Posted 9th December 2008
I know I said no more dinner parties. But rules are meant to be broken. Three separate groups of four each don’t one big dinner party make. And feeding hungry students in December is more Christmas charity less entertaining.
So I invited my sister and her three closest mates over for dinner. That’s two three Bengali girls and one Punjabi boy, who is a recent convert to quick Indian cooking. None had eaten since end of November in anticipation of the feast.
I was set to impress with the trendy-but-domestic sister act. I cooked all the food in advance. Popped it into pyrex glass dishes ready to reheat the oven. The table was laid. The man taught me how to spin itunes to provide choons for the evening.
It was all going swimmingly. I couldn’t get itunes to work initially. When I finally worked it out, I set it on non-stop party playlist. A safe choice. What could go wrong? Ne-Yo. Tick. Mika. Tick. Beyonce. Tick.
And then Pump up the Jam. That’s 1989! I jumped out of my chair and lunged towards the imac. Just in time to prevent Madonna from breaking into a 1983 rendition of Holiday.
Pride in tatters, I turned to the food. We ate Kosha Mangsho, Cholar dal, Beguni with Kumro Chokka, a deceptively simple sweet and spicy pumpkin stir fry with little black chick peas. It’s cooked with a classic Bengali five spice mix called Panch Phoron.
I chose pumpkin because they are so in season. They cook in a jiffy. And I’m also sick of pumpkin soup. Luckily for my cool credentials, they also turned out to be the biggest hit of the evening.
Peel and chop the pumpkin into large bite-sized pieces. Bring the oil to heat in a large non-stick saucepan.
When it’s hot, add the panch phoron anf the ginger. As they sizzle up, chuck in the spice powders and the pumpkin. Stir on a hight heat for about a minute until the pumpkin is well coated.
Next, mix in the chick peas with the green chillies and a tablespoon of hot water. Lower the heat to medium and cook for 10 minutes, stirring from time to time, until the pumpkin softens.
Add salt to taste and serve hot with dal and plain white rice.