Recipe for Time Travel

There are some comfort foods we adopt over the course of our adult lives. For me, that includes bibimbap, ramen, and big plate chicken. I love to cook these foods at home because I learn by doing.

Then there are the comfort foods of our childhoods. These foods are deeply embedded in our personal histories: my nanu’s shrimp dopiaza, my mom’s rainy day kitchuri. I hesitate to make them at home because I know it’ll never be the same. It’s literally a recipe for disappointment.

In the normal course of my fail-fast-fall-forward lifestyle, this doesn’t bother me. Though I think about food constantly, I never think about cooking Bengali dishes. That cuisine is safely tucked away in the past.

Still, every so often, I miss those recipes. It happens most often when Jay and I are planning for the future: saving for a small wedding, talking about adoption, running the numbers for our retirement accounts. I see my life stretching out to a distant horizon and I feel that something is missing.

It’s high time I started reclaiming that culinary heritage. If I can lay (some small) claim to foods from all over the world, why can’t I own those food-memories that are already a part of me?

This recipe for aloo singara is a baby step in that direction, a peace offering to the past.

Ingredients:

singara-1-of-6

Filling –

  • 1 tbs panch phoron (equal parts fenugreek, fennel, nigella, cumin, and mustard seeds)
  • 1 tbs grated ginger
  • 2 tbs grated onion
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric
  • 1/4 tsp chili powder
  • 1.5 cups new potatoes, diced (about 3/4 lb)
  • 1 cup cauliflower, separated into small florets
  • 1/2 cup peas (frozen or fresh)

singara-2-of-6

Dough –

  • 2 cups flour
  • 2 tsp baking soda
  • 4 tbs oil
  • 2 tbs melted ghee
  • 2 tsp nigella seeds
  • water to form dough (~1 cup)

singara-4-of-6

For serving –

  • Tamarind sauce (from dried or paste)
  • Hot and sweet chili tomato sauce

singara-3-of-6

Steps:

  1. Heat a little oil in a frying pan. Add the whole seeds and toast for a couple of minutes over medium-low heat until they start to pop in the pan.
  2. Add the grated ginger, onion, and spices. Combine and cook for a minute or two, until fragrant.
  3. Add potatoes and cauliflower. Cover and cook over medium-low heat until soft (about 15 minutes), adding water as needed to steam the veggies without becoming wet. The resulting mixture should be dry but not crispy or fried.
  4. While the veggies cook, make the dough. Sift together the dry ingredients. Add the fats and mix well, then slowly add water 1 tbsp at a time until the dough holds together. It should be a dry dough.
  5. Wrap flour in plastic and let rest for 10-20 minutes.
  6. When the veggies are done, transfer to a small bowl.
  7. Divide dough into 16 equal sections.
  8. One by one, roll the dough into small balls, then flatten and roll into an oval. Take one end of the oval and roll it onto itself to form a cone. Seal with a little water. Stuff with filling, then fold the top flap of the oval down over the filling and seal. Sit the singara on a plate.
  9. Heat a pot of oil to 365F and fry the singara in batches. Remove to a plate lined with paper towels to cool and drain.
  10. Serve hot with dipping sauce.

singara-6-of-6

Recipes adapted from:

 

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