Lal Shak Bhaja
The chief sources of Vitamin A are green leafy vegetables including taro black/green arum leaves (kalo / shobuz kochu shak), helencha shak, drumstick leaves (sajina shak), indian spinach (pui shak), bottle gourd leaf (lau shak), jute leaves (pat shak), amaranth red leaf (lal shak) and spinach(palak).
No authentic Bengali cuisine is served without a dish of shak bhaja (which is eaten first). Here is the recipe for lal shak bhaja.
2 bunches – fresh laal shak (red amaranth)
1 tbsp whole black mustard seeds
2 tsp sugar
1 tsp salt (to taste)
1 tsp poppy seeds (posto)
1 ½ tsp oil, for frying
1. Wash, clean the laal shak thoroughly and finely chop the shak, only leaves and soft branches just above the hard roots.
2. Heat oil in a kadhai / non-stick pan, add mustard seeds and let them splutter.
3. Lower the flame, add chopped shak and stir fry.
4. Add salt and sugar. (Remember shak do not absorb salt, so be careful while adding salt or else the dish will be too much salty).
5. Cook in medium flame. Stir fry till salt & sugar are completely absorbed.
6. (You do not have to add water as water will be released from shak, and it will be cooked in that water only).
7. Cover the kadhai / pan, reduce the flame and simmer.
8. Check from time to time and stir occasionally so that the shak do not stick to the bottom of the kadhai / pan.
9. Cook till the shak is tender and done. Dry the excess water.
10. Sprinkle poppy seeds, mix and remove from fire.
11. Garnish with either bhaja bori / grated coconut / peanuts (as desired).
12. Serve hot with steamed rice.
13. Garnish (optional) with 10-12 chhoto bori bhaja , or 1 tsp coconut, grated, or 10-12 peanuts, roasted
Kalmi Shak Bhaja
The leaves of water spinach are extremely nutritious. The dish is very tasty, quick and easy to prepare and requires a few ingredients.
1.Water spinach – 1 bunch.
2.Garlic cloves – 4 (finely chopped)
3.Salt – 1/4 tsp.
4.Sugar – 1/4 tsp.
5.Oil – 2 tbsp.
6.Green chili – 1 (chopped)
7.Whole dry red Chili – 2.
1. Take the young and tender stem and fresh leaves of the water spinach. Wash well with enough water. Keep them in a colander for 10 minutes. Chop the stem and leaves.
2. Heat oil in a frying pan, when hot reduce the heat. Fry the dry red Chili until brown, remove from oil and keep aside for garnishing. In the remaining oil add chopped garlic,Stir fry for few seconds.
3. Add chopped water spinach, sugar and salt.
4. Cover the pan and cook on slow flame for 5-6 minutes. Add 1/4 cup of water and green Chili. stir well. Keep cooking till all the water evaporates.
5. Remove pan from heat, garnish with fried Chili and serve as a first item for lunch.
Note Shak Bhaja
It is a nutritious dish and very simple to prepare and requires a few ingredients. It is very popular all over Bengal and it goes well with steamed rice.The dish is perfect for summer.
1.Note Shak – 1 bunch (400 grams.)
2.Garlic flakes – 4 (finely chopped)
3.Dry red Chili – 2
4.Nigella seeds (kalonji) – 1/4 tsp.
5.Turmeric powder – 1/4 tsp.
6.Salt to taste.
7.Sugar – 1/4 tsp.
8.Green Chili – 2 (chopped)
9.Oil – 2 tbsp.
1. Take soft stems and good leaves, wash in enough water and keep in a colander. Chop the shak finely.
2. Heat oil in a frying pan and fry the dry red Chili until brown, remove from heat and reserve it for decoration.
3. Reduce the heat, add kalonji in the remaining oil and fry for 30 seconds. Add chopped garlic.When the garlic starts brown, add the chopped shak, salt and turmeric powder. Saute for 5 to 6 minutes. Add 1/2 to 1 cup of water, sugar and green Chili and mix well. Keep cooking till all the water evaporates (stir continuously).
4. Remove pan from heat, cover and give 5 minutes standing time.
5. Note Shak Fry is ready to serve. Garnish with dry red Chili and serve with Kashundi (mustard sauce) as a first item for lunch.