Sunday, 30 November 2014

CHICKEN KOFTA CURRY




KOFTAS may have originated in MiddleEast. Present day they are very popular in Turkey, Afghanistan, India, Bangladesh, Pakistan, Iran, Arab countries. The origin of the word KOFTE is the Persian word KUFTE meaning 'mashed'. In olden times, since people did not have meat grinders they minced meat to very small pieces and then mashed them in large mortars. Usually made of ground meat, these days vegetarian versions are also made, especially in India where there are a lot of vegetarians. Fish being very popular in South India and West Bengal, we also prepare fish kofta, though not a common practice.
   I love preparing kofta. I somehow find the entire process of making kofta very pleasureful. Weekends are fixed for such time consuming recipes. I usually do it with minced chicken/mutton, raw bananas, bottle gourd , or a mixed vegetable one. The gravy is usually tomato based or a malaider one made with cashew paste and cream. This recipe is the most common  chicken kofta balls in a rich tomato gravy.
   A sunday lunch with kofta curry, rice and salad is so indulging. Actually the balls can be made on saturday evening, deep fried. While some can be saved for next day's gravy, the rest can be had with salads and your favourite wine to make saturday evenings colourful.

INGREDIENTS[for the kofta] :
Minced Chicken : 300gm
Minced Garlic : 2 tbsp
Minced Ginger : 1 tbsp
Green Chilli[chopped] : 1tsp
Fresh Coriander Leaves[chopped] : 2 tbsp
Salt : As required
Turmeric Powder : 1/2 tsp
Cornflour : 2 tbsp
Oil : 100 ml[to deep fry, the extra can be saved for later use]

INGREDIENTS[for the gravy] :
Tomato : 2[big]
Garlic Paste : 1 tsp
Ginger Paste : 2 tsp
Onion : 2[medium]
Cumin Powder : 1/2 tsp
Coriander Powder : 1/2 tsp
Garam Masala Powder : 1 tsp
Cumin Seeds : 2 pinches
Bay Leaf : 1
Salt : As required
Turmeric Powder : 1 tsp
Sugar : 1/2 tsp[optional]
Red Chilli Powder[Kashmiri] : 1 tsp
Oil : 2 tbsp

PROCEDURE :
Wash the minced chicken with help of a strainer. Transfer into a bowl. Add salt, minced garlic and ginger, chopped green chilli and coriander leaves, turmeric powder and corn flour. Mix well and shape into medium sized balls as in picture.

Wash and chop the tomatoes discarding the seeds. Peel and slice the onions. Make a paste of both onions and tomatoes separately. Get the ginger and garlic pastes done.

Heat 100 ml oil in a wok. Fry the kofta balls in batches at medium to low heat. The balls should be fried uniformly. Once all of them are fried, transfer the leftover oil in a bowl keeping only about 2 tbsp in the wok. Reheat the oil.

Temper with a bay leaf and cumin seeds. Add the the onion paste. Fry till it turns light brown. Add the ginger-garlic paste. Fry till the raw smell goes away. Add the tomato paste. Keep stirring for 2-3 minutes.

Now add the cumin, Kashmiri red chilli powder and coriander powder, salt and turmeric. Stir till the oil separates from spice mix. Add one coffee cup water. Cover and let boil for 3 minutes at medium to low heat. Now open the cover, put in the kofta balls. Add the garam masala powder and sugar. Cover and cook for another 2-3 minutes. The gravy should be thicker. Switch off. You can use a tablespoon of cream at this stage, I did not.








Saturday, 29 November 2014

GREEN MANGO CHUTNEY



Chutneys are popular throughout South Asia . They are made with so many things, starting from  coconut, garlic, tomato to various fruits like papaya, grape, pomegranate, mango, dates, raisins and so on. In India, every state or every region has its own way of preparing chutneys. For us its eaten at the end of a full course meal before the dessert. Earlier it was compulsory to make chutneys  every day for lunch and dinner to complete a meal. A normal Bengali meal would start with a spinach preparation, pakoras and dal, a vegetable, a fish curry and to end up with a chutney. A kheer dessert for dinner may me. These days life got very fast. With more women venturing out, these elaborate meals are vanishing, at least on weekdays. All chutneys and pakoras and desserts are made at the weekends now.Health is a reason though. But yes I miss those good old days when a bite in the pakoras or picking up the chutney with one finger and placing it on your tongue and licking it would take me into seventh heaven.
      Feminists please do not run after me, when it comes to my loved ones, I am a very bad example of feminism. I have never seen our moms or their generation to complain about staying in kitchen or doing other household chores. I still believe small kids at home demands mothers to be with them more than anything else, if of course situation permits. I do not understand finance much, but know it for sure a nanny, however efficient is can never be a substitute for a mom. Career may wait, the formative years of a child will never come back. How many cases of drug abuse and violence among young's was there during our childhood? Drug Rehab Centres offers cure but not prevention. Well there can always be arguments and counter arguments which is healthy.
    And this fat, old lady is again off the track. I am taking too much liberty on exercising my right to freedom of speech. Well I had never being articulate. Better start with the most famous and common recipe of chutney in Bengal..... Sweet Green Mango Chutney, given their generally sweet tooth.

INGREDIENTS :
Green Mango[unripened] : 2
Sugar : 1/4 cup[adjust according to the amount of sweetness you prefer]
Salt : 4 pinches.
Turmeric Powder : 2 pinches
Black Mustard Seeds : 3 pinches
Dry Red Chilli : 2
Cumin Seeds :1 tsp
Coriander Seeds : 1 tsp
Oil[preferably Mustard] : 1 tbsp

PROCEDURE :
Wash the mangoes very well. Peel and cut half. You may avoid peeling and keep the skin on if you wish. Discard the seed. Cut horizontally and then vertically. That means each half will fetch four pieces. Wash them again taking in a bowl. Add salt and turmeric and mix well. Keep aside for 20 minutes or so.

Meanwhile, dry roast the dry red chillies, cumin and coriander seeds. Coarsely grind them in a grinder. Keep aside.

Heat oil in a wok. Temper with mustard seeds. Once they splutter, add the marinated mango pieces. Stir and cover. Turn heat to low.

Give a stir every 2 minutes till the mango pieces are soft and about to melt. Add the sugar, stir and cover. As the sugar melts, add 1 small tea cup water. When the chutney turns into a creamy consistency without melting the pieces totally, its done.

Transfer into a bowl and garnish with the dry roasted ground spices. Later mix well before serving.


Thursday, 27 November 2014

FISH CUTLET N FRIED CHICKEN WITH BUTTERED RICE


I sincerely wished to post a recipe on this occasion of Thanksgiving....But honestly, I am yet to learn how to make pumpkin pies and turkey meat and cranberry desserts. Back home, we did not know much about Thanksgiving or Halloween, why, how and when they are celebrated. It is after stepping into Singapore that I am getting to know about all these festivities and quite enjoying learning new things. I only knew pumpkin is used to make vegetables, that it can be used to make pies and cakes is really a new thing to know for me.....and I am loving it. Learning is always a thing of joy, and when it comes to cooking, I am game for it. Unable to cook a dish eaten on Thanksgiving, I thought let me prepare a dish today that I am comfortable in and at the same time would be accepted and loved by the Western World. A long weekend, families enjoying together and a recipe as easy and tasty as this should gel I believe. The recipe is global, I feel.
   This recipe may require a bit more time for the preparation part but the cooking part is that easy again. So time consumed is balanced by time saved. It requires very less ingredients which are easily available at home. Here for you Fish Cutlet n Fried Chicken with Buttered Rice with a generous serving of salad. So may I call it a balanced one dish meal?? Thats you to decide.

INGREDIENTS :[for fish cutlets]
White Fish Fillets : 250 gm
Potato : 2 [big]
Garlic[minced] : 1tbsp
Ginger[minced] : 1tsp
Green Chilli[chopped] : 2
Onion[sliced] : 2[medium]
Salt : As required
Bengali Garam Masala Powder : 1tsp[an equal amount of cinnamon,green cardamon and cloves powdered together]
Oil : 2 tbsp + 50ml to deep fry the cutlets
Bread Crumb : 100 gm
Egg : 1

INGREDIENTS :[for chicken fry]
Chicken[breast or leg] : 4 pieces
Ginger Paste : 1tsp
Garlic Paste : 1 tbsp
Lemon : 1
Cornflour : 4 tbsp
Red Chilli Powder : 1tsp
Salt : As required
Oil : 50 ml[to deep fry]

INGREDIENTS :[for buttered rice]
Basmati Rice : 1 coffee mug
Green Peas : 3 tbsp
Cashew Nuts[roasted] : 6[halved]
Butter : 3tbsp
Salt : As required

PROCEDURE :
Let us prepare the rice first. Boil enough water in a heavy bottomed vessel. When the water starts boiling, put in the pre washed rice. When half cooked, drain the water from the rice. Keep aside.

Wash the chicken pieces. Marinate with lemon juice, ginger and garlic paste, and little salt. Keep aside for at least 2 hours.

Wash the fish fillets, cut small. Mince ginger n garlic, chop green chillies and onions. Wash, boil and peel the potatoes. Mash them. Heat oil in a wok. Fry the minced ginger and garlic for 2 minutes and add the onions. As the onions brown, add the chopped green chillies, put in the fish pieces.

Mix well and keep on stirring till the fish pieces breaks. Now add the mashed potatoes. Add the garam masala powder. Mix well and fry further for another 2-3 minutes till all water dries up. Transfer into a plate. Let cool.

Once cool, shape into round balls and flatten with your palms. Break and beat an egg. Put the fish cutlets into bread crumbs, then dip into the egg mix and again into the bread crumbs. Deep fry in batches. Excess oil can be used later.

Make a batter with cornflour, red chilli powder, salt and water. Dip the chicken pieces in the batter and deep fry in oil. Excess oil can be used later.

In a clean wok, put the butter. Once hot ,put the peas, fry for 2 minutes, add the cashews. After one minute, add the rice. Add salt,  Mix well for 3-4 minutes and transfer into a plate. Be careful, the rice should not break in the process.

Your meal is ready to be served with your choice of salad!!


Wednesday, 26 November 2014

SUKHA CHICKEN


Spicy, hot, little tangy, sleek, tender....no...no...do not take me otherwise....I am just describing the above picture. I am as innocent as......oops could not find a suitable word to describe my innocence....hahaha.... may be I am not! Anyway, my job here is to describe and discuss the above picture and I should concentrate on that. I think Chicken has an universal approach, at almost every home, throughout the world. A very handy and healthy thing, it is so easy and a pleasure to cook, given it takes least time to prepare. Whatever way you cook it, its tasty! I think its easy level of cooking makes it popular with all, from working women to bachelors. And you do not have to give much effort in the process. Extremely popular at my home, its almost an everyday affair. With Google in hand, I am absolutely relaxed and confident I won't get bored following same recipe and force them eating it.
The chapati lovers at home loves it dry at times. So, last week , I had some boneless pieces, and was thinking what is the quickest way to prepare them, I was just not in the mood to go for an elaborate process. This recipe has no originality. You will see I used curry leaves along with Punjabi garam masala, garnished with spring onion....later thought I may be promoting Harmony actually through this dish. You need very less ingredients to prepare this and the outcome would surely to make you happy.

INGREDIENTS :
Chicken[boneless] : 500 gm
Tomato : 2 big
Curry Leaves : 8-10
Onion : 2 big
Green Chilli Paste : 2 tsp
Garlic Paste : 3 tbsp
Ginger Paste : 1 tbsp
Red Chilli Powder : 1 tsp
Punjabi Garam Masala Powder : 1tsp
Coriander Powder : 1tbsp
Turmeric Powder : 2 tsp
Salt : As required
Bay Leaf : 1
Oil : 4 tbsp
Lemon Juice : 4 tbsp
Spring Onions to garnish.

METHOD :
Wash and marinate the chicken pieces with lemon juice, salt and 1 tsp turmeric powder for about 2 hours. Wash, cut,deseed and roughly chop the tomatoes. Slice the onions thinly and wash. Get your ginger-garlic paste ready.

Heat oil in a wok. Temper with a bay leaf. Add the sliced onions. As they turn golden brown, add the curry leaves, stir 1 or 2 times. Add the ginger-garlic paste. Saute till the raw smell goes away and you get the nice aroma of fried ginger-garlic.

At this stage, add the tomato pieces and the salt required. Saute till the tomato boils and blends with the spice paste well. Add the red chilli powder, turmeric powder, coriander powder. Fry till the oil separates from the spices.

Add the Chicken along with the marination. Mix well with the spices. Stir at hight heat for 5 minutes. Lower the heat to lowest and cover. Stir every 3 minutes. No need to add water. It will be cooked in the water released.

When the chicken pieces are almost tender, add the Punjabi garam masala. Stir well and cook further covered till all the water is absorbed. Its a dry dish. The cooking may take 40-45 minutes.

Once done transfer into a serving bowl and garnish with spring onions. Its a dry dish, to be served with naans/kulchas/chapati/paranthas.


Monday, 24 November 2014

MASALA CRAB




These decapods are extremely tasty to have and a favourite with me and my senior. Crabs are extremely popular in Singapore, found in all shapes and sizes.Of the two most popular dishes of crabs here, Chilli Crab and Black Pepper Crab, we prefer the Black Pepper Crab. Sitting by the sea, watching streamline of ships standing and gorging on black pepper crab is a thing of pleasure. The smell of freshly ground black pepper along with butter adds to the beautiful, cosy ambience. You get crabs all over Singapore, but I personally feel the ones we get at the East Coast Park restaurants are just awesome, unmatched....perhaps the fresh seaside breeze, the beautiful sight of the bright garlanded ships, the moonlit night....all are add ons....few hours at peace.... away from the hustle n bustle of the busy city life.
   As said, Crabs are decapods along with lobsters,crayfish and shrimps. Crabs form an order within the decapods, called the Brachyura. Their short body is covered by thick exoskeleton. Found all over the world, they mostly live in sea water, there are some who live in fresh, and some live on land. About 7,000 species are known.
Back home, crab is eaten, though not as popular as in Singapore. There is a particular season when we get it. There it is quite cheaper compared to prawns and other fish as it is not considered a delicacy there. They are found in small and medium sizes. This crab curry is a simple one, the way we do it at home. I used flower crabs for this preparation.

INGREDIENTS :
Crab[medium sized] : 4
Tomato : 2[medium]
Onion : 2[medium]
Cumin Powder : 2 tsp
Coriander Powder : 1tsp
Turmeric Powder : 1 tsp
Chilli Powder[Kashmiri] : 1 tsp
Ginger Paste : 2 tbsp
Green Chilli Paste : 1 tsp
Bay Leaf : 1
Cumin Seeds : 2 pinches
Salt : As per taste
Oil : 4 tbsp

PROCEDURE :
Break each crab into smaller pieces, tear and halve the claws. Wash with cold water thoroughly. Now soak in little warm water thoroughly for half an hour.

After half an hour, drain the water. Add salt and turmeric to the crab. Mix well. Keep aside for 15 minutes. Get smooth pastes of green chilli and ginger separately. Wash and cut the tomatoes into small pieces discarding the seeds. Grind them to a paste.

Peel, wash, cut and make a paste of the onions.

Heat oil in a wok. Fry the crab pieces in batches till golden brown. Keep aside.

In the same oil, add a bay leaf and the cumin seeds. As the cumin seeds splutter, put in the onion paste and fry for 2 minutes. Put in the ginger paste. Fry till the raw smell goes.

Add the tomato paste  and salt as required. Saute for 2-3 minutes, as they melt, add all the spice powders. Fold in well till the oil separates from the spice mix. Add  1 small cup water. Cover. Lower the heat.

After 3-4 minutes, open the cover and add the crab pieces. Stir well and cover. Cook at low heat for another 3 minutes. Switch off, it should be done.

Transfer into a serving bowl. Goes best with steamed rice!!





Thursday, 20 November 2014

CHOCOLATE SANDESH




Sweets are something you never get bored of. There are so many varieties available, we need a lifetime to taste them all. With very less ingredients you can actually prepare yum laden sweets. Though Bengal is famous for sweets, the other been fish, it was not in my priority list till may be I was caught with diabetes. For the past 4 years or so I am crazily in to sweets, homemade or otherwise. I think the story is same in most of the homes. Be it Durga Puja, Diwali or Eid, we have too much of it. Yes, I am facing all post festive effects of having too much sweets. Like me, many others, I bet. Does it stop us from loving it? No way, its in our genes to grab it and have it. Though its true....'A sweet a day, brings us closer to the doctor anyway'.

    As I believe, balance in life is very important. Why do we need to leave sweets altogether for a healthy life? We will have it but in moderation. Taste bud satisfied and health restored. Having a sweet once a week will not kill us. We should not leave the world with the regret that we wanted to eat this or do this and we did not. That is a sort of torture on our soul. Do whatever you wish to but staying within limits. We need not deprive ourselves from the simple pleasures of life, there will not be a second one.

     Yes, all this while I was and am trying to promote and establish the simple philosophy of living your life to your heart's content maintaining balance and drawing a line wherever  and whenever required. Well everybody knows it, I just jotted down. I prefer homemade sweets. They are easy to make using all ingredients available at home. Just a little patience is required. Whenever there is abundance of chocolate at home, I plan a dessert or sweet with it. The festive season was round the corner, so whats better than Chocolate Sandesh, I thought. You just see so little ingredients have been used to prepare this.

INGREDIENTS :
Milk : 2 lt.
Chocolate : 2[175gm bar]
Sugar : 2tbsp
Condensed Milk : 50 ml
Lemon Juice : 1/4 small cup
Ice Cubes : 1 coffee mug
Chopped Pistachios to garnish

PROCEDURE :
Pour the milk in a heavy bottomed pan. Switch on your gas and put the milk for boil. Get the juice of the lemon. Once the milk comes to boil, pour in the lemon juice. As soon as the milk starts curdling, switch of the gas and put in the ice cubes to avoid extreme curdling which may cause the paneer to get hard.




With help of a clean white cloth strain the water. Hang the cloth with paneer for about 1 hour. The water should go but the paneer should remain moist.Take out the paneer and place in a large bowl.






Now let us melt the chocolate. I do it in a very easy method. Break the chocolate into small pieces and put in a microwavable bowl. Add 2 tbsp water. Microwave at low speed for 5-6 minutes stirring every 30 seconds. You may continue till the chocolate melts. Mix well.



Mash the paneer for 10-15 minutes. Heat a wok, add the paneer. Stir at low heat for 8 minutes. Add the sugar and condensed milk. Keep stirring till the water almost dries up.







Add the chocolate. Stir well till it gets oily and sticky.  At this stage you can add chopped almonds if you wish to. Switch off gas.



Transfer the mixture into a round serving plate. Let cool a bit.




Now mash it for 3-4 minutes before shaping into sandesh.



Take out small portions and shape as you wish. We get about 18-20 medium sized sandesh from the amount mentioned.



 Serve while still little warm, it is enjoyed the best.... fresh.





Tuesday, 18 November 2014

POTOLER NIRAMISH DORMA [PANEER STUFFED POINTED GOURD]




Pointed Gourd.....as we call it in common English. Potoler Dorma is stuffed Pointed Gourd. Though I have prepared a vegetarian version with paneer stuffing, the most popular version is with a stuffing of shrimps. Since my vegetarian friends have started believing I do not love them anymore, I had to win back their confidence. As a teen I hated vegetables, but these days preferring them. I feel like may be I had too much of non-veg throughout life and my tastebuds are seeking change. As I said I hated vegetables so much that my mom had to really sweat out planning vegetarian recipes for her foodie daughter. Any veggie recipe at home had to be tasty, otherwise there was threatening of meal boycotts on an all veggie day. Remembering those days, a wave of guilt hits my mind and I question myself, why did they pamper me so much? The answer may be hidden in the question why do I pamper mine so much?
   I remember, one day in a week was an all vegetarian day at our home. And that day was a black day for me. Back home from school/college, I would run to my friend's home to taste fish and chicken. That greed is off course the reason for my round shape and all my dreams of becoming a model remained unfulfilled, ha..ha...ha. Jokes apart, I think till date no one has seen a model with 5 feet height, so why cut off my tongue?? I was too wise to do that. I wish to mention here, every thursday was a veggie day at home, and my husband being a childhood buddy, I used to visit their home, straight into his mother's kitchen. An innocent question of aunty what did you cook today would fetch me a big piece of fish with curry n rice. No question of strictness  as she was aunty then, yet to be mom-in-law.
  I think before I cross all limits, I should go with the recipe. Truly, I decided to prepare a vegetarian version of Potoler Dorma for my vegetarian friends. The more popular non-veg version shall come up some other day. The inclusion of paneer as a stuffing in this particular recipe is also not common, I just felt like. So went ahead with it.

INGREDIENTS :
Potol[pointed gourd] : 8
Paneer[cottage cheese/chena] : 200 gm
Posto[poppy seed] : 1tbsp
Tomato : 1 big
Onion : 1 big
Green Chilli : 2
Ginger Paste : 2tbsp
Red Chilli Powder : 1tsp
Turmeric Powder : 1tsp
Salt : As required
Cumin Powder : 1 tsp
Cumin Seeds : 2 pinches
Bay Leaf : 1
Green Cardamom : 3
Cloves : 2
Cinnamon : 1inch stick one
Oil : 4 tbsp
Sugar : 1tsp
Ghee[clarified butter] : 1tsp

METHOD :
Wash and cut the two ends of the potols. Peel the skins keeping little gaps. Now with the edge of a knife bring out the seeds of the potols. Be careful not to break them while doing so. This way you can see vacuums created inside them. Apply little salt and turmeric powder and keep aside covered.

Wash the posto in a strainer. With help of a blender, make a smooth paste of posto, seeds of potol and green chilli. Crumble the paneer with your hands. Slice the onion.

Heat 2 tbsp oil in a wok. Temper with cumin seeds. Add the sliced onions. As they turn golden brown, add  the paste. Keep stirring till it separates from oil. Add the crumbled paneer. Add little salt and turmeric.. Stir well for 3 to 4 minutes or till  most of the water dries up. Switch off. Your filling is ready. Transfer to a bowl and let cool.

Fry the pointed gourds in the same oil till they turn golden brown. Transfer to a plate and let cool.

Once the filling is cold, stuff the holes of the fried potols with the filling with help of the backside of a small spoon.

Cut and deseed the tomato.Temper oil [at this stage we can add little more oil if required] with bay leaf, cinnamon, green cardamom, cumin seeds and cloves. As they give out a nice aroma, add in the ginger paste. As the raw smell goes, put in the tomato pieces. Saute well. As the tomato pieces melt, add the cumin powder, chilli powder, salt and turmeric powder. Stir well till the oil separates from the gravy. Add 1 small tea cup water. Let the gravy boil for 4 minutes.

Add the  fried stuffed potols. Cook covered for another 2-3 minutes. Add the sugar and ghee. Stir and switch off. The gravy will be thick. To be served only with steamed rice!!





Sunday, 16 November 2014

LUCHI O MUTTON



Authentically and religiously Bengal. Authentically because we perhaps are the only to prepare puris with refined flour and call it LUCHI. And its our religion to have it on a regular basis.The name itself is associated with so many incidents and memories. Patented by Bengal, luchi is just perfect for all occasions since when I don't know. But yes, it is a big hit in the present day busy scenario too. If you are preparing it for breakfast, then it is accompanied by fried eggplant/dum aloo and jalebi. If it is served at dinner, then obviously with chicken/ mutton curry and kheer. My friends from the western world please do not get scared, we have a wide range of antacids to offer. Grab it and have it! Its a must!

      I never did leave an opportunity to have luchi in my life except for one day. That was on my marriage day. We are supposed to be on fasting on the D-day. How angry I got to see all relatives and family sitting together and grabbing one after another and the hungry me watching and waiting for a bite, may be at an unearthly hour of the night when all rituals will be over. Oh my God, my husband would have quit the marriage if he knew I was thinking more of luchi than him on that day, hihihi.

      Jokes apart, now a days I hardly have one given my health condition. But I don't regret not having  them much as I had them once to my heart's content. These days I love doing it for my loved ones and also remembering that  some loved ones love it too much. Perhaps there is a kind of regret that I cannot prepare it for all my loved ones.

INGREDIENTS : [for the luchi]
Refined Flour : 2 coffee cups[shall make about 20 luchi]
Salt : As required
Water : As required
Oil : 150 gm[to deep fry,the left over to be used later for other recipes]


INGREDIENTS : [for the mutton curry]
Mutton : 1 kg
Plain Yogurt : 200 gm[alternatively 2 big tomatoes]
Ginger Paste : 2 tsp
Garlic Paste : 2 tbsp
Coriander Powder : 2 tsp
Red Chilli Powder : 2 tbsp[adjust according to your requirement]
Onion : 2 big[sliced]
Salt : As required
Turmeric Powder : 1 tsp
Bay leaf : 1
BengalI Garam Masala Powder : 1/2 tsp[ a powder made of green cardamom, cloves and cinnamon]
Oil[preferably Mustard] : 4+2tbsp



Method :
Let us prepare the dough first. Take the flour in a wide mouthed vessel. Put in the salt and 2 tbsp oil.Mix well for two minutes. Add water little by little and keep rubbing till a soft n smooth dough is formed. Cover with a wet piece of cloth and keep aside.

The mutton has to be marinated for about 10 hours before you cook. Wash the mutton well taken in a bowl. Marinate with little  salt, chilli powder, turmeric powder, beaten yogurt and 2 tbsp mustard oil very well. If you are using tomato instead of yogurt, marinate the mutton with 3 tbsp vinegar or juice of 2 lemon. Tightly cover and refrigerate overnight. Take out 1 hour before cooking.

Heat oil in a pan.Temper with bay leaf and put in the sliced onions. As they turn brown, add the ginger n garlic paste. Keep stirring till the raw smell goes. Add the  coriander powder, chilli powder, turmeric powder, salt. Stir well till the oil separates from the spices. Add the mutton with all the marination. Cook covered stirring every 3-4 minutes at low heat till all the water dries up. It will take about 1 hour.

Now pour in 1 warm coffee mug of water to the mutton. Stir and cover cook for another half an hour. Add the garam masala powder. Stir well and switch off.

Now lets start making luchi. Take flour, oil and salt in a wide mouthed bowl and rub well for 2 minutes. Add water little by little and prepare a firm yet soft dough.Cover with a wet cloth for 1/2 an hour.

Remove cover, knead once more for a while and make small balls out of it.With help of rolling pins, roll out small round shaped luchi putting little oil on the balls.

Heat oil in a well rounded wok. The luchi should soak deep into the oil.  Once the oil reaches the smoking point, lower the heat to medium . Fry luchi one by one.

Please note, to get oil free luchi, heating of the oil properly is necessary....it will be neither too hot or  towards cold. You have to keep on adjusting gas mark throughout the process otherwise they soak in lot of oil. To be served hot always.



Saturday, 15 November 2014

CHICKEN MOMO


This is just another variation of dumplings. You can stuff it with anything from vegetables to all kinds of meats. It is a type of dumpling native to Tibet and Nepal. Over the years it has become very popular in India, specially in the North Eastern regions. Its quite similar to the Japanese gyoza or Chinese baozi. It is extremely healthy and filling except that of the use of refined flour. It is generally served with a specially made chilli sauce or a clear soup.
My men being too much in love with roti-parantha and meat, I hardly do it though it is  such a hassle free recipe. My love for momo dates back to the 90's, when I was in college. Momo was a very new concept in Kolkata then. A very dear friend who just stepped into Kolkata from Nagaland said....Soma .... a momo joint has opened up at Elgin Road, try....you definitely will like it. Soma....being a foodie, did not take much time to go on the mission. I clearly remember me, my friend, her elder sister, two other friends had a nice stroll at the Kolkata Zoo and then ventured into the small cosy eatery to taste those white dumplings filled with meat, accompanied by a simple bowl of soup that tasted heavenly. Later I took my mother a number of times there as she loved them.
My friend heads an NGO at Bangalore today, and while preparing those momos how I wished to sit with her and have them together over series of unending chitchats. May be someday, sooner or later. Momos can be had fried too but I prefer the steamed ones. I prepared a simple veg soup to accompany with carrots,onion,green peas with a dash of lemon,a pinch of black pepper with drops of soya sauce.

INGREDIENTS :
Refined Flour : 2 cups
Minced Chicken : 250 gm
Minced Garlic : 1tbsp
Minced Ginger : 1 tsp
Finely Chopped Onion : 2 tbsp
Finely Chopped Coriander : 1 tbsp
Soya Sauce : 2 tbsp
Salt : As per requirement
Oil : 2 tbsp.
Black Pepper Powder : 1tsp

METHOD :
Wash the minced chicken. Add the minced garlic n ginger, chopped onion,coriander, salt, soya sauce and black pepper powder to it. Mix very well all together and keep aside.

Take the flour in a big bowl. Add little salt and the oil. Mix well. Now add water little by little and keep on rubbing with your palm until it turns into a soft dough.

With help of rolling pin and a base roll out small round shaped puris. They have to be thin. Put one spoon full of minced chicken filling in the middle. Close it from all sides and they will take such round shapes as in the picture.

Put a deep bottom vessel half filled with water on the oven. Cover and let the water come to boil. Take a flat metal vessel with holes in it. Add few drops of oil in it and spread. Place the dumplings on it one not touching the other.

Once the water comes to boil, place the vessel with dumplings over it and cover. Let steam for 10 to 15 minutes. And your soft chicken momos are ready to be served.

Please note, they taste best when done with minced pork. The fat released from the pork enhances its taste.

Thursday, 13 November 2014

DALIA UPMA



Dalia is actually broken wheat which is made from whole raw wheat kernels crushed or cut into small pieces. There are a large number of uses for this food which makes a popular dietary supplement in many cultures. It carries a great deal of nutrition and fibre since it includes the fibre and nutrient rich outer bran and germ of the wheat. Use  of dalia in diet helps keep our heart fit. Dalia is used in so many ways in our food, its made into khichdi, upma, kheer, soups along with assorted vegetables.


    Dalia Upma with vegetables is a popular breakfast dish among Indians. I prepare it more often as it is a good source of iron, magnesium and phosphorous. It is said to be more nutritious than rice as it contains more fibre, vitamins and minerals. Besides, whenever this lady gets lazy and do not feel like rolling chapatis and puris, she tries her hands on upma, idli, dhokla.

   In this dish you are at the liberty to use wide variety of veggies. I used whatever was available in my pantry on that particular day. Roasted peanuts, dry red chillies and curry leaves are compulsory in its preparation.



INGREDIENTS :
Dalia :150gm
Roasted Peanuts :1tbsp
Mustard Seeds : 1/4 tsp
Bengal Gram Dal : 1/2 tsp
Dry Red Chilli : 2
Curry Leaves : 7-8
Red Bell Pepper : 1/2 [medium]
Green Peas : 1tbsp
Capsicum : 1 [medium]
Green Chilli : 2
Onion : 1[big]
Oil : 2 tbsp

METHOD :
Take the required amount of dalia in a bowl. Cut the Onion, Capsicum and Red Bell Pepper into cubes, keep in separate bowls and wash. Wash the curry leaves. Slit the green chillies.



Heat oil in a wok. Roast the peanuts, take out and keep aside. Temper the same oil with bengal gram, mustard seeds,dry red chillies and curry leaves.




As they splutter, add the onion pieces and saute for 2 minutes.




As they turn translucent, add the other vegetables and add salt as required. Saute for 3 minutes. Once they are half done, lower the gas from medium to low.


Now add the dalia. Keep on stirring for about 5 minutes till they are roasted well and you get a nutty smell.

As the dalia turns light brown, it is time to add water. Add the slitted green chillies.

Pour water to dalia mix little by little with your left  hand and stir the mixture with your right hand simultaneously. The whole process is to undergo at medium to low heat. You can see the dalia boiled and grown slight big after 8-10 minutes. Add salt if only required. Add the roasted peanuts. Stir n switch off.



Please note, do not put water all at a time, the dalia  upma gets mushy and bland in taste.





Wednesday, 12 November 2014

CARAMEL CUSTARD


Perhaps in almost every country of the world desserts are a natural choice after  meals, particularly after dinner. Though for health reasons we do not follow this' sweet rule' everyday but at weekends its  just fine to give yourself and family a sweet treat, at home or outside. Every country has its own set and choice of desserts which again depends upon the individual taste buds. Again with globalisation and free access to internet a particular cuisine is no more limited to its country of origin. We all are in a mood of global acceptance and in the mode of constantly experimenting with recipes.
     My pick today is Caramel Custard..... a dessert with a layer of soft caramel on top. This dessert is popular throughout the world. It may have originated in France, Spain but got a wide acceptability, may be because of its light sweet taste and easy making steps with very few ingredients.
    Till now I only talked about my mom and grand mom when it came to cooking. I will be lying if I don't acknowledge my mom-in-law in this regard. She had been a good cook too, just for health reasons lost interest in it at some point of time. She being very strict, I learnt to do all household chores within few years of marriage and I thank her for that. Custard has been very popular in their humble household to go with seasonal fruits. I learnt preparing Caramel Custard from her and follow her recipe till date which may differ from the authentic one. Our family recipe for Caramel Custard calls for very few ingredients!!

INGREDIENTS :
Full Cream Milk : 500 ml
Eggs : 4
Sugar ; 1/2 cup for the custard and another 3 tbsp for the caramelisation
Green Cardamom Powder : 1/4 tsp [Alternatively 1 tsp vanilla essence]
Water : 1tbsp

METHOD :
Pour the milk in a heavy bottomed vessel. Let it come to boil and keep boiling at low heat till it become slightly creamier.  Add the 1/2 cup sugar. Keep stirring so that it does not stick to the bottom. Once you get the required consistency, switch off gas and let it cool.

Beat the four eggs separately and add to the already cold milk. Mix very well for at least 4 to 5 minutes. Add the green cardamom powder or the vanilla essence whichever you prefer.

Now to make the caramel. In a bowl take 3 tbsp sugar and add 1 tbsp water. Put on gas at low heat. When it melts and turns golden brown, switch of immediately. Remember too much browning may turn it bitter. Pour the liquid into the mould you are going to use. Over it pour the milk-egg mixture.

Preheat oven at 200 degree C. Place the rack inside the oven. Over it a vessel with water, on it the mould.The mould should be immersed 1/4  under water. Cook uncovered at 200 degree C for 30 to 40 minutes. Please insert a knife in the middle after 30 minutes to check. If it comes out clean, its done.

Let it cool. Then place a serving dish on it and overturn cautiously!

Saturday, 8 November 2014

WHOLE ROASTED CHICKEN




Whenever I indulge too much into sinful delights and see the results on the weighing machine, I start murmuring....Health is Wealth. This really helps for the next few days to keep myself within the advisory limit of the doctor. I religiously put a curb on my carbohydrate intake and concentrate more on proteins and vitamins. Honestly, baking , roasting are not much common in authentic Bong cooking, so obviously I am quite poor at it. It is very recently following my expert blogger friends handling excellently such recipes that I said to myself .....lets give it a try! Every new recipe that is healthy and colourful does attract me. And all such experiments I do in my convection oven. Lot of research needs to be done to adjust the timing, knowing the right kind  of seasoning, length of period of marination and so on....so forth. Friday evenings, and I am on a research mode.

   On such a friday, I picked up this simplest recipe of roasted chicken. Whenever me and my senior plan for a movie out in the evening, leaving junior back at home, I start feeling guilty. He is a grown up, yet it happens. Since he hates rice, I plan a recipe he would love to have, prepare it and then go out. So that when mamma goes out she can see that smile on son's face and when she comes back she smiles to see no leftovers in his dinner plate. Again there has to be a nice way to feed vegetables to strictly non-veggies. I served the roasted chicken with cheesy bread!! Let us do this hassle free cooking together.

 INGREDIENTS :
Chicken[whole] : 800gm-1kg
Cumin Powder : 1tsp
Coriander Powder : 1tsp
Garam Masala Powder : 1tsp
Black Pepper Powder [coarsely ground] : 2 tbsp
Butter : 2-3tsp
Oil : 2tsp
Salt : As per requirement

METHOD :
Get a whole chicken from the market with skin on. Cut off the head and feet, clean the stomach. Wash thoroughly. Pat dry with a clean dry cloth. With help of a knife make cut marks on the body.

Melt the butter in microwave for 10-15 seconds. Freshly grind the black peppers coarsely. Rub the whole chicken with lemon juice, butter and ground black pepper. Keep aside for 4 hours.

Preheat the oven. Place the chicken on a baking tray. Place the rack inside, on it the tray with chicken. Cook at 200*C for 20minutes and then for next 20 minutes at 180*C. It should be done. Insert a knife to check. Since every oven is different you have to adjust your own timing.

Serve hot with any kind of Bread!!





   

Tuesday, 4 November 2014

FILLETO FISH WITH ASSORTED VEGETABLES




I was thinking that people will start assuming  by now that this lady cannot cook anything other than fish. To that I would say I love fish so much that I have to have it everyday. If we are having it everyday, we need to explore different recipes to keep the craze going on at home. Each time before I start to cook, I sit and set the menu. At firs,t I settle on the type of fish curry, then based on it other dishes. On a normal day, in a Bengali household, a meal would consist of lentils accompanied by fritters, one or two types of vegetables, a fish curry and to end up with a chutney. Now a days we generally skip the fritters and chutney mainly for time constraint and health reasons. But the fish item should be the queen adorning the dining table, almost everyday, at every meal, that I can swear upon on behalf of my clan. Over the weekend, in addition there would be mutton or chicken curry.


    Today's recipe of fish is not typical of my place, it is fish fillets cooked with assorted vegetables rather. After I stepped out of my city I learnt to accept and recognise other cuisine, culture, ways of life. I must admit the present city gave me the much required exposure, and with it developed right attitude towards life. Appreciating other's way of life, accepting it and applying the best of it in our lives reflects our open-mindedness. May I take the liberty to say this?

     This recipe of fish with assorted vegetables is extremely easy to prepare with minimal ingredients. You can add any vegetable of your choice to the fish. I added what was available at my pantry that particular day. Let us cook this yummy and healthy fish dish together.

 INGREDIENTS :
White Fish Fillets : 500 gm
Broccoli : 1
Cherry Tomato : 6
Carrot : 1 big
Onion : 1 big
Green Chilli : 5 medium
Salt : As per requirement
Black Pepper Powder : 1/2tsp
Ginger : 1/2tsp[minced]
Garlic : 1tsp[minced]
Soya Sauce[light] : 3 tbsp
Vinegar : 2 tbsp
Corn Flour : 2tbsp
Refined Flour : 1tbsp
Oil : 4-5tbsp

METHOD :
Cut the fish fillets into small pieces and wash thoroughly. Marinate with little salt, black pepper powder and vinegar. Keep aside for 1 hour.

Peel the carrot and then cut into halves and finally into smaller pieces. Cut into half the cherry tomatoes and the green chillies. Cube the onions and cut the broccoli into small florets. Keep the veggies in separate bowls and wash thoroughly. Peel, wash and mince the ginger and garlic.

Drain the excess vinegar water from the fish pieces. Wipe them with a dry cloth. Add the corn flour, refined flour  and salt as required, mix well. Heat oil in a wok.

Once the oil is hot, start frying the fish pieces in batches. The gas mark should be at medium to low.

Once all the fish pieces are fried, place them on a tissue paper. Temper same oil with the minced ginger and garlic. As you get a nice fragrance, add the onion pieces. Fry till translucent. Now add the carrots, stir and cover. Gas mark should be at low.

Open the cover after 3 to 4 minutes. Add the broccoli florets and the slitted green chillies.Increase the gas mark to medium. Saute for about 3 minutes.

Add the cherry tomato pieces and stir. Add soya sauce, black pepper powder and salt as required. Saute for 2 minutes.

Now add the fried fish fillets to the wok. Stir well carefully so that they do not break. After 1 minute switch off gas.

You can have it as an appetiser or serve it with fried rice. Both ways it tastes yum.


Monday, 3 November 2014

CASHEW CHICKEN



Chicken being a staple these days, its recipes needs variation and colour and constant reinvention. Otherwise boredom sets in. It is absolutely necessary for a fish lover like me to prepare chicken to that level of perfection where I am tempted to have a full bowl within minutes. Given my medical condition, I am forced to curtail my carbohydrate intake, hence the proteins I take in needs to be tasty without affecting their nutrient value....much. To strike a balance between taste and retaining nutritive value is what the need of the hour is.

    My senior and junior can give you 10 points instantly in favour of this popular bird, as they absolutely love it, off course with flatbreads typical of the Indian subcontinent. I called it  popular bird considering its wide range of acceptability worldwide. They are most common type of poultry in the world and a major world-wide source off eggs and meat. Their meat being so soft, its very easy and timesaving to cook.

    This simple recipe of Cashew chicken is perhaps a descendant of Shahi Murgh which is a richer version and calls for delectable spices. May be the original recipe was invented in Royal kitchens. Since I have no research on it, its better to go straight with the recipe. I have used very less spices in it as it calls for a mild taste, a bit sweet rather than hot and spicy.

INGREDIENTS :
Chicken : 500 gm
Plain Yogurt : 200gm
Cashew Nuts : 7 to 8 [raw]
Raisins : 5
Melon Seeds : 1/4 tsp
Black Peppercorns : 1 tsp
Bay Leaf : 1 big
Red Chilli Powder : 1 tsp
Onion :  big
Garlic Paste : 2 tbsp
Salt : As per taste
Oil : 2 tbsp
Ghee [clarified butter] : 1 tbsp

METHOD :
Wash and cut the chicken into slightly bigger sizes. Beat the yogurt and add to the chicken. Add salt as required. Marinate very well for about 3 hours.

Slice the onions. Put into the blender cashews, raisins and melon seeds and blend to a smooth paste. Heat oil and ghee in a wok. Temper with bay leaf, black peppercorns.

Add the onion slices and fry till golden brown. Add the garlic paste and fry till the raw smell goes and it releases a nice fragrance. Add the spice paste and keep stirring for about 2 minutes. Add the salt and chilli powder. Mix well.

Add the chicken along with the marinade. Mix well and cover. Set the burner at low. Check and stir every 5 minutes to avoid burning and sticking. Your chicken should be ready in 40 to 45 minutes.

Transfer to a serving bowl. Have hot accompanied by butter nuns/chapaties/rotis/paranthas and pickles.





Sunday, 2 November 2014

VIETNAMESE FISH CURRY


I am acquainted with the name Vietnam ever since I was young, due to my father's political thinking. I remember as young as in middle school, he made sure I read and be aware of the political scenario around the world. With age I really started liking exploring countries, learning about their people, physical and political boundaries, their revolution, survival strategy, though not cuisine as much. There was a time when Kolkata was much influenced by the Vietnamese revolution . Kolkata also has  a prime location named after Ho Chi Minh.
    With an estimated 90.0 million inhabitants, it is the world's 13th most populous country. It is bordered by China to the North, Laos to the Northwest, Cambodia to the Southwest, and the South China Sea to the east. The capital city being Hanoi since the reunification of North and South Vietnam in 1976. What I did not know was about its wonderful cuisine. Learning about a country's cuisine is knowing about its people and culture. It was only after landing in Singapore that I tasted Vietnamese dishes and instantly fell in love with it.
     Vietnamese Cuisine features a combination of five fundamental taste elements. Common ingredients include fish sauce, shrimp paste, soy sauce, rice, fresh herbs, fruits and vegetables. Vietnamese recipes use lemon grass, ginger, mint, Vietnamese mint, long coriander, Saigon cinnamon, bird's eye chilli, lime and basil leaves.
    I am in love with  Nem Cuon [salad rolls] and their various soups with fresh herbs. Their cuisine has a finer taste with minimal use of oil. I need to have more expertise to prepare their unique rice paper rolls, so thought why not start with a humble pot of fish curry.

INGREDIENTS :
White fish fillets : 500 gm
Tomatoes : 2 [medium]
 Rainforest fruit Jeowbong paste : 1 tsp [ I used normal red chilli paste]
 Garlic Cloves : 2
Fresh Ginger ; 1 inch
Fresh Galangal : 1 inch [ I skipped ]
Palm Sugar : 2 tsp [ I skipped ]
Chicken stock paste : 2 tsp [ I used a cube of chicken stock ]
Shallots : 2
Fish Sauce : 1 tsp
Tamarind paste : 1 tsp
Lemon juice : 1 tsp
Soy sauce : 2 tbsp [ alternatively tamari, said to be gluten free soy sauce ]
Turmeric powder : 2 tsp [ authentically fresh turmeric paste ]
Oil : 2 tbsp [ authentically peanut oil ]
Lemongrass : 2 stalks [ only the white part ]
Vinegar : 3 tbsp
Salt : As required
Coconut milk : 150 ml

 METHOD :
Wash and cut the fish into small pieces as shown. Marinate with vinegar and salt and keep aside for 1 hour.

Cut the shallots, keep the white and green parts in separate bowls and wash. Take the white part of the lemongrass, cut into pieces and bruise. Prepare a smooth paste of the garlic, ginger, deseeded tomatoes, chicken stock paste, tamarind paste in a blender. Transfer into a bowl. Add the soy sauce, salt as required, fish sauce, turmeric powder and the chilli paste.

Heat oil in a wok. Add the white pieces of shallots and the lemon grass pieces. Saute for 2 minutes. Put in the spice paste. Saute for about 2-3 minutes. Add 1 small cup water. Let it come to boil.

Once the gravy comes to boil, add the fish pieces draining the vinegar water that is released. Carefully give a stir. Cover and let boil for about 3 minutes. Remove cover and add the coconut milk. Stir once more carefully to avoid the breaking of fish pieces. Let boil for about 4 minutes. Switch off and transfer to a bowl, garnish with the green part of the shallots.


Saturday, 1 November 2014

EGG ROLLS


Street Food has its own charm, I can swear by it. Except few health freaks, all of us love to have them often. Besides Phuchka and Jhalmuri, Egg Roll is perhaps the most popular street food of Kolkata. Every corner of the roads in Kolkata has a roll centre. Remembering my college days, inspite of mom  packing my lunch box, me along with my friends would flock in front of Sanatan's Roll Centre to grab one. We looked like swarm of bees searching for food. You won't believe with what expertise and how fast the cook used to roll the parathas. Amazing to watch. Most of us belonged to middle class families with at least two siblings. We used to get a limited pocket money. It was not affordability only, our parents believed giving handful of money to youngsters only spoils them. So with that limited resource, two friends would share one roll. Good enough because rolls are too filling. Besides, we had to save a considerable amount for our regular visits to the movie theatres bunking classes. Yes I have no qualms in admitting I had been an average student althrough. At college I was mostly seen at the clean and green lawn in side the college premises taking a bite of Sanatan's egg roll or at the neighbouring movie theatres.
     Last year, few of our friends visited our college, a sort of nostalgia paralysed us.....the hall, the classrooms, the lawn and also was still there Sanatan's Roll Centre. He grew old, his cook  may have changed, but the rolls taste better perhaps,  serving the present generation students. We were back to the 90's, with limited resource, no cell phones, travelling in overcrowded buses, we were happy, for being with and for each other.
    Not allowing myself to forget my roots, I keep on trying to recreate my city at home admitting  the comfort of staying in  the five star ambience of Singapore. Why do we need to be pretentious? Advantage of staying in Singapore is that you never feel you are in a foreign land, being such a multicultural society, its very accommodative, honestly.
     I think paratha rolls are common in many countries with a little variation. It is common allover my subcontinent, in Middle East and also in Singapore. I wished to share with you the recipe of Egg Rolls typical of Kolkata, The City Of Joy.

INGREDIENTS :[for the paranthas]
Refined Flour : 300 gm
Oil : 3 tbsp
Salt : 3 pinches
Sugar : 1/2 tsp
Water : 1/2 small cup or as required.

INGREDIENTS :[for the filling]
Egg : 6 [always 1:1 ratio]
Salt : As required
Cucumber : 1 big
Onion : 1 big
Green Chillies : 2
Lemon : 1 big
Tomato Ketchup 1 tbsp for each roll.
Oil : 1/2 small cup
METHOD :
Let us prepare the dough first. Take the flour in a wide mouthed vessel. Make a hole in the middle. Pour in the oil, add the salt and sugar. Mix very well for 2 minutes. Now adding little water at a time, with help of your palm form a soft, smooth dough. It will take about 15 minutes. Cover the dough with a soft wet cloth for 1/2 an hour.

Now beat the eggs together with very little salt in a bowl. Keep aside. Cut the onion, cucumber in small cubes. Chop the green chillies.  Cut and deseed the lemons. Take out the ketchup bottle from the refrigerator . Pour the oil in a cup along with a teaspoon.

Remove the wet cloth from the dough. Make roundels, flatten with your palms. With help of a rolling pin and a base make round shape parathas with a touch up of oil. Put on heat a flattened frying pan. Fry each parantha well with 1/2 tsp oil.

Now time to make the omelettes. In the same pan, put 1/4 tsp oil. Once hot, with help of a ladle, pour the egg batter on the pan, to make one at a time. Put the paratha over the egg which is still in the liquid state, so it gets stuck to the paratha. Transfer to a plate.

Once done fill each one with the cubed vegetables, chopped green chillies, squeeze lemon juice over them and drizzle tomato ketchup and roll up. Done.

Please note, I used lettuce too here. You too can use other vegetables. The use of above mentioned veggies are authentic of my place. Must be served hot.