Thursday, September 19, 2013

Phulkopir Rezala : Cauliflower in Yogurt Sauce

Here is best time of the year slowly approaching - the festive season. We Bongs already started counting the days before Durgapuja. As soon as those grand four days are over, we start waiting for Diwali, the most celebrated festival in India.  Then the east meets the west. Nowadays Thanks-giving has become so special to us, especially for that longer weekend and mega shopping deals. The festive season ends with Christmas trees, lights, cakes and probably with a short trip to your hometown.

Last week too, we celebrated couple of pujas, Janmastami (birthday of Lord Krishna) and Ganesha chaturthi. Sometimes on these auspicious days, we avoid non-veg food. So I tried couple of good vegetarian dishes. Today I will share one of them - Phulkopi r rezala or Cauliflower Rezala. Pulkopi is the Bengali name for cauliflower and Rezala is a yogurt-based dish with very flavorful, delectable and light gravy. The dish is simply awesome and definitely worth trying.  You can have it either with bread or steamed rice. 

Rezala, introduced in Bengali cuisine by the Nawabs, when they ruled Bengal and its popularity expanded slowly among people. During this Islamic rule, the Influence on the food was top-down, where the common started trying the dishes of the royal court, such as biryani, korma or Rezala. Rezala was mainly used to cook with mutton or chicken. Probably in the modern days, chefs have experimented with vegetable dishes like Cauliflower or Paneer. But the outcome is equally good, no less than any non-vegetarian dishes. Interestingly Rezala has confined itself within Bengal. You won’t find it in rest of the India. So whenever you go to Kolkata, must visit one of those legendary food joints who serve rezala to get its magical aroma.

I have read couple of recipes, but many thanks to my friend Tanaya. I liked her idea of adding charmagaz (melon seeds) paste to the gravy. Here is the recipe, which is very simple and easy to cook. 

Recipe of Cauliflower Rezala : Cauliflower in Yogurt Sauce : Yield 4 servings 

Ingredients :

Cauliflower : 1 medium sized ( cut into medium sized florets )

Cashew nuts ( halved ) : a handful 

Oil :  4 to 6 tbsp

Dry Whole Red Chili : 2 or 3 

Pepper corn : 1/2 tsp

Bay leaves : 2 

Green Cardamom : 2

Cinnamon stick : 1 inch

Cloves : 2

Onion : 1 small ( finely chopped )

Ginger paste : 1 tbsp

Garlic : 1 tbsp 

Poppy seeds : 2 tbsp

Melon seeds ( charmagaz ) : 2 tbsp

Green chili : 1 

Yogurt / curd : 2 tbsp 

All purpose flour ( maida ) - 1/2 tsp 

Salt : 

Sugar :

Garam masala / spice mixture : Take two green cardamoms and a half inch cinnamon stick grind it to a coarse powder.

Clarified butter ( ghee) : 1 tbsp ( optional )  

 Method :

1.  Add poppy seeds, melon seeds ( charmagaz ), a green chili and half cup of water in a blender and make a paste.

 2. Take a wok or a deep pan, add 3 tbsp of oil and heat it up. Once oil is ready, add the cauliflower florets to the pan. Fry it till they are light brown. Once cauliflower is almost done add the cashew nuts and give some stirs. Take both cauliflower and cashew nuts out of the pan and set it aside.

3. Add 1 or 2 tbsp of oil to the same pan, add dry whole red chilies, add bay leaves, pepper corns, green cardamoms, cinnamon and cloves.

4. Once they are fragrant, add the chopped onion, stir it until it becomes light pink. Add ginger and garlic paste, mix it well and cook it until raw smell goes off.

5. Add the poppy seeds - watermelon seeds - green chili paste to the pan, stir everything and mix well, till oil starts coming up from the sides of the pan.

6. Take a bowl, add the yogurt and all purpose flour to it. Whisk the yogurt nicely.

7. Add the yogurt mixture to the pan, add salt and sugar. Stir it and cook the gravy until all are well mixed and oil comes up from the spice mixture.

8. Add cauliflower and cashew nuts to the pan, again give some good stirs.

9. Add half a cup to 1 cup water to the pan and add salt. Put the lid on and let it cook over medium flame. Once cauliflower is well cooked, check the seasoning and desired consistency.  Add sugar or salt if needed.

10. Add the garam masala ( spice mixture ) and a tbsp of clarified butter ( optional ).

11. Cauliflower Rezala is ready to serve, goes well with any kind of bread or rice.

Note : You may try this recipe with Paneer (Indian Cottage Cheese ) too.