Aloo Bharta

Aloo (ka) Bharta (spicy mashed potato) is a timeless comfort food which can be enjoyed equally with rice or rotis. As a Bengali, my staple meal growing up consisted of boiled rice and my mum often prepared this bharta in traditional Bengali style, either using mustard oil as a base or ghee; the latter treating one’s sensory palette to the ultimate taste experience which I dare not replicate for obvious health reasons!

Aloo Bharta, a dish of Bihari origin, has many variations. My recipe is based on a Pakistani version which I have adapted from my mother-in-law and is very different to the Bengali method of preparation and personally, best enjoyed with handmade rotis 😀

Feel free to replace the tomato purée with fresh tomatoes. I only used the purée as I was out of tomatoes 😱

Ingredients

  • 750 g potatoes, boiled and mashed with a tsp salt
  • 3-4 tbsp oil
  • 1 tbsp cumin seeds
  • 11/2 tsp curry powder
  • 1/2 tsp coriander powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp tomato purée
  • 4 spring onions, chopped
  • Green and red chillies, chopped
  • Coriander leaves

How to cook

1. Heat the oil gently and add the cumin seeds. Allow seeds to sizzle.

2. Add the onions and chillies. Cover and cook until softened.

3. Stir in the spices and cook for 1 minute over a medium flame.

4. Add the tomato purée and mix well. Cook until the oil separates from spices. Stir in the salt.

5. Turn down the heat and add the mashed potato. Mix well until the spices is evenly distributed throughout the potato.

6. Stir in the chopped coriander and transfer to a serving dish.

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Bengali Fish Curry

The simplicity of this basic Bengali fish curry is its greatest appeal. It is mouth-wateringly flavoursome and when served with boiled rice is indulgently reminiscent of my mother’s cooking…

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Cooking Time: approx. 45 mins
Serves: 4

Ingredients

FOR THE FISH

  • 6-8 medium pieces white fish
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric
  • 1/2 tsp ground cumin
  • 1/2 tsp ground coriander
  • 1/4 tsp chilli powder

FOR THE CURRY

  • 1 large onion
  • 3 tbsp oil
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1 tbsp ginger paste
  • 1 heaped tbsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric
  • 1 tsp ground coriander
  • 1/4 tsp chilli powder (optional)
  • 1 tsp paprika powder
  • 2 green chillies cut lengthwise and deseeded (if not using chilli powder)
  • 1 large tomato cubed
  • 4 medium new potatoes cut lengthwise
  • handful of fresh chopped coriander leaves

How to cook

  1. Place fish in a large boil and rub in the dry spices. Cover and set aside.
  2. In a large skillet heat the oil gently and add the onions. Cover and cook on low heat for 5 minutes.
  3. Stir in cumin seeds, then add bay leaf, salt and ginger. Stir and cover. Allow to cook until onions are softened.
  4. Add tomatoes, potatoes, turmeric, coriander, paprika, chilli powder (if using) and green chillies. Stir well for 30 seconds.
  5. Add 1/2 cup boiled water, stir and cover. Cook until onions and tomato are mashable and potatoes are cooked through.
  6. Meanwhile place the fish under a medium grill and cook for 10 minutes, turning over once. Be careful not to overcook the fish to avoid drying out.
  7. Check the gravy mixture and mash the onions and tomato with the back of a wooden spoon. Add a little more boiled water if necessary to create a runny gravy and bring to boil.
  8. Lower the heat to a simmer and add the fish with a fish slice, a piece at a time. Carefully pour in the juices on the grill pan. Immediately turn over the each piece of fish.
  9. Add more boiled water to create more gravy if desired. Turn up the flame and cook for another 3-4 minutes.
  10. Garnish with chopped coriander and cover to allow to set.
Bombay Potatoes

Bombay Potatoes (Aloo)

Bombay Potatoes, likely to have originated in Southern Indian, is a dish which has been adapted more for the British palette.

However, I have found the off-the-shelf, watered down version of ‘Bombay Potatoes’ far from palatable. What I have created here is a more intensely flavoursome dish which uses the Eastern Bengali blend of five spices (‘paanch phoran’)  to bring a out wonderfully aromatic flavour.

Cooking Time: approx. 45 mins

Serves: 4

Ingredients

How to cook

  1. Heat the oil gently and add the paanch masala. Allow to sizzel for 4-5 seconds.
  2. Add the onions, red pepper, green chillies (if using), garlic and ginger. Cover and simmer on low heat until onions and vegetables have softened and the oil separates from the mixture.
  3. Stir in the dry spices including the salt and saute for 1 minute. Add a splash of water to prevent burning.
  4. Stir in the cubed potatoes and cover. Cook until potatoes are tender. Check partway and add a little water if the mixture begins to dry up.
  5. Sprinkle the fenugreek and serve as an accompaniment with flat bread or rice

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