Gahana bori or naksha bori are ornamented sun-dried dumplings made with soaked moth beans, a particular kind of lentils used for its viscosity. Originating in the villages of Tamluk of east Midnapur (West Bengal), gahana bori, designed in the form of paisleys, ornaments, or flowers, constituted a staple of this specific region. But artists like Abanindranath Tagore and Nandalal Bose were so fascinated with the concept of gahana bori that they popularized it throughout Bengal and also contributed to its design with other unconventional motifs. Gahana bori acquired the status of fine art when Rabindranath Tagore expressed his desire to preserve images of gahana bori in the art department (Kala Bhavan) of Viswa Bharati University.
Even though it is not a particularly easy thing to make, I wanted to blog about gahana bori because it effectively dismantles the curry myth by showing that in the face of colonization and commercialization, Bengali cuisine has been able to retain its authenticity by keeping its regional identity intact.
- 2 cups split black gram/urad/biuli dal
- 2 tsp salt
- 1/2 cup poppy seeds
- canola or vegetable oil for deep frying
- Soak the lentils in water for at least 12 hours.
- Drain water from soaked dal and make a fine paste using little or no water.*
- Beat the lentil paste and salt in a large bowl until the mixture is light and fluffy. To test if the mixture is ready, take a spoonful of the paste and drop it in a bowl of water. It is ready if it floats.
- Fill a piping bag with the paste.
- Sprinkle poppy seeds on a greased cookie sheet.
- Follow the video instructions below to pipe the gahana boris.**
- *Piping will be impossible if the lentil paste is runny.
- **Make sure that the patterns are not too delicate and that the edges are thick enough so they don't break while frying.