RCI Bengal: Saak er Ghanto with Home made Boris

My entry for RCI Bengal hosted by Sandeepa

I know next to nothing about Bengali food, the cooking that is :). The eating, well now that is a long list, from mishti doi and sandesh to the egg cutlet and puchkas of Chittaranjan park in delhi. This stomach has seen them all. I first tried a Bengali Recipe for Brinjal from Ajanta, but it had a strong, pungent mustardy flavor that caught me by surprise.

This time around, I had just finished Chitrita Banerjis book, Eating India. Although I was not impressed by the whole of the book, parts were lyrical and insightful. She had a delightful description of Boris, little pellets of urad dal that are some times added to vegetable dishes, also called saak in Bengal. She goes on to describe that many villages in Bengal and Bangladesh specialize in producing the lightest of Boris. They are similiar to Punjabi Wadis, in a very broad sense.

I wanted to try these delighful protein packed dumplings, so I decided to make them for RCI Bengal hosted by Sandeepa. Now, I did find a recipe for Boris here but no real information on how to make them.


My first attempt at making Boris was an entire and complete FLOP. Exhibit A on the right hand side of the above picture. Flat, disk shaped and no airy goodness. Gloom Doom. Too much water in the dough.
In my second attempt, I was careful to not add any water during grinding the urad dal and Eureka! Success was mine. Note the successful conical bori on the left with the huge airpocket.

The final recipe is deceptively simple.
1/2 cup of Urad dal
1/2 tsp Red chilli powder
1/2 tsp Ginger powder
1/2 Aniseed powder
1/2 tsp Asofoetida powder
1 tbsp water
1/2 tsp baking soda

Soak the urad dal for an hour. Drain completely. Grind finely with the other seasonings and leavening, adding a maximum of 1 tbsp of water. Put in a zip lock bag.

Meanwhile, take a baking sheet and line with aluminium foil. Spray with pam or similiar non stick oil spray. Cut the zip lock bag. Squeeze out hershey kisses shaped piece of bori. Bake at 200 F for about two hours making sure to turn the Boris at the 1 hour mark. Think meringue and you will instinctively do it right.

Saak Er Ghanto Recipe from Hare Krsna here

I then made a saak or sabji with the boris according to the recipe from the Hare Krsna site. Keeping in mind my earlier brush with the Bengali love of mustard, I decided to tone it down this time. I skipped the mustard powder the recipe calls for, although I did use a combination of mustard oil and canola instead of the ghee. Also I made the panchphoran using 1/2 tsp. of each of the spices. Seemed quite right for the amount of vegetables specified in the recipe.

The verdict: The pumpkin was utterly delightful and next time im going to up it to 2 cups. The overall flavor of the saak was very different and very delicious. And what of the sweat of my brow Boris? Well- They were deep fried for this recipe. Once they soak up the juices of the vegetable, they offer some textural contrast. But next time I will try them without deep frying them.

It was real fun participating in this RCI Bengal, because I learned something about Bengal. Perhaps I should call this post, Eating Bengal? :)


bee said...

that looks luscious. thanks for the bori tips.

Deepa Kuber said...

looks delicious!

Unknown said...

looks yum..Nice pic

Jayashree said...

Nice one.....bori sounds a lot like urad dal vada as far as the ingredients go....but the making is a different story altogether.

Srivalli said...

wow..they look awesome...I am sure you must've had great time cooking bengali..i know i did...:)..great choice...

Unknown said...

nice recipe..loved the way you have explained in the picture..

ms said...

Bee- thanks!
Anjali & Divya - thanks guys!
Jayashree- I feel sheepish telling you this, but my mom pointed out this morning, After I had posted my recipe- that my Boris are quite similiar to Sambhar vadas available in Tamilnadu. And I forgot to mention in the post, that you donot need the oven if you have SUN in hot & working condition!
Srivalli-Yep, I had a lot of fun doing Bengali food this time around. Thanks for dropping in!
Sowmya-Thank you!

Meera said...

Looks delicious. Thanks for sharing.

Unknown said...

Would love to make boris at home and even pass some to my Bengali friend here, who laments that she can never buy them here...
Since I get a strong sun in my balcony, i can probably sun dry it too right?
You've taken real efforts to make this from scratch

ms said...

Meera - Thanks!
Nandita - Thanks! Of course sun drying these would be great, except I dont know if the baking soda would work in that case. I would suggest that you put them in the oven for an hour or so and then sun dry them, so as to get really air filled ones.

Bong Mom said...

Wow you made boris at home too. I think I am going to run away, hiding my face now. I always thought "bori" was what my grandma could make and didn't even try.

You did something so very authentic that I really really appreciate it

Anonymous said...

I came to your site via Mahanandi. As I was scrolling down Wadi Er..Bori Story caught my attention, or was it the photo below. :) Anyway, I have never heard of a bori, but liked the ingredients. I am wondering if I can use something other than Urad dal. How about chickpeas, or other types of pulses.

These sound so easy and I like that they can be baked rather than deep fried.

Thanks so much and Best of Wishes for Sweet Success with our Cake Business.


ms said...

Sandeepa,thanks a lot!
Nora,I am pretty sure you could do it in moong dal -yellow or green. Pure chana dal might be a problem because it does not have the cohesiveness of urad. You could try a combo.Thank you for your wishes!

Anonymous said...

hi there!
I luv ur presentation and the way u wrote that the sabji is very yummy inssisting on pumpkin. Even i wanna try it..athome..just want to clarify -
-The Link takes us to the site in which -Bangladesh Saak er ghanto recipe is there in which they've used eggplant,pumpking and other vegies. is that the recipe which u indicate...
-the other thing did u mad with all the veg mentoned or only with pumpkin and urad wadi.....wt combination did u use...just wann to befor i try :) thax in advance

ms said...

Hi anonymous,
thanks for your comment, yes I used the recipe on the Hare Krsna site. I used all the vegetables in that recipe except for the radish - I was not sure if I would like radish in it.

So I made the sabji with the urad wadis, eggplant, pumpkin, potato and spinach.

Hope this helps. Do let me know how your try goes.