Kaku and Kakima had invited us for lunch at their place when we were in Kolkata. That was during the first year of my marriage and my first time indulging in an authentic Bengali fare. I simply fell in love with Bong cuisine. All those veggies that I detested earlier suddenly were endearing and I regretted having troubled Amma by being a fussy-picky eater that I was! Abbas teases me saying you were destined to be a Bengali but somehow you were born a Konkani.
Coming back to Kakima, she addresses me as her 'Choto Meye' (younger daughter) and Abbas as her Jamai. She creates wonders in kitchen. If some dish goes wrong, she analyzes it and provides instant solution that magically changes the taste. She loves to feed and serve and always eats only after she makes sure that everyone has eaten. This dish is one of our favourites and I have never been able to match Kakima's version. Although the recipe is simple and tastes good, we miss Kakima's love in it each time I make it.
Spinach - 3 tiny bunches
Potato - 3/4 cup, diced
Pumpkin - 3/4 cup, diced
Brinjal - 3/4 cup, diced
Ridge Gourd - 3/4 cup, diced
Bori - 1/4 cup (optional)
Panch Phoran - 1 tsp
Red chillies - 1 nos, broken into 3-4 peices
Turmeric powder - a pinch
Bhaja Masala powder - 2 tsp (you may substitute with garam masala powder)
Ghee - 1 tsp
Oil - 4 tbsp
Green chillies - 2-3, finely chopped (increase or decrease as suitable)
Sugar - 1/2 tsp
Coriander leaves - a handful, chopped (optional)
Water - 1/2 cup
Salt - to taste
1. Wash spinach leaves thoroughly in atleast 3 changes of water. Finely chop and keep aside. You may use tender stems of spinach by chopping them in 1"long pieces.
2. Heat oil in a pan.Add turmeric and salt. Add cubed potatoes. Saute till potatoes are uniformly roasted and turn golden in colour. Remove from pan and keep aside.
3. Repeat the same procedure for pumpkin, brinjal and boris.
4. In the remaining oil, add panch phoron and red chilli pieces.
5. Once the tempering splutters, add all the sauteed veggies, ridge gourd, boris and spinach leaves and stems. Add salt, sugar, green chillies, coriander leaves, water and combine.
6. Cover and keep on low flame. Stir once in a while. Once all veggies are cooked, increase flame and cook till extra water (if any) evaporates. This dish is neither too dry nor has any gravy.
7. Remove from flame. Sprinkle bhaja masala powder and ghee on top. Cover immediately. Give a brief stir before serving.