Spice it up this Weekend

After a brief break I’m back. Here is a great article about some family friends along with some great recipes for some Indian dishes.

April 1984

In a white, two- story house high on a hill in a small Connecticut town Kaberi Chakraborty from Calcutta cooks Indian style food in her American style kitchen.

Since her home is the second floor of my kids’ New England house, the savory smells from her kitchen often floated down the indoor stairway while I was visiting there in January. Quite often, to my joy, Kaberi also floated down with a plate of choice morsels to be sampled – sometimes there was enough for a whole family of hungry food samplers.

While we visited it was easy for Kaberi and me to bridge the cultural gap with our mutual interests in both food and children – her two and my grandson whom she cares for during weekdays. Her good command of the English language also helped. Most of Kaberi’s past life spent in Calcutta was far removed from my Midwestern life experiences, but we shared together common concerns about home and family.

She and her husband, Phanindra, and daughter Sangeeta, now sixteen, came to the United States 6 years ago. They are of the higher class Brahmins (though officially abolished in India the caste system still exists) and are Hindus. Kaberi’s mother is an actress. He worked in a bank in India, but is an office manager now.

Phanindra and Kaberi’s marriage was arranged by there families. They never saw each other until their wedding day. According to Sangeeta her parents love and respect each other and the marriage is very successful. After coming to America the Chakrabortys were elated to have a son, Somudra, now five years old. He’s one of the fastest and brightest kids I’ve ever seen.

Phanindra loves to play chess with his men friends and he is in the professional class of bridge players. Like most of his American compatriots he helps with the homework. Kaberi is very influential in the daily affairs of the household, presiding over it graciously in her Indian style clothing. The rest of the family wears American clothes and Sangeeta looks identical to any other American teenager.

Here are the recipes Kaberi is sharing with us:

Samosas (Curried Pastries)

Pastry:

2 cups all-purpose flour

¼ cup ghee (clarified butter)

½ teaspoon salt

1 cup milk soured with a little lemon juice

Vegetable oil for deep-frying

Filling:

6 large potatoes

1 cup green peas

½ cup raisins

½ cup peanuts

2 teaspoons turmeric powder

4 teaspoons cumin powder

2 ½ teaspoons salt

3 teaspoons sugar

½ teaspoons ground red pepper

4 tablespoons oil

Peel potatoes and cut in small pieces. Heat oil in heavy pot, add the potatoes, peas, spices, salt and sugar. Cook for 20 to 30 minutes on low flame with the cover on. Add a little water if necessary. Add the peanuts and raisins. Stir well.

Method: Stir the flour in a bowl, rub in the ghee and add the salt. Stir in the soured milk gradually to form a hard dough which is velvety to the touch. Chill.

Break the dough in pieces. Roll out into very thin circles. Cut in half. Spoon a little filling in the center of each semi-circle. Fold in half to make a triangular cone shape, enclosing the filling. Moisten the edges of the dough with sour milk and press together to seal.

Deep-fry in hot oil for about one minute until the pastry is golden brown. Drain. Serve hot..

**Ghee is butter after it has been slowly cooked until light brown. The clear oil poured off from the milky residue and stored to be used when ghee is needed.

Makes about 25.

Puri or Luchi

½ cup whole wheat flour

½ cup white flour

½ cup oil

¼ cup water, approximately

Mix all but water. Add enough water to make a soft pliable dough. Knead until smooth.

Divide into 10 small balls. Roll on floured board into a 4-inch circle. Fry in hot oil. Keep warm in oven while frying others. They will puff up and float to the top while being fried.

Red Lentil Dal

1 cup red lentils

½ teaspoon turmeric

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon cumin powder

3 cups water

1 tablespoon oil

1 medium onion, chopped

1 clove garlic, minced

1 hot yellow or green pepper

Cook first five ingredients until mushy, (approximately 45 minutes). Mix with beater. Fry onion, garlic and pepper in oil. Add to the dal and cook 5 minutes. Serve with rice.

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