Alu peyajkolir torkari is a Bengali household name during winters. It is perhaps, a little too late, to post this recipe. However, we had taken the pictures and completed the recipe a month back. A number of backlogs resulted in the delay of this particular post. I argued with Anindya to leave it for next year, but then, these were beautiful pictures and why keep them in draft instead of sharing with the world. Next year, I could do something else with peyajkoli.
When and where do you get peyajkoli? Do you crave for alu peyajkolir torkari at the onset of winter?
Like every Bengali, I have been having peyajkoli since my childhood and only in winters. Now when I am about to write this post, I am wondering why peyajkoli is not consumed elsewhere. I am not so sure about elsewhere, but I never had peyajkoli in Goa, Pune or Mumbai while I was there. Even in Port Blair, it was a rare find unless someone would bring peyajkoli by the morning flight. It is after all the stalk of an onion. In Bengal, the markets are flooded with these beautiful green stalks right from November till end of February. They look so pretty that you don’t want to eat them but put them in a flower vase, which is what I did in the picture too.
What is peyajkoli called in English?
Peyajkoli is nothing but the green stem of an onion. While the onion bulbs underneath the ground, it shoots up five leaves and a stalk over the ground with a flower on top. In winters, the stalk is cut off and sold in the market for consumption as peyajkoli. The onion is left in the ground for more time till all the leaves dry off. Then the onions are harvested, sometime between January and May. There is another harvesting cycle during November. The flowers from the onion stalk gives the seed for further harvest. The farmers keep some of the stalks with them for that purpose and the rest are sold and we are glad to cook them in various forms, including alu peyajkolir torkari, which is the most common Bengali recipe in winters.
Difference between peyajkoli and spring onion?
Spring onion is also from the same plant. However, it is available round the year. Before the onions become bulbs, they are taken out of the ground and those are spring onions. Spring onions have thin long leaves and are mostly used in Chinese cooking and is never the hero of a dish. Peyajkoli, on the other hand, is always the hero of a dish. When cooked, it becomes soft and tastes sweet. I like to keep a little bit of crunch to my peyajkoli in an alu peyajkolir torkari.
What can you make with peyajkoli?
There are so many recipes that one can do with peyajkoli. Literally, every dish gets a touch of peyajkoli in winters. We make the most of this gorgeous vegetable. Peyajkoli diye macher jhol, peyajkolir chorchori, peyajkoli aar chingri macher chorchori, alu phulkopi diye peyajkolir torkari, alu peyajkolir torkari and so on.
How do you make Alu peyajkolir torkari?
This is perhaps the simplest of preparations with this vegetable, where the peyajkoli stands out and the dish is about about its flavour. For alu peyajkolir torkari, cut the peyajkoli and the potatoes for the same length, about an inch and half. The potatoes are shaped like french fries (a little thicker). Wash the peyajkoli under running water after it has been cut. It is easier that way. Put them in a colander and wash under running water for a few minutes. Once everything is washed, heat some mustard oil in a kadai and then add nigella needs and a couple of green chilies.
Alu peyajkolir torkari can be made without nigella seeds too. However, I like that hint of kalojeere (nigella seeds) flavour in my vegetable. Add the potatoes and start frying them. The only spices which go into this dish are turmeric powder and very little red chili powder (which is optional too). Once the potatoes are almost cooked, throw in the peyajkoli and adjust the seasoning. A sprinkle of sugar completes the taste.
Do you like your torkari to be mushy or crunchy?
There are some, who like this dish to be mushy. To make it mushy, sprinkle some water and cover and cook till the peyajkoli becomes completely soft and then stir and mix everything without breaking the potatoes. However, I like to have a little bit of crunch in this torkari and I like it dry, what we call ‘bhaja bhaja’ in Bengali. So once the peyajkoli has become soft enough to eat (about three to four minutes over high heat in the pan), I turn off the heat. Alu peyajkolir torkari is ready. Serve it with phulka or rice.
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