Wednesday, April 23, 2008

The quintessential matar ghoogni: The simplest version

Biharis are known for cooking a variety of ghoognis. A ghoogni is a spicy preparation of any kind of matar or chana (peas). Biharis love peas! For breakfast, Biharis eat rotis/parathas/puris with a ghoogni of chana/hara chana/matar/chola/kabli chana (chick peas). Ghoogni is a term used in the Bengali cuisine too.

I will discuss the recipe of the simplest matar (peas) ghoogni here.

You will need: a bowlful of fresh or frozen peas (no canned variety), one medium-sized potato, cubed; one medium-sized onion, chopped; half a teaspoon of crushed ginger (adrak); a couple of green chillies, chopped; two pinches of turmeric (haldi); half a teaspoon of cumin seeds; two tablespoons of oil; pepper and salt.

  1. Heat the oil in a frying pan.
  2. Add the cumin seeds to the hot oil.
  3. When the cumin splutters, put the onion, the ginger, and the green chillies in the oil.
  4. Saute the mixture for two minutes.
  5. Add the turmeric.
  6. Saute the mixture on medium heat for five-ten minutes.
  7. Put the peas in the pan.
  8. Add the salt and pepper.
  9. Keep stirring till the potato is cooked.
  10. Serve hot with rotis, puris, or fried chuda (flat rice, chivda, chiwda, poha, avalakki).

This dry ghoogni is served with fried chuda as an evening snack. Let's see how you can make the fried chuda. You will need: a bowlful of flat rice (any variety); one green chilli, finely-chopped; a 1-cm cube of ginger, crushed; a tablespoon of oil, preferably ghee (clarified butter); and salt.

  1. Heat the oil in a frying pan.
  2. Add the chilli and the ginger to the oil.
  3. Saute for a few seconds.
  4. Add the chuda.
  5. Saute the mixture till the chuda starts turning golden.
  6. Take the chuda off the heat and spread on a kitchen napkin.

This can also be preserved for days if kept in an airtight glass jar.

If you are going to eat it immediately, you can spice up the chuda by adding chopped onions to the chilli and ginger while frying.

Personally, I love the ghoogni with plain fulkas or rotis.

Last evening's snack - Vegetable pakodas and pumpkin bachkas

Last evening, hubby and I craved for home-made pakodas, and I made some in a hurry. The qualifier is necessary because the shape and texture of the pakodas weren't very good. (Check the pic!)

Let me give you the recipe of these.
For the batter, I mixed besan (gram flour), mangraila (nigella seeds/onion seeds), haldi (turmeric), finely chopped adrak (ginger), red chilli powder (you may replace this with finely chopped green chilies) , and salt. I cut brinjal, capsicum, onions into medium thin pieces. I also made chilli pakodas; I made a vertical slit in the chillies before dipping them in the batter. I dipped the vegetable pieces in the batter one by one and deep-fried them in hot vegetable oil. Pakodas, however, taste the best when fried in mustard oil, as any Bihari or Bengali will tell you.

I also got hold of some kumrah/kohnra (pumpkin) last night and made konrah bachkas. I cut the pumpkin into thin slices (Thick slices won't cook well and don't taste that good.). I mixed a couple of spoonfuls of rice powder with some salt, red chilli powder, and a spoonful of water. I rubbed both the sides of the pumpkin slices with this mixture and deep-fried them. These bachkas are typically served with a meal, not as a snack. 'Bachka' is a term similar to the term 'pakoda'. Other bachkas are prepared in completely different ways.