Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Bong Connection.....Shingara

I am feeling blessed at the moment for the food I am consuming at home and outside (the street food I mean…yummy, mouthwatering, nerve tickling, unhygienic but equally can’t-ignore type of stuff). Being in West Bengal brings joyful memories of evening tea outside my house, milk is boiling over and over with CTC (cut- turn- cut)tea in almost never-washed pot, people gathered around the jhupri stall taking a sip from small earthen pot, lovingly called “Matir Bhar”. And the stall for frittatas (Chop stall/ or stall for Bengali fast food) is one of favorite hangout spot for me, where I relish every kind of frittatas available with puffed rice, green chillies and black salt. This is the place you will hear all the town gossips, while you munch on the tasty bites. Once in a while I indulge in healthy drink like fresh coconut water and if I am lucky, I will get tender, sweet, and milky kernel of coconut, melting in my mouth.

But this time I am staying in a different place rather than my ever-known planned town Kalyani, which has abandoned the idea of plastic and trying to be a model town in India. This place where I am living now or you can say choking my breath is a bustling and overly inhabited with human species , part of North Calcutta with lots of markets and street foods. The daily fish market near the house is busy from the dawn – Bengalis are serious creature on the subject of fish, and proud to show their knowledge on fresh catch of the day. I am enjoying the seasonal vegetable market too; veggies here are not as big or beautiful as available in USA but taste great. Varieties are the name of the game & this place offers different shape and size of goodies. Most of the time I wander around this city with narrow roads and buildings are too close to each other, drains are open and children are playing cricket, people are speaking my language and all of this makes me feel at home. This place is not as comfortable or planned as my current home in USA, but coming to Calcutta has a strange feeling and I love that when the flight touches Shubhash Chandra Bose International Airport.

Today you will have quintessential Bengali snack….Shingara (Famous cousin is Samosa/ Stuffed savory snack). This is vegetarian version, but you can fill it with anything you like to eat. This versatile snack is number one seller in the sweet shops around West Bengal and one of the favorite evening snacks with hot tea. Traditionally made with potatoes and peas but I have tried the recipe from a famous Bengali Magazine, though altered few things according to the availability in my pantry. So why wait, grab your plate and let’s have some Shingara.

Channa er Shingara (Cottage cheese stuffed Indian Pastry)


For Stuffing: Channa (cottage cheese) 1 cup
Boiled potato 1 cup
Salt & sugar as per taste
Cumin seeds a pinch
Turmeric powder ½ teaspoon
Ginger 1 teaspoon (finely chopped)
Green chillies 1teaspoon
Garam masala 1 teaspoon
Bay leave 1

For wrap: Maida/ All purpose flour 4 cup
Salt as per taste
Baking powder –pinch
Vegetable oil 1 cup

1. Make fine paste of cottage cheese and add salt, chopped ginger& turmeric. Mix well. Add mashed potato and mix again.

2. Heat 1tablespoon of oil in a kadai or frying pan, temper with bay leave & cumin seeds. When the spices starts to release aroma add chopped green chilles, potato & cottage cheese mix.

3. Fry for few mins and add garam masala and fry for 1 more min. Keep aside and let it come to room temperature.

For Shingara Wrapper:
1. Mix flour with salt, oil and baking powder together. Add warm water in the mixture and kneed well for 5-6 mins or kneed until the dough is smooth and tight. Cover the dough with a damp cloth and then with a lid and leave it for 15-30 mins.

2. After 15 mins of resting, knead the dough for 1-2 mins again. Divide the dough in 6 equal parts and make small ball of each. Roll the ball in circle of 4 inches of diameter and cut from the middle with sharp knife. Make funnel using each half circle. Stuff the funnel with potato-cottage cheese stuffing, and cover the open side of funnel using little amount of water/ oil.

3. Fry the shingara in hot oil. Don not fry in high heat, which makes the outer portion brown and inner is not cooked well.

4. Serve hot with tomato sauce or homemade chutney. Enjoy with evening tea.


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