Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Palang saaker ghonto and the bori story..

So where should I start, the bori (sun dried lentil nuggets) or the ghonto...sometimes it's so confusing. Specially when you are late on posting a recipe. Let's start with the Bori

Bori is an essential part of Bengali cuisine. If you need a definition then I will say Bori is sun dried lentil (paste) nuggets. Being part a joint family, I have grown up seeing the whole process of making Bori's so many times. My aunt (we call her Jhethima) used to make elaborate preparation for making Bori. The basic ingredient is lentils, you can use either split black gram (urad dal) or split red lentil (masur dal) or split yellow lentil (motor dal). My aunt used to clean all the lentils separately, then soak them overnight and make a paste using the traditional flat stone mortar pestle (sil-nora). And the most important part was whipping the lentil paste. The more you whip it, better will be the end result. Deftly using her fingertips, she would put small amount of lentil paste on clean white piece of cloth supported by a clean large bamboo plate (kulo) or stainless steel plate. The nuggets are shaped like cone, tapered at the top, just like the Hersey's kisses. I remember my aunt used sit through whole day with sun on her head during October- November to make the whole years bori supply, and that too not only for our family but so many relatives and friends. We used to joke why don't you start your own brand of bori. We used to play the scare-crow for our aunt, sitting on the terrace with other cousins and having good time and shooing the birds. And of course what can be a better excuse for not finishing up those boring homework from school. 

There are several kind of boris, large, small, with poppy seeds, with vegetable paste and so many more. My favorite was the large urad dal boris, specially for Sukto, jhol or ghonto and the small one with poppy seeds(bhaja bori) that to be served as fried along with rice and dal.

These are now sweet memories for me and my cousins.

Back in Kolkata it is so easy to get good quality bori, from a small grocer to the supermarket one can find them easily. But here I don't have that luck, so tried my hand on making bori. I could not rely on the little sun on my balcony, so did it in the oven. So here you go on how to make bori in the oven...

1. Soak urad dal/biulir dal/split black gram at least for 6 hrs.

2. Make a smooth paste of the soaked lentil, but make sure to use as little water as possible. The paste should not be runny. You should be able to make peaks with the paste with your finger.

3. Pre-heat oven to 200F/100C. Take a large baking sheet, cover it with aluminium foil. Spray a little oil on the foil. Put the tray inside the oven while the oven is heating up.

4.While the oven is heating up, whip the lentil paste with little salt and asafoetida/hing. Whip...whip...whip...your hand should pain, you might ask yourself 'why I'm doing this', but still whip.

5. Take out the hot tray carefully from the oven. Using your finger put lentil paste on the tray, trying to make  them look like bori. The shape is similar to Hersey's kiss. In the beginning they may need name tags to be recognized as bori, but it's just a little practice  and you are ready to launch your brand of bori.

6. Reduce the temperature to warm, the 'WM' option on your oven. Put the bori in the oven. Keep the first 30 min like that. What I generally do is, I switch off the oven. Then again after an hour I switch it on to warm. The logic is to keep the oven warm but again not too hot. Just trust your instinct on this.

7. It takes 2 days for the boris to be completely dry. Try to pull one gently, if it comes out automatically then the boris are done. Store them in an air tight container.

So where to use these boris? You can fry them till brown and can add to fish curry, vegetable curry, sukto or ghonto. I used them in ghonto this time. It was a spinach(palang saak) and vegetable mish mash. I followed my mother's recipe. I added whatever vegetables I found in my refrigerator.

Things needed to make palang saaker ghonto/ spinach veggie mish mash:

  • Spinach: a bunch
  • Potato(diced): 1/2 cup
  • Pumpkin(diced): 1/2 cup
  • Eggplant(diced): 1 cup
  • Radish(diced): 1/2 cup
  • Taro/kochu mukhi(diced): 1/2 cup
  • Flat beans/sheem(stringed): 10-12
  • Bori: 10-12
  • Bay leaves: 2
  • Cumin seeds: 1/4 tsp
  • Dry red chilies: 3-4
  • Cumin powder: 1 tsp
  • Turmeric powder: 1 tsp
  • Garam masala powder: 1/2 tsp 
  • Mustard oil to cook
  • Ghee/clarified butter: 1 tsp
  • Salt to taste
  • Sugar to taste
  • Green chilies (optional): 3-4

Steps of making palang saaker ghonto/ spinach veggie mish mash:

1. Wash the spinach well, drain water, chop and keep in a colander.

2. Wash and cut all the vegetables. You need to peel the veggies, except the eggplant.

3. Heat oil( for best result use mustard oil) in a deep pan or kadhai, when the oil is hot reduce heat and fry the boris to red-brown. Take out with a slotted spoon and keep aside.

4. Fry the eggplant pieces in the same oil, take out and keep aside.

5. Add more oil to the pan, when the oil is hot add bay leaves, dry red chilies and cumin seeds. As the spices release a nice aroma add the radish and taro and cook for 7-8 min, next add potatoes, and pumpkin. Add vegetables depending on their cooking time. Sprinkle salt, turmeric powder. Cover and cook till the vegetables are almost done. Add chopped spinach, mix well. As the spinach wilts add the boris. But not all, keep few for garnishing. Add fried eggplant pieces, mix well. Add salt, sugar, cumin powder, garam masala powder, cook uncover till done. Add ghee/clarified butter. Check seasoning and adjust accordingly. Add green chilies(if using). Transfer into the serving bowl. Crush the fried boris and sprinkle over the ghonto. Serve with steaming hot rice.

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  1. Wowwww... Very delicious and mouthwatering recipe.. looks awesome.. First time here.. Happy to follow your space :)

  2. This is so need to go for store bought bori.

  3. Hello Chitrangada, you have a wonderfull blog with absolutely beautiful photos. Just to make sure: do you dry your boris for two days in the oven switching temperature between warm and 100ÂșC? Or do you dry it only for a couple of hours in the oven and then leave them in a sunny place to finish drying? I am making your boris today for sukto. Thanks in advance.

    1. Thank you. No do not keep the oven on for two days. What I do is I keep it warm for half an hour then switch off the oven, then again after 1-2 hrs, I switch on the oven. during night I just keep the boris inside the oven(switched off). If you have the opportunity to place the boris under sun to dry, do that, that is the best option to dry. I do nit get enough sunlight in my patio so I opted for the oven drying option.