Growing up in the fish-and-rice obsessed Calcuttal, the South Indian dosa was a once-in-a-while treat. I remember we’d drive to a little diner-like place on Chowringhee next to gas station for these e-nor-mous conical dosas – larger than my arm span.
The ones I really liked were the cheap street cart ones that my dad wouldn’t touch because it spelled bad oil and food poisoning. But the ting-ting of the dosa man and his rickety cart always sent me running down for the treat and my iron stomach was none the worse for the clearly poisonous ware!
When I went away to college in Pune, I was hit hard with the lack of regular Bengali food in a mostly vegetarian landscape – especially fish and meat. One of the cheaper things I could afford to eat out as a student there was the Udipi staple – idli and dosa. In the two years I was there, that quickly lost appeal and I swore off dosas for a while, refusing to touch them when I was visited home.
Fast forward to Boston where my South Indian friends would make dosas and idlis on weekends as a special treat. With even the best of Bengali food never tasting the way it did back home – and the same with all Indian food here – dosas became a real treat – again. We would take the train out to Framingham to go to the only Udipi restaurant in the area although it wasn’t very good and often made us sick.
Now we have many more options. I take my friends to Dosa Factory in Central Square where it is decent and cheap, and liked one that comes with the weekend vegetarian buffet at the fairly new Dosa Temple on Somerville Avenue (though I am yet to try one off the regular menu that looks really promising). They have a list of 15 dosas from Continue reading
Once a year Maa Durga comes down to earth to remind Bengalees of the power of Shakti and the triumph of good over evil.
Myths aside, Durga Puja is a great time to celebrate a new season and share yummy traditional food with family and friends.
Bhog, a tasty mix of rice and lentils cooked together with ghee and spice is offered first to the goddess and then to the devotees. Entire neighborhoods cook and serve giant vats of it at the pujo pandals in Calcutta this time of the year. It is most often paired with a mixed vegetable dish, fried eggplants or begun bhaja, crunchy papar and sweet tomato chutney.
My favorite version is a moist, almost runny, spicy khichuri bhog (the one shown here is what I ate at the Boston pujo this year – a drier version):
• 1 cup Gobindobhog rice ( or any small-grained rice)
• 2 tbsp ghee
• ½ cup Moong dal (split green gram)
• ¼ cup green peas (optional)
• 1 tbsp ginger paste
• 1 stick cinnamon
• 1 cardamom pod
• 2-3 cloves
• 1 tsp red chili powder
• 1-2 bay leaves
• 1/2 tsp panch phoron ( a mixed spice found in Indian stores)
• 2 green chilis (sliced if you like it hot)
• 1 tomatoes
• Salt to taste
• 1 pinch sugar
• 1 tsp turmeric powder
• Dry roast the moong dal till it emits a roasted aroma. Add rice and wash both thoroughly.
• Pour some ghee (or vegetable oil) in a wok
• Add cinnamon, cardamom, bay leaves, cloves, panch-phoron and fry
• Add green chili, ginger paste, red chili powder, salt, turmeric and stir
• Add peas, tomatoes and stir
• Add the washed rice and moong dal to the vegetables, pour sufficient water and let cook till the rice and lentils become soft.
• It should have a porridge-like consistency so add more water if required.
• Serve hot with some ghee on top.