Saturday, August 1, 2015

Kashundi - A Mustard Relish From Bengal


 I was horror struck  when a sharp, hot and pungent sting hit my nostrils as it raced through my palate and rocketed beyond! I found myself breathless and fumbling for water, water and more water ! Yes, I had just tasted a spoon of 'Kashundi' which was just then freshly prepared by Dibs! I was stupefied when I learnt that the Bengali Mustard Relish had to be savoured very little at a time, that too along with the main course! How did I forget the Tamil adage 'Kadugu siruttaalum kaaram kuraiyaadu'?  Meaning  'Mustard is miniscule, but its heat is not!'
This miniscule spice which pops up in the seasoning of every day cooking in every Indian household has been in cultivation in India since the time of Indus Valley Civilization. I have used the ancient spice in powdered form in my pickles, or ground only about a spoon with coconut and chillies for my Sasves or Mor Kuzhambus. I was amazed when I found out that Kashundi - a creamy and appealing dish from Bengal - was an out and out Mustard preparation. It can be added to various dishes similar to other masalas while cooking. It can also be relished as a pickle or dip with  meals and snacks.
Traditionally the ingredients were placed on a rough and heavy stone slab called Shil in Bengali (Ammi Kal in Tamil). A cylindrical stone called Noda in Bengali ( Kuzhavi in Tamil ) was rhythmically rolled over the ingredients till they were crushed and ground  to a paste drawing out excellent  flavours.
Here is how Dibs prepared the lip smacking, flavoursome Bengali Mustard Relish -  KASHUNDI using her blender.

 Mustard seeds (Black / White) - 2 cups
Mustard oil - 1 cup
White vinegar - 1/2 a cup
Salt - 1 tsp
Sugar - 1 tsp
Turmeric powder - 1/2 tsp
Bhoot Jolokia also known as Ghost Pepper - 1 or Green Chillies - 5 to 6
( Beware Bhoot Jolokia or the Assamese chilly is one of the world's hottest! You can replace it with  normal green chillies if you are not game for the super hot 'bhoot' !)
1. Soak the mustard seeds in vinegar and little water overnight.
2. Add salt, sugar, turmeric powder and green chillies to the mustard-vinegar mixture, and grind all the ingredients together into a paste. ( It can be slightly coarse or very smooth as per your requirement).

3. Little more water can be added  as required if the paste is too thick.
4. Pour in the mustard oil when the paste is done and blend once again.
5. Store the Kashundi in a clean air tight glass jar.
The antibacterial property of the Mustard seeds acts as a preservative and lends Kashundi a long shelf life. 
Savour only very little at a time. Dipping a finger in the Relish for every morsel of Rice and dal  (Dal Chawal) is the best way to enjoy Kashundi. Thanks to the guidance of my son-in-law ! I have now learnt to relish the Bengali KASHUNDI with every meal and 'tiffin' too without the least bit of hesitation!

Thursday, July 2, 2015


 Long drives! Picnics! Delicious and innovative dishes prepared by Dibs! These have always been the highlights of my Sydney visits ! Our latest picnic destination was Cattai National Park.

Cattai National Park is a beautiful reserve forest along the Hawkesbury river in New South Wales. It is densely vegetated with varieties of  giant trees belonging to the Eucalypt family, and other evergreen trees and foliage. As we zoomed through , we peered out hoping  to spot the hidden wild life . The first encounter we had was with a fox with a shimmering golden brown coat which crossed the road as we entered the park.  Pacific Black ducks, Purple Swamp Hens and other water fowls thronged the wharf. 

A sort of  dense silence prevailed in spite of the  screeching  Noisy Miners. Dibs spotted a Rozella and Rainbow Parakeets fluttered everywhere. There were different species of cockatoos too.Though it is winter there was enough sunshine, and we were comfortable enough  to walk and enjoy the beauty of the park. 

The walking trails lead us through bushes and shrubs where we were taken by surprise by herds and herds of Wallabies.

We silently jumped with excitement when we saw a herd wallowing in the sun.

 We clicked and clicked our cameras and mobiles until they slowly disappeared into the bushes as if they were tired of posing ! 


Finally we were very hungry when we reached the picnic area, ready to wolf down the surprise meal assembled  by the dynamic Dibs, on the spot !
 This is how the ensemble looked !

And now for the recipe -
Sweet Potatoes - 4 big
 Gram flour / Besan - 2 tbsps
Ghee - 2 tbsps
Salt - 1/2 tsp
Coriander powder - 1/4 tsp
Cumin powder - 1/4 tsp
Pepper powder - 1 pinch
1. Wash, peel, cook and mash the sweet potatoes smoothly.
2. Heat ghee, add Besan and roast till it emanates a pleasant aroma.
3. Mix in the rest of the spice powders and salt.
4. Finally add the sweet potato mash and stir the 'spread'  till it comes together into a ball.
Store in a clean and dry box.
Sorghum flour/ Jolada hittu - 4 cups
Rajgira flour - 1 cup
Salt - 1 tsp
Sweet potato spread -2 tbsp
Ghee - 2 tbsps
1. Mix Sorghum / Jola flour, Rajgira flour and salt together with the sweet potato spread. 
2. Add boiling water little by little and mix  the dough till it comes together. Use a wooden spoon or spatula for mixing. 
3.Cover and leave it aside till it cools down. When the dough is comfortable enough to handle ,  knead it into a smooth dough adding ghee. Allow to stand for about ten to fifteen minutes.
4. Cover a baking tray with a sheet of foil and grease it with ghee.
5. Place the big ball of dough in the middle of the sheet.
6. Roll out evenly, a huge 1/8 inch thick Rotti using a rolling pin.
7. Smear some ghee all over the big rectangular Rotti and bake till it becomes golden
brown and crisp on the edges.


Allow to cool and cut the Baked Jolada Rotti into rectangular pieces and store in a clean dry box.
Spread a spoon of Sweet Potato Spread on a  piece of baked Jolada Rotti .
Top it with a slice of tava roasted Halloumi Cheese and baked baby potatoes.
Besides  Onion slices, Tomato rings and cut Cucumber pieces , place a large serving of assorted green leaves salad and pickled jalapenos on the side !