Shaak, meaning, leafy greens is the second course of a Bengali lunch meal (the first being teto, meaning bitters). Paat shaak is stir-fried jute leaves. The texture of jute leaves is a combination of slightly slimy and fibrous (kind of like mustard greens). This particular family recipe includes ripe pumpkin and potatoes for texture, but several other variations exist.
It is usually served with kashundi which is a Bengali fermented condiment, usually containing mustard.
Jute is a crop native to the Gangetic delta. Its importance in the Bengali culture and economy increased with the setting up of jute mills in the 1800s. These mills produce the yarn that is woven into gunny sacs or burlap. Even today 80% of the world's jute is cultivated in the Gangetic delta.
- 100 g paat shaak (jute-plant leaves, cleaned)
- 40 g potatoes
- 40 g kumro (pumpkin)
- 1 pc green chilli
- ¼ tsp turmeric
- 3 g salt
- 4 g sugar
- 1 pinch atta (flour)
- kasundi (for serving)
- Separate the paat leaves from the stalks (in case of large leaves, remove the central vein as well), and wash them in plenty of water. Set the washed leaves over a colander to drain.
- Chop the potatoes and pumpkin into 2 cm long sticks.
- Bunch together a few paat leaves at a time and chop them into 2-cm segments as well.
- Heat mustard oil in a pan. Temper with dried red chilli and kaalo jeere.
- Add the potatoes. Fry them on medium heat for a minute, then add the pumpkin. Fry together for another couple of minutes.
- Now add the paat shaak, along with salt and turmeric.
- Cover and cook on medium-low heat. The leaves will soon wilt.
- Add a slit green chilli and sugar. Continue cooking until the water has dried off.
- At the end, sprinkle a pinch of atta, cook it off for 30 to 40 seconds, and remove from the heat.
- Serve with a side of kasundi (a Bengali fermented mustard-based condiment).