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12 Bengali Vegetarian Dishes That Will Make You Forget Meat and Fish

While most people believe that Bengalis are all about fish, it's far from the truth. Yes, we love our fish, but to really know Bengali cuisine, you need to check out our vegetarian dishes as well. Traditionally, a regular meal consists of at least two kinds of vegetarian dishes—a fried vegetable dish and a slightly curried vegetable dish.

While most people go to Bengali restaurants and order the fancy prawn or meat dishes, and think that the Bengali will lose their mind over the paturi, you'll notice that the Bengali will order something as unassuming as mochar chop, or tear up at the mention of lau kholar bhaja. So please don't say “Rosogolla machher jhol khaabe?” to the next Bengali you meet.

Before you start reading the recipes, you will notice that a lot of recipes use something called paanchphoron, which is a Bengali five spice mixture. It consists of equal quantities of fenugreek seeds (methi), nigella seeds (kalaunji), cumin (jeera), black mustard seeds (rai), and fennel seeds (saunf).

Shukto or Mixed Vegetable Curry

Source: Source

Ingredients:

2 large potatoes

1 bitter gourd (karela)

1 raw banana

1 small sweet potato

6 small bari

100gm french beans

3-4 drumsticks

1 tablespoon ginger paste

1 tablespoon mustard paste

Pinch of chilli powder

1/2 teaspoon turmeric

1 teaspoon paanchphoron

Salt to taste

3 tablespoons mustard oil

1/2 cup water

Method:

Cut all the vegetables into small pieces. Put them in water with a little turmeric added to it.

In a large deep-bottomed wok, add the mustard oil. Once it starts smoking, add the paanchphoron, and the ginger paste. Cook the masala until fragrant. Add the mustard paste, chilli powder, turmeric, and cook until the oil separates. Drain the water and add the vegetables, and saute for 4-5 minutes. Add water, and cook covered, till the vegetables are cooked and tender.

Serve hot with steamed rice.

Dhokaar Dalna

Source: Source

Ingredients:

200gms split Bengal gram or chana dal or chholar dal

1 big potato, chopped into small pieces

1 onion, finely chopped

1 tablespoon cumin powder

1 teaspoon red chilli powder

1/4 teaspoon turmeric powder

1/4 teaspoon coriander powder

1 tablespoon curd

1 tablespoon ginger paste

4-5 green chillies

1-2 bay leaves

1 small stick cinnamon

2-3 cardamom pods

2-3 cloves

1 tablespoon ghee

1/2 teaspoon garam masala powder

Vegetable oil

Salt, to taste

Method:

Wash and soak the dal overnight.

Put the dal into a blender with ginger paste, salt, and 2-3 green chillies, and grind to a paste.

In a large pan, add oil. Add the chana dal paste, and fry till all the water has dried up. Spread this chana dal paste with a 1/2-inch thickness on a greased plate or bowl , and set aside, uncovered, for 10-15 minutes. Cut into squares, and fry in oil till it's golden brown. Set aside.

In a pan, add some oil, and fry the potatoes till golden brown. Set aside.

In the same oil that you used to fry the potatoes, add the bay leaves, cinnamon, cardamom, cloves, chopped onions, green chillies, turmeric, chilli powder, coriander powder, cumin powder, and stir to combine. Then over low heat, add the salt and curd, and mix thoroughly. Fry till the masalas are cooked, and the oil separates. Add 1 cup water, fried potatoes, and let it come to a boil. Cook till the potatoes are tender.

Add the fried dhoka, and cook for 2 minutes. Add ghee and garam masala powder, and stir to combine. Let this cook for 1 minute.

Serve hot with steamed rice.

Sojne Dantar Chorchori

Source: Source

Ingredients:

6 large drumsticks or sojne daanta or senjan ki phalli, cut into 3-inch long pieces

2 potatoes, cut into wedges

250gms pumpkin, cut into wedges

1 brinjal, cut into wedges

2 tablespoons mustard seed paste

3 tablespoons poppy seed paste

1/4 teaspoon nigella seeds (kalaunji)

1/2 teaspoon turmeric powder

1/2 teaspoon red chilli powder

Salt, to taste

1-2 green chillies, slit

Mustard oil

Note: To make poppy seeds paste, grind the poppy seeds to a powder, and mix in a little water to make a fine paste.

To make mustard paste, soak mustard seeds in warm water for 20-30 minutes, and grind to a fine paste.

Method:

Add oil to a large wok, add the drumsticks and lightly fry for 2-3 minutes. Remove, and set aside.

Add a little more oil to the same wok, add the potatoes, pumpkin, brinjal, and fry till they're cooked. Remove, and set aside.

In the same oil, add nigella seeds, and green chillies, and saute for 15-20 seconds. Add all the fried vegetables, along with the mustard paste, poppy seed paste, turmeric, chilli powder, and salt. Stir well to mix, and cook for 5 minutes.

Add 1 cup water, and cook on medium-low heat, covered, till the vegetables are cooked. Uncover, and let it cook on high heat, so all the excess water dries up.

Serve hot with steamed vegetables.

Aloo Posto or Potatoes Cooked in Poppy Seed Paste

Source: Source

Ingredients:

3 potatoes

7 tablespoons of poppy seeds or posto or khus khus

2-3 green chillies, chopped

2 dry red chillies

3/4 teaspoon cumin

Salt, to taste

Sugar, to taste

1/2 teaspoon turmeric

Mustard oil

Method:

Put all the poppy seeds in a masala grinder, and grind till you get a fine powder. Mix with a little water to make a thick paste.

Peel and cut the potatoes into cubes.

In a wok, add mustard oil, cumin, and red chillies. Once it starts to splutter, add the potato cubes, with the turmeric powder. Saute the potatoes till they turn slightly golden. Add the poppy seed paste. Make sure the potatoes are completely coated in the poppy seed paste, and cook on medium heat for 3-4 minutes.

Add 3/4 cup water, salt, sugar, and green chillies. Cook covered, stirring at intervals, till the potatoes are done. Traditionally, this is a dry sabzi, so you can wait for the gravy to dry up, or you can add a little more water, and stop cooking till your gravy reaches the consistency you want.

Once done, you can add 1 teaspoon of mustard oil, and stir it through.

Serve hot with steamed rice.

Ghoogni

Source: Source

Ingredients:

2 cups dried yellow peas or peeli matar

1 onion, chopped

1/2 teaspoon cumin

1 bay leaf

1 teaspoon ginger, finely chopped

1/4 teaspoon turmeric powder

1 tomato, chopped

2 teaspoons roasted cumin powder

1/4 cup fresh coconut, sliced

Salt to taste

2 green chillies, slit lengthwise

1/2 teaspoon garam masala powder

1 tablespoon tamarind

Oil

Method:

Soak the yellow peas in water overnight. Then drain them, and boil till tender.

Add some oil in a non-stick pan. Add chopped onion, cumin, bay leaf, and saute till lightly browned. Add the ginger, turmeric powder, chopped tomato, and a little water. Saute till the tomato turns a little pulpy. Add the peas, and mix well. Add 1/4 cup water, salt, cumin powder, and coconut slices, and mix.

Add the slit green chillies and garam masala powder, and mix well. Cook covered, for 5-7 minutes.

Mix the tamarind with 2 tablespoons water.

Serve hot with chopped onions, and top with a little tamarind water.

Labra or Mixed Vegetable Sabzi

Source: Source

Ingredients:

250gms potatoes, chopped

250gms pumpkin, chopped

1 large brinjal, chopped

200gms colocasia (arbi), chopped

1 teaspoon paanchphoron

Oil

2-3 dry red chillies

Salt, to taste

Sugar, to taste

1/2 teaspoon turmeric

Method:

Soak all the cut vegetables in a large pan for 10-15 minutes. Then drain, and set aside.

In a large deep-bottomed wok, add oil. Add dry red chillies into the pan, and the paanchphoron. Once it starts to splutter, add the vegetables to the pan. Add salt, and turmeric powder, mix well to combine. Now cook over low heat, covered, stirring at intervals to prevent the vegetables from burning. Cook till the vegetables are tender and cooked.

Once the vegetables are tender, add some sugar, mix, and over medium heat, fry for 3-5 minutes. Fry till the excess water has evaporated, and then turn off the heat.

Serve with hot khichuri.

Lau Ghonto or Bottle Gourd Sabzi

Source: Source

Ingredients:

1 bottle gourd or lau or lauki, chopped

A bunch of coriander leaves

1 teaspoon cumin

1 tomato, chopped

2 tablespoons ginger paste

2 bay leaves

3 green chillies

Salt, to taste

1/2 teaspoon turmeric powder

1 teaspoon coriander powder

Oil

Method:

Add oil to a pan, and let it get hot. Once it's hot, add the bay leaves and the cumin. Add the chopped tomato, and fry for 2-3 minutes. Add the ginger paste, coriander powder, turmeric, and cook, till the raw smell leaves the masalas. Add 4 tablespoons of water, and mix to combine.

Let it come to a boil, and then add the chopped bottle gourd. Add salt, green chillies, and mix well. Cook covered, for about 6-8 minutes till the bottle gourd is tender.

Uncover the pan, and cook, stirring at intervals, till the excess water has dried up. Check seasoning, add chopped coriander leaves, mix well.

Serve hot, with steamed rice.

Posto Bora or Poppy Seed Fritters

Source: Source

Ingredients:

1/2 cup poppy seeds

1 small onion, finely chopped

2 green chillies, chopped

Salt, to taste

Mustard oil

2-3 teaspoons all-purpose flour (maida)

Method:

Put all the poppy seeds in a masala grinder, and grind till you get a fine powder. Add a little water to make a paste. Add the chopped onions, chopped chillies, salt, and a few drops of mustard oil. Now add the flour to bind the mixture together, and mix well.

Make balls with the mixture, and flatten with your palms.

On a shallow griddle, add a little oil, and heat it. Fry the cutlets over medium heat, and flip once it gets brown and crispy. Cook both sides till equally brown.

Serve hot as a side, or as a snack.

Mochaar Chop or Banana Flower Croquettes

Source: Source

Ingredients:

1 cup mocha or banana flower 

2 potatoes (boiled & peeled)

2 tablespoons coconut, chopped

A handful of roasted peanuts

1 teaspoon ginger paste

1-2 green chillies, chopped

1/2 teaspoon cumin seed

1/2 teaspoon fennel seed (saunf)

1/2 teaspoon coriander seed

1 dry red chilli

Salt, to taste

Sugar, to taste

2 tablespoons cornflour

1 cup bread crumbs

Vegetable oil

Method:

Banana flowers have a high iron content, so they tend to turn your fingernails and hands black. Oil your palms liberally before using banana flowers.

Discard the cover, and peel the banana flower till you reach the inner soft core. Chop into fine little pieces, and soak in a bowl of water with 1 teaspoon turmeric water. Let it soak for 1 hour. Boil with salt water and turmeric until it's soft.

In a frying pan, add a little cumin, fennel seeds, coriander seeds, and dry red chilli. Roast, and then grind to a fine powder.

Boil the potatoes till they are cooked and tender. Mash it with the boiled banana flowers. Add chopped peanuts, salt, sugar, and the fried and powdered masala. Mix together.

Add 1 tablespoon of oil to a wok, and add the chopped coconut to it. Stir fry for 2 minutes. Add the ginger paste, chopped chillies, and cook till the raw smell is gone. Add the banana flower-potato mix, and fry for 10 seconds. Turn off the heat, and transfer the mixture to another bowl. Check for seasoning, and make small balls out of the mixture. Flatten them with your palm.

In a separate bowl, mix cornflour with 1/2 cup water. On a plate, add the breadcrumbs. Roll around each of the croquettes in the breadcrumbs, dip into the cornflour, and then roll on the breadcrumbs again. Deep fry the croquettes in hot oil, until crisp and browned.

Serve hot with kasundi.

Jhuri Aloo Bhaja or Crispy Fried Julienned Potatoes

Source: Source

Ingredients:

500gms potatoes

1/2 teaspoon turmeric powder

Salt, to taste

Vegetable oil

Method:

Peel the potatoes, and slice it into matchstick-thin slices. Wash very well, and add turmeric powder. Make sure the potatoes are completely coated.

Put enough oil in a deep-bottomed wok to fry the potatoes, and let it get hot. Add the potatoes, and fry over medium heat, stirring to make sure they don't burn.

Fry till the potatoes are crispy and golden brown, and then add salt. Take the potatoes out, and let them rest on a paper towel-lined plate for 2 minutes, so all the excess oil is soaked.

Serve hot, with steamed rice and dal.

Aloo Bhapa or Steamed Potatoes

Source: Source

Ingredients:

200gms small potatoes

2 teaspoons mustard oil

1/2 teaspoon paanchphoron

2 dry red chillies, broken in half

1/2 teaspoon mustard paste

1 teaspoon hung curd

3/4 teaspoon desiccated coconut paste

Pinch of green chilli paste

Pinch of turmeric powder

Salt, to taste

2 banana leaves

Juice of 1 lime

Method:

Wash and peel the potatoes. Add 1-2 teaspoons of salt to the water, and parboil the potatoes. Drain, and set aside.

In a non-stick pan, add the paanchphoron, and the broken red chillies, and stir till they splutter. Pour over the potatoes, and set aside.

In another bowl, add the curd, mustard, coconut, green chilli paste, turmeric powder, and whip till it's all combined. Add the potatoes to this mixture and mix till the potatoes are coated. Add salt and lime juice, and mix well till it's all combined. Place the potatoes, with all the marinade, onto banana leaves. Cover with the leaves, and steam for 8-10 minutes.

Serve hot with fluffy luchi.

Lau Khosha Bhaja or Fried Bottle Gourd Peel

Source: Source

Ingredients:

1 bottle gourd

Mustard oil

1/2 teaspoon nigella seeds (kalaunji)

2 dry red chillies

Salt, to taste

Sugar, to taste

1 teaspoon poppy seeds

Method:

Peel the skin of a bottle gourd. Chop into julienne strips. Wash well, and rub salt and turmeric powder on it. Set aside for 10-15 minutes.

In a wok, heat 1 teaspoon mustard oil. Add the kalaunji and the red chillies. Once it starts to splutter, add the julienned bottle gourd peel. Saute over medium-high heat, sprinkling water if it looks like it's getting too dry. Add salt and sugar to taste. Add the poppy seeds on top, and cook till the peel softens and looks cooked.

Serve with steamed rice, as part of the regular lunch.

Cry a little in nostalgia, and then run off to the shops to get these ingredients right now!

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