Thursday, 11 December 2014

SPICY FISH FRIES




Evening Snacking has been a very exciting thing among us, specially on weekends. Its such a pleasure to sit together with your family and friends, absolutely relaxed, munching on anything accompanied by your favourite wine, hard or soft drinks. In all our informal get togethers, starters are stealing the show these days. Chit-Chat and a platter of these, titbits to masaledar fries are more on demand. The main course gets sidelined if you have a platter of kebabs, fries and chats served with some salads.
   Fish being my all time favourite, I love experimenting with it, though scare to get more adventurous in the process. I love fish in any form......steamed, sauteed, baked, curried, fried simply or with lots of masalas and curried. The guests who visit my home wants me to cook simple fish curries, rice, vegetables and dal. In return they offer me all cheese stuffs, western platters that I like and they are comfortable in. The deal is mutual. Preparing fish titbits and fries is a sort of pleasure for me.
    This SPICY FISH FRY is quick and easy to make. I prepare it quite often for my family and friends to spice up weekend evenings. You can always adjust the amount of spices in it according to your tastebuds.

INGREDIENTS :

Fish Fillets[of any white fish] : 500 gm[I used Sea bass]
Bengal Gram Flour[besan] : 100gm
Corn Flour : 2tbsp
Garlic Paste : 2 tbsp
Ginger Paste : 1tbsp
Lemon : 2
Cumin Powder : 1tsp
Coriander Powder : 1tsp
Turmeric Powder : 1/2 tsp
Red Chilli Powder : 1tsp
Garam Masala Powder : 1tbsp
Chat Masala : As required to sprinkle over the fries.
Salt : As required
Green Chilli : 3
Coriander Leaves : 3 sprigs
Oil : 100 gm[for deep frying]

METHOD :
Wash and cut the fish pieces into desired shapes. They should be big. Now marinate them with lemon juice, ginger and garlic paste and little salt. Keep aside for 2 hours.

Now we have to prepare a batter. Put the besan and cornflour in a wide mouthed vessel. Add water little by little to form a paste. Add all the spices....cumin powder, coriander powder, turmeric powder, red chilli powder, garam masala powder and salt. Mix well.

Chop the green chillies and the coriander leaves. Wash and mix with the batter. Heat oil in a pan. Coat the fish fillets thickly with the batter and put into the oil. Reduce the heat to medium towards low.

When one side is little brown, turn it. This way you have to flip sides 2-3 times. You have to ensure that the inside too is well cooked. So do not hurry and try to fry in high heat. Fry in batches. Put onto tissue papers to soak excess oil.

Transfer into serving plates , sprinkle chat masala on it. Serve with Onion rings and Cucumber.



Tuesday, 9 December 2014

CHICKEN FRIED RICE WITH FISH FRITTERS



Though not authentically a  Christmas platter, I thought of wishing all MERRY CHRISTMAS with this humble plate of Chicken Fried Rice with  Fish Fritters. The lettuce and tomato to remind all that salads should be an essential part of our meals. The lighted candle says, may there be light in all of your lives forever. I feel that just like Durga Pooja, Christmas has an universal approach. It is just not confined to a mere religious festival. It is a festival celebrated worldwide. I have a very good childhood memory of Christmas. My childhood was spent in a small township, about 100 km away from Kolkata at my maternal grandparent's house. My mom being married at a young age was still studying at college. I had a very happy childhood among aunts and uncles. I was too pampered a child. That town had a very big church with its own school, hospital and home for the distressed. From 25th December  till 1st January there was a big celebration there which I attended even after shifting to Kolkata with my parents. I remember a big fair used to be held on this occasion. Few of my aunt's friends being Christian, I attended Sunday special prayers too. I really do love the calm and peaceful environment inside. I am a secular humanist and firmly believe respecting other religion does not necessarily mean downgrading mine. My marriage to an atheist taught me not to bring religion into everything. He always says religion is to keep within yourself and broaden your horizon,  do practise tolerance. The main attraction of attending the Sunday prayer was after it was over. Once done, my aunt's friend would take us to their homes and treat with fresh, warm home baked cakes, not fancy but tasty.

 Not so familiar with Xmas baking and cooking, I thought why not wish all with something simple which I am comfortable at. Hence came up with this. Rice and Fish is our staple, so I am absolutely relaxed while doing it. I had some boneless chicken and bell peppers, so thought of preparing fried rice, some  fish fritters with the white fish fillets I still had. To end with a dessert made of chocolate cake and vanilla ice cream.

INGREDIENTS[for the fried rice] :
Chicken[preferably breast pieces] : 200 gm
Red n Yellow Bell Pepper : 1each
Green Chilli : 2
Soya Sauce : 1 tbsp
Garlic[minced] : 1 tsp
Ginger[minced] : 1/2tsp
Onion : 2 medium
Green Peas : 2tbsp
Black Pepper Powder : 1/4 spoon
Salt : As required
Spring Onion[to garnish, I skipped as I did not have.
Oil : 2tbsp
Rice : 1 big cup.

INGREDIENTS[for the fish balls] :
White Fish fillets : 250 gm
Salt : As required
Green Chilli : 2
Garlic[minced] : 1/2 tsp
Vinegar : 2 tbsp
Soya Sauce : 1 tsp
Corn Flour : 2tbsp
Oil : 50 ml [for deep frying]



METHOD :


Let us do the fried rice first. Prepare rice till its half done or may be little more. Drain the water and keep uncovered.

Cut the onion and bell peppers into cubes or strips. Chop the green chillies and soak in the soya sauce. Mince the garlic and ginger. Boil the chicken till tender and shred discarding any bone.

Heat oil in a pan. Add the minced garlic and ginger. Put in the onions, fry till translucent. Now add the peas and bell peppers. Stir for 3-4 minutes, add as much salt is required, mix well. Add the chicken strips and black pepper powder. Mix well. Add the rice, stir for 1 minute and add the soya sauce and green chilli. Stir for another 2 minutes. The whole process is to be done in high heat and quick stirs.

Now the fish fritters. Marinate the fish in vinegar for 1 hour. Wash n pat dry. Mash the fish lightly with your palms. Add chopped green chillies, minced garlic, soya sauce, salt as required and corn flour. Mix well and shape into small round balls. Refrigerate for 2 hours. Heat oil in a wok.  Deep fry  the fish balls in oil. Drain excess oil in tissue papers.







Monday, 8 December 2014

CHICKEN REZALA




REZALA.....made with chicken or mutton, coated with a layer of ghee and is fragrant with whole spices is an extremely popular dish in Kolkata. My love with rezala dates back to the 90's when I used to visit the famous Muslim Restaurants with my dear pals to taste Moghlai [as Muslim food is called as there]dishes, and landed on Rezala one day and the rest is history. I mean you can easily make out why I cannot shed those few extra kilos even after regular exercise. Like an average Bengali, I am a foodie and very particular about it. The well known hotelier Anjan Chatterjee who has a chain of restaurants all over India says that the rezala owes its taste to the ingredients goes into it. These includes whole spices, kewra water[attar], milk or cream. He says the popularity of rezala in Bengal is perhaps the fact that Bengalis prefer a tinge of sweetness in their food.
    I will also take the liberty to say Kolkata has the best Muslim Restaurants than the rest of India, some of them as old as of 50-100 years, some worth mentioning are Royal, Sabir, Shiraj, Rehmania, Aminia, Arsalan. In the book OH!CALCUTTA Anjan chatterjee writes about how rezala made an entry in the Bengali Cuisine. The story goes that when the Nawabs of Awadh and descendants of Tipu Sultan were exiled in Bengal, they carried their cooks along. They were responsible for the Islamic touch to Bengali cuisine, namely the use of spices, ghee and mutton/chicken.
      Rezala goes extremely well with Rumali Roti. Due to my inability to make Rumali Roti I serve it with Luchi/Paratha. Though Mutton Rezala is more tastier and popular than the one made with chicken, I have come up with the latter this time. The mutton version some other day. Lets proceed with the recipe that I followed.

INGREDIENTS :[FOR THE MARINATION] :
Chicken : 500 gm
Plain Yogurt : 250 gm
Ginger Paste : 1tsp
Salt : As required


INGREDIENTS :[for the gravy]:
Cashew : 6-8
Poppy Seeds : 1tbsp
Onion : 2 medium
Milk : 1/2 cup
Black Peppercorn :10
Whole Dried Red Chillies : 6
Cinnamon Stick : 2 one inch pieces
Green Cardamon : 4
Cloves : 4
Bay leaf : 1
Kewra Water [attar] : 3-4 drops[i substituted with Rose Water]
Sugar : 1tsp
Ghee[clarified Butter] : 3tbsp +1tsp
Hot Water : 1/2cup

METHOD :
Wash and cut the chicken into big pieces. Marinate with beaten yogurt, salt, ginger paste. Keep covered at room temperature for about 2 hours.

Peel and wash the onions and get a smooth paste out of it. Wash the poppy seeds through a strainer and get a paste along with the cashews adding little water.

Heat 3tbsp ghee in a wok. Temper with a bay leaf, cinnamon,cardamom, black peppercorn, cloves. As they give out aroma, put in the onion paste. Fry till the raw smell goes. Wipe the marinade from the chicken and put in the chicken pieces. Fry for 2-3 minutes at medium heat. Now add the marinade and lower the heat to minimum.

Stir and cover. Uncover and stir every 3 minutes, to avoid sticking to the bottom. When the chicken is half done add the poppyseed-cashew paste and stir well. Let cook covered and at minimum heat. Add the water . Cover for 2 minutes.

Now add the milk, rose water and sugar. Stir and let cook for another 2 minutes. Add 1 tsp ghee and mix well. Switch off. Transfer to a serving bowl and garnish with whole dried red chillies.

Please note:
Since milk is used, it tends to spoil quickly, so eat it fresh.
Use rose water if you cannot take the strong smell of kewra water.
It has to be slow cooked and the gravy should be thicker.




Sunday, 7 December 2014

CHICKEN KATI ROLL


When Kati Rolls are in, all worries are out!! Yes, I mean it. At my home, someone finishes it in minutes, he who usually takes half an hour to finish a bowl of rice, dal and fish. He also knows mamma will prepare something he loves on  Sundays, more so if the previous day is a working Saturday for mamma dear. Today he visited the kitchen 5 times to enquire whats cooking. The senior sits and watch and murmurs you are spoiling him, at the same time finishes them at a greater pace when served. And the lady thinks the more I learn the art of cooking, the more I jog, I am actually putting up a challenge to the would be daughter-in-law....hey I am there in between before you reach him! Jokes apart, she thinks she will be a very indulgent mom-in-law.....though the senior says she would be the worst mom-in-law, saying she is a control freak. The lady thinks her son will be venturing out in few years, may be will stay thousands of miles away, so there is no question of control then. In fact, that fear of living apart from him makes her spend more time in the kitchen, to see that million dollar smile. Who knows, she may have to see that only through the web some day. Somebody inside said hey, you have come a long way from Kati Rolls....lets go back.
        Kati Rolls are street food actually. Originally, it was a skewer- roasted kebab wrapped in a paratha. Today, mostly any filling made of potato, paneer, chicken or mutton wrapped in a paratha is termed as Kati Roll. Once you land at Kolkata Airport and enter the city, you can see bee line of roll centres at every corner. Making them at home is easy. Prepare a filling of your choice, make your own paratha, wrap with filling and enjoy with lassi[yogurt drink] can we say? This recipe is of Chicken Kati Roll, a filling made of small cubes of chicken slow cooked with few spices until dried and some strips of selected vegetables added to it. Lets proceed to the recipe.

INGREDIENTS :[for the parathas]
All Purpose Flour : 2 coffee mugs
Salt : 1/4 spoon
Sugar : 1/2tsp
Oil : 1tsp for each paratha and 2tbsp to mix with the dough
Water : As required

INGREDIENTS :[for the filling]
Boneless Chicken : 300 gm
Garlic Paste : 2tbsp
Ginger Paste : 1tbsp
Cumin Powder : 1tsp
Coriander Powder : 1tsp
Red Chilli Powder : 1tsp
Garam Masala Powder :1/2 tsp
Chaat Masala : 1tsp
Salt : As required
Turmeric Powder : 11/2tsp
Onion : 1 big
Capsicum : 1small
Red bell pepper : 1small
Carrot : 1small
Green Chilli : 2
Lemon : 1
Oil : 2tbsp

METHOD :
Wash and cut the chicken into small cubes. Marinate with ginger-garlic paste,red chilli powder, salt and turmeric powder, just as below. Keep aside for 2 hours.



Now cut the onion, capsicum, red bell pepper, carrot into thin strips. Chop the green chillies. Wash them. Marinate with cumin powder, red chilli powder, chaat masala, salt for not more than 5 minutes, just as below.



Heat oil in a wok. Put in the marinated chicken with all the marinade. Give a stir and cover. Reduce heat to minimum. Uncover and stir every 3-4 minutes. No water required as it will be cooked in its own juice. After 10 minutes add the coriander powder, mix well and cover again. When the chicken is almost done and dried, add the garam masala powder. Stir well. Add the marinated vegetables. Mix well and stir for about 3-4 minutes at medium heat. Its done and will look like below.


The filling is ready. Now the dough. Take the the flour in a wide mouthed vessel. Add little salt,1/2 tsp sugar and 2 tbsp oil. Rub well for 3-4 minutes. Now add water little by little and keep on rubbing till a soft but firm dough is formed. This will take about 15 minutes. Cover with a clean cloth for 1/2 an hour. Uncover and rub again for 2-3 minutes. Make balls to make parathas of desired shapes. With help of rolling pins, roll parathas into round shapes. Heat a tawa pan. Put in a paratha, turn sides 2-3 times and pour in 1tsp oil. Fry till light brown and little crispy but soft. Keep onto a  tissue paper to soak any extra oil. This step can be skipped if you prefer to use store bought Paratha.

Now fill in each Paratha with 5-6 pieces of chicken and some  vegetables. Squeeze little lemon juice. Roll up and serve hot with salads and lassi[yogurt drink]. Its as good as lunch.


                                         TEMPTING....AIN'T THEY??....ENJOY!!

Saturday, 6 December 2014

GOBI MASALA WITH JEERA RICE



Yes....at times LIFE is that simple or needs to be that simple. Specially on Mondays and Tuesdays. The weekend is just over. You indulged yourself into too much of meat, fish cooked in generous amount of oil and spices. To top it up were the desserts. Your stomach cries for some rest and you must listen to it! Hence such  a humble dish of GOBI MASALA n JEERA RICE.
    Rice is our staple. So we keep on exploring and experimenting with it in different ways with different ingredients. Whatever ingredients  you may have used, its always a hit. Well, thats a rice  loving person speaking. Specially when its forbidden , she will be more hooked towards it.                    Cauliflowers being farmed and produced in abundance, its use is obviously varied.....from fries to curries. Earlier they were available only during winter, nowadays its available throughout the year. So you are at the liberty to use it the way as you wish to. It all needs a cauliflower , few tomatoes and spices readily available at home. It goes well with both rice and chapati. That particular day I prepared jeera rice to go with it. Serve with a bowl of plain yogurt and pickles.

INGREDIENTS[for Gobi Masala] :
Cauliflower : 1
Green Peas : 2 tbsp
Tomato : 3 medium
Ginger Paste : 2 tsp
Cumin Powder : 1tsp
Green Chilli : 2
Garam Masala Powder : 1 tsp
Kashmiri Mirch : 1 tsp
Turmeric Powder : 1tsp.
Bayleaf : 1
Cumin Seeds : 2 pinches
Turmeric Powder : 1 tsp
Salt : As required
Sugar : 1tsp[optional]
Oil : 4 tbsp
Ghee[Clarified Butter] : 1tsp

INGREDIENTS[for the Rice] :
Basmati Rice : 1 cup
Water : 2 cup
Cumin Seeds : 1tsp
Salt : As required
Cashew Nut : 5-6 halved[optional]
Ghee : 2 tbsp

METHOD :
Wash the rice and soak for at least 1 hour.  Meanwhile cut the cauliflower into medium sized florets and wash. Sprinkle salt and half tsp turmeric. Mix well and keep aside for about 15 minutes. Cut each tomato into 4 pieces, deseed and wash. Slit the green chillies.

Heat oil in a wok. Fry the cauliflower florets till light brown. Take out. Temper oil with cumin seeds and a bay leaf. Add the ginger paste. Stir for about 2 minutes till the raw smell goes. Add the tomato pieces and keep on stirring till they melt. Add the cumin powder, rest of the turmeric powder, salt, Kashmiri Mirch powder. Stir till the spice mix separates from the oil.

Add the green peas. Saute for 2 minutes. Add 1 small cup water. Let it boil covered for 3 minutes, Remove the cover and add the fried cauliflower florets. Cover again and cook for another 3-4 minutes. Add the garam masala powder, 1tsp ghee and 1/2 tsp sugar. Mix well and switch off. Its done. Transfer into a serving bowl.

For preparing the Jeera Rice, put a heavy bottomed vessel on the gas. Pour n 2tbsp ghee. Once hot temper with 1tsp jeera[cumin seeds]. Add the halved cashew nuts and lightly fry. Drain the water from the rice and put into the vessel. Keep stirring at medium heat for 3-4 minutes. Add 2 cups water and salt. Cover . As soon as the water in the rice comes to boil, lower the heat from medium to low. Allow to cook till all water dries up. Stand covered for another 4 minutes. Hold the two sides of the vessel and give a jerk. Its done. Should be served piping hot.

Serve hot with raita and pickles!!

Please note, you can always put potatoes in the gobi masala which is a common practise, I did not. If you are adding potato then peel, wash and cut each potato into 4 pieces, width wise and then length wise. Add salt and turmeric, fry them. Add when the spice mix separates from the oil.

Your measuring cup for rice and water should be same. This is a must.




Wednesday, 3 December 2014

SHRIMPS IN BLACK PEPPER SAUCE


Not a fish, yet considered the most versatile and tasty amongst all fish by many. Versatile in the sense it can be made to as many a dishes, open to any kind of experiment. Either way it tastes great. At times we forget its not a fish. Available in so many sizes, it is quite common in your kitchen, as it can be mixed and matched with any kind of ingredient given its availability. Every country, every region has its own way of cooking it. With globalisation we are open to and equipped with more and more recipes of prawns.
In our childhood prawns were not so expensive, so they adorned our  plates quite often. I am talking about tiger prawns which once cooked would cover a medium sized plate . When served with steamed rice, we thought what do they talk about heaven, if this is not heaven, what else is. A sunday,  a hearty meal of prawn curry and rice was so fulfilling, one could make out from the noise of snoring afterwards. Yes weekend  afternoon naps were as much a treat. I don't know why I am using a past tense , we still practise this.
In our community, treating the son-in-law with a tiger prawn or hilsa  curry is almost a ritual. Whether the wallet permits or not, it is a matter of prestige. The over indulgent mom-in-laws gives the ultimatum to the poor pa-in-laws....I don't know anything, the freshest and the biggest prawns in the market should adorn my kitchen today.  The father-in-law would come back sweating and a big hole in his pocket but with an amazing smile of satisfaction on his face. And yes the much embarrassed son-in-law would have them in minutes, haha. Embarrassment has nothing to do with taste buds . Simple living  does not necessarily mean simple eating....God if one is like me....a top to bottom foodie.
It was a friday. The refrigerator was almost empty. Had few shrimps, bell peppers and 2-3 variety of sauces. Was thinking what to do and how quickly.....and came up with this BLACK PEPPER SHRIMPS.

INGREDIENTS :
Shrimps : 500 gm
Bell Pepper[green,red,yellow] : 1/2 each
Onion : 2 medium
Green Chilli : 4[change according to your requirement]
Garlic[minced] : 1tbsp
Ginger[minced] : 1 tsp
Black Pepper Sauce : 2 tbsp[change according to your requirement]
Salt : As required
Soya Sauce : 1 tbsp
Corn Flour : 3 tbsp
Oil : 2 tbsp
Spring Onion or Coriander leaves for garnish. I did not have so I skipped.

PROCEDURE :
Discard the head and the tail of the shrimps, devein  and wash. Cut the onion and bell peppers into small squares and wash. Slit the green chillies. Add little salt to the shrimps, mix well and coat them with cornflour.

Heat oil in a pan. Fry the shrimps lightly in batches. Keep aside. In the same oil, put in the minced  garlic and ginger , As they give a nice aroma, put in the onions. Stir till they are translucent. Add the bell peppers and the slitted green chillies. Saute for 1-2 minutes.

Now add the soya sauce and little salt. Stir at high heat for another 2 minutes. Add the prawns, give a stir and add the black pepper sauce and stir for another 1 minute at high heat, Switch off gas, you are done.

Serve with noodles/steamed rice/fried rice!!!

Monday, 1 December 2014

CRISPY FRIED MALPUA



Malpua is an Indian sweet/dessert. Every region has its own way of preparing malpua. In Bengal we call it Malpoa and is generally made with a mixture of flour, semolina, milk and sugar. Though I faintly remember my grand mom using rice flour to make it. In this batter you can add mashed banana , shredded coconut, khoya. I used the basic batter today because weekdays are no frill days for me. Malpoa perhaps is the first sweet/dessert a Bengali girl learns to make....the most basic and easy recipe in the Bengali 'Pitha' category. When served with rabri it becomes a dessert.
     About 20-30 years ago, yet to be married Bengali girls were grilled by their would be in-laws or their representatives....do you know cooking? Can you make malpoa and patishapta? Under a scanner of 5-8 pair of eyes, the poor girl had to answer a bizarre questionnaire just to prove her worth in the marriage market. Its not a past tense as yet but lessened.
    Malpoa brings in a lot of memories. Mothers frying them one after another tirelessly which amounted to 50-60 in an evening. The ritual was to distribute among your neighbours, as part of  a nice warm gesture. Living in individual houses we had a neighbourhood culture then.....talking to each other from this terrace to that terrace. Whatsapp or Facebook were not required for socialising. Warmth was felt through exchange of words or food.
      Now this is one sign of me growing old. Old people generally like to reminiscing and glorifying past. My middle class values or sentiments say there is every reason to. This will bring in never-ending arguments, better we jump onto the recipe. Usually malpoa is served dipped in sugar syrup but  I skipped the dipping part and kept it crispy fried as liked by my family.



INGREDIENTS : 
All Purpose Flour : 1 cup
Semolina : 1 cup
Milk : 500 ml
Sugar : 1 cup
Fennel Seeds : 1tsp[alternatively black pepper seeds]
Oil : 1 cup[for deep frying]

METHOD :
Pour the milk in a heavy bottomed pan. Bring to boil and keep boiling till it reduces to 300 ml. The milk should not turn brown. Once done let it cool a bit.

To it add the semolina when it is still warm. Keep aside for 1/2 an hour. Add the flour now little by little stirring with a ladle simultaneously. No lump should be their in the batter. Add sugar and 2-3 drops of oil. Stand for 1 hour to allow the sugar to dissolve. The addition of oil helps the malpoa not to stick to the pan while frying. Add the fennel seeds or black pepper seeds. Your batter is ready. It will neither be too thick nor too thin.





 Take a round shaped serving spoon. Heat oil in a pan to the smoking point. Lower heat from medium towards low. Pour in batter to the oil with the spoon. Fry till the sides turn dark brown and the middle light brown. Carefully turn over and fry same way. Fry one at a time.

You can serve them after being soaked in sugar syrup or with rabri. I usually serve them fried as preferred at home. Mind you they taste best the next day. Enjoy....