|Inside a quiet Buddhist monastery in Lantau Island, Hong Kong|
Hong Kong has taught me a lot in these past few months. I love the people here... the attitude is quite friendly towards the expats and even if some of the localites know only Cantonese, they would try to help you in the market or any public place even with simple gestures and broken English words. I have learnt how to express myself with gestures while shopping in the wet market (although sometimes things get really funny!). I have started communicating with some of the veggie sellers now. For example, the other day , one of the vegetable sellers asked me, pointing towards the coriander leaves: "Ah, what this English?" (meaning, "Ah, what do you call this in English?"). I told her the answer and she wrote it down. In return, I wrote down a few local words for the popular vegetables and fruits. This really helps in the long run! I never understand the total billing amount, which they always tell me confidently in their own language; so we (the veggie seller and me) have a kind of understanding now and she types the amount for me in her calculator and shows that to me! How simple, isn't it? Who says, language can be a barrier?
Today, I bought some fresh button mushrooms and broccoli from the wet market here and made up my mind to use these "non-desi" ingredients to cook an extremely authentic and a celebrity dish in my motherland. This West-Bengal-based curry base using a mixture of mustard and poppy seeds (called shorshe-posto bata in Bengali) is cooked in every special occassion in almost every home, although this is generally cooked with either fish or with a choice of those vegetables which are hard to trace in Hong Kong.
The speciality is the pungent taste of raw mustard oil, combined with spicy mustard and poppy-seed pastes, which yields a curry base with a taste simply uncomparable! I tried to add a twist to this dish by choosing button mushrooms and broccoli to go into this curry: the result was fantastic! Mustard oil is highly preferred in this dish, but if you don't get this, please omit the extra addition of raw oil at the last step.
So, why don't you give this a try too? I am sure, you will get all the ingredients easily in every part of the world! And hey, it is Vegan, too!
Mushroom-broccoli with mustard-poppy paste
Fresh button mushrooms (each halved): 10
Onion paste: 4 tbsp
Broccoli florets: 12-14
Mustard seeds: 2 tbsp
Poppy seeds (white): 4 tbsp
Fresh green chillies: 2
Mustard oil (divided): 4 tbsp
Turmeric powder: 3/4 tsp
Salt: 1 tsp
|The unfiltered mustard-poppy seed-chilli paste (use this fresh for best results!)|
|The fine paste (right) to be used in the curry here|
First, heat 2 tbsp mustard oil to a smoking point. fry the broccoli florets with 1/2 tsp salt, till these are firm yet soft enough to be broken by the cooking spoon on applying pressure. Remove from the pan.
|The perfectly shallow-fried broccoli florets|
Add the cooked broccoli florets now and cook for two more minutes.
Now add the strained fine paste of the mustard seeds, poppy seeds, green chillies, a pinch of salt and a pinch of turmeric powder. Mix well and cook for 10 min under low heat.
Switch off the gas. To serve, pour this curry in a serving dish and add 1 tbsp mustard oil from the top. Serve this hot with steamed rice!