|Khokon, Owner of Neerob Bazaar and Neerob Restaurant|
The Bengali cuisine, and Southeast Asian cooking in general are a great starting point, for they still know their herbs and spices, and between rice (let it be brown, please) and chick peas and lentils, it is very easy to cook great meals, and what's more important, to create a cooking cycle, so you can cook ahead, and be ready in a flash.
Today, I am going to prepare two other dishes from our class, one with eggplant, and another with mixed veggies, which lends itself to endless variation.
As per usual, caramelized onions are the start of everything, for it is a key technique to creating taste without adding a lot of salt, so here we go once again - these quantities are for 1 dish at a time:
- cut up 4-5 small to medium onions finely, or as you prefer, you can also cut it up in rings.
- 1-2 tablespoons of veggie broth
- cut up some chili's (to taste) and/or a jalapeno pepper. For this amount, I would slice up 4-5 chilis (one per each onion), and 1-2 jalapenos.
- crush and cut up some 4-5 cloves of garlic
- peel and slice finely some turmeric
- add some more water or veggie broth
- a few bay leaves
- Braggs Liquid Aminos and pepper to taste
- panchpuran powder, or if you have the whole spices, you can grind them in a mortar and pestle, or with a Magic Bullet
- a bunch of cilantro, cut up fine.
Note on PanchpuranThe name means five spices in Bengali. It is a mixture of five seeds:
- fenugreek seed (methi),
- nigella seed (kalo jira),
- mustard seed (rai or shorshe),
- fennel seed (mouri) and
- cumin seed (jeera).
Mixed vegetablesFor our class we used a pumpkin and a yellow squash, and some carrots, but you could use other things as well. Edo (aka taro, aka coco) is excellent also. Essentially, you learn to pick a combination that is plentiful at that moment.
The selection of spices is the same as for the eggplant dish, and we start once again with the caramelized onions:
- chilis/jalapeno's to taste
- turmeric (fresh or powder)
- Braggs Liquid Amino's instead of salt
When you have cut up the squashes in chunks, and slice the root vegetables thin, like 1/8" (carrots, parsnips). You can sautée it with the onions for a little bit while slowly adding more veggie broth or water.