I love my dalnas. Especially my niramish ones. I do need to confess upfront that I have a mammoth weakness for hnasher dimer dalna or Duck Egg Curry, but that’s a tale for another day.
Back to my niramish dalnas. The piece de resistance is the vegetable (the humble potato, cauliflower or potol or the more exotic green jackfruit or even raw fig (sigh, I have not had dumur for years) ), a medley of vegetables (potato and cauliflower, potato and potol), paneer (the divine chhanar dalna best when the paneer has just been lovingly prepared) or even fried lentil dumplings (the sinful dhokar dalna barring which a celebratory feast is rarely deemed complete).
All this in a delicately flavored tomato curry, perfumed with the earthy cumin and the inseparable holy troika of cinnamon, cardamom and cloves, spiked with ginger and kissed with cumin and coriander powder. Green chillies if you love your heat. A generous dollop of ghee please. No onions. No garlic.
For today, I do a aloo phulkopir dalna, possibly the most commonplace of all dalnas, no-fuss, unpretentious yet finger-licking delicious.
Do give it a try, it’s as simple as it gets, and you shall be addicted to it forever.
Aloo Phulkopir Dalna (Potato and Cauliflower Curry)
- 1 cauliflower medium sized , cut to medium sized florets
- 100 g potatoes peeled and cut into medium sized cubes
- 1/4 cup green peas (I use frozen peas when are not in season)
- 1 tomato pureed
- 1 tsp turmeric powder
- 1 tsp coriander powder
- 1/2 tsp cumin powder
- 1 tsp ginger grated
- 2 - 3 green chillies slit
- 1 - 2 bay leaves
- 1 - 2 cardamom green
- 1 inch cinnamon stick
- 1 - 2 cloves
- 1/2 tsp cumin seeds
- 1 tsp sugar
- 2 tbsps mustard oil
- 1/2 tbsp ghee
- 1/4 tsp garam masala
- to taste salt
- Smear the cauliflower florets with a pinch of turmeric and salt.
- Heat 1 tbsp oil in a kadai and fry the florets till they catch a tinge of light golden brown and have become slightly tender. Drain from oil, keep aside on a kitchen towel to absorb the excess oil.
- Add the remaining oil to the kadai, add the bay leaves, crushed cardamom, cinnamon and cloves, allow them to splutter. When the spices start to release their aroma, add the cumin seeds, stir for a minute or so.
- Add the baby potatoes and fry over medium flame till they are about three-quarters cooked.
- Now stir in the tomato puree, sprinkle a little salt and saute till the tomato is cooked. Add the grated ginger, turmeric powder, coriander powder, cumin powder, green chillies and cook for 5 odd minutes till oil starts to release from the masala.
- Throw in the fried cauliflower florets and the green peas, sprinkle the salt and sugar, give it a hearty stir and cook for a further 5 minutes .
- Add 11/2 cups of warm water, cover and cook over a medium flame till the potatoes and cauliflowers are just cooked, they should not be mushy. Another 5-7 minutes I would reckon.
- Adjust seasonings, add a generous dollop of ghee and finish with a sprinkle of garam masala powder. Serve hot.