Saturday, 31 October 2015

MUTTON ROLL


If I am far from my home, I will bring it close to me and enliven it in my kitchen. Thats the way I feel. I miss Kolkata street food, the lip smacking rolls, chaats, phuchka. Can I wait for my visits to Kolkata to have them? Very difficult for a foodie like me, so I try to recreate them in my kitchen. Whenever I do them I get lost in those days, 2 friends sharing one roll most of the time. Sharing was caring then too. I remember how me and my brother urged mom to buy us rolls and cutlets and she denied street food most of the time. Once in college, the free birds had them often.

Can I do them accurately as the Kolkata street vendors? No, I dare not claim that. But my family is happy with mine. According to my mom it was our stupidity to like those unhygienically made stuffs. Moms everywhere forget their childhood.... no point arguing on that. Its better to concentrate on preparing Mutton Rolls closer to  how it is made in Badshah or Campari... We do it in 2 parts.... first the dry mutton curry and then the parathas. Finally assembling everything and roll it in. Lets do it.

INGREDIENTS :[for the dry  mutton]
Mutton : 500gm
Ginger[minced] : 1tsp
Garlic[minced] : 1tbsp
Onion[sliced] : 2medium
Red Chilli Powder : 1tsp
Coriander Powder : 1tsp
Cinnamon Powder : 1/4tsp
Cardamom Powder : 4pinches
Vinegar : 3tbsp
Turmeric Powder : 1tsp
Salt : As required
Oil : 4tbsp

Ingredients :[for the paratha]
Refined Flour : 2cups
Salt : 2-3 pinches
Water : As required
Oil : 1tsp for each paratha + 1tbsp for the dough

INGREDIENTS :[Final Assembling]
Onion : 1[cubed]
Cucumber : 1[diced]
Green Chilli : 2[chopped]

METHOD :

THE MUTTON:

Let us cook the mutton first. Get it cut into small pieces.

Wash the mutton pieces and marinate with vinegar, salt, turmeric and oil as much required. Refrigerate overnight.

Next morning take it out 1 hr before cooking. Heat oil in a wok. Add the sliced onions.

As they turn golden brown, add the minced garlic and ginger. Saute well for 2-3 minutes.

Add the red chilli, turmeric, salt, coriander powder and saute for 1/2 a minute.

Add the marinated mutton, stir and cover cook in slow fire till all the water dries up. We need to stir every 5 minutes.

Add the cinnamon and cardamom powder , stir and cook for another 2-3 minutes.

THE PARATHA:

Let us prepare the dough.

Take the flour in a bowl. Add salt n oil, rub for 2-3 minutes.

Add water little by little and keep on rubbing till a soft yet firm dough is formed.

Keep covered for 1/2 an hour with an wet cloth.

Remove and shape into medium roundels.

Roll out into round paratha shapes with help of a rolling pin.

In a frying pan[tawa] fry each paratha with 1tsp oil.

FINAL ASSEMBLING :
Place the paratha in a plate. Add few pieces of mutton.

Top with cubed onions and cucumber, chopped green chillies.

Fold from both sides well. Enjoy.





Friday, 30 October 2015

ALOO CHAAT N MINT LASSI


We Indians have so many occasions when we keep fast. Hundreds of festivals for millions of people following different religion or faith. On such days our body needs special nourishment. After a whole day of fast, we feel lack of energy and at times it causes dehydration too. We need to plan our diet meticulously to rehydrate it and fill it with carbohydrates to boost our energy level. Fasting does not mean we sit idle for the next few days, we need to take care of our family too.

Considering all these factors, I planned for two simple, fuss free, instant, energy boosting,rehydrating recipes for all of us. Within our community, it was or is always fruits and sago after a long day of fast. But I have thought in a broader perspective and thought this might best suit for breaking a fast. In normal days too we can have this combi if we are in a diet mission. My doctor says even people with high blood sugar can have potatoes ...... they are to be boiled and water thrown before eating or used in gravies. So here for all of us an onion free Aloo Chaat and a refreshing, digestible Mint Lassi. Let us do it.

                                                                 ALOO CHAAT



INGREDIENTS :
 Potato : 2
Bengal Gram[kala chana] : 1/4small cup
Green Peas : 2tbsp
Red Chilli Powder : 3-4 pinches
Green Chilli : 1
Roasted Cumin Powder : 1/4tsp
Chaat Masala : 1tsp
Salt : As required
Coriander Leaves : 1sprig
Lemon Juice : 2-3 tbsp

METHOD :

 Wash and soak the Bengal Grams for 2 hrs in hot water and pressure cook in enough water adding salt up to 2 whistles. Once cool, drain the water.

Peel, wash and cut the potatoes half. Boil them in enough water adding salt as required. Cut into small cubes.

Soak the green peas in hot water for 15 minutes and drain the water.

Chop the coriander leaves and green chilli, wash.

Take the potatoes, Bengal gram, green peas and green chillies in a bowl. Add salt, cumin powder, chilli powder, chaat masala and mix together very well.

Add the  lemon juice and mix again.

Garnish with coriander leaves.
   
                                               


                                                                     MINT LASSI




INGREDIENTS :
Plain Yogurt : 1 1/2 big cup
Roasted Cumin Seed Powder : 1/4tsp
Roasted Carom Seed Powder : 3-4 pinches
Chaat Masala : 1/4tsp
Salt : As required
Sugar : 1tsp
Mint Leaves : A handful
Water : 1 big cup
Lemon Juice : 1tbsp

METHOD :
Take the mint leaves, yogurt, roasted cumin powder n carom seed powder, salt, sugar, mint leaves, water in a blender and blend for 3-4 minutes at interval.

Pour the lassi in 2  glasses. Add the lemon juice and mix well.

Sprinkle chaat masala and garnish with mint leaves.

Enjoy the refreshening, digestive drink, healthy too.


















Tuesday, 27 October 2015

NARKOL TAKTI


Kojagari Lakshmi Pujo at so many homes today, I also do it in my own small way ever since I moved abroad. These are the rituals, customs we have grown up watching. The smell of dhoop-dhuno[incense], camphor mixed jaggery n coconut being cooked, of freshly cut fruits, of bhog er khichuri.... of chandan smeared flowers..... all taken together.... it was a heavenly atmosphere. All these memories are fresh in my mind. I try to follow them as far as possible though not with the same expertise.

For today, narkol naru is a must. I remember so many variety of it was made. Naru, takti, chacher sandesh. Chach are designer shapes in which we place the cooked jaggery and coconut mix and carefully take them out. On my next visit to India I need to buy some otherwise will steal my mom's which are about 40 years old. Today I made some Narkol Takti. They are just another variant of naru, a bit harder, we cook it more to get this consistency. Tiler Takti was done too but I am yet too master on that. Now let us prepare the Narcoler Takti which requires only 2 main ingredients and a bit of patience.

INGREDIENTS :
Coconut[shredded] : 300 gm or of one coconut.
Jaggery : 150gm
Sugar : 2tbsp
Camphor Tablet : 1[alternatively 1/2 tsp cardamom powder]
Water : 1 big cup

METHOD
Put a wok on the oven. Add the water and jaggery to it. Add the camphor tablet and let boil till it reduces and gets sticky. This may take 10-15 minutes at low heat.

Add the shredded coconut and sugar, fold in well. Keep stirring continuously, the coconut will release a lot of water.

We have to let it cook till the water dries up and it reaches a sticky consistency. We will cook little more... say 3-5 minutes extra as we are preparing takti and not naru.

Transfer to a plate. Let cool a bit, shape into balls and then flatten between your two palms.

They will be a bit harder and chewy than naru. We can store them in jars up to 7 days in a refrigerator.....





Sunday, 25 October 2015

GREEN PEA N DRY FRUIT MITHAI


Diwali is approaching and we are all geared up for preparing home made sweets. I was thinking of preparing something new, different from the usual ones we do at home. At times we love to be experimental in the kitchen. There are times when ideas pop up, we want to implement them and see how it comes. It is not that every time the result is satisfactory, a lot of blunders happen in my kitchen... but we can only learn through trial and error.

There is no artificial colouring in this sweet. They are made of green peas, condensed milk and few dry fruits. Doing this I did not follow any recipe, followed my mind and the result was quite satisfactory. Only that we will use little ghee while cooking it because we need to get rid of the raw smell of the green peas paste. I can assure you will only enjoy taking healthy bites at the end. Let us do it.

INGREDIENTS :
Green Peas : 250gm
Condensed Milk : 150ml
Rice Flour : 2-3 tbsp
Almond : 4-5
Pistachio : 4-5
Cashew : 4-5
Raisin : 1 for each sweet
Green Cardamom powder : 1tsp
Ghee : 3-4tbsp

METHOD :
Wash the green peas and blend to a paste in the blender. Crush the almonds, pistachios and cashews into small pieces.

Heat ghee moderately in a wok. Pour the green peas paste and stir continuously at low heat for 5 minutes. Add the rice flour and stir for another 1 minute.

Add the condensed milk, fold in well and keep stirring till it turns into a sticky consistency and tend to come out of the surface of the wok.

Add the crushed dry fruits and cardamom powder. Fold in well.

Transfer to a greased plate. Let cool a bit. Make into desired shapes and top each one with a raisin.


Saturday, 24 October 2015

GHEE TOMATO FISH




Its weekend, time for elaborate cooking and indulge ourselves in food, fun, frolic. Those who are not so fond of fish, they too prepare some fish curry in the weekends, given they are not vegetarians. There again are some people who want to have it, but cannot take the smell of it. For them I always have comforting words.... if cooked properly you never find it smelly. Marinate the fish in vinegar for 1hour and then drain the marinade and cook. Fish is high in protein and doctors say fish fat is good to have. So, if not a vegetarian, one must include fish in their regular diet, rather than red meats.

This fish curry I learnt from a friend years back when my son was in kindergarten. They were ghee[clarified butter] manufacturers and used ghee in many of her dishes. A good cook she is. Her house was near to my son's play school and a bunch of us ladies would go and disturb her everyday. It was then she taught me this fish curry. An extremely flavourful curry prepared in ghee, tempered with whole garam masalas. Having ghee in limited amount is not bad they say.We need a generous amount of freshly made tomato paste for this curry. Let us do it.

INGREDIENTS :
Fish[Bengal Carp preferably] : 6 pieces
Tomato : 3 medium
Onion : 1 medium
Ginger Paste : 1tbsp
Red Chilli Powder : 1tsp
Kashmiri Red Chilli Powder : 1/2tsp[for enhanced colour]
Turmeric Powder : 1tsp
Salt : As Required
Cinnamon Stick : 1 two inch
Green Cardamom : 3-4
Cloves : 2-3
Bayleaf : 1
Ghee : 4tbsp + 1/2tsp for garnish

METHOD :
Was the fish pieces and marinate with salt and turmeric as much required.

Wash and cut the tomatoes. Discard the seeds and blend in the blender to get a paste.

Peel, wash and slice the onion.

Heat ghee in a wok. Fry the fish pieces lightly in batches.

Temper the ghee with a bayleaf, green cardamoms, cinnamon stick and cloves.

As you get the aroma, add the sliced onions. Fry till they turn golden brown.

Add the ginger paste and remaining salt and turmeric. Fry till the raw smell goes away.

Add the tomato paste. Keep stirring till the spice mix separate from the oil. Add both the chilli powder and stir at low heat for 1/2 a minute.

Add a big cup of water. Let boil for 2-3 minutes. Add the fish pieces gently. Cover cook at low heat for 3-4 minutes. Transfer to a bowl and garnish with 1/2 tsp ghee.








Thursday, 22 October 2015

LUCHI O CHOLAR DAL



Breakfast, Lunch or Dinner..... it is an all time favourite at Bengali homes. In fact, luchi or poori is part of our identity as an Indian. Luchi is the main I think and with it many a veg and non-veg sides.... depending on the time you are having it. If its for breakfast, we have it with Cholar[chana] dal, Dum Aloo... if for lunch... luchi and mangsho[meat curries] is what the Bongs crave for. Luchi comes as very handy for us. A sudden guest at home, we always have options of preparing it and serving with a dal or potato curry, a home made dessert alongside, makes it complete.

Luchi/Poori is a saviour at my home. The easiest way to bring smile to my bread loving men is these. Easier for me to do as it is not a time consuming process like stuffed flat breads. I serve luchi with various kinds of veggies at different times. This time with cholar dal, made with a twist. Instead of doing it with coconut, I used some tomato sauce in it. Few years back I saw a catering house in Calcutta doing it this way. Given here recipes of both luchi and cholar dal.

INGREDIENTS :[for the luchi]
Refined Flour : 300gm
Salt : 2pinches
Oil : 2tbsp + 100ml to fry
Water : As Required


INGREDIENTS :[for the Cholar Dal]
Chana Dal : 100gm
Ginger Paste : 1tbsp
Cumin Powder : 1tsp
Turmeric powder : 1tsp
Cumin Seeds : 2pinches
Green Chilli : 2-3[slitted]
Dry Red Chilli : 2[slitted]
Tomato Ketchup : 1/2small cup
Oil : 1tbsp

METHOD :
Let us prepare the dough first. Take the refined flour in a bowl. Add the salt and 2tbsp oil to it.

Rub well for 1-2 minutes.

Add water little by little, and keep rubbing until a soft yet firm dough is formed. This may take 10 minutes.

Once done, cover with a wet, squeezed piece of cloth. Keep aside for 1/2 an hour.

For the Dal..... soak it overnight in enough normal water or soak in hot water for 2 hours.

Pressure cook up to 2 whistles.

Heat 1tbsp oil in a wok. Temper with cumin seeds and halved dry red chillies.

Add the ginger paste and saute for 1 minute. Add the cumin powder, turmeric powder, salt. Saute for 1/2 a minute. Add the tomato sauce, mix well.

Pour the dal and fold in well. Pour 1small cup water and the slitted green chillies. Let boil for few minutes.

Now the Luchi.

Remove the wet towel. Rub again for 1minute. Make small balls out of the dough.

With help of rolling pin and base, roll out small round shaped luchi. Apply little oil while rolling the luchis.

Heat 100 ml oil in the wok. Here is the trick. The oil should not be too hot or towards cold. It should be moderate for fluffy luchi.

Fry one by one. Once one side puffs up, turn over, as it puff, transfer to tissue paper to get rid of excess oil.

Serve hot with Cholar dal and rosogolla.










Monday, 19 October 2015

AMRIT RAS


It is this time of the year we wait for throughout the year. Our biggest festival Durga Puja is here and we are in a celebration mood. Let me tell you Durga Puja is not a festival for the Bengalis only, and it will be unwise to call it a religious one. To prove my word, one needs to visit Kolkata/Bengal during this time. You can see in fervour and spirit, it is for all. Everyone takes part in the celebration. I can visualise the warmth, vigour, vibrance of my city sitting far off. Which ever part of the world we are, we try to create that ambience and indulge ourselves in the celebration, though not in the vigour but in spirit.

Celebration calls for a variety of food and indulging ourselves in them, sweets topping them all. Greetings are incomplete without sweets. Among us who ever visits home should be greeted with some 'mishtimukh'.... serving them sweet. During Durga Puja or any other festival, we prepare sweets, so that who ever comes, we can serve them those. They in turn feel the touch of warmth of homemade something. So I thought of preparing these easy to make sandesh filled with mango puree to wish everyone a very happy Durga Puja. We do not love to cook much on these 4 days, so these easy ones suits perfectly for the occasion. Let us do it.

INGREDIENTS :[for the filling]
Mango Pulp : 1medium cup
Condensed Milk : 1/2 small cup

INGREDIENTS :[for the cottage cheese]
Milk : 1lt
Lemon Juice : 2tbsp
Ice cubes : 1/2 cup

INGREDIENTS :[for the Sandesh base]
Cottage Cheese : As we get from 1lt milk
Sugar : 1/4 medium cup
Rice Flour : 1tbsp
Milk Powder : 1/4 medium Cup
Ghee : 1tbsp
Green Cardamom Powder : 1/4tsp

METHOD :
Let us get the filling ready. Mix the mango pulp and condensed milk together and blend it in a blender.

Now preparing the cottage cheese. Pour the milk in a heavy bottomed vessel and bring to boil stirring constantly. As it comes to boil, switch off and add the lemon juice. The milk curdles. Add the ice cubes to avoid hardening of the cheese too much.

Drain the water from the cheese through a clean piece of cloth. Tie and squeeze it. Hang it to get rid of the excess water.

Take the cottage cheese in a wide mouthed bowl and keep mashing for 10-12 minutes. Add the milk powder and rice flour. Mash for further 5-6 minutes.

Heat the ghee in a wok. Keep heat at lowest. Add the cottage cheese. Keep stirring continuously for about 8-10 minutes. Add the sugar and fold in well.

Keep stirring till it binds together well and tend to come out of the wok base. Add the cardamom powder and mix well.

Take in a plate and  let cool. Shape into roundels making pockets . Fill the pockets with the filling with a spoon.

Enjoy fresh or can store up to 1 day in the refrigerator.




Saturday, 17 October 2015

RAW MANGO AND GREEN MOONG SALAD CHAAT



It was a promise made to myself that besides curries and fries and desserts, I will also share some healthy bites and salads from time to time. Of late I have learnt the benefits of following a healthy diet. I keenly follow the wonderful healthy recipes around, learnt a lot. This enables me to mix and match various ingredients and prepare different kinds of salads and salsas. I often give an Indian twist to them adding Indian spices. For me it gives the feel of an Indian chaat which is healthy too. So it becomes an absolute pleasure to have it at lunch, or at times I also serve it as an appetiser along with other non-vegetarian dishes.

Given my health condition, I try to have a carb free or low carb lunch which have to have protein, fibre and necessary nutrients. Bengalis and salads are remotely related. Hence my salads have to have an Indian twist with few spices sprinkled on it. The other day I got some raw mangoes from the market to prepare chutney. It was then that this idea of preparing a raw mango-moong bean salad popped up. I had some guests at home, so I served it along with the non-vegetarian appetisers. They loved it, so did I. Let us do it and have it fresh.

INGREDIENTS :
Raw Mango : 1
Cucumber : 1small
Green Moong Dal[green lentil]: 1small cup
Bengal Gram : 1/4 small cup
Sprouts : 1/4 small cup
Coriander Leaves : 1tbsp
Green Chilli : 1
Roasted Cumin Powder : 1/2tsp
Roasted Coriander Powder : 1/4tsp
Black Salt : As required[alternatively plain salt]
Lemon Juice : 2tbsp

METHOD :
Wash the green moong and bengal gram and soak in enough water overnight. Alternatively soak in hot water for 2 hours. Drain the water and wash again.

Peel, wash and cut the raw mango into bite size pieces discarding the seed. Wash and cut the cucumber into small pieces. Was the sprouts too.

Chop the coriander leaves. Dry roast the coriander seeds and cumin seeds and grind them to a powder.

In a bowl add all the ingredients and toss well.

Serve immediately. Enjoy as your lunch or serve with other appetisers....goes well with kebabs.




Thursday, 15 October 2015

ILISH BHAJA O SHORSHE POSTO....


Durga Puja knocking at the door and there will be no Ilish/Hilsa fair at Bengali homes? Unimaginable... Ilish-Bengali-Kanchalanka[green chilli]... are sewn together. It is part of our identity. Where ever we are we do not stop making love with this silvery beauty. I can bring forth many a sweet memories associated with Ilish. The mom in the house always reserved the biggest piece for the daughter considering her love for it, perhaps thinking she will go away one day. The indulgent daddy and a loving brother were so supportive of that. There is a hint of pain in all the happiness while cooking it that I am unable to sit together and have it with my family.

On my husband's side of the family, it is a ritual to have Ilish on Dashami[4th day of Durga Puja], then stop and again have it on the Saraswati Puja Day. There is a scientific reason for this, allowing them enough time to breed. Unfortunately, these days it is not followed resulting into lack of its availability, hence the skyrocketing prices. The fish loving Bongs are finding it difficult to have what they love.

It is this time of the year when I miss Kolkata the most... Durga Puja... the celebration....the food fair....Yesterday evening I visited the market and again stopped by when I saw some fresh Ilish in the market. My plans never work when I see Ilish at the market.... I am never tired of cooking it because its an absolute frill free cooking... idea is to retain its own flavour and taste. On eve of Durga Puja, I wish to share two very simple, authentic Bengali recipes of Ilish/Hilsa.... Shorshe Posto Ilish and Ilish Bhaja.

You may ask what is so special about a fried fish and blogging about it. It is as much as of the fried Hilsa's oil... peeping hot rice, a green chilli, a bit of salt and the crispy fried Hilsa....isnt that Heaven on a plate... you bet yes, ask any Bengali.....

                                                                     ILISH BHAJA



INGREDIENTS :
Ilish Pieces : 4
Salt : As Required
Turmeric : 1/2tsp
Mustard Oil : 1tbsp[the fish itself releases oil]

METHOD :
Clean and wash the fish pieces very well. Apply salt and turmeric and keep aside for 10 minutes.

Heat oil in a wok. Add 2 fish pieces at a time. Fry at low heat each side 4-5 minutes. They need to be crispy fried.

Reserve the oil to have with piping hot steamed rice, with a green chilli, a dash of salt and a crispy fried hilsa piece.
                                 
 The Shorshe-Posto Ilish was done and photo taken in Kolkata as poppy seeds are banned in Singapore.
                                            
                                                        ILLISH SHORSHE POSTO


INGREDIENTS :
Ilish : 6 pieces
Black Mustard Seed : 2tsp
Poppy Seed : 1tsp[skip if you stay in Dubai or Singapore]
Green Chilli : 4-5[using generously enhances taste]
Turmeric Powder : 1tsp
Salt : As Required
Kalojeera[nigella seeds] : 2pinches
Mustard Oil : 1tbsp

METHOD :
Wash the poppy seeds , drain the water through a strainer and soak in hot water for 1 hour.

Wash the mustard seeds too. Blend together mustard seeds, poppy seeds, green chilli with little salt and 1/4small cup water.[the salt helps the paste not to turn bitter].

Apply salt and turmeric to the fish pieces and keep aside for 10 minutes.

Heat oil in a wok. Temper with kalojeera. Add the paste and saute at low heat for 1/2 a minute.

Add little salt and turmeric. Add 1 small cup water. Let boil for 2 minutes.

Add the fish pieces. Let boil for 2-3 minutes. Flip over, let boil for another 2 minutes. Add slitted green chillies.

Serve hot with piping hot steamed rice.

Wednesday, 14 October 2015

GREEN PEAS TIKKI CHAAT


This is the Navratri dinner I planned for myself yesterday. We do not celebrate Navratri but honestly I did not feel like having non-veg. Given my health condition, I wished to have something very healthy which had to be tasty too. As I always say, there had been a sharp change in my taste buds in the recent past. The pulao-mangsho kind of person suddenly got very fond of chaat-shaat, dal-veggies. Her love for fresh water fish has not lessened though. Chaats were not so much done at our home. As my memories on chaat goes, I loved having and sharing it with friends. Another fond memory is having dahi-vada chaat with mom when the duo went for shopping. How we both loved having it from roadside stalls with two hands full of shopping packets. So beautiful were those simple pleasures.

So with this thought of a healthy chaat, I prepared these Green Peas Tikki Chaat which tasted really yum without any compromise with health. The time taken to prepare the tiki was very less as green peas take less time to cook. The time taken is only for preparing the tikkis and boiling the Bengal Gram, rest is only assembling to prepare a yummy, healthy no onion, no garlic chaat. Let us do it.

INGREDIENTS :
Green Peas : 250gm
Potato : 1big
Green Chilli : 1[optional]
Bengal Gram : 1/4 small cup
Plain Yogurt : 1big cup
Mumbai Sev : 1tbsp
Cumin Seed : 1/4tsp 
Cumin Powder : 1/4tsp 
Coriander Powder : 1/4tsp
Cinnamon Powder : 2pinches
Cardamom Powder : 2pinches
Red Chilli Powder : 2pinches
Salt : As required
Chaat Masala : 1/4tsp
Sugar : 1tsp
Oil : 1+1tbsp

METHOD :
Soak the Bengal grams in very hot water and some salt for one hour and pressure cook up to 3-4 whistles.

Boil the potato and mash. Make a paste with the green peas in a blender.

Heat 1tbsp oil in a wok. Temper with cumin seeds. Add the Green Peas paste and saute for 2minutes.

Add cinnamon powder, cumin powder, coriander powder, cardamom powder. Stir well for 1 minute.

Add the mashed potato and adjust the salt. Fold in the whole mix very well and cook for about 2-3 minutes.

Let it cool and then shape into small tikkis/cutlet. Place a frying pan on the oven and heat oil in it. Swallow fry the tikkis, each side 3-4 minutes at low heat.

Transfer to a plate. Beat the yogurt with little salt and sugar, add the boiled Bengal Gram and pour over the cutlets. Add chopped green chillies[optional], the sev, sprinkle with chaat masala and red-chilli powder.





Tuesday, 13 October 2015

MANGO PHIRNI


This is a dessert which was not common in Bengali homes then. In middle class homes like ours, moms were not so keen on experimenting with cuisines of other culture or region. They were happy with what they learnt for generations from the family itself. There was less exposure. The word cosmopolitan was unknown to that generation, or perhaps they did not pay much attention or may not be willing to give much importance to it. At the end of the day what mattered was a good "macher jhol bhaat", meaning fish curry with rice. Desserts essentially meant Payesh[rice kheer], Pithey, Roshogolla, Pantua, Sandesh and a number of homemade sweets.

I remember, after my marriage, when I tried my hands on coriander chicken or cashew chicken, there was strong objections. I was said we never ate this. I did not understand why we cannot accept new, how can we move ahead then. My only support was my globe trotter husband and my sis-in-law, who off course was of this generation. Whatever I cooked, they took the pain of tasting it and giving approval, even to my over boiled Bombay Pulao. Thanks to them, today whatever little I have learnt is through trial and error. My mom was another rigid woman who never allowed me in her kitchen in fear of mess.

I tasted Phirni when I was in college. Kolkata has some very good Mughlai restaurants where we get our favourites, from Awadhi Biryani to Afgani Chicken and Rumali roti to phirni...served chilled in small earthern bowls. I used to visit with my friends, sometimes to have biryani and phirni, at times Afgani chicken, roomali roti and to end with phirni. I vividly remember the scene, all girls sitting inside curtained cabins, God knows why when outside it was easier to breathe. Perhaps not to disturb others with our giggling and no-sense talks. It was from then my love for this dessert started. A very humble, simple, no frill, flavourful dessert. The addition of mango pulp made it tastier. In the process I may not have done it authentically but it tasted heavenly, that can be assured. Let us do it together.

INGREDIENTS :
Milk : 1lt
Rice : 5tbsp[a fragrant one preferably]
Sugar : 3/4small cup
Mango Pulp : 1big cup
Green Cardamom Powder : 1/4tsp
Kewra Water : 2-3 drops[optional]
Pistachios[to garnish] : 5-6[optional]

METHOD :
Wash the rice and soak in enough water for an hour. Coarsely grind using only as much water required. It will neither be like toothpaste nor a dry powder.

Pour the milk on a heavy bottomed vessel and let boil at medium to low temperature, while constantly stirring it.

After about 10-12 minutes , add 2-3 tbsp milk to the ground rice and slowly add to the boiling milk stirring continuously.

Once the rice is cooked, add the sugar and keep on stirring for 5 minutes.

Add the green cardamom powder and kewra water and cook for another 1-2 minutes. 

Switch off and let cool. Blend the mango pulp and the phirni in a blender and transfer to small bowls[looks best when served in earthen bowls]. Refrigerate before serving.


NOTE:Perhaps in the last step I invaded the authenticity of doing Phirni, blending it with the mango pulp when we are supposed to let it set. Thats because I was skeptical of adding the mango pulp to the hot phirni, fearing it may get curdled. It did not compromise with the taste, I can assure.






Sunday, 11 October 2015

CHINI NARKOLER PAK / SWEETENED COCONUT BALLS



"Pitri Pokkho Sesh.... Debi Pokkho Shuru".... Mahalaya marks the end of Pitripokkho...the day Bengalis pay homage to their ancestors through offering of food. Then starts the Devi Pokkho, it is said on this day Maa Durga starts her journey from heaven for earth, her parental home with her four children.... Saraswati, Lakshmi, Ganesh and Kartik. She travels 7 days to reach us and then we welcome her and call it 'Shoshtir Bodhon'. They say Debi Pokkho ushers in happiness. We keep aside all our sorrows and indulge in merrymaking. I will not go much into details because that requires a lot of research. I relay what I heard from my parents, grand parents.

Remembering childhood, Mahalaya meant a beautiful autumn morning. An early rise, watching daddy all set for the Holy Ganges to pay homage to his ancestors. Today, he is 75, the tradition continues. By 5am he is off to The Ganges to perform the rituals. The worried daughter asks someone to escort him. Once he came back performing all rituals, it was celebration time. Good food started with breakfast. I remotely remember, it may have been a school holiday. Preparing home made sweets and snacks was on full swing. It was getting ourselves ready to welcome Maa Durga.

We prepare a variety of coconut ladoo for various occasions, sometimes adding khoya, at times reducing the milk to kheer, with jaggery or sugar. On the eve of this Mahalaya, I wish to share a coconut ladoo recipe done with only 2 ingredients. The only thing required is a bit of patience. Let us do it this puja .

INGREDIENTS :
Sugar : 1 medium cup
Shredded Coconut : 250gm
Camphor Tablet : 1[alternatively 1/4tsp cardamom powder]
Water : 1big cup

METHOD :
In a clean wok, add the sugar and water together. Put over the burner and boil at medium to low heat.

When it reduces and gets sticky, say about 10-12 minutes later, add the shredded coconut. Fold in well and keep on stirring. The coconut will release water.

Add the camphor tablet and keep on stirring at medium to low heat without stopping for a while. This is done to avoid burning of the coconut.

After 15 minutes, the whole thing gets sticky and tends to come out from the wok base.

Transfer to a plate, leave for 4-5 minutes. Shape into small balls as in the picture when it is still warm.

Smoothen rolling in between two palms.

Cool and store in airtight jars. Can be stored up to 10 days if refrigerated.



Friday, 9 October 2015

PRAWN CURRY WITH RIDGE GOURD AND POTATO



As told many a times, as per our taste buds, we have a very limited variety of fish to choose from here. Prawn is something which is available here in abundance in varied sizes and variety. We are quite lucky as prices are always subject to demand and supply. It is also not necessary that we always have to have tiger prawns. If its fresh, I am game for it. I have always kept myself away from false prides, high noses, show offs. I have strongly believed those who have it, they never show it. Perhaps, its a boon of growing up in a middle-class environment and living with a person with similar belief.I am happy with the selective few in my life.

The other day I got some fresh prawns from the market and thought of preparing a very light curry with it using minimal spices. Prawn Malaikari is not an every day affair at Bengali homes, not at least at my home. My regular diet has to be light curries, dal and veggies without much spices. This thought of cooking prawns with ridge gourd and potato was instant. I did it without even using ginger paste, just with few ground spices. Let us do it.

INGREDIENTS :
Prawn : 500gm[medium sized]
Ridge Gourd : 1
Potato : 1
Cumin Seeds : 1/4spoon
Red Chilli Powder : 1tsp
Fennel Powder : 1/2tsp
Coriander Powder : 1tsp
Cumin Powder : 1tsp
Turmeric Powder : 1tsp
Salt : As Required
Oil : 2tbsp

METHOD :
Clean, devein and wash the prawns very nicely. Rub with salt and turmeric. Keeping the head is up to you.

Peel the skin of ridge gourd and potato. Cut them lengthwise as seen. Wash and rub with some salt and turmeric.

Heat oil in a wok. Temper with cumin seeds. Add the marinated prawns discarding the marinade.

Keep stirring for about 3-4 minutes. Add the potato pieces and stir for another 3-4 minutes.

Now add the ridge gourd pieces and stir for 2 minutes.

Add the cumin powder, fennel powder, coriander powder, turmeric powder, salt and turmeric. Fold in well and saute for 2 minutes at medium heat.

Add 1 big cup of water. Lower the heat and cover cook for 5 minutes.

Serve hot with piping hot steamed rice.



Thursday, 8 October 2015

BHELPURI


A post very close to my heart.... brings back my college day memories. Friends, Fun, Frolic and Food..... Jhalmuri, Rolls, Bhelpuri, Idly- Vada - Dosa and Capri[the ultimate destination for Chinese food for us]. How authentic.... was not a matter of concern for us, the ultimate joy of sharing a plate with friends meant everything. As I have told earlier, our school was in a restricted area, no vendors were allowed near the venue. Hence, once in college we were like free birds. I had bagged few tutions too and quite rich in a way, hahaha. The jhalmuri wala stood just outside the gate while the Bhelpuri wala, who sold Aloo tikki too stood some 25 metres away. There was no competition between the two, we visited them in turns. Some 25 years back, competition did not rule our life, it was simple and peaceful. In my dreams, I go back there to seek simplicity.

Coming back to present, on my visit to Kolkata, I go to Dakshinapan, the saree hub with a dear friend. Just outside the gate, there is a Bhelpuri wala who makes it awesomely. I have to have it. We manage to hold it with our left hand juggling with our saree packets till we get a cab. Time may have changed but its so much fun having it in different environment. Yesterday, I had a plate full of dahipuri chaat, sitting alone. That is also fun, I so much love my own company. I prepared this Bhelpuri snack chaat yesterday evening and believe me, my filipino help enjoyed it too. She is an equal partner in all my cooking ventures. My inspiration for this recipe??..... off course the Kolkata street vendors. Though I do not claim it to be a Kolkata street snack, its essentially Indian.

INGREDIENTS :
Puffed Rice[muri] : 200gm
Potato[boiled and chopped] : 1
Onion[chopped] : 1medium
Tomato[chopped] : 1small
Cucumber[chopped] : 1/2 of 1
Green Chilli [chopped] : 1
Coriander leaves[chopped] : 2sprig
Date Tamarind Chutney : 1/4small cup
Green Chutney : 3tbsp
Bombay Sev : 1/2small cup
Papri : 7-8[broken into smaller pieces]
Chanachur : 1/4 small cup[a mix of peanuts, cashews, gram dals, bhujiya tossed in dry spices]
Mustard Oil : 1tsp
Salt : little

METHOD :
Take the puffed rice in a big bowl. Add the mustard oil and salt.

Peel, wash and boil the potato and then chop. Wash rest of the chopped vegetables. Drain all the excess water. Add to the puffed rice.

Add the Bombay sev, papri pieces, chanachur, date-tamarind chutney, green chutney and mix together everything very nicely and fast with a spoon.

Serve immediately in thonga[newspaper cups] to be authentic. I do not claim my version to be authentic as I did it as I have seen the Kolkata street vendors doing it. They add something else too, have to note on my next visit.



Wednesday, 7 October 2015

OMELLETE WRAPPED FRIED RICE



One of the few things I love doing when my men are not around is going for a long walk, on way back take a lazy stroll at the local mall and taste food from various stalls at the food courts. The wanderer in me wander alone, hops from this stall to that and taste the variety of spread they offer. The foodie in me loves doing so. These food court stalls may not offer dishes authentic of their place, there are changes made according to the  local taste buds. What I like about them is a variety of food offered under one roof.

In one of our local food court, there is one Taiwanese joint selling various omelette wrapped stuffs. The rice lover in me specially love their Omelette Wrapped Fried Rice. Due to severe haze , I am not going out unless necessary. Hence I tried to recreate it at home in my own way. I prepared a vegetarian version of fried rice with mushrooms, green peas, carrots and onions. We can add other vegetables and chicken too to it. They usually serve it with a clear soup and salad. I omitted the soup as my men are not soup lovers and served it with fresh salad. Let us do it.

INGREDIENTS :[for the omelette]
Egg : 2[for one serving]
Black Pepper Powder : 3pinches
Salt : A pinch
Baking Powder : A pinch
Oil : 1tsp

INGREDIENTS :[for the fried rice]
Rice : 1big cup
Mushroom: 200gm
Carrot :1medium
Green Peas : 1/2cup
Onion : 2medium
Minced Garlic : 1tbsp
Black Pepper Powder : 1tsp
Light Soya Sauce :2tbsp
Salt : As required
Oil : 3tbsp

METHOD :
Wash and prepare the rice with enough water till 60% done. Drain the water through a strainer.

Peel, wash and cut the carrot small. Peel, wash and cut the onions into cubes. Chop and wash the mushrooms.

Heat oil in a pan. Add the minced garlic and stir for half a minute. Add the onions and stir at high heat till it turns translucent.

Add carrots and green peas, add little salt and stir for 3-4 minutes. Squeeze the water and add the mushrooms. Stir for another 3 minutes.

Now add the rice, black pepper powder, required amount of salt and soya sauce. Stir at high heat for 2-3 minutes. Its done.

Wash the pan, dry and heat 1tsp oil. To serve each person we need an omelette made with 2 eggs. So beat 2 eggs at a time with salt and black pepper. Pour over the oil on pan. Flip over.

Place the omelette on a plate. Spoon in required amount of fried rice and fold. I was unable to make the envelop, so kept it simple as this.

Serve with a salad of your choice. A complete meal in a plate.





Monday, 5 October 2015

THREE SEASONAL DAALS


Seasonal Dals.... yes, this is how things were in our  childhood. I vividly remember with the onset of spring, maa used to make Tetor Dal on a regular basis. According to her, this prevented the attack of measles and other ailments. There was truth in it as many homes followed it. They say drumsticks do have medicinal properties. I remember, during entire period of february, march and april, we had to have tetor dal made with bitter gourd and drumsticks and drumstick flower fritters.

Now in April n May, after Poila Baishakh[Bengali New Year's Day], it was heat waves in West Bengal. It was time for cooling items cooking in the kitchen. It was mango time during this time, raw mango was used in cooking, in daals, curries and chutneys. Aam Daal made with masoor or matar dal was awesome, soothing. Oh how I loved it with rice n fritters.

December, all green coriander leaves fresh in the market. Oh... the smell is unforgettable. These days where is that flavour with chemical fertilisers being used? They were found in winter only, hence were exclusive, used in curries, daals for an enhanced flavour. Daal with bottle gourd and coriander leaves was very common at our home.

Why I am using past tense here, we still do it. Yes, but with availability of everything throughout the year, its no more seasonal. They do not taste or smell as before, or may be to me old is gold. Besides, this old lady is getting nostalgic kind of with every passing day. I find an urge to compile all these for the future generation. Please keep them alive, its also a part of preserving our own culture, which we must do.

Let us see how we do it.

                                                                    TETOR DAAl



INGREDIENTS :
Masoor Dal[red lentils] : 50gm
Drumstick : 1-2
Bitter Gourd : 2
Salt : As required
Turmeric : 1tsp
Dry Red Chilli : 1
Nigella Seeds[kalo jeera] : 2pinches
Bayleaf : 1
Oil[mustard] : 2tbsp

METHOD :
Wash the dal and put for boil adding enough water. Add salt and turmeric and cover cook till done.

Wash and cut the drumsticks and bitter gourds as you see in the picture and rub with salt n turmeric.

Heat oil in a wok and and fry the drumsticks and bitter gourds one after another. Keep aside.

Temper oil with kalo jeera, bayleaf and halved dry red chilli. Add the boiled dal after whisking it and let boil.

When the dal has boiled for 4-5 minutes, add the fried bitter gourds and drumsticks. Let boil for another 3-4 minutes. Adjust salt if required.

Its good for our well being.

                                                                   AAM DAAL




INGREDIENTS :
Masoor Dal : 50gm[Matar Dal is also used]
Raw Mango : 1
Salt : As required
Turmeric : 1/2 tsp
Sugar : 1/2tsp
Green Chilli : 2
Dry Red Chilli : 1
Black Mustard Seeds : 1/4tsp
Oil [mustard] : 1tbsp

METHOD :
Wash and boil the dal adding some salt and turmeric.

Peel and cut the mango into medium sized pieces discarding the seed. Wash and apply little salt and turmeric.

Heat oil in a wok. Temper oil with black mustard seeds, halved dry red chilli. Add the mango pieces and sauce for 2 minutes.

Whisk and add the boiled daal to it. Cover cook for 7-8 minutes at medium heat. Add slitted green chillies and the sugar.

Boil for another 2 minutes. Its done.

Extremely soothing during summers.
                           
                                                       
                                                                 LAUER DAAL



INGREDIENTS :
Moong Daal[split yellow daal] : 50 gm
Bottle Gourd : 1/4 of a medium one
Cumin Seeds : 2pinches
Bayleaf : 1
Dry Red Chilli : 1
Green Chilli : 2
Salt : As required
Turmeric : 1/2tsp
Coriander Leaves : 2sprig
Oil[mustard] : 2tbsp

METHOD :
Wash the daal and pressure cook upto 2 whistles adding 2 cups water, salt and turmeric.

Peel, wash and cut the bottle gourd into medium sized cubes. Rub with little salt and turmeric.

Heat oil in a wok. Temper with cumin seeds, bayleaf and halved dry red chilli.

Add the bottle gourd pieces and stir for 2-3 minutes.

Add the boiled daal. Cover cook for 8-10 minutes at low heat. Adjust salt.

Uncover and add chopped coriander leaves, slitted green chillies and sugar. Boil for another 1 minute.

During winter it tasted heavenly with addition of fresh and flavourful coriander leaves.

So these are 3 daal recipes from a Bengali kitchen.... the ultimate comfort food.



Saturday, 3 October 2015

CHANA DAL SANDESH


Keeping in tune with the ongoing festivity.... there will be  lot of sweets in making at all Indian homes, whether in India or abroad. We love sweets at any given time, we perhaps do not need any occasion to have sweets. It is our ritual or custom to celebrate with sweets. No prayer is complete without offering sweet to God. Can we say sweet sells best next to cosmetics....perhaps. We have so many sweet shops throughout the country, yet we love to prepare them at home during any occasion. Sweets and Desserts.... an integral part of our life.

Those who live abroad religiously try to follow all rituals and customs. Me too is trying my hands on some new sweets besides the common ones I do on a regular basis. There are a number of chana dal sweet recipes throughout net but these CHANA DAL SANDESH was done all by myself. I prepared them using boiled chana dal, khoya, coconut and sugar. Let us do it together.

INGREDIENTS :[for instant khoya]
Milk Powder : 3/4medium cup
Ghee : 1tbsp
Milk : 1/2 medium cup

INGREDIENTS : [for the sandesh]
Bengal Gram Dal : 1big cup
Coconut[shredded] : 1medium cup
Sugar : 1 small cup[or as par your taste]
Yellow Food Colour : 1pinch[optional]
Cardamom Powder : 1/2tsp
Cashewnuts to garnish.


METHOD :
Let us prepare the khoya first. Mix the milk powder, ghee, milk together in a bowl and microwave at high for 2-3 minutes, stirring every 30 seconds. Done.

Wash and soak the chana dal in 2 medium cups of hot water for 2 hours. Pressure cook upto 2-3 whistles. Open once cold.

Blend the dal along with shredded coconut and a pinch of yellow food colour in a blender.

Heat a wok. Pour the blended dal. Stir continuously for 10-12 minutes. Add the sugar and fold in well.

Keep stirring for another 7-8 minutes. Add the khoya. Fold in well and keep stirring till the whole mixture gets little sticky and tends to come out of the surface of the wok.

Now add the cardamom powder and mix well. Transfer to a greased plate. Level the mixture with the back of a spatula.

Once cool, cut into desired shapes and garnish with halved cashews. Can be refrigerated upto 3-4 days.




Friday, 2 October 2015

YOGURT SEMOLINA EGGLESS MUFFINS


Finally, I can say I baked these goodies without any instructions....following self and with lots of love. Yes, long time back while going through internet for an eggless cake recipe I did stop by a kind of Yogurt-Semolina cake. This time I thought let me give it a try , the fear will never go otherwise. This self trained, home cook would definitely not bake like a baker if she doesn't have that magical power in her hands. She never claims either she has. This blog was started intending to share simple, home cooked food that she knows. She gets overjoyed when people say, hey your recipes are simple, we need not go to the super market to buy the ingredients, they are at arms reach. This gives the lady utmost pleasure. With new vigour, she keeps compiling recipes on behalf of the yesteryear ladies who had far more expertise but did not get a proper platform to showcase their talent. They did not have access to modern gadgets, but patience, effort, dedication and love for what they do.

These muffins are done in less than 1hour and are just perfect with your evening tea. Done with every thing available in your kitchen, its hassle free too. Semolina, flour, yogurt, sugar, vinegar, oil, baking powder, lemon zest...these are what I used to prepare these eggless muffins. For the first time, I did the measurements independently, hence felt extremely happy and definitely was satisfied with the outcome. Let us see how we do it.

INGREDIENTS :[measuring cup to be same]
Refined Flour : 2 cup
Semolina : 1cup
Plain Yogurt : 1cup
Sugar : 3/4cup
Baking Powder : 2tsp
Vinegar : 1tbsp
Oil : 3/4cup
Lemon Zest : 1tbsp[of 1 lemon]
Raisins to put on top[optional]

METHOD :
Preheat oven at 200*C.

Take the flour, semolina, baking powder in a bowl and mix very well.

In another bowl, mix together sugar, oil, vinegar, yogurt very well.

Now add the flour mix to the liquid batter and just mix all together. DO NOT BEAT.

Add the lemon zest to the batter.

Pour into each muffin cup till half and top with 2-3 raisins. They look as below.



If you are pouring directly into muffin trays, then grease the cups with little oil.

Bake at convection mode for 15 minutes at 200*C.

They are done. The measurement yielded 24 muffins. If you are doing in an OTG, please adjust temperature accordingly. Finally, they look as below, enjoy with your tea.