Bitter bites

Bitter bites
Cooking authentic Bengali foods with less oil and spices is somewhat tricky.  One needs to know the right amount of heat or flame, the amount and shape of the vegetables for a particular dish, how much to cook or the perfect timing, and thus all the ingredients shall retain their tastes.

Neem Begun(Brinjal and Margosa fry recipe)


Neem (Azadirachta indica): Nimba derived from निम्बति स्यस्थ्यंददति which means "to give good health."

Begun or Brinjal (Solanum melongena): Vartaka vatingana

neem tree

"Margosa (neem) Leaves" image ref wikipedia

neem begun

Thanks to #nanda for the dish


Ingredients:


  • 1 small bowl of neem leaves (নিম)
  • 1 small begun/baigan, purple one (বেগুন)
  • 1 tbsp oil (preferably mustard oil)
  • 1 pinch of turmeric (হলুদ)
  • 1 teaspoon salt

Method:


Take some newly grown neem leaves those are slightly reddish in color, wash it well, and then pat dry. Cut the begun (vatingana) in triangular shape, (first make a round disc then cut into four per disc), wash it thoroughly and put enough salt and turmeric (holud), keep it in rest for 10 minutes.  The begun (brinjal) will become soft by then. Now fry the begun (brinjal) first in oil for 5 to 7 minutes on high flame, keep aside. In that pan on low heat fry neem leaves until it will be crisp and gives out a strong aroma.  It will take 8 to 10 minutes, have patience, you can forget it on stove, but do not let it burn. Turn off the flame and add the fried begun to it.

Tips:


  1. If you dry much of the neem leaves you can store in a small container and keep it in the refrigerator. It can be stored for up to 2 weeks.
  2. You can microwave or dry on low flame and store the dried neem leaves for cooking as well as other purposes.
  3. Do not throw away the stems of the neem leaves. Boil them till the water turns green, use it while taking a bath, a healthy and economical substitute of an antiseptic.
  4. You can always use the neem leaf dusts herbal cosmetics (face packs, bath salts etc), use it during floor cleansing, use it in your indoor plant, even you can use it as a supplement for mosquito coil or burn it with ashtagandha in dhunuchi during daily puja.

dhunachi
"Dhunachi (ধুনুচি)"
"an Indian incense burner"


Please do not let anyone cut the neem tree. Neem Tree is considered to be an auspicious tree and is referred to as the tree of Goddess Shakti, according to Vastu. It was noted in Atharva Veda vaidyakalpa (36.6.27 sloka)

"Yo Vah sarvatobhadrah vasantasya bhdjayate hanah
hrdayabhumimjdtavedasam ayaksmdya tvd samsrjdmi Prajdbhyah"

सर्ब्बतःभद्र निम्ब अरिष्टश्च, सर्बोतोभद्राणि मुखानि यस्व, i
निम्बति सेचोते, रसेनो स्वस्थङग ;
र्रिस्तोः शुभेति तद अशेषेनो ग्यपयति दुरत् i
तस्व रसोः र्हिदोयोभुमे, यतोबेदोसों पित्तोबोत अग्निं
तस्व दह शन्तिकृत, अयख्ययो ख्हयोरोग्यो संग्जातो -
कृमिसमुद्भुतय त्बा संग्सृजामि प्रजाभ्य

The meaning of this sūkta is "You are Sarvatobhadra, 'Sarva' means all, and 'bhadra' means auspicious, Nimba and Arista, expanded every where, can be devoured your salubrious juices, you are capable to purify from a distance and protect from any misfortune that is why your name is Arista. You protect us from diseases and worms that tries to rob (our) health.

The term Nabakalevara is derived from the Sanskrit words Naba or new and Kalevara or body, literally meaning New Body. It is an ancient ritual associated with most of the Jagannath Temples when the Idols of Lord Jagannath, Balabhadra, Subhadra and Sudarshan are replaced by a new set of Idols. A year which has two months (Adhika masa) of Ashadha as per the Hindu Calendar is auspicious for conducting the ceremony. This usually occurs every twelve to nineteen years. The Deities are made from a special type of Neem wood known as Daru Bramha. Preparations for the ceremony start in the month of Chaitra. Last ceremony was done in the year 1996. Next ceremony will be held on 2015.

Some more bitter taste Bengali recipes are

Neem Flower Rasam, Neem Flower Powder, Paat/Nalte pata (Jute Leaves), Shukto Recipes, Uchhe Kumro or Begun Bhaja, Sojne phul bhaja and Paturi, Thankuni Pata Bata
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