Religion, is a multi – faceted sword and to me, and is born out of fear. Fear of ?? God ?? sins??…….Well this post is not about analyzing these aspects of relationship between man and religion, it is about the culture, tradition, food that evolved out of this dogma of religion. A boon in disguise !!! 🙂
History of India has innumerable examples of misleading uses of religious practices and one of them are the Widows. Hindu religion has been harsh on it’s widows. Up until the mid 20th century, widows were treated like lepers. In Bengal, widows were restricted to household work and under strict dietary restrictions. Hence, religion and kitchen became an important part of their life. The traditional Bengal cuisine is very influenced by them. Well known 19th century Bengali author, Chitrita Banerji, quotes “it was impossible to taste the full glory of vegetarian cooking unless your own wife became a widow”.
Since widows were banned to use aphrodisiac condiments such as onion or garlic, garam masala, high protein pulses, such as the pink lentils, the authentic recipes does not contain these ingredients. Thus the use of ginger, fresh coconut, mustard in Bengali vegetarian food took hold. Because of these restrictions, their search for variety in daily diet gave way to an ingenuity and improvisation, which gave us some of the tastiest vegetarian food. Since widows were forced to live a spartan life with limited meals and innumerable fasts throughout the year, the cuisine thus produced were health packed with limited use of oil and spices, yet lip -smacking in taste.
The rituals and taboos made them innovative in the kitchen. Vegetable peels were used for chorchori and chhechki. Vegetarian dishes that mimic forbidden non – vegetarian foods —niramish deemer dalna made from cottage cheese and pulses, dhokar dalna, niramish mangsho (jackfruit), bori (sundried legume dumplings) — were invented. 🙂
With the passing time some such rituals changed or vanished. My father passed away 11 years ago. I and my brother counselled my mom against such religious practices and never allowed her to wear white fabric (symbolic of widowhood) nor allowed her to change her diet. She is the best cook for me and my ‘guru’. 🙂
Mulor chenchki with sun dried legume dumplings or radish stir fry is best eaten during winter when radish are in abundance and the taste is sweet and crunchy. The preparation can be adapted to non – vegetarian version by adding shrimp or fried fish roe dumplings.
The best part of chenchki is minimal use of oil and spices. Sonal @ my friend and mentor, has been a great source of inspiration for healthy cooking. ❤
Here’s what i did……….
3 nos – medium sized radish
2 nos – green chili (slit from the centre)
1 tbsp – freshly grated coconut
1/4 tsp – mustard paste
1/4 tsp – red chili powder
1/2 tsp – tumeric powder
1/2 tsp – ginger paste
pinch of nigella seed
1 tsp – sugar
salt to taste
handful of sun dried legume dumplings (optional)
1 tsp – finely chopped fresh coriander
1/2 tsp – clarified butter
pinch of garam masala ( Indian all spice powder)
Peel, wash and grate the radish.
Heat 1 tbsp oil (preferably mustard) and shallow fry the legume dumplings. Keep aside. In the same oil temper with the nigella seeds and add the grated coconut. Fry till coconut starts turning golden. Add the mustard and ginger paste.
Once it releases aroma and oil, add the radish, chili powder and tumeric. Stir for a couple of mins and then add the fresh green chili, salt and sugar. Cover and cook on a low flame till radish is cooked through and the moisture dried up. Check for salt and add the clarified butter and garam masala. Take it off fire. Garnish with chopped coriander.
Hand crush the fried dumplings and add to the chenchki. Serve hot with rice.
P.S. Can be served with hot paranthas or chapatis as well.
Bringing this traditional Bengali food to Angie’s for the Fiesta Friday with our lovely co -host Margy
Let’s party and sorry for joining in late 😉
Happy cooking !!! 😀
Cheers !!! 😉
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thank you Angie 🙂 Happy FF
Andy, I know that widows those days were treated badly. But from your writing OMG, it is so unfair. Glad these days it is better. Your radish stir fry is totally good. I just cut it to small chunks and cook it the south Indian way ;). Grating it makes it much easier to cook I guess. Will soon try your version!!!
Thank you 🙂
Ya Andy you are right even my mum was forced but I just said no and asked her to stay as she was earlier…delicious stir fry…never tried grayed version will try it soon…..
thank you 🙂
I don’t cook that much with radish but this one looks too delicious, bookmarking it 🙂
thank you 🙂
Fascinating post. Thank you so much for sharing this at FF.
I’m a huge fan of Indian cuisine and have spent some time travelling in India. I’ve never even heard about this.
Such traditional delicacies are not served in any eateries. Glad you liked it 🙂
I loved this dish Andy! I love mooli ki sabzi and mangodi wadi too. This is on my list to make. Saving the recipe. What is mustard paste? Can I use mustard sauce , thick and grainy one ?
sauce and paste are way two different. Mustard paste is ground mustard with little salt and water. Or you may grind the mustard and coconut together with some salt and sugar. 🙂
You can also use readymade wadis or soak a little gram pulses (chana dal) overnight. Grind with some green chili into paste. Add salt,mix and make small sized fritters.
That’s a good idea. I have some mung wadis and urad dal spicy ones.
I just pickled some radishes as a side for fajitas. I am always looking for new recipes to use up these little gems 🙂
Andy, its so interesting to learn how food has evolved down the ages, thanks for the history behind this dish, looks delicious by the way 🙂
thank you 🙂
Mom makes mooli ka parantha the same way except for the dumplings, the similar sort of stuffing!
thank you 🙂
Its hard to digest these happening.. Felt bad after reading and worry to know people was like that..
Never cooked a side dish with raddish.. Learning a lot from you Andy:-)
I would say our society has evolved and moved from such sadism But the truth there is still a long way to go 🙂
This looks awesome Andy, I know not everyone would relish radish but I definitely do.. I too make a dry radish bhurji which is yumm…:)
thank you 🙂 next time you make your version, post it 🙂
There always something “behind” food… thanks a lot for bringing this post over to Angie’s party!
Pleasure is mine 🙂
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Outrageous! One would think that before anyone else widows would be allowed to eat garlic or onion at their will since there are no mates that would be bothered with a terrible breath. Sorry for my dark humour, Andy. I knew they had been undermined but did not know how much.
There are some enlightened souls like me, who are considered outcast 😉 I have been labelled a few colorful names because of my views and thoughts.
When my dad passed away, I told my mom that if she follows any of those dumb rituals, she better not keep in touch with me. She chose her daughter 😉
Very glad to hear that….