My Grandma's cookbook: Mixed Vegetables with Kalonji seeds (Black Caraway)
My Grandma, or Amma as I call her, is one of my biggest inspirations to cook. She is an amazing talent and loves to cook up big family feasts even today at 78 years old. I spent a lot of time with my grandparents and have very fond memories of growing up close to them. I felt privileged to live just more than a mile away from her and to be pampered with all the mouth watering dishes she cooked for us 7 days a week. She is a masterful artist and can break down and re-create any dish she comes across.
I visited Amma in October 2015 during the Durga Puja festivals. She carries on an almost 100 year old tradition of Durga Puja at her traditional home in Baghbazar which is one of the first parts of the city of Kolkata populated around 1746 by the British. Although very busy during the 10 day festivities and rituals, she agreed to cook two of her unique dishes for me to blog about. I have to say here, what makes Amma an extra special cook is her ability to cook delicious dishes with just a few ingredients. I have always admired how simple yet amazing her mixed vegetable dish is, but wished as a child that she didn't add radishes. Lucky for me, the vegetables in this dish can be replaced, but I am going to present it in its original form.
Check out my reference section at the end for more details on Baghbazar, Durga Puja and the other unique things mentioned in this article.
Some pictures from Durgra Puja at my Grandma's
- 1/2 lb Taro, (Replacements: Potato)
- 1/2 lb Radish, (Replacements: Cauliflower)
- 1/2 lb Eggplant
- 2 - 3 Green Chilli
- 2 1/2 teaspoons Kalonji Seeds
- 10-15 stems Cilantro leaves
- Dice the vegetables proportionately so they cook at the same time. For this mix of vegetables, they can be about the same size. Soaking cut eggplants in cold water prevents them from browning.
- Take 1 1/2 teaspoon of kalonji seeds and 2 green chilis and make a paste with a little bit of water. You can increase or decrease the number of chilis based on your preference. As seen in the pictures above, Amma prefers a stone mortar and pestle called shil-nora in Bengali. See the reference section for more details on Shil-Nora.
- Boil the taro for about 5 minutes and throw away the water. Let it cool. Peel the skin off. It is important to boil the taro and throw away the water to remove the naturally occurring Calcium Oxalate crystals in them which can cause throat itch.
- Heat 2 tablespoons of oil. Amma uses Mustard oil for this recipe. When the oil is smoking, put a teaspoon of kalonji seeds and then the eggplant and radish. Stir for 3 minutes. You can also put the rest of the green chilies after slitting them in the middle.
- Put the boiled taro and continue to stir for a 2 - 3 minutes.
- Add the green chili and kalonji paste and stir a few times and pour 3 - 4 cups of hot water. Add salt to taste. If you want, you can also add a little bit of sugar. I personally prefer this dish to be completely savory. Cover the pan and let it simmer until the vegetables are cooked.
- Garnish with chopped cilantro leaves and serve with rice.
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- Durga Puja - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Learn all about the festivities and rituals of Durga Puja.
- Everything is Science: Why Does Taro Make Your Throat Itch?
- Bagbazar - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Read all about Bagbazar, the part of Kolkata in West Bengal India where I grew up.
- Kalonji Seeds - Nigella sativa - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Real all about Kalonji or Black Cummin or Black caraway or Nigella Sativa seeds
- tik-tiki: S is for SHIL-NORA
Read all about Shil Nora the stone grinder used in traditional Bengali Kitchens across the world. I have one too but I don't really use it.