Luchi, Cholar Dal and Alur Dom are quintessential Bengali festive feast essentials. Complete vegan and complete indulgence. You will be surprised how simple they can be yet how yum they are.
It is October and no Bengali, in any part of the world, can keep calm this month. Yeah, it’s that time of the year that all Bengalis get together to celebrate Durga Puja . It is a way of life for Bengalis and not just a festival. And not to mention the festive feast every day is special. This is one time every one indulges in – authentic Bengali food, street food, Mughlai food, – basically any kind of food.
So this October embark on a Bengali Food Fiesta with yours truly for some Authentic Bengali Recipes – made easy for you. I promise to share both vegan and non-vegetarian (which almost defines a Bengali) recipes so that everyone can try. So get ready for #TinasBongConnection this October and follow me on Twitter & Instagram with the same hashtag so that you never miss a recipe!
Now no Bengali feast is complete with Luchi, Cholar Dal and Alur Dom. In fact, luchi and alur dom is quite a staple Sunday Breakfast in most Bengali households. So what better way to start #TinasBongConnection than sharing not one but three recipes together – Luchi, Cholar Dal & Alur Dom – Authentic Bengali Vegan festive recipes. These three go together hand in hand so no point in making different posts. You guys, enjoy it.
What is a Bengali Luchi (Authentic Bengali puffed Indian short bread)?
Luchis are pure indulgent short breads which are deep fried. It’s made with refined flour which makes it all white. Let me tell you, if you are someone who is always watching what you are eating and counting calories all the time – this is not for you. But hey, it’s festival time a little indulgence is okay right?
Luchi, is the Bengali equivalent for the Indian poori. But it’s made from refined flour. Making a perfect ‘fulko luchi’ (one that has expanded well) is an art in itself. You need the correct dough, correct amount of oil and correct temperature of oil to get perfect luchi. If the amount of oil is less or not hot the luchi will not expand and if the oil is too hot it won’t stay white – it can become reddish or in the worst case a bad shade of brown – burnt luchi. You don’t want that.
For the luchi dough all that you need are refined flour, little ghee or clarified butter, salt and warm water to knead the dough. This dough is going to be neither too soft, not too firm. The trick for good puffed luchi is to rest the dough for 15-20 minutes. Divide the dough in small balls and roll them with a rolling pin. These flat breads now needs deep frying – this step can’t be substituted with anything!
Keep the flame in medium so that the oil is hot but not too hot or cool. If required keep altering between sim and medium so that the oil is never too hot. You will need a kadhai for this kind of deep frying. I usually use a little more than half the capacity of the kadhai for oil. This recipe will give you approximately 20 decent sized luchis or Bengali puffed bread.
I made a whole lot of luchis for the two and a half people in the family!
- All Purpose Flour - 3 cups
- Ghee/ Clarified Butter - 1 tablespoon
- Salt - a pinch
- Warm water - as needed to make a soft dough
- Sunflower/canola oil for deep frying
- In a mixing bowl sift flower
- Mix a pinch of salt in it
- Add ghee and rub with flour to incorporate
- Add water as required gradually and start mixing with your fingers.
- Knead well for 5-6 minutes or till you get a smooth dough
- Cover with a wet cloth and let it rest for 15-20 minutes
- Divide the dough in 20 equal round balls
- Use a rolling pin to roll the flat breads
- Heat oil in a kadhai on medium flame
- Deep fry the flat breads, one at a time, for 10 secs a side or till they puff up
- Use your spoon/spatula to press the luchi while frying - this will ensure they puff up equally
Cholar Dal or Bengali Style Chana Dal
Cholar dal or the Bengali style chana dal is a super yum lentil dish made with Bengal gram. It is cooked with fried coconut bits and has a beautiful aroma of ghee. Bengal gram is rich in protein and fiber so it’s not just super yum it is extremely healthy.
This lentil dish is creamy and velvety in texture added with the crunchy coconut bits – not the usual yellow lentil. This lentil is not very spicy and all the taste comes from dried red chili and coconut.
This lentil is little hard so if you soak it for some time it will be better. I soaked the lentils in water for half an hour prior to pressure cooking it in water with 3-4 whistles with little salt and turmeric powder.
In a pan hear ghee or clarified butter and fry the coconut bits, keep them aside. Don’t discard the residual ghee, this has all the aroma of coconut now. Temper this residual ghee with cumin seeds, a whole dried red chili, ½ an inch of cinnamon stick. Fry till you get the awesome aroma of the spices. Add grated ginger and fry.
Pour the boiled lentil in this tempered oil and simmer it for 3-4 minutes or till it starts thickening. Pour the fried coconuts into this and cook for 1-2 minutes more. Garnish with some green chili and chopped coriander leaves. Serve it warm with luchi.
- Bengal grams / chana dal - 1 cup, washed and soaked in water
- Water - 2 cups to boil dal
- Salt - 1 teaspoon
- Ghee / clarified butter - 1 tablespoon
- Cumin seeds - 1/2 teaspoon
- Dried Red Chili - 1 whole
- Cloves - 2
- Cinnamon Stick - 1/2 an inch
- Ginger - 1 inch piece grated
- Turmeric Powder - 1/2 teaspoon
- Salt - to taste
- Sugar - 1/2 teaspoon
- Fresh coconut - 1/3rd cup cut into small bits (white parts along with the thin brown scale
- Turmeric powder
- Pressure cook the soaked lentils in water with a pinch of salt
- Cook till three whistles or till lentils are soft
- In a wok heat ghee and fry the coconut bits
- Spoon them out and keep aside
- In the same ghee add red chili, cloves, cinnamon, cumin seeds and fry
- When they start sputtering add grated ginger and fry
- Pour the boiled lentils in this along with the residual water
- Add turmeric powder and mix
- Cover and cook for 3-4 minutes
- Add the fried coconut bits, cover and cook for another 1-2 minutes
- Serve the hot creamy cholar dal with hot luchi
- garnish with green chilies and chopped coriander (optional)
Alur Dom or Bengali style Dum Aloo
This Bengali alur dom, as we call it, is nothing but baby potatoes, slow cooked in a tomato gravy with mild spices. This can be done with normal potatoes as well, but I prefer to make this with baby potatoes. This luchi, cholar dal and alur dom is a deadly combination for Bengalis. It’s nostalgia for most Bengalis because they would have probably grown up on them. It’s surprising that such simple things can be so yum.
Pressure cook, washed baby potatoes with their skins on, for 3 whistles. Let them cool down and take the skin off. In a pan heat some sunflower oil, and lightly sauté the potatoes. Keep them aside. Traditionally these are deep fried in oil which makes the potatoes
Heat some more oil in a wok and temper the oil with a dried red chili, bay leaf, cumin seeds, cloves, ½ an inch of cinnamon stick. Once the seeds start sputtering add grated onion and fry. Add grated ginger to it ad fry.
The most important part of this recipe is the tomatoes. You will need big red juicy tomatoes for your alur dom. I have used three large tomatoes. You can puree them in a blender, I simply grated them. I like little rustic feel to my food – instead of a smooth curry.
Add these grated tomatoes and fry for 2-3 minutes till it leaves water. Take a little bowl and add turmeric powder, red chili powder, cumin powder. Mix these with 2 tablespoon of water. Add this to the tomato gravy and fry.
Pro Tip: We mix powdered spices in little water and add while frying so that they don’t get burnt.
Add the fried baby potatoes in this gravy and let them cook in this water. You don’t need to add any separate water. Cover and cook for 5-6 minutes on low heat. Garnish with some chopped coriander leaves.
- Baby Potato - 500 gms boiled with skin then peeled
- Oil - 1 table spoon + 1 tablespoon
- Dried red chili - 1
- Dried Bay Leaf - 1
- Cumin seeds - 1/2 teaspoon
- Clove - 2
- Cinnamon stick - 1/2 inch
- Ginger - 1 inch piece, grates
- Onion - 1 large, grated
- Tomato - 3 large, grated
- Turmeric powder - 1/2 teaspoon
- Cumin powder - 1/2 teaspoon
- Red chili powder - 1/2 teaspoon
- Salt - to taste
- Peel the boiled baby potatoes and fry them in 1 tablespoon oil lightly
- Keep them aside
- Heat 1 tablespoon oil and temper it with - dried red chili, bay leaf, cloves, cinnamon and cumin seeds
- Add grated onions once the seeds starts sputtering
- Fry for 1 minute
- Add grated ginger and saute
- In a bowl mix the powdered spice with 2 tablespoon of water
- Add this mix to the onions and fry
- Add grated tomato and fry
- Cover and cook for 2-3 minutes
- Add in potatoes and mix well in the tomato gravy
- Cover and cook for 3-4 minutes or till they are semi dry
- Add seasoning
- Serve with luchi and cholar dal
Now tell me was that anything extravagant or difficult. Entire thing can be ready under 1 hour if you can multi task.
We are having festive Bengali food throughout the Durga Puja – you gotta keep the man happy. My man is happiest with good food (well, who isn’t?) So guys let me know if you are excited about #TinasBongConnection.
What on name on earth are these props?
These are not just mere props. They are pretty significant for a married Bengali woman. The tiny pot is a pot of sindur or vermilion which a married woman in India wears on her forehead. It signifies that she is married. That is a little silver sindur dani which my mom-in-law had given. The white bangles in Bengali are called shankha. These are made of conch shells and all married women wear them along with red polas. May be I’ll do a post on these and significance of these someday.
I am also going to share loads of Durga Puja Stories on my Writing blog www.tinabasu.com so keep a tab there if you want to know more about the festival, stories, customs etc.
Until next time enjoy.