Bengali Shorshe Begun

Aubergines cooked with mustard, green chilli and yoghurt curry

Bengali Shorshe Begun (3)

As the evenings get cold and winter isnt far I’m always thinking of curries to cook that will warm up the senses and bring much needed comfort. Not all Indian dishes are heavy, stodgy and take forever to cook. One of the beauties of Indian vegetarian recipes is the versatility of the cuisine and also the variety of spices you can pair with vegetables, beans and pulses. Give me a lamb or chicken curry any day but I’m never far from cooking or testing recipes from Indian communities that celebrate the food eaten in regions with so much flavour, diversity and use of spices.

Shorshe Begun from the east of India is one such dish thats creamy, light and full of flavour. Shorshe meaning mustard seeds are a prevalent part of Bengali cuisine along with poppy seeds. The pungent flavour of mustard works brilliantly in curries with seafood or vegetables. Here I’ve used aubergines, not only a delicious addition to Indian recipes they also hold their shape well soaking in all the flavour of the spices in the gravy. I use yellow mustard seeds although black mustard seeds are great too. Also reduce the chilli if you prefer a milder curry.

Method

  1. Soak the mustard seeds and poppy seeds in warm water for an hour. In a large bowl add the aubergine pieces along with the turmeric powder. Coat well and set aside.

  2. In a large frying pan heat 3 tbsp over a medium flame and add the aubergine pieces frying for 2 minutes each side turning to brown evenly. Fry the pieces and drain on kitchen paper.

  3. To make the mustard paste; Drain the soaking water and add the mustard seeds, poppy seeds, chilli, yoghurt and turmeric in a blender. Blend to a smooth fine paste.

  4. In a large saucepan heat the remaining 2 tbsp of oil over a low heat. Add the nigella seeds and green chillies fry for 1 minute

  5. Add the mustard paste and fry stirring for 2 minutes. Add the ginger paste continue to fry for further 2 minutes. Add the cumin, sugar and season to taste. Add the water and simmer for 1 minuteBengali Shorshe Begun (2)

  6. Now add the fried aubergines coating with the mustard gravy and simmer over a low heat with a lid on for 4-5 minutes. Stir half way through cooking. Serve warm with plain rice.

  • Sandesh D’Souza

    what does soaking the mustard and poppy seeds do? I forgot to soak them and grinded them instantly.

    • Maunika Gowardhan

      It forms a smooth paste helping them grind to a smooth consistency. It isnt essential although serves as an alternative to dry grinding.

      • Caitlin Stern

        I’m curious about this difference between making a spice paste and just adding them dry. The other day I made a delicious goan-style shrimp curry, and (per recipe) made a paste with ground coconut and dry-toasted freshly ground spices. Would it have tasted the same if I had just added the coconut and ground spices, without adding water and making the paste? I’m just curious about the reason for making a paste…Does this affect the blending of flavors, the consistency, or anything else? Or is it just easier? Thank you!

        • Maunika Gowardhan

          Curry pastes give a richer flavour with more depth when ground down.

          • Caitlin Stern

            Thanks. The question was whether the addition of water to make a paste, instead of freshly ground dry spices, also provides a richer flavor. I appreciate your help!

  • Ellen Nichols

    I erroneously used black mustard seeds because I hadn’t known about yellow mustard seeds. I found the mustard taste too strong and plan to try the recipe again with the yellow ones, which I bought. However, before I make it again, I just want to make sure the amount in the recipe of 5 tbsp (tablespoons) is correct. Otherwise, the dish tasted good and was interesting and unusual to me.

    • Maunika Gowardhan

      Yes it is! The quantity gives the curry a creamy texture and paste. You can reduce the mustard quantity and increase the white poppy seeds quantity if you prefer too.

  • Mal Timmons

    Hi. Bit confused about the mustard oil situation! As it says on the bottles ” for external use only” and not to be sold in the eu for cooking with. What is your take on this? Going to try this recipe next. Xx

  • Bianca Shands-Cayenne

    Hi
    I tried this recipe and I think it came out good but it had a bitter taste. Is it suppose to be a little bitter? I dont mind it but my husband did not like it. Did I do something in correctly?

    • Maunika Gowardhan

      It shouldnt taste bitter. Use yellow mustard seeds also the mustard oil can be swapped for regular oil.

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