There have been several persons in my life who have been instrumental in getting me into reading. Amongst all, I remember Ashok kaku ( Kaku is a very frequently used Bengali term for uncle) being extremely influential in this category.
If you ever go to Chandannagore (my hometown) railway station, at the fag end or rather, at the beginning of the platform, you will find his bookstall. A small bookstall, a small portable table fan in summers and two brothers managing the shop, in turns. While the elder brother was a serious one and preferred chatting more with the ‘seniors’, Ashok Kaku, the younger one was our friend. At that time it seemed, Ashok Kaku knew everything in world. Perhaps thats a trait of a good book seller. He reads. He stocks. He understands the trends. He recommends.
Ashok Kaku used to remember all the general preferences across all age groups. So when I was a kid, it used to be Phantom, Mandrake, Flash Gordon and all the comic books. Slowly I graduated to Sportsworld and Sportstar. Adolescence brought the fun and thrill of Playboy and Penthouse letters and MBA studies took me to BusinessWorld. Sports and Film was somehow a constant company through out and they still are. I have seen 5 World cup cricket and football along with Ashok Kaku. The special Steffi Graff swimsuit issue ( still remember the friend who brought that issue to school for the first time, was a class hero), Hansie Cronje betting issue of Cricket Talk, Poster of Gabriella Sabatini as a centre fold with Sports Star, I had them all; the credit due to Ashok Kaku. Keeping aside the special issues and rarest issues was his forte and after a certain time, without telling him, you would know that your desired magazine or book is secured and will be available with him. I now realise how an online retailer can never be a substitute to a book seller in a book store.
As it has been playing on my mind for long, that its high time I pay Ashok Kaku a visit and show him this, I came to know that the shop has been shut for the last one and half year. Its not only the death of another book store but also a window to many dreams getting closed. May be a separate blogpost on that but this is what touched me recently on closing down of a book store (Read here).
When I remember Chandannagore and my growing up days, I can never forget the tele bhaja shops ( deep fried road side snacks) which was an inseparable part of me. I plan to write a separate post on the telebhaja shops, but one of my all time favorites have been Dimer Devil (egg devil). Now, Dimer devil or egg devil is completely different from its namesake ‘devilled eggs’. This all time favorite Bengali version is more of a scotch egg, with potatoes and may be some protein mince as the coating to the boiled egg and then deep fried. Madhushree tried to do the same, but with a runny yolk in the centre. It was magical!! It took me back instantly to Chandannagore and my school days.
Scotch Eggs Desi Style/ Dimer Devil
Makes: 6 nos
Time Taken: 45 minutes to an hour
|Mutton Keema/ Lamb Mince||250 Gms||Onion Paste||½ cup|
|Ginger Paste||1 ½ tsp||Garlic Paste||2 tsp|
|Peppercorn||4 -5 nos||Cinnamon||½ inch|
|Smashed Green Cardamom||1 no||Cloves||2 nos|
|Green Chilies||2 nos||Sugar||½ tsp|
|Coriander powder||1 tsp||Cumin powder||½ tsp|
|Salt||As per taste||Malt Vinegar/ or any other vinegar||2 ½ tsp|
|Any white oil||½ litre||Boiled Potatoes (medium sized)||4-5|
|Coriander Finely Chopped||A handful /optional||Flour||4 tbsp|
|Bread Crumbs||1 cup||Eggs||8 nos|
A fairly simple recipe if you like hard boiled eggs; this is my version of scotch eggs or dimer devil (how we Bongs call it) with a runny yolk. Keeping a runny yolk is the stressful part of this recipe. I always stick to the timer and if I deviate for even half a minute, things go wrong.
- We begin with making the coating for the eggs. In a fry pan, heat a couple of tbsp of oil, add the peppercorns, cinnamon, cardamom and cloves. Throw in a couple of green chilies and when they all start to splutter, add the onion paste, ginger and garlic paste, a little bit of salt and sauté them till it starts to leave oil around the side of the pan.
- At this point, pour the vinegar and add the coriander and cumin powder. Keep frying and adjust the heat so that the onion paste does not stick to the bottom of the pan. You can use any vinegar you like. I used malt vinegar in this recipe because I like the strong flavor, especially in mutton keema.
- Add the mutton keema and keep frying. The mince is going to release some water. The end result has to be dry. Hence try and keep the temperature on the higher side, while frying the keema. Adjust the seasoning and also add a little bit of sugar to balance out the acidity from the malt vinegar.
- Once the liquid has evaporated and the mince is well cooked, turn off the heat and let the mixture cool down.
- Grate the boiled potatoes (I grate them instead of generally mashing with a fork to achieve a nice and fluffy consistency without any lumps). Add the mutton keema mix to the potatoes and mix them thoroughly. Before adding the mix, make sure to discard the whole spices. If you like some heat, then mash the green chilies in the mix. Adjust the seasoning once again and if you want, you can also add some chopped coriander to this mix. Keep this aside and let the entire thing cool down.
- To make a perfect egg with a runny centre, best is to use fresh eggs. In case you have them refrigerated, take them out before hand to bring it down to room temperature.
- Take a large sauce pan and heat some water. When the water starts to boil, slowly drop the eggs (6 nos) in the sauce pan with the help of a slotted spoon. I have noticed that if I don’t lower the heat at this stage, the eggs crack instantly. Once all the eggs are in, make sure to keep the water simmering. Tune the kitchen timer to 6 minutes.
- Prepare an ice bath and keep aside. Suddenly these 6 minutes become the most precious time of your life. At the end of 6 minutes, take the eggs out, very carefully, again using a slotted spoon and drop them in the ice bath to stop them from further cooking.
- In case you are not that confident the first time, you can keep the eggs in the hot water for 7 -8 minutes also. In that case, the yolk may not be runny, but will still remain soft in the centre.
- Once they have cooled down, de- shell them very carefully with utmost care.
- Now comes the assembling part. Keep your flour and bread crumbs in 2 separate plates. Beat up 2 eggs in a bowl. Keep them in the following order: flour, eggs and bread crumbs.
- Make small balls out of the keema mix and flatten them on your palm. Use wet hands to stop the mix from sticking to your hand. Carefully place one egg in the centre and wrap the mix around the egg.
- Roll each one first in flour, then in the beaten egg and finally in the bread crumb. Make sure it is coated properly in the bread crumb.
- When they are all ready, heat some oil in a deep pan for deep frying the scotch eggs. Some people place them in an oven for 10 minutes before frying, but I go straight to frying and it works out fine.
- The oil should not be too hot, or else it will brown quickly without the coating crisping up.
- Deep fry them till there is a beautiful golden brown colour on the outside.
- Serve them hot with some pickled onions and kasundi (a mustard sauce very popular in Bengal).