This unusual appetiser was my grandmother’s specialty. Here ridged-gourds are stewed in a mild sauce with coconut, green chillies and nigella seeds. This is very easy to make and is perfect for summers when you don't feel like eating anything rich. This recipe can be made with a combination of pumpkin and jhinge as well.
A jhal is a type of Bengali curry characterised by the sharpness of its flavours, unlike its close cousin, the jhol, which is usually more mellow. This recipe, kumro’r jhal, is defined by the heat and aroma that comes from freshly crushed green chillies and kaalo jeere (nigella seeds). In a way, the green chilli and kaalo jeere combination is a timeless one when it comes to Bengali cooking—these two work hand-in-hand to temper several classic dishes. In this recipe, these are not only used as phoron but they are also pasted and added to the curry itself. Apart from that, this unusual jhal recipe also makes use of coconut paste, some milk, and a pinch of flour, all of which render a light, yet creamy, gravy. This dish is extremely easy to make (it doesn’t require you to spend several minutes sauteing spices) and can be knocked out in under 30 minutes.
- 500 g jhinge (ridged gourd)
- 10 g mustard oil
- 1 pc bay leaf
- 1 pc dried red chilli
- ½ tsp kaalo jeere (nigella seeds)
- 2 pcs green chillies
- 15 g coconut paste
- 40 g milk
- ¼ tsp maida (flour)
- 8 g salt
- 10 g sugar
- 150 g water
- Peel the ridges of the jhinge and cut it in 5 cm chunks. Transfer to a saucepan and add 8 g salt and 150 g water to it. Cover and parboil jhinge for about 8 minutes. Set aside.
- Meanwhile, crush ¼ tsp kaalo jeere and 1 green chilli in a mortar and pestle with a pinch of salt. Also make a coconut paste using sheel nora (you can also use a heavy rolling pin), adding water a little at a time.
- Heat mustard oil in a pan. Temper it with dried red chilli, bay leaf, 1 green chilli and ¼ tsp kaalo jeere.
- Add boiled jhinge to the pan, along with the water.
- Once it starts to bubble, add the crushed kaalo jeere and green chillies. After a minute, add the coconut paste and sugar.
- Mix maida and milk together, and add the solution to the pan. Simmer for two minutes to allow the raw maida to cook off, before turning off the heat.