My country India has a rich heritage and a huge variety of cuisines; so vast that an entire lifetime spent in trying to discover them may not be enough. This problem is further compounded by the fact that interregional marriages are still not common and whenever any couple tries to take this bold step, it is often met with great opposition by both their families and their societies.
Being a Punjabi married to a Bengali, my discovery of Bengali cuisine began only after my marriage in December 1992. I consider it my great fortune to have had an affectionate mother-in-law who was also a very good cook. It was from her that I came to know about lots of tasty Bengali dishes with very interesting names. She often gave me lots of pleasant surprises by making Punjabi dishes specially for me, such as sarson ka saag, gobhi-aloo sabji, and sabut urad dal & rajma combination. They always tasted better than my own Mom’s versions! That’s how she won my heart and helped me cross the barrier of language, customs, and traditions…
My mother-in-law died in October 2009, but her spirit lives on in our house and our kitchen in particular.The utensils that I have inherited from her always remind me of her, her silent and patient way of doing things.
Apart from mishthi doi, my alltime favorite, another item that has a special place in my heart is Radhaballabhi, pronounced as ‘Radhabollobi.’ It means Radha’s beloved; a very romantic name, don’t you think? Whenever I make Radhabollobies for my husband, I imagine that I am Radha cooking for my Krishna and that’s what adds to the romance and allure of this dish.
As you must have guessed already from the introductory pic, Radhaballabhi is a poori stuffed with a spicy filling containing coarsely ground peas. I always use a healthier combination of wheat flour and maida (white flour) instead of just maida and I prefer to serve it with curd or a chutney instead of dum aloo aloo as the delicate taste and flavor of the fantastic filling tend to lose themselves in the dum aloo.
My Mom-in-law was very particular about following traditions; she called them ‘niyoms.’ She always made Radhabollobi only once or twice in a year, towards end of January. That’s when the peas are abundantly available in the market and are reasonably priced too. I also follow the same tradition.
Given below is the recipe along with pics.
1. Roast whole spices (a teaspoon each of cinnamon, cloves, corriander and cummin seeds, black pepper seeds in a karahi and grind these in the grinding jar of the mixie.
2. Coarsely grind the green peas (200 g) in the mixie. In a karahi, add two tablespoons of oil and fry the ground spices and peas together till all the water dries up.
3. The filling is now ready. Put it in a bowl.
4. Prepare a hard dough with a mixture of maida and wheat flour in equal proportions and some salt as per taste.
5. Fill the karahi with refined oil till it is about half full and switch on the gas.
6. Take out little balls from this dough. Start off by rolling each one of them on the chakla with the rolling pin. Dip the rolled dough ball in the hot oil a little bit to prevent it from sticking. Roll further to spread it more and put 2 teaspoons of the filling into it. Again turn it into a ball and spread it. Don’t make it too thin otherwise the filling will spill out into the hot oil while deep frying.
7. Once the oil becomes hot, deep fry the pooris on both sides and keep them in a plate. Serve them hot with a dip of your choice.