Celeriac and moong dal niramish!
Not everybody likes celery, particularly if it’s raw. If you don’t like celery, you most likely won’t like celeriac either!
Well I certainly don’t fit in that camp! Celeriac is one of those vegetables that is the mother of celery as I call it! I love the smell, the flavour and the taste. It goes in my meat, chicken, veg and fish curries.
Celeriac also called celery root, knob celery or turnip rooted celery, is a variety of celery cultivated for its edible stem and shoots. It has a subtle celery like taste with nutty overtones.
Celeriac is not really used in Bengali cooking, I can’t say that I’ve had it in all my years of eating at family or friends, certainly not in any eating establishments. But I make curries with it and it eats very much like Taro root, (Khosu Mura).
I’ve teamed it today with moong dal/lentils for a Bengali niramish, in translation a vegetable dish that has no animal products.
As you will have come to realise most of our Bengali vegetable dishes are rather simple and use simple spices often with no garlic or ginger. This is one of those dishes that starts with the simple temper of panch puran, subtle spicing and allowed to cook gently until the lentils are soft to the touch.
The consistency of the finished dish is very much dependent on your taste and can be left a little loose or just semi dry as I like it. Either way it’s an unusual number for Bengalis but one that I think demonstrates a lovely collaboration of a western vegetable with eastern spices.
Give it a try and see what you think!
1/4 cup of moong dal washed and soaked for 30 mins.
1/2 Celeriac bulb, peeled and julienned
3 tbsp oil
1 bayleaf/tej patta torn
2 dried red chillies torn
1 tsp salt
1 tsp sugar
1 tsp Panch Puran
2 green chillies slit
1 tsp turmeric
1 tsp chilli powder
1 heaped tsp cumin powder
In a non-stick pan and add your oil. When this is hot add your bay leaves and dried red chillies giving it a little stir. Add the panch puran until they become a little darker in colour and aromatic.
Next add your celeriac and moong dal. Immediately cover and cook this for a few minutes covered just for the aroma of the panch puran to infuse.
Now add stir well and add the salt, sugar, turmeric, chilli and cumin powder. Gently dry fry for just a few minutes to get everything covered.
Cook off well in the spices. The lentils coated in oil will expand. Cook for about 5 mins covered stirring frequently but try not to break the lentils or celeriac.
Add the green chillies. The combination of celeriac and green chillies to me is divine!
Now add half a cup of water, reduce to low and cook on low covered untill the water has evaporated and the lentil is soft to touch. Here you must restrain from stirring. Only do so when its drying but gently. We want the lentils whole but not mashed.
When the liquid has evaporated taste for seasoning.
Your dish is done when the lentil melts in your mouth and the celeriac is soft and creamy together in every mouthful.
Serve as a side or with chappitis or rice.
Panch Puran supplied by The Herb and Spice Emporium.
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