If you havent been to Kolkata, you’ll wonder why I’m talking jibberish. Bhej chop (The veg chop… I’m not trying to be nasty here, but that’s how they say it on the streets!) is a yum type of Kolkata street food. A fried patty/ croquet kind of thing, with potato and a mysterious red interior, is my pick of street food in these bird flu infested times when we must stay away from egg rolls, another Kolkata street classic. But I’m blabbering and diverging here.
Back to the chop. I love the stuff. Growing up in Jamshedpur with ample bengali neighbours, my grandmother – an avid recipe-and-food-exchanger-with-neighbours, learnt to make the bengali ‘bhej’ chop. So come winter, she would prepare this glorious red coloured vegetable mix, shape them into patties, and fry them into delectable chops. I would happily eat the veggie mixture itself, but fried, it got a few degrees closer to heaven.
Seeing beets in the veg market the other day, I decided it was time to venture into chop wonderland myself. With a vague idea of constituents flavours, I decided to try making a veggie preparation inspired by the chop. I cant afford the frying until I lose about 10 kgs or thereabouts in weight, so had to stop with a chop-inspired veggie preparation! But if you’ll take my word for it, it turned out quite a dish.
Bhej Chop Inspired Sabji
2 cups cubed veggies (beet is the only must, I also added carrots, sweet potato, regular potato, beans, peas)
1 large onion chopped
1 tbsp ginger – garlic paste
1 tbps raw groundnut
1 medium bay leaf
1 tsp whole mustard
1 tsp fennel seeds/ saunf
1/4 tsp hing/ asafoetida
1 tbsp gud/ sugar only if you must
1/2 tsp chilli powder
1/2 tsp turmeric powder
1 tsp dhania/ jeera powder (coriander-cumin mixed)
salt to taste
Add 1 or 2 tbsp oil in a kadhai/ wok. Add bay leaf and mustard seeds when hot. Once it starts to sputter, add the fennel/ saunf and groundnut. The nuts will also sputter and the whole mixture will be beautifully fragrant. Add the hing/ asafoetida. Add the onion and wait till translucent.
Add the veggies, some water to cook it in, the ginger garlic paste, and salt (to help the veggies cook faster.
Once the veggies are half cooked, add the spices and gud, and cook till your desired degree of softness. We eat our veggies not very spicy, so feel free to add more spices if you like.
Eat with chapatis, rice and dal, or use as sandwich stuffing (its great!).
I barely remembered to take a pic…
Note: I suppose, if you do want to make the proper chop, add more potatoes, and cook till soft. Shape into patties, roll in bread crumbs, and fry.
I got inspired to post this thanks to the RCI: Bengal event, so that’s where this post is headed.