There are few dishes which, no matter what, I would want my mom to cook. Phulkopir roast or cauliflower roast tops that list. Winters for me, is incomplete without cauliflowers and particularly, phulkopir roast.
Since marriage, a lot of recipes have got exchanged between the two women across the opposite banks of Ganga. Madhushree is a Bangal with no audible evidence of her origins other than her food habits. Ma, on the other hand, is from Bankura, the red soil district from West Bengal. Very interestingly, both these ladies have traveled to different places during their growing up years. This has changed their perception about food and both have influences of various places in their cooking, making it more interesting. It never reminds me of any particular place or region. So my kitchen always has varying glimpses of Goa, Bihar, North East, Coastal India and sometimes, Europe in the food they prepare.
Phulkopir Roast is Ma’s signature dish
It is a known fact that all home cooks have some signature dishes, which no matter what, cannot be replicated by anyone else. If there is one such dish which I can relate to my Ma, then it is the Phulkopir roast or Cauliflower roast which she makes. This dish has memories of childhood winter Sundays and the family lunch. The recipe was passed on to Madhushree and she made this few times but in my opinion, it missed the magical touch of Ma. Last year, when Madhushree and Tugga were away to Mumbai to attend a marriage ceremony and I was attending the Kolkata Literature Meet, Ma made this once again. She rarely goes to the kitchen these days and when she made this on the coldest day of the season. It was an emotional rush for me. For Ma, she missed Baba the most, who used to love this unconditionally.
Phulkopir roast is typically made in winters and is also a Bengali biye bari special
This happened sometime in January. And now, we could convince Ma to make it once again the minute the mercury hit 22 degree C. In the last 40 years of my life, I never bothered about the origin of this dish in our household. This time, I asked Ma. Apparently, Ma had learnt this from my Thakuma (father’s mother). What a wonderful feeling it was when Ma fed Tugga his lunch with the phulkopir roast and I am sure, Baba was happily smiling somewhere.
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It took me 40 years to ask Ma from where she had learnt this recipe. It seems that she had learnt this from my Grandmother. I tried to visualise how a recipe got passed between between two women of different generations, different background tied by a common thread. The common factor being- Baba.
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Phulkopir Roast | Bengali Biye Bari Style Fulkopi Roast
- 1 large cauliflower
- 3 tsp ginger paste
- 1 1/2 tbsp cumin powder
- 2 tbsp coriander powder
- 1 tsp turmeric powder
- 1 large pinch of heeng
- 1.5 tbsp Kashmiri Red Chilli Powder
- 2 nos medium sized tomatoes
- 3 nos green cardamom
- 1 bayleaf
- 1/2 inch cinnamon stick
- 4 nos cloves
- 4 tbsp mustard oil
- 1 tsp sugar
- 2 tbsp cashew paste
- 2-3 nos green chillies
- salt to taste
- Cut the cauliflower into large florets and then thoroughly wash them under running water.
- In a large vessel, boil some water and then dip the florets in the hot water. Turn off the heat and let the florets remain submerged in the hot water for about 10- 15 minutes. Then drain the water and keep the cauliflower aside.
- Finely chop the tomatoes and kep aside.
- In a bowl, take all the powder ingredients, ginger paste, salt and 3 -4 tbsp of water to make a smooth paste.
- In a wok or a frying pan, if you wish, heat mustard oil till it starts to smoke and then add the bay leaf, cardamom (smashed), cinnamon and cloves. Once it starts to brown, add the masala paste.
- On a medium to a low heat, cook the masala until the raw smell goes off and oil starts to release.
- Add the tomatoes and cook for a couple of minutes on high heat. Sprinkle some water in case the masala sticks to the bottom and keep stirring.
- Then add the cauliflower florets and give it all a good stir. Check the seasoning and add more salt if required.
- Now all you have to do is continue cooking on a medium to low heat while covering the wok with a lid. From time to time, you need to uncover and give a stir and check on the cauliflowers.
- After about 20 – 25 minutes, depending on the size of the florets, the cauliflower should have softened. At this point, add the cashew paste and sugar and finally let it simmer for about 3 – 5 minutes.
- Add some slit green chilies in the end and turn off the heat.
- Serve phulkopir roast with steamed rice, pulao or luchi or paratha.
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