Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Kumro saag-er chochori

Kumro Saag/Pumpkin Leaves
Saag or green leafy veggies are an integral part of Bengali cuisine. There are numerous different varieties of saag. They vary in taste, texture and the way they are cooked.

Saag is an item you start with in a  multiple course bengali meal. It can be a simple Bhaja(fried), or cooked with other vegetables as Chochori(mish mash), and some are used to wrap veggies or fishes or meat to make Paturi(leaf wrapped fried or steamed dish). Not only the leaves but soft stems are also used. I remember my mother used to put the soft stems in the thin curries(Jhol), along with other vegetables.
It is been years since I last had a typical Bengali saag preparation. Here is the US, we  usually buy one of the most easily available saag, that is fresh spinach.

But luckily the other day, I found some Kumro saag(pumpkin leaves), one of my favourite, in an Indian store. So, did not waste any time but bought a bunch of them.
Pumpkin leaf/kumro saag er pata
Whenever it comes to any authentic Bengali cuisine I always consult my mother-in-law. She is so good at those simple yet delicious dishes. She never uses too much of spices in her cooking.

So this time also after buying those bunch of kumro saag, I called her. She suggested the following recipe. It requires very few spices, very common to any Bengali kitchen. She suggested to use panch foron as the tempering. Panch foron is Bengali five spice mix. It is a combination of black mustard seed, fennel seed, fenugreek seed, nigella seed and cumin. Sometimes another seed named Randhuni(celery seed) is also found in this five spice mix. One can find this five spice mix in any Indian or Bangladeshi store, or can make them mixing all the mentioned seeds in equal amount.

Panch Foron..Bengali Five Spice Mix...
As it is a Bengali dish, I used mustard oil to cook it. That golden yellow oil has a pungent smell but when it is used in cooking it gives a wonderful flavor to the dish. So as my MIL told me I used few vegetables to cook this chochori(mish mash), potato, egg plant, ridge gourd, pointed gourd and radish. You can use any vegetable to make this dish, only pumpkin is a big NO..NO..In Bengali there is saying that you can not cook mother and the offspring together("মা য়ে ছায়ে এক সাথে রাঁধা যায় না").....here the pumpkin leaves being the mother, one can not use the vegetable pumpkin in the mish mash.

Vegetables I used...potato, egg plant, ridge gourd, pointed gourd, radish
I also used some Bori in the mishmash. Bori is a signature Bengali ingredient. It is made from lentil paste. The lentil paste is shaped into small dumplings with a pointed tip and sun dried. These sun dried lentil dumplings are used in dish to give flavor as well as texture.

Bori..Sun-dried lentil dumplings
I started with Kumro saag then Panch foron and now Bori...now it is an overdose of Bengali kitchen speciality....
To cut the long story short here is the recipe for Kumro saag er chochori(mish mash with pumpkin leaves).

Ingredients needed:
  • Pumpkin leaves along with soft stems
  • Potato: 1cup
  • Egg plant: 1cup
  • Pointed gourd/Potol: 1cup
  • Ridge gourd/Jhinge:1and1/2cup
  • Radish: 1cup
  • Bori(sun-dried lentil dumplings): 1/2 cup
  • Panch foron(bengali five spice mix): 1tsp
  • Green chilies: 4-5
  • Turmeric powder:1/2tsp
  • Cumin powder:1tsp
  • Salt to taste
  • Sugar to taste
  • Mustard oil: 3tbsp

Steps of making the chochori:

  1. Wash all the vegetables well. Cut egg plants into cubes and marinate the pieces with salt and turmeric powder for 20-30min.
  2. Peel potato, radish, ridge gourd and cut into cubes. Scrap the skin of pointed gourd, then alternately peel the skin and cut into cubes.
  3. Wash the pumpkin leaves and stems well. There are some spring-like attachments on the tip of the stems, discard those. Also discard if there is any spoilt leaf. Keep the soft stems with the leaves, keep separate comparatively harder stems. Cut the hard stems into finger size length and finely chop the leaves.
  4. In a kadai or deep pan add mustard oil and fry the Bori till golden brown, keep aside.
  5. Fry potato, pointed gourd and egg plant separately till golden brown on high flame and keep aside.
  6. If needed add more oil, when the oil is hot add Panch foron(bengali five spice mix) and slitted green chilies.
  7. When the spices leave a nice smell add radishes. Sprinkle little salt, cover and cook for 5-6min on a medium flame. Add the ridge gourd and cook for 3min. Add the fired potato, pointed gourd and the hard stems of the pumpkin leaves. Add salt and turmeric powder, mix well. Cook till the vegetables are almost done. But it should not be fully done. Add the chopped leaves and cover and cook for 5min. The leaves will release water.
  8. Uncover and cook till all the water is evaporated. Add cumin powder, fried bori and eggplant. Add 1-2tsp of sugar and mix well. Cover and cook on medium flame for 5min. It will be a little charred at the bottom, and that give a nice flavor. Check the seasoning and adjust accordingly. Serve with steamed rice.
Kumro saag er chochori...Pumkin leaf and vegetable mish mash


  1. uff!! mon ta kharap hoye gelo.. kotodin eisob khai ni.. :(

  2. Great of yu.... my mom used to say same things... good explaination of recipe.... missing home a lot.... :-)

  3. I am studying Indian cooking which I love love love!! I do have a problem with hot peppers as I can't eat too hot a food, but I do love Indian cooking so much. I am amazed at all the wonderful veggies that I see in your blog and others that I see. I didn't know you could eat pumpkin leaves. !!! What an education I am getting.

    Please do include more photos of ingredients and the making of the dishes. It is so interesting for us all!

  4. Thank you so much.Just prepared this recipe and came out good. We have grown pumkin leaves in the backyard ... overall wonderful experiance

  5. Just tried your receipe ..wonderful. We have grown pumkin plants in the backyard... mainly for the flower and leaves... what an experiance to cook this stuff... thank you

  6. Ranna ta aj korlam recipe ta dekhe ..darun hoeche. thanks for sharing

    1. Thank you for your feedback, glad that you liked it :)