After a month of back and forth, we finally have the name and the book cover! I am so happy to ultimately share it with you. Through the process of writing the book and photographing all the dishes, I don’t think I ever sat down to realize the scale of the achievement. Now, when I see the book cover again and again with the title, my name on it and those dishes that I cooked, it started to feel a lot real. Soon, I can call myself an author. Oh boy! To celebrate the moment, I wanted to make something sweet, a famous Bengali dessert perhaps. But with all the cloudy sky and rainy days, I craved for a hearty stew. So, here I have a comforting bowl of Chicken Ghugni (Yellow Peas and Mined Chicken Stew)! It’s a very popular dish from eastern part of India and can be served as snack or as meal.
The cookbook is filled with savory dishes, sweet treats, hearty everyday food, street food and a few dishes that I prepared playfully. This cookbook will give you a good Taste of Eastern India and it has more than 75 authentic Bengali dishes that you need to try. If you are aware of Bengali cuisine, you know what I am talking about. And if you are not, I can assure you that you are in for a treat!
I would love to know what you think of the cover and of the name! The book will be released end of this year, around September. Will let you know once I have the official release date.
And now to the delicious hearty stew to warm you up on cold rainy days.
WHAT IS GHUGNI?
Dried yellow peas are soaked overnight and then, slow cooked with spices and potatoes to a comforting stew called ghugni! It’s a very popular dish from the eastern part of India. Bengalis are extremely fond of this hearty food that is either served as snack or chaat or even as a meal. If you have visited Kolkata, you must have come across this dish even on roadside, sold by some local street food vendor. A big vessel simmering away the stew for hungry travelers, often served in a tiny throwaway bowls, topped with lots of raw red onion slices, fresh cilantro and a good drizzle of fresh lime.
There are many variations of ghugni and the spices can vary. Some people like it with ground mutton, some prefer ground chicken and others may prefer it plain with just potatoes. The key ingredient, however, is the dried yellow peas.
KEY NOTE ON BOILING THE PEAS
These yellow peas are tricky! Just like most dried peas, you need to soak them overnight. These peas are quite easily available in any Indian store. These appear white or pale white but when soaked, it puffs into a yellow shade. It’s very common in India to use a pressure cooker to boil peas or lentils but with these peas, it’s tricky to use pressure cooker because these can turn mushy very easily. So, use a heavy bottom pan with a tight lid. It will surely take more time but this way, you can keep an eye and boil it to perfection. It should be tender but still hold its shape. A perfect ghugni should be mouthful and not soupy or mushy. You definitely need the texture.
As you can see from the video above, this dish is really easy to put together. Growing up, it was not my favorite food but now with my developed taste buds, I absolutely love chicken ghugni and cannot get enough of it!
- ½ cup 3.80 oz./108 g dried yellow peas
- 1½ teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon paanch phoron
- 1 teaspoon turmeric
- 1 teaspoon cumin powder
- 1 teaspoon coriander powder
- 1 teaspoon fennel powder
- ½ teaspoon chili powder
- 3 tablespoons mustard oil
- 2 bay leaves
- 5.50 oz./156 g potatoes, diced into 1 cm cubes
- ½ teaspoon turmeric powder
- 1 medium red onion
- 0.80 oz./22 g ginger
- 0.55 oz./15 g garlic
- 8.80 oz./249 g ground chicken
- 1 to mato
- 1 cup and 2 tablespoons water
- 3 green chili, optional
- Soak the dried yellow peas overnight. It will puff up and turn to a yellow shade.
- Sprinkle ½ teaspoon of salt to the soaked yellow peas. Boil it in a heavy bottom saucepan with a tight lid for about 35 minutes or until the peas are softened but still retain their shape. Keep the boiled peas aside once done.
- You could also prepare the stew while the peas are boiling.
- Using a food processor or a sharp knife, finely chop the onion, garlic and ginger. Keep aside.
- Blend the tomato and keep aside.
- In a tiny bowl, add ½ teaspoon turmeric, cumin powder, coriander powder, fennel powder and chili powder along with 2 tablespoons of water. Mix and keep it aside.
- In a heavy bottom saucepan, pour 1 tablespoon of oil and once the oil heats up, drop the diced potatoes along with ½ teaspoon of salt and ½ teaspoon of turmeric. Stir and cook for 3 minutes and then, take the fried potatoes off the pan into a separate bowl. Keep it aside to be used later.
- To the same pan, add 2 tablespoons of oil and once the oil heats up, drop the bay leaves, dry red chili and paanch phoron. Let it sizzle for a few seconds. Scatter the finely chopped onion, garlic and ginger along with ½ teaspoon salt and cook for 3 minutes.
- Add the ground chicken, stir it around and cook for 3 minutes.
- Pour the spice mix that was kept aside and mix it around. Cook for 7 minutes.
- Then, drop the fried potatoes and blended tomato. Stir and cook for 2 minutes. Pour 1 cup of water along with the boiled peas and green chili (if you want the stew to be spicy, chop the chilies before adding to the pan). Cook for 5 minutes.
- Check for salt and add any, if required.
- Serve the stew warm as snack or as a meal.