Wednesday, 3 September 2014

Phulkopir Malaikari: Cauliflower in coconut milk currry

 পুজো আসছে 

Durga Puja is less than a month away and right about this time every year, we Bongs go crazy in anticipation of these five days of unabashed carousing and relentless revelry. I have started counting days too.  In fact, to me this thrill in anticipation of the Pujas is the best part. Once the Pujas arrive, the days fly in a blink. Anyway, while I wait for the Pujas, to get into the festive mood, I have planned to cook some of my favourite dishes that I associate with Durga Puja. Traditional recipes, restaurant favourites, street bites, et al.

I thought of starting off with something vegetarian. This dish is a vegetarian variation of Bengal’s legendary Chingrir Malaikari, prawns cooked in coconut milk. Phulkopir Malaikari, that is cauliflower florets cooked in coconut milk along with other aromatic spices. This is often made on Shashti (the first day of the Durga Puja), at my place along with the customary Luchi, chholar dal and aloor dom. It is funny though this dish is not considered vegetarian at my place because it uses onion and garlic. And the women of the house, who observe a fast on Shashti do not eat it. In fact, the dish is more of a way to pacify the rest of us who are not fasting and yet cannot feast on fish and meat on Shashti. No meat or fish would enter the house on that day. 

But we do not complain, because this dish is awesome. I remember this one time when I had returned home from the Puja Pandal way past the curfew hour and had got whacked real hard. Worse still, I was forbidden to set foot in the local pandal for the rest of the Pujas. I was crying and sulking in my room when my grandmother brought me crisp paranthas, phulkopir malaikari and some jaggery on the side, and she coaxed and cajoled a stubborn me into eating. It is one of my last and fondest memories of my grandma.  


Cauliflower – 1 large
Minced onion – 1 cup
Minced garlic – ½ tsp
Minced ginger – 2 ½ tsp
Turmeric powder – 1 tsp
Red chili powder –  1 tbsp
Cumin powder – 1 tsp
Thin/light coconut milk – 250 ml
Salt to tast
Sugar – 2 tbsp
Mustard oil
Ghee – 1 tsp
Whole spices
Bay leaves
Whole Dry Red Chilies
Cumin – ½ tsp


Cut the washed cauliflower in large florets and in a bowl keep the florets immersed in water to which you have added a little salt and turmeric powder. Leave for a hour, drain, and rinse and the cauliflower once more.

Now heat mustard oil in a deep bottomed pan and toss in the cauliflower florets, sprinkle a pinch of salt  and fry until they are a deep golden.  Keep aside.

In another pan, heat 2 tbsp mustard oil and I tsp ghee. Once hot, add the whole spices. Once they splutter and exude their aroma, add the minced onion, garlic and ginger. Sprinkle a pinch of salt and a little sugar. Fry until oil separates.

In a small bowl make a paste with the turmeric, chili powder and cumin powder and a couple of tablespoons of water. Add it to the onion-garlic-ginger.

Fry until oil separates. Add the fried cauliflower, stir well to coat the cauliflower with the spices. Cover and cook on low heat for about 10 minutes until cauliflower softens.

Add coconut milk and slit green chilies. Bring to a boil. Add salt and sugar to taste. Cook on medium low heat for about 10 minutes. Once oil begins to gleam around the edges, drizzle a little ghee and take it off the heat. 

1 comment:

  1. THis is lovely, you remind of home and ma... beautiful post