Radhuni, which literally translates to ‘someone who cooks’ in Bengali, is the seed of a flowering plant typical to the cuisine of the region. Its strong and spicy flavours are integral to a handful of traditional recipes mostly dals and vegetables. Radhuni is rarely used outside the Bengali kitchen but is available as ajmod in north India and bears a striking resemblance with ajwain or carom seeds.
Not much is known about radhuni’s origin, but it is widely used in south-east Asian cuisine, where the fresh leaves are often added to flavour Thai, Vietnamese and Burmese dishes. In India, radhuni is popular as it is one of the five seeds that constitutes paanch phoron, a unique spice blend essential to temper Bengali dishes. Due to its unavailability outside the state, radhuni is replaced by black mustard seeds to prepare the same.
It is seldom that radhuni is used as an individual spice in Bengali cuisine. That said, it is almost unimaginable to prepare dishes like the classic shukto without it. A medley of vegetables cooked with lentil dumplings in a milky gravy requires a delicate tempering of radhuni to lend that distinctive aroma and taste. Another dish is the radhuni diye mushoori’r daal, a humble preparation of orange lentils that makes for the perfect comfort food when eaten with rice on hot summer days.
Recipe for Radhuni Diye Mushoori’r Daal
½ cup orange masoor daal
½ tsp radhuni
1-2 dried red chillies
½ tsp turmeric powder
Salt and sugar to taste
- Boil the daal in a pressure cooker for 1 whistle.
- Heat some oil in a kadhai and throw in the radhuni and dried red chillies. Let them crackle.
- Pour the boiled daal. Add turmeric.
- Season with salt and sugar as per your taste.
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Image Courtesy: Rituparna Roy and Shutterstock
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