April 14, 2024

Bengali Vegetarian Recipes | ‘Neem shukto’ to ‘niramish jhol’: Light and easy vegetarian recipes for the Kolkata summer

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While summer cravings largely involve mangoes in every form, the heat and humidity also make the body crave for lighter curries and easy-on-the-stomach food. This time of the year might not have as many vegetables available like in winter, but there’s no dearth either. And they can be turned into fabulous Bengali niramish (vegetarian) dishes. 

Here are a few recipes whose humble, light flavours will startle you…

Neem shukto

@Rinku’s Kitchen/Facebook

It’s the season to have neem. If you don’t want to go for the usual neem begun, this neem shukto is the perfect alternative. Not really bitter and quite appetising too.

Ingredients:

  • Neem leaves: 10-15
  • Potato cut into semi thick slices: 1 large
  • Sweet potato cut into semi thick slices: 1 large
  • Raw papaya cut into semi thick slices: 8-10 pieces
  • Brinjal cut into semi thick slices: 8-10 pieces
  • Drumsticks cut into medium sizes: 3-4 sticks
  • Lentil dumplings: 8-10 pieces
  • Bay leaf: 1
  • Panch phoron: 1 teaspoon
  • Ginger and green chilli paste: 2 tablespoons
  • Yellow mustard paste: 1 tablespoon
  • Poppy seed paste: 1 tablespoon
  • Dry roasted radhuni paste: 1 tablespoon
  • Milk: 1 small cup
  • Salt
  • Sugar
  • Mustard oil
  • Ghee: 2 tablespoons

Recipe:

  • Dry roast the neem leaves and keep aside. Wash the pan well before reusing
  • Add mustard oil in a kadhai and fry the lentil dumplings until golden brown
  • Shallow fry the vegetables one by one and keep aside. Fry the harder vegetables first
  • Now, in the same kadhai, add some ghee, bay leaf and panch phoron. Saute and then add the ginger and green chilli paste. Cook well
  • Add mustard paste and poppy seed paste, mix well. Add some water, just a splash, and cook for 2 minutes
  • Now, add the vegetables (harder ones first, softer ones later) and mix well with the spices. Cook for 3-4 minutes and then warm water. Add salt to taste
  • Crush the neem leaves and add once all the vegetables are cooked
  • Now add milk and mix well. Add sugar to taste too
  • Add radhuni paste, mix and switch off the flame
  • Sprinkle ghee and serve

Niramish jhol

@Rinku’s Kitchen/Facebook

The Bengali version of mixed vegetables — just a little soupy and with daler bori.

Ingredients:

  • Potato cut into medium dices: 1 large
  • Sweet potato cut into medium dices: 1 medium
  • Pumpkin cut into medium dices: 1 medium cup
  • Potol (Pointed gourd) cut into horizontal halves: 8 pieces
  • Jhinge (Ridge gourd) cut into medium sizes: 1 large vegetable
  • Tomato cut into halves: 2 large
  • Drumsticks cut into medium sizes: 2-3 sticks
  • Lentil dumplings: 8-10
  • Bay leaf: 1 large
  • Panch phoron: 2 teaspoons
  • Slit green chillies: 3-4
  • Ginger, whole cumin seeds, whole coriander seeds and green chilli paste: 2 tablespoons
  • Lemon juice: 2 tablespoons
  • Chopped coriander leaves: 2-3 tablespoons
  • Salt: To taste
  • Sugar: To taste
  • Mustard oil: As per requirement

Recipe:

  • Shallow fry each vegetable and keep aside. Steam the harder vegetables like potatoes before shallow frying
  • Fry the lentil dumplings and keep aside
  • In a kadhai, add mustard oil and heat. Add the spice paste and cook well
  • Now add the vegetables, the harder ones first and then the softer ones. Mix and cook for 3-4 minutes
  • Add water, seasonings, slit green chillies and cover. Cook until the vegetables are ready
  • Add the lentil dumplings and cook for 3-4 minutes more
  • Add coriander leaves and turn off the heat

Narkel diye potoler dalna

Representative image

Representative image

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Making potoler dorma is not a regular affair. And having aloo-potoler dalna should not be a daily affair! Hence, here’s a middle ground – a potoler dalna recipe that’s a little spicy and sweet.

Ingredients:

  • Potol (Pointed gourd): 8-10
  • Grated coconut: 1 small cup
  • Khoya kheer: ½ of a small cup
  • Coconut milk: 1 medium cup
  • Slit green chillies: 2
  • Bay leaf: 1
  • Whole garam masala: 1 teaspoon
  • Whole dry red chilli: 2
  • Hing: 1 teaspoon
  • Kashmiri red chilli powder: 1 tablespoon
  • Red chilli powder: 1 teaspoon
  • Turmeric powder: 2 teaspoons
  • Cumin powder: 1 teaspoon
  • Coriander powder: 1 and ½ teaspoon
  • Whole cumin seeds: 1 teaspoon
  • Grated ginger: 1 and ½ tablespoons
  • Sugar: To taste
  • Salt: To taste
  • Mustard oil: 4-5 tablespoons
  • Ghee: 3 tablespoons

Recipe:

  • Slit the pointed gourd half-way through vertically. Coat them with some salt and turmeric powder and keep aside
  • In a kadhai, add mustard oil and 1 tablespoon of ghee and heat. Now add whole garam masala, hing, bay leaf and whole red chilli and saute well
  • Add Kashmiri red chilli powder, red chilli powder, turmeric powder, cumin and coriander powder, a pinch of salt, grated ginger and mix well. Add a splash of water and cook the spices on low heat until oil leaves the surface
  • Add the grated coconut and cook on low flame for about 4-5 minutes. Keep mashing the coconut with the spatula
  • Add the pointer gourds and mix well with the spices in the pan. Cook on low flame for approximately 4-5 minutes
  • Add coconut milk, salt and sugar, slit green chillies. Cover and cook on low heat for 10-12 minutes or until the vegetable is fully cooked
  • Uncover and add grated khoya and mix well. Cook for 2-3 minutes on medium heat. Check seasoning and the consistency of the gravy. It should be a thick gravy
  • Pour ghee from top and turn off the heat

Tip:

  • You can sprinkle some garam masala powder if you like after adding the ghee and right before switching off the flame
  • You can use coconut paste instead of grated coconut too

Moong dal chitiye lau ghanta

Representative image

Representative image

Shutterstock

Lau or bottle gourd is a summer staple in our kitchens. While you can cut them into cubes and add them while making moong dal or sabji dal, try this torkari recipe too. It’s a light tasty delight.

Ingredients:

  • Finely chopped bottle gourd: 1 small
  • Moong dal: 3-4 tablespoons
  • Whole cumin seeds: 1 and ½ teaspoon
  • Bay leaf: 1 large
  • Whole dry red chilli: 1
  • Grated ginger: 1 tablespoon
  • Slit green chillies: 2-3
  • Sugar: To taste
  • Salt: To Taste
  • Mustard oil: 2-3 tablespoons
  • Ghee: 1 tablespoon

Recipe:

  • Wash the moong dal and air dry well. Dry roast for 2-3 minutes on low flame and keep aside
  • Add mustard oil in a kadhai and heat. Add bay leaf, whole dry red chilli and saute. Then add whole cumin seeds and saute until the spice changes into medium shade of brown and starts leaving aroma
  • Now add grated ginger and one slit chilli. Add a splash of water and mix the spices well. Cook for 1-2 minutes on low flame
  • Add the chopped bottle gourd with a pinch of salt and the remaining slit green chillies. Add the moong dal too. Cook on low flame with the lid on for 3-4 minutes. Check occasionally and add water as per requirement
  • Once the bottle gourd is near cooked, add sugar to taste and check seasoning. Mix and cook with the lid on for 3-4 minutes
  • Sprinkle ghee and turn off the flame

Tip:

  • If you can use a pinch of turmeric powder if you like
  • You can also use grated coconut. Add coconut once the bottle gourd is near ready and you are adding sugar

Jhinger jhol

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A simple jhol for some summer soothing.

Ingredients:

  • Jhinge (Ridge Gourd): 2 large
  • Kalo jeera or kalonji: 1 teaspoon
  • Slit green chillies: 2
  • Grated ginger: 1 and ½ teaspoons
  • Mustard oil: 2 tablespoons
  • Turmeric powder: 1 teaspoon
  • Bay leaf: 1 small
  • Sugar: To taste
  • Salt: To taste

Recipe:

  • Cut the ridge gourds in thin slices or in medium sized cubes
  • Pour mustard oil in a kadhai and heat well
  • Add bay leaf and slit green chillies and saute until bay leaf has started to change colour
  • Add kalonji and saute for 5-7 seconds or until the spice starts leaving aroma
  • Add grated ginger and a splash of water. Mix all the ingredients in the kadhai well and saute for about a minute
  • Now add the ridge gourd pieces, turmeric powder and salt. Saute for 2 minutes and pour enough water to make a light gravy
  • Cover and cook for 10-12 minutes