নামেতে যেমন ঘন্ট, কাজেও তাহাই। ঘন্টতে রাধিতে অনেক মশলা চাই।
ফোড়নের মশলা তেজপাতা, হিং, জিরা।ভুলোনাকো দিতে তাতে আদা এক গিরা।
দুধ, চিনি আরো জিরা মরিচ বাটা। সাতলাবে শেষে ঘিয়ে , কর ঘাটা ঘাটা।
-Pragnasundari Devi (Amish o Niramish Ahar- 1st Part)
The Bengali food blogger is back to her base with this poem of “Ghonto” a seasonal vegetarian recipe popular all through the Bengal (both West Bengal and Bangladesh); Kochu Saag er Ghonto! Ghonto is a semi thick veg preparation where veggies are mostly used in a mashed form and sometimes added with portion of fishes mostly head. Kochu is known as Taro in English and popular as Arbi in Hindi and the stem of Taro is known as Kochu Saag (Shak) in Bengali which is greenish purple in colour and is a leafy vegetable. Both Kochu and Kochu Saag are abundantly used in Bengali Cuisine.
I still remember having Kochu Saag er Ghonto on the night of Ulto Rath in my mom’s ancestral place in Dhaniakhali, a village in Hooghly district of West Bengal as part of bhog of Thakur Madanmohon. There is a cute story linked with this Bhog Prasad of Kochur Saag er Ghonto. It was served to Madanmohan jeu after returning home from his Aunt’s place on the occasion of Ulto Rath. Kochur Saag er Ghonto served as a food of punishment by his angry partner Radharani! I really don’t know why they treat Kochu Saag as food to punish somebody; it tastes just awasome! Kochu Saag er Ghonto is typically a vegan dish and is not prepared with Onion and garlic. However, Kochu Saag is prepared with the Head of Hilsa and or with medium sized prawns and is very much popular among Bangal community (People who are descendant of Bangladesh) and that tastes heavenly too. I will share the recipe of Kochu Saag with Fish for sure in future!
Coming to my attempt of making Kochu Saag er Ghonto, I found Kochu Saag in ample in the Bypass Market nearby my place while purchasing veggies day before yesterday. I was not sure whether to purchase it or not since I am not much confident with the cutting process of Kochu Saag but my Sabji Mashi (the aged lady from whom I purchase veggies) helped me with the cutting and chopping! She asked me to finish rest of the shopping and took 15 minutes to cut around 1 kg of Kochu Saag! This is my first attempt of making Kochu Saag er Ghonto and I naturally checked few books on Bengali Cooking for the recipe. I found 3 options of Vegetarian Kochu Saag er Ghonto in Pragnasundari Devi’s “Amish o Niramish Ahar” and then consulted with my Boudi (sister in law) who is of Bangal origin and make Amazing Kochu Saag er Ghonto. The only difference I found is use of Chola Shedhho (boiled Black Chickpeas/ Kala Chana) which Boudi adds while making Kochu Saag er Ghonto and I too opted for it though not mentioned in the book. In addition, Boudi has given a smart tip to add 1 Tbsp. of Vinegar/ Tamarind Paste while cooking since sometimes sore throat causes after having Kochu Saag (Taro Leave) and that can be avoided by adding a souring agent while cooking it. Rest is nothing but some hassle free cooking which ended on having Kochu Saag er Ghonto with Plain rice; a true Bengali Platter.
- Taro Leave (Kochu Saag): 1 Kg
- Black Chickpeas / Chola/ Kala Chana: ½ Cup (75g)
- Coconut: 1 (medium size)
- Green Chili: 3-4
- Milk: 1 Cup (150 ml)
- Whole Cumin Seed: 1 Tsp.
- Bay Leaf: 2
- Asafoetida: ½ Tsp.
- Cumin Powder: 1 Tsp.
- Coriander Powder: 1 Tsp.
- Turmeric Powder: 1 Tsp.
- Sugar: 1 Tbsp.
- Salt: to taste
- Ghee/ Clarified Butter: 1 Tbsp. + 1 Tsp.
- Vinegar: 1 Tbsp. (Optional)
- Soak Black Chickpeas overnight and boil those with ½ Tsp. of Salt in a pressure cooker with the weight on for 3 whistles in medium flame. Remove the lid when there is no pressure within the cooker and check whether the Chickpeas are done properly.
- Taro leaves needs to be cut into long strips after removing the outer layer.
- Grate Coconut using a manual or electric grater. around ⅔ Cup of grated coconut required for this recipe.
- Make a paste of Green Chilies.
- Wash Kochu Saag or Taro Leaves properly and then take those in a deep bottom pan with ½ Tsp. of Salt and start cooking in low flame by covering the pan with a lid. No water required to add while cooking the Saag.
- Kochu Saag will molten after around 10 minutes of cooking and will release sufficient water.
- Switch the flame off and let the boiled Saag cooled completely.
- Now discard water from Saag completely by squeezing the Saag .
- Take boiled Saag in a Bowl and add boiled milk, Turmeric Powder, ½ Tsp. salt, Cumin Powder, coriander Powder and Sugar to it and mash properly. I have used my Potato masher for this step. If not available use your hand to mash the veggie.
- Take 1 Tbsp. of Ghee in a pan (I have used the same pane used for boiling the Saag) and heat it sufficiently.
- Temper the Ghee with Bay leave, Cumin Seed and then mix asafoetida with 1 Tbsp. of water and add the mixture in the tempering.
- Cook for 1 minute in high flame and add Green Chili Paste to the tempering and finaly add mashed Saag mixture to the tempering and add boiled Black Chickpeas too.
- Add Vinegar in this stage (this is optional)
- Start cooking in low flame till water evaporates.
- Check spices and adjust if required.
- Finish the Ghonto by adding Grated Coconut and 1 Tsp. of Ghee.
- I’ve garnished my Kochu Saag er Ghonto with fresh grated Coconut.
- Serve Kochu Saag er Ghonto with Steamed Rice.