When I was young, meat was always the highlight of the meal. From lamb to fish to chicken curry, Ma knew how to whip it up. Now during visits home, my cravings shift towards the greener end of the spectrum. As the second course of traditional meals, leafy vegetables are a crucial part of the Bengali diet. In ghanto form, the greens along with two to three other vegetables like pumpkin, potato, eggplant, or radishes are cooked together. In typical Bong fashion the vegetables are lightly seasoned allowing them to be the star. Sometimes to give it creaminess, a spoon of ghee or butter is added. In a future post I’ll lay out the courses of the Bengali meal along with recipes.
Cook Time: 20 minutes
1 pd frozen spinach
1 Chinese eggplant or ½ a regular eggplant, chopped bite size
2 small potatoes chopped bite size
1 t turmeric
½ t chili powder
1 chili pepper (optional)
1 t cumin seeds
1 T ginger paste
1/2 t sugar
salt to taste
ghee or butter substitute (optional)
In a pan add a little oil. Turn on heat to medium-low. Add chili if desired along with cumin. The seeds will pop in about a minute. Now add in potatoes and eggplant. Let them brown, stirring occasionally. When the potatoes and eggplant are near done add in the spinach along with turmeric, salt, sugar, chili powder and coriander powder. Mix in well. Cover with a lid. The natural liquid in the spinach will help finish the cooking process. Add ginger and ghee at the end and mix in well. When the spinach is wilted the ghonto is done. Serve hot with rice.