This light yet vibrant curry is probably unlike anything you’ve ever tasted.

A jhal is a type of Bengali curry characterised by the sharpness of its flavours, unlike its close cousin, the jhol, which is usually more mellow. This recipe, kumro’r jhal, is defined by the heat and aroma that comes from freshly crushed green chillies and kaalo jeere. In a way, the green chilli and kaalo jeere combination is a timeless one when it comes to Bengali cooking—these two work hand-in-hand to temper several classic dishes. In this recipe, these are not only used as phoron but they are also pasted and added to the curry itself. Apart from that, this unusual jhal recipe also makes use of coconut paste, some milk, and a pinch of flour, all of which render a light, yet creamy, gravy. This dish is extremely easy to make (it doesn’t require you to spend several minutes sauteing spices) and can be knocked out in under 30 minutes.


COOKING TIME 25 minutes
YIELDS 4 servings


Ingredients

Quantity Ingredient
500 g Kumro (ripe or green pumpkin or butternut squash)
200 g Water
10 g Salt
15 g Mustard oil
½ tsp Kaalo jeere (nigella seeds)
2 pcs Green chillies
1 pc Bay leaf
2 pcs Dried red chillies
16 g Pasted coconut
40 g Milk
¼ tsp Maida (flour)
12 g Sugar

Equipment

  • Saucepan or boiling pot with lid
  • Kadai | frying pan
  • Khunti | long spatula

Appliances

  • Grinder | sheel-nora (to paste coconut)
  • Mortar and pestle (to crush green chillies and kaalo jeere)
  • Stove

Method

  1. Peel the pumpkin and cut it into 4-cm-large cubes.
  2. Transfer the cubes to a saucepan. Add 200 g water and 10 g salt. Cover and boil the pumpkin till it is 90 per cent tender. This should take roughly about 10 minutes. Do not drain the water, as we’ll need it later to form the curry.
  3. While the pumpkin is boiling, crush ¼ tsp kaalo jeere and 1 green chilli with a pinch of salt using a sheel-nora or mortar and pestle. Kaalo jeere and green chillies are the main flavours of this dish, so make sure they are freshly crushed.
  4. Also make some coconut paste using a grinder or sheel-nora
  5. Now, heat 15 g mustard oil in a pan. Once it starts to smoke lightly and changes colour to a pale yellow, temper it with 2 dried red chillies, 1 bay leaf, 1 green chilli, and ⅛ tsp kalo jeere.
  6. Next, add the boiled pumpkin along with the water.
  7. Then add the pasted coconut and stir it in.
  8. Bubble for a minute before adding the crushed kaalo jeere and green chillies mixture. Also add the sugar at this point.
  9. Mix the maida into the milk, and add the solution to the pan. Let everything boil for about 4 to 5 minutes, so that the maida can help thicken the gravy slightly, before turning off the heat.

Served with