Winter Special: Indulge In A Bengali Cauliflower Decadent Feast
Image Credit: Cauliflower singara or samosa, mitrareetika@Instagram

Come winter; it's a food extravaganza in West Bengal. The market thrives with an array of winter produce. On one side, while the Bengalis love to prepare and devour decadent sweets and desserts with nolen gur or new jaggery, on the other, it is also the most awaited period for them to make myriad savoury dishes with phulkopi or cauliflower. Though this vegetable is found almost throughout the year thanks to agricultural development, the actual season is around colder months. And this is when the seasonal phulkopi tastes the best. Let's tour the Bengali kitchen, dishing out special grubs around this winter cauliflower. 

Phulkopir Roast

Phulopir roast with luchi, Image Source: theindiegirlove@Instagram

In the aromatic Bengali delicacy phulkopir roast, the cauliflower is shallow-fried before being cooked with spices. The crunchy and supple texture and flavour are its USPs. Typically, this winter special dish calls for spices like cumin seeds, chiles, turmeric, and Bengali garam masala. Its texture is made creamy by adding a small amount of curd and a paste made from poppy, cashew, and melon seeds. Green peas and potato bits are popular additions. Typically, using very little water, one must steam the cauliflower for two to three minutes. It preps the vegetable ready for the remaining cooking.

Phulkopir Singara

Phulkopir singara and cha, Image Source: Pinterest

Bengali Phulkopir Singara is a seasonal delicacy local like eating while sipping their preferred cha or tea. In addition, it is a supplement to the plate of winter pithe puli. Samosa is something close to singara but different.  The stuffing for this unique singara is made with seasonal cauliflower. Refined flour is used to make the crust, which is crunchy yet light. It differs significantly from samosa due to the filling, which has the well-rounded flavours of cauliflower, potato chunks, green peas (pods), and spices. The filling is delicate and slightly sweeter.

Phulkopir Data Chorchori

This unique Bengali winter dish is made using winter cauliflower stalks or phulkopi'r data. The dish chorchori is a fiery mash-up. This delicacy is best enjoyed during the winter when cauliflower is in season. Compared to off-season cauliflower, this variety's stalk is kochi, or soft, and less rubbery. It also uses potatoes, pumpkin, brinjal, tomatoes, and green peas. It has a strong flavour thanks to the mustard paste. Even after being steamed and then sautéed twice, the phulkopi'r data preserve their sharpness. The mushy texture of the chorchori is contrasted with the crispness of fried bori or sun-dried lentil dumplings.

Koi Phulkopi Jhol

Koi phulkopi jhol, Image Source:

Bengalis make the most of the fresh winter cauliflower flavour, which gives every meal a unique aroma. They enjoy pairing it with their favourite fish dishes, whether jhol or jhal. One of them is called Phulkopi Koi Macher Jhol. The tasty koi fish is fried. Pieces of notun alu, new potatoes, cauliflower, green chillies, cumin powder, garam masala, and crushed paste make up the jhol or curry (semi-liquid gravy). Fresh coriander leaves and green chillies are used as a finishing touch to enhance the flavour. Steamed rice pairs well with Phulkopi Koi Mach Jhol.

Phulkopi Rezala

Decadent phulkopir rezala, Image Source: Tanhir Paakshala@Youtube

The Nawabs, who governed Bengal, are the inspiration for Rezala. Slowly, its popularity grew among those to whom the recipe was suited. Rezala's mutton version is incredibly well-liked. The vegetarian version was later created with vegetables and chaana or cottage cheese. One of them, called Phulkopir Rezala, substitutes cauliflower for meat. Large cauliflower florets are cooked in a creamy curd and cashew nut paste base in this recipe. This curry tastes fantastic and has a very mild flavour.