Monday, 30 March 2015

MANGO MANIA





Healthy....Wealthy....Tasty....Fruit Smoothies are meant for...health n taste.... ultimately helps one to be wealthy....hahaha...that was on a lighter note...yet there is a lot of truth in it.... I hope most of you will agree with me on the fact that mangoes should be eaten in two ways.... either it has to be too ripe and sweet or raw made into sour/sweet chutneys or otherwise. There is no halfway in eating mangoes. During mango season, there is a lot of mango eating at our home. This tropical island do provide us mangoes of different variety throughout the year. The miser me prefers to buy them during the season when we get them at a reasonable price. I do miss home during mango season, my parental  home has its own mango tree. I have grown up at my maternal grandfather's home up to a certain age where mango hardly needed to be bought unless you are looking for a particular variety.

I prepared this Yogurt-Mango Smoothie for my family. In fact, I have planned a row of chilled health drinks for this summer to keep hydrated. . I used Thai Honey mangoes which are light yellow in colour, so I added a pinch of yellow food colour. To prepare this smoothie you need very few ingredients and it is done in few minutes.

INGREDIENTS :
Ripe Mango : 3
Plain Yogurt : 1 coffee mug
Milk Powder : 2 tbsp
Honey : 1/2 small cup
Chat Masala : Sprinkle 2 pinches in each glass[optional]
Garnish if you wish with dry fruits or fresh ones.

METHOD :
Wash and soak the mangoes in clean water for half an hour.

Peel and take out the pulp. Discard the seeds.

Pour the pulps in a blender.

Add the yogurt, milk powder and honey.

Blend at high speed for 2 minutes with intervals.

Pour in glasses and refrigerate for 2-3 hours.

Garnish as you wish, sprinkle chat masala and serve chilled.

 If you don't want it too thick, add half cup water.






Sunday, 29 March 2015

CASHEW MUTTON



Mutton  Curry is a much loved dish in many homes. Remembering childhood , mutton curry was the Sunday special menu. If three Sundays in a month were meant for chicken, one was to indulge and enjoy over mutton. In a middle class home like ours, mothers had budget limits. I so much wonder how skilfully they managed it. After a fulfilling breakfast with poori, halwa, dum aloo and jalebi, started my long wait for the lunch hour. At the study table...me and my brother's conversation revolved around how flavourful mutton curry is and come lets go to the kitchen and ask for one-one piece just to taste...it started with tasting and ended with a major burp of satisfaction at night after completing dinner with chapati and red , rich mutton curry.

Perhaps because of my love with food chemistry since then, my chemistry knowledge did not go beyond few symbols. I did not also understand why a train from here to there and there to here has to meet somewhere and make things complex. Why can't we sit beside a train window and enjoy the beauty outside which I loved most, and still do. It was because of Alzebra, I managed to pass my boards and earned a decent degree for myself. On my visits to Kolkata, I take a train ride to my parent's place at Barrackpore when I can afford a hired car....I do not want to or cannot identify myself with people who think taking a public transport is less prestigious. If I belong to a middle class family and grew up this way, I should not have any qualms in doing so now unless I am sick or old enough.

Too much of lecture and again I am offtrack. Coming back to mutton, this curry is a bit rich using cashew paste and cream. The floating oil is the fat from the mutton. Then, you see having it once a month will not kill you either. So be guilt free and enjoy your food. This goes well with both chapati and rice.

INGREDIENTS :
Mutton : 1kg
Onion : 2[big]
Ginger Paste : 2 tsp
Garlic Paste : 2 tbsp
Coriander Powder : 2 tsp
Red Chilli Powder : 2 tsp
Plain Yogurt : 1 small cup
Fresh Cream : 2 tbsp
Cashew Paste : 2 tbsp
Melon Seeds paste : 1 tsp
Salt : As required
Turmeric Powder : 1/2 tsp
Cinnamon Stick : 2-3 one inch piece
Bayleaf : 2
Oil : 2 tbsp

METHOD : 
Wash the mutton thoroughly. Marinate with beaten yogurt, half of ginger-garlic paste, salt and turmeric powder. Refrigerate overnight stored in an airtight container.

Take it out 2 hours before cooking. Peel, wash and slice the onions.

Heat oil in a wok. Temper with cinnamon sticks and bayleaves.

Add the sliced onions and fry till golden brown.

Add the ginger- garlic paste and fry till it separates from the oil.

Add the marinated mutton along with the marinade. Stir well.

Cook covered in slow fire for 45 minutes, stirring every 7-8 minutes.

Uncover, add salt, chilli powder and coriander powder. Stir well and cover again.

After 10 minutes uncover and add the cashew and melon seeds paste. Stir well and cover cook for another 10-15 minutes.

By now it should be done. Add the fresh cream and stir well. Switch off.

You may not need to add water as it will be released from the yogurt itself. If required a cup of warm water can be used after 45 minutes of cooking. This recipe is usually thick.

Enjoy with jeera rice or any type of South Asian flat bread!!


Friday, 27 March 2015

PRAWN FRIED RICE....




Rice being a staple throughout Asia, we have so many options of preparing it....each region, state, country has something unique to offer depending on the ingredients available, that suits their taste buds. Globalisation has made us adapting to other cultures.... food or otherwise. It is a feel good factor really. Like other fellow foodies, me too believe food has no boundaries....the term fusion food so much in vogue now. I do not hesitate to use a typical Indian biriyani masala along with broccoli and bell peppers while preparing a rice dish. These vegetables are in use in my country in recent years, atleast in my state. There is nothing wrong in doing so as long as it appeals to our taste buds. The word unethical has no place when it comes to food....the food world is truly versatile.... I laughed to my heart's content when Pizza Hut in Kolkata introduced tandoori chicken pizza in their menu.... its an immense pleasure to see when a fellow foodie from my part of the world works hard to prepare a low caloric version of burger with tahini sauce.... or someone from UK prepares a perfect dosa and expresses love for red hot South Asian curries. It leaves me happier.

At home, my men are not fond of rice with dal, veggies.... a very good fish curry does help. So I keep on using assorted veggies... meat and fish to fry with the rice and bring some colour to the plate and their face. There is nothing good like an one pot meal loaded with all nutrition and served with salad. This is an Oriental Prawn Fried Rice , that I prepared for my family and a visiting dear friend. I did not follow any strict rules while doing it ..... I followed my mood and the available ingredients on that particular day. I served it with pepper chicken made with zucchini.

INGREDIENTS :
Long Grained Rice : 2 cups
Prawns : 300 gm[medium sized]
Red bell pepper : 1[medium]
Yellow bell pepper : 1[medium]
Green Capsicum : 1[medium]
Broccoli : 1[small]
Onion : 1[big]
Minced Garlic : 1tsp
Soya Sauce[light] : 3tbsp
Black Pepper[coarse] : 1tsp
Salt : As required
Oil : 3tbsp
Sesame Oil : 1tsp[optional]

METHOD :
Wash the rice and boil in enough water till half done. Strain. Spread on a big plate or on a newspaper and keep under the fan for 1 hour.

Clean and wash the prawns. Add salt as required.

Cut the bell peppers n onion into cubes and the broccoli into florets and wash separately.

Heat oil in a pan. Fry the prawns at high heat for 1-2 minutes. Keep aside.

Add the minced garlic and saute till it gives a nice aroma. Add the onions and saute for 1 minute.

Now add the veggies and saute for 2 minutes. Add the prawns, soya sauce and little salt. Saute for 1 minute.

Add the rice and stir well for 2 minutes at high heat.

Add the sesame oil. Stir well. Its done!!

Enjoy with your choice of meat and veggie dish as sides!!







Wednesday, 25 March 2015

CHOCOLATE MANGO DELIGHT [EGGLESS]





Mango season is approaching and that is a reason to feel happier. Coming from a state which grows about a considerable variety of mangoes which are exported too, love for mango is by default. In this island, we do get a variety of mangoes, I have tried and tasted quite a few of them. They are good, each in their own uniqueness. In my state or rather in India / South Asia, mangoes have a strong sweet smell, which when cut, the entire neighbourhood gets to know.


I have zeroed in on few varieties after much trying and testing. We do get alphonso and few other Indian variety here, though not the much loved ones from my state. As they say we need to be flexible in life to move forward, the once rigid me has given  in to the demands of life. There is a predominance of mangoes at my home during its season considering its health benefits and definitely its taste. It is extremely good for improving digestion and bone health, beneficial for skin and hair.

Preparing a cake topping with mango was in mind for a long time. Yesterday got the first mango of the season which happened to be little sour. So thought using one as a topping to my basic Chocolate Cake. Poor at baking, I always keep my cakes very simple. This is an eggless chocolate cake I prepared with a mango puree topping.


INGREDIENTS : [FOR THE CAKE]
All Purpose Flour : 11/2cup
Cocoa Powder : 3tbsp
Sugar : 1/2 cup 
Baking Powder : 11/4 tsp
Baking Soda : 1/2 tsp
Banana : 2 medium
Plain Yogurt : 1/4 cup
Butter : 1/2 cup[oil can also be used]
Vinegar : 1tsp
Vanilla Extract : 1tsp

INGREDIENTS : [FOR THE TOPPING]
Ripe Mango : 1
Icing Sugar : 2tbsp
Butter : 2tbsp[softened]

METHOD :
Take out the pulp of the mango and discard the seed. Now prepare a puree with the mango pulp,  icing sugar, butter in the blender. Refrigerate for 1 hour.

Preheat the oven to 180*C.

Sieve the dry ingredients together. Blend the banana along with all the wet ingredients. Add to the flour mix. Stir in to mix well.

Pour onto a greased cake tin and bake for 30 minutes. Check by inserting a fork in the middle which should come out clean if done.

Once cool, turn onto a serving plate. Pour the mango puree atop.



Refrigerate for 1 hour. Enjoy chilled!!







Monday, 23 March 2015

WHOLE GRILLED FISH


If an ardent rice and fish lover is prescribed by the doctor to have less amount of carb, she has to omit the rice from her meals and be happy with the fact that she has no restrictions on eating fish. Now eating fish curry without those white grains is a pain sort of... curries are not soups to be enjoyed alone...we need some kind of bread or rice to go along. Some alternatives had to be planned, so that the meal is satisfying, filling without adding much carbohydrates to the diet. Perhaps good habits are taking over....be it by force...or for health reasons....at times for a change too.

Besides...we do not get fresh water fish in Singapore much...it gets difficult to match our kind of curries to the sea fish found in abundance here. Grown up in a state with rivers around, we are used to fresh water fish, big and small. It was a major problem for me when I first landed in Singapore...what fish to cook? so less were the options. Moreover, two pairs of parents were too concerned about non availability of fresh water fish here. I had to learn alternative way of having fish to assure them we are having it regularly. You may be laughing but thats the way Bengal...both east and west think.

In the process, I learnt to cook fish in a healthier way...grilled, baked, sautéed. I have seen that this way I can get rid of the smell that sea fish generally have....specially to them who are not much used to it. For an average adult, grilled fish, salad and a hearty bowl of soup should be as filling and healthy without any guilt of wrong eating. Yes, I did use spices but a permissible amount is always welcome.... Yesterday our long lost childhood buddy visited us after 30 years....the food platter had to be special. I prepared this grilled whole grouper as a side.

INGREDIENTS :
Whole Fish : 1 medium[I used grey grouper]
Vinegar : 4 tbsp
Garlic Paste : 2tsp
Ginger Paste : 1tsp
Red Chilli Powder : 1tsp
Tandoori Masala Powder : 2 tbsp[ i used store-bought]
Salt : As required
Oil : 2tbsp
Coriander Leaves : 2tbsp chopped

METHOD :
Clean the stomach and the scales of the fish and wash thoroughly. Pat dry. Make slits on each side.

Marinate the whole fish with vinegar, salt, chilli powder, ginger n garlic paste, oil thoroughly. Keep aside for at least 2-3 hours.

Chop and wash the coriander leaves. Mix with little salt, chilli powder and stuff the fish stomach with it.

Grill the whole fish one side for 12-14 minutes brushing oil every 5 minutes. Turn over and grill the other side for 10 minutes brushing oil every 5 minutes.

Each oven has different temperature level, so adjust timing accordingly.

Squeeze lemon juice over the fish and serve with salad!!

Friday, 20 March 2015

BADAM MURG / CHICKEN IN ROASTED PEANUT SAUCE



Eversince I prepared mirch ka salan with peanut paste, I am thinking of incorporating more of it in other recipes. I liked how the peanut paste thickens and adds a nutty flavour and texture to the curry. Use of it is not so common in Bengali Cuisine, but we can always do some addition and subtraction to give a new twist to an old recipe.

With chicken so regular at home, at times I really get bored cooking it. Not always do we like to even google search. Each one of us at some point wish to enjoy the freedom of creating or doing it in our own way, however good or bad it is. If bad we will not do it again, if good then definitely many more times and share with others. Perhaps, this way a recipe is created and spread.

Honestly, I did not follow any particular recipe while planning this recipe of BADAM MURG, just thought of following my mind and be absolutely relaxed while doing it. There might have been some  Badam Murg recipe somewhere  in the net but this time I thought of doing my own way. Its a very easy recipe with no use of garlic and ginger. I was so engrossed listening to a favourite Bollywood number, thank God it did not burn. It was done while I was almost lost with Shahrukh Khan in the song, somewhere there. After watching Veer Zaara few years back, I had been in search of a Veer, who spent his life in a jail for his girl.....they say its only in stories, now the hopelessly romantic fool believes the world is not  devoid of Veer....though may be few in number....but I do come back to my kitchen....who will prepare the roti...my men gets more hungry when its meat and chapati at home. Lets explore through the recipe and see how easy it is.

INGREDIENTS :
Chicken : 500 gm
Tomato : 2 medium
Onion : 2 big
Roasted Peanut Paste : 50 gm
Lemon Juice : 4 tbsp
Salt : As required
Turmeric Powder : 1/2 tsp
Red Chilli Powder : 1 tsp
Melon Seed  Paste: 1 tsp
Cinnamon Stick : One I inch
Green Cardamom : 2
Clove : 2
Bayleaf : 1
Butter : 1 tsp
Oil : 3 tbsp

METHOD :
Wash, cut the chicken pieces into medium sizes.

Marinate the chicken with salt, turmeric powder and lemon juice. Keep aside for at least 2 hours.

Wash, cut and deseed the tomato pieces. Peel, wash and slice the onions. Get the pastes ready.

Heat oil in a wok. Temper with bayleaf, cinnamon, green cardamon and cloves.

Add the onions, fry till golden brown. Add the tomato pieces and sauce till they melt.

Add the peanut paste, melon paste. Fry at low heat till the spices separate from the oil.

Add the red chilli powder. Add the chicken along with the marinade. Stir and cover.

Uncover every ten minutes and stir. Add salt if required.You need not add water.

When the chicken is soft and the sauce thickens, add the butter. Mix well.

Its done. Serve with any South Asian flat breads!!

Thursday, 19 March 2015

TOMATO EGG DROP SOUP




Just like red curries, I have a special liking for tomatoes. I love adding tomatoes into my curries, for colour and its health benefits, both. I have to have colours in my food, otherwise I don't feel like eating it. One will find predominance of tomatoes, Kashmiri red chilli powder in my cooking.

Growing this fruit is so easy. I remember, it used to grow beside my mom's prestigious flowers just like that. Perhaps, some birds have dropped its seed there. It was such a pleasure watching it grow....from a green fruit to a red, ripe, juicy one. We prepare veggies with raw green tomatoes too, though less.

This red juicy fruits have so many uses.... we use it for sauces, chutneys, pickle, curries. Extremely beneficial for our body, they say it keeps cancer at bay, if eaten on a regular basis. High in vitamin A, Vitamin C, Calcium and Potassium, it is good for our eyes too.

Before the doctors start questioning on my wiki knowledge, lets proceed with the recipe of TOMATO EGG DROP SOUP which requires very less ingredients.

INGREDIENTS :
Red ripe tomatoes : 2big
Egg : 1big
Minced Garlic : 1tsp
Minced Ginger : 1/2tsp
Onion : 1medium
Black/White Pepper Powder : 4 pinches
Vegetable/Chicken stock : 2 coffee mugs
Salt : As required
Oil : 1tbsp
Butter : 1tsp
Parsley/Spring onion for garnish.

METHOD :
Wash and cut the tomatoes, deseed. Beat the egg in a small cup. Peel, wash and slice the onions.

Heat oil in a wok. Fry the minced garlic and ginger till light brown. Add the sliced onions, saute till translucent.

Add the tomato pieces and salt as required. Pour in the stock. Let boil till the tomatoes melt. Let cool.

Blend the whole thing to a paste in a blender. Melt the butter in a wok. Pour the blended mixture. Add half cup water. Let boil for 3 minutes.

Now pour the beaten egg drop by drop. Add pepper powder. Switch off after 1 minute.

Transfer in to soup bowls and garnish with chopped parsley or spring onions.

Serve with any kind of breads!!




Monday, 16 March 2015

ASSAMESE MASOR TENGA [ A TANGY FISH CURRY]


Of late I am posting a recipe which I should have done much before.  My today's pick.....Assamese Masor Tenga is a typical Assamese tangy fish curry where almost no spices are used and done with minimal oil. Though I visited Assam two-three times, I have a special relation with Assam given my family from father's side are staying there for many years. My grandfather migrated  there from Bangladesh. My maternal grandfather too was posted there for a couple of years being in a transferable job. Hence, I am acquainted with their cuisine to some extent. They are expert in various steamed rice/flour cakes[pitha], sour fish curry too.

We learn about the history of ancient Assam from inscriptions on rock, copper plates, clay, royal grants, etc. Its history can be divided into 4 eras. The ancient era began in the 4th century with the establishment of Kamarupa kingdom, the medieval era began with the Turko- Afgan attacks from Bengal, the colonial era began with the coming of the British and the post colonial era began in 1947, after Indian independence.

Assamese Cuisine is a style of cooking that is a confluence of cooking habits of the hills that favor fermentation and drying as a form of food preservation. The cuisine is characterised by very little use of spices, little cooking over fire. Fish is widely used with rice as a staple. A traditional Assamese meal begins with a khar, a class of dishes named after the main ingredient, and ends with a tenga, a sour dish. Food is usually served in metal plates and bowls. I have chosen an Assamese tangy fish curry for today's meal.

INGREDIENTS :
Any firm white fish : 500gm[though usually done with buffalo carp]
Tomato : 2 medium
Onion : 1 big
Lemon Juice : 2 tbsp [alternatively elephant apple/chalta one piece, I used lemon juice]
Bengali Panch phoron : 1tsp[ an equal amount of fenugreek, nigella, cumin, wild celery and fennel seeds]
Coriander Leaves : 2-3 sprigs
Dry Red Chillies : 2-3
[not required but I used 1/2 tsp of Kashmiri Mirch Powder to add colour]
Oil : 2 tbsp
Salt : As required
Turmeric Powder : 1tsp

METHOD :
Wash the fish and cut into medium pieces. Rub with salt n turmeric powder as required. Keep aside for 15-20 minutes.

Cut, deseed and wash the tomatoes. Wash, peel n slice the onions. Wash, and chop the coriander leaves discarding the roots.

Heat oil in a wok. Fry the fish pieces till light brown. Keep aside.

Temper oil with panch phoron and slitted dry red chillies. As they splutter, add the sliced onions.

Fry the onions till brown, add the tomato pieces.

Saute till the tomatoes are well fried and separate from the oil. Add the remaining turmeric powder, salt and Kashmiri chilli powder. Give a stir.

Add the lemon juice. Add one coffee mug water. Let boil for 4 minutes at medium to low heat.

Add the fish pieces and boil for another 2-3 minutes. Add the chopped coriander leaves. Switch off.

Yes, its this simple n easy! Serve with steamed hot rice!!



Sunday, 15 March 2015

MIRCH KA SALAN


Not a Sunday morning like post really....but I liked so much preparing it yesterday, that I felt like posting it today......and what was the liking for?? Well...that is the pleasure of cooking something different from my own cuisine.....me being a predominantly Bengali cook...and finally I was satisfied with the texture of the curry.... Of late there had been an urge to post veggie recipes too as been requested from different quarters. There has to be some kinda balance of veggie and non-veggie recipes in my blog, I feel. This recipe is heavily influenced by HYDERABADI MIRCH KA SALAN....but I have purposefully omitted the word Hyderabadi because I was running out of white sesame seeds and curry leaves at home...hence did some alteration with the spices.

MIRCH KA SALAN is a chilli curry made with peanut paste, sesame seeds and few other spices along with tamarind juice. It is a traditional Hyderabadi dish prepared in weddings and other special occasions..... a spicy dish served as a side to Biriyani or with chapati too. The gravy is thick n grainy  due to the use of peanuts. The big chillies used here is mildly hot...hence you can go ahead with it...

INGREDIENTS :
Large Green Chillies : 10
Coriander Powder : 1/2 tsp
Cumin Powder : 1/2 tsp
Red Chilli Powder : 2
Ginger Paste : 1 tsp
Roasted Peanut Paste : 2tbsp
Melon Seed paste : 1/4tsp
Onion[grated] : 1
Tamarind Juice : 2tsp
Salt : As required
Turmeric Powder : 1/2 tsp
Mustard Seeds : 2 pinches

METHOD:
Slit the chillies little and discard the seeds. Wash them and rub with little salt.

Heat oil in a wok. Temper with mustard seeds.

Add the grated onion. Saute till golden brown.

Add the peanut and melon seeds pastes and saute for 2 minutes.

As the pastes separate from the oil, add the chillies and saute for about 2 minutes.

Add the cumin...coriander...red chilli..turmeric powder along with the salt required. Fry for half a minute.

Add half small cup water and cover cook for 2-3 minutes at low heat.

Add the tamarind juice, stir.

Switch off, its done.

Though its served as a side with Biriyani, my personal preference is serving it with South Asian flat breads. Oh can I already foresee happy faces this evening....lets hope so!!

Friday, 13 March 2015

SEABASS WITH CAULIFLOWER / BHETKI FULKOPIR JHOL



Before people think I have somehow stopped loving and eating fish, I thought todayI must prove it wrong. I am very much eating and preaching it keeping my Bong identity just in place. I believe which ever part of the world a Bong may land in, on their first morning in a foreign land, they surely google search for the nearest fish market. If I hear of a non-fish loving Bong, I take the responsibility of teaching and making them believe the 100 reasons why they should have fish....I have not spared my chicken loving son from this either. Mamma literally mash the fish and feed her teen, oblivion of all the scolding she gets from the senior asking to stop pampering and let him be independent. Now, this mamma never did deny of being a typical Bong Mom. My dictate at home is clear....love it or not....one has to eat fish at home....

The fish I used today is Seabass, similar to Bhetki or Barramundi as it is called in India. Perhaps they belong to the same species. Though not same, they are similar in taste. I do not wish to apply here my little wiki knowledge, deeper research is required to make any comment on a topic. This much I can say, back home we love preparing this fish with cauliflower and potato, or use its fillet to make fish fries. Fish lovers I know you are already planning for a fish fry with your evening tea. I also know ,non-fish lovers are planning at my back to quit visiting my blog. I promise you some meat n veg soon. Now lets proceed to the recipe, before the cat eats the fish.

INGREDIENTS :
Seabass : 6 pieces
Cauliflower : 6-8 medium florets
Potato : 2 medium
Tomato : 1medium
Ginger Paste : 1tbsp
Green Chilli Paste : 1tsp
Cumin Powder : 1tsp
Kashmiri Chilli Powder : 1/2 tsp[for colour]
Turmeric Powder : 1tbsp
Salt : As required
Bay leaf : 1
Cumin Seeds : 2 pinches
Oil : 4 tbsp

METHOD :
Wash the fish pieces, apply salt n turmeric as required and rub well. Peel, wash and cut each potato into 4 pieces, lengthwise and then widthwise. Wash both potato and cauliflower separately, apply n rub salt n turmeric well.

Wash and cut the tomatoes deseeding it. Keep all spices near you.

Heat oil in a wok. Fry the fish pieces in batches till light brown, both sides. Keep aside.

Fry the cauliflower and potato pieces till light brown, in batches. Keep aside.

Temper the oil with bay leaf and cumin seeds. As they splutter, add the ginger paste.

Saute for 1 minute, add the chilli paste, fry for another 1-2 minutes. Add the tomato pieces and fry till the spice mix separates from the oil.

Now add rest of the turmeric powder, salt and Kashmiri chilli powder. Mix well. Add 1 coffee mug of water.

Let the curry boil for 2 minutes, add the fried potatoes, let boil for another 2-3 minutes at medium to low heat. Now add the cauliflowers and fish pieces.

Boil for 2-3 minutes. Its done.

Serve hot in a bed of piping hot steamed rice!!








Tuesday, 10 March 2015

EGG FRIED RICE WITH SWEET N SOUR PANEER


Oh rice, rice, rice, how I love it and my two men hates it. Since I am not allowed to eat much of it, I feel like they should have it. Yes, it is a state of mind...I have to see those white grains of prosperity on the table at least once in a day. If I pack it for lunch, I spare them from eating it at night. Yes, Rice is a sign of prosperity among us, we consider it as goddess Lakshmi.

In such a love-hate scenario, I prefer frying the rice with whatever available spices and colourful vegetables or meat n eggs at home. This the only way I can feed some rice to them. If with it we can serve a Chinese inspired side, nothing as comforting as this....a complete meal...health and taste loaded.... Today I prepared this EGG FRIED RICE WITH SWEET N SOUR PANEER to pack their lunch boxes.

I am a much happier person at the end of the day when I see their lunch boxes....not a single grain of rice can be seen. I hate wastage of food, in a country where millions still starve, I cannot afford to. I can relate a childhood real life story in this context.

When I was at school, a vendor selling puffed rice, jaggery used to come at our neighbourhood from a remote village. He used to catch the first train early morning, come and sell his things and went back in the afternoon. Many in the neighbourhood used to feed him...we had a very nice neighbourhood culture  back then. I remember my mother used to feed him lunch...the way he sat, ate....each grain with so much of love n care...I even remember the burp sound after the meal...that of satisfaction...inside my room...I used to be in tears.... so I cannot afford or allow to waste food at my home.

I hope you too have this feeling when you see a hunger stricken poor eating....God, I remember so many things from past....small n big... trivial n serious... of love n adulation, pain, abuse, rejection, dejection...everything....various scenarios...different actors... Life's truly a stage....each one playing their own roles....and I grow n grow with experience.....

INGREDIENTS :[for the egg fried rice]
Rice : 1coffee cup
Egg : 4
Onion : 1 big
Red, Green, Yellow Bell pepper : 1 each[small]
Minced Garlic : 1tbsp
Black Pepper Powder : 1/2 tsp
Soya Sauce[light] : 1tbsp
Spring Onions[chopped] : 2 tbsp
Salt : As required
Oil : 2tbsp

INGREDIENTS :[for the sweet n sour paneer]
Indian Cottage Cheese : 250 gm
Onion : 1big
Red n Green Bell Pepper : 1each small
Green Chilli : 3-4
Minced Ginger : 1tsp
Minced Garlic : 1tsp
Cornflour : 2tbsp
All Purpose Flour : 2tbsp
Black Pepper Powder : 1tsp
Salt : As required
Sweet n Sour Sauce : 2tbsp
Oil : 6 tbsp

METHOD :
Wash the rice and boil in enough water till 70% done. Drain the water and pour over a tray, spread evenly.

Wash and cut into small cubes the onion and the bell peppers. Get the minced garlic ready. Wash n chop the spring onions.

Heat 1tsp oil in a pan. Scramble the eggs and keep aside. Wash the pan, dry and heat the remaining oil meant for the rice.

Add the minced garlic and fry till it is light brown. Add the onion pieces and fry till translucent. Add the cubed vegetables and saute for 2 minutes at high heat. Pour in the soya sauce and stir for 1 minute.

Add the rice and stir at high heat. Season with salt n pepper. Stir well, add the scrambled egg. Stir again. Switch off gas, its done.

Transfer to a serving bowl and garnish with chopped spring onions.

Now the preparation of sweet n sour paneer....

Cut the cottage cheese pieces into cubes. Sprinkle the all purpose flour, little salt and cornflour and coat well.

Wash and cut the onions and bell peppers into cubes separately. Slit the green chillies and keep the minced ginger and garlic ready.

Heat the oil in a wok. Fry the paneer pieces till light brown in batches. Keep aside.

Keep 2 tbsp oil in the wok and rest keep aside for future use. Add the minced ginger and garlic in wok and fry till it gives aroma. Add the onions and saute till translucent.

Now add the bell peppers and saute for about 2 minutes at high heat. Pour the sweet n sour sauce, season with salt n pepper.

Add the paneer pieces and the slitted green chillies. Fold in well and switch off.

Both to be served hot and fresh!!



Monday, 9 March 2015

PHILIPPINO CHICKEN ADOBO




Chicken Adobo is a Philippino dish, a most authentic one. Several sources say that the Philippinos were already cooking adobo even before Spanish colonisation. Not to be mistaken with Mexican adobo, this dish is uniquely prepared by stewing chicken in vinegar and soya sauce. This method is also considered as one of the earliest food preservation practice.

I first tasted Chicken Adobo on board a ship. My husband being in the shipping industry, used to sail regularly till few years back. Though my sailing experience with him is less, it is an excellent one. Inside a ship it is like that of universal harmony, people of various ethnicity working together at one place in perfect coordination. Far from home for months, it was a second home for all these hardworking guys. What average people say about them that they are all drunkards has very little truth in it. Fact is drinking on board has been banned for a pretty long time and they do miss their family madly. It is for their family that they accept such a hard  life. People lack empathy and can say anything, words are not taxable.

In general, on board you have Philippino cooks. I tasted a couple of their cuisine. They can cook other cuisines also with much élan as they have to cater to the taste buds of 30-35 crew members of different ethnicity 3 times everyday. So I consider them nothing less than an expert. As usual, by breakfast time I used to be at the galley to assist the cooks at my own will, in spite of my naughty husband ordering the chief cook not to allow me there. Chief got very friendly with me and would request me to make roti which they were poor at. Well, I can proudly say I prepared 25-30 roti every night with their help. It was pleasure cooking for people far from home for months. I wish to write about this hard working, carefree bunch of people titled "LIFE AT SEA"....I have the right concoction of empathy, emotion and material, but I lack vocabulary or may be the flair for writing.

I found Chicken Adobo, the simplest of all recipes using very little ingredients.

INGREDIENTS :
CHICKEN : 500 gm
VINEGAR : 2tbsp
SOYA SAUCE : 4tbsp[preferably the dark one,I used the light one]
GARLIC[minced] : 2tbsp
BLACK PEPPERCORNS : 8-10
BAY LEAVES : 2-3
SALT : as required
SUGAR : 1/2 tbsp
OIL : 3tbsp
WATER : 2-3 cups

METHOD :
Wash the chicken and pat dry. Marinate with the minced garlic, vinegar, soya sauce, salt as required for about 2-3 hours.

Heat oil in a wok. Fry the chicken pieces for about 5-8 minutes. Add the marinade. Mix well and cook for 4-5 minutes.

Add the bay leaves and peppercorns. After five minutes, add water, mix well and and cover. Simmer at low heat for another 10 to 12 minutes, add the sugar, stir and switch off. Its done.

Enjoy hot with piping hot steamed rice!!


Saturday, 7 March 2015

MUTTON PEPPER FRY



MUTTON PEPPER FRY.... thats what they called it at the restaurant. The memories of Cameron Highland tour is fresh in mind including the variety of food we had their. Discovering the foodie in us, our tour guide took us to an Indian restaurant on the third day and the rest of the story is that of supreme gastronomical delight. After a tour of the tea estates and strawberry farms, we were quite hungry and perhaps ordered food for 15 heads for just 9 of us. What did we not have....had a fusion platter....practically had this Mutton Pepper Fry with Peta bread accompanied by hummus. Our kids are also growing up to be foodie demons like their parents. I would highly recommend this restaurant 'The Curry House'....if you visit Cameron some day.

Besides the other mouthwatering dishes, I particularly liked this mutton pepper fry because it tasted very different from the usual Bengal mutton curry. It was a busy working hour, we were in a hurry, so I could not talk to the chef and ask him the recipe secret which I wished to. Back home, I tried it my own way, tasted good my men said.

INGREDIENTS :
Mutton : 500 gm[small cuts]
Lemon Juice : 6tbsp
Onion : 1 big
Ginger Paste : 1tbsp
Garlic Paste : 2tbsp
Black Pepper Powder[coarse] : 2tbsp
Coriander Powder : 1tsp
Fennel Powder : 1tsp
Salt : As required
Turmeric Powder : 1tsp
Curry Leaves : 8-10
Bay leaf : 1
Red Bell Pepper : 1[optional]
Oil : 3tbsp

METHOD :
Clean and wash the mutton pieces. Marinate with half of the ginger-garlic paste and lemon juice, salt and turmeric powder for at least 4 to 5 hours.

Peel, wash and slice the onion. Cut the bell pepper into cubes and wash. Wash the curry leaves.

Pressure cook the mutton up to 3 whistles at medium to low heat. Once cool open the lid.

At this stage we will reserve the juice of the mutton in a separate bowl to be used in soups or in curries later. This dish does not require it.

Heat oil in a wok. Temper with the bay leaf. Add the curry leaves and sliced onions. Fry till the onions are golden brown.

Add the remaining ginger-garlic paste. Fry till the spices separate from the oil. Add the coriander powder and fennel powder. Give a stir.

Add the mutton now and fold in well. Lower the heat and cover. Stir every 3 minutes.

Uncover after 10 minutes and add the bell pepper pieces, black pepper powder and salt as required.

Fold in well. Cook covered for another 5-8 minutes till the remaining water dries.

It goes very well with any type of South Asian flat bread!!





Thursday, 5 March 2015

BHAPA SANDESH / STEAMED SANDESH


'ORE GRIHABASHI,KHOL,DWAR KHOL,LAGLO JE DOL,
STHALE JALE BONOTALE LAGLO JE DOL,
DWAR KHOL,DWAR KHOL.'
Lines from Tagore's one of the famous songs on holi....For Bengalis, today is Holi...we call Dol Purnima....for rest of India...its tomorrow. The above lines call for all to open their door and play with colours...for everywhere on earth, the carnival of colours have started. Hope many of you know how merrily and colourfully it is played at SHANTINIKETAN....Tagore's abode of peace n harmony. A century back, he conceived of a different theory of education...where education would not be confined to the four walls of a classroom...but to be perceived in the nature's lap, bringing forth the hidden qualities of the students....they will learn what they wish to....hence his dream university came up....Shantiniketan ..with financial assistance  coming from every corner of the world. Needless to say  actually how many talents were its alumni....from world famous sculptors to politicians to economists to scientists....singers, dancers. It is situated in the small township of Bolpur, West Bengal. There people flock in numbers to be a part of the Holi celebration through dance, drama, songs and gulal.....you know the magic of colours?...it paints you with happiness, merrymaking, erasing pain, if you have any. I had been to Shantiniketan, but not during holi. I wish to be there once on this occasion, be a part of the merrymaking, perhaps meet people who suddenly got lost long ago without even leaving a goodbye message....I believe, I will when the last strand of my hair turns grey. Well, before I try to feed you with foolish stories lets stop and try to come back in track.

My childhood memories of holi is not good. Our neighbourhood was not so congenial for a girl to play holi.  Yes, I mean it.I was brought up in a very well guarded manner by my mother who never allowed me to play holi outside and she was right doing so. After marriage, in my Kolkata neighbourhood I really did enjoy holi with lovely friends, jalebi, kachori-dum aloo and yes bhang....tastes amazing. No I am not putting up the recipe of bhang today, nor of jalebi which I find difficult. Here for you an easy sweet recipe, called BHAPA SANDESH. The introduction was getting lengthier, so did not put up the legend that goes behind the celebration of holi.....may be next year. As of now let me put up a sweet recipe for holi and gear up for the grand Holi Celebration at work tomorrow with a grand lunch spread!!

INGREDIENTS :
Milk : 2 litres
Lemon : 1
Ice Cubes : 4
Sugar : 1 cup[small]
Green Cardamom : 1tsp
Raisins : 1 for each sandesh [preferably pistachios]
Oil : 2drops

METHOD :
Lets prepare the chena or the cottage cheese first. Pour the milk in a heavy bottomed vessel and put on heat.

Get the juice from the lemon. As the milk comes to boil, pour in the lemon juice.

The milk will curdle. Immediately add the ice cubes to prevent the cheese to harden further.

Once it cools, strain the cottage cheese through a clean white cloth. Wash the chena while in the cloth itself to do away with the lemon smell.

Tie the cloth along with the chena and hang for at least 30-40 minutes.

Now transfer the cheese into  a wide mouthed bowl. Add the sugar. Crush the cardamom seeds and add to the mixture. Start mashing with your palm till it smoothens and your palm gets oily. This will take about 15-20 minutes.

Take a square microwave proof container. Grease with 2 drops of oil. Put in the cheese mix and spread evenly.

Take another microwave proof container bigger in size and fill with water less than half of it. Put the square container on it.

Microwave at high for 4-5 minutes. Take out after few minutes.

Cut into diamond or square shapes and garnish as you wish!!





Wednesday, 4 March 2015

MINT CORIANDER RICE WITH GRILLED CHICKEN WINGS


This Mint-Coriander Rice is a new addition in my recipe list. I had it first at work....one of my colleague might have got it. The lunch time is very colourful for us at work....it seems as if all the states of India are represented at one place. It speaks of peace and harmony, where sweet pulao happily stands by tamarind rice, Dahi Vada holds hand  with idly...sometimes there are also pastas and western desserts showcasing world cuisine. The foodie in me will obviously be happy with it.... More so when we have a potluck, its a visual treat sort of...about 25-30 variety of dishes on display.

The other day I had a good amount of Mint-Coriander leaves at home, so thought of preparing rice with it. It is usually served with a vegetarian side but my home is strictly non-veg. So I had to think of a non-veg alternative. My men's love for meat made me settle on some Orange grilled chicken wings with it. The rice had a refreshening aroma and taste...with it the crispy chicken wings went well...Rice and Chicken....in one form or the other keeps my family happy....

INGREDIENTS :[for the mint-coriander rice]
Rice : 1 cup
Mint Leaves : 100 gm
Coriander Leaves : 100 gm
Garlic[minced] : 1 tsp
Green Chilli : 2
Onion : 2[medium]
Salt : As required
Oil : 3tbsp

INGREDIENTS :[grilled chicken wings]
Chicken Wings : 10-12
Lemon Juice : 4tbsp
Orange  Juice : 1/2 cup
Ginger Paste : 1tbsp
Garlic Paste : 2tbsp
Salt : As required
Sugar : 1 tbsp[optional]
Yellow Food Colour : 2 pinches[optional]
Oil : 3-4 tbsp

METHOD :
Wash and boil the rice in enough water till 70-75 % done. Drain the water and transfer the rice to a colander. Let its water dry.

Wash the chicken wings and marinate with ginger-garlic paste, lemon juice,salt. Keep aside for 2 hours.

Add sugar and the yellow food colour to the orange juice.

After 2 hours, take the chicken pieces out from the marination. Add the orange juice to it, mix well. Keep aside for 1/2 an hour.

Now add oil to the chicken pieces and mix well.

Grill the marinated chicken wings for 10 minutes one side, brushing oil very 3-4 minutes. Turn the meat pieces and grill for another 5 minutes, brushing oil once in between.

For the rice, wash, peel and cut the onions in cubes. Make a paste with prewashed mint and coriander leaves along with the green chillies.

Heat oil in a pan, add the minced garlic. When it gives nice aroma, add the onion cubes. Saute till translucent. Now add the mint- coriander paste, saute for 2-3 minutes, add required amount of salt and stir for another 1 minute.

Add the rice. Stir at high heat for 3-4 minutes till each morsel of rice is well coated with the paste. Switch off, its done.

Serve hot along with the grilled wings and raita!!




Monday, 2 March 2015

CARROT CAKE



A leisurely weekend morning, a bit late wake up watching the faces of your loved ones sleeping peacefully, a small plan, a little effort is what is  required to see them happy  during evening tea time. To see those happy faces one can bet anything, any amount of labour is welcome. Weekends demand some sweets/desserts to complete our meals or light up the evening tea table.

As in all my posts concerning cakes, I always remind all the readers who takes the pain to stop by, that I am still a learner when it comes to baking. Since my men like home made cakes, I dare to venture in this arena more often these days.I explore through google, go through the easy ones and finally select one subject to the availability of the ingredients at home on that particular day.

Last week I was literally planning to prepare a cake at the weekend with a cream cheese topping. I have heard it tastes excellent. I had my sugar check done for the next one month. So I could set loose myself a little. So Saturday morning I had the cream cheese in the refrigerator saying do it today itself. I had quite a number of carrots. So there the idea of making a CARROT CAKE popped up with a rich cream cheese topping. I prepared one for my men, the rest for our friends who love eating them even if  they are over baked at times.

This is a Carrot Cake with Cream Cheese Topping to stir up your tea table. Believe me....it was not so bad this time. Soft, with the richness of the topping. I may not have been able to dress it up properly but their smile was genuine. That is enough reason for me to be happy.

INGREDIENTS :[for the cake]
All Purpose Flour : 21/2 cup
Baking Powder : 11/4 tsp
Baking Soda : 1tsp
Cinnamon Powder : 1tsp
Nutmeg Powder : 1/2 tsp
Eggs : 4
Sugar : 11/2 cup
Vegetable Oil : 1 cup
Plain Yogurt : 1/2 cup
Roasted Walnuts : 1/2 cup
Carrots : 2[big]

INGREDIENTS :[for the cream cheese topping]
Butter : 50 gm
Cream Cheese : 2 packs of 8 ounce
Powdered Sugar : 1 cup
Vanilla Extract : 1tsp

METHOD :
Preheat the oven at 180 degree C.

In a large bowl put all the dry ingredients together and mix well.


In another large bowl mix together oil and sugar and beat together for 3-5 minutes. Add eggs one by one and mix well. Beat the yogurt in a cup and add to the liquid mixture. Mix very well.

Add the flour mix little by little to the liquid mix and stir well to get rid of any lump. The final mixture should be a little thicker batter.

Wash, peel, shred the carrots and add to the batter, stir well.

Grease your cake tin with little oil and then dust lightly with flour. Pour the batter till half of the tin. Bake for 40-45 minutes at 180*C. Let cool.

Dry roast the walnuts in a pan. Once cool break them with your palms.

In a blender put together the softened butter and cream cheese and blend for 3 minutes, add the powdered sugar. Blend at high speed for 3-4 minutes. Add the vanilla extract and blend for 1 minute.

Once the cake is completely cool, take out turning it upside down on a plate. Apply the cream cheese frosting on top. Then arrange the walnut pieces on it.

Enjoy your tea time or as an after meal dessert!!




Sunday, 1 March 2015

CHAR GRILLED STUFFED TOMATOES




A diabetic myself, I have been recommended to have more of vegetables and proteins in my diet. Being on a heavier side always, I am in a mission to shed few extra kilos at least. So sincerely need to incorporate more of veggies as an alternative to carbs. In such a scenario I literally have to hunt for more veggie delights. Yesterday tried this recipe of Char Grilled Tomatoes.

Tomatoes are so health loaded. They are rich source of vitamins A and C and folic acid. They contain a wide array of essential nutrients our body needs. Its beneficial properties makes it a must have in our everyday diet. I love this red, juicy, shiny fruit in salads, curries, chutneys....in whatever possible  way. It enhances the taste and colour of any curry.

Yesterday was my no rice day and was exploring through google for some alternative that can fill my stomach....which to my disappointment....is annoyingly big....God...have some mercy. I saw many a recipes of grilled and baked tomatoes, bell peppers and then modified into mine. Of late, I have developed a taste and liking for vegetarian food, may be for having too much of non-veg since childhood. I love paneer[Indian/South Asian Cottage Cheese], hence thought of using it as a filling to stuff the tomatoes and grill them. In much less time, a healthy dish made with no compromise with taste.

INGREDIENTS :
Red Tomato : 4
Red Bell Pepper : 1
Capsicum : 1
Onion : 1
Green Peas : 2 tbsp
Green Chilli : 2
Paneer[Indian Cottage Cheese] : 100 gm
Salt : As required
Black Pepper[crushed] : 1tsp
Oil : 2tbsp + 1tbsp

METHOD :
Wash the tomatoes, wipe and cut from the top . Take out the pulp and the seeds. Drizzle the tomatoes with little salt and oil. Get a smooth paste of the pulp in a blender.

Wash and cut into cubes the green and red bell peppers and onions. Wash and chop the green chillies. Crumble the paneer with your palms.

Heat 2tbsp oil in a wok. Add the onions. Saute till translucent. Add the tomato pulp paste and fry till the raw smell goes away. Add the red and green bell peppers, chopped onions and the green peas.

Add salt n pepper. Saute for 3-4 minutes and add the crumbled paneer. Stir for another 2-3 minutes at medium to low heat. Its done. Let cool.

Stuff each tomatoes with the paneer filling. Place on a oven proof tray. Grill for 8-10 minutes. You can add few drops of lemon juice at this stage. Enjoy!!