Friday, 11 April 2014

Borir Jhaal and my favourite person

It's been more than a decade that my grandma, Dad's mum, I called her Dida, left us. I have not yet come to terms with life without the old woman's presence. Every time something happened in my life in these 13 years -- a new adventure, a new job, admission in my dream university, new guy, good results-- I wondered what Dida would say had she been around.
Now it was not like Dida and I always got along, in fact, mostly we didn't. We fought over the television remote, cheese straws my aunt would send especially for Dida and I would steal, we fought over Shah Jahan and Mumtaz's love life, Dida always had it mixed up between Noor Jehan and Mumtaz; we fought over my hair which I left open always and she insisted I tie up and so many other things....we fought over.
      Dida was quite the kid -- every time we had a fight, she would pace about the landing of the staircase, around the time Dad got home from work and the moment my father entered the house, Dida would complain. Dad would have a good laugh, that would make Dida angrier, and he would have to scold me.Dad's not the kind to scold, he always breaks into laughter mid way through his tirade.
       But then, dare anyone else in the house lift a finger at me. She was always there to save me from Mum's beatings and my elder cousins' teasing. She called me Putul (doll) and to her I was the fastest kid around. The joy, the pride, the satisfaction that my smallest achievement would evoke in her was overwhelming. You know, that is why, no matter what I do today, everything seems just a little incomplete without her around.
        Anyway, why I have been telling you all about my Dida is because I made one of her favourite dishes last evening. Bori'r Jhaal. For those who do not know, bori is nothing but sun dried lentil pellets, sometimes spiced. In Bengal bori is usually without spice. The range is broad with bori made of different kinds of lentil used in different dishes. Some are subtly flavoured like the Hing'er bori with a hint of asafoetida. That's the one I used for my borir jhaal. Now my Dida had vegetarian food and she was quite the fussy eater. The cooks in our house were all rather scared of her, let's say petrified. She couldn't be served the same courses on two different days of the week, no repetition. Except for the Borir Jhaal, which she insisted on having every day.

So I thought I am going to share the recipe with you and also send it as my entry for Kolkata Food Blogger's Poila Boishakh, Begali New Year special event Poila Boishakh with Veg-Bengali dishes. This borir jhaal is a tad different from the regular borir jhaal I have had. It has capsicum in it and in my version I use kasundi, instead of mustard paste. The zing of mustard, the tang of tomatoes, the flavour of capsicum and the heat from chilies, give the humble bori a rather exciting makeover.


Hing'er Bori - 150g
Tomato - 2 finely chopped
Capsicum - 1 finely chopped
Kasundi or mustard paste - 2 tbsp
Panch phoron - 3/4 tsp
Green chilies - 3-4 slit
Mustard oil
Salt to taste
Turmeric powder - 1/2 tsp
Red chili powder - 1/2tsp
Sugar to taste


Heat oil in a pan and deep fry the bori until they are a deep golden. Strain and keep.

In another pan heat about 2 tablespoons of mustard oil. When the oil is near smoking point add the green chilies and panch phoron and reduce heat.

 Once the paanch phoron begins to splutter in the oil and exudes its aroma, toss in the tomatoes and the capsicum and fry for a few minutes, 3-4 minutes approximately.

 In a small bowl mix the turmeric and red chili powder, add about 2 tablespoon of water and make a smooth paste. Add this to the tomatoes and capsicum. Fry for another minute and add water, about 3 cups.

Add salt, sugar and bring it to al boil. Add the bori.

Once the bori softens, stir in the Kasundi/mustard paste and remove from heat. Serve with plain rice.

As for Dida 
I wish that someday I can be the person you thought I already was


  1. Sounds yummy. Will try tmrrw. Can you post the originalrecipe too?

  2. Yaaay....yes do try it and let me know how it turns out. I am sorry but I didn't understand what you mean by original recipe...this is a family recipe and the only little change I have made is use Kasundi. You can replace it with mustard paste if you wish to.

  3. Nice Idea Priyadarshini,, will try this today. I have my share of Borir jhal too,, that too again a family recipe, handed over by my Didubhai,,who was so proud of me for all my small small achievements, good marks in school, my paintings.. however basic it is.., my board results.. she was an amazing cook,,left us long time,,sigh....anyway.. in her Borir jhal, she has never used Mustard Paste and she never fried her Bori, and I am used to that form till date. Will try your dida's version. Thanks for sharing.

  4. Hi Priyadarshini, awesome recipe. I tried it today, it came out so nicely. I just loved it. Thanks a lot.

    1. Yaaayyiiiee....happy to hear that....thank you so much!