pepper, salt, green chilli paste, curd, turmeric powder and 1 tsp of sunflower oil for 30 minutes
>> Add 3 tsp sunflower oil in a frying pan. Add the mutton and stir till colour starts to change. Then add the kaju-charmagaj paste. Add water to keep the mixture from sticking to the pan
>> Stir the mutton till it turns dark brown
>> Add a pinch of black pepper powder
>> Add garam masala and tomatoes and cook for another minute

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