Archive for March 22, 2008

Arusuvai Friendship Chain and RCI:Bengal

mystery from mandira
mystery from mandira

For me, the best part of blogging isn’t the food, it’s the people.

It would be so easy to toss up some recipes for nameless, faceless folks to read — but where is the fun in that? Here across the ether, it’s somehow easy to sense a kindred spirit, and countless friendships spring up as we share snippets of our lives: tales of kids and pets, gardening tips, healthy doses of humor and more. Food is tastier when sauced with friendship, and ‘here’, I like to think I am cooking for my friends đŸ™‚

One special person I am fortunate to call a friend is dear Mandira of Ahaar.
A fellow Michigander with a generous spirit and a way with words, Mandira’s imaginitave writing and cooking inspire me every time I visit her lovely blog.

Thank you Mandira, for including me in the Arusuvai Friendship Chain! đŸ™‚

The Arusuvai Friendship Chain was started by Latha and her family at
The Yum Blog along with Bharathy of Spicy Chilly and Bhags of Crazy Curry.
Thanks to all of you ladies, for this wonderful idea.

I love Latha’s descrption: “Arusuvai means six tastes (aru=six, suvai=taste) in Tamizh and is used to refer for Tasty preparation with six tastes – inippu/ thithippu (sweet), orappu/ karam (hot), kassappu (bitter) , pulippu (sour), uppu(salt), tuvarpu (tastes that one gets in raw leaves)”. I received many of these tastes in my package!

My surprise mystery-melange was a super-fresh and fragrant bag of that beloved spice mixture unique to Bengal — panch phoron! For something different, I dry-roasted some of this and ground it to a powder. Then I used the powder to season a dish of paneer and potatoes, simply cooked with onion, tomato, and very little else. Needless to say the panch phoron turned the simple into the sublime!


I first read about dry roasting panch phoron in Sandeepa’s post,
My Spice ~ Panch Phoron. Because the recipe uses this classic Bengali blend, I will send it off to Bong Mom’s Cookbook for RCI: Bengal. So nice to see you around, Sandeepa!

The gravy is heavily based on Sudha’s Paneer Butter Masala.
Hope all’s well with you Sudha đŸ™‚

panch phoron
fresh and fragrant ~ panch phoron

Paneer and Potatoes with Panch Phoron

12 cubes paneer (about 1/2 cup)
1/2 – 1 cup cubed boiled potato
1 big onion, peeled, blanched, and ground to a paste
1/2 c tomato puree (I used 6 ice cubes of fresh tomato puree from the freezer, thanks coffee!)

1 tsp panch phoron, dry roasted and ground
1/2 -1 tsp kashmiri chile powder
1/4 tsp turmeric
salt to taste

2-3 tsp butter
2 TB half and half cream (optional)
water as needed


Heat half the butter in a small frying pan and brown the paneer. Remove and in the same pan, brown the potatoes. Remove and add the remaining butter. Saute the onion paste until brown. Add ground spices and stir a few minuntes, adding water if the mixture is too thick (I needed about 1/2 cup water in all). Add tomato puree and cream, if using. Cook a few minutes until thickened, then fold in the paneer and potatoes. Add salt to taste. Serve hot with any bread.

potatoes and paneer with panch phoron
spicy paneer and potatoes with panch phoron

For my part, I will be passing the chain along to ISG and Cynthia… what fun! đŸ™‚

Also, my apologies for not replying to those of you who commented on my last post — I have been having an awful time with WordPress and my computer in general. Pages are not loading as they should. Imagine what we all did before the internet! Thank you for all the kind words about my ‘sunrise from home’ đŸ™‚


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