Eastern India where I grew up incorporates a variety of greens and vegetable medleys in the cooking. I am really trying to explain the Bengali term chorchori, which falls somewhere between, eating the rainbow and clearing out the fridge. It is the essence of sustainable living! A good Bengali chorchori, offers an ultimate cornucopia of flavors, textures and nutrition. Actually, now that I think about it, there are several regional combinations of vegetables across India.
Now, back to these chorchoris, there is a pecking order amongst these dishes, and the preferred version with pui shaag or the Malabar spinach, should at a bare minimum have some shrimp and pumpkin or winter squash. Essentially while these are an inventive way of clearing out the refrigerator, there is also some magic to these time tested combinations that make them work. The Pui Chingri Chorchori is distinct in its use of Malabar Spinach, matched with small shrimp usually with its head intact.
This summer, my contribution to our garden project was to transport a tiny piece of my childhood to our backyard. I read in this wonderful blog, about how easy it was to grow this green.Early in summer, when I had gotten a bunch of Malabar spinach from Jackson Heights, Queens I saved a stalk or two and kept these stalks in water.
Sure enough, it began to root and ten we placed it in our backyard and Pui or Malabar Spinach came to our backyard. The plant is a climber, thereby actually needing very little room to grow.
Well, it looked so pretty, I really did not want to use it, but it is beginning to get cold and the leaves are turning yellow, going through the usual rites of season change. I cooked this up as a chorchori – that as mentioned earlier is a Bengali melange of vegetables. I added little shrimps to it. This is actually also a classic way of adding protein to balance out the meal. We add tiny shrimp, fish head and other little components in the fish kingdom, possibly our version of the fish sauce in Thai Cuisine or anchovies in Italian food.
Pui Chingri Chorchori – Malabar Spinach Medley with Shrimp (need picture)
A classic Bengali medley called chorchori with Malabar spinach and baby shrimp.
- 2 tablespoons mustard oil
- 1 teaspoon panchphoron
- 3-4 dried red chillies
- 1/2 cup cubed radish
- 1 small potato cubed
- 1/2 cup chopped cauliflower
- 1 small eggplant cut into small pieces
- 1 inch piece ginger
- 1 teaspoon fennel seeds
- 1/2 teaspoon cumin seeds
- 1 teaspoon coriander seeds
- 2-3 cups chopped malabar spinach
- 1/2 cup green peas ( thawed)
- Salt to taste
- 1/4 pound shelled small or medium sized shrimp
- 1/2 teaspoon turmeric
- 1/2 teaspoon sugar
- Heat all but 1 teaspoon of the oil and add in the panchphoron and cook till the spice crackles.
- Add in the radish, potato, cauliflower and eggplant and mix well. Reduce the heat to low and cover the pot and cook for about 7-10 minutes
- In the meantime, grind the ginger, fennel, cumin and coriander into a paste.
- Remove the cover and stir well, the vegetables should be fairly soft at this point and have released some moisture.
- Add in the spice paste, and the greens. Add the greens slowly, letting them wilt, you can add a little water if the mixture appears to dry, but you do not want this to get too wet. Add in 1 teaspoon of the salt and the peas and cover the mixture.
- Smear the shrimp with the remaining oil, salt and the turmeric.
- Place in the microwave and cook for 1 minutes.
- Stir the green and vegetables well, the spinach should be nice and soft as should the eggplant.
- Mix in the shrimp and the sugar and serve with rice and dal.