May be some of my non Bengali friends will know that the distinctive aroma and flavour of certain Bengali dishes owes it to these 5 spices- Fenugreek, nigella, cumin seed, black mustard and fennel seed in equal proportion. It has the power to transform a normal potato curry into something special, almost magical. We now get ready made packets but I have seen my mother clean, wash and dry each of these seeds separately and then mix and keep them ready for use. She told me that fenugreek seeds have a slight bitter taste which is disliked by my father and so she would always add less of fenugreek to the mixture. Also in Bengal, panch phoran is mostly made with radhuni instead of mustard seeds.
For a meal for two:
1. 1 tea spoon Panch Phoron (as explained above)
2. Three medium sized potatoes chopped into small squares
3. 1 green chilly slit length wise into halves and 1 red dried chilly broken into two pieces
4. Salt to taste(1 ½ tea spoon for me is good)
5. 1 tomato chopped into small pieces
6. 2 table spoon oil
7. Few drops of lime juice
8. 1/4th cup coriander leaves
9. 2 cups of water
I used a pressure cooker for the dish but this can be easily done on any wok that can be covered. Heat pressure cooker with two tea spoon oil and add in the panch phoron and the dried chilly and the green chilly Let the spices crackle. Add in the chopped tomato and stir till the tomatoes are soft and cooked. Add in the chopped potatoes and the salt. Stir for two more minutes. Add 2 cups of water. Close the lid of the cooker and cook on slow flame till you hear one whistle. Turn off the gas and wait till the steam is released on its own and the lid can be taken off. Add in the chopped coriander and serve with a dash of lime. Rotis go excellently with this dish but you can also try plain rice.