Monday, 28 November 2016

DAL BHAPE / STEAMED LENTIL




....... and it was so easy to do.... I totally loved and enjoyed doing it. I am scared of whatever is complicated..... recipe or otherwise. Whatever is easy.... whether it is a recipe or easy going people makes me happy, gives me pleasure. Yet, I so much respect some dear people who put all their heart and soul in preparing and drafting a recipe, or may be preparing a lesson plan for their next day class or say put immense effort to be a near perfect housewife. I am none of them, rather would say I feel myself enriched been surrounded by such beautiful people. Everything seems happy happy, going to meet family and friends soon. It feels so great to be silly with your dear ones. The ones with whom I was a bit angry few days back.... I am settling meeting dates in advance with the same.... we are as silly as we had been many winters back...... the silver streaks, the under eye bags could not reach deep inside. Some of them are coming down to the city at the same time, just to sit together, giggle, do naughty talks going back to teen hood. The only glitch is that my senior is not been able to accompany me this time.... who happens to be as dear to them as much as of mine.

This typical 'kochughechu' type Bengali was so happy to discover this recipe at a friend's place last month. . Her name is Paramita Chakrabartty, a foodie herself and a fabulous cook. We were giggling all through when she was telling us the story of her daddy's diet till date which is a full 5-7 course typical Bengali meal. I could suddenly connect with it as we have seen in our family years back. A fat wallet? colourful home decor? gadgets? decades back these were not important part of life but the food plate had to be full from Gondhoraj lebu to chutney. This steamed dal is not to be confused with Dhokar Dalna's Dhoka which was/is regular at my side of the family. This dal is prepared by totally steaming it. My friend did not use onion like me. She did with matar dal, I did with moong dal. The process was hassle free, just prepare the mix and put on steam. So it was an altogether 'dhinka chika' kind of cooking listening to my favourite numbers. This dish I dedicate to myself because my not so Bong men hardly love such things. We can save time by doing it in microwave but I am yet to try. Let us prepare this Dal Bhape or Steamed Lentil together following the stepwise pictures.

INGREDIENTS : 

Moong Dal [skinless green gram lentil] : 1big cup
Shredded Coconut : 1/2big cup
Onion : 1big[sliced]
Green Chilli : 2[chopped]
Turmeric Powder : 1/4tsp
Salt : As Required
Mustard Oil : 1tsp + As required to drizzle later

METHOD :

Dry roast the dal till it turns light brown. Wash and soak in hot water for 2-3hours. Grind to a paste adding water little by little. Transfer to a bowl.

Add the sliced onion, chopped green chillies, shredded coconut, salt and turmeric. Mix well.




Now grease a steel container with mustard oil. Transfer the dal mix to it. 




Cover the box tightly. Heat enough water in a wok. Place the steel container on the wok. 





Let it cook for 1hour 15 minutes to 11/2hour. Let cool. Take out and open cover.



Loosen the sides with a knife and turn onto a plate. Serve hot with piping hot steamed rice drizzling some mustard oil on it. Since my men are less of a Bong, and cannot have raw mustard oil, so they had with ghee.




Thursday, 24 November 2016

BIRD NEST FRIES





Fry, Fry, Fry..... You are so worth to try..... I know the health aficionados will be after me. Then we are heading towards weekend, I would keep my ears shut to what I preach. I am neighbour to a health freak couple friend who help me a lot with my diet. Though not always do I follow their valuable inputs, but yes, I always give a thumbs up to them for their self control . I love food so much so that it is impossible to follow a routine. Hence, I am far from my dream body, but then we cannot have the best of both worlds. My friend tries her best to keep me in track, wants to introduce me to her personal trainer, but I am a laid back character in all aspects. So if four days of the week is healthy eating for me, rest three days is indulgence. For my men all days are indulgent days, anything from burgers to poori / paratha with meat curries.


I got the idea of bird nest from the various food groups I am part of. This was my first attempt of doing this evening snack, I could not create a perfect shape of it. I took a safer path of doing a full covered one. My main ingredient here is yogurt because I too much love and wished to have dahi kebabs which I am yet to master at home. That thin cover making process I need to correct. So I had to take help of a dough to cover it... coat with vermicelli and deep fry. Let us do this yummy, vegetarian snack together and enjoy it with our evening tea coming weekend.

INGREDIENTS : 
Plain Yogurt : 500ml
Refined Flour : 1big cup
Gram Flour : 1/4small cup
Corn Flour : 1small cup
Green Chilli : 2-3[chopped] 
Cumin Powder : 1/2tsp 
Coriander Powder : 1/2tsp
Chilli Powder : 1/2tsp
Cumin Seed : 1tsp
Baking Soda : 2pinches
Chaat Masala : 1tsp
Black Salt : As Required
Sugar : 1/2tsp
Salt : As Required
Vermicelli : 100-150 gm
Ghee [clarified butter] : 1tbsp
Oil : To deep fry

METHOD :
We will take the yogurt in a bowl and beat well. Pour it onto a clean, white cloth and tie to the kitchen tap. Let it be like that for 2-3 hours. By then all excess water will go.

Now we will take together the refined flour, gram flour and the baking soda in a big, wide mouthed bowl and mix well.

Then add the chopped green chillies, cumin powder, coriander powder, chilli powder, cumin seeds, little salt and ghee to the flour mix. Rub well for 2-3 minutes. Add water little by little and keep kneading to form a firm dough.

Keep the dough covered for 1/2 an hour. Take the vermicelli in a plate. Prepare a batter with cornflour and little salt.

Take down the yogurt and transfer to a bowl. Add the sugar, black salt, chaat masala and mix well.

Prepare medium sized balls from the dough, fill with yogurt mix, close and flatten lightly with your palm. Now dip each one in batter and roll onto the vermicelli very well.

Heat enough oil in a wok so that we can deep fry. We will fry them in batches till both sides are brown and well done.

Transfer onto tissue paper first and then into serving plates.



Serve hot with your choice of chatni or sauce.













Monday, 21 November 2016

LIGHT RIDGE GOURD CURRY



There is a saying at my home that chillies and oil comes for free at our home. Every visiting friend has by now by hearted it perhaps. No I do not take is as an assault or criticism on me because that is not his nature except for accusing a large number of people for choosing a wrong guide of late. His research did not match the result.To that I say cool darling its not an one of case, echoing you I would say people learn from their mistakes. We are also doing the same mistake of treating someone as Godly who is actually far from it. People will either realise or struggle and juggle through / with life. Next month when I will give a big note to the poor vegetable seller, he/she will look at me with blank, painful eyes. Nothing happens to our class, we eat, merry, drink whoever holds the rein, its the lower strata of the society who suffers, always.

Coming back to the chilli and oil discussion, it is true that I love to use them generously in my cooking. I love spices actually. At times I just open the containers and smell them, oh so natural. I may sound very silly to the world, what to do I am that way. I was never smart enough to change according to other's needs..... Stubborn to the core?.... yes I am.... take me as I am or quit..... it was some 19 autumns back.... on this day a very worried mother told someone, my daughter does not understand life, she is fragile, handle her with care please..... a promise was made and kept till date....
Hopefully he is not reading this otherwise would have gone wild as to why I went public with this day after repeated requests of not to .... and the duo will always conclude mamma is such a silly thing....

This kind of light curries are an after effect of the scoldings and warnings.... S...... we need to cut down on spices and oil. This recipe of a very healthy curry with ridge gourd was learnt from a dear friend....  Piyali Mohanty..... our kids were in the same pre school. When our kids were at school, we used to sit and discuss on everything.... from films to food. A very good cook herself she told me about this healthy curry. I do not remember the exact recipe, neither did I whatsapp her for the details..... I just went ahead with it in my own way. Before I get engaged with some special cooking for the evening, I wished to share this simple, easy to do healthy and light curry with ridge gourd for all of you today. Let us do it together.


INGREDIENTS :

Ridge Gourd : 2-4
Milk : 1/3small cup
Turmeric Powder : 1/4tsp
Nigella Seed : 3pinches
Wild Celery Seed : 3pinches
Ginger Paste : 1/2tsp
Green Chilli : 2[slitted]
Salt : As Required
Sugar : 1/2tsp[optional]
Oil : 2tbsp

METHOD :

Peel and wash the ridge gourds. Cut half each one and then cut further length wise. Discard the seeds if there are too many. Apply little salt and turmeric.

Heat oil in a wok, temper with nigella seeds and wild celery seeds. Add the ginger paste and stir for a minute, now add little turmeric and salt.

Add the marinated ridge gourd pieces. Stir well and cover.

After 5 minutes, open cover and you will see it has released water and is almost done.

Add the milk and slitted green chillies, cover cook for another 2 minutes. Add sugar, stir and take down after 1 minute.

Serve hot and fresh with rice. Since we are using milk here, it is preferred to be had fresh and not refrigerate for the next day.






Thursday, 17 November 2016

FRESH FRUIT STUFFED SWEET



At our home, weekends call for a sweet and I love doing them, the simple ones though. The Indian supermarket here has an array of packaged sweets air flown from India. I do buy the dry varieties at times when there are special occasions or prayers at home. Once a friend said the sugar syrup of the tinned sweets has bacteria. Ever since I try to prepare sweets fresh at home. There is also a sweet shop in the Indian Market selling fresh sweet. I do buy them whenever I visit that area, however I miss the touch of that professional hands in the making as it is back home. Off course, we do not get the winter special date jaggery sweets anywhere here, for that we have to travel a few hundred kilometres which I feel is worth it. Till then my men have to be happy with whatever little I can do.

The fresh fruits are kept at home to pack along with their lunch boxes. The peculiar duo will eat fruits only that way, if given at home they will not touch. In so many years I am adjusted to such things and play my own tricks as and when required. I do eat fruits but has been prescribed not to eat much. This morning I saw its about to be the weekend, yet there are a few leftover fruits that needs to be used. Everything has a shelf life. Never in a mood to do elaborate cooking these days, I planned for this Fresh Fruit Stuffed Sweet. We can do the stuffing with any fruit but not with one with too much water content. Take note that the fruits have to be sweet. I used bread because the coverage of the sweet had to be little harder as it is a no cook one. Moreover, it will be stuffed with fresh fruits, hence should be firmer than our usual sweets. I have provided stepwise pictures for the whole process. Let us prepare this Fresh Fruit Stuffed Sweet together. I tried with little amount, you can adjust as required.

INGREDIENTS : [for homemade paneer]
Low Fat Milk : 500 ml
Plain Yogurt : 1/2 small cup
Ice Cubes : 1/2small cup

INGREDIENTS : [for the sweet]
Homemade Paneer : As we get
Milk Powder : 1/2small cup
Refined Flour : 1tbsp
Sugar : 1/2small cup
Green Cardamom Powder : 1/4tsp
Bread : 2-3pieces
Ghee [clarified butter] : 2-3tbsp
Orange: 6-7 segments of one
Grapes : 7-8
Garnish as you wish or do not
Any other fruits can be used with less water content, I did with what I had at home

METHOD :
Pour the milk in a heavy bottomed vessel. Switch on gas and bring it to boil. Beat the plain yogurt and add to the milk. Stir and switch off gas. Add the ice cubes. Let rest for 5-10 minutes.

Strain the whey through a white cloth and tie with your kitchen tap. Squeeze the extra water. Let it rest for about 45 minutes.

Heat 1tbsp ghee in a frying pan. Cut the sides of the bread slices and toast both sides brown. If you think your paneer and milk powder mixture is firm after kneading, you can manage well, skip the bread part.




After 45 minutes take down the paneer and untie.




Transfer to a plate. Add milk powder, refined flour, sugar, mash and knead well for 10 minutes.



Add rest of the ghee and the toasted bread torn into small pieces. Mash very well for another 5 minutes.



Now the mixture is firm and non-sticky. Keep it covered for few minutes. Meanwhile peel the orange, take out the skin of the segments and throw the seeds. Chop into smaller pieces. Wash and chop the grapes into smaller pieces.

Rub your hands with little amount of ghee.Take portions from the mixture, shape round, make hollow, stuff with little amount of fruit mix, close and smoothen with your palms.



Now its done. I prefer to serve it chilled.


Monday, 14 November 2016

GRAVIED SPICY PANEER



It happened so last week that the daddy thing went on a short trip, the mumma - son duo had a fulfilling dinner with their favourite Paneer [Indian Cottage Cheese] ..... that definitely does not mean the daddy of the house has any problem with whats cooking in the kitchen.... I so much wished that he peeped into the kitchen once in a while .... but then that will be so much in contradiction with what he says.... No Rule is the only Rule in this House. If I say there has to be certain rules set for the teen,  he says he will learn from his mistakes..... I want my son to be happy in life..... No wonder many years back, some of us, his friends would bump into his home more often.... which was a kind of 'thandi haoa ka jhoka' .... space for freedom and fun.... a relief from our military moms whose 'don't' list seemed so long for us.... Coming back to present... he only urges his lady not to feed him so much 'ghaspus'.... greens. That is where the lady needs to assert a bit.

The new neighbourhood we shifted a month ago also has an Indian minimart nearby and I really do not have to travel 5-6 km always to get Indian stuffs .... that makes me happy.... It is there I found this new brand of paneer which proved to be a good deal. Now I am not really so sincere  that I will prepare my own paneer always. I enjoy my long outdoor walks, chitchat with friends in the same neighbourhood, girls get-together, family get-together, sometimes weekend fiesta with family, when do I cook.... Besides all these, getting lost in Bollywood fantasies is too much of a favourite..... Living with two overtly practical men, I have to balance. Done with all these, I do cook a bit. So the other day I got this small packet of paneer and prepared it fresh. It was 8pm already, hence I wished something simple and hassle free. You will see I did the curry with minimal spices. The use of cashew nut paste made it thick, creamy and mildly sweet. The marination of paneer with spices and lemon juice made it flavourful and tastier. Let us prepare this Gravied Spicy Paneer together.

INGREDIENTS :
Paneer : 250gm
Cashew nut : 7-8
Ginger Paste : 1tsp
Onion Paste : 1tbsp
Chilli Powder : 1tsp
Turmeric Powder : 1tsp
Coriander Powder : 1tsp
Cumin Powder : 1tsp
Lemon Juice : 2tbsp
Salt : As Required
Milk : 1/2small cup
Cumin Seed : 1/4tsp
Bayleaf : 1
Oil : 4tbsp

METHOD :
Marinate the paneer with cumin powder, coriander powder, little chilli powder, little salt and the lemon juice. Keep aside for 15-20 minutes.

Prepare a paste with the cashew nuts adding little milk.

Heat oil in a wok. Discard the marinade and lightly fry the marinated paneer pieces in batches. Keep aside.

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

To it add the cashew nut paste. Stir for a minute and add rest of the chilli powder, turmeric powder and required amount of salt. Stir well. Add half small cup of water.

As the gravy comes to boil, add 1/2 small cup milk and let boil covered for 3-4 minutes. Open cover and add the spicy, fried paneer pieces. Let cook for a minute.

Its done. Transfer to a serving bowl and serve hot with rice or chapati.



Thursday, 10 November 2016

DANADER


Danader ...... a lesser known sweet from my hometown. It hardly has a pedigree, yet I chose to prepare it simply because I used to love having it once upon a time. I remember how I loved having fried sweets and the amount of scolding I used to get for an unhealthy tastebud. At our house only rasgulla was considered as a 'healthy sweet', just as marie and cream cracker in the biscuit clan. The sibling duo craved for cream filled biscuits at times which were rarely allowed to us. Whenever mom sent me to the sweet shop to buy rasgulla and sandesh, I craved to have this danader. At times, I could not resist from buying me two, knowing the rest at home will not eat it. I loved to eat, so scolding did not affect me much when it came to food. I was threatened with fear of anything, from worms to early death. At this stage of life, I feel I could have been a little more wise and listen to what mom had to say. Wish I could rewind and correct few actions of mine.... I remember reading 'Chander Pahar' the evening before Chemistry exam.... always failed to understand what railways has to do with maths ..... I rather loved travelling in train, sitting beside the window and watching the wonders of nature passing by. The fat, old lady continues to be a dreamer, lost in her own small world of fantasy... in spite of someone saying S.... there is something called reality.... remove the headphone and come down.... She giggles ....... I married you to handle the harsh reality on my behalf.... undaunted... she makes her way to the kitchen singing .... dil hai chota sa.... choti si asha....

This Danader is no way similar to rasgulla, but much harder in texture and sugary in taste. One who really has a sweet tooth will love it. Authentically this sweet is not served with sugar syrup as seen in this picture but rolled in sugar once done and served. I felt that will be too much to roll it on sugar, hence I skipped doing it. While serving individually, I skipped adding the sugar syrup too. For the recipe I had drawn inspiration from GEOCITIES.ws , though not followed them thoroughly. I had to keep in mind that unlike rasgulla, we will fry the sweet before adding to boiling sugar syrup yet they should not turn brown on frying like gulabjamun. The garnish is absolutely unnecessary, I did it as I wished to. Let us prepare the danader together.

Recipe Inspiration : GEOCITIES.ws

INGREDIENTS : [for homemade paneer]
Fat Free Milk : 2lt
Vinegar : 2tbsp
Ice Cubes : 1small cup

INGREDIENTS : [the finished product]
Paneer : As we get
Semolina [suji] : 1/2 medium cup
Sugar : 1small cup + 1tbsp
Water : 1big cup
Ghee [clarified butter] : 1/2 medium cup
Green Cardamom : 3-4
Garnish as you wish or do not....

METHOD :

Let us prepare the paneer [cottage cheese] first. Pour the milk in a deep bottomed vessel. Switch on gas and put the vessel on it..... Once the milk comes to boil, add the vinegar and switch off gas.... add the ice cubes and let it rest for 10 minutes.... 

Strain the whey through a thin cloth, tie it on the kitchen top... squeeze the extra water. Let rest for 1/2 an hour.

Take down and transfer to a wide mouthed bowl. Mash for 6-10 minutes. Add the semolina and 1tbsp sugar and keep kneading for another 10 minutes. If the dough is too soft, you can add little more semolina.

Prepare tennis size balls. Heat ghee in a wok. Lightly fry the balls not allowing them to get brown. Transfer on to tissue paper.

Simultaneously, boil 1 small cup sugar and 1 big cup water together. Tear the green cardamoms and add to the boiling water. We must remember these are not rasgullas, so we will add the fried paneer balls only when the syrup turns little sticky. 

The paneer balls will not double the size like rasgulla.... we will take them out within few minutes from the syrup, let cool and serve.

Authentically, danader is served after rolling on sugar while still warm..... I skipped that process.....



Monday, 7 November 2016

BATTER FRIED STUFFED TEASEL GOURD



Teasel Gourd again takes me down memory lane to a small township..... 100 km away from my hometown to my maternal grandparent's place. I was born there and brought up in that home for a pretty long time..... My mom been married at a young age who became a mother while still in college, I was looked after by the rest, pampered and spoilt with love to the extreme.... I vividly remember everything about the positive environment I grew up in and deep within try to assimilate all the broken pieces till date. Where is that vibrance lost ?? There is perhaps nothing called right or wrong in the world..... just a difference of perspective..... Just back from a movie few hours back, there is a question-answer session going on inside. The silly romantic went with certain hopes as her favourite subject is Relationship........ Watching it I could not digest what it had to say and eventually got disturbed, yes I get horribly disturbed when I fail to see emotional quotient in a relationship..... and I realise I am rigid and too old right from a tender age.... I find myself screaming at the world.... leave me alone with my beliefs.... Looking at me, the senior says there is no problem with the world, all problem is within you... broaden your spectrum madam S..... He  had no qualms with the subject of the movie and considers it to be quite normal..... well we accept and respect each other's differences of opinion....

Coming back to food, this teasel gourd, kantola or kakrol... as we call it in India, were grown in abundance at my maternal grandparent's place.... they do not need any such care, they just grow in abundance during monsoon. They are either eaten fried, in mixed veggies or as this..... batter fried with a stuffing.... Mine is a purely vegetarian stuffing and then batter fried.... as I had long back at a friend's place..... this batter fried kantola was not so common at our home, we mostly had it fried. I followed my friend's mom's recipe as much as I could remember. Such an awkward incident happened that day that it is impossible to forget.... While aunty was batter frying the stuffed teasel gourds and the two sisters and me were chatting.... suddenly a hiss hiss sound under the bed... In those days middle class homes had good storage under the bed.... and there came out a snake from a 'hari' [patila, deep bottomed vessel?]. Before I fainted it was driven off, kudos to the sister duo. The feeble heart me did have this crisp and yum batter fried teasel gourd with a plate full of piping hot rice.... Let us do this vegetarian dish together providing stepwise pictures for the same.....

INGREDIENTS : [ for the stuffing ]
Flesh of Teasel Gourd : 6-8
Shredded Coconut : 1/2 medium cup
Mustard Seed : 11/2tbsp
Green Chilli : 4-5
Salt : As required
Nigella Seed : 2-3 pinches
Turmeric Powder : 1/4 tsp
Oil : 2 tbsp [mustard]

INGREDIENTS : [for the batter]
Refined Flour : 1/4 medium cup
Gram Flour : 2tbsp
Rice Flour : 1medium cup
Salt : As Required
Sugar : 11/2 tsp
Water : As Required

INGREDIENTS : [ finally ]
Teasel Gourd : 6-8 [halved and scooped]
The cooked stuffing
The batter
Oil : 1big cup to fry...

METHOD :

Wash the teasel gourds, cut the ends..... half them... Scoop out the flesh.... Apply little salt and turmeric to the pieces. Keep aside. You can get rid of the skin of the gourds too.... I do not.

Wash the mustard seeds through a strainer. Blend all the ingredients for stuffing except for the salt, turmeric, nigella seeds and oil.



Heat oil in a wok and temper with nigella seeds. Add the blended raw thing, salt, sugar and cook till dry... it will take 10-12 minutes. Add the refined flour, stir.



It is done, we will transfer to a bowl and let cool.



With help of a spoon, fill in the halved kantola or teasel gourd.



Prepare the batter adding water little by little. It should be a paste like consistency. Coat the stuffed teasel gourd with the batter very well.



Heat oil in a clean wok. Fry the battered stuffed teasel gourd in batches.



Fry at low heat till all sides are brown. Transfer onto tissue paper to get rid of excess oil.



Enjoy with piping hot steamed rice.