Ghugni chat- yet another example of all that is good with the street food of Kolkata and the turning of a simple dish into a five star arrangement that fills the small gaps and fills the big gaps as to your wish. Often found around the transport locations it is made from either the mutttar- the dried pea -or with the chick pea. These are soaked and boiled till cooked then made into a dish with onion, ginger, some small spice and maybe flour to make it go further. Sometimes potato too. This the base of the dish and it rests on the hawkers tray yellow as the sun. Often boiled eggs lurk around the ghugni tray and together they make perfect sense.
When an order comes in a little is pulled into the middle of the metal tray and heated with a fire bellow. Into a leaf plate it goes and then the seasoning begins. The tamarind chutni, the coriander, the tomato, the ginger and maslas all mixed in a rocking motion and its finished with onion, coconut, lime squeeze and more masala and far more satisfying it is than you feel it should be. Clean and clear and 100% nutrition.
Check the link for a film of the ghugni
Since last year at the Jhal Muri express we have been adapting the ghugni into a different dish and apologies to the purists as i have kept the name because i like it.
The seasoning is similar but I use the masoor dal as it needs no soaking, cooks quick and tastes great. Masoor dal is the red split pea you find many places from North Africa all the way across to Bengal. I also add texture to it in the shape of muri- the puffed rice, this goes on the bottom of the dish and on the top i finish it off with the sev- the crisp noodle arrangement made from the chick pea flour.
The Kolkata ghugni is more of a snack to see you around the corner were as my one is more of a dish that see you over the hill. As with most things the variations are endless and these just a suggestion to the different directions you can take it.
For the dal for 3 hungry people you will need
- 1 cup or 4 handfuls or 200 gms of masoor dal
- a splash of mustard oil
- half teaspoon turmeric
- 3 teaspoon panch paron
- some good salt
- dried red chilli
Mustard oil is the flavour of Bengal- check out the Indian shops and you will find. Go for the darker colour oils. Less refined, stronger taste. Mustard oil has to have a label saying “for external use only” which is further evidence of how bonkers the food bureaucrats are.
Tumeric is invaluable for medicinal qualities and the taste of the earth and the warmth of the sun but it is strong- little goes far.
Panch paron is Bengali five spice. Panch- five, paron- spice. It is always in equal measure cumin, fenugreek, nigella, black mustard and fennel.
Always go for good salt- not that white chemical powder that has little to do with the real thing and the one the body has no idea what to do with.
In the pot heat the oil – add the panch paron and stir till the seeds start to pop and the smell fills you nose. Add the dal and stir it around to make it loose, make it warm. Now in with the turmeric, the salt and the chilli. Stir, stir and in 3 cups of water or 0.5 liters. Bring to the boil, reduce to a simmer and put a lid on it.
In 20 minutes or so it will be done. If you cook it at a fast boil you will need to add more water towards the end and you will need to check it is not catching on the bottom. That is why a simmer is better- gentler for everyone.
When it is done the colour moves from orange to yellow and the split peas break down. If it is to thin turn up the heat to evaporate some liquid.
You can serve it in a cup and eat with a spoon. Nice. So in a cup put in some puffed rice, then the dal, then ideally some chopped indian pink onion, ginger, fresh coriander, tomato, coconut, tamarind sauce, chat masala, gram masala and some fresh lime. Finish it of with some sev and final dusting of chat masala. How about that.
Obviously things are not always that simple and if something is missing, not to worry. What you do wish to get though is something sharp- lime, something sour- the tamarind and the amchor, the fried mango powder in the chat maasala, something salt- the black salt in the chat masala too, something sweet in the tamarind chutni , something ginger, something soft onion and something fresh.
Now i appreciate there those who are not sure about some of these ingredients and that but hold tight for in the next week or two all will be explained. It all is incredibly simple and not expensive and once you done it once you will be off and running and making your own rules and regulations on the ghugni chat.