Tuesday, December 22, 2009


These days I am not doing any research and development work on recipes, thanks to  my great foodie friends on the net. So these days I am just whistling and making  dishes in the kitchen, with laptop open on one side. (printer is not working ).  But sometimes I need to prove, that I am still a cook. This reminds me the definition of a cook given by a great khansama ( cook) decades back.
As an young engineer, I used to brag around, during lunch in the officer's dining room ,  what a great cook I was, I cooked this and that; awesome, fantastic and all the choicest adjectives I could still remember then. One day the cook , an old bearded man in his 60s , had cooked "Mutton Glossy" a favorite of the General Manager. This cook had worked for the father of the Managing Director at his residence and for the MD too. But when MD's son got married  the new lady of the house did not like this man to boss around. So she had him thrown out of the house. She did not know what she missed, because later whenever I was invited to the MD's son's house, I had to eat the food cooked by the lady. I had to eat that with great adjectives else I knew I would be also thrown out of my job.
Coming back , while eating "Mutton glossy" I started my usual brag on what great dish I cooked, what a great cook I was. The cook standing around, waiting to get a pat from the GM for the dish, smiled at me. I was bit disarmed.
" Why are you smiling , Ali dada ,? ( even MD used to call him Ali dada ) you dont believe what I say?'
He replied in perfect Urdu 
" Of course I believe you, if you put choicest spices, onion, garlic, garam masala etc it is got to be tasty  and great dish! It is impossible to make it taste bad ,,, but you will be a cook if you can reproduce the taste days in days out. "
" What do you mean?" I asked with a reasonably modest voice, because I knew I was talking to one of the greatest Chefs of that time.
He smiled and continued "  I come to your house and you cook me a great dish to my liking. After 10 yrs I come to your place again and request you to cook the same dish. You make it . I will just put it in my mouth and if I say  say " Ghosh dada , you took me 10 years back, the taste is exactly the same", then you are a cook ( he didn't know the word Chef), else....he just implied by a smile what he wanted to say.  
But now, let me clarify , we are not chefs, we cook as ametures, we dont earn our bread by cooking. So we must innovate , we must cook new dishes, fusion dishes, dishes of the world etc every day for our near and dear ones, what can be more satisfying than this, seeing a smile or a word of appreciatrion from a near and dear one. If I start cooking all the dishes which I have learnt from my friends here , I wont be able to finish cooking them in this life.
Moral of the story is, out of 100s of dish we experiment, we must watch which one is liked very much by our near and dear ones. We must assess which dish we may need to repeat on a request, which  we would love to hear from a person dear to us. In my experiments with cooking , SOMEONE  has been very cooperative to be a guinea pig, ( Malar, no objection with the word please). So I have a list of few dishes, she loves and I can reproduce it with perfection. 
I repeated the above story to someone in the morning. She has heard it 100 times before , mostly with a yawn. But disaster followed  in the afternoon, SOMEONE arrived with a cabbage in her left hand and a pack of un-peeled fresh green peas in the other.
" I was greatly moved by your story in the morning, and was thinking what dish should I tell you to cook to make you happy !! And also, by the way, I want to see if you are still a cook!!! So please make your "Bandha Kofir ghanto" with peas and no fusion unless I had approved earlier"
I bared my teeth ( laughed I mean) " Of course , done"
The dish is very simple..but cutting the cabbage uniformly in not the job of a highly rewarded international cook. So I thought if I stabbed and cut the cabbage here and there and whatever was the outcome could be transfered into a stir fried cabbage with garlic, chili and soya, I need not have to cut it uniformly.
In the afternoon while leaving for her round at the nursing home, SOMEONE said " Discovery channel can wait , finish the cooking "
But when I entered the kitchen I saw a pile of nicely cut cabbage, green peas and peeled potatoes waiting for me. " Hummm , to be lazy some times has its own benefits indeed". ( The dialogue between me and the cabbage, which followed, is confidential , and wont tell you.)
It is an old and popular Bengali traditional dish and I have tried to maintain it. There is numerous variation, which I also cook. Here I will give, what I learnt from my mother. This dish has a garam masala flavor with a good note of ginger and cumin.. In my time all bengali vege dishes were devoid of onion and garlic, in other words any vege dish containing onion, garlic were treated as non-vege,
cabbage 1 about 8 inch dia , cut to thin slice uniformly.
Potato 3 medium, cut to  3/4 inch cubes
Peas 1 fistful or more.
Green chili 3 - 4 
Ginger grated fine or chopped 2 tsp
Sugar 1 tsp leveled
salt as required
Oil 1 tbsp ( more the merrier) 
spice soak in water to a paste
1 tsp Turmeric
1 tsp heap coriander powder
3/4 tsp cuminn powder
1/2 tsp chili powder ( more or less you decide) 
for seasoning
bay leaf 1
red chili dry  2
cumin seed 3/4 tsp
Cardamom 2
Clove 2 
Cinnamon 1/2 in
Ghee 2 tsp ( Vegan no need to use) 
Garam masala ( bengali) 1 tsp level ( Powder/ paste  from equal proportion of raw cinnamon, cardamom, clove)
Coriander leaves 1 tbsp optional ( not used in Bengali traditional dishes)

Heat oil and give seasoning and add the Potato 
Soute Potato to light brown , low flame.
Potato added

Add peas and soute for 2 -3 min

Add the spice paste, green chili and soute until cumin aroma comes out ( sprinkle water to prvent burning)
Add salt & ginger; sugar  mix and add cabbage.
Mix thoroughly , reduce flame and cover,
Note:Water released from the cabbage should be sufficient to cook the potato and the cabbage. Else sprinkle water from time to time. If few cabbage pieces get fried and browned, that will add to the flavor, fried cabbage flavor.!!!
When the potato is done stir and dry out.
Add Ghee ( for non vegan) and garam masala powder/ paste and mix , cover and switch off.
Note: I dont use at all non stick utensils which are generally unsuitable for Indian dishes 
Eat with rice, chapati, paratha 

Geranium flower  for my great foodie friends.
 Last time I had shown the colored leaves of Geranium. I only have the red color one in my album.. 

I got this lovely award from Malar , thank you so much!!


Sandhya Hariharan said...

Wot a lovely dish... I love to try no onion-garlic dishes.. and more over its traditional

Latha said...

Lovely combo....very new to me....will try it soon...Nice writing :).

sangeeta said...

The cabbage must be happy to be transformed like this...this is soooo different from the punju version of alu pattagobi matar subzi n i know it is lightly aromatic with the bengali garam masala..i can smell it.

Ali dada was so correct in his definition of a cook ...you proved him right !!

mutton glossy next...

Sayantani said...

ushnishada, amar Baba bolen gaana aur khana kabhi kabhi ban jata hai. thik sei kathati kato age tomar Alidada anyobhabe bolechen.
vido clip ta dekhe mon kharap hoe gelo. aaj theke mela shuru aar eta 2nd bar ami thakte parlam na. missing home badly.

bandhakopita asadharon dekhte hoeche aar kheteo bhalo bojhai jachche. boudi emni emni ei dishta mention korenni bojha gelo.

Siddhi Shirsat said...

very interesting incident...this cabbage subzi luks tasty n flavourful...loved the spices used an the way of cooking.Bengali recipes are realy nice n interesting.

prasu said...

lovely curry ushnish......I never heard of cabbage in such a tasty way.............yummmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm.

kothiyavunu said...

That was one awesome read...wonderful combo.. I am drooling over it just thinking about how tasty it will be with hot rice.Looks so healthy and delicious!
Thanks for beautiful flower!!Have a great day!

Preeti Kashyap said...

lovely dish! Nice prelude!

Pavithra said...

Wow thats really awesome subzi ,SOmetimes I love to eat no onion and garlic dishes , this is really wonderful combo .. Drooling here.

SE(Denufood) said...

tadka vala incidents..u know what its so true...the cook and recipes are a hit, if the recipes created have same taste after years!!..thats why blogging helps..take the same measurements and prepare the dish..liked the no-onion/garlic version..im gonna make this..

Faiza Ali said...

yummmmy...I can smell the flavor right from here... would love to make this version soon...because i love the combo of potatoes and peas with anything.

Nandini said...

Loved the story! Well, when I was newly married, my husband made this dish and I had no idea it was bengali. Anyway, this dish is perfectly delicious with a story hidden!

Ushnish Ghosh said...

Dear sandhya
Please try it. The puri wala Alu sabji will proceed like this minus garam masala. I will send recipe ASAP
have a good day

Ushnish Ghosh said...

@ dear latha
Thank you and please try it.
@ dear Sangeeta
Thank you and I am sure you must have cooked this spice cmbo many times.
Have a nice day
@ Dear Prasu
thank you
@ Sangeetha
Please try , we all are fond of Garam masala flavour and you will like this simple dish.

Ushnish Ghosh said...

Dear Sayantani
I can guess how much you are missing the Posh mela. Me too, I have attended the mela so many times from 70s until 99.
Sedin hat-te hat-te mela ground giye chhilam (we stay in Ratan palli now,previously in school bagan)..Kato purano katha mon-e PoDe gyalo..
Ei bandha kofi, nothing asadharan..tumi 100 bar rendhechho ag-e I am sure.
anyway no tarko ( debate) , ;-)
Bhalo theko

Ushnish Ghosh said...

Dear SE
Thank you so much. I agree with you. Actually you know and I know measurement alone is not enough. The cooking time is the key..like same onion paste for same dish, if soute time changes by few seconds the taste becomes diff.
What I was trying to say, we must cook lot of innovative dish so that we eat 1000s of new dish in our life time and no need or no time to repeat even, except few dishes which we wd love to repeat..The professional cooks has to reproduce the taste for all the dishes, else customers will run away from the eating joint,
Please try this dish, it is simple and very traditional
Have a nice day

Ushnish Ghosh said...

Dear Siddhi
Thank You!! must try this recipe. It is simplem very traditional and health food too :-) ( I make it bit healthy by adding some ghee)
Have a nice day.

Ushnish Ghosh said...

Dear pavithra
I feel good to see you after a long time and your appreciations. You are one of my earliest encourager in this blog!! :-)
Please try some times, it is quite tasty
Have a great day

Ushnish Ghosh said...

Dear Faiza
Thank you so much..I am sure you will like it.
Have a nice day

Ushnish Ghosh said...

Dear Preeti
I posted this dish , specially keeping in mind, my vege friends and Jain vege friends.
Try this dish
Have a nice day

Ushnish Ghosh said...

Dear Nandini
That must have been a great experience for you, with Hubby cooking a delicacy.
Actually, in Orissa too, this recipe is followed. Let me ask Somoo of Oriya food when she is back on the blog.
Have a nice day

Silpa said...

wow....love your dish.. so simple yet delicious... will try it soon

Cool Lassi(e) said...

Cabbage looks perfectly julienned and the dish looks absolutely perfect.

Ushnish Ghosh said...

@ dear Silpa
Thank you and try it.

@ dear Lassie
Thank you I have passed on your complement on Julienne to someone on and she sends a special thanks to you
have a nice holiday

My Experiments with Food said...

My first reaction was: "I can never cut the cabbage so well!"
Incidentally, I was in a bengali wedding a fortnight ago. And had the pleasure of having the same dish - cabbage, potatoes and peas, with dal stuffed luchis for breakfast. Heavenly!

The knife said...

Dear Ushnish,

I could totally identify with what you wrote.

Let me indulge in a bit of selsf speak. I had cooked a bit when I was ta home in calcutta. Then moved to Mumbai to work. Lived in a PG. Then shifted to a rented place just before I got married.

That's when i began cooking - a mix of net recipes, tips from mom/ grandma...helped start it all and then my instincts took over.

It took SOMEONE six years to convicne me to hand over the kitchen to our maid. Whom i then trained to cook.

I love the cabbage prep you wrote about. Peas are classic but we don't use peas to often. Heaven is when one puts in a fish head into it.

My wife and her family were blown over by this recipe...a revelation for our fellow non vegetarians, Parsis

btw I must admit that i dn't foolw receipes too much but love reading food stories like you have here Ushnish

PS Should i call you ...da, I am 35

Ushnish Ghosh said...

Dear Kalyan
Of course you can call me da,it will be great!!! I have one foot in the grave already ( I mean just finished my formal working life).
Peas are generally not added except during winter season...that too is optional.
You must try with fish head. In that case follow the spicing system given in my "dal without fish head". but more appropriate will be to follow Bong Mom's Muri ghanto spice...that is amazing!!
have a nice day...

Pari said...

Hi Ushnish Da, I am realising you are quite senior to me so have added Da. I have made this version a lot of times but did not know it had a bengali name too...
Loved reading ur prelude but I do disagree with Ali da, I will always like to concoct something new.

Ushnish Ghosh said...

Dear Pari
I feel good , you called me Da.
Actually if you see in the blog , I have also disagreed with Ali da. We are not professional cooks, we cook to eat. So if we experiment and produce a new dish every day, we can eat 1000s of new ones without repeating them, Only few we should perfect for our near and dear ones. The professional chefs, or cooks , have to reproduce the taste of all dishes days in days out else they will lose the job. If you love Panner Makhni of a particular shop, you will not appreciate any change in taste. Thats why the chefs are paid so heavily,

have a nice day

Indrani said...

Dear Ushnishda,
Me too would love to call you dada...I agree with your Alidada's definition of cook..Same dish I cook next week, It tastes little different to me but every time I taste my mom's cooking, it tastes same..Moms are always great cook...Thansk for you comments on my posto post...Bandha kopi is my alltime favorite, I also make the same way...Darun dekhte hoyeche ghanto ta..so spicy, jibe jal ese gelo

Sharmila said...

I love green peas ... and I love cabbage with macher matha ... tai decide korte hoye ki khete icche korche ar sheyi moton banai. :-)
Eta amar favourite dish ... kintu macher mundu thakle tobei ... niramish cabbage khete balo lage na Ushnishda'. :-)

The knife said...

Hi Ushnishda,

I m sure that you must be really enjoying your blogging and lovely photos.

My mom grew up in Delhi at Pandara Rd. dadu was in railways.

I do make mached mudo diye fulkopi in this methos. Though we prefer to put it in daal :)



PJ said...

Cabbage sabji looks just fantastic! I like your words.. "doing research and development" in the kitchen :D. A friend of mine works as a QA manager also loves cooking, his usual was to QA the dishes his wife used to make.. needless to say wife wasn't too happy ;)

Ushnish Ghosh said...

Dear PJ
Thank you.
ha ha having a husband QA manager is tough. QA people are never satisfied.
I was Head of RD in a big chemical Industry. So the words RD came automatically ha ha
Merry Christmas and happy New year

Ushnish Ghosh said...

Dear Kalyan
I was born and brought up in Orissa, then in Jadavpur univ and worked in Cal before shifting to Delhi in 84.
I never tried fish head with Cauli flower. But I do make often fish and Cauli flower from thin jhol to Kalia type.
Read my blog on truth and imagination , u will enjoy!!!
I am just passing time on blogging and enjoying , learning new dishes.
You are writem I read recipes like reading novel!!! Adicted to recipe reading !!
Merry Christmas

Gulmohar said...

Looks spicy and yumm..Interesting recipe since it has no onion and garlic..that too a traditional one..:-) Wish you and your family a very merry X'mas !!

Pravs said...

Ali dada is so right about what defines a greak cook and i will definitly not come in that group. I find it hard to get the same taste and flavor for a dish that i once made so well..:(
Like this combo of peas,potata and cabbage.

Vrinda said...

A rare combo,lov it and very healthy tooo

vineetha said...

Hai ushnish ji..
First time in your space...Hats off to you !! Your family is really lucky to have such a grt cook :)Mouthwatering cabbage !!

Ushnish Ghosh said...

Dear Friends
Thank you so much for your encouraging comments and continuous support.
Happy Holidays and happy cooking :-)

Ushnish Ghosh said...

Dear Vineetha
Welcome to my blog I am delighted

Sreelekha Sumesh said...

Nice recipe..Wish u a merry X'mas and very happy new year..

Dolly said...

Your Cabbage, potato and peas Subzi looks delicious and inviting. Would taste awesome with parathas. Very interesting post, enjoyed reading it. So ur Old Bengali dish in a new bottle is a Hit !!!. Sorry for being a bit late in commenting this dish. Also knowing how you feel abt Garam Masala was a bit surprised to see it here. I feel the same abt using Garam Masala but sometimes I do make an exception. So if u used it here it must be really required. Thanks for sharing a bengali dish..Now I can say I know a few authentic Bengali dishes. Happy Holidays.

my kitchen said...

Nice combo,looks really good

Sanjana said...

What an awesome combination! I really enjoyed reading this post! Thanks!

Malar Gandhi said...

Geranium flowers looks too good.

Hmmm, yeah...I really play with my ingredients...each time (the same recipe) turns out different for me!! SOmetimes I feel like a gourmet chef' and the next day...even regular omlette turns totally disaster...

This is a nice combo' sounds spicy and nice.

Anonymous said...

Amazing as always

? said...

Loved the combination; and the first snapshot!

PreeOccupied said...

This is how we make Bandha Kopi - I mean my Mum and I, I usually follow what she has taught me. For a non-veg version we just add rui macher mathaa. That will some dal and bhaat is so awesome.

Reshmi said...

hai ghosh...u have a very good space here with good recipes...happy to follow u..

Rajani said...

HI da,visual treat, new combination of veggies to me (we do a regular cabbage and peas but no potato) and intersting mix of spices.