Friday, 31 July 2015

RAJMA CURRY



Simplify Life.... that is more often required. This simplification applies in the kitchen too. Each day of life need not or should not be the same.... it gets less colourful with no variations. I have always chosen simplicity over anything else....perhaps because I was brought up in a very middle class environment. Only that I have weakness for sarees and fish. Again to that I would say if I find my jumping jack sweetheart Hilsa in the market, I will buy it but will I do it every week.... nope. As part of a middle-class family I was taught self-control. Coming to sarees, I have no qualms wearing a Mangalgiri Cotton to a party dazzling with silks. I always feel it is more important how I present myself, how I speak, how much grounded I am. Show offs have always scared me.... I am perhaps that standing alone kind of a person, find me if you wish. If you do not wish, I do not mind.

In tune with that, I choose my associates and my kitchen ingredients too, they are as simplistic as they can be. Not always the brand label is important, but how we use the ladle. We just need to assemble them with lots of love and care. Some days a simple meal with a RAJMA CURRY with rice and salad seems so comforting and fulfilling. I have learnt this recipe from my Punjabi neighbour back in Kolkata. Though it is mainly eaten with rice, my men loves it with Indian flat breads. Let us see whether Rajma gets justice in a Bengali kitchen or not.

INGREDIENTS :
Rajma / Kidney Beans : 200gm
Tomato : 2big
Onion : 2medium
Garlic Paste : 2tbsp
Ginger Paste : 2tsp
Red Chilli Powder : 1tbsp
Turmeric Powder : 1tsp
Garam Masala Powder : 1tsp
Bayleaf : 1
Cumin Seeds : 1/4tsp
Oil : 2tbsp

METHOD :
Wash and soak the kidney beans the night before you cook.

Next morning pressure cook them in enough water adding half of salt, turmeric and chilli powder up to 3-4 whistles.

Peel, wash and slice the onions. Wash and cut the tomatoes into pieces.

Heat oil in a wok and temper with bay leaf and cumin seeds.

Add the garlic paste and fry for 1-2 minutes at low heat. It should not burn.

Add the sliced onions and fry till brown.

Add the ginger paste and fry for 2 minutes.

Add the tomato pieces to the wok and stir till they melt.

Add rest of the turmeric and chilli powder, salt.

Stir till the spices separate from the oil.

Add the boiled beans, stir well, cover cook for about 1 hour at low heat.

Uncover very ten minutes, stir and press on to some beans with the ladle. This adds more taste to the curry.

Add the garam masala 2-3 minutes before switching off gas.





Wednesday, 29 July 2015

GRILLED FISH TIKKA




By now, it is clear to all my readers that I love fish in any form except raw. In fact, love it raw too if it is a good quality sashimi. It is always good to have fish proteins. They say fish oil is good for our body. As an Indian/Bengali, I love fish mostly in curries and at times simply fry it with few masalas. At times at the end of the day, my family loves to have a simple meal of dal, veggie and deep fried fish. Saute, bake and grill with fish is something I have learnt over few years. Really like the healthier option of cooking fish.

Whenever there are guests at home, I wish to prepare some good starters. That is what people love to have I have noticed..... a platter of starters..... both veg and non veg. Hence, I prepared these GRILLED FISH TIKKA last week. It is very easy and hassle free to make it, just marinate..... wait and grill. Its done. Let us see how we do it.

INGREDIENTS : 
Any firm white fish fillet : 500gm
Onion[cubed] : 1big
Capsicum[cubed] : 1medium
Red bell Pepper[cubed] : 1medium
Plain hung yogurt : 100gm
Lemon juice : 2tbsp
Cumin powder : 2tsp
Coriander powder : 2tsp
Garam masala powder : 1tsp
Kashmiri chilli powder : 2tbsp
Turmeric powder : 1tsp
Salt : As required
Oil : 2tbsp

METHOD :
Wash and cut the fish pieces small. Marinate them with lemon juice and salt. Keep for 1/2 an hour.

Marinate the fish with 1/3 of all powdered spices, oil, turmeric, salt and hung yogurt.

Marinate the onion and bell peppers with the rest of the spices, turmeric and salt. Arrange into skewers, first the bell peppers and onion, then 2 pieces of fish. Repeat.

They will look like below.



Keep marinated for 2 hours.

Grill each side for 12 -14 minutes.

Serve with salad squeezing lemon juice over them.




Monday, 27 July 2015

CHICKEN SCHINTZEL


CHICKEN SCHNITZEL.... this was my staple in our whole Australia tour. I had it without the french fries and thoroughly enjoyed. Sniz means slice. A schnitzel is a boneless meat, coated with flour, beaten eggs and breadcrumbs and fried. I found Schnitzel very popular in Australia, served topped with a sauce, cheese and also served as fillings for sandwiches and bread rolls at sandwich bars. At pubs, schnitzel is typically accompanied by french fries and salad. I preferred this version. Its various versions are found in a number of countries.

On our first day at Sydney, we were welcome with a heavy shower. Hence we went out quite late to have a look of the city and by the time we were hungry enough to have dinner, the restaurants were almost closed. We found a place in a pub, most surprisingly they allowed our kids there. Though I was not so keen on sitting in a pub with kids, I had no options either. Every other dish was served with cheese and hence, this Chicken Schnitzel was what I chose, given the french fries will be eaten by others in the group.

While recreating it in my kitchen, I gave an Indian twist, I used ginger-garlic and lemon juice in the marination. The coating is very important in this dish, it needs to remain crisp. It should be very popular with the kids. Let us see how we do it.

INGREDIENTS :
Chicken Breast : 4
Lemon Juice : 2tbsp
Ginger Juice : 1tsp
Garlic Juice : 1tbsp
Black Pepper Powder : 1/4tsp
Salt : As required
Bread Crumb : 1 small cup
Refined Flour : 1/2 small cup
Egg : 2
Oil : 1cup to fry

METHOD :
Wash the chicken breasts thoroughly. Pound them flat with a heavy thing.

Marinate with salt, ginger-garlic juice, lemon juice, black pepper powder and keep aside for 1-2 hours.

Beat the eggs. Take the flour, bread crumbs and the beaten eggs in 3 separate wide mouthed bowls.

Coat the fillets with egg, flour and then bread crumb. Repeat. They will look like this.



Heat oil in a pan and fry the coated fillets 2 at a time. See the picture below.



Drain the excess oil on tissue papers.

Serve with fresh salad and french fries.


Friday, 24 July 2015

MASALA PRAWNS


PRAWNS..... not a fish but a fish... and much loved. We can say many a people who wish to be vegetarians, could not be just for their love for prawns. It is so versatile a thing and  universally accepted. Every nation has its own way of preparing it and it never goes wrong whichever way its prepared. This is perhaps because it has a unique taste of its own. I always feel we should keep a minimalist approach while cooking prawns and not let the spices overpower its own taste.

It so happened, while we were holidaying  in Australia last month, we visited a historic place named Kurunda, beautiful, picturesque, uphill, a lovely train ride from the tropical Cairns. There among other major attractions was a market selling products made by the aboriginals. I had to flock there by default and discovered a small book stall at the corner. I was hooked towards a fat cookbook offered at a very reasonable price and took no time to grab it.....

The other day I got some fresh prawns of reasonable size and thought of preparing it a new way. Going through the pages of the book I found few of them quite attractive and instead of zeroing on one I took ideas from some and made it my way according to the ingredients available at my home. It should go very well with jeera rice[cumin rice]. Lets do the cooking.

INGREDIENTS :
Prawns : 500gm
Plain Yogurt : 50gm
Cumin Powder : 1tsp
Coriander Powder : 1tsp
Red Chilli Powder : 1tsp
Turmeric Powder : 1tsp
Ginger Paste : 1tbsp
Salt : As required
Cumin Seeds : 2pinches
Onion : 1medium
Oil : 4tbsp

METHOD :
Clean the prawns very well and wash. Rub with 1/2 tsp of turmeric powder and required salt.

Beat the yogurt and wash, peel, slice the onion.

Heat the oil in a wok and lightly fry the prawns.

Temper the same oil with cumin seeds.

Fry the onion slices till brown and add the ginger paste . Keep frying till the raw smell goes.

Add the beaten yogurt and stir for a while.

Add all the powdered spices, salt and 1/2 tsp turmeric and stir till the oil separates from the spices.

Add the fried prawns, stir carefully and add 1/4 cup of water.

Let it cook till all the water dries up.

Goes very well with Cumin Rice.



Tuesday, 21 July 2015

WATERMELON POPSICLES


Looking at the heat outside I crave for two things.... rain and coolers... of various kinds. I feel various fruit popsicles are the best way to keep us hydrated and give us a cool feel sitting in a tropical weather. Besides, its a very tricky way of feeding fruits to the kiddos at home. It is altogether a feel good factor when we see our kiddos happily having them.

Back then in our childhood, we called them kathi[stick] ice-cream. We kiddos were so acquainted with the approaching sound of the wheeled cart. Inside the box were so many colourful and flavourful ice creams lying on a bed of ice cubes. To us it was a pandora box. In those days the school gates were flocked with all sorts of vendors.... ice-cream seller, pickle seller, panipuri seller in the afternoon. We were devoid of this advantage as our school was within the periphery of a protected area where such vendors were denied access..... once we were at the road and till we reached home... only one sentence I uttered.... maa.... get me one.... the inevitable answer was....they are made with dirty water. In our very very middle class household there were no refrigerator till I was in eigth standard. Hence, she could not promise of a home made one. So once in a while she had to give in.

I really do not know what gave me/us more pleasure, its cooling effect or the colour it painted on our lips and tongue. I just know I loved them to the extent that I even wished to marry an ice-cream seller or a pickle seller. Perhaps so my prince charming then left me in fear of selling ice-creams or living with a silly-mad romantic under one roof for life. Hahaha.... jokes are but jokes.... I love making up stories, people who take the pain of viewing my page, deserve some relief.... comic or otherwise.

Meanwhile, the wiser person at home who was destined to live with an insane woman says her mental age is same as was 25 years back. The undaunted lady of the house holds tight the popsicle on her left hand, sucks it and yes reads Jhumpa Lahiri at the same time. She is happy in her own world, which is small and weird. Since she did not marry a popsicle seller, she keeps on making popsicles for herself and her teen boyfriend.... with whom she is in a living in relationship... till a young lady comes and snatches him away.

I prepared these WATERMELON POPSICLES with 3-4 ingredients and trust me the whole process was too quick leaving the freezing period. Do not worry if you are not having popsicle moulds, do it using plastic cups and ice-cream sticks. Let us see how we do it.

INGREDIENTS :
Watermelon[big] : 1/4
Lemon Juice : 1tbsp
Ginger Juice : 1tsp
Sugar : 2tsp
Red food colour : 1/2 pinch[optional]

METHOD :
Wash, de seed and scoop the watermelon.

Put the watermelon, sugar, lemon and ginger juice in a juicer.

Blend for 2-3 minutes at intervals.

Pour into the popsicle moulds, cover and freeze overnight before serving.

Enjoy, revisit your childhood anytime!!


Saturday, 18 July 2015

FISH FINGERS



Coming back after a long break is pleasureful. It had being a joyful experience to compile recipes ever since I started authoring this food blog. Cooking has always being fun and stress relieving for me. I find myself at an absolute comfort zone in the kitchen, perhaps because I have confidence in that arena. I have always believed we should enjoy what we are doing otherwise we cannot do it the best way.
Taking leave from blogging does not necessarily mean I stopped cooking, I went on with it full fledged, just that there were other priorities in life to be taken care of. I was quite enjoying cooking the simplest everyday meal and was at cloud nine when someone very dear lovingly said when did my little daughter learn so much of cooking? He forgot his little daughter is a middle aged woman now.
Today I thought of posting a very simple recipe which yet is a tasty savoury appetiser. We need very few ingredients to prepare this and can be done in a jiffy if there are sudden guests at home. You can actually engage them with a plateful of these FISH FINGERS with their choice of wine and plan for a quick dinner meanwhile.

INGREDIENTS :
Fish Fillet : 300gm
Lemon Juice : 4tbsp
Ginger Juice : 3tsp
Garlic Juice : 2tbsp
Salt : As required
Egg : 1
Bread Crumb : 1small cup
Oil : 1small cup[to deep fry]

METHOD :
Wash and cut the fillets into finger size and shape.

Marinate with the lemon juice, ginger juice, garlic juice and salt.

Keep aside for 1hr.

Beat the egg and keep the bread crumb in a bowl.

Dip each fish piece in the beaten egg and then coat with bread crumb. Repeat.

Heat oil in a wok.

Deep fry the fish fingers in batches till golden brown.

Put them on tissue papers to get rid of the excess oil and then transfer into serving plates.

Serve hot with your choice of sauces.... mint/coriander/tamarind or tomato.



Thursday, 2 July 2015

FISH KOFTA CURRY



Blogging took a back seat for quite sometime.....for various reasons. It is not that today is the right moment to resume back but somehow I forced myself because food and cooking.... or anything related to it relieves my stress. In my blogging history I have only highlighted the culinary expertise of the ladies in my house who kindled in me the love for cooking. We really forget to write about the people who are the silent supporters at home, for whom we are able to engage ourselves freely in the kitchen, they are our inspirations, for them we cook. Today's post is dedicated to such a person... My father. He never peeped into the kitchen, never showed interest how a kitchen is run..... end of the day he is happy with whatever is served before him.

The typical East Bengal...ian father of me is a mango and fish lover. He specially loves various kinds of kofta. Whenever I prepare them, I miss him.... I parcel a bowl full of it for him.... virtually. Though that does not lessen the pain of staying far from them...... specially at this stage of life. Coming back to the recipe, this is Fish Kofta Curry made with homemade spices. Let us do it together.

INGREDIENTS
Fish Fillet : 300gm
Minced Ginger : 1/2tsp
Minced Garlic : 1tsp
Chopped Green Chilli : 1tsp
Onion : 1 medium
Ginger Paste : 1tsp
Garlic Paste : 1/2tsp
Onion Paste : 1tbsp
Tomato Paste : 1medium tomato
Cumin Powder : 1/2 tsp
Chilli Powder : 1tsp
Salt : As required
Turmeric Powder : 1tsp
Cumin Seed : 1/4tsp
Bay leaf : 1
Plain Yogurt : 2tbsp
Sugar : 1/2 tsp[optional]
Oil : 5tbsp
Gram flour : 1tsp

METHOD
Peel, wash and cut the onion into small cubes.

Wash and cut the fish fillets into medium pieces. Boil them with a pinch of salt. Drain the water once soft.

Heat oil in a wok. Temper with 2 pinches of cumin seeds.

Add the onion cubes. As they turn golden brown, add the minced ginger and garlic.

As they give aroma, add the boiled fish, break with your ladle. Add some salt, turmeric and chopped green chillies. Fry till they mix very well.

Add the gram flour and mix well. Switch off.

As the mixture cools, shape into small round balls.

Heat the same oil and fry the fish balls in batches carefully.

Temper oil with cumin seeds and bay leaves. Add the onion paste and fry till golden brown.

Add the ginger garlic paste and fry till the raw smell goes. Add the tomato paste and fry for 2 minutes.

Add chilli powder, turmeric powder, salt, sugar and beaten yogurt. Fry till the oil separates from the spices.

Pour one small cup water. Let boil.

Arrange the fried fish koftas in a serving bowl. Pour the gravy over it once done.

Serve with steamed white rice.