Aloo Begun Jhol is a Bengali Vegetarian side dish that has no onion or garlic. It is very mild in the tummy and great for warm sunny days. With just three key ingredients and a tiny list of warm spices, this Aloo Begun Jhol comes together in about 30 minutes times. It pairs best with steamed white rice.
What is Aloo Begun Jhol?
Aloo in Bengali means potato, Begun is eggplant and Jhol refers to curries with gravy. This is a quintessential side dish that we prepare with no onion and no garlic, pure vegetarian style.
Sometimes the same Aloo Begun Jhol is prepared with fish but the over all taste still remains very light and perfect for warm days. Here is a link to the recipe I had shared earlier of Macher Jhol Aloo Begun Diye.
Did you know Bengali Vegetarian dishes are unlike any other region in India? Bengali Vegetarian dishes are pure vegetarian that doesn't include any garlic or onion. There are often very little spices that goes in, and we serve it at the begining of the meal.
One common spice mix we add in most Bengali Vegetarian dishes is Bhaja Moshla. You will not find it in any store and we tend to have our own house recipe for the same. Here is the link to the recipe of Bengali Bhaja Moshla
Ingredients needed for Aloo Begun Jhol
- Dried Lentil Dumpling : We call it daler bodi . These are basically uncooked lentil dumplings and we fry for a while and then we cook it along with the vegetables. It is used in several other dishes, and it adds a lovely earthy aroma to the gravy.
- Cilantro Leaves
- Green Chili
- Bengali five Spice - Here is a link to the recipe
- Bay leaf - Not the fresh ones, but the dried ones we call Tejpata
- Bengali Bhaja Moshla - And here is the link to the recipe
Cooking with Eggplant
When you are cooking eggplant, sprinkle some salt on it and leave it aside for 15 to 30 minutes. This will release the moisture and softened the eggplant.
As a result the eggplant will not act as a sponge and soak up all the oil.
You will be able to prepare the dish with very minimal oil.
We mostly use Mustard oil while cooking authentic dishes. It is definitely not a mandate, but it sure does add a flavor to the dish.
One key thing to remember when cooking in mustard oil is to let the oil heat up, and you should see smoke. If you start cooking while the oil is still not hot enough, it will leave a raw pungent taste to the dish.
Growing up, I never liked this curry that much. But with time, our palate develops and we start to appreciate such simple meals that are not only healthy and quick but also so comforting.
Now, I love this combination of potatoes with eggplant and most often I prepare it vegetarian. It always takes me back home.
Aloo Begun Jhol
- 1 medium size eggplant (13 oz/ 376 g)
- 2 small or 1 medium potatoes (5 oz/ 141 g)
- few sprigs of fresh cilantro leaves (finely chopped)
- 2 tablespoons mustard oil
- dried lentil dumplings / daaler bodi (1.5 oz/ 45g)
- 1 and ½ teaspoons salt
- ½ teaspoon chili powder
- 1 teaspoon turmeric
- 2 bay leaves
- ½ teaspoon Bengali five spice
- ½ teaspoon sugar
- 1 and ½ teaspoons Bengali Bhaja Moshla
- 2 green chillies
- 2 cups water
- 1 tablespoon wheat flour mixed with ¼ cup water
- Cut the eggplant into bite size wedges. Then layer it in a colander, sprinkle some salt and give it a mix. Place the colander on a plate, so it easily drains out all the moisture. This helps to soften the eggplant and that way it won't soak up too much oil.
- Slice the potatoes into wedges too and mix it with little salt. This helps to cook the potatoes faster.
- Trim the end of the green chili or slit it half if you prefer more heat.
- Place the wok in medium heat and pour the oil. Once the oil heats up, drop the lentil dumplings (daler bodi) and stir it around for 1 minute. Then take it off to a bowl.
- Next fry the potatoes. Because the potatoes were sprinkled with salt, it might splatter a little when added to the hot oil, so take cautions.
- Sprinkle little salt, little turmeric and fry the potatoes for 3 minutes. Take it off once done.
- To the same wok, add a bit more oil if needed. Drop the bay leaves and Bengali five spice (paanch phoron)
- Next add the rest of the turmeric and the chili powder. Give a quick mix and then drop the eggplant. Stir it around.
- Sprinkle the sugar and stir it around. Sugar helps to enhance the taste of the eggplant.
- Next add the fried potatoes that were kept aside followed by the bhaja moshla. Stir it around for 3 minutes.
- Add the green chili, 2 cups water and the fried lentil dumplings. Crank up the heat to bring the water to boil. Then bring the heat down to medium, cover the wok and let it simmer for 7 minutes.
- To thicken the curry add the flour and water mixture along with the cilantro leaves. Give a stir and let it simmer for 3 minutes.
- Check for salt and add any if needed.
- Enjoy the curry warm with rice.