Thursday, 30 October 2014

BHINDI NARCOL





After the festive season is over, for the next few days it feels like surviving on the humble dishes of lentils and vegetables. The festive menus take too much toll on our stomach. Every year it is the same story. In a way its good, we get to feed in more vitamins than usual in form of veggies. We all know eating a diet rich in vegetables and fruits as part of an overall healthy diet may reduce risk for a number of life threatening diseases. Moreover, most vegetables are naturally low in fat and calories, none have cholesterol. They are important source of many nutrients, including potassium, dietary fibre, folate, vitamins A and C. All these helps in the overall improvement of our immune system. Whenever I cook vegetables I try to keep minimal use of spices to retain the maximum nutrient value. So everyday at least one vegetable should be there in the family menu card. When stomach revolts, off course it takes the lead keeping behind non-veg items for few days.


Moreover my vegetarian friends are in a mission to stop visiting my blog. So before they take such a drastic action, let me come up with few veggie recipes to my rescue. Some of my very loved ones are vegetarians or almost towards it! I thought lets honour them. This very simple and easy recipe with Bhindi / Lady's Finger, Onion and Shredded Coconut goes very well with Indian / South Asian Breads or can be had with rice and lentil too.Its prepared  with  less spices. Let us prepare Bhindi Narcol together within an hour of notice.

INGREDIENTS :
Lady's Finger : 200 gm
Onion : 1 big
Shredded Coconut : 1 medium cup
Cumin Powder : 1/2 tsp
Coriander Powder : 1/2 tsp
Punjabi Garam Masala Powder :1/4 tsp
Salt : As per taste
Turmeric : 1/4 tsp
Nigella Seeds : 2 pinches
Green Chillies : 2
Dry Red Chilli : 1
Oil : 2 tbsp

METHOD :

Wash and wipe each lady's finger with a piece of dry cloth. Cut them into 1 inch pieces. Marinate with salt and turmeric. Keep aside for 10 minutes. Cut the onions into small cubes.

Heat oil in a wok. Temper with nigella seeds and dry red chillies. Add the onion pieces. Saute till translucent. Put in the the shredded coconut. Saute for two minutes.

As it releases moisture, put in the ladyfingers. Slit the green chillies and add. Add the cumin and coriander powders, salt and turmeric. Saute well and cover. Reduce heat from medium to low.

After 2 minutes,open the cover and give a stir, sprinkle some water with help of fingers. This way cook for another 10 minutes, stirring every 2 minutes. Sprinkle some water again if required. Add the garam masala powder 2-3 minutes before switching off. Stir well.

Remember, we will sprinkle and not pour a cup of water which may discolour the bhindi pieces.

Enjoy with rice or roti!!



Tuesday, 28 October 2014

VEGETABLE CUTLET




As a child I was not so fond of vegetables, and I remember how my mother struggled each day to feed me a portion of it. Morning till night she would try to brainwash me with at least 10 advantages of having vegetables every day. She would even entice me to have them by offering double portion of fish and meat. Perhaps God watched everything up there , so today I do the same struggle with my son. God, he is so fussy about having vegetables, at times it gets on my nerves. But can a mother lose patience?.....no way....she would always want to give the proper nutrition to her kids, by hook or by crook.
     In the process of making the food tastier , may be little of nutritional value is lost, but at least some degree of nutrition is going inside, that is the whole idea. These days there are so many ways of preparing tasty food without compromising with the health of your dear ones. There are grill options, air friers to keep mummies keep smiling. I think I badly need an air frier and have such a valid reason to get a nod from the high command, hahaha.
    When my son was young, his doctor used to say try to prepare tasty food for your kid, just like you, kids too have taste buds. You cannot make porridge for them at every meal and complain doctor, my child is not eating anything. He would say prepare your kids food at home and make sure you maintain proper hygiene . I followed his saying blindly till date and try to bring colors and variety in his lunch box. Whenever I think one day he has to leave mamma to explore the bigger world, I feel the urge to be more particular about the food he eats.
   These vegetable cutlets are  excellent as evening snacks. Goes too well with tea. They can as well be eaten as a starter. They require very little ingredients to prepare, hence hassle free.

INGREDIENTS :
Potato : 2 big
Beet Root : 1 medium
Carrot : 2 medium
Green Peas : 50 gm
Roasted Peanuts : 2 tbsp
Green Chilli : 2
Dry Red Chilli : 2
Cumin Seed :  1 tsp
Coriander Seed : 1tsp
Green Cardamom : 3
Cinnamon : 1inch
Sugar : 1tsp
Salt : As per taste
Refined Flour : 3 tbsp
Bread Crumb or Semolina : 100 gm
Oil : 150 ml to deep fry

METHOD :
Peel, wash and cut potato, beetroot, carrot into halves. Boil the potatoes and carrot and beetroot separately. Let cool.

Dry roast the dry red chillies, coriander and cumin seeds, cinnamon and green cardamoms till they release aroma. Cool and dry grind them.

Drain the water from the boiled vegetables and mix together adding the salt. Heat 2 tablespoon oil in a pan. Add 2 pinches of cumin seeds. As they splutter, add the green peas and roasted peanuts.  Chop the green chillies and add. Fry for 2 minutes at low heat.

Now add the vegetable mix. Stir for 2-3 minutes. Put in 3 tbsp refined flour, sugar and the dry roasted spice mix and stir very well. Add salt if only required. Switch off, let it cool. Transfer to a bowl.

Shape into medium sized round balls and flatten with your palms. In a plate put in the bread crumb or semolina. Dust each cutlet very well with it. Once all cutlets are ready, deep fry them in batches in heated oil at medium to low heat. Drain the excess oil in tissue papers.

Serve hot with your favourite chutney and onion rings ! The smile you get in return is priceless....whether its your guests or family!!






Monday, 27 October 2014

SINGAPORE FISH HEAD CURRY



Since I belong to a place or race who dream, eat, love fish just like cats, the first thing that attracted me in Singapore was its love for fish prepared in a variety of sauces. Since at restaurants you are not allowed to enter the kitchen, whenever I visit a food court here, I love standing and watching with what expertise they cook in such big woks. I was particularly hooked to fish head curry for two reasons...... the enticing colour of its curry and perhaps  may be recipes with fish head is very common at our place. I love and learnt to eat fish head  alone ever since I was 6. Inspite of the fact that the senior at home pulls my leg saying you are still not satisfied eating mine that you need fish heads, they are must in my plate. Singapore fish head curry are quite different than that of us. It was a must do as I love variety in my food, whether its at home or for the guests.


As it goes, fish head curry was first sold in a small shop in Mt.Sophia. It was a brainchild of an Indian M.J. Gomez who suited it to the local taste. It got extremely popular among the Chinese and Malays. The spices used in this dish is heavily influenced by the South Indian fish curry. Though I feel the recipe has been modified to suit the taste buds of variety of people staying here. If ever you visit Singapore, You must visit the restaurants in and around Tekka Market or those along the Race Course Road to have a taste of authentic fish head curry. You have innumerable food courts preparing it maintaining all hygiene. The Chinese restaurants do offer this dish. If  you wish to have it sitting in a cosy, homely atmosphere, visit Soma's kitchen, once you enter the door, you can feel the warmth, we assure that.

Exploring through various recipes I zeroed in on this particular recipe. You can use the same curry for preparing fish,egg or chicken.

INGREDIENTS :
Fish Head : 2 big[each cut into halves, I used Salmon head]
Lady's Finger : 6
Egg Plant : 2 [small variety]
Tomato : 2 medium
Cumin Seeds : 1 tsp
Mustard Seeds : 1tsp
Fenugreek Seeds : 1/2 tsp
Coriander Seeds : 1 tsp
Chilli Powder : 1 tsp
Ginger : 3 inches chopped
Garlic : 5 cloves
Cinnamon Stick : 2 inches
Onion : 1big
Green Chillies: 2-3
Coconut Milk : 100 ml
Curry Leaves : 10 -12
Salt : As per taste
Turmeric :1 tsp.
Vinegar : 1tbsp
Oil : 3 tbsp


METHOD :
Clean and thoroughly wash the fish heads and marinate with little salt and the vinegar for about 1 hour.

Wash and cut the ends of the lady's fingers. Wash, cut off the ends of the eggplants and then cut into halves. Rub little salt in them.

Dry roast the cumin,coriander,fenugreek,mustard, 5-6 curry leaves, garlic, ginger, cinnamon together for 2-3 minutes. Now put all the dry roasted spices in a blender and turn into a smooth paste using water as required.

Peel, wash and slice the onions. Wash and cut each tomato into 4 pieces and deseed. Cut the big green chillies into halves. Keep the salt,turmeric and chilly powder ready along with the coconut milk. Wash the curry leaves nicely.

Heat oil in a wide mouthed wok. Fry the sliced onion till translucent. Put in the spice paste. Saute well for 2 minutes. Add the salt, turmeric and chilli powder, mix well and sauté for 1 minutes.

At this stage add I big cup water. Let the curry come into boil. Drain the vinegar water from the fish heads and add to the curry. Add the lady's finger and egg plant pieces too. Cover and let cook for 2 minutes.

Uncover and put in the tomato pieces and slitted green chillies. Pour in the coconut milk. Add the rest of the curry leaves. Cover and cook for 3 minutes.

Switch off, its done. Enjoy with piping hot steamed rice!!


Friday, 24 October 2014

LANGCHA


Langcha....is a sweet authentic of my state, in the eastern part of India. To be precise, it originated in a small township named Shaktigarh, in the district of Burdwan. If you are travelling through that highway, you cannot help yourself but stopping by the shops and have few. Along the highway, there are series of frill free humble shops, by their looks you can't even imagine inside they have those red, hot beauties ready to be served  for you.... please don't get scared of the flies around, they are part of the deal, hahaha. Those flies are very decent you know, they keep on flying above your head without disturbing your plates. Still, morning to night, there are swarms of cars and buses by these shops....from labourers to corporate honchos.
So, I thought before My friends from the western world faints and cancel their trips to my country, I should post the recipe, so whoever wishes to can prepare at home. But you know I am very proud when I say all these, infact proud of the subcontinent.... we are poor, we are developing, but we have talents because we are fighters, since childhood we learn to fight against all odds, and we have a rich cultural heritage. I believe,  in a country, if its men are not proud of it and work towards bringing pride for their country, it eventually turns into a failed state.
My version of langcha is more typical of the ones available at the Kolkata shops. At Shaktigarh, they are darker,  deep fried in clarified butter and too sweet.

INGREDIENTS :[for the syrup]
Sugar : 2 tea cups [ adjust according to your taste ]
Water : 4 tea cups
Green Cardamom : 5-6

INGREDIENTS :[for the langchas]
Milk : 2 litres
Lemon : 1 big
Refined Flour : 2 tbsp
Ghee[clarified butter] : 1 tbsp
Baking Powder : 1 pinch
Cardamom Powder : 1 tsp
Oil : 200 ml for deep frying
[for the instant khoya, means solidified milk]
I cup milk powder
1/2 cup thickened cream

METHOD :
In a deep bottomed vessel, heat the milk. Once it comes to boil, put the lemon juice. As soon as the milk curdles, switch off and put a cup of ice cubes to avoid extreme curdling and getting hard. Drain the whey water through a white thin and clean cloth. The cheese you get should be tied and hanged for about 1 hour.

Mean while, lets prepare the instant khoya. Mix one cup milk powder with half cup thickened cream very well. Microwave for 3 minutes at high power stirring every 30 seconds to avoid burning.

Once cold, make a smooth dough of the instant khoya with help of your palms. It will take about 15 minutes.

After one hour, take out the cheese and make into a smooth dough same as the khoya. It will take about 20 minutes. Now mix the baking powder, ghee and refined flour very well and work out with your palms for 5 minutes. Add the instant khoya and green cardamom powder. Mix well for another 5 minutes, your dough is ready.

Make into cylindrical shapes as in picture. Heat oil in a wok. Simultaneously, in another burner beside, you will make the sugar syrup by mixing the sugar,water and green cardamoms and letting the mixture boil for about 20 minutes at medium to low heat. Once the oil is hot, lower the heat and fry the cylindrical shape cheese cakes  till brown, in batches. Put into  the sugar syrup. Switch off both burners.

Let them be soaked for 1 hour. Serve warm or chilled.


Wednesday, 22 October 2014

ROSHBORA




It is during this festive period, we prepare a series of sweets, just as we have a series of festivals....Navratri, Durga Puja, Dussera, Diwali or kali puja, bhai duj, till Poush Sankranti. This period is very auspicious for us, celebrating with lights all over and food, food, food....delectable, exotic, specially made, from starters to desserts.


         With so many regions all over the country and our neighbours, we are never in dearth of supply of recipes. You are saved from the boredom of repeating same recipes year after years. With guests visiting, starting from Dussera till Diwali.... we concentrate more on preparing variety of sweets.... with simple easily available ingredients like Cottage Cheese, Lentils, Flour, Semolina, Besan, sugar, jaggery, milk and coconut. These few things can make mouthwatering sweets and desserts. Trust me our friends, other than from our subcontinent have enjoyed a number of them. So I can take the liberty to say, go ahead and start with whatever catches your eyes.

I love this sweet because a favourite comic character of my childhood loved this... His name was 'Batul... The Great.... of Nonte Fonte fame. Bengalis of 70s and 80's can easily identify with these characters. We had grown up reading Batul, Teni da, Ghana da. They were written specially for the kids.....

           For this particular sweet called Roshbora, you need very little ingredients like skinless  Urad Dal[black gram dal], sugar, water and fennel seeds. Cannot believe right? Then would request you to explore through the recipe.


INGREDIENTS :
Urad Dal[skinless black gram dal] : 250 gm
Sugar : 150 gm
Fennel Seeds : 1 tsp
Green Cardamom : 3
Oil : 200 ml[for deep frying, extra can be used later]
Water : 2 coffee mugs

METHOD :
Wash and soak the dal overnight or in hot water for 2 hours. Put into a blender and make a smooth paste with very little water. Be very careful about using water for the paste because if you use bit more water, it will get very difficult to shape into balls.

After the paste is made, put in the fennel seeds. Mix well and keep stirring with hand for about 10 minutes. Shape into round balls. Heat oil in a pan, fry the balls in batches till golden brown.


Simultaneously, in a heavy bottomed vessel, you will boil the sugar, water and green cardamoms.


Once the balls are fried , soak them in water for 15 minutes and then take out, squeeze and pour them into the boiling sugar and let them boil for the next 5-7 minutes. Switch off, pour in a glass bowl.

Allow the Roshboras to soak for at least 5 to 6 hours. Yes, it takes longer period for the sugar syrup to soak in.

Enjoy hot or chilled.



         

Monday, 20 October 2014

MACH DORANGA [FISH IN DOUBLE SAUCE]


Fish being an absolute favourite, I love experimenting with different recipes of fish. I keep on exploring through internet for some new recipes on fish. If I like one I do not take much time to grab the recipe and do it. Long back I saw a recipe in a magazine of fish in three types of sauce....red, green and white. I don't remember the recipe which I saw 20-22 years back, so used a bit of my own idea and finalised on this recipe of fish cooked in two types of sauces.
      I may not remember a particular recipe from past, but if you stop by my recipes, you may see most of them are in some way related to my past or to my present situations and scenarios. Past and Present are interrelated.....so I never deny my past. Even when I stop by so many posts everyday to forget the past and live in present. May be they are words of wisdom but somehow I do not agree to it. If I forget my past I am denying so many things....me coming into being, growing up with siblings, my teachers, lovely friends. Believe me, diving into your past makes you feel into your parents arms....warm and cosy. Past was fun, happy, full of warmth and yes, pain....that of leaving behind and moving ahead for new life...new people to meet. Pain is inevitable in life's journey....it helps you grow strong and understand life. There is nothing left in a blame game, life is only situations....supporting you or not. Accepting pain gracefully and moving on is an art of living we need to learn.
     Somebody knocked on my head and said I am a food blogger not a philosopher. Before people stop reading my recipe I need to switch on the damage control mode. Fish are  an important resource for humans worldwide, mainly as food. They have a role in culture through the ages, serving as deities, religious symbols, and as the subjects of art, books and movies. To simplify, its tasty, its healthy....so grab it and have it !!

INGREDIENT [ MAIN ] :
Grouper or any white fish : 500 gm
Salt : As per taste
Turmeric Powder : 1tsp
Vinegar : 2 tbsp
Oil : 4 tbsp

INGREDIENTS [ for the red sauce ] :
Ripe Tomatoes : 2 big
Onion : 1 big
Kashmiri Chilli Powder : 1 tsp
Ginger Paste : 2 tsp
Garlic Paste : 1/2 tsp
Coriander Powder : 1/2 tsp
Cumin Powder : 1/2 tsp
Salt : As per taste
Turmeric : 1/2 tsp
Cumin Seeds : 2 pinches.

INGREDIENTS [ for the green sauce ] :
Coriander Leaves : 100 gm
Green Chilli Paste : 1 tsp
Salt : As per taste
Nigella Seeds : 2 pinches.

METHOD :
The fish has to be cut into ringlets, washed and marinated in vinegar for about an hour. After one hour, drain the excess vinegar water and marinate the fish with salt and turmeric. Keep aside.

Wash, cut and deseed the tomatoes and blend into a smooth paste. Slice the onion. Keep the ginger and garlic paste ready in hand. The cumin powder, coriander powder, salt and turmeric should be kept ready near you.

Wash, cut and blend the coriander leaves along with the green chillies smoothly.

Heat oil in a pan. Fry the fish pieces till golden brown. Transfer onto a serving plate. In the same oil, put the cumin seeds. As they splutter, put in the onion pieces and fry till golden brown. Put in the ginger garlic paste and fry till the raw smell goes. Put in the tomato paste, sauté for 3 to 4 minutes, add the salt, turmeric powder,cumin and coriander powder. Stir well till the oil separates from the spice mix. Add 1 tea cup water. Cover and let boil for 5 minutes. Pour onto half of the fried fish pieces.

Heat 1 tbsp oil in a clean wok. Temper with nigella seeds. Put the coriander- green-chilli paste. Add little salt. Saute in low heat for about 3-4 minutes till the raw smell goes. Add 1/2 tea cup water. Let boil in medium heat for 3 minutes. As the gravy gets creamy consistency, pour onto rest of the fried fish.

Let the fish pieces soak in the gravy. Warm again before serving with piping hot steamed rice.

Sunday, 19 October 2014

MANGSHOR SHINGARA / MUTTON SAMOSA



Samosa or Shingara is an extremely popular tea-time snacks, to be precise evening tea-time. Though my memories give a different picture. In my humble place, early morning in all the sweetshops....one can see in big woks, those frying samosas.....oops they are as soothing as humans swimming in a pool of water during summer. I am not a poet, a big foodie....so could not think beyond this. To compliment these samosas are the jalebis coated in sugar syrup, and slurp ..... is possibly the only sound that comes out wholeheartedly..... Saturdays and Sundays there would be a beeline in front of these shops. With a satisfied smile back home these would be finished in minutes with hot tea.

     My mom was not so keen on allowing us to buy food from outside. She loved trying and doing it at home for us. I have picked up this habit from her and thank her for that. Preparing something with our own hands expresses our love and care for the people who mean to us. Again if you do not take interest in cooking does not make you less caring for your family. I believe each one of us do it in one way or the other. I remember I first learnt making Chapatis and Puris after my son started going to school as I vowed I will never pack his lunch  with store bought things. My naughty witty husband reminds me often it is for son he gets to have home made chapatis in a foreign land forgetting its for him I learnt rest of the cooking. Jokes apart, he was the guinea pig for all my experimental cooking. Had he being little critical I would become a better cook.

 Back to track, my mother used to make samosas with fillings according to the season. Like in winters, she would make samosas with a cauliflower, potato and green peas fillings. In those days cauliflowers and green peas tasted heavenly without those strong fertilisers used nowadays. Being a strict non-vegeterian, I made a variation and prepared these minced mutton samosas which is common in our place, even at the Indian stores here in the island,we get it.. If you are not fond of mutton, you can use minced chicken. I actually tasted mangshor shingara first at the club canteen of a company, our school was also a part of their educational venture.

     An honest confession, my samosa cones are not as perfect as the store ones or like my cooking expert friends, but its not a compromise with the taste and its crispiness , that I can assure.

INGREDIENTS :[ for the filling ]
Minced Mutton : 400 gm
Potato : 1 big
Minced Garlic : 2 tbsp
Minced Ginger : 1 tbsp
Onion : 1 big
Minced Green Chilli : 1 tbsp [adjust as per your requirement]
Green Peas : 50 gm
Cumin Seeds : 1tsp
Coriander Seeds : 1 tsp
Dry Red Chilli : 2
Green Cardamom : 2
Cloves : 3
Cinnamon : 1 one  inch stick
Oil : 3 tbsp
Salt : As per taste
Turmeric Powder : 1 tsp

 INGREDIENTS : [ for the dough ]
Refined Flour : 2 coffee mugs
Salt : 1/4 tsp
Ghee[clarified butter] : 2 tbsp
Nigella Seeds : 1tsp[optional]
Water : 1 small cup.

For frying the samosas you need 250 ml oil because they need to be fried in deep oil. But you can always reuse the leftover oil later.

METHOD :
Take the flour in a wide mouthed vessel. Make a hole in the middle with your finger and put in the ghee and the salt. Add the nigella seeds.




 Mix with the flour for about 2 minutes. Now add water little by little and make good use of your palm to turn into a smooth dough.




 Cover the dough with a wet  cloth for about 1/2 an hour.



Wash the minced mutton through a strainer very well. Put in a bowl. Marinate with lemon juice, little salt and turmeric powder for about 1 hour. If you are using minced chicken, no need to marinate.  Dry roast the cumin seeds, dry red chillies, cardamoms, cinnamon, cloves and coriander seeds together and powder in a blender. Powder needs to be a little coarse. Wash, peel and cut the potato into small pieces. Thinly slice the onion and wash.

Heat oil in a wok. Put in the minced garlic and ginger. Fry for 1 minute and now put the sliced onion and minced green chillies. After frying for 2 minutes, put in the minced mutton along with the marinade. Stir well and cover. Lower the heat to minimum. After 10 minutes open the cover and put in the potato pieces, turmeric powder and salt as required. Cover again.  After 5 minutes add the green peas. Stir every 3 minutes to avoid burning from bottom. Do this till the mutton is about to dry.

At this level, use your ladle to mash the potato pieces. Add sugar and the dry roasted spice powder. Mix well and switch off. Transfer into a bowl and let it cool.



Now remove the cover from the dough. Use your palm once again over the dough which is a good exercise. Make balls and dust lighty with flour. Do the dusting only if it is required.




  With a rolling pin make round shapes, little bigger than puris.  Cut half from the middle.





 Shape into a cone. Put in filling carefully with a spoon.




 Seal the edges nicely so that they do not open while frying.



Heat oil in a wok . Fry in batches. The wok should not be overcrowded with samosas. Whenever the wok is too heated up, keep the gas mark at medium to lower.





 Once done transfer onto tissue papers.



 For the Coriander Chutney, blend some pre washed, freshly chopped coriander leaves, a clove of garlic, two green chillies together to a paste. Add little salt and lemon juice and serve.



As any other snacks, we will have it hot and fresh with our preferred chutney or sauce!!








Saturday, 18 October 2014

CHICKEN RENDANG CURRY


Rendang Curry is popular throughout South East Asia. It probably originated in Indonesia and later adopted by Malaysia with little variation may be. Going by wiki, Rendang is a spicy meat dish which originated from the Minangkabau ethnic group of Indonesia. Traditionally it is prepared during festive occasions by the Indonesians and Malays. Singapore, being a neighbour, Rendang is easily available and extremely popular.
There is a lot of Indian and Thai influence in Indonesian cooking we can see. Rendang, in general is a dry dish, simmered and slow cooked to perfection. I purposefully kept a little gravy in it. Use of kaffir lime leaves and lemongrass seems to be Thai influence, whereas use of turmeric, cumin, coriander is more of Indian influence. Any country, big or small has influence of its neighbouring countries in its cuisine with little variation according to the availability of the ingredients. Thats what I feel, others may differ. But very few people will differ with me when I say Rendang Curry is exotic and flavourful . I prefer doing it with chicken and eggs.

INGREDIENTS :( for the spice paste)
Red Chillies : 8(adjust as per your taste)
Shallots(or small onions) : 10
Garlic : 6 cloves
Galangal(or ginger) : 1 thumb size piece
Coriander Seeds : 1 tsp
Cumin Seeds : 1 tsp
Dried red Chilli : 3
Candle nut : 20 gm
Fresh Nutmeg : 1/4

INGREDIENTS :(for the chicken curry)
Chicken :1 kg
Kaffir lime leaves : 4
Lemon grass : 2 stalks
Star anise : 1
Cloves : 3
Green Cardamom : 2
Sugar : 1 tsp
Salt : As per taste
Coconut Milk : 100 ml.
Tamarind Juice : 1/2 tea cup
Oil : 4 tbsp
Toasted Shredded Coconut : 2 tbsp
METHOD :
Wash the chicken and marinate with salt and turmeric . Keep standing for 1 hour. Soak the dry red chillies in warm water for at least 30 minutes before putting into blender. Peel and wash the shallots. Put all the ingredients for the spice paste into the blender and blend into a smooth paste. Cut small the lemon grass stalks making bruises in them.

Heat oil in a wok. Fry the chicken pieces discarding the marinade. Keep aside the chicken pieces. In the same oil put the star anise, cloves, cardamoms . Stir till fragrant. Put in the spice paste. Keep stirring till the oil separates from the spice paste. Add salt.

Now add the coconut milk. Stir and let boil. Add the lemon grass pieces and the kaffir lime leaves. Keep stirring every 2-3 minutes to avoid burning. After 8-10 minutes, put in the fried chicken pieces. Cook for another 10-15 minutes till the gravy reaches at semi-dry to dry consistency. Switch off. Garnish with toasted coconut.

Serve with steamed hot rice!!

Wednesday, 15 October 2014

PATISHAPTA (COCONUT FILLED CREPES)


These sweet , savory, coconut filled crepes brings back lot of memories. When I was 5-6 years old,  our mothers did not have gas ovens in their kitchens to enjoy little bit of comfort. Yet they were far more active and energetic than we are. All day long till night she would happily lock herself in the kitchen, sweating and conforming to our demands without a complain. These days I  feel very guilty when I remember how back from school and college I demanded exotic platters one after another without even thinking how difficult it was for her to work on a clay oven even on evenings. I remember, may be around 1984-85, our kitchen was for the first time shining with a a gas oven. Can I ever forget the glittering smile on my mother's face to get a faster medium of cooking?....Never. I have always taken a pride to admit I come from a very middle class, humble background and I will never compromise with the middle class values taught by my parents. I firmly believe if I forget my roots, I reach nowhere. I may be going offtrack, this is what happens these days. The quite little girl who remained unnoticed most of the time, is talking too much, signs of aging you know.
       The above lines are not irrelevant  altogether when I say these coconut filled crepes tasted best when prepared in clay ovens. It was a day long process....from soaking the rice....grinding it to flour...scraping the coconut, mixing it with right amount of jaggery. This was mainly prepared during winter season. Lets start with the recipe which is a tribute to all the elderly women in the family for whom I could dare to prepare it today.

INGREDIENTS :(for the filling)
Shredded Coconut : 300 gm
Jaggery : 100 gm
Camphor : 1small tablet or Green Cardamom Powder : 4 pinches.
Water : 1 coffee cup.

INGREDIENTS :(for the pancakes)
Refined Flour : 1 coffee cup
Semolina : 1/2 coffee cup
Rice Flour : 1/4 coffee cup
Sugar : 1/2 tea cup
Oil : 2 tblsp
Water as required

METHOD:
In a wide mouthed big bowl, take the refined flour,rice flour,semolina,sugar. Mix well. Add water to that much quantity which makes the batter neither creamy, nor too running, but just in between. Add 1/2 tsp oil and mix well. Make sure there is no lump in the batter. Adding oil helps the crepes to come out well. Keep standing for 1 hour.

Put a wok in the gas oven. Pour 1 coffee cup water. Put in the jaggery. Let it melt. When it starts boiling keep stirring. As it becomes sticky, put in the the shredded coconut and camphor tablet, alternatively the green cardamom powder. As the mixture gets sticky, switch of gas. The filling is ready.

Heat a nonstick frying pan. Put 1/2 tsp oil. Once the oil is heated, wipe the pan lightly with a wet cotton cloth. Now pour in one laddle full of batter in the pan and immediately spread it in round shape with the help of the back of the laddle. when its almost done, put in 2 tablespoon of coconut jaggery filling in the middle of the crepes. With the help of the spoon, spread it lengthwise. Now fold in from both sides and place in a plate.

Please note, you need not put oil before making each one. You put oil once in every 3 crepes you prepare. I always use a non-stick frying pan to avoid it from getting stuck to the pan admitting I do not have the expertise of our moms and grand moms.

Enjoy warm or chilled!!


Tuesday, 14 October 2014

BASIC HOMEMADE CUSTARD


DESSERTS are an integral part of a meal I feel. Why after meals, you can have it anytime of the day, let me tell you it tastes best at midnight. Truly, having desserts at midnight while watching TV is so comforting. The best quick made dessert so far I feel is custard. If a working mother wants to store dessert on her refrigerator even on weekdays, nothing is easier than custard.Keep it ready in hand, pour it over assorted fruits or cakes or even have it with a generous serving of dry fruits. You will love to see the happy faces around and go to sleep peacefully.
What I like about making basic custard is you can make it anytime with ingredients already available at home. Here for you a no frill custard recipe with ingredients you already have in your pantry. Enjoy with anything you wish to.

INGREDIENTS :
Eggs : 4
Milk : 5 cups
Corn Flour : 1/2 cup
Sugar : 1/3 cup
Vanilla : 1 tbsp
Chopped Strawberries for Garnishing.
PROCEDURE :
In a pan, whisk the eggs,milk,vanilla and cornflour together. Keep whisking till the mixture turns smooth and there is no lump left.

Switch on the gas oven. Place the pan on the gas. Stir constantly, bringing to boil and simmer for 2 minutes.

Now put in the sugar, stir till it melts and switch off immediately. Please note, the sugar should always be added at the last to avoid the mixture from burning.

Garnish as you wish or pour over cakes...warm or chilled...............anyway its yummilicious!!

Sunday, 12 October 2014

INDONESIAN FISH CURRY



I visited Bali in 2011 and loved its beaches, picturesque nature and offcourse, the local cuisine. Later, early this year, when I visited Bintan, my feelings got firmer. Fresh fish, meat and vegetables cooked with flavorful spice mix using coconut milk rather than water......wow....they tickled my taste buds.
My love for fish keeps me hunting for new recipes throughout the internet.So many countries,different culture, their cuisine, for me its like exploring the world. With each recipe I go through, I feel I learnt a bit about their culture.Each recipe I try is my way of paying tribute to that culture.
When I first opened this blog I thought of promoting the cuisine of my region only through it. Then I thought that will be like promoting and encouraging regionalism which should not be.I love my city, region,language but at the same time I believe in universal acceptance. Our mind should be broadened enough to accept other culture, cuisine, their way of life.....that is a type of learning also. We should not limit ourselves to a particular region.....whether its language or culture or cuisine.
With that thought I present for you this uniquely flavorful INDONESIAN FISH CURRY.

INGREDIENTS :
Any white fish fillets/prawns : 300 gm
Coconut Milk : 200 ml
Onion : 1 big
Red Chilli : 2
Garlic cloves : 2
Shrimp Paste : 1 tsp
Coriander Powder ; 1 tsp
Turmeric Powder : 1/4 tsp
Red Chilli Powder : 1 tsp
Soya Sauce(light) : 2 tsp
Salt : As per taste
Lime : 1
Lemongrass : 1 stick
Sunflower Oil : 2 tbsp
Coriander leaves : 25 gm

METHOD :
Peel and finely chop the garlic. Peel and slice the onions. Cut the red chillies into halves, deseed and slice. Finely chop the lemongrass. Roughly chop the coriander leaves. Wash everything separately. Get the juice from the lemon.

Heat oil in a wide mouthed pan. Add the sliced onions and chillies. Saute for 2 minutes. Once the onions get translucent, add the garlic and shrimp paste. Stir for 1 minute.

Now add the turmeric, lemongrass, salt, soya sauce, coriander powder, chilli powder to the pan. Saute for 2 minutes. Pour in the coconut milk. Bring it to a boil. Add the fish pieces carefully. Let boil for another 4 minutes. Add the chopped coriander leaves and the lime juice.Switch off gas.

Please note, since you are using soya sauce and shrimp paste, be very careful about the use of salt as they already have salt in them. You can garnish with chopped spring onions if you wish to.

Enjoy only with piping hot steamed rice!!

Saturday, 11 October 2014

MASOOR DAL KHICHDI





Mushurir Dal er Khichuri / Masoor Dal Khichdi is a rice and lentil hotchpotch made of skinless red lentils along with assorted vegetables. It's a complete meal. You get the right amount of carbohydrate along with all kinds of vitamins from the vegetables used. On a lazy Friday night, you are not really in the mood to indulge yourself in cooking any complicated dish. Friday evening is to plan for some exotic dishes to try out on the two most beautiful days of the week......Saturday and Sunday. You cannot leave yourself starving too. You are just  not in the mood to order anything from outside and upset your stomach, denying yourself  the exotic platter you are planning for the next two days. So what to do?? No thinking twice, treat yourself with a humble and simple plate of CHICHI / KHICHURI and relax sitting and watching a movie with your family.

In our childhood , our mothers cooked khichdi only when it rained or mom was sick. Well, to that I would say, we do not have that level of energy that they had.  They stayed at home and planned elaborate meals for the family, specially if that family had a foodie kid like me. An honest confession ....... I live to eat. Modern women have to multitask .....life is faster, complicated and khichdi is handy. Live alone rain, we can have it every now and then. We usually cook khichdi with Moong Dal. But just as we need variation in life, we definitely need variation in our food too. Otherwise, life gets boring and our taste buds...... dull. So I quite like to try out new recipes. I remember my mom cooking masoor dal with all available vegetables in her refrigerator, serving it with tomato chutney and an omelette. Mommy dear never divulge the secret spices she uses for her recipes, not even to her daughter. So the poor daughter came up with her own version of MASOOR DAL CHICHI / MUSHURIR DAL ER KHICHURI.




INGREDIENTS :
Rice(par-boiled) : 1/2 cup
Masoor Dal (skinless red lentils) : 1/2 cup
Dry Red Chilli : 2
Green Chilli : 3
Ginger Paste : 2 tbsp
Cumin powder : 1 tsp
Bay leaf : 1
Cumin Seeds : 3 pinches.
Salt : As per taste
Turmeric Powder : 1/2 tsp
Sugar : 1 tsp
Tomato : 2(medium)
Carrot : 2(medium)
Green Peas : 1/4 small tea cup
Potato : 2(medium)
Onion : 2(big)
Oil(preferably Mustard) : 3 tbsp
Ghee(clarified butter) : 2 tbsp

PROCEDURE :
Take the rice and dal in a big bowl. Wash and soak in water for 1 hour.Take out the skin of the carrots, cut from the middle and then length wise. Cut each potato into 4 pieces.Wash and put them together in a bowl. Slice the onions and slit the green chillies. Cut each tomato into 4 pieces, discard the seeds and wash.

Take the washed rice, dal in a heavy bottomed vessel. Add enough water, salt and turmeric and put for boil.



Once it comes to boil, add the potatoes and carrots. Give a stir.



After 6-8 minutes, add the green pea and tomato pieces. Give a stir and let boil for about 3 minutes.


Arrange all the spices at your cooking table. Tear the dry red chillies into 2 halves. Heat oil in a wok. Temper with the cumin seeds, dry red chillies and bay leaf.



Add the sliced onions and fry till brown. Add the ginger paste and keep stirring till the raw smell of the ginger goes away. Add the cumin powder, salt and turmeric powder. Keep stirring till the oil separates from the spice mix.



At this stage, add the cooked rice and dal mix. Stir and mix well for about 3 minutes.  Add the sugar and a dollop of ghee. Stir and switch off. the final product shall be of running consistency. I served it with a mixed bhaji made of bhindi, eggplant and pumpkin.





Thursday, 9 October 2014

NARCOL DIYE CHOLAR DAL(Lentil Curry With Coconut)


A Bengali household......A Sunday Morning.....What's for Breakfast?......enough of Potatoes!!....then? A hearty meal of NARCOL DIYE CHOLAR DAL accompanied by Luchis/Puris. For reasons unknown, childhood keeps on coming back these days. May be because I miss my parents,siblings,relatives......my native place.....as a whole. I miss largely my mother's cooking.....the amount of care and love she would show in everyday selection of her menus and serving them before us. Love and Care are such things that flow from one generation to another. What I got and learnt from my mother, I try to give it to my family. I learnt from her that family is something to be taken utmost care of and be kept above our own interest.
This particular lentil curry goes best with puris, paranthas and rotis. You can also have it with steamed rice.

 INGREDIENTS :
Chana Dal(Bengal Gram) : 100 gm.
Coconut( shredded or small cut) : 50 gm
Turmeric Powder : 1/2 tsp
Salt : As per taste
Sugar : 1/2 tsp
Ginger Paste : 2 tsp
Cumin Seeds : 2 pinches
Bay Leaf : 1
Dry Whole Red Chilli : 2
Green Chilli : 2
Oil(Mustard preferably) : 2 tbsp
METHOD :
Wash and soak the Chana dal for atleast 4 to 5 hours. Pressure cook the dal with enough water upto 2 whistles at medium to low heat.

Cut the coconut into small pieces or you may shred also. Keep all the spices ready in hand. Slit the green chillies.

Heat the oil in a wok. Temper with cumin seeds, dry red chillies each torn into two and the bay leaf. Put in the coconut pieces and fry till light brown. Put in the ginger paste. Put in the salt and turmeric. Keep stirring till the oil separates from the spices.

Pour in the dal. Pour in one coffee mug of water. Give a stir. Cover and let it boil for 5 minutes at medium heat.

Remove the cover. Add the slitted green chillies and sugar. Cook for about 2 to 3 minutes. Switch of ,its done.

Garnish with shredded coconut if you wish to. Enjoy hot with luchi/puri/parathas!!

Wednesday, 8 October 2014

NARKOL NARU(COCONUT BALLS)



NARKOL NARU.....are too pious for us.....specially made during the festive season. At first it is offered to God before we consume. There are a couple of variety, the ones made with jaggery and sugar-milk being the most common.
Whenever I sit to make this prosperity balls, it brings back a lot of memories. Nowadays with shredded coconut available in the market, it has become easy to make these sweet, coconutty balls. But this was not the scene 30-35 years back. It was quite a complex process.
My maternal grandpa had 13 coconut trees surrounding his garden. In our country, there are specially trained people to get those coconuts down the trees and get rid of the the hard outer cover. After this, my grandma and other elderly ladies took charge of the whole process, from breaking the coconuts to making of the balls.
The red balls are made with jaggery and the white ones I have made with condensed milk. Authentically, the white ones are made of only sugar or milk n sugar.

INGREDIENTS :(for the coconut balls with jaggery)
Shredded Coconut: 250 gm
Sugarcane Jaggery : 125 gm
Camphor : 1 small tablet(can alternate with 1/4 tsp green cardamom powder)
Water : 200 ml
METHOD :
Put a wok on the gas. Once heated, pour the water first, then the jaggery. Let the jaggery melt at medium heat. Once it melts, lower the gas. Meanwhile, blend the shredded coconut to a fine paste with very little water. Keep stirring the jaggery, otherwise it may burn. When the jaggery will seem like getting bit sticky, put in the coconut paste. Mix very well. Put in the camphor tablet. Keep on stirring till the water from the coconut starts drying up and get sticky. When the mixture will seem coming out from the sides of the wok, it's ready.

Transfer into a  plate. Let it cool a bit but not fully. Apply little oil on your both palms. While the coconut mix is still warm, take little by little on your both palms and shape into smooth, round balls.

Please note, the camphor is to add a distinct flavour to the coconut balls. You may skip it if you don't want.

INGREDIENTS :(for the coconut balls with condensed milk)
Shredded Coconut : 250 gm
Condensed Milk : 100 ml
Camphor : 1 tablet.(can alternate with 1/4 tsp green cardamom powder)

METHOD :
Put the wok on your gas stove. In a blender, blend the shredded coconut into a paste with little water. Once heated, pour in the condensed milk.

Once it comes to a boil, put in the coconut paste. Put in the camphor tablet. Keep stirring till the mixture get sticky.

Transfer into a plate. Let cool a bit. Shape into smooth round balls while they are still warm. Applying oil on your palms will help to shape better and smoothen.





Sunday, 5 October 2014

SHRIMPS IN COCONUT MILK


SHRIMPS  are very flexible, in the sense they can be used and cooked in so many ways.....sautéed ,curried, stir fried , pakoras. They have an unique taste and flavour of their own . We even use them in mixed vegetables to enhance its taste.
I think Shrimps are an absolute favourite worldwide. In whichever way it's cooked it tastes good. I feel we should use minimal spices in its preparation . Use of too much spices may overpower and spoil its own unique flavour. Try to avoid frying it too much as it tends to turn rubbery.
Shrimps and Coconut compliment each other. They just mingle and jingle. Whether we use shredded coconut or its milk in the preparation of shrimps, it just tastes awesome.
As the Wikipedia goes, Shrimps are stalk- eyed swimming crustaceans with long skinny macular tails, long whiskers, and slender legs. Few among the varieties are Mantis Shrimp, Opossum Shrimp, Hooded Shrimp, Seed Shrimp, Fairy Shrimp. Before I start with a fairy tale on shrimps, let's start with the recipe.

INGREDIENTS : 
Shrimps : 500 gm
Coconut Milk : 100 ml
Ginger Paste : 1 tsp
Green Chilli Paste : 1/2 tsp
Kashmiri Mirch Powder : 1/4 tsp
Bay Leaf : 1
Green Cardamom : 2
Cinnamon Stick : 2 ( 1/2 inch length)
Cloves : 2
Turmeric : 1/2 tsp
Salt : As per taste
Onion : 1(big)
Oil : 2 tbsp

PROCEDURE :
Deshell, clean and wash the shrimps very well. I have de shelled the whole of it, but keeping the tail on should be fine. Apply little turmeric and salt. Mix well and keep aside.

Get all the whole spices, the powders and the pastes ready at your cooking table. Take note that we use Kashmiri Mirch Powder in a preparation just to add colour, it does not make a dish extra hot. To keep in tune with the mildness of coconut milk, we are using less chilli here. Also peel, wash and slice the onion.

Heat oil in a pan. Temper with bay leaf,cinnamon stick,green cardamoms and cloves. As they start giving a nice aroma, put in the onion slices. Fry them till golden brown.

At this stage, put in the ginger and chilli pastes. Stir continously till the raw smell of the spices go away. Add the remaining turmeric,salt and the Kashmiri Mirch Powder. Saute well till the oil starts seperating from the spice mix.

Now put in the marinated shrimps. Mix well with the spice mix and keep on stirring till the water that oozes out from the shrimps dries up. Pour in the coconut milk. Stir and cover. Put the gas mark at medium to low.

After 3-4 minutes switch off the gas. We should not overboil the curry.It may turn the shrimps rubbery and the curry curdles.

Garnish as the way you wish to. Enjoy with piping hot steamed rice with sides of lentils and mixed vegetables!!