Monday, December 06, 2010

Thakumar Chhanaar Dalna

The Chhanaar Dalna (Bengali Cottage Cheese Curry) is a makeup recipe for all my vegetarian readers. I also want to remind the rest of you about the huge possibilities of vegetarian cooking in Bengali cuisine. This is an old-school recipe with paneer (Indian cottage cheese), a welcome shift from the matar and palak paneer dishes of the mainstream world.

Sad but true, in olden days, widowed Bengali women had to live on vegetarian food after their husbands passed on. They had to denounce worldly pleasures, wear whites, chop off their manes, and sometimes even live separately from the main family house.

IMG_3476_1 Whoever invented a Chhanaar Dalna probably did a whole lot of good to such women. This way they got their share of calcium from the paneer, and a whole lot of flavor in the aromatic sauce of cumin-ginger-garam masala it is cooked in.

IMG_3466_1 I love the old fashioned touch to this recipe, although I am not too pleased about certain stereotypes attached to vegetarian food in Bengali culture. Thankfully, a lot of it is a thing of past in urban families. There is no greater pleasure for me to see my own Thakuma (Grandmother) slurp on chicken soup. I have a feeling my Dadu (Grandfather) too is pleased as punch to watch his wife living a “normal” life from up there.

Ingredients for Chhanaar Dalna are:

500 homemade paneer, cut into cubes
2 medium size white potatoes, cut into cubes
2 medium size ripe tomatoes, roughly chopped
2 inch knob of ginger
4-5 green chilies
2 tablespoons + 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
One-fourth teaspoon garam masala powder
2 black cardamoms
1 teaspoon red chili powder
1 teaspoon turmeric powder
4 tablespoons mustard oil
1 teaspoon sugar
Salt

Grind to a smooth paste two tablespoons cumin seeds, ginger, and the green chilies. Keep aside.

Heat mustard oil in a large sauté pan or wok. Toss in the cubed potatoes till they are browned on the edges, remove with a slotted spoon.

IMG_3456_1 In the same oil, add the pieces of paneer, give a quick sauté and remove.
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Throw in a teaspoon of cumin seeds and the black cardamoms in the leftover oil of the wok, let them crackle for a few seconds before you add the chopped tomatoes. Stir well, add two tablespoons of the cumin-ginger-chili paste. With the back of your ladle, press the tomatoes to release all their juices. Add red chili powder, turmeric, sugar, salt and garam masala powder. Keep cooking this mixture on medium heat till the raw taste of the ingredients goes away and little bubbles of oil appear around it.

IMG_3460 Pour about two cups of water into the tomato and spices. Let it boil for 7-8 minutes and then toss the sautéed potatoes.

IMG_3461_1 IMG_3462_1 Cook the potatoes till they are done, add the paneer, bring to a boil and turn the heat off. Check the seasoning and adjust if needed.

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The Chhanaar Dalna makes up for a great main with some steamed rice. Serve it while its piping hot with fresh flavors.

IMG_3473_1 IMG_3477_1

19 comments:

Sulagna said...

Absolute favorite of mine..Dekhte darun hoyeche !!

aipi said...

Very appetizing color, I think it should go very well with pooris. I like how you cut your paneer in burfi shape :)

US Masala

Sanchita Karmakar said...

Absolute favourite of mine :) love the diamond shape:) Jiv-e-jol :P

Kamini said...

Yay, finally a different way to cook panir instead of matar or palak panir. Will make tomorrow when I have company for lunch! Looks yummy!

GB said...

Yummm. Love the dish too!

Satrupa said...

True ... this paneer recipe is a welcome break from the regular ones. Looks delicious !

Kuntala said...

khub bhalo hoyechhe lekhata Pree. I can totally relate when you say that seeing thakuma leading a 'normal' life is a pleasure. Thank you for the post Pree, and your pictures are beautiful as always.

Cham said...

Truly a different dish, Like the click in black and white which fits perfectly the olden days!

the couple that cooks said...

you know. channar dalna was my moms saviour recipe when we used to entertain vegetarian guests..now of course i try doing a short cut version of it and see that it turns out pretty good..these recipes are like all time treasures na ???

anu said...

Very nice flow.Good article
Very nice flow.Good article
Very nice flow.Good article
Very nice flow.Good article
Very nice flow.Good article

The knife said...

Love the graininess in the jhol. O na hole chhanar daalna? Brings back memories of dinners at Didu's home.

shooting star said...

this is a must try for me..............!!

Suman said...

Pree, just LOVE your blog!! The way you narrate these little tales spun around your recipes is beautiful. I am a newcomer here and it so much feels like a kid in a candy store! :)

Priya said...

Truly irresistible curry, very tempting,mouthwatering here..

Sayantani said...

Pree recipe'r katha pare bolbo, rice bowl ta ki sundor. nirghat tomar banano. asadharon ar haan paneer o khub bhalo.

purplehomes said...

now that is something yummy & unique with paneer, will this give a try

Tanvi@Sinfully Spicy said...

I really like this traditional bengali curry from you.Hey bengalis also use black cardmom??..thts smthing I learnt today..thought it was a hard core north indian spice!

Bong Mom said...

Ekdom Ma er chanar dalna mone koriye dile.

Bowl ta tumi banalae ? Eibar tomar pottery etsy te diye dao

Ushnish Ghosh said...

Dear Pree
Thinking of making it today...Only thinking whether to use North indian packed garam masala ..or to make on like bong garam masala