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Bengali Shellfish Recipes


Bengali cuisine is famous for its delicious seafood dishes and unique combinations of spices. Located in the Northeastern corner of India, the Bay of Bengal provides an abundant source of both fish and shellfish.

Bengali cuisine is characterized by its heavy use of black mustard seeds in many of its recipes. The use of mustard seed oil and ground mustard seed paste provides a rich depth of flavor found only in Bengali food. Bengali cuisine also uses a very unique mixture of spices known as “panch phoron” (5 spice masala).

PANCH PHORON consists of equal parts of the following 5 whole spices:

Fenugreek seeds (methi)
Nigella seeds (black onion seeds or kalonji)
Black Mustard Seeds (rai)
Fennel Seeds (saunf)
Cumin seeds (jeera)

To make your own panch phoron masala: toast the spices in a dry skillet on medium high heat for a few minutes until fragrant and aromatic. Remove from the skillet, let cool and grind into a fine powder using a spice mill or clean coffee grinder.

Panch phoron, mustard seed oil and mustard seed powder (just add warm water to make a paste) are all readily available at any Indian grocery store.

Please feel free to substitute your favorite type of shellfish (such as scallops, shrimp, clams, lobster…) for the following recipes.


BENGALI STYLE MUSSELS

Serves 4.

Ingredients

2 lbs live mussels
2 cups water (or any good quality stock)
1 can of coconut milk
1 small onion, finely diced
2 large garlic cloves, finely minced
1 inch piece of fresh ginger, peeled and finely minced
1 tsp paanch phoran
2 tbsp mustard seed oil (or vegetable or canola)
1 tsp turmeric
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp ground coriander
salt to taste
freshly chopped cilantro leaves for garnish

METHOD:

Thoroughly wash and scrub the mussels and discard any beards that remain attached to the shells. Also, discard any mussels that are open and fail to close shut when lightly tapped. I always soak the mussels for about 15-20 minutes in a large bowl filled with cool water & about 2 tbsp of all-purpose flour. This helps to get rid of any sand inside the shells. Drain well and set aside until needed.

In a large wok on medium heat, add the mustard seed oil and then carefully add the panch phoron spices. After the splattering has subsided, add the onion. Stir fry until lightly browned and then add the ginger and garlic. Stir fry for an additional 2-3 minutes and add the turmeric, ground cumin, ground coriander and salt. Add the water and the coconut milk. Stir well to combine and bring to a gentle boil.

Add the cleaned mussels, reduce the heat, cover and steam for 6-8 minutes by which time all the mussels should have fully opened. If any mussels have failed to open, discard them. Garnish with freshly chopped cilantro leaves and serve.

*********************************************************************************************************

BENGALI CHILI CRABS

Serves 4.

Ingredients

2 lbs of cleaned crab legs (cracked)
2 medium shallots, finely chopped
2 large garlic cloves, finely minced
1 inch piece of fresh ginger, peeled and finely minced
2-3 fresh green thai chilies cut in half lengthwise
˝ tsp panch phoran
˝ tsp turmeric
˝ tsp red chili powder
˝ tsp garam masala
salt and pepper to taste
1 cup of water (or any good quality stock)
2 large tbsp of good quality tomato paste
3 tbsp mustard seed oil (or you can use vegetable or canola)
juice of 1 lime
freshly chopped cilantro leaves

METHOD:

In a large wok on medium heat, add the mustard seed oil and then carefully add the paanch phoron spices. After the splattering has subsided, add the shallots, ginger and garlic. Gently stir fry for a few minutes and then add the spices (turmeric, red chili powder, garam masala, salt and pepper). Add the tomato paste and water, stir well to combine and bring to a gentle boil.

Add the cleaned and cracked crab legs, reduce the heat, cover and steam for 6-8 minutes by which time all the crab legs should be tender but fully cooked. Add the fresh chilies and stir for a few minutes until well combined. Garnish with freshly squeezed lime juice and freshly chopped cilantro leaves. Serve warm.

Mussels
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Content copyright © 2014 by Sadhana Ginde. All rights reserved.
This content was written by Sadhana Ginde. If you wish to use this content in any manner, you need written permission. Contact Sadhana Ginde for details.

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