If you are like me, that is, far away from home and intense craving for Bengali food, then Bong Mom’s cookbook by Sandeepa Mukherjee Dutta is just the site you need . Simple home cooked food instantly transporting you back to your childhood days and the nostalgia of home, mother’s cooking and what not. Every recipe of hers has a lovely story to it, Like many of us, she came to this foreign land, trying to establish a home with the memories of a country she grew in. She managed to popularise Bengali cuisine with her simple yet elegant recipes that have an undertone of sweetness, mixed with a little sharpness and a pinch of excitement along with a dash of memories.
Yesterday, when I was reading her blog, I could quite relate to my self, Like her’s my mother never taught me how to cook, I remember when ever I would ask her, ki kore banaley ektu shekhao na, (how did you make it , teach me please) Her reply was shomay ele nijey shikhe jabi, ekhon tor eshob korar din noy( when the time comes you will learn this not the time for all this now) and my grandma did the same with my mother. I believe when she got married she had no clue how to fry an eggplant, skin side first or the other and my mashi (her older sister) gave her a diary full of recipes that she could cook from, 32 years have passed since then and ma has evolved far beyond her dairy, she is one of the most innovative cooks I have known and she is not the one to go by any book, though ma has many cook books (by many I mean well almost countless) I have never seen her really use any and if she does, she would say oi pore niyechi ebaar matha theke ber kore nijer moton banabo (oh I have read it, now I will innovate the recipe and make it my way). She still does it, and if by mistake you happen to ask her about the proportion of any ingredient her reply, alpo ektu ditey hoye( vwey little) how the hell am I suppose to understand little over the telephone so as Bong Mom say, I replace that with a teaspoon. Funnily enough though she has no set measurement , her dishes turn out to be just great with the right amount and proper balance of the spices. I don;t know how ma does it.
So when I told ma about this recipe I read Lau er Malakari from Bong Mom’s site, she was so excited, her reply wwas kore dekh bhalo laagle amay bolish amio banabo. (Try it and let me know, if it is good I will try it too.) The best thing about this recipe is that, it is simple ,elegant and tastes divine, so instantly I knew Tuesday night dinner had to be this. Plus I got 2 reminders form ma (taratari likhe patha, ami wait korchi banabo boley, write fast and and send it me , I am waiting for the recipe) . Reading Bong mom made me realise one thing, home cooking brings nothing but sheer joy.. Thank you Bong Mom for your lovely recipes and thank you for being an inspiration to our generation..
Lau er Malaikari: Bong Mom’s Recipe
- Bottle gourd -1 medium cut into medium squares (dumo dumo)
- Onion -1 medium (turned into paste, with a couple of green chillies)
- Ginger paste-1 table spoon
- Whole spices (cardamom-4-5, cloves 4-5, cinnamon, 1 inch, bay leaves 3-4)
- Turmeric-1 teaspoon
- Red-chillie Powder-1 teaspoon
- Salt to taste
- Coconut milk- 1.1/2 cups
- clarified butter (ghee) 4-6 table spoons
- sugar- pinch
Start by heating a kadhai /wok with the clarified butter, add the whole spices, once they start to crackle add the onion paste and the sugar and when there is no raw smell, of the onion you know they are done, now add the ginger paste and mix well. This is followed by the bottle gourd and mix them well with the onion paste. Add salt, cover and let the lau cook .
Once the bottle gourd is soft and cooked add the coconut milk and let the gravy simmer and come to a boil. The dish will have a clinging gravy and when that consistency is reached switch off heat. Drizzle little ghee on it and serve with rice.
There you go simple and not to mention divine, Lau er Malakari, all thanks to Bong Mom