One of the more interesting things about bengali cuisine is the names our dishes have very interesting names, chechki, chachra, labra, chocchori, panch mishali , elo jhelo, puli pitha, labra and so on.. Coming from a long line of Bangal (people originally from Bangladesh) and having married a part Bangal, these things work great with out pallet.
I remember as a child my Maternal grandma (didima) dishing out those lovely vegetarian delights from the kitchen.. One of are regulars and my personal favourite was lau er khoshar chechki (stir fry from made from the skin of the bottle gourd) and whenever I saw lau in the house I would be like “dimma you have to make khoshar chechki and she would happily oblige. One of the best things about these dishes are as my dimma would say “puropuri niramish” ( completely vegetarian) which means no garlic and onion; actually not even turmeric powder (considered a part of the non-veg diet by many strict bengali brahmin families). Moreover, dimma hated spicy food, she still does and she would say “amader bangali shorir e ki oto tel mashala shojjo hoy? amader jonno ei shob halka halka theek aache…(we Bengali’s are not very good with spicy food, for us these simple and light vegetable work best) and how right she was… The other thing about them are they require simple tempering and hardly any spices. I remember Thursdays used to be a holiday for me back in school so which meant, Wednesday afternoons was spent lunching and lazying at her place and in the evening she would come up with her traditional Jolkhabar (even snack) consisting of Parathas and Kumror chechki and what a scrumptious meal that would be.. Thanks to my mom, who is simply brilliant; the tradition of chechki , labra and so on was and still is maintained in the family… Kumror Chechki continues to hold a very dear spot in my heart, so when the other day, P said kich shukno aar bhaja bhaja khete icche korche (feel like having something stir-fired) instantly I thought why not? So here we ware, a recipe passed down the years, and recreated by the 4th generation; Bengali Cuisine; I rally on!!
- Pumpkin/Butternut Squash or Acorn Squash- cut to bite size cubes about 500 gms
- For the tempering: Panch Phoron-1 table spoon (bengali five spices mix), Dried Red chillies- 3,4, Asafoedita -1 teaspoon, Grated Ginger-1.5 teaspoon
- turmeric powder
- Red chilli powder
- Mustard Oil
- Water-1/2 cup
After chopping the pumpkin, wash and set aside. Though traditionally, it is to be julienned, if you are using pumpkin, Acorn squash or butternut, it gets a tad hard to chop them that way, but if you can why not? Meanwhile heat a wok or a kadhai with the mustard oil and once it starts smoking, add the whole spices and the ginger for tempering, be patient and once they start to emit the flavours and the oil separates, add the pumpkin, gently sauteing for about 5-10 mins and then add the powdered spices along with the salt. Cook on medium heat for about 15 mins adding a little water from time to time.. Your Chechki should be ready by now serve with Paratha or luchi or even rice.
P was delighted, for him, it was a ride back to childhood as well my mum-in-law has her version too, someday I will post that as well.. For me, though I am dead sure it was not as good as dimma’s but it was definitely nostalgia and reminiscence of lazy Wednesday Afternoons..