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Try your hand at Bengali cuisine with this delicious vegetarian recipe for Matarshutir Kachuri and Aloo Dum Bengali style.
By Somali Roy
Every year, as we sunk deep into the throes of winter, my mother announced Matarshutir Kachuri for dinner – a seasonal specialty of our Bengali cuisine. And it was special because the whole family chipped in. Later when we gathered around the table and tore apart gossamer discs of fried dough, the green pea stuffing lay exposed and the steam that was trapped inside smelled of roasted cumin and almost burnt the tip of our nose.
My sister, barely five, made the perfect dough balls, rolling and re-rolling uneven flour scrap between her palms till mother said it was enough. With the tip of her thumb, she dented the ball like a soft dimple on a chubby cheek. Propped against the wall, she pulled her knees up, rested her arms on them and brought the ball close to her face. Head tilted by a couple of degrees west, eyebrows creased, eyeballs fixed on the dough like two laser beams, she held her breath. Placing the tip of her thumbs on the dimple, she wrapped her stout little fingers loosely around the ball.
A meditative pause followed till a streak of pink tongue slipped in between two pursed lips. Go!
Thumbs hooked to the centre like an axle; her fingers stretched the dough around it, rapidly shifting it clockwise and gaining momentum.
Just like a spinning Ferris wheel.
The little monster forced the dimple into a gaping cavity and turned chubby dough cheeks into wafer thin cups. Then as if snapping out of a trance, she softened like pulp, her basset hound eyes seeking mother’s approval. If she had a tail she would wag it right now.
My dough cups were perfect too, but at 11, hardly worth a mention.
When we left for college and could come home only during summers, our culinary calendar flipped. That winter my mother lugged mounds of peas from the fresh market, shelled them until they left green gunk under her nails; and froze them in emptied out ice cream containers, stacked neatly in the refrigerator. Guests were offered views of her frozen-pea collection and we received updates about the latest batch at our respective hostels. Matarshutir Kachuri migrated across seasons and summer adopted it. It was seamless.
Father blanched the peas and ground them to pulp, no drama there. My sister still made dough cups with similar pomp. But before I stuffed them with mashed pea filling to be rolled and fried, what followed next packed quite a punch. Mother roasted a fistful of whole cumin and a few red chillies on a cast iron tawa till they hissed and fumed; turned angry brown and passed their indignation into the balmy air.
We twitched our noses and sneezed.
Using her stone mortar and pestle, she pulverized the spices and slipped the potent powder into the green pea pulp sizzling in oil, along with a pinch of asafoetida. That, she said was her mother’s little trick and now mine.
We sneezed again.
My mother had delicately thawed our winter memories and rolled out fresh ones into gossamer thin discs of green pea stuffing.
Sometimes mother swooped over the kitchen counter and opened the window to let the air out, but we liked it closed. Because later when dinner was over and the dishes were done; when the last round of Matarshutir Kochuri for the summer was had, we sisters snuggled into bed and smelled the warm spices trapped in our hair and clothes, hanging on to the dregs of a season slipping away.
My mother had delicately thawed our winter memories and rolled out fresh ones into gossamer thin discs of green pea stuffing. Those, which puffed up with hot air and almost, burnt the tip of our nose when popped.
It is impossible to imagine this dish without Aloo Dum Bengali style – a quick-fix potato curry that my mother garnished with the same roasted spices that went in the green pea mixture. Taste apart, the kitchen smells equally irresistible. I still prefer my windows closed.
Ingredients (Serves 4)
200 gms of refined flour (Maida)
3 cups of green peas (fresh or frozen)
3 tbsp of whole cumin
2 dry red chillies
2 tbsp of grated ginger
3 boiled potatoes cut in quarters
1 tomato diced
3 green chillies
Knead the dough using water, a pinch of salt and a tablespoon of oil. Make 1 inch sized balls. This recipe should yield about 20 balls.
Roast 2 tablespoons of whole cumin and 2 dry red chillies in a hot pan till they turn brown. Grind the spices into a fine powder.
Grind the peas, 1 green chilli, salt and grated ginger in the mixer into a paste.
Heat some oil in a pan and fry the pea paste on medium heat till it’s slightly dried and doesn’t stick to the pan anymore. Add a pinch of asafoetida and one tablespoon of the roasted cumin and dry chilli powder and mix well. Let the mixture cool down completely.
Meanwhile heat some oil in a separate pan, sizzle a tablespoon of cumin, throw in two sliced green chillies and boiled potatoes. Add a tablespoon of grated ginger, turmeric powder, red chilli powder (optional), and stir everything together. Sprinkle some water to keep the mixture from drying.
Add diced tomatoes, salt as per taste and stir everything together. Cover the pan to let the tomatoes break down into a soft pulp. Add a pinch of asafoetida. Keep stirring in between and sprinkling water if required for about 15 minutes till oil separates from the mixture. Garnish with the roasted cumin – dry red chilli powder and chopped coriander.
Now stuff the dough balls with a teaspoon of the mashed pea mixture, roll them into thin 3.5 inch diameter discs (use oil to keep the dough from sticking to the surface) and deep fry them on either side till they puff up like balloons and get a tinge of brown on the surface.
Serve the hot Kachuri with fragrant Aloo Dum for a delicious Bengali meal.
*Photo credit: Subhashish Dasgupta.
Somali Roy is a freelance writer, foodie and a passionate traveller based in Singapore. She
memories…sweet memories. Now that I am so far away from home I miss the warm food that mom used to make…your write just made me reminisce the good old days.
Hello Somali, it was a wonderful post… can you put up some post or link for “hing er kochuri”??
Lots of memories came floating by!
Wow! marvelous food. it is also delicious. particularly i can make this food. i was learning from my mother that how make it. it makes many ways…
one of my all time favs 🙂
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