Monday, 30 November 2015

MIXED DAL DAHI VADA




Weekly once I crave for a chaat, of late I have been tuned that way. My men are not chaat lovers, I do it for myself and my help. Her Filipino taste buds got adapted to Indian Cuisine so fast, I should get some credit for that. Back home, my mom loves them. Whenever we went out, we would hop into the eateries and have a platter of chaat or Dosa or Idli. Then, I may not have loved these so much but now I do. It is quite for sometime I did not prepare Dahi Vada at home, I have  2 bottles of homemade Date-Tamarind Chutney and Green Chutney following few friends' recipes, sev too, so why delay?

Usually we do the vada with urad dal. This time I did with a mix of urad, moong, masoor, chana, adding few spices. They tasted well with an addition of generous amount of yogurt and chutney. Let us do it.

INGREDIENTS :[for the vada]
Urad Dal : 1/2 medium cup
Masoor[red lentil] : 1/4 medium cup
Moong Dal : 2tbsp
Chana[Bengal Gram] : 1tbsp
Cumin Powder : 1/2tsp
Coriander Powder : 1/2tsp
Red Chilli Powder : 1/4tsp
Turmeric Powder : 1/4tsp
Cumin Seed : 1/4tsp
Salt : As Required
Oil : 100ml[to fry]

INGREDIENTS :[final assembling]
Plain Yogurt : 200gm
Salt : 3pinches
Sugar : 1/2tsp
Chaat Masala : 1/2tsp
Red Chilli Powder : 1/2tsp
Date-Tamarind Chutney : 1/2small cup
Green Chutney : 1/4small cup
Sev : 2tbsp
Chopped Coriander Leaves : 1tbsp

METHOD :
Wash and soak the dals in hot water for 1-2 hours. Drain the water and grind to a coarse paste in a blender.

Add cumin powder, coriander powder, salt, turmeric powder, chilli powder and cumin seeds.

Heat oil in a wok. Simultaneously boil half a vessel of water and switch off. Fry the vadas in batches and drop in the water. Take out after 5 minutes. This gives them sponge like consistency.

Keep the vadas on tissue papers to get rid of the excess oil. Beat the yogurt adding salt and sugar.

In a plate, arrange the vadas. Pour the yogurt. Add the date-tamarind chutney and green chutney. Sprinkle chaat masala, red chilli powder and the sev on top. Add chopped coriander at last.

Serve chilled. Enjoy!!

















Sunday, 29 November 2015

MURGH PULAO


On days when I do not feel like spending much time in the kitchen, I choose this type of recipes to be cooked. Less time spent in the kitchen with happier faces at the dining table. The carnivore duo at home are not very fond of rice, but when they get to see meat in the rice, they happily have it. They prefer one-pot meals, specially the senior does not want me to spend much time in the kitchen. I love being in the kitchen though there are days when I love doing such smart cooking.

Yesterday was such a 'no mood in cooking' day. So, I planned to  prepare this Murg Pulao and serve it with raita and salad. Incorporating cucumber, tomato, carrot in the raita makes the whole platter a wholesome and tasty one. I prepared the pulao in the most simplest way with few spices. Lets see how we do it.

INGREDIENTS :
Chicken : 500gm
Rice[long grained] : 1big cup
Cashew : 8-10[halved]
Raisins : 8-10
Ginger Paste : 1tsp
Garlic Paste : 1tbsp
Onion[sliced] : 1big
Lemon Juice : 2tbsp
Cinnamon Stick : 2one inch
Green Cardamom : 2-3
Cloves : 2-3
Cinnamon Powder : 2pinches
Cardamom Powder : 2pinches
Cloves Powder : 1pinch
Red Chilli Powder : 1tsp
Turmeric Powder : 1tsp
Salt : As Required
Bayleaf : 3-4
Oil : 3tbsp
Ghee : 1tbsp +1tsp

METHOD :
Wash the chicken pieces and marinate with salt, turmeric powder and lemon juice. Keep aside for 1hr.

Wash the rice and soak in water for 1/2 an hour. Drain the water.

Take a heavy bottomed vessel. Heat 3tbsp oil and 1tbsp ghee together. Saute the cashews and raisins for 1 minute and take off. Temper with bayleaves, cinnamon sticks, green cardamoms, cloves.

Add the onion slices and fry till brown. Add the ginger-garlic pastes and saute for 2 minutes. Add salt, turmeric powder and chilli powder. Stir for 1/2 a minute.

Add the marinated chicken, fold in well. Cover cook for 10-15 minutes stirring at regular intervals. Add the cinnamon, cardamom and cloves powder. Stir.

Add the rice, fold in well and keep stirring for 3-4 minutes. Add 2 cups water using the same cup that measured the rice. Add little salt if required.

Cover cook at medium to low heat for 10-12 minutes. When the rice is 80%done, add 1tsp ghee, the fried cashews and raisins. Lightly mix with a ladle. Turn off gas after 2 minutes. Let it stand for 10-15 minutes. Shake well before serving.





Friday, 27 November 2015

EGG MAHARANI


Some day, somewhere I have read that a community in the North-East region of India prepares an egg curry using lentils along with other spices. The rest I managed to forget, neither did I attempt to look for the exact recipe in the net. Yesterday I planned for an egg curry and wished to incorporate some dal protein, making the dish wholesome and flavourful too in the process. I purposefully did not look for the original recipe, I wished to prepare it in my own way with the apparent idea I had of it.

In such a scenario, what I find tough is naming the dish. I cannot think much and named it Egg Maharani, given its unique taste and flavour. Here, the whole garam masalas are dry roasted and boiled with lentils and made into a paste, sautéed in oil with other spice mix to prepare the gravy for the eggs. Let us do it.

INGREDIENTS :
Egg : 8
Tomato : 1
Onion Paste : 1tbsp
Ginger Paste : 1tsp
Garlic Clove : 2
Bengal Gram Dal : 1tsp
Moong Dal[skinless] : 1/2tsp
Masoor Dal[red skinless] : 1/2tsp
Cinnamon Stick : 1two inch
Green Cardamom : 2
Clove : 2-3
Black Pepper[whole] : 1/2tsp
Cumin Seed : 2pinches
Cumin Powder : 1/2tsp
Red Chilli Powder : 1/2tsp
Turmeric Powder : 1tsp
Salt : As Required
Garam Masala Powder : 1/4tsp[optional]
Cashews[halved] : 5-6
Raisins : 7-8
Oil : 3tbsp

METHOD :
Boil the eggs in enough water adding little salt. Once cold, clear off the shell. Slit little on both ends and rub with little salt.

Wash and soak the lentils in hot water for 2hrs. Dry roast the cinnamon stick, green cardamom, cloves, black peppers and garlic cloves together.

Wash and cut the tomatoes, discard the seeds. In a pressure cooker put together the tomato pieces, roasted spices, the dals straining the water. Add little salt and half cup water. Pressure cook upto 2 whistles. Let cool.

Once cool, blend the dal mix into a paste. Heat oil in a wok and fry the eggs, keep aside. Temper the same oil with cumin seeds. Add the cashews and raisins. Fry for 1/2 a minute.

Add the onion paste and fry for 2 minutes. Add the ginger paste and fry for 1-2 minutes. Add the dal mix and saute for 3 minutes. Add the cumin powder, red chilli powder, salt and turmeric. Stir well for  1/2 a minute and add 1 medium cup water.

As the gravy comes to boil, add the egg pieces and let cook at low heat for 3-4 minutes. Add the garam masala, stir. It is done.

Serve hot with any kind of Indian Breads.


Thursday, 26 November 2015

CHINGRI KASHA


Our community is prawn lovers, just as the whole world is. We prepare it in many ways, a dry curry, at times with gravy, with different vegetables... potato, jackfruit. When we prepare it with vegetables, we choose the smaller variety, while for gravies dry or soupy, the medium or bigger ones are preferred. The soaring height of its prices have made it very difficult to have it on a regular basis, at least back in my hometown. We are unable to have what we like. Back home tiger prawns are much loved, unfortunately seen rare on the plate now.

Where I stay at present is slightly better when it comes to the price of prawns. Its sea based, so we get a wide variety of prawns in varied sizes. Moreover, my men love them, so I do often. This particular preparation is done with shredded coconut and selective spices using very little water. Let us do this very easy dry prawn curry.

INGREDIENTS :
Prawn[medium sized] : 500gm
Shredded Coconut : 1small cup
Cumin Powder : 1tsp
Red Chilli Powder : 1tsp
Turmeric Powder : 1tsp
Coriander Powder : 1/2tsp
Cumin Seed : 3pinches
Ginger Paste : 1tsp
Salt : As Required

METHOD :
Clean, devein and wash the prawns thoroughly. Rub with salt and 1/2 tsp of turmeric. Keep aside.

Heat oil in a wok. Lightly fry the prawns in batches and keep aside.

Temper oil with cumin seeds. Add the shredded coconut and saute for 1 minute.

Add the ginger paste, salt, turmeric and stir for 1-2 minutes. Now add the red chilli powder, coriander powder and cumin powder, fold in well and stir for 1/2 a minute.

Add the fried prawns, fold in well and keep stirring at high heat for 1 minute. Add half small cup water. Let cook covered at medium heat till the water dries up.

Enjoy with peeping hot steamed rice.


Wednesday, 25 November 2015

VEGETABLE ROLL


A childhood favourite, we actually called it vegetable chop. Priced at 50 paisa or 1rupee then, they were considered expensive. We were denied of having them, not solely because of the price but with the same warning time and again.... they are fried in poor quality oil. I think this was the scenario at many homes. Beyond all these warnings was a greedy soul who would stand in front of 'Chop kaku's' shop and watch all the activities. A big wok full of hot oil, how skilfully the person dipped the thing in gram flour batter and dropped in the hot oil. At times the lady of the house did give in and bought her kids those fries. I remember the newspaper bags[thonga] all soaked in oil and me carefully taking out the 'chop' and giving a heavenly bite. Honestly, today me too will not allow my son to have such oil soaked stuffs.

Our mom used to prepare them at home though not regularly. I do them too when there are guests at home or on weekends to accompany with tea. Aah... home sweet home and all these small things adds up to the sweetness. This vegetable rolls I have prepared mainly with boiled beetroot, potato, green peas, roasted peanuts. Let us do it.

INGREDIENTS :
Beetroot : 2
Potato : 2
Green Peas : 2tbsp
Roasted Peanut : 1tbsp
Cumin Seed : 1/2tsp + 1/4tsp
Coriander Seed : 1/2tsp
Whole Red Chilli : 2
Cinnamon : 1two inch stick
Green Cardamom : 2
Cloves : 2-3
Salt : As required
Sugar : 1/2tsp
Bread Crumb : 1/2 cup
Refined Flour : 2tbsp
Semolina : 1/2cup
Oil : 1tbsp + 1cup[for frying]

METHOD :
Peel, wash and cut the beetroots and potatoes. Cut them and pressure cook upto two whistles. Once cold, strain the water and mash adding little salt. The water can be reserved for future use in curries or soups.

Dry roast the coriander seeds, cumin seeds, cinnamon stick, green cardamom, cloves,dry red chilli and coarsely ground them in a blender.

Heat I tbsp oil in a wok. Temper with cumin seeds. Add the green peas and roasted peanuts , saute for 1 minute. Add the mashed potatoes n beetroot and keep stirring for 3-4 minutes.

Once the mixture starts drying, add salt, sugar, the spice powder, refined flour and fold in well.

Transfer to a plate. As it cools down, add breadcrumbs. Mix well.



Shape into rolls and coat well with semolina. They look as this.




Heat a cup of oil in a clean wok. Deep fry and transfer onto a tissue paper to get rid of excess oil.




Serve hot with salad of your choice.




Monday, 23 November 2015

KASHMIRI PANEER CHAMAN


I was looking for a different paneer recipe which I have never cooked before. I landed into this recipe of Kashmiri paneer which they call Veth Chaman in the state of Jammu and Kashmir. As I came across the recipe, I was once again lost in the past. It was October, 1987 that we visited Kashmir, indeed a Paradise on Earth.Mesmerised by its picturesque beauty, I always wished to visit again with my special man but never could. Everything I saw there is still fresh in mind, even the innocence of the rural people. A basket full of apples was gifted happily, they even refused to take money. Then what did they ask in return? My mother's strip of Bindi.

What I do not remember is whether we tasted local cuisine there or not. What I always say our parents were limited in their choice of food then. What I read is this Paneer Chaman is a dish prepared by the Kashmiri Pandits of Jammu and Kashmir. I went through a number of recipes and finally adapted this recipe from mapsofindia.com. The paneer pieces are usually fried but I did not as I was trying to reduce the amount of oil consumption. Let us do it.

INGREDIENTS :
Paneer : 300gm
Tomato : 2medium
Asafoetida : A pinch
Ginger Powder : 1tsp
Fennel Powder : 1tsp
Garam Masala Powder : 1/4tsp
Kashmiri Chilli Powder : 1tsp
Red Chilli Powder : 1/4tsp
Turmeric Powder : 1/2tsp
Salt : As required
Cumin Seeds : 2pinches
Milk : 1/2 small cup
Oil : 2tbsp

METHOD :
Cut the paneer into cubes and marinate with little salt.

Cut and wash the tomatoes and discard the seeds. Prepare a tomato paste in the blender.

Heat oil in a wok. Temper with cumin seeds and a pinch of asafoetida.

Add the tomato paste and saute well for 2-3 minutes. Add salt, turmeric, ginger powder, fennel powder, Kashmiri mirch, red chilli powder and stir well for 1 minute.

Pour half cup water and let the gravy boil at low heat for 3-4 minutes.

Add the paneer pieces and milk. Cook for another 2 minutes. Add the garam masala powder. Stir carefully.

Let cook for half a minute and switch off.

Enjoy with any kind of South Asian flat bread.




Sunday, 22 November 2015

PARSHE MACHER JHAL


I google searched frantically but did not find the English name of "Parshe" fish. The Bengalis who will stop by my recipe will understand which fish I am talking about , those who love Bengali Cuisine, they will perhaps know if they regularly visit Bengali restaurants. For the rest, you can do with any small fish of your choice. This particular fish is very common among us, a common sight in any Bengali fish market. This fish has very less bones and hence very comfortable to have. We prepare plain curry with it, have it deep fried accompanied by rice and lentils or prepare a thick gravy with it from a paste made of black mustard seeds and green chillies.

The other day I got fresh Parshe in our wet market. We usually get them on weekends. I was so very happy to see them on a foreign land, that too fresh. Their price also is reasonable compared to other varieties. Always buy the smaller in size, because they taste better. Using mustard seed paste is very common among us in curries and veggies. Let us prepare this extremely easy to do Parshe Macher Jhal.

INGREDIENTS :
Parshe Fish: 6
Mustard Seed[preferably black] : 2tsp
Green Chilli : 4-5[adjust according to your taste bud]
Garlic Clove : 2[optional]
Salt : As Required
Turmeric Powder: 1tsp
Nigella Seeds[kalonji/kalojeere] : 3pinches
Oil[authentically mustard] : 4tbsp

METHOD :
Clean the stomach and the scales of each fish and wash 2-3 times thoroughly. Rub 1/2 tsp turmeric powder and salt as required. Keep aside for 10-15 minutes.

Meanwhile wash the mustard seeds thoroughly through a strainer. Put it in a blender along with green chilli, garlic cloves, little salt and water. Blend it till smooth. We get a paste like consistency. Add the rest of the turmeric powder to the paste.

Heat oil in a wok. Fry the fish in batches till brown on both sides. Do not over fry.

Temper the same oil with nigella seeds. Add the mustard paste and quick stir for 1/2 a minute. Add 1/2  cup water and let the gravy boil for 3-4 minutes at low heat. Add salt if required.

Add the fried Parshe fish carefully and let boil for another 2-3 minutes at low heat. Its done.

Transfer to a serving plate, garnish with slitted green chillies and enjoy with piping hot steamed rice.




Friday, 20 November 2015

DAHI POORI



Yesterday was a  hot day, I had to be out for a pretty long time. I craved for some chilled thing back home. It is for quite sometime I was planning to prepare Dahi Poori. Just back from the afternoon heat, I was tired, yet went ahead with it. I felt it will give me some respite from the heat. Those who stay in tropical countries, they will echo my words. As I have said earlier, my food preferences have also undergone changes in the recent years. I have started to love more of fruits, chaats and different kind of veggies. Fish.... I will always be in love with.

I largely followed Sanjeev Kapoor's recipe while doing it. For the home made crispy kachoris I went through few recipes earlier too. I was happy that I could make the crispy kachoris at home. Doing something from scratch is very satisfying. Below is the recipe of Dahi Kachori with stepwise pictures.

INGREDIENTS :[for the kachori]
Semolina : 1cup
Refined Flour : 2tsp
Salt : 1/4spoon
Baking Powder : A pinch
Oil : 1tsp + 50ml[to fry]
Water : As Required

INGREDIENTS :[for the filling]
Potato[boiled] : 2
Bengal Gram[boiled] : 1/2cup
Plain Yogurt : 1cup
Green Chutney : 1/2tsp in each kachori
Date Chutney : 1/2tsp in each kachori
Roasted Cumin Powder : 1tsp
Roasted Coriander Powder : 1tsp
Chilli Powder : A pinch on top of each kachori
Chaat Masala : A pinch on top of each kachori
Sev : 1/4tsp for each
Sugar : 1tsp
Salt : As required
Coriander Leaves[chopped] : 2tbsp

METHOD :
Prepare a hard dough using the semolina, refined flour, salt, baking powder, oil and water.

Roll into small puris as seen below.



Heat oil in a wok. Fry the puris till crisp. They look as this.



Let them cool. Make a hole in each in the middle.

Mash the boiled potatoes adding salt, cumin powder and coriander powder.

Beat the yogurt with the sugar. Take all the ingredients in separate bowls as below.



First fill the puris with mashed potato, then the boiled Bengal Gram chana, green chutney, date chutney, yogurt, sev, red chilli powder, chaat masala, chopped coriander leaves. They look as this.



Refrigerate for sometime and serve chilled.

Thursday, 19 November 2015

OMELETTE CURRY



This one is an entirely family recipe . I mean I have seen other recipes of Omelette Curries in the net but followed the family recipe here. May be later I will try them. As a child I did not like eggs. To be precise, I loved the yolk and discarded the white altogether. My brother altogether hated eggs. Preparing this Omelette Curry was my mom's trick to feed me egg protein. Keeping with tradition I too do it to feed egg to my son who does not love eggs much. The senior at home loves egg in any form except raw.

This is quite an easy recipe done with minimal ingredients. As a Bengali, the use of potato in curries is perhaps by default. You can skip it if you wish. It tastes absolutely yum with both rice or roti. It is a very quick and simple recipe that can be done on a busy week day night. Let us proceed with the recipe.

INGREDIENTS :
Eggs : 4
Potato : 1
Onion : 1
Ginger Paste : 1tbsp
Cumin Powder : 1tsp
Turmeric Powder : 1/2tsp
Chilli Powder : 1tsp
Cinnamon Powder : 2pinches
Green Cardamom Powder : 1pinch
Cloves Powder : 1pinch
Cumin Seed : 3pinches
Bayleaf : 1
Salt : As required
Oil : 1tbsp + 1/4tsp for each omelette

METHOD :
Prepare omelette with the eggs and cut them into smaller pieces.

Peel, cut, wash and cube the potatoes. Apply salt and turmeric. Slice the onions.

Heat 1tbsp oil in a wok . Fry the potato pieces till brown and keep aside.

Temper oil with cumin seeds and bayleaf. Add the onion slices and fry till brown.

Add the ginger paste, fry for 1 minute. Add the cumin powder, chilli powder, turmeric powder and salt to it and saute for 1/2 a minute.

Add the fried potato pieces and mix well. Add one cup water and bring the gravy to boil.

Let the gravy boil for 3-4 minutes. Add the omelette pieces now. Let boil for 2 minutes.

Now add the cinnamon powder, cardamom powder and cloves powder. Stir and switch off.

Serve hot with rice/chapati.



Monday, 16 November 2015

MULI KOFTA CURRY




I have seen preparing kofta with the simplest of vegetables adds a zing to the dish. Earlier kofta was not so common at Bengali homes. We perhaps have hired the idea of preparing kofta from northern India. I love it, sharing food habits is also a kind of bonding among souls within a country. A vast country like ours needs to bond at all levels.... social, political, cultural. Standing at present, I think we have become more adaptive to each other. Our ethnicity and nationality can go together without been a threat to each other.

With all these feelings strong in my heart, I love cooking dishes belonging to different states or regions of India. I did not follow any recipe while  cooking this Muli/Radish Kofta Curry. I just did it the way I felt will appeal to the taste bud of all.. The thickness of the gravy is from the peanut paste I have used. It is a no onion, no garlic recipe. Let us proceed with the recipe,

INGREDIENTS :[for the kofta]
Radish : 2medium
Gram Flour : 2tbsp
Refined Flour : 1tbsp
Nigella Seeds[kalonji] : 1/4tsp
Green Chilli : 2
Coriander Leaves : 1sprig
Salt : As required
Turmeric Powder : 1/2 tsp
Oil : 50ml[to fry]

INGREDIENTS :[for the curry]
Ginger Paste : 1tbsp
Roasted Peanut Paste : 1tbsp
Cumin Powder : 1tsp
Coriander Powder : 1/2 tsp
Chilli Powder : 1tsp
Turmeric Powder : 1tsp
Cinnamon Powder : 1pinch
Cardamom Powder : 1pinch
Cumin Seeds : 2pinches
Bayleaf : 1
Sugar : 1/2tsp[optional]
Oil : 1tbsp

METHOD :
Peel, wash and shred the radish. Boil in enough water for 5 minutes. Let cool, drain the water. Squeeze very nicely and take in a bowl.

Wash and chop the coriander leaves and green chilli. Add the coriander leaves, green chilli, gram flour, refined flour, salt, turmeric, nigella seeds to the boiled radish. Mix well and shape into balls.

Heat oil in a wok and fry them till light brown. Place them on a tissue paper to drain the excess oil.

Now keep only 1tbsp oil in the wok. Temper with cumin seeds and bayleaf. Add the ginger paste and saute for a minute. Add the peanut paste and saute for 2 minutes.

Add salt, turmeric, cumin powder, coriander powder, chilli powder and stir for 1/2 a minute. Add 1small cup water. As it comes to boil, add the kofta balls. Cover cook for 3-4 minutes. Add sugar, Cinnamon and cardamom powder and boil for 1/2 a minute. Its done.

Enjoy hot with rice or roti.







Sunday, 15 November 2015

CAPSICUM CHICKEN


If I prepare this kind of meals, there are happier faces at my home. My labour in the kitchen gets half. Then I cannot give in to that, I never can forget my roots, not even at the cost of my comfort. Cooking desi meal is also a part of being strongly rooted to my homeland, I feel. The primitive me feels very insecure if I do not cook Bengali/Indian recipes for two days in a row. Anyway, the teen at home forgot reading and writing Bengali, at least he should eat what we grew up eating. I am trying hard as long as it is possible. Nonetheless I also cook what they like too quite often.

This combination of Chicken with bell peppers and Garlic rice has been a hot favourite with my men. This Garlic rice I tasted here in Singapore in a restaurant by the seaside. Its so simple but flavourful, just frying the cooked rice in burnt minced garlic adding some light soya sauce, salt and black pepper powder. Goes well with South East Asian preparations so well. A fan of Chinese and Thai Cuisine, I so much love the number of sauces they use in their cooking. I do not have much knowledge about them, neither do I have them all in my pantry. So I prepare them with whatever ingredients I have in my kitchen and do not claim authenticity. This is too easy and quick to do, let us do it.

INGREDIENTS :
Chicken[boneless] : 500gm
Green Capsicum : 1medium
Red Bell Pepper : 1medium
Yellow Bell Pepper : 1medium[I did not have, hence skipped]
Onion : 1big
Green Chilli : 4
Garlic[minced] : 1tbsp
Ginger[minced] : 1tsp
Thai Fish Sauce : 1tbsp
Thai Chilli Sauce : 2tbsp
Cornflour : 3tbsp
Salt : As required
Vinegar : 2tbsp
Oil : 4tsp

METHOD :
Wash and cut the chicken into cubes. Marinate with vinegar and salt as required for 1-2 hours. Coat with cornflour.

Wash and cut the green, yellow, red bell peppers and the onion into cubes. Slit the green chillies.

Marinate the bell peppers with little salt.

Heat oil in a wok. Fry the chicken pieces till light brown. Drain the excess oil on tissue papers.

Add the minced ginger and garlic and stir at high heat. Add the onions and stir till translucent. Add the bell peppers and slitted green chillies. Stir at high heat for a minute. Add the chicken.

Pour the Thai fish sauce and chilli sauce. Mix well and keep stirring at high heat for 3-4 minutes. Its done.

Serve hot with Garlic rice.




Friday, 13 November 2015

FRILL FREE GULAB JAMUN


Today is Bhai Phota.... a day when all sisters pray for their brother's life long health and prosperity. This is the day I miss my brother a lot. I remember my brother was five years old when I started giving 'phota' to him[a dot on his forehead wishing him good luck, good health]. It was quite a celebration at our home then.... my brothers, my maternal uncles all together at one place, sweets, elaborate lunch menu, smell of incense, diyas, crackers in the evening..... a very pious, divine and joyous atmosphere altogether. I think of those golden days and relive the moments.

Ever since I relocated to another city, far from home, I miss my brother the most on this day. I send rakhi to him through post but no way to send phota that way. I religiously call him this day and exchange some comforting words. This is same with many a sisters I know. Thought of sharing a simple sweet made in a jiffy on this occasion. I learnt this recipe of bread gulab jamun after going through a number of similar recipes in the internet. What attracted me is the simplicity of the ingredients in doing so. Let us do it.

INGREDIENTS :
Bread : 8pieces
Milk[boiled]  : 2 cups
Milk Powder : 1tbsp
Sugar : 1 small cup + 1tsp
Baking Soda : A pinch[optional]
Water : 2 small cups
Green Cardamom : 3-4
Oil : 1cup.

METHOD :
Boil the milk for about 10 minutes stirring in between.

Cut the sides of the bread slices and dip in the milk. Take out and squeeze, keep in a wide mouthed bowl.

Add 1tsp sugar and 1tbsp milk powder. Knead very well and shape into balls.

Heat oil in a wok. Simultaneously in another burner boil 1 cup sugar with 2cups water. Add the green cardamoms to it. Cook till its sticky and switch off.

Fry the balls till brown and soak in the sugar syrup. Keep them soaked for quite sometime.

Serve hot!!


Thursday, 12 November 2015

DOI POTOL



Doi Potol..... Parwal/Pointed Gourd in a yogurt based gravy. My mother used to prepare it on an all vegetarian day or when there were guests at home to serve as a vegetarian side. Later I had it same way in my husband's side of the family. I do not know though how authentically Bengali it is. I never saw my grand moms doing it this way. May be it was a later development/inclusion in the modern homes, something different from the regular fair of chochori or aloo-potoler dalna. I thoroughly enjoy this no onion, no garlic curry with rice. It equally goes well with flat breads.

There is good use of plain yogurt in my kitchen. I feel it enhances the taste and texture of the gravy. I have not used onion or garlic in it as at Bengali homes even onion and garlic were considered as non vegetarian in those days. This curry is prepared with beaten yogurt and few spices with a tempering of whole garam masalas. Let us do it.

INGREDIENTS : 
Potol/Parwal/Pointed Gourd : 8-10
Plain Yogurt : 100gm
Ginger Paste : 1tbsp
Cumin Powder : 1tsp
Coriander Powder : 1/2tsp
Chilli Powder : 1tsp
Turmeric Powder : 1tsp
Salt : As required
Cinnamon : 2 one inch stick
Green Cardamom : 2
Cloves : 2
Bayleaf : 1
Sugar : 1tsp
Oil : 2tbsp

METHOD :
Cut the two ends of the pointed gourds and slightly slit on both ends. Peel them keeping little gap.

Wash them and apply salt and 1/2 tsp turmeric powder. Keep aside for 10 -15 minutes.

Heat oil in a wok. Fry the pointed gourds till light brown. Keep aside.

Temper oil with bayleaf, green cardamom and cinnamon. Add the ginger paste and saute well for 2-3 minutes.

Add the salt, 1/2tsp turmeric powder, cumin powder, coriander powder and the chilli powder. Stir for 1/2 a minute.

Add the beaten yogurt. Saute well for 2-3 minutes. Add 1 small cup water.

Let the gravy boil for 3-4 minutes. Add the fried pointed gourds. Stir and cover cook for another 3-5 minutes.

Add sugar, stir and let cook for half a minute. Its done.

Serve hot with rice or chapati.


Wednesday, 11 November 2015

FIERY CHICKEN


With an ardent chicken lover at home I am constantly in search of different chicken recipes. I explore through the internet to bring in variety to the dish. There is a basic problem with me though when it comes to cook a new kind of dish. All of a sudden in the evening say I select a Thai Curry to cook. I have very good quality boneless chicken, a piece of galangal, even a thai sauce, but I do not have the lemon grass. Now what? Most of the time I do not plan my dishes ahead. It all depends on my mood and the availability of ingredients in my kitchen. In such a scenario this Indian does a mix n match cooking, off course when she is not cooking an authentic Bengali dish. Now therein comes the problem of naming it because it is not an authentic one. It happened with this chicken curry too, it is similar to tikka masala but not authentic enough. So I named it fiery chicken going by its colour. My men and my little guests loved it.

For this curry, I prepared a paste with ripe tomatoes, Kashmiri chili powder, few spices and plain yogurt. Since I love colour in my dishes, I make a good use of Kashmiri Mirch in my cooking. The curry was thick, tangy and spicy. My Indian roots and taste buds does not allow me to do otherwise, even after repeated warnings from the senior at home. Let us proceed with the recipe.

INGREDIENTS :
Chicken : 1kg
Plain Yogurt : 150gm
Tomato : 4 medium or 2 big
Onion : 2 medium
Ginger Paste : 1tsp
Garlic Paste : 2tbsp
Coriander Powder : 1 tsp
Cumin Powder :  1/2 tsp
Fennel Powder : 1/2tsp
Red Chilli Powder : 1tsp
Kashmiri Red Chilli Powder : 11/2tsp
Garam Masala Powder : 1tsp
Salt : As required
Turmeric : 1tsp
Cumin Seeds : 1/4 tsp
Bayleaf : 1
Oil : 4tbsp

METHOD :
We will use small cut chicken for this curry. Wash the chicken pieces very well and marinate with 1/2tsp chilli powder, salt and turmeric and keep aside for 1-2 hrs.

Wash and cut the tomatoes, discard the seeds. Prepare a paste with tomato, yogurt, coriander powder, fennel powder, cumin powder and both the chilli powders blending all together.

Peel and wash the onions, cut small and prepare a paste.

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

Add the onion paste and saute for 2 minutes. Add the ginger and garlic paste and saute for 2-3 minutes.

Add the tomato-yogurt-spice paste. Stir for 2-3 minutes. Add the salt and turmeric. Add the marinated chicken. Stir well and cover.

Uncover and stir every 3-4 minutes. We will cook at low heat all through. This will take about 25 minutes.

Add the garam masala powder and stir well. Cook for another 5 minutes and its done.

It goes very well with both rice and chapati.


Saturday, 7 November 2015

CHIRER LADOO


I wished to prepare something easy, fuss free, simple much ahead of Diwali. Something with whatever ingredients available in my kitchen without killing much time. During this festive season we are quite busy cleaning every nook n corner of our homes, decorating them with diyas, arranging for rangoli in whatever way we can. I am so much loving roaming around the Diwali Bazaar that is held here every year, as if a home away from home. Colourful diyas, painted pots, wall hangings and all kinds of home decors are flooding the market, feels like buying them all. Besides all these we need to prepare some homemade goodies too. This time is is Chirer Ladoo/Flattened Rice Ladoo for me.

There had been the practice of preparing Chirer moya among us, grown up eating them made with whole flattened rice and jaggery. Mine is a different one, a simplified and quick one. Done with 2-3 ingredients, it can be stored without refrigeration upto 3-4 days as it is dairy-free. Let us do it.

INGREDIENTS :
Chirey[poha] : 200gm
Peanut[unsalted] : 2tbsp
Jaggery : 100gm
Sugar : 2tsp
Green Cardamom Powder : 1/2tsp
Raisin : 10-15
Ghee : 1tbsp

METHOD :
In a wok, heat the ghee. Roast the peanuts at a very low heat. They should not burn.

Add the chirey and keep stirring at low heat for 3-4 minutes. Switch off and let cool.

Grate the jaggery or crush them with a rolling pin. Wash and soak the raisins for 1/2 an hour.

In a grinder, add the roasted chirey/poha, peanuts, jaggery, sugar and the cardamom powder. Grind them to a coarse powder.

Transfer to a plate. Strain the water from the raisins and add to the mix.

Shape into round balls. If we have any problem binding the ladoo, we can rub a little ghee on our palms.

Healthy, savoury ladoos ready within an hour. Store them in a tight container.




Thursday, 5 November 2015

SHAHI PANEER


I love paneer in any form, healthy... high protein and a very good alternative to fish and meat. Buy it from a store or prepare it at home, this easy to make paneer is a saviour when one is in a hurry or does not want to spend much time in the kitchen yet want to prepare something delicious for the family. Whether its roti or rice, paneer goes well with both. I think whole of India loves it. I do not remember when actually paneer flooded Kolkata market, earlier it was chena[milk curdled at home and put to use]. Things got a little easier for our moms with all the sweet shops selling it. At least, at our home, it became easier to feed the fish loving son and daughter on an all vegetarian day.

Coming to present, my son too loves paneer. So paneer curries are regular at my home. It is versatile which we can mix and match with other vegetables or prepare a solo dish. At times when I get lethargic to go to the Indian market, I prepare chena at home and proceed. Otherwise, I always store a block in my wonder box[refrigerator]. This is a healthier version of Shahi Paneer where I used plain yogurt instead of cream. I do not use cream in my cooking. In fact, Bong cooking does not require use of cream at all. Ada- jeerey- lonkabata-dhoney guro-panchforon are what adorns our kitchen. Truth is Paneer itself was not so welcome in a typical 'Bangal Bari', but now I hope the scenario is changing. We are getting cosmopolitan, learning to accept and appreciate the new.

Let us proceed with the recipe which is, easy, quick and healthy.

INGREDIENTS :
Paneer : 200gm
Plain Yogurt : 100gm
Ginger Paste : 1tsp
Onion Paste : 2tbsp
Cashew nut : 4-6
Raisin : 5-6
Melon seeds : 1/4tsp[charmagaj]
Poppy seed : 1tsp[if in Dubai or Singapore, then white sesame seed]
Red Chilli Powder : 1/2tsp
Salt : As required
Oil : 1tbsp
Butter : 1/2tsp

METHOD : 
Cut the paneer into your desired shapes and apply little salt.

Soak the poppy seeds in hot water for an hour. Strain. Prepare a paste with poppy seeds, cashew nuts, raisin, melon seeds adding as much water as required.

Heat oil in a wok. Add the onion paste. Saute well for 2-3 minutes. Add the ginger paste and saute for another 2-3 minutes at low heat.

Add the cashew nut-raisin-melon seeds-poppyseed paste and saute for 2 minutes. Beat the yogurt well and add to the wok. Mix well and stir for a minute.

Add the chilli powder and salt as required. Saute for 1/2 a minute and add 1 small cup water.

Let boil for 2-3 minutes. Add the paneer pieces, let boil for another minute. Add the butter and stir carefully. As it melts, switch off.

Enjoy with any kind of Indian flat bread.




Tuesday, 3 November 2015

SWEET POORI


Finally, I decided to blog on this. I really do not know any such dish exist or not because this is the result of a severe kitchen blunder. I admit, it does happen in my kitchen quite often. I am an error queen because I am forgetful and a dreamer . Hence, do blunders with measurements. On a contrast, I have seen if I am too cautious in the kitchen to do good, I do blunders too. So I try to be relaxed and casual while cooking. I do blunders and manage them too because I hate wastage of food.

So this Sweet Poori is not what I was up to. I was trying to prepare some Kamala Bhog[orange flavoured Raagullas], but ended up at this. When I was about to knead the chena[home made cottage cheese] with semolina and baking soda, I found there was still water in the chena which needed to be drained. The rasgullas are definitely going to break and I am not a person to throw away a bowl full of chena. So with some additional ingredients I landed into this dessert, which I assure sweet lovers will like. Lets do it. Since they are not Kamala Bhog, we will curdle milk with lemon juice.

INGREDIENTS :
Milk : 1lt
Lemon Juice : 2tbsp
Ice Cubes : 1small cup
Semolina[suji] : 1tbsp
Refined Flour : 2tbsp
Rice Flour : 1tbsp
Baking Soda : 1/2tsp
Sugar : 1small cup + 1tsp
Green Cardamom Powder : 1/4tsp
Water : 1medium cup
Oil : 1/2 cup to fry

METHOD :
Pour the milk in a heavy bottom vessel. Put on gas and bring to boil stirring constantly. Switch off and add the lemon juice. As the milk curdles, add the ice cubes. Let cool.

Strain the cheese through a white piece of cloth and hang for 40-45 minutes for the excess water to drain. Reserve the whey water for future use.

Take the cheese/chena in a big bowl. This where I did a mistake, I took out the chena when there was still water. This is how I managed.

Add 1tsp sugar, the rice flour, refined flour, semolina, baking soda, green cardamom powder to the chena and start kneading.

Simultaneously, take the water and 1cup sugar in a vessel and boil till it reduces to 1/4 of the original quantity and gets sticky. We do not need  much of sugar syrup as we will dip the pooris in it and take out.

We will knead the mixture for about 12-15 minutes. Shape into small balls and with rolling pin we will make poori like roundels dusting little flour.

Heat oil in a wok. Fry the pooris both sides each at a time at moderate heat. Dip each one in the syrup and take out, arrange in a plate. Have it fresh and warm.

If you have a sweet tooth, you can pour the remaining sugar syrup on the pooris while serving.


Monday, 2 November 2015

SHUKTO


SHUKTO.... the quintessential  Bengali mixed vegetable curry we have grown up eating. A normal five course Bengali meal comprises of shukto, dal n bhaja, tarkari, marcher jhol and chatni. Now a days we do not have time for such elaborate cooking everyday, but we do at least 2-3 of them in turns. Shukto has become an week end affair considering the amount of veggies we need to cut. Yet its absolutely worth it, all nourishment in one bowl, health loaded.

I remember, I hated veggies as a teen. Mom used to mash up all vegetables with  rice and force feed me. Perhaps so today I feel mom's Shukto tasted so heavenly, being feed with love. Today I love it. A bowl of steamed rice topped with Shukto with some lemon juice squeezed on it seems perfect for me. I visit all the way to the Indian market to get the veggies required for it which are quite a number. Authentically, we do not use turmeric powder in this dish but I added a little to give a touch of colour to it. Let us start with it. The only thing missing here is bori which I don't have at this moment.

INGREDIENTS :[The Vegetables]
Drumsticks : 2
Long Beans : 2
Raw Banana : 2[medium]
Ridge Gourd : 2[medium]
Bitter Gourd : 2[small]
Egg Plants : 2-3[small]
Sweet Potato : 2-3[small]

INGREDIENTS :[The Spices]
Wild Celery Seeds[Radhuni] : 2-3 pinches
Mustard Seeds Paste : 1tsp
Panchphoron Guro[powder] : 1/2tsp [ A powder made from equal amount of fennel, cumin, nigella, fenugreek,wild celery seeds]
Bayleaf : 1

INGREDIENTS :[The Final Cooking]
Salt : As Required
Turmeric Powder : 2 pinches[optional]
Milk : 1/2 small cup
Sugar : 1/2tsp[optional]
Oil : 1tbsp
Ghee : 1/2tsp

METHOD :
All vegetables need to be cut and kept in separate bowls because we will fry each separately and add to the curry at different stages.

Cut the drumsticks and long beans lengthwise.

Peel the raw banana, sweet potato and ridge gourd. Cut them lengthwise after being halved.

Cut the egg plants into halves and the bitter gourds small.

Wah them and rub salt in them. Heal oil in a pan , fry all the vegetables separately and keep aside.

Temper oil with wild celery seeds and bayleaf. Add the drumsticks, stir and cover cook for 3 minutes.

Add the long beans, raw bananas and sweet potato pieces, stir and cover cook for 3-4 minutes.

Add the ridge gourd pieces, salt, turmeric and the mustard paste. Stir carefully and cover cook at low heat for 2 minutes.

Remove cover and add 1 medium cup water. Let boil for 2-3 minutes. Add the powdered panchphoron, milk and sugar. Let boil for 3-4 minutes.

Add the fried bitter gourd and egg plant pieces, stir carefully. Add the ghee on top and switch off.

Enjoy with steamed hot rice.