There is an entire category of Bengali dishes, the preparation of which involves boiling/steaming vegetables, leafy greens, and even certain kinds of fish, and then mashing them by hand with some sharp flavours derived perhaps from onions, garlic and chillies. This category is called the ‘bhorta’, and is admittedly more popular within the Bangladeshi branches of Bengali cooking than it is within the West Bengal ones. The mode of preparation is so simplistic—requiring only a handful of basic, affordable ingredients, and very little effort—that every cuisine has its take on the bhorta in some form or another (the Bihari aloo chokha, Bengali aloo sheddho or aloo bhaate, and the North Indian aloo/baingan bharta come to mind).
So an aloo bhorta, as you may have guessed, is a mash of boiled potatoes, and fried onions, garlic, and chillies. In this recipe, we’ve used both dried red chillies and green chillies, as well as some raw mustard oil for an added kick. Although this preparation doesn’t really warrant a recipe, no compendium of Bengali cooking would be complete without this quintessential comfort food.
- 250 g potatoes
- 50 g onions
- 5 g garlic
- 2 pcs green chillies
- 2 pcs dried red chillies
- 4 g salt
- 8 g mustard oil
- Boil and peel potatoes. Mash them until lump-free, along with the salt and 3 g of the mustard oil. Slice the onions, garlic, and green chillies
- Heat a skillet or small frying pan, and add the remaining mustard oil (5 g) to it. Add the dried red chillies and roast them on medium heat until they have blackened. Remove from the heat and transfer them on to the dish containing the mashed potatoes.
- In the same pan, add the sliced onions. Fry them until they turn brown. This should take about 6 minutes. Next, add the sliced garlic and green chillies and fry them for another couple of minutes. Remove from the heat.
- Using your fingertips, rub in the fried dried-red chillies into a small amount of the potatoes. Once the chillies are mixed well, mash in the fried onion mixture too. Divide in four equal portions and enjoy with some steaming rice and dal.