Jhol Bhaat – a vegetable stew served with plain rice


If there is one thing we Chatterjees are proud of (among the many others) and cherish – Jhol Bhaat would rank the top most. ‘Jhol’, in general, means a thin curry and can be of vegetables, fish, chicken or eggs; but I am, here, referring to a vegetable curry that formerly used to be prepared at my in-laws joint family home in Barhampur, W.B… This dish is like  a family tradition… every Chatterjee man wants his wife to master their skills in it… every mother wants her Daughter in law to make this for his son… and every Chatterjee bou love talking with their co-sisters (-in law) how this family is crazy about it. Everyone will have endless tales woven around it… number of variations considering you can add or skip any number of vegetables / spice.


Early days of marriage and BBC brandishes his skill at dishing out his favorite ‘Jhol’, chopping off big chunks of cauliflower florets, potatoes and eggplant, stir frying them with cumin seeds, salt, some slit green chillies and turmeric and a thin gravy of tomatoes, ginger and asafoetida (this dominating the flavor) and finally topping it off with fried ‘bori’ (sun-dried lentil paste nuggets). The whole process of cutting and preparing takes 20-30 minutes. My MIL makes different kinds of jhol with the different spices and seasonal vegetables but for the two of us this is how we like it.  In those initial days every Sunday lunch would be the husband’s task to make jhol bhaat. Not to mention… plain steamed white rice is the only way to serve this curry with – or so says the man. I have tried having it with roti / paratha and it works for me as long as I am thick-skinned enough to ignore the nearby gapes and stares.

Those over enthusiastic days of being newlywed and covertly wanting to win approval  made me master this simple dish in no time… Now, I know better! I have taken over this custom of Sunday’s Jhol Bhat, while my husband boasts about it on our weekly Skype chats with my MIL. Though I  have to admit there are still days when he enters into the kitchen and announces his intention of preparing this meal and I gleefully agree to do the clean up.

So while Friday-Saturday nights see me cooking Chicken Kasa (spicy and thick chicken gravy)  or pasta/pizza to celebrate the weekend mood, Sundays are most often ‘being-at-home’ phase with simple comfort foods  like this one. This followed by the afternoon nap gears us up for the upcoming week. With this post I am hoping to achieve a high score as the devoted member of the Chatterjee clan. Is anyone listening???

DSC_0322Here is how it goes:


  • Vegetables: Adjust the amounts as you like.
    • Cauliflower – 1/2, cut into big florets
    • Potatoes – 1 big, diced into cubes
    • Egg plant,  – 1/2, If using Chinese egg-plant variety – 1; cut into rounds
    • Any other vegetable of your choice cut into mid size chunks; some suggestions might be carrots, beans or peas  .
  • Bori – a handful; these are sun-dried lentil paste nuggets. You can  prepare this at home and store it for later use, but it is easily available in Indian Grocery stores as “Moong Dal Wadi”
  • Oil – 1-2 tbsp or as required
  • Cumin Seeds – 1 tsp
  • Asafoetida – 1/4th tsp
  • Salt – to taste
  • Turmeric – 1/4 tsp + 1/4 tsp + a pinch
  • Cumin Powder – 1 tsp
  • Ginger, grated or paste – 1 tbsp
  • Green Chillies, slit lengthwise – 4-5 or to taste. Can use red chilli powder (to taste) instead.
  • Tomatoes, chopped or grated – 1 medium
  • Water – as required
  • Coriander Leaves, finely chopped – to garnish


  • Soak the egg plants in a bowl of water mixed with a pinch of turmeric and salt.
  • Combine the ginger paste, turmeric powder, cumin powder in a bowl.
  • In a thick deep pot or wok or karahi heat up some oil and lightly fry the bori till they turn slight brown in color. Drain and keep aside.
  • In the hot oil add cumin seeds, once they start sizzling add the slit green chillies and all the vegetables except egg plants.  Fry the vegetables on medium flame with 1/4 tsp of turmeric and little salt for a couple of minutes.
  • Add the mix of ginger and spices and fry for a while.
  • Next add the grated/chopped tomatoes and mix well. Cover and cook for 5 minutes stirring in between.
  • Add substantial amount of water, mix well, cover and cook for 5-10 minutes till the veggies are halfway cooked.
  • Drain the eggplants and add to the brewing stew. Eggplant absorbs a lot of oil on frying so we do not fry them beforehand. Stir for a while and cover and cook till all the veggies are done.
  • Adjust water for the desired consistency and  salt or spice for taste.
  • Garnish with fresh coriander leaves and serve hot with plain steamed white rice.



Aloo Gobi/Cauliflower Curry

Another long weekend is peeking around the corner – the 4th of July weekend! Feels awesome – We already have a vacation planned with almost 6 families to Maine and I am eagerly looking forward to having a great time. The last couple of weeks have been equally good with family visiting and our short trips to NY and NJ meeting friends. No reason my blog has been taking a second or third (maybe even lower) priority these days. Did not have much time to explore with any new recipe either.

Seems like I need to finish up the stocked items in the freezer before I leave for Maine. So… the first item that needs an immediate attack is ‘GOBI’ or cauliflower which has been lying untouched in the freezer since last week. Well I know what needs to be done with that. Just  a simple Aloo Gobi curry – that way I do not spend too much time in the kitchen, I save the last two potatoes from growing tubers on their surfaces and being stashed away in the trash bin, and finally the main thing – my foodie husband has a good meal at the end of the day. Hurray!

This floral head occupies a very special nook in my husband’s heart and palate, specially the flavor of the florets stir fried with cumin seeds/jeera. As a matter of fact his bachelor days’ meals consisted of ‘Gobi’ or ‘FulKopi’ (as called in bengali) in almost every alternate day. I used to wonder at times if I should be memorizing Gobi recipes rather than having such long chats late into the nights. Well a smart girl like me did not take much time to realise that in order to pease my food-loving hubby I should learn how to make nice dal and a gobi recipe and that should keep me good for few days.  That was a long time ago… and now after almost a year of being the mistress of my house, I know that ‘aloo gobi’ or ‘Aloo FulKopi’r Dalna’ or in simple words cauliflower and potato curry still establishes a soft spot with BBC.

So this simple recipe made my way remains a delight for our household and I hope finds a place in your dinner table as well.


  • Cauliflower – 1/2 medium
  • Potatoes – 2 medium
  • Cumin seeds – 1 tsp
  • Ginger paste – 1 tbsp
  • Tomato, finely chopped or pureed – 1/2 cup
  • Cumin powder – 1 tsp
  • Coriander powder – 1 tsp
  • Turmeric powder – 1/2 tsp
  • Green chillies, slit – 1 or 2 or to taste
  • Red chilli powder – to taste (optional)
  • Garam Masala powder – 1 tsp
  • Salt – to taste
  • Sugar – 1/2 tsp or to taste (optional)
  • Yogurt – 1 tbsp (optional)
  • Oil – 2 tbsp
  • Freshly chopped cilantro or parsley – for garnishing


  • Wash the cauliflower, cut into half, separate into medium-sized florets and trim the stems.
  • Peel, wash and cut the potatoes into small cubes.
  • Marinate the florets and potato cubes with a pinch of turmeric, salt and red chilli powder for a minute or so.
  • Heat oil in a pan, add 1/2 tsp cumin seeds and let them sizzle. Add the florets and stir fry till a light golden color. Once done drain from oil and keep aside.
  • Stir fry the potato cubes till a light golden color, then drain and keep aside.
  • In the same pan add the remaining cumin seeds, let them sizzle.
  • Add ginger paste, slit green chillies, turmeric powder, cumin powder, coriander powder, red chilli powder and tomato puree and fry well till the oil starts separating.
  • If desired add well beaten yogurt and mix well.
  • Add the fried florets and potato cubes and mix well.
  • Cover and cook till completely done. Add some water (if required) depending on the amount of gravy desired. Care should be taken that the florets do not turn mushy.
  • Adjust salt, add garam masala and sugar if desired.
  • Garnish with chopped cilantro or parsley.

Aloo Methi

So what do I do when I have not much groceries at home? Or lets say when I need to have pure veg… even without onions…? or maybe those days when I have everything but do not feel like spending more than a minute in kitchen… in short am feeling lazy to cook…? These are the days when Solanum tuberosum comes handy… well coming from a degree in Botany I was eagerly wanting to use the scientific name of what is commonly called as ‘Potato’. The most common ingredient in so many India recipes is actually neither a vegetable nor a fruit, it is instead a tuber. Full of vitamins, minerals and fibers, potatoes are usually considered ‘unhealthy’ since the popularity of low-carb diet as they are high in starchy carbohydrates. However, potatoes prepared in a healthy manner like baking or boiling  are good vis-à-vis french fries or chips.

So this preparation with boiled potatoes is probably a time-saver, healthy yet tasty  recipe. Since we both love potatoes, since we both want to focus on healthy food and since there are so many days when I suffer from laziness… ‘Aloo Methi’ has found a special place in our household and my blog. Go ahead and embrace this simple and easy concoction of aloo/potatoes and methi/fenugreek.


  • Potatoes, peeled, boiled and cubed – 4 medium
  • Bay Leaf – 1
  • Whole Garam Masala:
  • Green Cardamom – 2-3
  • Cloves – 2-3
  • Cinnamon – 1 inch stick
  • Mustard seeds – 1 tsp
  • Cumin seeds – 1 tsp
  • Ginger paste – 1 tbsp
  • Tomatoes, finely chopped – 1 medium
  • Green chillies, chopped or slit – to taste
  • Turmeric powder – 1/2 tsp
  • Cumin powder – 1 tsp
  • Coriander powder – 1 tsp
  • Red chilli powder – to taste
  • Fenugreek/Methi leaves/Kasoori Methi – 1 bunch or 2-3 tsp (if using kasoori methi)
  • Yogurt, well beaten – 1 tbsp
  • Salt – to taste
  • Sugar – to taste (optional)
  • Oil – 1 tbsp


  • Peel the potatoes, wash and cut them into small cubes and boil them till cooked but not mashed.
  • Wash Fenugreek Leaves (if using fresh) well (2 to 3 times) in a tub of water and chop.
  • Place leaves in a medium bowl and sprinkle salt on them. Mix well and keep aside for 10-15 minutes.
  • Heat oil in a pan, add the bay leaf and whole garam masala, saute for a minute.
  • Add the mustard seeds and cumin seeds and let them sizzle.
  • Add ginger paste, green chillies, tomatoes and fry well.
  • Add turmeric powder, cumin, coriander powder, red chilli powder, salt to taste and Fenugreek leaves or Kasoori Methi. Mix well and saute for a minute.
  • Add the well beaten yogurt on low flame and mix well.
  • Add the boiled and cubed potatoes. Cover and cook for 3-4 minutes.
  • Uncover and cook till the desired consistency.
  • Add sugar if desired and mix well.
  • Let it sit for 5-10 minutes before serving.

Ain’t it fast n easy ?

Vegetable Korma

I had been longing to make some nice vegetable recipe and stumbled upon a Mughlai dish – Navratan Korma (meaning nine gems) prepared from nine different veggies, fruit and nuts.

Vegetable Korma (at least my version of it) is derived from the usual Navratan Korma, and includes any vegetable of your choice. Paneer, cream and cashew paste adds richness to this recipe though one may choose to exclude it as well for a healthy meal. As I believe, happily ignore some of the ingredients that are not available in your kitchen.


  • Oil – 2 Tbsp or a little more.
  • Broken Cashews / Peanuts – 1Tbsp
  • Golden Raisins – 1 Tbsp
  • Bay Leaf – 1
  • Whole Garam Masala –
    • Cinnamon Stick – 1 inch piece
    • Green Cardamom – 3
    • Cloves – 7
  • White (or Black) Peppercorns – 1/4 tsp
  • Onions – 2 medium, chopped
  • Tomato – 1 large, cubed
  • Salt – to taste
  • Sugar – to taste
  • Garlic – 2 Tbsp, finely chopped
  • Ginger – 2 Tbsp, finely chopped
  • Green Chilies – to taste, finely chopped
  • Cumin Powder – 1/2 Tbsp
  • Coriander Powder – 1 Tbsp
  • Red Chili Powder – to taste
  • Turmeric Powder – 1/2 tsp
  • Garam Masala – 1tsp
  • Evaporated Milk  – 5 oz can (may use half and half or whipping cream or plain milk)
  • Paneer – approx 7 oz, cubed (optional, but preferred)
  • Cut veggies – 2 cups (you may include anything, preferably cauliflower, carrots, green beans, bell-pepper, green peas, potatoes)
  • Apples – 1 medium sized, cut into small pieces.
  • Cashew paste (optional) – 1/4 cup
  • Cilantro Leaves – 1/2 cup, finely chopped
  • Water – approx 2 cups


  • Boil cubed potatoes and veggies.
  • Heat Oil in a medium non-stick pan on medium heat and lightly fry the paneer cubes (if using) and remove for later use.
  • Fry Cashews and Raisins until golden brown. Remove onto a plate draining as much oil as possible back into the pan.
  • In the same Oil, add Bay Leaf, Cinnamon Stick, Green Cardamom, Whole Cloves and Peppercorns. Roast for few seconds.
  • Add Onions and cook for 5 minutes on medium flame, stirring in between.
  • Add ginger, garlic, green chillies and a little salt and cook for 2-3 minutes or till the oil separates.
  • Add Tomatoes, stir and cook covered for another 5 minutes
  • Add in Cumin Powder, Coriander Powder, Turmeric powder and Red Chili Powder; mix well and cook uncovered. Sprinkle little water, if required, to help the dry spices mix well.
  • Put off the flame and take out the fried mixture onto a plate.
  • Once cooled grind this fried mixture into a fine paste. Add a few drops of water for grinding if required
  • Heat the pan again, if required use a few drops of oil, and stir fry the boiled veggies and apples for 1-2 minutes.
  • Add the ground paste to the fried veggies and mix well
  • Add fried Paneer (if using)to the mixture
  • Add Evaporated Milk or plain milk and mix well.
  • Add cashew paste (if desired for richer gravy); reduce heat to low and let the mixture come to a boil.
  • If required add additional water to desired consistency. Cook for 5 minutes.
  • Adjust salt, add in Sugar (to taste), Garam Masala and Cilantro and mix well.
  • Garnish with the roasted cashews and raisins.

Serve hot with chapati, naan, or rice.