As a child I remember Monsoons in Kolkata meant non-stop rains, knee high water clogged lanes and people wading through all that to go about managing their daily routine. At times it would rain so much that we would get a Rainy day holiday from school. Oh! the joy of getting an unexpected holiday.I am sure you can understand!!
Through the years the monsoon pattern has changed in Kolkata as it has everywhere else. The rainfalls have become lesser and absurd. We explain all this by calling it 'The wrath of Global Warming'.
One thing that hasn't changed is the food that is associated with the season of rains. The most popular being 'Fries' of any sort or 'Bhaja' as it is called in bengali. All over Kolkata you can see crispy fries being freshly made and rows of people waiting patiently for their turn to devour on them!
My favourite of all is the Chidwa/Chire Bhaja. These crispy Chire mixed with roasted China badam (pronounced 'cheena baadam') or peanuts teamed with a steaming hot cup of tea with the intoxicating smell of wet earth and sweet sound of raindrops as background is a purely heavenly combination.
- 1 cup chidwa/poha/beaten rice
- 1/4 cup roasted peanuts
- 1/4 cup roasted chana dal
- 1 tsp mustard seeds
- 2 green chillies halved and slit lengthwise
- 8-10 curry leaves
- a pinch turmeric/haldi powder
- salt to taste
Heat 2 tbsp oil in a pan and add mustard seeds. When they start spluttering add green chillies and curry leaves. Add turmeric powder and salt and then add peanuts, chana dal and chidwa. Let it cook for some time while you stir constantly till the chidwa becomes crispy. This should take about 4-5 mins.
Enjoy freshly made Chire bhaja with a hot cup of tea on a fuzzy and rainy day like I did !!
Happy eating and enjoying the rains!