Thursday, September 27, 2018

More Bengali Inspiration, part II

In these posts, I am re-creating our menu from my last cooking class. Normally, I prepare the menu first, before I teach it, but this time the teacher was the owner and chief cook of Neerob Restaurant, Khokon.
Khokon, Owner of Neerob Bazaar and Neerob Restaurant
Khokon's philosophy is that good cooking happens if you put your heart into it, which is true enough, but it helps to know what you are doing.

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.

Sautéed Eggplant

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.
Heat your frying pan over high heat until water bounces, and does not run - add the onions - distribute evenly. Let the onions go without stirring for a minute or so until the begin to brown at the bottom, and now start to stir them. As a glaze forms in the pan, and before they stick to the pan, add a few table spoons (1, 2, or 3), to deglaze the pan, you now are ready to add the garlic, and turmeric:
  • crush and cut up some 4-5 cloves of garlic
  • peel and slice finely some turmeric
followed by the rest of the herbs and spices. Once the onions are caramelized, turn down the heat, or transfer the onions to a different pan, at low heat. Build up your stock with the following:
  • 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
  • cumin
  • a bunch of cilantro, cut up fine.
 You can simply cut up your eggplant and cook it in this broth, until it's done.

Note on Panchpuran

The 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). 
You can buy the mix of the seeds, and crush them with a mortar and pestle or powder them with a Magic Bullet. It is used for cooking vegetables, and you could add the seeds whole when you sautée the onions for any of these vegetable dishes.

Mixed vegetables

For 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:

  • onions
  • garlic
  • chilis/jalapeno's to taste
  • turmeric (fresh or powder)
  • Braggs Liquid Amino's instead of salt
  • Panchpuran
  • cumin
  • bayleaf
  • cilantro
 All preparations as before, and if you make these dishes at the same time, you can obviously make a bigger batch of caramelized onions to begin with.

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.

No comments:

Post a Comment