When I landed up in Mumbai city about 10 years back, there were two things that surprised me the most. 1. White earthworms painted all over the buildings 2. Before you purchase or rent a flat, you are asked if you are a vegetarian or a non-vegetarian.
With time I learnt that the earthworms are nothing but chemical treatment applied over cracks to prevent leakage. It is funny, but if you look out of your car/bus local train window, you cannot help noticing these white serpentine lines all over buildings….you never see this in any other city. I later came to know that most of the extended Mumbai is built on reclaimed land, and hence does not stand on a very firm ground. That and the substandard quality of materials, and the black salty sand used in the construction are responsible for poor quality construction work.
And for the second query, I came to know societies enquire upon your food habits because theirs must be an all vegetarian society and they are unwilling to accommodate anybody who is not!
But for each thing that surprises me in Mumbai, there are ten that I love. One such thing is the zest and revelry with which various religious and regional festivals are celebrated here. Durga Puja is celebrated here with as much enthusiasm as Ganesh Utsav or Navratri or Christmas. Its kind of sad, but little S is keener on being at the Navratri ground than at the Durgapuja Pandal ! I for one, just adore the Durgotsav observed here in Mumbai. Its out of West Bengal….and simply out of the world. It is distinct from West Bengal and more of gharoa in approach rather than the club-centric puja’s back home in West Bengal. It is more tolerant towards wholesome participation of the Boudi clan – hence more appealing for me. And the Bhog ! Its Awesome..with a capital A. The bhuni khichuri, labra(mixed veggies with a typical East Bengal drift), begun (thin slices of eggplant dipped in a batter of besan, and deep-fried)i, kumro bhaja (batter or plain fries of yellow pumpkin), chutney , papad, payesh(rice pudding) and rosogolla….I think the platter is worth waiting for a whole year….
Ever since it has been pouring in Mumbai, I have been meaning to make the typically Pujo flavored bhuni khichuri, but had to wait for a rainy Sunday afternoon, and finally got one this Sunday….so off I went…
Rice (Gobindobhog chaal / or any small grained rice) : 1 cup
Moong daal: 1 cup
Green peas: 1 cup
Cauliflower (optional): 4/5 big florets
Ginger: 1” piece, grated
Tomato: 1 small
Garam masala : whole (2 clove,2 Elaichi, 2” piece of Dalchini ground)
Garam masala powder (optional) : 1 tsp
Paanchforon: 1/2 tsp
Tej pata : 2
Salt: 1 tsp or to taste
Turmeric: ½ tsp
Oil: 2 tbsp
Step 2: Roast the moong dal till it takes a beautiful golden hue. Be careful to stir continuously, to avoid burning. A beautiful aroma will fill your room by the time your dal is nicely roasted. Let it cool, wash it and keep aside.
Step 3: lightly smear the cauliflower florets in salt and turmeric and shallow fry them in 1 tsp of oil so that they have a nice brownish tint, but not ready to eat as yet. Keep aside.
Step 4: In the same pan, heat a spoonful of oil, and add the Paanchforon first and then the whole garam masala and tejpata.
Step 5: Add the green chilly, ginger, roasted dal, green peas, turmeric, tomato and fry till it starts to stick at the bottom.
Step 6: Now add the soaked rice, about a spoonful of salt, a tomato cut into quarters and stir well.
Step 7: When the rice turns translucent, add 5 cups of water and stir nicely. After you have made sure that no lumps have formed, cover and let it cook. Keep checking as it doesn’t take much time.
Step 8: When the rice and dal are almost cooked, add the pre-fried cauliflower.
Step 9: At this point taste the khichuri and check for salt, sweetness and tanginess. Add salt or sugar or chili powder so that you are satisfied with the taste, and cover. Remember as it cooks for some more time, it will get denser, so the taste will intensify. Add your enhancers accordingly. Add water if required.
Step 10: When your khichuri is done,ie all the ingredients soft and consistency desirable, stir in one spoonful of ghee, to get that distinctly pujo-pujo flavour.
Enjoy Bhog khichuri with papad, chutney, beguni, or with an omlette like my blasphemous son S...choice is yours !
Tip : I you want to store leftover khichuri and have it next day, add a little amount of warm water while you re-heat it in a karhai. It tastes even better the next day….I usually keep a little purposely to have it with a little onion and potato fry!