How Green Was My Kochuri
I always look upon the passing of peas with sadness. I mean, when winter ends, spring is also on the wane and peas -- so sweet and tender in season – take on that hard, grassy, rather woeful, taste.
Fresh green peas do lend an extra dimension to the winter table. I tend to put them in virtually everything – have them with other veggies like cabbage, cauliflower, potatoes… Make a pea soup, put them in a veg au gratin… Then there are the staples like matar paneer and keema matar – wonderfully familiar and superbly tasty when made with fresh seasonal peas.
But the most glamorous dish made with peas has got to be karaishutir kochuri – Bengal’s brand of puris stuffed with peas. It takes me back to my childhood in a trice. The yummy high points of winter were always my Mom’s karaishutir kochuri and gajorer halua (that’s gajar ka halwa to all you non-Bongs). I loved the colours – the green of the kochuri and the red of the halwa – the one savoury, the other sweet. And no matter how hard I try, I don’t think I’ve ever managed to replicate those tastes!
To come back to the karaishutir kochuri, I make them as often as I possibly can during winter. Last Sunday I made some again – in an almost elegiac mood this time as I know peas are on their way out this season.
Karaishutir Kochuri (Puffed bread stuffed with peas)
For the stuffing
300g fresh peas, shelled
3/4th teaspoon aniseed, with their stems plucked
One and a half inch piece of ginger
A quarter teaspoon red chilli paste. Or according to taste
Half a teaspoon sugar
Salt to taste
Oil for frying
For the dough
3 cups flour
1 teaspoon melted ghee
Salt to taste
Water for kneading
Oil for frying the kochuris
First prepare the stuffing.
Grind the aniseed and ginger together.
Grind the peas. The paste should not be too watery.
Mix the ginger-aniseed paste, red chilli paste, salt and sugar into the pea paste. Put a little oil in a kadhai. Add the pea mixture and fry till it is dryish. Check the salt. Add more if needed.
Make the dough for the kochuris. Sieve the flour. Add the ghee and salt. Adding a little water at a time, knead the dough till it has a smooth elasticity.
Now divide it into equal-sized portions. Should make about 18-20 portions.
Shape each portion of the dough into a sort of cup with your fingers. Put a little bit of the peas mixture into it. Seal the edges with your fingers and shape the portion into a smooth flattish ball between the palms of your hands. Make sure that the edges are not cracked. Otherwise the stuffing will squelch out at the time of rolling the kochuris.
Repeat the process with each portion of the dough.
Roll out the kochuris into rounds. (About 4 inches in diameter.)
Deep fry them one at a time in smoking hot oil, turning them over once they puff up.
Serve with alu dam. (Although, I think a perfectly made karaishutir kochuri is best had on its own!)