The milk sits on the gas stove. Impatiently. I stir the pot occasionally. To pacify the rebellions foaming every now and then, ominously threatening to spill over.
Calm, peace, I exhort and turn off the heat.
The chana freshly made this morning hangs patiently on a hook. Cloaked in a white muslin. Drip. Drip. Drip. The water droplets from the chana collide with the steel draining board of the kitchen sink.
Almost therapeutic, my idle mind muses.
I pummel the fennel seeds in my stone mortar and pestle. The heady aroma of the trampled aniseed send my olfactory senses to a blissful high.
That’s intoxicating, the inebriated mind continues to ramble.
The ginger too succumbs to its fate at the hands of the lethal pestle.
Enough of destruction, the mind advises.
Enough, I agree.
A quick tick-off of the invisible checklist and I do know at once that it is all I need for the classic Mouri Chana this morning.
Mouri Chana- Chana cubes stewed languorously in milk scented with ginger and fennel.
Another Bengali classic, clean, confident flavors, minimalistic Zen, a must try the next time you are wondering what to do with the Chana.
Mouri Chana (Paneer cooked with fennel and milk)
- 200 g Paneer or cottage cheese cubed, home-made or bought from the market
- 1/4 cup peas
- 2 tsps fennel seeds
- 1 cup milk
- 1 tbsp fennel powder freshly ground
- 2 tsps ginger paste
- 1-2 bay leaves
- 3-4 green chillies slit
- 1 tbsps mustard oil
- 1/4 tsp sugar
- salt to taste
- Smear the chana cubes with a pinch of salt.
- Dissolve the fennel seed powder in very little water to make a paste. Keep aside.
- Heat 1/2 tbsp oil in a frying pan and saute the paneer pieces till they take on just a tinge of golden brown. Remove from oil and keep aside.
- In the same oil, add the bay leaves and fennel seeds, allow them to splutter. Now add the ginger paste, the fennel seed paste and the green chillies.
- Sprinkle in a little salt and cook over a medium flame till oil starts to separate from the masala.
- Add the green peas and fried paneer, saute for a couple of minutes, lower the heat and gently pour in the warm milk. Bring to a simmer.
- Add the sugar and cook for a further 5-6 minutes.
- Adjust seasonings. Serve hot with luchi or rice.