Yes, I'm a Bong. Yes, I'm a foodie. Yes, I'm a Calcuttan. And yes, I don't stay in the city any more.
I come back, sometimes. As I was stepping out of the aero-bridge, I noticed one of the officials speaking urgently into his walkie-talkie, with a few others huddled around him. The question being asked with so much intent? "Score koto holo?"
(What's the score?) I grinned. I was back in Cal.
A friend suggested I do a few posts on my favourite Bong food. Since the blog is a medley of so much, I thought, why not, maybe I can go beyond the typical phuchhka-rasgulla-illish
I propose to start with one of the humblest : the churmur
. It's a byproduct of its more illustrious cousin, the phuchhka
. You get it at any phuchhka-walas
any where in the city. In fact, the previous statement was such a gospel truth for a thorough-bred Calcutta girl like me, that I made the mistake of asking for churmur
from a panipuri seller even when I moved 3000kms away. He had never heard of it. D-oh! But then, there was also the moment of glory when I did find someone who not only knew what it was, but even proceeded to make it for me, the same 3000kms away. There is a God.The name “churmur” is probably derived from the crunching sound made while eating it. Simply put, it's a generous helping of boiled potatoes (generous being defined by the generosity of your phuchhka-wala), some dry gol-gappas, chopped chillies, onions, boiled white peas all mashed together with chaat masala and the strongest tamarind juice you can find. So, the ingredients, listed out, would be :
There's a recipe coming up, but later.
- 2 medium size potatoes, boiled
- Quarter cup white peas, soaked overnight and boiled
- 1 small red onion, finely chopped
- Handful of coriander, finely chopped
- 4-5 green chilies, finely chopped
- 1 tablespoon tamarind pulp
- 2 teaspoons dry roasted cumin and coriander seeds, roughly crushed
- 1 teaspoon red chili powder
- 1 teaspoon Chaat masala
- Half teaspoon black salt
- 8-10 readymade gol gappas
I think, and my friends would agree, that this churmur probably made for at least half of our nutrition throughout our school days. It had definitely more matter in it , compared to the teeny amount of potato stuffing one could get for the same money's worth of anything else, including our beloved phuchhkas. Fancy stuff, which we gorge upon now, was way beyond the budget, with 20 rupees amounting to a veritable feast. I remember we had Maths classes after school, 5-7pm again 7:30-9:30pm. It was an ordeal for the most dedicated. But we survived on that measly half an hour break, when we used to run two blocks away for a helping of churmur, laughing over our mad dash, eyes and ears streaming from the heat of the chillies, getting lock-jawed from the unbearably sour tamarind.
There isn't really a very complex way of preparing the thing, anyway. Put all the dry things together, including the potatoes, but not the gol gappa-s, and mash it up. Squeeze out the juice from the tamarind pulp, adding water if you need to dilute it. Add to the mix, just so the whole thing keeps together, but is not runny. Crush the dry gol gappas, and toss the whole thing together. Top off with the coriander, and have before it gets soggy (remember the origins of the name!).
I got the singular soul who is enlightened in the way of churmur-making in my university-town, to prepare it for one of my friends. My friend isn't one the most lily-livered ones when it comes to food, but the face he made on putting the first spoonful into his mouth, had me laughing at the fact that the heady mixture of tangy-and-spicy was probably a bit too much on the first go. Maybe it's an acquired taste. Oh well, maybe I can convert them all. After all, I am a Bong, a Calcuttan and a Foodie. And that is one heady mixture, I've been told!
photos : http://2.bp.blogspot.com/_c1GyAdVMPgw/TBSamNt_J6I/AAAAAAAAB88/l2NE62dunfQ/s1600/churmur7.jpghttp://2.bp.blogspot.com/_63mUyNce2ag/TAaTwU88yMI/AAAAAAAAFms/QLDFqy3HT2o/s1600/DSC07639.JPG