Monday, 29 February 2016

PANEER STUFFED BREAD ROLLS



Weekend evenings calls for some snacking with tea if we are at home. A late lunch, lazy late afternoon nap and then.... ohh we are not going out, then let me prepare something. I do the planning in the morning though as soon as we are sure we have no invitations, we are not going out and just relax at home. The lazy team finally have their tea and snacks around 7:30 pm. Then comes the final verdict.... we will not have dinner. The uber cool, crazy family have their music system and television on together. The quieter lady of the house  urges can we play one at a time. The junior takes advantage of the whole situation and skips his studies. In a whole, these are the moments that are making memories, beautiful ones. The lady loves weaving memories..... had there been enough vocabulary, she would have penned down a memoir.

I had some paneer and thought let me do something else with it instead of a curry. I found bread roll as a nice option. You can see I did not do much fancy with the shape, I wished to be relaxed in doing the thing.The preparation time was not so long and the snack was yummy that much I can assure you. It was done with ingredients we have in our kitchen all the time. I have captured the preparation stepwise. Let us do it. The very very middle class lady retained the bread slice borders to saute with veggies and have it, she does not serve this to her men though. She loves to flaunt what she believes in.

INGREDIENTS :[for the filling]
Paneer : 150g[crumbled]
Potato : 2medium[boiled and mashed]
Green Chilli : 3[chopped]
Onion : 1medium[sliced]
Green Pea : 1/2medium cup
Turmeric Powder : 1/4tsp
Cumin Powder : 1/2tsp
Coriander Powder : 1/2tsp
Cinnamon Powder : 1/4tsp
Cumin Seed : 1/4tsp
Sugar : 1/2tsp
Salt : As required
Oil : 2tbsp

INGREDIENTS : [for the coverage and frying]
Bread Slices : 16[borders cut]
Water : A bowl full of
Oil : 100-150 ml[left overs can be used later]
Tissue Paper : To soak excess oil from the fries

METHOD :
Let us prepare the filling first. Heat 2tbsp oil in a wok and temper with cumin seeds. As they splutter, add the sliced onions. Fry till golden brown. Add the green peas and saute for 2 minutes. Add the mashed potato, sprinkle salt, mix well. Stir for 2 minutes.

Add the crumbled paneer. Fold in well. Add the chopped green chillies, cumin, coriander, cinnamon and turmeric powders, sugar and little salt.

Mix and stir well for 2-3 minutes. Transfer to a bowl and let cool.

Take the bread slices and water in different bowls. They look as below.



Soak each bread slice in water and squeeze the excess water. Place some filling on the middle of a bread slice just as in the picture below.



Now put another slice on top of it as seen below.



Now carefully fold both sides and press. Press both ends too. They look as below.



Heat oil in a wok. Deep fry the rolls in batches. They look as below....



Put them on tissue papers to soak the excess oil before serving. Serve hot with choice of your sauce, chatni, salad.


Friday, 26 February 2016

SEMOLINA COCONUT BARFI



Holi... the festival of colours is approaching, time for merry making and indulge ourselves in lots of sweets. Yes, the diabetic me is saying so because at times we need to set loose, and be a part of the celebration. Though, I have never played Holi in my growing up years. Our neighbourhood atmosphere was not congenial and my mom never allowed me to go out. For long Holi remained as a scary memory of drunkards banging neighbourhood doors. At the same time, I must mention these same people came for our help whenever my father got bedridden with arthritis. So it is never easy or required to judge who is good, who is not.... what is right or wrong....

After marriage, I felt a strong urge to play Holi, the Bollywood way with my man... God, once I splashed some colour on him, he scolded me so hard. I was in tears never knowing what went wrong. His skin is averse to colours. The same person spends sleepless nights when I am unwell, sailed through rough seas to keep me well, made sacrifices to keep the family well. I always look up to him with respect. I actually was transferred from my mother's lap to husband's, hence never learnt to face the adversities of life. My son, following his father's footsteps doesn't want to play Holi these days. As a child he loved to play though and used to go out with his grandparents.

Coming to this super simple yummy homemade sweet, I learnt it from my dear friend Ipsita, who is a dietician and a degree holder in Hotel Management. She is not a part of the blogging world, does a lot of fusion cooking and loves to have my Bengali dishes which has to be simple and authentic. She got me these sweet on the Vasant Panchami day. I loved them so much that I went ahead with doing them with some change. I wished to keep the semolina a little undercooked, so that it remains a bit crunchy. Hence, I used less amount of milk than recommended. Let us do it for this Holi.

INGREDIENTS :
Semolina : 1cup
Shredded Coconut : 1/2cup
Milk : 1small cup
Condensed Milk : 1/2 small cup
Sugar : 2tbsp
Cardamom Powder : 1/2tsp
Saffron : 10-12 strands[optional]
Pistachios : 1tsp[chopped] [optional]
Raisins : 1 for each barfi to garnish
Ghee : 2tbsp

METHOD :
Heat a wok. Toast the coconut for 3-4 minutes and keep aside. Warm the milk and soak the saffron strands in it.

Heat ghee in a wok. Add the semolina. Keep stirring at low heat till they turn golden yellow and gives a nice roasted aroma. Add 2tbsp sugar. Stir for a minute.

Add the milk little by little and keep stirring. The semolina will be 70-75% cooked. Add the toasted  coconut. Stir well for 2 minutes.

Add the condensed milk and cardamom powder. Stir and cook for 2-3 minutes. Transfer to a plate. Let cool and cut into your desired shape.

Garnish with saffron strands, raisins and pistachios or whichever way you use. You can refrigerate up to 2-4 days.


Wednesday, 24 February 2016

MALVANI CHICKEN CURRY



Malvani Cuisine is the cuisine of the Konkan region of Maharashtra and Goa and some parts of West Karnataka. Malvan is a town in the west coast of Maharashtra. Being a coastal area in Konkan, Malvani cuisine uses lot of coconut in its cuisine..... whether its grated, dry grated, fried, coconut paste and milk. Besides they use spices like dry red chillies, coriander seeds, peppercorns, cumin seeds, cardamom, ginger, garlic, other garam masalas. Kokum, dried kokum, tamarind and raw mango are commonly used in their cuisine. Fish dishes dominates their cuisine being a coastal region. Once I  got to know their cuisine is hot and spicy, I would love to explore more of their dishes.... the fish ones definitely.... in future.... At this moment I am not really satisfied with the informations provided by the wiki.... wishing to read more about the place, its culture and cuisine. So including this too in my long wish list, let me proceed with the recipe.

My pick today is Chef Aditya Bal's Malvani Chicken. I just came across his recipe the other day and loved the assortment of spices he used. At a glance, I understood it will be extremely flavourful and tasty. It definitely was. Just use less amount of dry red chilli if you do not want it hot. I did follow his recipe but did not keep the iPad open once I proceeded with it. I feel that spoils the food and the mood. Let us cook with a stress free mind always. So long I am not claiming authenticity of a dish, how does it matter if I forget to add one spice or include one new. What is more important is how much love and care I am putting into it, so that the outcome is tasty and good looking.

INGREDIENTS :
Chicken : 1kg
Shredded Coconut : 1/2 medium cup + 2tbsp[for garnish but I skipped]
Green Chilli : 2
Ginger : 1tbsp small cut
Garlic : 6-7 cloves
Bayleaf : 1
Cinnamon Stick : 2 two inch
Green Cardamom : 2-3
Black Peppercorns : 8-10
Nutmeg : 1/2[I skipped]
Cloves : 4-5
Coriander Seeds : 1tsp
Cumin Seeds : 1/2tsp
Red Chilli : 4
Onion Paste : 2-3 tbsp
Coriander Leaves : 1tbsp[chopped for garnish]
Turmeric Powder : 1tsp
Salt : As required
Lemon Juice : 2tbsp[my inclusion]
Oil : 4-5tbsp

METHOD :
Wash the chicken pieces and marinate with lemon juice, salt and half tsp turmeric powder for 45 minutes to 1 hour.

Dry roast the bayleaf, green cardamom, cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, coriander and cumin seeds, dry red chilliies and dry grind to a coarse powder.

Prepare a paste of ginger, garlic, shredded coconut and the green chillies adding little water.

Heat oil in a wok. Add the onion paste and stir for 2 minutes. Add the spice paste and stir for 2-3 minutes.

Add the spice powder and stir for a minute or 2. Add the turmeric powder n stir. Add the chicken pieces without the marinade. Stir at high heat for 3-4 minutes. 

Add the marinade and fold in well. Lower heat to minimum and cover. Uncover and stir every 3-4 minutes. Once all the water dries up, add a cup of water. Let cook for 3-4 minutes.

Transfer to a bowl and garnish with fresh coriander leaves and shredded coconut[I skipped].





Monday, 22 February 2016

DAHIWALI GOBI / CAULIFLOWER IN YOGURT SAUCE



Though cauliflower is available round the year now, it is essentially a winter vegetable. It has an enhanced taste in winter, though nothing equates the taste of the ones that were once grown without chemical fertilisers. Though we get the organic ones as alternatives. Looking at the price differences between the normal and the organic ones, I do not always buy them. During this period of the year I usually prepare this vegetable the most, rest of the year in turns.

I remember if there was any celebration or prayer/pooja at home mid year, mom would search for cauliflower throughout the market, may be to impress God or guests. Pilaf with Cauliflower curry was a preferred choice at home. Ever since I have started blogging, I can see cauliflower is universally loved. My love for it matches with many and there are so many ways of cooking it. This cauliflower in yogurt sauce is cooked in different parts of India, I have done it in my own way. What I can boast of is that I boiled the cauliflower pieces a little and then roasted them before putting them in the curry. This way the dish was done in much less oil. Let us do it.

INGREDIENTS :
Cauliflower : 1big
Plain Yogurt : 150-200gm
Onion : 1big[sliced]
Melon Seeds : 1/2tsp
Ginger Paste : 1tbsp
Turmeric Powder : 1tsp
Chilli Powder : 1tsp
Cumin Powder : 1tsp
Coriander Powder : 1tsp
Garam Masala Powder : 1tsp
Green Cardamom : 2-3
Cinnamon Stick : 1 two inch stick
Clove : 3-4
Cumin Seeds : 2pinches
Bayleaf : 1
Salt : As required
Oil : 2tbsp + 1tbsp

METHOD :
Cut the cauliflower into medium florets. Wash them thoroughly. Marinate with salt . Put them in a microwave safe bowl, add water and microwave at high for 4 to 5 minutes. Let cool.

Drain the water. Marinate the cauliflower pieces with little salt and 1tbsp oil. Grease a baking tray and place the pieces on it in one layer. Bake for 20-25 minutes at 250*C in a pre heated oven. They will be light brown in colour.

Prepare a paste of the melon seeds adding 1-2 tbsp yogurt. Add it to the rest of the yogurt and beat well. Keep the ginger paste and other spices ready.

Heat oil in a wok. Temper oil with bayleaf, cinnamon stick, cardamoms, cloves, cumin seeds. As they splutter, add the sliced onions. Fry them till golden brown.

Add the ginger paste and fry for a minute. Add the yogurt mix. Stir for 1- 2 minutes. Add the cumin, turmeric, coriander and red chilli powders. Saute for 1/2 a minute and add 1big cup water.

Cover and let it boil for 2 minutes. Add the cauliflower pieces, cover again and boil at low heat for 3-4 minutes. Uncover and add the garam masala. Stir and boil for another minute. Its done.




Friday, 19 February 2016

A VEGETARIAN PLATTER WITH TADKA DAL, CHOLE AND NO YEAST BHATURE



A north Indian platter done in a Bengali kitchen. During my journey of life, I came across many a people of different states of India, the foodie in me adapted a taste for different kind of cuisine. Besides, staying in Kolkata and not loving and tasting the variety of food there is not possible. The people there loves food and will not think twice to taste them.... from the streets to the fine dining. I think this applies to whole of India. My tasting of different food, other than Bengali started at a quite young age when I used to go out with mom for shopping and she would buy me them.

This chole and bhature thing is very popular in Kolkata. My brother too likes it. So northern India featured in our Bengal kitchen quite often. Now, my sis-in-law too loves it, so the combo feature in their lunch box on a regular basis. I had the best tadke wali dals perhaps in the dhabas while touring Rajasthan by road. They perhaps make the best tandoori roti too. I compiled the three recipes together because I felt they make a very good vegetarian platter. My strictly non vegetarian men love to have them too.  So let us do them one by one.


                                                                     TADKA DAL



INGREDIENTS :
Green Moong : 1 cup
Tomato : A big
Onion : 1 big[sliced]
Green Chilli : 3-4[slitted]
Minced Garlic : 1tbsp
Minced Ginger : 1tsp
Red Chilli Powder : 1tsp
Turmeric Powder :  1tsp
Garam Masala : 1tsp
Cumin Seed : 1/4tsp
Salt : As required
Oil : 3-4tbsp

METHOD :
Soak the dal in enough hot water for 2 hours. Pressure cook up to one whistle adding a little turmeric powder, chilli powder and salt. Let cool.

Heat oil in a wok. Temper with cumin seeds. Add the minced garlic and ginger. Fry for a minute. Add the sliced onions. Fry till brown. Wash, chop and add the tomatoes. Saute till it melts.

Add the slitted green chillies, turmeric powder, red chilli powder, salt. Give a stir and add the boiled dal. Add a cup of water. Let boil for 3-4 minutes. Add the garam masala and boil for another minute.

Serve hot.

                                                                       CHOLE



INGREDIENTS :
Chickpea : 200gm
Tomato : 2medium[chopped]
Onion : 1big[sliced]
Ginger Paste : 1tsp
Garlic Paste : 2tsp
Green Chilli : 3-4[slitted]
Coriander leaves : 2sprig[chopped]
Chole Masala : 1tbsp[ I use store bought]
Chilli Powder : 1tsp
Cumin Seeds : 1/4tsp
Turmeric Powder : 1tsp
Salt : As required
Oil : 3-4 tbsp.

METHOD : 
Soak the chickpeas in enough water overnight. Next morning drain the water, wash and pressure cook them in enough water up to 3 or 4 whistles adding little salt and turmeric. Let cool.

Heat oil in a wok. Temper with cumin seeds. Add the garlic paste and fry for 1-2 minutes. Add the sliced onions. Fry till brown. Add the ginger paste and fry for 2-3 minutes. Add the chopped tomatoes. Salute for 2 minutes.

Now add the turmeric, red chilli and chole masala powders, salt and stir for a minute. Add the slitted green chillies and the boiled chickpeas. Fold in well. Add a medium cup of water. Cover cook for 3-5 minutes. Add the coriander leaves, stir, switch off.

I do not always have amla powder, so my chole is never black, as authentic.

                                                        NO YEAST BHATURE


  
INGREDIENTS :
Refined Flour : 2 cups.
Semolina : 1/4 or 1/2cup
Plain Yogurt : 150gm
Salt : As required
Sugar : 1/2tsp
Baking Soda : 2pinches
Oil : 150ml + 2tbsp


METHOD :
Take the refined flour, semolina, salt, sugar and baking soda in a bowl and mix together very well. Add the oil and rub well for 2 minutes.

Beat the yogurt. Add to the flour little by little and knead well till a soft dough is formed. Cover with a moist cloth and keep for 3-4 hours.

Remove cover, again knead for 3-4 minutes. Make medium sized balls. With rolling pin and base roll them into round poori.

Heat 150 ml oil in a wok. Fry the poori each at a time. If we want our bhature white, we have to change the heat constantly while frying.

Isn't that a nice vegetarian platter when served with some salad....





Wednesday, 17 February 2016

LABRA .... A MEDLEY OF ASSORTED VEGGIES





Labra, Khichhuri[khichdi], Chutney, Payesh... a complete BHOG[offering to God] platter on the occasion of Saraswati Puja[Goddess of Education]. Usually held in the month of February, it is also jokingly called Bengal's Valentine's Day. Yellow is the colour theme of this puja perhaps signifying the onset of spring. To me, the best part of this puja was that we did not have to study on that day. One more attraction was getting to wear mom's saree, a yellow one. On that day mom allowed to go out with friends alone for pandal hopping. It was then the Valentine things happened, pairs of eyes meeting, exchange of few words. Is it so till now.... I do not have any idea. By the time we went to junior college, we earned some freedom. Yet mom deployed my senior to escort me for the day. He, me with few other friends would attend puja at home, have prasad, then start pandal hopping and finally sit down for a movie. So beautiful were the days, all stored in my memory card.

I can write pages assorting the memories of this particular occasion, but I am too lazy to put them into words, or may be I have limited vocabulary. In short, we woke up early in the morning, mom applied a paste made of fresh turmeric, neem leaves, mustard oil all over our body. After taking shower, helped mom a little bit with the arrangement of puja. Once it was over by 12pm, had our bhog, then free to roam with friends till evening. Nevertheless to forget the joy of buying the idol the previous evening. Mom always used to take me with her as I was very choosy about the selection. So this labra with khichuri, payesh and chutney was a staple on this day. I try to follow the tradition till date. Sharing the recipe of labra with all of you as is done in our family.... Khichuri recipe I already have compiled earlier, so skipping this time.

INGREDIENTS :
Pumpkin : I/2 of a small one.
Spinach[Malabar] : A bunch
Sweet Potato : 3-4
Long Beans : 5-6
Radish : 2small
Banana Plaintain Stem : about 500 gm in weight
Green Chilli : 4-5[slitted]
Egg Plant : 1big
Turmeric Powder : 2tsp
Red Chilli Powder : 1tsp
Cumin Powder : 1tsp
Bengali Panchphoron : 1/2tsp[ an equal amount of fennel, cumin, nigella, wild celery and fenugreek seeds taken together]
Dry Red Chillies : 2-3[halved]
Bayleaf : 2
Sugar : 1/2tsp
Salt : As Required

METHOD :
All the vegetables need to be cut and kept separately to be added at different stages of the cooking. Peel and cut the pumpkin into medium cubes. Peel and cut the sweet potatoes lengthwise after been halved. Roughly chop the spinach.

Peel and half the radish and then cut lengthwise. Eggplants to be cut into smaller cubes. Cut the long beans inchwise. We need to throw the outer cover of the banana stem and take the younger part only. Cut both ends and make smaller and thinner cubes.

Wash and keep all the veggies separately. Rub them with salt and turmeric. Keep aside for few minutes.

Heat oil in a wok. Temper with bayleaves, halved dry red chillies and panchphoron. Add the radish and banana stem pieces first. Stir, cover and cook for 5-6 minutes.

Add the pumpkin,  sweet potato and long bean pieces. Let cook for 3-4 minutes. Add the spinach and the eggplant pieces. Add the green chillies, red chilli powder, cumin powder. Stir all and cover cook for 4-5 minutes stirring every 1 minute.

Add the sugar and little salt if required. Fold in well and cook for another minute till all water released dries up.

We do not need to add water to it as it is cooked in the water released by the vegetables themselves.

Serve with Khichuri/Khichdi and chutney.



Monday, 15 February 2016

A SPICY AFFAIR WITH FISH AND VEGETARIAN FRIED RICE





This is something I love doing and can do it with all confidence. I feel what we love to eat, we love to cook too and tend to do it perfectly. Grown up on humble bowls of curry and rice, I am comfortable  doing it putting in all my heart into it. My problem is my not so fish loving son who wants chicken every day at every meal. The typical Bengali in me cannot accept it. The problem of this generation kids is that they want everything ready and easy in a platter. He will have fish only when it is boneless, fried or in a slightly differently done curry. If accompanied by a fried rice, my men will love it more. This way my time and energy is also saved. Accompanied by a serving of salad it is a complete meal but unfortunately my men skips the salad part.

I could not give any particular name to this fish curry because I did not follow any particular recipe or cuisine in doing so. I wished to prepare a Thai curry, discovered I am running out of lemon grass. So preferred going ahead with whatever was available in my kitchen. The curry was flavourful, a bit rich.... Compiled together both the recipes. Let us do it together.

INGREDIENTS :[for the fried rice]
Basmati Rice : 1cup
Carrot : 1small
Green Peas : 1/2 small cup
Sweet Corn : 1/4small cup
Green Chilli : 2
Cashews : 8-10
Cinnamon stick : 2 two inch each
Green Cardamom : 4-5
Cloves : 4-5
Bayleaf : 2-3
Salt : As Required
Sugar : 1tsp[optional]
Ghee[clarified butter] : 3tbsp
Oil : 2tbsp

INGREDIENTS :[for the fish curry]
Any White Fish : 500gm[I used fillets]
Tomato : 2medium
Onion : 2medium
Coconut Milk : 1medium cup
Curry Leaves : 8-10
Garlic Paste : 1tbsp
Turmeric Powder : 1tsp
Chilli Powder : 1tsp
Kashmiri Chilli Powder : 1tsp[adds colour only]
Coriander Powder : 1tsp
Garam Masala Powder : 1tsp
Fennel Seeds : 2pinch
Mustard Seeds : 2pinch
Fenugreek Seeds : 2pinch
Salt : As Required
Gram  Flour : 2tbsp
Oil : 4-5tbsp

METHOD :
Let us do the fried rice first. Wash and soak the rice for an hour. Drain the water. Boil enough water and cook the rice in it till 60% done. Drain the water and spread the rice on a paper sheet placed on table top.

Cut the carrots into small pieces, wash, apply salt. Wash and apply salt to the peas n corns. Wash and chop the green chillies.

Crush the cinnamon sticks, cloves, green cardamom with a rolling pin.

Heat ghee and oil together on the wok. Add the crushed spices and the bayleaves. Add the cashews and lightly stir. Add the carrots and stir till it softens.

Now add the green peas, corns and chopped green chillies. Stir for a minute. Add the rice and stir first at high heat. Add the salt and sugar. Fold in well and stir for another 3-4 minutes. It is done.

Coming to the fish curry. Cut the fillets into smaller pieces. Add salt and turmeric and keep aside for 10-15 minutes. Drain the water that has been released. Add the gram flour and mix well.

Heat oil in a wok. Fry the coated fish pieces lightly. Keep aside. Temper oil with fennel, fenugreek and mustard seeds. Add the curry leaves. Stir for a minute and take out to be added later.

Peel, wash and slice the onions. Wash and chop the tomatoes. Add the garlic paste to the oil and saute till the raw smell goes. Add the sliced onions and fry till golden brown. Add the chopped tomatoes.

Once the tomatoes melt, add the turmeric, salt, coriander and chilli powders. Saute for a minute. Add the coconut milk. Let boil for 3-4 minutes.

Add the fish pieces, fried curry leaves and garam masala powder. Simmer for 1-2 minutes. If required add half small cup water.

Enjoy your meal with a serving of salad.




Sunday, 14 February 2016

A VALENTINE TREAT WITH STRAWBERRIES



Well, I named the dish so because I was up to preparing something and landed into this. It is not a cake, more of a pudding with a cake like frosting... I was not satisfied with the look of the top, hence went ahead with the butter-sugar icing... Actually I was attempting at bread cups with a strawberry filling which did not satisfy me on the midway of its preparation. The not so patient me attempted for a quicker something and trust me.... you will like this quick fix dessert for sure.

Valentine's Day was never a part of our culture, neither do I believe in any one day of celebrating love. Isn't it a life long celebration? The senior at home jokingly says it started as sales promotion strategy of Archie's in our country. He has the same view about Dhanteras... the jewellery shop's sales promotion. Anyway, I thought if people of other cultures can stop by and show interest in my regional recipes, I should also wish them with something they can identify with... We will use fresh strawberry paste, bread, a little of agar agar, egg, yogurt and sugar in this recipe.

INGREDIENTS :[for the pudding]
Bread : 4-6 slices
Strawberry : 100 gm
Plain Yogurt : 1/2 medium cup
Sugar : 1/2 small cup
Agar Agar : 1tsp
Egg : 2

INGREDIENTS : [for the topping]
Butter[softened at room temperature] : 1/2small cup
Sugar[powdered] : 2tbsp
Strawberries[fresh] : 2-3

METHOD :
Beat together butter and sugar for 5-7 minutes. Keep aside.

Cut the sides of the bread slices. Wash and chop the strawberries.

In a grinder, put together bread pieces, chopped strawberries, eggs, yogurt and sugar. Prepare a fine paste with it.

In a small bowl, take 4tbsp water, add the agar agar powder to it and mix well. Microwave for 30 seconds- 1minutes stirring every ten seconds till it becomes little sticky.

Add to the paste and mix thoroughly.

Grease a cake tin with butter. Pour the mix on it.

Preheat oven at 160*C. Place a bigger pan filled 1/4 with water.

Place the cake tin on it. Bake at 160* for 20 minutes. Let cool. Loosen the sides with a knife and take out carefully.

Do the topping with the butter cream. Halve the strawberries and decor as you wish.

Serve at room temperature or after refrigeration.




Friday, 12 February 2016

KALAJAMUN / KALOJAM



I was thinking of preparing a sweet that is hassle free , related to my homeland Bengal yet people elsewhere can identify with it. These are Kalajamuns or Kalojam which belongs to the Gulabjamun family. Though not as popular as gulabjamun, I love it very much because of my love for fried sweets. I remember mom used to scold me for this. At our home the preferred sweet option had always been Rasgulla. Rasgulla was considered a healthier choice. My choice differed. I loved kalajamun, gulabjamun.jalebi, chanar jilipi. Sweet old memories.

My reason for choosing this sweet is that I loved it a lot once upon a time. I thought let me give it a try and see how does the home made ones taste. I think I have done justice... just like the shop ones, it was a bit hard outside and soft and juicy inside. I came across some Bangladeshi sites and saw this sweet is very popular there too. I went through similar recipes of Rownak, Siddika Kabir, Khadija who are popular chefs there. I opted for Khadija's way of doing it because I had all the ingredients at home that were required in the recipe. I have provided a stepwise picture for it. Let us do it.

INGREDIENTS :[for the balls]
Milk Powder : 3/4cup
Refined Flour : 1/4cup
Semolina : 1tbsp
Ghee[clarified butter] : 1tbsp
Baking Powder : 1/2tsp
Condensed Milk : 1tbsp
Yellow Food Colour : 2pinches
Cardamom Powder : 1/2tsp
Milk : 1/2small cup
Oil : 100ml[for frying]

INGREDIENTS :[for the syrup]
Sugar : 1cup
Water : 2cups
Green Cardamom : 4

METHOD :
In a large bowl, take milk powder, flour, semolina, baking powder, yellow food colour and cardamom powder. Mix well.

Add the ghee and condensed milk to it. Rub well for 2-3 minutes.

Add the milk little by little and knead well till it becomes a dough not too hard neither soft. It will look as below.



Let it stand for 20 minutes covered with a soft cloth.

Pour the water, sugar in a heavy bottomed vessel. When it comes to boil, add the green cardamoms. Let it simmer till it gets  a light sticky consistency.

Now prepare small round balls from the dough as seen below.



Heat oil in a wok. Deep fry the balls till dark. They will look as below.



Drop the fried balls to the simmering sugar syrup. Increase the heat and let boil for 3-4 minutes. They look as below.



Switch off gas. Let the kalajamuns stand in the syrup for 10-15 minutes. Take them out of the syrup and serve fresh.


Wednesday, 10 February 2016

FOUR SIMPLE VEGGIES IN MY HUMBLE KITCHEN



Four more regular veggies from the kitchen of Bengal. Still on a tour of nostalgia, I am so strongly feeling the urge to compile such recipes which are at the threat to been forgotten soon. One of the main inspiration behind this is off course Piyali Mutha of My Tryst With Food and Travel fame whose blog is a storehouse of Indian, International recipes along with her travel experiences around the world. Latest in her blog is an awesome Bengali Vegetarian Thali, where every details of Bengali life and culture is captured, indicating we need to preserve them. For food lovers, her blog is a must visit clicking http://mytrystwithfoodandtravel.com.ae. In tune with that, me too is making a humble effort to compile what is getting lost. I am sharing them everywhere, even amidst people to whom such dishes are as strangers, anyone stopping by means my culture reached a little further. Therein lies my satisfaction.

These are very simple veggies that are/were cooked at Bengali homes. I get drenched with many a memories when it comes to such dishes. How beautifully the ladies of the house cooked them, who never knew or bothered about showcasing their talents. I remember my senior's grandma, a super active lady in her 80's some 18-20 years back cooked up wonderful vegetarian dishes with minimal ingredients and in a small stove. I am just trying to keep them alive. Hopefully the future generation will try them besides there '2 minute dinner menus'. Compiled together 4 Bengali vegetarian dishes which we will cook together now.

                                                        BADHAKOPIR GHONTO/
                                                        CABBAGE WITH POTATOES



INGREDIENTS :
Cabbage : 1small
Potato : 1big
Tomato : 1medium
Green Pea : 1/2small cup
Green Chilli : 2[slitted]
Dry Red Chilli : 1[halved]
Ginger Paste : 1tsp
Cumin Powder : 1/2tsp
Turmeric Powder : 1tsp
Cinnamon Powder : 2pinches
Cardamom Powder : 1pinch
Cloves Powder : 1pinch
Cumin Seeds : 2pinches
Bayleaf : 1
Sugar : 1tsp
Salt : As required
Ghee[clarified butter] : 1tsp
Oil : 3tbsp

METHOD :
Shred the cabbage, add enough water and little salt. Microwave at high for 5-6 minutes. Strain the water.

Wash and chop the tomato. Peel, wash and cut the potato into 8 pieces. Rub with salt and turmeric.

Heat oil in a wok. Lightly fry the potato pieces. Keep aside.

Temper with cumin seeds, bayleaf and the halved dry red chilli. Add the ginger paste, salt and turmeric. Stir for 1 minute. Add the cabbage, stir and cover. Uncover and stir every 3-4 minutes.

You will see a lot of water been released. When about 75% of water has dried up, add the tomato pieces, fried potato pieces, cumin powder, slitted green chillies. Stir and cover cook for 3-4 minutes.

Open cover, add sugar, green peas, cinnamon, cardamom and cloves powder. Stir and cover cook for 2 minutes. Open cover, garnish with ghee. Switch off....

Goes well with both rice/roti.


                                                         OLER DALNA/YAM CURRY




INGREDIENTS :
Ol[suran/elephant foot yam] : 250gm
Ginger Paste : 2tsp
Cumin Powder : 1tsp
Coriander Powder : 1/2tsp
Red Chilli Powder : 1tsp
Turmeric Powder : 1tsp
Cinnamon Powder : 2pinches
Cardamom Powder : 1pinch
Cloves Powder : 1pinch
Cumin Seed : 2pinches
Salt : As Required
Bayleaf : 1
Ghee : 1tsp
Oil : 2tsp

METHOD :
Cut the big chunk of yum into small cubes. Wash them and rub with salt and turmeric.

Heat oil in a wok. Fry the yam pieces in batches. Keep aside.

Temper the same oil with a bayleaf and cumin seeds. Add the ginger paste and fry for 1-2 minutes.

Add cumin powder, salt, turmeric, coriander powder, chilli powder. Saute for 1/2 a minute. Add the fried pieces of yum. Fold in well and stir for a minute.

Add a cup of water. Boil for 3-5 minutes. Add cinnamon, cardamom, cloves powder, ghee and cook for another 1 minute.

Serve hot with steamed rice.

                                                       
                                                           MORSHUMI TARKARI/
                                                           SEASONAL VEGGIES



INGREDIENTS :
Cauliflower : 1medium
Long Beans : 3-4
Broad Beans : 150gm
Radish : 2small
Potato : 2 medium
Coriander Leaves : 2sprig
Green Chilli : 2[slitted]
Dry Red Chilli : 1[halved]
Turmeric Powder : 1tsp
Nigella Seeds[kalonji] : 1/4tsp
Oil : 2tbsp

METHOD :
It is called seasonal because in those days cauliflower and broad beans were available only in winter. Cut the cauliflower into medium sized florets. The long beans and radish should be cut lengthwise. Discard the skin of the radish. Cut half each broad bean. Peel and cut the potatoes into big cubes.

Wash the vegetables and rub with salt and turmeric. Keep aside for 15 minutes.

Heat oil in a wok, temper with kalonji and halved dry red chilli. Add the vegetables. Stir and cover. Put the heat at low. Stir every 2 minutes till they are done.

Add the sugar and slitted green chillies. Stir and cook for another minute. Wash and chop the coriander leaves. Add to the veggies. Stir, cook for 1/2 a minute and switch off.

Goes well with both rice/roti.

                                                                 LAU GHONTO/
                                               BOTTLE GOURD WITH CORIANDER



INGREDIENTS :
Lau[bottle gourd] : 1medium
Bori[dried lentil balls] : 7-8[you may skip]
Green Chilli : 2[slitted]
Coriander Leaves : 3sprigs
Cumin Seed : 1/4tsp
Bayleaf : 1
Dry Red Chilli : 2[halved]
Turmeric Powder : 1/2tsp
Salt : As Required
Oil : 2tbsp

METHOD :
Peel and wash the the bottle gourd. Cut into smaller pieces and shred.

Heat oil in a wok and fry the lentil balls if using. Keep aside.

Temper oil with cumin seeds and bayleaf, dry red chillies.

Add the shredded bottle gourd. Add salt. Stir and cover. It will release lot of water.

Once it is 60-70% done, add turmeric powder, slitted green chillies. Stir and cover again.

Once the water dries up completely, add the sugar, chopped coriander leaves and the fried bori broken into halves. Stir and let cook for another 1-2 minutes.

Serve with steamed rice.


Monday, 8 February 2016

RAW JACKFRUIT KOFTA/ECHORER KOFTA



Jackfruit... when raw we call it 'Echor' and when ripe it is called 'kathal'. In my parental home it is loved too much bothways. During the months of may-july, it is found in abundance at our place. At our home, we started having it as the raw ones started flooding the market. Among us its curry is cooked just as a meat curry with lots of garam masala and a dollop of ghee, lovingly calling it 'niramish pathar jhol', meaning 'vegetarian mutton curry'.

Coming to the ripe ones, it has a very strong smell. Many homes do not like it for that reason, but at our home it was/is much loved. My daddy loves it in all form. Maa used to extract the juice and prepare a kheer from it which daddy loved with puffed rice and Indian breads. I remember there were two jackfruit trees in my maternal grandparent's house. They were full of the fruits by may-june. Once they just started ripening, the biggest one would travel all the way 100 km to our home at Kolkata. We couldn't finish it before a week. Dadu[maternal grandfather] and my uncles took special care of each tree of the garden themselves. Life was so relaxed then, very different from what it is today.

Introduction of Echorer Kofta at our home was perhaps by my mother. She even used the dried seeds of ripe jackfruit in different other veggies. Here too we get jackfruit a lot, both raw and ripe. Nonetheless to say cooking it has become effortless with it been sold with the hard skin scrapped. We only have to discard the outer cover of the seeds, cut it in shapes and cook. Day before yesterday I prepared kofta curry with raw jackfruit. Let us do it.

INGREDIENTS :[for the kofta]
Raw Jackfruit : 250gm
Potato : 1medium
Green Chilli : 2
Turmeric Powder : 1/2tsp
Gram Flour : 1-2tbsp
Sugar : 1/2tsp
Salt : As required
Cumin Seed[dry roasted] : 1/4tsp
Oil : 1/2cup[to fry the koftas]

INGREDIENTS :[for the curry]
Plain Yogurt : 1medium cup
Ginger Paste : 1tbsp
Cumin Powder : 1tsp
Red Chilli Powder : 1tsp
Turmeric Powder : 1/2tsp
Cinnamon Powder : 3pinches
Cardamom Powder : 2pinches
Cumin Seeds : 2pinches
Bayleaf : 1
Salt : As Required
Ghee[clarified butter] : 1tsp
Oil : 2tbsp

METHOD :
Rub your hands with little oil to start with. We will get skinless and cubed raw jackfruit from the market. Retain the fleshy portion and cut off the rest. Take out seeds, they are to be used. Discard the yellowish cover of the seeds. Wash nicely.

Peel, wash and half the potato. Place both potato and jackfruit pieces in the pressure cooker. Add little salt and a pinch of turmeric powder. Add 1 cup water. Pressure cook up to 1 whistle. Let cool.

Discard the water, transfer the boiled vegetables to a bowl. Chop the green chillies and add to it. Add roasted cumin seed, salt, turmeric, sugar, gram flour. Mash together well with your palms. Shape as you desire and refrigerate for an hour. I do this to avoid breakage.

Take the koftas out. Heat oil in a wok. Fry both sides of the koftas till they are light brown.

Leave 2 tbsp oil in the wok and take out the rest.

Temper with a bayleaf and cumin seeds.

Add the ginger paste and fry for 2 minutes. Beat the yogurt and add. Stir for 1 minute. Add cumin powder, salt, turmeric and red chilli powder. Stir for 1/2 a minute.

Add a cup of water and bring to boil. Let boil for 3-4 minutes. Add the cinnamon and cardamom powder, ghee. Let cook for a minute.

Arrange the koftas in a serving bowl. Pour the gravy on them. Let the koftas soak in the gravy for sometime before serving.

Enjoy as you wish with rice or chapati!!




Sunday, 7 February 2016

EASY BUTTER CHICKEN



Its weekend, we do not mind spending little more time in the kitchen. These days I am perhaps loosing out on patience, always in a lookout for easy recipes that takes less time to cook. I am not to be blamed entirely for this. My family's food choices are a bit different from mine. What I love to cook is not always what they love to eat. I still do them because doing them is staying attached to my roots, which is a necessity. It is also true I want to cook those dishes that my men will happily eat. So I prepare a balanced meal which has both.... what they love and what I love.

This Butter Chicken was done very simply. I do not like using too much butter, cream, ghee in my dishes. What I cook, I eat too and I have been prescribed a restricted diet. So there is much less use of butter than usual  in this dish. Secondly, authentic Bengali cooking does not require use of these, so I am not much used to. I tried to keep the process simple. Let us do it.

INGREDIENTS :
Chicken : 1kg
Tomato : 4-5 medium
Onion : 2-3 medium
Garlic[minced] : 2tsp
Garam Masala Powder: 1tbsp
Plain Yogurt : 1small cup
Lemon Juice : 2tbsp
Turmeric Powder : 1tsp
Red Chilli Powder : 1tsp[I did not have cayenne]
Kashmiri Red Chilli Powder : 1tsp
Salt : As required
Butter : I tbsp + 1tsp
Oil : 4-5tbsp

METHOD :
Wash the chicken thoroughly and marinate with lemon juice, salt and half tsp of turmeric. Keep aside for 1 hour.

Peel, wash and slice the onions. Keep the minced garlic ready. Wash, chop the tomatoes and grind to a paste.

Heat 1tbsp butter and the oil in a wok. Fry the chicken pieces on both sides till light brown in batches discarding the marinade.

In the same oil, add the minced garlic. Fry till light brown. Add the sliced onions and fry till golden brown.

Add the tomato paste. Stir for 2-3 minutes. Add salt, rest of the turmeric and the two chilli powders. Stir for 1/2 a minute. Beat the yogurt and add. Stir for another minute.

Add 2 cups water. Boil for 3-4 minutes. Now add the fried chicken pieces. Stir and cover cook for 4-5 minutes.

Add the garam masala Powder. Cook for another 2 minutes. Add 1tsp butter, stir and switch off.






Friday, 5 February 2016

NOLEN GURER SANDESH/COTTAGE CHEESE JAGGERY FUDGE



This is an absolute nostalgia.... The amount of happiness such posts give me is immeasurable. Many will agree with me. Post forty, revisiting childhood has become a favourite pastime. Every single memory I relish, I treasure and try to reconnect. I do not know why I am so keen on that, or whether it happens to others or not. I remember every thing how much of a foodie I was and how much pampered I was for been so. Rice and fish curry was my most favourite and for my love of it I was always served the biggest piece. My adorable brother always sacrificed happily. Each memory gets me teary eyed. Sitting in the favourite corner of my couch and reliving memories is what I love doing most these days. Never that much of a social person, these days I have again retreated to my teen hood, to my quiet self. I remember neighbours telling my mom we fail to realise you have a daughter too. Maa would scold me.... behave like a social being. Next day evening back from school, I would sit in the balcony[baranda] with my favourite book so that people believe my mother has a daughter too. I do not justify my actions but I do not find words after five minutes of talking. Of all that saree clad made up bejewelled face is a sunburnt/sunkissed, quiet, stubborn girl who loves her space and wishes to be accepted the way she is.

From nostalgia to self analysis and again back to food nostalgia, these are winter treats in our region. We have grown up eating them. Usually these shapely sweets were made at home with cooked shredded coconut and jaggery/sugar mainly. This variety prepared with home made paneer[cottage cheese] is so much available in the sweet shops of West Bengal that we do not have to prepare them at home. The moulds are my prized possession on my last visit to Kolkata, got it finally at the Dakhineshwar temple ground stores. If you do not have moulds, just shape with your hands. Only two main ingredients are required to prepare this sweet.... home made paneer and date jaggery. If you do not want to use date jaggery you can substitute with sugar. I always forget to take the picture of paneer making, but people know it anyway. Let us do it.

INGREDIENTS :[for home made paneer]
Milk : 1lt
Lemon Juice : 3-4tbsp

INGREDIENTS :[for the sweet]
Paneer[Indian Cottage Cheese, Chena] : of 1lt milk
Date Jaggery[patali gur] : 100 gm
Rice Flour[coarsely ground] : 1tbsp[optional]
Ghee[clarified butter] : 1drop for each mould to grease.

METHOD :
Let me introduce you to my prized possession first... the moulds.....




 The amount of date jaggery for the paneer made from 1lt milk should be this.



Let us prepare the paneer first. Pour the milk in a heavy bottomed pan and bring to boil. Switch of and add the lemon juice. Stir and let stand for sometime. Once cool, strain through a white thin cloth. Tie and hang the cloth for about 10-15 minutes. Transfer the paneer to a bowl as below.



We need to knead it well. Add the rice flour to the paneer if you are using it. Knead well for 10 minutes. Place a wok on the oven. Switch on. Add the jaggery chunk. Add 1/2 cup water. Let it melt. Boil it for 2-3 minutes, do not let it burn. Add the kneaded paneer. Fold in well. It looks as below.



Now is the time for little patience. We have to constantly keep stirring till the mixture does not get sticky. Transfer to a bowl. Let cool.

Rub the moulds with a drop of ghee and your palms too. Take a small amount of the mixture and place on the moulds. Press lightly. Slowly loosen the sides and take out. Gently place on a greased plate. Eat fresh or can be refrigerated up to 2 days. They look as below.


Wednesday, 3 February 2016

BURMESE GOLDEN EGG CURRY


Egg curries are quite common at our home. Hence I have to look for variety in its curries. Doing the same curry everyday gets very monotonous for the cook and also for the family to eat. While surfing the net, I came across this Burmese Golden Egg Curry. What attracted me towards this recipe is the simplicity of it. That is what I love cooking... simple, rustic recipes. This golden egg curry is an adaption from Naomi Duguid's cookbook Burma: Rivers of Flavour. She is a food writer and photographer based in Toronto. She is best known for her cookbooks co-authored with her husband Jeffrey Alford.

There is another reason for picking up this recipe. Bengal had a connection with Burma. In the pre-Independent era lots of Bengalis were settled in Burma, some kind of similarities are there in the cooking. Some kind of cultural and culinary intermingling might have happened then. I have heard a lot of stories about the Bengalis in Burma from my maternal grandfather, but do not remember much now. In our school days I watched a number of Bengali movies of the fifties and sixties which has mention of Bengali lives in Burma, that severe outbreak of plague, people migrating back . Passing through this recipe I really wish to read a proper book on the history of the country. Most of the river water fish we get here comes from Burma including Hilsa, so a connection is there.

While doing up the recipe, I did few changes. I reduced the amount of fish sauce. I feel if someone does not want to use it, can substitute with soya sauce. We are always open to modifications without claiming the authenticity. I did not have shallots too, so I used sliced onions. Let us do the very simple Burmese Egg Curry.

INGREDIENTS :
Egg : 4
Tomato : 2medium[chopped]
Onion : 1medium[authentically shallots]
Garlic : 1tsp [minced]
Green Chilli : 2-3[slitted thinly]
Red Chilli Powder : 1tsp
Turmeric Powder : 1tsp
Fish Sauce : 1/2 to 1tsp
Salt : As per taste[we are using fish sauce, so accordingly use salt]
Oil : 2-3tbsp[authentically peanut oil]

METHOD :
Boil the eggs in enough water adding some salt. Once done, let cool. Rub with salt and turmeric.

Peel, wash and slice the onion. Wash and chop the tomato. Get the required amount of minced garlic ready.

Heat the oil and fry the boiled eggs till golden. Keep aside. Add the minced garlic to the oil. Fry for 1/2 a minute. Add the sliced onions and fry till golden brown.

Add the chopped tomatoes, slitted green chillies and stir till the tomatoes melt.

Add the remaining turmeric powder, salt, red chilli powder and fish sauce. Stir well. Add a cup of water. Let boil.

Add the fried eggs and cook till the gravy thickens.




Monday, 1 February 2016

SAOJI MUTTON CURRY



The Savjis or Saoji community has its origin in the Malwa region of India. They claim to be the descendants of king Sahastrarjuna and Haihaya dynasty. They lived in the north-central part of India during the 6th-13th century till the advent of Islam in northern part of India. After that the community gradually dispersed to different parts of India.

Saoji community is known for its hot and spicy non-vegetarian delicacies prepared with its special Saoji masala. This community is mainly non-vegetarian. Mutton, Chicken and Fish are an integral part of Saoji cuisin along with other vegetarian dishes. Saoji Bhojanalayas[eateries] are quite popular in places like Hubli, Bangalore, Belgaum, Nagpur, Solapur.

The master chef of India Sanjeev Kapoor once featured Saoji mutton in his show which says it all about the popularity of the dish. Week ends are for mutton and chicken. This week I picked up Saoji mutton curry to cook following Sanjeev Kapoor's recipe. I made little changes like skipping poppyseed as I stay in Singapore, added mace and nutmeg to add more flavour to the dish. I also went through other sources for the Saoji spices where use of nutmeg and mace has been mentioned. I changed the amount of the spices according to our taste buds. Let us proceed with the recipe.

INGREDIENTS :
Mutton : 1kg
Ginger Paste : 1tsp
Garlic Paste : 1tbsp
Onion : 2medium
Coriander Seeds : 1/2tsp
Caraway Seeds : 1/2tsp[shahi jeera]
Cloves : 3-4
Black Peppercorns : 12-15
Green Cardamoms : 3-4
Black Cardamom : 1
Cinnamon : 1inch
Dry Coconut : 1tsp
Mace : 1[javitri]
Nutneg : 1[jayphal]
Bay leaves : 2-3
Dry Red Chillies : 5-7[or as per your taste]
Poppyseed : 2tsp[skip if you are in Singapore or Dubai]
Stone Flower : 1[I did not have, so skipped]
Turmeric Powder : 1tbsp
Salt : As Required
Lemon Juice : 2-3tbsp
Oil : 5-6 tbsp

METHOD :
Wash the mutton thoroughly and marinate with salt, lemon juice and half of turmeric powder. Keep aside for 3-4 hours or over night is the best. Take out the mutton 1hour before cooking.

Peel, wash and slice the onions. Heat oil in a pan. Fry the onion slices till brown. Cool and grind them to a paste.

Break the nutmeg into smaller pieces. Fry the coriander seeds, caraway seeds, cloves, peppercorns, green and black cardamoms, cinnamon, dry coconut, mace, nutmeg, bayleaves, dry red chillies, poppyseed and stone flower in the same oil.

Take out from the oil, cool and grind to a paste adding water. 

Add the ginger and garlic paste to the hot oil. Fry for 2 minutes. Add the onion paste. Fry for another 1 minute. Now add the spice paste, rest of the turmeric and required amount of salt. Add the mutton without the marinade.

Fold in well and fry at high heat for 3-5 minutes stirring constantly. Lower the heat to minimum. Add the marinade, stir and cover.

Open cover and stir every 3-4 minutes. It will take about 45 minutes for the released water to dry up.

Now add 1 big cup warm water to the wok. Stir and cover cook for another 5 minutes at minimum heat. It is done.