This post was in my draft for a long time, with only the "Ingredients" and the "Process" jotted down and I was not sure how to start the post. Here I go... I just started the post!
I made this comforting Jhol (watery gravy or stew) as a part of out Easter Sunday lunch. This year, with so many Food Network Shows dedicated to Easter Brunches and Allrecipes.com bombarding my inbox with special Easter recipes, I was sure I had to be part of the festivities. I am sure last Easter Sunday and all those previous Easter Sundays, I must have had good food (every Sundays is a Good Food day for us), only that I was not aware that I was celebrating Easter Sunday!
So why is this simple, humble, everyday Prawn Stew so special when there are more exotic Prawn/Shrimp recipes that the Bengali cuisine boasts of? Its the man who loved this simple Jhol, that makes it so special.
Boro Mama (Sam's maternal uncle), a very well-read man of few words and a great sense of humor lost his battle to Lung Cancer three years ago on that very day (31st March). A strict disciplinarian, yet a doting father and uncle to his children and nephews and nieces, not to mention an ardent foodie. Though I did not get to spend a lot of time with him, he touched me with his wit, his vast knowledge, his warmth and abundant affection. Since we stayed close to his hospital, he had spent his last days with us. Every time I walked into his room, he greeted me with a smile and said, that he was feeling a lot better, though his pain and discomfort was clearly visible.
Being a food blogger, the best way to pay a tribute is through food. Boro Mama, a connoisseur of good food might have eaten in a variety of restaurants in and around Kolkata, yet it was always simple, home-cooked, comforting food that was close to his heart. Sam remembers Boro Mami (his wife) making this simple, runny but immensely flavorful ChingDi Macher Jhol with chunky potatoes and pumpkin and Boro Mama would sip the soupy liquid from his big bowl making a big SLURRRPPP sound, gesturing huge satisfaction. Then he would proceed to mix rest of the gravy and vegetable pieces with fragrant white rice and enjoy to the last bit.
Though I never had this jhol made by Boro Mami, since I am allergic to shellfish, I tried to recreate using my gut feel and my Mom's recipe as a base. Sam declared its delicious in its own rights but nothing compared Boro Mami's version. And for the records, I am not competing!
Shedding a tear for a man who lived life on his own terms and lived it well, would be dishonoring his memory. Lets practice what he preached and practiced, "Be happy and make others happy!"
May you continue to bless us and inspire us! SLURRRPP! SLURRRPP!
Aloo-Kumro Diye ChingDi Maacher Jhol a.k.a Tiger Prawns/Jumbo Shrimps in Potato and Pumpkin StewWhat I used:
Tiger Prawns/ Jumbo Shrimps - ½ lb (use can use the head on variety too)
Potatoes - 2 medium sized cut into wedges (I used the red skinned variety and left a little bit of skin on)
Pumpkin - ½ lb, cut into chunky cubes
Whole Garam Masala Troika (Cardamom, Cinnamon, Clove) - 4-5, 1 stick, 4-5
Bay leaf - 1-2
Onion - 1 medium sized, grated
Ginger - 2 tsp, grated
Turmeric Powder - ½ tsp+more for rubbing on the prawns
Red Chili Powder or Paprika - 1 tsp
Green Chilies - 4-5
Ghee - 1 tsp (optional)
Oil - 2 tbsp + 2 tbspSalt
What I did:
1. Rub prawn/shrimp with turmeric and salt and let it rest for 5 minutes. Meanwhile peel and chop the potatoes and the pumpkin and grate the onion and the ginger.
2. Heat the 2 tbsp of oil in a wok/ khadai over medium eat. Lightly fry the prawns/shrimp, till they turn light orange and curl up a bit. Remove and keep aside.
3. Add the remaining 2 tbsp of oil to the same pan and temper it with the Whole Garam Masala Troika (Cardamom, Cinnamon, Clove) and bay leaf.
4. Add the grated onion, grated ginger, turmeric powder and red chili powder or paprika (if you are heat intolerant). Fry till the masala is cooked (2 min. approx). You would want to add a tiny splash of water to prevent the masala from sticking to the bottom of the pan and burning.
5. Add the chopped potatoes and pumpkins and coat with the masala. Add the salt and cover and cook for 5 more minutes. This will infuse the flavor of then masala in to the potatoes and pumpkin. The salt would draw out the moisture from the pumpkin and they will cook in its own steam.
6. Add a cup and a half of water and green chilies and bring to a boil. Then simmer till the veggies are tender.
7. Tip in the fried prawns/shrimps and let it cook for 3-4 more minutes. If you want more gravy add more water and adjust the salt. In case you want less of gravy, increase the heat and evaporate some of the liquid till you get your desired consistency.
8. Finish off with a teaspoon of Ghee or clarified butter. You might want to add a little gram masala powder. I didn't add because I did't want to overpower the delicate prawn flavor.