I am not someone who always breathes and sleeps Bengali Literature. Yet, there are few references which my mind draws, even after years and years of reading them. My mind fails to locate a counterpart from English Literature for certain experiences. When someone mentions Pui Shaak to me, somehow my mind spins to my high school days. No, childhood memories, no references from Grandma's kitchen, but to a particular Bengali class where the teacher took great pains, in drilling in our uninterested minds, a short story.PUI MACHA by Bibhutibhushan Bandopadhyay. A story where the Pui Shaak remained as a strong imagery throughout the narrative, as the protagonist travelled along in her life, and even when the news of her death, reached her parents. I have read and re-read the story so so many times, yet every time, it inspires me, and strikes a chord. So whenever I cook Pui Shaak, I tend to stick to how the protagonist, Nanti, loved it. With Kumro(Pumpkin), Begun (Egg Plant) and Chingri(Shrimps/Prawns). For the unintitaed, Pui Shaak is a green, which kinda gets a bit slimy when you cook with it. But it lends itself to a lip smacking Bong delicacy.

Ahhh...enough of heaving and sighing by me. Lets get down to something lighter. My adventures with Pui Shaak, now how does that sound?! Not too great, I am sure. There are times when I get bored with the supply of vegetables at the neighbourhood grocery. So me and Hubby, take the extra effort, of rising early on a Saturday morning, and heading to the historic River Market. The catch is that the market closes by 12 noon, so we need to rush. Half of the times, we play with the snooze button on our cell phone alarms, and wake up, when the grocers have gone home, from the market. On the few Saturdays, that we are actually able to make it there, we surely are a happy lot. Among other things, I get to pick up a hefty supply of many kinds of Shaak, including Pui Shaak and Laal Shaak. As Shak freezes well, we tend to load up.

Moreover, going over to a Farmer's Market is always a great experience. I love the play of colors, the haggling with the sellers and finally settling down to a good lunch, beside the Missouri, with our shopping bags loaded with the freshest of veggies. Hubby also indulges in some Photography. Needless to say, we are both happy souls. But then we get so complacent after one such trip, that we again start playing with the snooze buttons on our cell phone alarms, next Saturday.


Pui Shaak: 2 bundles
Kumro(Pumpkin): Cubed: 1 1/2 cup
Begun (Egg Plant): 1 large: Cubed
Panchphoron: 1 tsp
Mustard Oil: 3 tbsp
Cumin Powder: 1tbsp
Red Chili Powder: 1tsp
Turmeric Powder: 1/2 tsp
Salt: to taste
Sugar: 1/2 tsp
Prawns: a Handful: Shelled and De-veined


Rinse the Pui Shaak thoroughly under running water, to remove all traces of dirt. Chop off the roots, and discard any harder stems. Cut the rest of the stems to a few inches long, so they don't disintegrate totally once you are cooking.

In a deep pan, add mustard oil, and once it gets hot, temper it with the Panch Phoron.

Add in the diced pumpkin and turn the heat to medium.

After a couple of minutes, add in the diced egg plant  and mix everything well.

Once the veggies start getting a bit softer and also have some color around the edges, add in the greens and the dry spices. Mix everything well. Cover and cook till you can see the greens have started to wilt.

Add in the prawns , salt and sugar and add around a cup of water. Mix well, and let it cook, till the water is absorbed by the veggies, and they no longer taste raw. If you want to make it vegetarian, skip the prawns at this step

Uncover and cook for the last few minutes, if you feel your dish has turned too watery. Check for seasonings.

Serve with steamed Basmati Rice.

Bon Appetit !!!

1 comment

  1. Dear Ritz
    As usual the write up and photos are the perfect treats..I have never used Jeera powder + panch phoDon this dish..I am taking note of using it ..I can get the aroma right now !!!
    Have a nice week