It had been a long standing wish to blog on this Chola Narkol Diye Kochu Shaaker Ghonto ..... a heirloom dish from Bengal's kitchen. This is actually Colocasia leaves with stem cooked along with shredded coconut and boiled black chickpea? / chola / kala chana. The amount of pleasure cooking such dishes gives me is immense. Staying up with the promise that I will carry forward the legacy, I keep on cooking such dishes even if my men are not fond of them. I just cannot think of doing away with these recipes, which perhaps my daughter-in-law will never do. Does that make me sad?..... yes a bit.... but she will also have the ability to do many a thing which I cannot think of.
Am I a cosmopolitan? I think I am to an extent..... I do not limit myself to everything Bengali, I enjoy watching my men gorging on beef lasagne, I scold mommy dear while she bores me over phone... 'diner por din bhaat khash na'... you do not eat rice regularly.... so what... you can see me enjoying a plateful of appam or rawa dosa or raj kachori or a big bowl of fish soup while I wander alone or with our Cristine. Wandering alone is a pleasure for me, because I am not in a habit of indulging or digesting in what is a joy for many... who got pregnant with whom, who was seen with whom in a hotel, who is having a fight at home, the worst thing been discussing other's kids. I do not know where people get so much energy in gathering such news. Somewhat, the cosmopolitan in me vanishes and a true heart Bengali comes forth when on a lazy afternoon Srijato Bandhyopadhay pens ' Akhon dupur aka.... ki labh tomake bhalobeshe... Chithio lekhe na keu, Postman firey geche deshe'... whose literal meaning is perhaps what is the point loving you lazy afternoons, there is no more waits for letters, the postman went back home... rest what you perceive is unto you. This morning I wake up to his another rocking note.... 'ekdin hotath kore je bondhura chere chole jai, tader chokher gondho firey ashe, raater haoai'.... friends who left years back, we can smell them as the sun sets.... you see I am poor at English and it is so difficult to translate feelings.... to me these are feelings and not just words. Sunil Gangopadhyay's Nillohit... the travelling, wandering soul who never aged asked it is good to be kid friendly and cook mango mousse but what about the promise you made many springs back that our relationship will not go conventional with marriage... kids... I smile and say but we rocked over 'mahua' .... a local drink, while watching Santal women dancing... will a Kochur Shaaker Ghonto work for you?.... Nillohit said very much .... Chola Narkol Diye Kochu Shaaker Ghonto with rice, onion and a green chilli served in a brass plate sounds absolutely alluring for me on a lazy, cosy afternoon Srijato was talking about.
While I cook kochur shaak, my senior might be enjoying some sashimi discussing strategy at office lunches. Well, I need that too, I am eyeing on an authentic Madhubani and Kalamkari saree on my next visit to Kolkata and I do not have any secret someone to gift me those. Hence I have to cook some mutton curry along with chola narkol diye kochu shaaker ghonto to keep my men happy. Way to spend some happy moments together as we are going to watch Rangoon tonight, the Maqbool maker will not let us down I hope. For this very yum and authentic Bengali vegetarian side dish we need some boiled kala chana / black gram, shredded coconut, colocassia leaves with stem mainly. Let us do this non-spicy vegetarian dish together to go with a piping hot bowl of rice.
Kochur Shaak [Colocasia Leaves] : 6-8 sticks
Chola / Kala Chana / Dark Chickpea? : 1small cup [boiled]
Shredded Coconut : 1/2medium cup + 2tbsp to garnish
Cumin Powder : 2tsp
Turmeric Powder : 11/2tsp
Green Chilli : 2-3 [slitted]
Dried Red Chilli : 2[halved]
Bayleaf : 2 small
Panchphoron : 1/2 tsp [ An assortment of nigella, wild celery, cumin, fennel, fenugreek seeds]
Salt : As Required
Sugar : 2tsp [or as you prefer]
Tamarind Juice : 1/4 small cup
Oil : 4-5tbsp [authentically mustard]
Soak the kala chana in hot water for 2-3 hours and pressure cook them adding little salt up to two whistles. Drain the water and keep aside.
You MUST wear a pair of KITCHEN GLOVES to start off with this recipe and DO NOT make the mistake of WASHING THE COLOCASIA LEAVES after you cut them.
Wear your gloves and clean the colocasia leaves with stem thoroughly with a wet / moist cloth. Discard the two ends and cut into smaller pieces.
Now we will take the colocasia pieces in a big wok, fill with water, add salt, put for boil and cover.
Let boil for quite sometime till the whole thing gets soft and reduces to 1/4th of original. Once so, switch off gas, let cool, transfer to a colander and strain the excess water. Mash the boiled veggie lightly. We can take off gloves at this stage.
Heat oil in a wok. Temper with panchphoron, bayleaf and halved dry red chillies. Add 1/2 medium cup of shredded coconut to it and fry till light brown.
Add the boiled vegetable and fold in well. Add the cumin powder, turmeric powder, salt, boiled black chana, slitted green chillies and cover cook for 12-14 minutes stirring every 3-4 minutes.
Open cover, you can see all the water has dried up by now. Add the sugar and tamarind juice, fold in well. Cook for another 2 minutes.
Switch off gas, transfer to a serving bowl, garnish with shredded coconut and serve fresh with piping hot steamed rice.
Do not tell me I limit myself to 2tbsp of rice with such dishes, as my senior says happiness is not been in calculative always.