Before leaving Kolkata, it never occurred to me that getting hands on some of my favorite vegetables such as potol, kumro (pumpkin), uchche (bitter gourd), shim (hyacinth beans), kochu shaak and pui leaves would be a difficult task. Since most of the Indian grocery stores are located far away from where we live except one Indian grocery that does not keep these veggies, we need to drive more than two hours to and fro to get to a grocery store that sells these veggies in Detroit or near Ann Arbor. Naturally, we cannot undertake such long distance drives every week for grocery purpose and hence, eating pui leaves or kochu shaak is a rare occasion. Anyway, last week when we did our grocery shopping, we happened to get some fresh pui leaves in the store and not wasting a single moment, I picked a few pounds of that.
The beauty of this dish is that it can be prepared with all the leftover veggies. If you don't have pumpkin, you can use squash in its place and all the veggies that you have at your home at the moment. I had lots of carrots, snow peas and beans in the refrigerator and I made a good use of them by putting them together in this preparation. In fact, I believe that if you don't have pui leaves at home, you can try it with spinach. The taste may be different though.
- Pui leaves (1 kg), chopped
- 1/3rd of a pumpkin (chopped into cubes)
- 1 medium size potato (chopped)
- 1 cup chopped snow peas
- 1 cup chopped green beans
- 5-6 green chilies (chopped)
- 1 small eggplant (chopped)
- 1 cup chopped carrots
- 200 gm cup small size shrimps (I used frozen ones)
- 1 tsp ginger paste
- 1 tsp panch phoron (It's a mix of five spices - cumin seeds, black cumin seeds, fennel seeds, fenugreek seeds, and yellow mustard seeds).
- 3-4 dry red chilies
- 1 tsp turmeric powder
- Salt to taste
- 2 heaped tsps sugar
- 1 tbsp poppy seeds and 1/2 tbsp black mustard seeds (ground into paste)
- White oil for cooking
- Heat oil in a wok. When oil turns smoking hot, add panch phoron and dry red chilies and allow them to splutter.
- Add potato and shallow fry till potato begins to change color. Add carrots, pumpkin, beans snow peas, eggplant, and pui leaves one after another. Add turmeric powder and shallow fry the veggies.
- Add ginger paste and the paste made from poppy seeds and black mustard seeds. Add salt and sugar and cook covered till the veggies are half done.
- Add shrimps and cook covered till the veggies are cooked through.
- Serve hot with rice.