Saturday, 31 January 2015

PRAWN MOILEE




PRAWN MOILEE is a Keralite recipe. I keep on exploring their fish recipes and find them as alluring as taking a tour of their back waters. I had been to few places of Kerala with my parents, not yet experienced a boat ride in the calm waters watching the greens ashore. May be someday shall be there with my someone special....nature lovers think same.

Yesterday attended a get-together . There I met a Keralite couple. Given my preference, we talked of our cuisines, exchanged ideas and promised trying each other's recipes. It feels very good when we meet people of other ethnicities.....we learn a lot about another culture, customs, cuisine. Through exchange of ideas, we equip ourselves with more knowledge and get the right exposure.

Friday evenings I feel very relaxed and usually get my groceries. My refrigerator looks happy with the greenery and wet-wet peeping whenever I opened the door.....as if saying...Come....use me! So this morning I thought I have prawns, fresh curry leaves, why not prepare some Prawn Moilee and imagine myself having a candle lit dinner with quite a few fish specialities.

INGREDIENTS :
Prawn[medium to big size] : 10
Coconut Milk[thin] : 1 cup
Coconut Milk[thick] : 1/2 cup
Onion : 1[big]
Tomato : 1[big]
Garlic : 2pods
Ginger : 1inch
Green Chilli : 2
Curry Leaves : 8-10
Cinnamon : 1inch stick 2
Green Cardamom : 3
Cloves : 3
Salt : As required
TurmericPowder : 1 tsp
Red Chilli Powder : 1 tsp
Oil [authentically coconut]: 2 tbsp[I used sunflower]

METHOD :
Wash, clean and de vein the prawns. Wash again. Apply 1/2 of salt and turmeric powder to the prawns. Mix well. Keep aside.

Wash and mince the the ginger and garlic. Slit the green chillies. Cut the tomato into 4 pieces. Wash the curry leaves and slice the onions. Keep the thin and thick coconut milk in 2 separate but same size cups.

Heat oil in a wok. Temper with the cinnamon, green cardamom and cloves. As they release a nice aroma, add the minced ginger and garlic. When the raw smell goes add the sliced onions.

Fry till the onions turn light brown. Add the curry leaves. As they splutter,  add red chilli powder and the remaining turmeric powder. Add the thin coconut water. As it comes to boil, pour in the marinated prawns. After 2-3 minutes, add the tomato pieces. Cover and let simmer for 3 minutes at medium to low heat.

Uncover and add the thick coconut milk.  Add the slitted green chillies. Boil for another 2 minutes at medium to low heat. Switch off. Its done.

Serve with piping hot steamed rice!!

Thursday, 29 January 2015

KOMOLA KHEER/ ORANGE KHEER


Its pretty long time I have not posted a dessert recipe. I definitely do them over the weekend, click pictures and then suddenly a fish or meat curry comes in between. Today I thought I must post a bit uncommon kind of dessert. This is not as regular as rice kheer. It is mostly done in winter because orange is used in it which is found in abundance during winter at our place.

These days whenever I see an orange, I fly back to the mid 70's/80's. A lazy afternoon....winter time... a small balcony in our rented flat....me and my little brother basking under the sun sitting close to our mother's lap. She would be very busy peeling those sweet juicy oranges and putting inside our mouth. Just  as a mother bird feeds her kids. Those were the best time of our life may be. A morning school, an elaborate lunch, afternoon naps and mom's lap. We mostly ate oranges fresh. This dessert was not prepared at our home neither did I ate it anywhere. I perhaps saw the recipe somewhere.

Chinese New Year is approaching and a visiting friend got me a big box of oranges last week. I think its auspicious among the Chinese. I am not allowed to eat much sweets and fruits but I am not been able to resist the temptation of these red, juicy fruits. Here they are available in different varieties and names. I don't know much about them and end up calling them all oranges. To me its their sweetness that matters. So I am planning for  desserts and smoothies with those sweet round balls. This recipe requires milk, crumbled paneer, sugar/condensed milk and small pieces of orange pulp with the white portion removed.

INGREDIENTS :
Milk [full cream] : 1lt.
Condensed Milk : 1/2 tin
Paneer : 100gm
Orange : 2

METHOD :
Pour the milk in a heavy bottomed vessel and put on the oven. Boil at low heat till it reduces to almost half, stirring every 3-4 minutes.

Meanwhile, wash and peel the oranges. Discard the white skin from them and get the pulp. Break into small pieces. Get the zest of one orange.

As the milk is reduced to half, add the condensed milk. Mix well and boil further for 5 minutes. Crumble the paneer pieces with your palm and pour into the kheer.

Switch off and transfer into a serving bowl. Let cool. Now add the orange pulp and the zest. Put for refrigeration. To be served chilled!!

Please do not add the orange pulp and zest when  the kheer is still hot, it may curdle it. No need of using artificial orange essence as the orange zest and pulp will add a fresh mild flavour to the kheer. Adding nuts is really not required in this dish.

Wednesday, 28 January 2015

BENGAL EGG CURRY







You may ask why are you calling it 'Bengal Egg Curry'? The instant answer is... for the potato chunks I have used in it. We have to put potatoes in curries. I think the world knows about our love for potatoes, fish, books and sweet n sour gossips. Few other unique characteristics of us I will attribute in this post. Well, we are not a propertied clan but don't think twice spending thousands on buying books. We religiously visit book fairs and are introduced to Voltaire, Rousseau, Tagore,Kafka at a very young age. Our parents think there are only two decent professions in the world....Doctor n Engineer. Beyond this they refuse to think. To pursue this, small kids are put into a tremendous pressure of competition. To have a practical knowledge of this you have to be present at any school gate during dispersal time. You can see the cat fight among moms....why your son got 20/20 and mine 18/20....he cannot...I made him do each sum 10 times...and the final dictate....the teacher is partial. The poor little kids never understand why his/her mother is so bothered about only 2 marks. That each child has different learning abilities is unacceptable to a Bengali mom, in general.Right from the middle school, kids are sent to teachers subject wise , completely destroying their thinking ability. Why?...because they have to secure 95% and become a doctor or engineer. Otherwise their future is doomed. Our parents refuse to accept there is only one 1st position in class and only one can get that. The last bencher may not love physics or mathematics but loves painting. That hidden talent dies a natural death due to the illogical expectations.

I was very much a part of all these back then. Once son was back from school, at least 10 phone calls were made to and fro  my home....on one single topic...hey how much your daughter/son got...when i was worried about 2 marks, my son was dying of hunger. Then finally came the ultimatum....from my senior....do not make my son a part of the game...'Commit to memory and vomit'. I want my son to be happy in life. The poor mamma has a lot of dreams and tries to give vocal tonic to her son....when ever daddy is not around.

Besides this craziness, Bengalis are foodies, very much culturally inclined...we love watching Bergman to Satyajit Ray as much as masala movies. We do not have money, perhaps that is the reason why our parents fight to make us study well. But we can boast of our cultural inclination that we inherited from the yesteryear's Bengal Intelligentsia. We definitely can boast of that. Again we should be grounded at the present so that the world do not identify Bengalis by a Nobel Prize won by my white bearded heartthrob and by the excellent speech delivered at the Chicago Seminar.

Finally, about 90% Bengalis speak miserable hindi but we still have to speak it!!...hahaha...

Oops I forgot I sat down to write a recipe. Well, paying due respect to our love for potatoes, I am posting the recipe of BENGAL EGG CURRY.

INGREDIENTS :
Eggs[preferably duck] : 4
Potato : 1[big]
Onion : 1[big]
Tomato : 1[medium]
Ginger Paste : 1tbsp
Garlic Paste : 1tsp
Cumin Seeds : 2 pinches
Bayleaf : 1
Red Chilli Powder : 1tsp
Turmeric Powder : 1tsp
Salt : As required
Green Chilli : 2
Bengali Garam Masala : 1/4tsp [an equal amount of cinnamon, green cardamom and cloves dry roasted and powdered]
Sugar : 1/4tsp[optional]
Oil[preferably mustard] : 4tbsp

METHOD :
Wash and boil the eggs with enough water. Add some salt to the boiling water, this helps the shells to come out smoothly.  Make 2-3 slits on the eggs. Apply little salt and turmeric powder to the boiled eggs and mix well.

Peel and wash the potatoes. Cut each into 2 pieces. Apply  little salt and turmeric powder, mix well.
Chop the tomatoes and discard the seeds, wash. Slice the onions. Slit the green chillies.

Heat oil in a wok. Fry the eggs lightly and keep aside. Now fry the potato pieces till light brown.

Temper the remaining oil with cumin seeds and bayleaf. Add the onion slices. Fry till brown. Add the garlic and ginger paste. Fry till the raw smell goes away. Add the tomato pieces and fry till the spice mix separate from the oil. Add the salt, turmeric and chilli powder and saute for 1 minute.

Add the fried potato pieces, mix well and keep covered at lowest heat for 1-2 minute. Now add 1 cup water and cover again. Let it boil till the potatoes are 80% done. Now add the fried eggs and the slitted green chillies. Stir once and cover. Cook for 3-4 minutes. Open cover and add the garam masala powder and 1/4 tsp sugar. Stir well and switch off.

Serve hot in a bed of piping hot steamed rice. Goes very well with roti too!!



Tuesday, 27 January 2015

DOI BEGUN




Doi begun is fried eggplants in yogurt gravy. With the ongoing heat, I feel like having more veggies than meats. As for fish, I am always game for it, in any given situation. The veggie preparations has to be tasty and full of flavour with the right kind of tadka. I always keep a bowl full of plain yogurt at home, keeping in mind its multiple use. I prefer  substituting yogurt for cream in my cooking. Our type of cooking does not require cream much. Given my heavy stature, I am too scared using cream on a regular basis. Using yogurt is quite common in Indian cooking. It adds to the taste and texture of the gravy.

Doi Begun/ Dahi Baingan is a popular dish in India.The actual region of its origin is not known. It may be cooked in most of the regions with little variations in the method and use of spices. Mostly the yogurt is beaten with spices and poured over the fried brinjal. But I cook it for a while along with the tempering. I use little sugar to adjust the sour taste. The other day I had few small brinjals and hence the idea of Doi Begun popped up. This simple dish helps you to beat the heat.

INGREDIENTS :
Eggplants[small] : 4
Yogurt[plain] : 200gm
Cumin Seeds : 1tsp + 2 pinches
Coriander Seeds : 1tsp
Red Chilli Powder : 1tsp
Turmeric Powder : 1/2tsp
Salt : As required
Sugar : 1/2tsp
Oil : 2tbsp

METHOD :
Wash and cut the eggplants into halves. Apply little salt, turmeric, red chilli powder to it.

Dry roast the coriander and cumin seeds and powder them. Beat the yogurt. Add the cumin and coriander powder to it. Also add the turmeric and red chilli powder. Mix very well.

Heat oil in a pan. Fry the eggplant pieces in batches till golden brown. Temper the remaining oil with 2 pinches of cumin seeds. Add the spiced yogurt. Add 1/2 cup water to the yogurt bowl, mix well with the remaining yogurt. Pour over the yogurt mix. Stir well.

Let it boil for 3-4 minutes. Add sugar. Cook for another 2 minutes. Its done!

Arrange the fried eggplants in a plate. Pour the yogurt sauce over it!

Serve with piping hot steamed rice/roti!!


Monday, 26 January 2015

DAHIWALI CHICKEN



Singapore is getting hotter every day with almost no rain. Weather forecast says this will remain for the next three months. Being selective about food and keeping it less spicy is so important. If I prescribe more  light fish curry and less chicken in such a scenario, my son will stop eating. A mother cannot accept this. So I thought if chicken is to be prepared regular at home, it has to be made in such a way that it does not become taxing on our stomach. It is not the chicken that is harmful....it is the spicy curry which is the source of all troubles. After stepping into Singapore  I have got flexible and accepted that curries other than red and spicy ones can be equally tasty. There are so many healthy ways of cooking chicken...grilled...baked...sauteed....

We were having fish curries for the past 3-4 days followed by an all vegetarian day on Saturday because of Vasant Panchami. Before someone started to revolt, mamma felt Sunday menu should have a chicken item. This Chicken  dish is done only with plain yogurt, garlic paste, onion and pepper. To make you believe me I am proceeding with the recipe.

INGREDIENTS :
Chicken : 500 gm
Plain Yogurt : 250gm
Garlic Paste : 2tbsp
Onion : 2[medium]
White Pepper Powder : 1tsp
Black Pepper Corns : 8-10
Bayleaf : 1
Salt : As required
Turmeric Powder : 1tsp
Oil : 3tbsp

METHOD :
Wash and marinate the chicken with beaten yogurt, white pepper powder, 1tsp salt, turmeric and 1tsp garlic paste. Keep covered for 2 hours. Peel, wash and slice the onions.

Heat oil in a wok. Temper oil with a bayleaf and the black pepper corns. Add the sliced onions. Fry till translucent. Add the remaining garlic paste. Add salt. Fry till the paste separates from the oil. It should not brown.

Add the marinated chicken with all the marinade. Fry at medium to high heat for 3-5 minutes stirring continuously. Now lower the heat and cover. You have to uncover and stir every 3-4 minutes to avoid sticking.

The yogurt will release water, so you may not require to add water. After 40-45 minutes you can see the gravy thickening. You may add 1/2 small cup water and cook for another 5 minutes. Its done. Its a no-turmeric dish.

Serve with thin plain rotis...tastes amazing!! Salads to go as sides!!




Sunday, 25 January 2015

MOCHAR GHONTO [BANANA BLOSSOM VEGGIE]



Banana Blossom Veggie is a regular dish among us...specially on an all vegetarian day. Cooking it is simple but the processing time is a bit lengthy....we need to have a bit of patience for this. What you get at the end is a less spicy veggie with a tinge of sweetness that we get from the shredded coconut used.The peanuts used gives it a nutty flavour mingled with that of garam masala powder. It may be prepared in almost all regions of India, I am posting the very authentic recipe of the Bengalis.

I have chosen this recipe today for a reason. The busy life that we lead today, such time consuming, traditional recipes are vanishing. This generation girls would rather go for a quick fix paneer dish rather than this one. I don't blame them, the kind of crazy life given, its really very hard to follow tradition. They can always counter argue...'Did my grandmother go out for work?' Such arguments are needless. So far as I am concerned, I am not contemporary but primitive, love to follow tradition. I believe, if our tradition had been wearing sarees, it should not be done away with. Vegetables and curries that had being made traditionally, should not be wiped away just because they are time consuming. At least, to show respect to our tradition, we must keep them alive.

Some very special people too close to my heart are almost veggies, may that attraction of prawn malaikari comes in the way of their turning full veggies. They may live far away, unlikely to meet and cook a nice meal for them. May be they are busy professionals and away from their own place for a long time. Today's post is for them. Perhaps on a leisurely weekend, they find a banana blossom in the market, which reminds them of  how much pain their mother took to process it and with how much love and care she cooked it. Posting this recipe with hope that one fine morning , while exploring through the internet, they might stop by chance and feel like spicing up with Soma's recipe of Mochar Ghonto. This may remind them how they played with maroon leaf of the blossom using it as a boat whenever it rained. Most of the things in life are by chance, most of the things we do not plan....but it happens.

INGREDIENTS :
Banana Blossom[mocha] : 1
Potato : 1[big]
Ginger Paste : 1tbsp
Cumin Powder : 1 tsp
Red Chilli Powder : 1tsp
Turmeric Powder : 1tsp
Salt : As required
Garam Masala Powder[Bengali] : 1/2 tsp [an equal amount of cinnamon, green cardamom and cloves toasted lightly and ground into a powder]
Shredded Coconut : 1/2 small cup
Roasted Peanuts[halved] : 8
Bayleaf : 1
Cumin seed : 2 pinches
Dry Red Chilli : 2
Oil[preferably Mustard] : 2 tbsp
Ghee[clarified butter] : 1tsp
Sugar : 1/2 tsp.

METHOD :
Rub your palms with oil so that while peeling and cutting they do not turn black. Let us start peeling of the maroon leaves and take out the flower. At one point, the leaf is cream in colour and cannot be peeled off. That portion has to be chopped off and put in a bowl of water.

Discard the maroon leaves. We have to clean each flower at a time by removing the transparent case  and the hardest stigma from each flower. Chop the flower in batches and put in the bowl of water. Pressure cook upto 5 whistles at low heat adding turmeric and salt. Peel, wash and cut the potatoes into cubes. Marinate with little salt.

Once cool, open the lid, squeeze the boiled blossoms and discard the water. Heat oil in a  wok. Fry the potato pieces and keep aside. Temper with cumin seeds, halved dry red chillies and the bay leaf. Add the shredded coconut saving some for garnishing.

Once they turn light brown, add the ginger paste. Fry till the raw smell goes. Add cumin powder, turmeric powder, salt, chilli powder. Fry for 1 minute and add the squeezed blossoms. Mix well. Cover. After 4 minutes remove the cover and add 1/2 cup water. Stir and cover again. Keep the heat at low.

After 3-4 minutes add the roasted peanuts and fried potatoes. Mix well and cover cook for 4 minutes. Uncover and add the garam masala powder, sugar and ghee. Mix well and cook for 2 more minutes.

Transfer to a serving bowl and garnish with shredded coconut.

Serve warm on a bed of piping hot steamed rice!!


Friday, 23 January 2015

TANGY N HOT MUTTON CURRY


Today is my brother's birthday and he is extremely fond of Mutton....curry or dry. He shares his birthday with a great man of all time Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose. It is a prescribed holiday in West Bengal. Hence we always had a grand spread on this day. I am missing him too much today. Since I cannot be with him this day, I prepared this dish for him on my last visit to Kolkata this winter. I t was such a pleasure to see him happy. There is nothing more satisfying in seeing your loved ones enjoying what you cook. So far his birthday is concerned, the mamma's boy's mom and an extremely adorable wifey is there to take care of. So I am at peace.

Many a tangy-sweet memories are peeping in. We fought like two warring nations...two diagonally opposite characters...me too quiet and he a naughty chatter box. Buttt....whenever anyone uttered anything against him....his ever protective sister was always standing before him...he was the one who cried inconsolably on the next day of my marriage, when I was leaving my parent's home to embrace a new life. A happy go lucky character, he is too fond of cricket and crazy about formula 1 races. 

This Mutton Curry I cooked just the traditional Bengali way without the potatoes though. Bengali Chicken or Mutton Curry usually have potatoes in them. We usually like to make it red and hot, hence use dry red chillies instead of green chillies. Even tomatoes were not used traditionally. Read somewhere tomatoes were not used in Bengali cooking, may be a century back and termed as 'bileti begun', meaning Foreign Eggplants.

INGREDIENTS :
Mutton : 1kg
Onion : 4 [big]
Garlic Paste : 2tbsp
Ginger Paste : 2tsp
Coriander Powder : 1tsp
Dry Red Chilli Paste : 1tbsp
Bengali Garam Masala : 1/2tsp [ a powder made from equal amount of dry roasted cinnamon, green cardamom and cloves]
Lemon : 2
Salt : As required
Turmeric : 1tbsp
Bayleaf : 1
Oil[mustard] : 4 tbsp + 2tbsp for marination

METHOD :
Wash the mutton thoroughly. Get the juice from the 2 lemons. Make paste from garlic, ginger and red chillies separately. Marinate the mutton with 2 tbsp oil, lemon juice, and 1/2 tsp of ginger, garlic, red chilli paste,turmeric and salt. Keep marinated for whole night in an air tight container in a refrigerator. Take out 1 hour before cooking.

Wash, peel and slice the onions. Heat oil in a wok. Temper with bayleaf and add the sliced onions. Fry at low heat till brown. Add the rest of the ginger, garlic and red chilli pastes and fry till the oil separates. 

Now add the salt, turmeric and the coriander powder and saute for 1 minute. Add the marinated mutton with all the marinade. Mix well and cover. Turn heat to minimum. You have to uncover and stir every 3-4 minutes. Do this till all the water dries up which may take about 45 minutes.

Once the water dries up, add 2 coffee mugs of warm water. Stir and cover again. After 10 minutes, open and add the garam masala powder, give a stir. Boil for another 2 minutes and switch off.

Remember the whole dish is to be prepared in slow fire. Be careful about the amount of oil you use, because there will be lot of mutton fat oozing out and mix with the gravy.

Enjoy with plain rice, sweet pilaf, vegetable pilaf or South Asian flat breads!!

Wednesday, 21 January 2015

STUFFED CHICKEN PARATHAS [CHICKEN KEEMA PARATHAS]


PARATHAS are unleavened flatbreads prevalent throughout South Asia. It is made by pan frying whole wheat dough on a tava[pan]. Usually we use ghee or oil to fry them. We can make it plain or stuff it with potato, cauliflower, spinach, radish, paneer or keema. Stuffed Parathas can be simply eaten with some pickles and yogurt. Plain parathas goes best with potato or vegetarian curries, dal or meat. They are made  in varied shapes... round, square and triangular are more common.

'PARATHE WALI GALI'....meaning the bylane of flat bread, is the name of a narrow street in the Chandni Chowk area of Delhi, India. It is famous for a huge number of shops selling paratha. It is said about 200 variety of parathas are available there. Since childhood I have visited Delhi six times...5 times with parents and once with hubby because whichever place of Northern India you visit, from Rajasthan to Kashmir to Shimla....you generally go via Delhi. The unfortunate me have missed visiting Parathe Wali Gali each time. On my next visit surely not to miss.

Roti and Parathas are extremely loved by my men. Back from office, almost everyday someone will ask...is it roti/paratha or rice today for dinner? If the answer is roti or paratha, there is a hidden smile on his face....hidden because he never asks for anything....he never had or have demanded for anything. He accepted what life has bestowed on him. For such people you always feel going that extra mile and try to give your best. Back to track, parathas, of different types are regular at my home. These parathas are made with a minced chicken filling.

INGREDIENTS :[for the dough]
Whole Wheat Flour[atta] : 2 cups
All Purpose Flour[maida] : 1cup
Salt : As required
Water : As required
Oil : 1tbsp

INGREDIENTS :[for the filling]
Minced Chicken : 250 gm
Onion : 1[big]
Garlic : 3 pods
Ginger : 2[1inch pieces]
Green Chilli : 2
Salt : As required
Black Pepper Powder : 1/4tsp
Oil : 2tbsp

We need 1tsp oil for each paratha to fry.
METHOD :
Let us prepare the dough first. Take the two flours, salt and oil in a wide mouthed vessel. Mix well. Add water little by little and keep on rubbing with your right palm. Continue doing this unless a soft but firm dough is formed. Cover with a squeezed wet cloth for 1 hour.

Prepare the filling now. Mince the garlic and ginger and wash. Wash, peel and slice the onion. Wash and chop the green chillies. Heat oil in a pan. Add the minced garlic and ginger. Fry till light brown and add the sliced onion. As they turn brown, add the chopped green chillies. Saute well and put in the prewashed minced chicken. Add salt and black pepper powder. Saute for 3 minutes and cover cook at low heat till all the water dries. The filling has to be very dry otherwise it will be very difficult to roll the parathas.

Now make round shapes from the dough. Make hollows in them and fill in with chicken filling. Close very nicely. See the picture below.


Dust and roll the balls into round shaped parathas with help of a rolling pin and base. Please do not press hard the parathas while rolling, they may tear. See the picture below.


Heat a tava[pan] on a gas oven. Put one paratha. Let cook for 30 seconds and flip over. Repeat 2-3 times. Pour in 1 tsp oil. Fry both sides well. This way fry all the keema parathas. See the picture below.


Once done serve with pickles and yogurt!! Please note, you can prepare your filling as per your choice of spices!!

Tuesday, 20 January 2015

LEMON RICE





Earlier South Indian Cuisine meant only Idly, Dosa and Uttapam to me, till I visited some of the major temple cities of Southern India in 1992 with my parents. The memories are still fresh in my mind. I loved everything about the tour, the history behind the temples, the sarees, the beaches and the local cuisine using lot of coconut in almost everything. It was such a pleasure to have breakfast with appam, at lunch munching on a big dosa with coconut chutney and for dinner gorging on rice and fish curry using tamarind juice and coconut milk. With a filled stomach, watching the temple architectures, built during the rule of different dynasties was an educational tour sort of. I specially loved Kanyakumari, Pondicherry, Mahabalipuram, the Kovalam Beach and the very romantic hill station of Kodaikanal. I wish to visit these places again at some point in life.
    
There is so much of history  attached to the temples that a 15 days tour is not enough to cover even half of them and have a taste of the local cuisine. It was in that 15 days span, I got acquainted with lemon rice, tamarind rice, mango rice. For an ardent rice lover like me, it was quite a treat. Back home, my mother did not really prepare them, neither the Kolkata eateries did sell them. In general, South Indian food meant Dosa, Idly and Medu Bada in Kolkata then.

It is now that I have a couple of South Indian colleagues at work, I get to taste various South Indian dishes almost everyday. I specially like LEMON RICE and like to have it with plain yogurt. There are many number of posts already on it, I thought  of adding mine too.

INGREDIENTS :
Par Boiled Rice : 1 cup
Lemon Juice : 1/2 small cup
Curry Leaves : 10
Black Mustard Seed : 1/4tsp
Black Gram[Skinless] : 1/2 tsp[urad dal]
Chana Dal : 1/2 tsp
Raw Peanut [with skin] : 3 tbsp
Dry Red Chilli : 4[halved]
Turmeric Powder : 1/4tsp
Salt : As required
Oil : 3 tbsp

METHOD :
Wash the rice thoroughly 4-5 times and soak in water for about 1 hour. Heat 6 cups water in a deep bottomed vessel. Once the water starts boiling, add the rice. Let boil at medium heat. Keep on checking whether its done. Drain the water when the rice is 80% done. Get the juice from the lemon.

Heat 3 tbsp oil in a wok. Fry the raw skinned peanuts for 2-3 minutes, take out.

Temper with mustard seeds. As they splutter, add the urad dal and chana dal. When they turn light brown, add the pre washed curry leaves and the halved dry red chillies.

Add the boiled rice. Put in salt and turmeric powder. Fold in well. Keep stirring at medium heat for 2-3 minutes. Add the lemon juice and mix well. At this stage you can add the fried peanuts and 2 slitted green chillies if you wish to. 

Switch off gas and transfer to a serving bowl.




Serve with plain yogurt/raita accompanied by salads!!




Monday, 19 January 2015

FISH KABIRAJI [FISH WITH COVERAGE]



FISH WITH COVERAGE.....popularly called as Fish Kabiraji in Kolkata. It took me 24 years to know that fish kabiraji is actually fish with coverage. Before that I used to wonder how come such a tasty piece of fish fried in a batter of egg can be named Kabiraji....which is a form of alternative medicine which promotes eating more herbs and vegetables. I could not really match the two. Then, one day my then would be husband told me it is fish within a coverage of egg. Gosh! May be invented during British Rule of India and the name degenerated from coverage to Kabiraji at a later period. Authenticity of fact is not known.

Down memory lane, thinking about fish kabiraji, I find myself with my dear pals at the very famous COFFEE HOUSE. This is not a regular restaurant....situated in the midst of colleges and book shops, it is a place for many evolving ideas, where writers, poets, professors and students can be seen together. Once you are in....you can hear all sorts of talks....from latest Bollywood movie to idealism, socialism.....World Politics....a place of peaceful coexistence of intellectuals and brats like us. Amidst this, I find myself sitting among my friends, talking all 'no sense' and giving heavenly bites on my kabiraji cutlets. I remember one of our professor caught us one day and shouted....I think you have a class now, how come you are here.  We, the desperate young brats did not listen to him....he is no more....said my friends. There is a phase in life we become this annoying.

We get three types of kabiraji cutlets in Kolkata.....Fish, Mutton and Chicken. So many Kolkatans are spread throughout the world and must be missing Kolkata street foods and snacks. In solidarity with them I felt like posting this recipe of Fish Kabiraji and also wish to acquaint the rest of the world with a very tasty snacker. It is done with Bhetki fish fillets. Seabass perhaps belong to the same species. Normally fish fillets are marinated in a spice mix and fried dipped in a batter of egg n cornflour. You are always at a liberty to make some addition and subtraction.

INGREDIENTS[for the spice mix] :
Cinnamon : 2[1inch stick]
Green Cardamom : 4
Cloves : 5
Cumin Seed : 1/4tsp
Coriander Seeds : 1/4tsp
Dry Red Chilli : 3

INGREDIENTS[basic] :
Fish Fillet[any white fish] : 300gm
Lemon : 1[big]
Green Chilli :2
Onions: 2[medium]
Salt : As required
Turmeric : 1/2 tsp
Coriander Leaves : 2sprigs
Cumin Seeds : 1/4 tsp
Garlic[minced] : 1tbsp
Ginger[minced] : 1tsp
Cornflour : 50 gm
All Purpose Flour : 1tbsp
Egg : 2
Breadcrumb : 50 gm
Oil : 100gm

METHOD :
Wash the fish fillets and marinate with the juice of a lemon and little salt. Peel, wash and slice the onions. Chop the coriander leaves and green chillies and wash. Mince the garlic and ginger.

Dry roast all the ingredients for spice mix and powder them in a grinder. Heat 2tbsp oil in a pan. Temper with cumin seeds. Add the onions, minced garlic and ginger. Saute well till brown. Add the fish fillets and saute well. They will break into pieces as you cook. The fish pieces will release water.

After few minutes you will see the water drying up. Add salt, turmeric, chopped green chillies n coriander leaves, the spice mix. Fry for 3 more minutes. Add 1tbsp of all purpose flour and mix well. This is done to bind  together the filling.Transfer it to a wide mouthed bowl. Let cool.

Beat 2 eggs in a bowl. Take cornflour in a bowl, mix it with little water to make a paste. Take breadcrumb in another bowl. Now shape the fish filling into rectangular cutlets as shown in the picture below.



Keep the 3 separate bowls with beaten eggs, cornflour and breadcrumbs on the kitchen counter. Heat rest of the oil in a wok. Dip each cutlet in cornflour first, then in bread crumb and finally in the egg mix and put into the oil. Fry in batches till both sides are brown. Drain the excess oil on tissue papers.
See the picture below.




Serve hot with salads of your choice accompanied by coffee/tea!!



Sunday, 18 January 2015

WALNUT RAISIN BREAD



Cakes and Breads and Pastries have always being a favourite with me. As a kid ..... a piece of cake or a warm toasted bread with milk was a must in the evening. The toughest part was to have the milk which I hated. To make sure I drink the milk, mom allured me with buttery breads and cakes. Very few variety of breads were available then. Living in the suburbs we got to know about two types of bread only....normal and milk which was whiter and softer. In a family where breakfast meant inevitably roti / parathas, breads were ocassional  visitors only when mom was sick.

Talking about bread, I remember a bread story which I wish to share. It dates back to the 70's when I was about 5-6 years. I lived in a small township, about 100 km away from Kolkata at my maternal grandparent's house. There was a bakery nearby. I used to go there with my younger aunt and ohh!...how heavenly was the smell of freshly made breads.....it was definitely not of butter. A pound of bread selling for 50 paisa or 1 rupee definitely did not have butter in it even though it was 30-35 years back. May be the smell was of the the flour and milk and yeast. So impoverished was the bakery.....yet so fresh and soft were the breads. I remember, an old man with a single helper did it all.

That there can be anything other than plain breads was unknown to me for long. It was only when super markets started coming up at every corner of my city that I saw a variety of bread. Earlier, their availability was limited to a core area in the heart of the city, far from our house. In those days or may be now too, in general, a Bengali would buy Hilsa or Prawns with any amount of money but would not like to spend on fancy breads. There is nothing wrong or right in it, just about priorities in life.....which I feel everyone has the right to set.

My first attempt for making a bread went haywire. I always admit baking is not my forte. With constant encouragement from friends....G+ and elsewhere, I thought lets give it a try. Hence, this morning tried my hands on my first ever WALNUT RAISIN BREAD. A bright, fresh Sunday morning, fresh and soft was my bread, that also following few easy steps.

INGREDIENTS :
All Purpose Flour : 2 cups
Sugar : 2/3 cup
Baking Powder : 1tbsp
Baking Soda : 1/2 tsp
Ground Cinnamon : 3/4 tsp
Egg : 1
Milk : 1/2 cup
Butter : 3tbsp, melted 
Walnuts : 10-15
Raisins : 10-15

METHOD :
Preheat oven to 180 degC. In a bowl, mix together flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and ground cinnamon.

In a separate bowl, beat well an egg. Melt the butter and add to it. Add the milk and mix well. Pour onto the flour mix. Rub and mix well. A dough is formed.

Chop the walnuts. Add half of the chopped walnuts and raisins to the dough. Grease a loaf pan with little oil. Put in the dough and press a little to make it even. Add the remaining chopped walnuts and raisins. It should look as below.



Now cover the top of the pan with aluminium foil to prevent the dough from spilling and from getting the top hard. Place over the low rack and put inside the oven. It should look as below.





Bake at 180deg C for about 45 minutes. Insert a fork or a knife in the middle to check if its done. If done, it will come out clean. Let it remain inside for few minutes. Take out, let it cool. Transfer into a serving plate/tray. Look at the picture below.



Your Walnut Raisin Bread is ready to be served with butter accompanied by tea/coffee!!

Saturday, 17 January 2015

MATAR PANEER





PANEER is a type of unripened cheese popular in the Indian subcontinent. It is easy to make and is completely vegetarian. If you are living outside India, it may not be available at your local supermarket. You may have to travel to an Indian shop and look for it in the frozen section. Do not worry, if soaked in warm water for 1hour, frozen paneer tastes equally good as fresh ones. Alternatively we can prepare it at home with cow milk and lemon juice/vinegar.

Paneer seems to be a very good vegetarian option to me. Its popular all over the Indian sub-continent. However, in Bengal, it is in use for merely about 15-20 years. Many a fish loving Bengali still do not have it in their favourite list. But from the day it was available fresh in the local sweet shops, it became a favourite at our home. At my parental home, one day in a week has always been a full vegetarian day. Me and my brother called it a doom's day. We did all weird things hoping mom would change her decision.....we stopped talking to her on that day....ran away to friend's house for a taste of fish. Our mommy dear, undaunted, used to give examples of good children in the neighbourhood who loved veggies, hence had beautiful skin and hair. It did not inspire us at all. Time changed me.....I  got wiser and love veggies now.....but accompanied with a fish/meat/egg curry....

Matar Paneer is more of a North Indian dish. I love their thick gravies using cream and off course garam masala. I do it my own way with simple spices adding a dash of butter at the end. Goes well with both steamed rice and roti. I used store bought paneer.

INGREDIENTS :
Paneer : 250gm
Green Peas : 1/2 cup
Tomato : 2[medium]
Ginger Paste : 1tbsp
Cumin Powder : 1and 1/2 tsp
Green Chilli Paste : 1tsp
Kashmiri Chilli Powder : 1tsp[only adds colour, no heat]
Garam Masala Powder : 1tsp
Cumin Seed : 2pinches
Bayleaf : 1
Butter : 1tsp
Salt : As required
Turmeric : 1tsp
Oil : 3tbsp

METHOD :
Soak the paneer pieces in warm water for 1 hour. Take out and add salt. Wash, cut and deseed the tomatoes and make a paste in the blender. Get the ginger and green chilli paste done separately. Wash and add little salt to the green peas.

Heat oil in a wok. Keep a big bowl beside half filled with warm water. Lightly fry the paneer pieces in batches and drop into the warm water. This helps the paneer to remain soft.

Temper the same oil with a bayleaf and cumin seeds. Add the ginger paste and fry till the raw smell goes away. Add the chilli paste and tomato paste. Fry till the paste separates from the oil. Add salt, turmeric, cumin powder, Kashmiri chilli powder and the green peas. Fold in well.

Now add 1 coffee mug of water. Cover and let boil at medium to low heat. When the gravy gets thicker, add the paneer pieces and garam masala powder. Let cook for another 2-3 minutes. Add the butter, give a stir and switch off gas. Its done!

Enjoy with rice or chapatis!!






Thursday, 15 January 2015

KEEMA MATAR


Each region of India has its own style of preparing  Keema, keeping the basic ingredients as same.
Remembering childhood, going out with mom was a pleasure for two reasons.... a new dress and a keema cutlet from popular outlets. In a normal middle class home then.... getting a new dress other than festivals was a thing of joy.... inexplicable! So far as keema cutlets were concerned, this fatso finished one in 5 minutes and wanted more. Mom's warning came as a thunder blow.... too much outside food is not good for your health and along with it the assurance, I will prepare for you soon. The happy me came back home happily dreaming of keema cutlet and curry and stew. My dreams did come true..... in few days.

I always wished to be a very good home maker like my mom, though far from being so. Yet heard from different sources that my senior does speak very positive about his wifey. The happier me dedicates more time in the kitchen.  The junior says nothing but refuses to eat from the school canteen for a single day. This makes me happily engaged in the kitchen, I love being there.

Keema preparations are regular at home because they go very well with Indian breads and my men love them. The basic ingredients for this dish are lamb /mutton keema, onion, ginger and garlic, yogurt, chilli paste and green peas.

INGREDIENTS:
Mutton / Lamb Keema : 500gm [minced lamb / mutton]
Plain Yogurt : 100 gm
Onion : 2[big]
Ginger Paste : 1tsp
Garlic Paste : 2tbsp
Green Chilli Paste : 2tsp
Kashmiri Chilli Powder : 1tsp[adds colour only]
Coriander Powder : 1tsp
Salt : As required
Turmeric Powder : 1 tsp
Green Peas : 1cup[small]
Bayleaf : 1
Bengali Garam Masala : 1/4tsp [an equal amount of cinnamon, green cardamom and cloves dry roasted and powdered]
Oil : 3 tbsp + 1tsp

METHOD :
Wash the mutton keema thoroughly through a strainer. Transfer into a bowl. Beat the yogurt and pour onto it. Add salt and turmeric, 1tsp oil and mix well. Keep covered for 2 hours. Slice the onions and wash them.

Heat oil in a wok. Wash the green peas and add little salt in it. Add to the oil and saute for 2 minutes at low heat. Take out and keep aside. Temper the same oil with a bayleaf.

Add the sliced onions and fry till brown. Add the ginger-garlic and  green chilli paste. Fry well till the oil separates from the spices. Now add the turmeric powder, salt, coriander powder and Kashmiri red chilli powder. Mix well and saute for 1 minute.

Add the marinated keema along with the marinade. Fold in well. Cover and cook for about 30-40 minutes till the juice dries up. All the cooking has to be done at low heat. Uncover and stir every 4-5 minutes.

Add l/2 cup warm water. As it comes to boil, add the  sautéed green peas. Cook for 3-4 minutes, add the Bengali garam masala powder, stir and switch off.

Serve with your choice of bread, I love it with rice!!





Wednesday, 14 January 2015

SPICY VEGETARIAN RICE




Rice....a staple in many parts of Asia. Believed to have first grown in ancient southern China and India, Rice growing was first brought to Japan possibly in the 1st century BC and became popular. From India, it spread to southern Europe and Africa. Staple or not it enjoys a celebrity status, whether you are having it everyday or occasionally. With its flexibility...its unique. Have it steamed, fried, baked....whichever way you wish.

Piping hot white kernels of Rice with a curry of your choice accompanied by some salads....the diabetic me's favourite dream these days. An extreme rice lover that I was....I used to have it three times a day....gone are the golden days. I really thank my patience for living with two rice haters under one roof. I have to constantly think and work on how to feed some rice and vegetables to them. All your effort goes into vein if your family do not enjoy what you cook.

When the situation is this, various types of pilaf and fried rice comes as a saviour. Very easy to prepare, with ingredients available in your kitchen. It was a friday, with some paneer, broccoli, bell peppers, carrot and green peas available at home.... I could think of nothing but this quick and easy Masaledar Rice.

INGREDIENTS :
White Rice : 2 cups
Broccoli : 1[small]
Carrot : 1[medium]
Red n Green Bell Pepper : 1 each
Green Peas : 1/2 cup[small]
Paneer : 1/2 cup[small]
Green Chilli : 4
Curry Leaves : 7-8
Coriander Powder : 1tsp
Cumin Powder : 1tsp
Garam Masala : 1 tsp
Kashmiri Mirch Powder : 1/2 tsp
Cumin Seed : 3 pinches
Salt : As required
Turmeric Powder : 1/4tsp
Oil : 3tbsp

METHOD :
Wash rice properly and boil it, switch off gas when it is 75% done. Drain the water. Place a newspaper on the table and spread the rice on it. Keep like this for half an hour.

Cut all the vegetables small, keep in separate bowls n wash. Cut the paneer into small cubes. Add salt to veggies and paneer. Slit the green chillies.

Heat oil in a frying pan. Keep heat at medium to low.  Fry the paneer pieces till light brown and keep aside. Temper oil with cumin seeds and curry leaves. Add the carrots, fry for 2-3 minutes. Now add the broccoli, bell peppers, green peas and fry for another 2 minutes.

Next, add all the powdered masalas and slitted green chillies. Fold in well and keep stirring for 1 minute. Add the rice, salt as required and turmeric powder. Add the paneer pieces. Stir well for 2-3 minutes till all of the rice is nicely coated with the spiced veggies.

Switch off gas, its done! Serve hot with yogurt/raita and pickles!!


Monday, 12 January 2015

DAAB CHINGRI [PRAWNS IN COCONUT SHELL]



Daab Chingri or Prawn Cooked in Coconut Shell is again a Bengali delicacy which we generally cook on special occasions. Excuse my extreme love for non-veggies...specially fish.....Prawn is not a fish.....we often forget that....it is so much into our life as a fish...Just back from India....with lot of memories and stories associated with three Fs.....Family, Fish and Friends....I cannot help myself from praising and loving these smelly...scaly creatures everyday through my cooking....and finally giving utmost pleasure to the stomach.

Being a Bengali.....we cannot go without fish a single day. Prawns and Hilsa being the two kings among all. There had been a big fight between Bengalis of West Bengal and East Bengal.....about which one is the best....Prawns or Hilsa? Our generation is smarter....we never get into these silly fights but enjoy the best of both.....

Singapore being home for freshest of prawns of all sizes, there is no reason why one will not have it on a regular basis if he/she is not allergic to. Needless to say, the Chinese are excellent cooks and they cook so exotic dishes with prawns using very less ingredients, that too in the simplest manner. That surely deserve accolades.

I am yet to learn the nitty gritty of Chinese Cooking, hence thought of presenting what I know. Daab Chingri has a number of variations with regards to the spices used. I really did not do any research on the authenticity of the spices used. I did the way I felt like that day, that particular moment and was extremely relaxed doing it. Watching my men eating a bit more grains of rice was an absolute pleasure.

For Daab Chingri....you need a green coconut shell, few spices, shredded coconut and fresh medium sized prawns. Heres how we do it....

INGREDIENTS :
Prawns : 300 gm
Onion : 1 big
Ginger Paste : 2tsp
Cumin Powder : 1tsp
Coriander Powder : 1tsp
Turmeric Powder : 1tsp
Salt : As required
Red Chilli Powder : 1tsp
Cumin Seeds : 2 pinches
Bayleaf : 1
Shredded Coconut : 1/2 small cup
Oil[Mustard preferably] : 2tbsp
Green Coconut : 1

METHOD :
Wash and de shell the prawns...[the heads should not be thrown, but can be used to make pakoras.] Add some salt  to the prawn and mix well. Keep aside. Slice the onion and wash.

Heat oil in a wok. Temper with a bayleaf and whole cumin seeds. Add the sliced onions. Fry till brown. Now add the ginger paste and fry till the raw smell goes. Add all the powdered spices and salt needed. Stir for 1 minute, add the shredded coconut, stir for 2 minutes.



Pour onto the prawns as in the picture below.



Mix well with the prawns. Cut the top of the coconut roundwise. Pour the water in a glass. We are supposed to take out soft white flesh but I did not do....you can see in the picture I kept it as it is. Now prawns are ready to be put into the coconut shell.


With the help of a spoon put the prawns inside the coconut shell till the top. See the picture.



Cover with the coconut lid. It will look as below.




Now preheat oven at 180 deg C. Put the small tool inside the oven and place the coconut over it. Cook for 45 minutes at 180 deg C. Look at the picture below.



Please check if its done because every oven is different, so cooking time may slightly vary. Once done it should look like the the picture below.


Enjoy with a plateful of piping hot steamed rice!!

Sunday, 11 January 2015

KORAISHUTIR KOCHURI O ALOOR DUM



We call Green Peas....Koraishuti....n....this Koraishutir Kachuri....as we call it....was a winter treat for us in our childhood. It is usually served with floor dum or scholar dal among us. Green Peas were available only in winter then. Cold wintry sunday morning, hot kachoris/kochuris being fried in the kitchen.....who on earth can concentrate on studies....not me at least....Every five minutes I had to peep into the kitchen what is going on....with each visit I picked up one and finished in just three little bites. Before my mom could serve them on a plate, I would have finished 3-4 kachoris. Dear mom's patented warning came as....."Girls should not behave like this."Poor me never understood why girls should have so much of restrictions....before I could come to any conclusion on it, I could hear the baritone voice saying....let her have....someone reading the newspaper was very indulgent about his daughter....he introduced me to the world of reading at a very tender age and had given immense freedom, even while choosing my life partner. I learnt we need to guide our kids and never try to control their lives.

So Sunday morning made amazing with kid's bi-monthly magazines, special breakfasts accompanied by rasgullas or jalebis, followed by a chicken/mutton curry with rice for lunch watching Ramayan on TV....was altogether a treat.

 Preparing green peas kachori or koraishutir kochuri has become so very easy these days with frozen packets available throughout the year. Just get them, thaw and proceed with your recipe. Let us do that now. I will also give the recipe of the Dum Aloo which is done with a special marination of milk and lemon juice.



INGREDIENTS[for the kachoris] :
Plain Flour : 2 cups
Salt : As required
Green Peas : 250 gm
Ginger Paste : 2tsp
Cumin Powder : 1tsp
Green Chilli : 2
Asafoetida : 4pinches
Turmeric Powder : 2 pinches
Cumin Seeds : 2 pinches
Oil : 150ml + 2tbsp

INGREDIENTS[For Dum Aloo] :
Potatoes[medium] : 500gm
Milk : 1 cup[big]
Lemon : 2[big]
Onion : 2[big]
Kashmiri Mirch Powder : 1tsp
Green Chilli : 4
Ginger Paste : 2 tbsp
Garlic Paste : 2tsp
Salt : As required
Turmeric : 2 pinches
Cinnamon : 1[1 inch stick]
Green Cardamom : 2
Cloves : 3
Bay Leaf : 1
Sugar : 1tsp
Oil : 3tbsp

PROCEDURE : [for Aloor Dum]


Peel and cut the potatoes into halves. Wash them. Make holes in the potatoes with a fork. Marinate with salt, 2 pinches of turmeric, milk n lemon juice. The marinade may curdle, do not worry, this dish demands so. At the end you get a tangy sweet Dum Aloo. Cover and keep aside for at least 4 hours. Get the spice pastes ready, slit the green chillies, slice the onions.

Heat oil in a wok. Temper with bayleaf,cinnamon stick, cardamom and cloves. As they give a nice aroma add the sliced onions. Fry till brown. Add the ginger-garlic paste along with slitted green chillies. Fry well and add salt, turmeric and Kashmiri mirch powder. Saute well and add the marinated aloo along with the marinade. Stir well and cover cook at low heat for about 15-20 minutes. You need to stir every 5 minutes to avoid burning or sticking. Check if the aloos are done, then add the sugar, little water and switch off after another 3-4 minutes. Transfer into a serving bowl.



Now let us prepare the Koraishutir Kochuri or Green Pea stuffed poori.





Make a dough with the flour, little salt, 2tbsp oil and water as required. Keep aside for 1 hr. covered with a wet cloth. Open cover.



For the filling, make a paste of the green peas along with 2 green chillies. Heat 1 tbsp oil in a wok. Temper with the cumin seeds. Add in the ginger paste, fry well. Add the cumin powder and stir. Add in the asafoetida and immediately the green peas paste, followed by salt and turmeric. Keep on stirring till it dries up and the sides tend to come out. Once done transfer into a bowl. Let it cool. We are using here very little turmeric to retain the green colour of the peas filling.



Make round balls from the dough. Make pockets to put in the fillings and close again. See the picture below.



Once the kachori balls are ready, lets prepare the dum aloo, so that we can fry the kachoris and serve immediately with the dum aloo. Heat oil in a wok. Temper with bayleaf,cinnamon stick, cardamom and cloves. As they give a nice aroma add the sliced onions. Fry till brown. Add the ginger-garlic paste along with slitted green chillies. Fry well and add salt, turmeric and Kashmiri mirch powder. Saute well and add the marinated aloo along with the marinade. Stir well and cover cook at low heat for about 15-20 minutes. You need to stir every 5 minutes to avoid burning or sticking. Check if the aloos are done, then add the sugar, little water and switch off after another 3-4 minutes. Transfer into a serving bowl.

Now with help of a rolling pin and base, lets roll the kachoris / kochuri dusting the balls lightly with flour. Do not press the kachoris hard with the rolling pin, filling may come out. Look at the picture below.





Heat oil in a wok. Fry the kachoris / kochuris one at a time. When one side is done then flip onto the other side. Just as in the picture below.



 Serve hot the Koraishutir Kochuri / Green Peas Kachoris with Dum Aloo accompanied by sweets of your choice!!!