I grew up in a completely multicultural environment and had neighbours who belonged to Assam, Bengal, Kashmir, Kerala, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, U.P., Punjab, Maharashtra and Gujarat. Pretty much on the same street. Of course, there were people from Tamilnadu as well. And for quite a while, we all ran in and out of each other's houses, had our meals in whosever house we happened to be at that mealtime, and came back home at the time our mothers told us to. I always feared I'd turn into a pumpkin if I didn't get home at 6 (or 8 or 10 or 11 as my curfew time got extended.) But I never bothered to find out anything about the food I ate at these different homes. Would you all believe that, at one point in time, I had NO interest in food?
While I may have eaten all kinds of food, it is only in the last 6 years that I've started trying things out at home. So, from dal parathas to sandesh to dosas to pastas, I'd love to give anything at least one chance in my kitchen. OK, there are exceptions.
Since I've not traveled in the eastern part of the country, my exposure to the cuisines in this part is unknown territory to me. By that measure, I haven't been to China, Mexico or Italy, but I seem to cook their food often. Hmmm, maybe the restaurants that got me interested have something to do with this. I have heard of one Bengali restaurant in Delhi, but have never been to it. I've always associated Bengali food with the numerous milk sweets. Food events take your interest level in a certain cuisine up by a few notches. There are some blog events that I love. They help me take walks down what I'd otherwise consider blind alleys. And then, participating in a much loved event like the RCI, seems like a walk in the park and not in a blind alley.
While I really wanted to make something else, I came across this recipe at Sutapa Ray's Bengali Recipes. I modified it to suit my taste and pantry.
1 cup Atta
1 tbsp Oil + 1 tsp Oil
2 tsp Green Chilli Paste
Salt to taste
2 tbsp Aniseed
¼ tsp Asafoetida
1 cup Peas, shelled
1 tsp Ginger Paste
Oil for deep frying
Take the atta in a mixing bowl. Add the tablespoon of oil and some salt. Add a little water at a time and knead to a soft dough.
Grind the peas, ginger and chilli pastes and aniseed to a fine paste. In a pan, heat the teaspoon of oil. Add the asafoetida and fry for a minute. To this, add the peas paste and salt. Fry well till the paste is cooked. Remove from the fire and let it cool. Divide this mixture into 8 portions.
Divide the dough into 8 balls. Roll out each ball into small circle and fill it with the pea mixture.Bring the edges together and seal them. Roll out as for puris. Deep fry in hot oil till golden brown. Drain on absorbent paper.
My neighbour made this sometime back and served it with a chana dal and coconut dish. This is so similar to the Vatanya Nevryo that Amma makes from time to time. I plan to make something else for RCI too, but this month being as busy as it is, I don't want to have deadlines go by for one of my favourite events and then kick myself for not having sent a recipe in.
This goes to Sandeepa who is hosting this month's RCI - Bengal. Thanks Sandeepa and Happy Hosting. I'd also like to wish all of you a very Happy Holi.