Friday, 4 October 2013

Sharadiya special

My grandfather, a great connoisseur of food he was, was once invited to dinner at a friend's place. This particular friend had just started his catering business, which later went on to become one of the popular ones at the time, and before he signed his first clients on, he insisted that a few of his closest friends should sample the delectable dishes his head cook was turning out. He was very proud of this head cook, a man he had brought all the way from Orissa.

However, what he didn't know that evening when his guests arrived and the first dishes were put on the table was that he would  soon have to part with this culinary genius.

Post dinner my grandfather insisted that he gets to meet the man who had dished out the fare. Panchanan Panigrahi was summoned and my grandfather held his hand tight, turned around and said "let's go". For the next 30 years, Panchanan Panigrahi, Ponchu Nona for all of us cooked for us, stayed with us and finally breathed his last at our home.

As for the bewildered friend, my grandfather agreed to share Ponchu Nona, only a few months later Ponchu Nona decided he didn't wish to work for him. So, that he had to look for another head cook,was not really my grandfather's fault.

Ponchu Nona was an epic cook and in his hands my family soon turned into one of culinary snobs. No biryani, no fish roll or Chicken chaanp was good enough. And in our circle people looked forward to feasts at our place. My mother and aunts were only too keen to learn from the master but there was one thing about Nona, he wouldn't teach. So the women took to furtive measures — spying mainly. And somehow they managed to get hold of a few of his recipes. Never at one go, though.

So the recipe I'll share today is one his recipes and till date every time we serve traditional Bengali fare to our guests this always features on the menu. Begun'er Raita (Aubergine Raita)

With Durga Puja knocking on the door I have planned to share one family recipe everyday till Shoshti and may be if you like them you could toss one of them or all of them up for your guests this Puja. Here goes the first one.

Begun'er Raita


Medium sized aubergine - 3-4 
Hung curd - 200 gms 
White mustard seeds ground into a paste with  green chillies (according to taste) - 2 tbsp 
Mustard oil - 3-4 tsp 
Salt and sugar to taste 
Mustard oil for frying 


Cut each aubergine into four lengthwise.
Heat oil (enough to deep fry) and add the aubergines. Deep fry them until tender and dark. Strain and set aside to cook completely. 
In a bowl whisk the hung curd until smooth and creamy. Add salt and sugar and mix. Add the mustard paste and mix well. Finally add mustard oil and mix.
Plate the brinjals and spoon the curd mix on the brinjal slices. Refrigerate.
 Serve with piping hot steamed rice. 


  1. Replies
    1. hung curd is basically curd with all the water drained out. Take a muslin cloth and tie you curd up in it. Hang the potli with a string overnight or at least for a few hours and you thick creamy curd without the liquid. HUNG hence.

  2. I love this dish! I have an Oriya colleague and I learnt this dish from him though there are nuances between the recipes. Now I feel like making this one right away!