Thursday, 15 December 2016

CUCUMBER N BLACK GRAM CHAAT



My favourite these days.... chaats and salads. Always looking forward for some good alternatives for carbohydrates, I find such dishes best suited to my changed tastebuds. I do not follow any strict diet as such or as prescribed by the dieticians. I am just unable to have heavy breakfast, light lunch and even lighter dinner. I usually prefer soups or salads for lunches. Since I had never been a salad kind of person, I try to make them suit my taste buds, turning them to chaats. I do this so that I can have two spoonful of my most favourite rice sitting together with my men at night. We usually have our dinners late when perhaps others plan to go to bed. Well, we never claim ourselves to be healthy eaters, but then our body clock got used to it.

It is time to take a break, before that let us share this easy and yummy chaat recipe.This dish is a chaat kind of salad made with boiled and sautéed black gram. Though not so much of a Bengali preparation, my mother used to prepare black gram or kala chana this way sautéed with onion and green chillies. Actually this was sold  at the road side carts at our place. How much would I slurp looking at them, my mother would not allow me to buy. Instead she would prepare for me. At times we used to have it with puffed rice. Modifying it into a chaat is my contribution to the dish and I can assure it will not dishearten you. A bowl full of health and taste. Let us prepare this Cucumber and Black Gram Chaat together.

INGREDIENTS [main] :
Black Gram : 150gm
Onion : 1big
Green Chilli : 2-3
Cumin Powder : 1/2tsp[optional]
Coriander Powder : 1/2tsp[optional]
Turmeric Powder : 1/2tsp
Salt : As Required
Cucumber : 2medium 
Oil : 2-3tbsp

INGREDIENTS : [for topping]
Date Tamarind Chutney : 4tbsp 
Plain Yogurt : 1/2small cup
Coriander Leaves : 1sprig
Sugar : 1/2tsp
Black Salt : 3- 4 pinches
Chaat Masala : 1tsp
Bhujiya or Chanachur [ salted snack, fried gram flour noodles??] : 2-3tbsp

METHOD :
Wash and soak the black gram in hot water for 3-4 hours, if in cold water then overnight. Wash again and pressure cook up to 1 whistle adding water and little salt. Let cool, drain the water and wash again.

Peel, wash and slice the onion, chop the green chillies and coriander leaves. Wash them. Slice the cucumber, wash and apply little salt, refrigerate. Blend together the yogurt, coriander leaves, sugar and black salt. If the mixture becomes too running, add little more yogurt and beat well. Refrigerate.

Heat oil in a wok. Saute the onion slices and chopped green chillies till they are soft and golden brown. Add the boiled black chana, fold in well. Add the cumin powder, coriander powder, salt and keep stirring for 3-4 minutes. Its done. Let cool a bit.

Transfer the cooked black chana to a bowl. Arrange the cucumber pieces on the sides or chop them and mix. Add chaat masala and fold in well. Top up with chanachur, tamarind date chutney and yogurt - coriander mix. Enjoy !!




Monday, 12 December 2016

RAW BANANA N POTATO CURRY / ALOO KANCHAKOLAR JHOL





What gives me utmost pleasure wherein blogging is concerned? My answer is compiling dishes that I have grown up eating, dishes for which I do not have to browse Google, dishes whose taste lingers on  till date, dishes which has my mother's touch on them. Today I wished to blog on one such dish. The old lady is at present cleaning up her daughter's home so that I can head to an all decked up home straight from the airport. A refrigerator full of essentials, bedrooms adorned with clean, washed bed covers is what awaits for me. This is the scenario each time I visit. We cannot just say thanks to our own, we need to be thankful in various ways. Yet I get very angry with her for been overprotective towards both of us siblings. In the process, we failed to learn the basics of life, to be independent. In her defence she would say life's lessons are not to be taught, it is to be learnt. Her daughter was not so keen on taking interest in worldly matters and was always engrossed in her own created world of fantasy. Well, I would not deny I am still so. At any gathering or a party, I choose my own cosy corner and love watching others present while sipping my favourite ones, getting little tipsy. Wherever I am, I create my own ambience.

...... and whichever part of the world I am or will be .... I will continue to cook up my desi recipes, laced with beautiful memories. My mom used to prepare this curry with Raw Banana and Potato, both vegetarian and non-vegetarian versions. Usually she used to prepare Shingi-Magurer Jhol [cat fish curry] with raw banana and potato. At times she added raw papaya to it. In the vegetarian version of this she used to add dry roasted broad bean seeds[shimer bichi] too. Unable to get shimer bichi, I prepared this vegetarian curry with raw banana and potato for myself, my men are force fed such things alluring with their choice of non-veg dish. I use the raw banana skin too to prepare a yum sides, laughing ?? you may please.... but nothing went waste in the middle class environment we grew up in..... and I do treasure my values. Let us prepare this Raw Banana N Potato Curry together.


INGREDIENTS :
Raw Banana : 2
Potato : 1
Tomato : 1medium[my inclusion]
Ginger Paste : 2tsp
Cumin Powder : 1tsp
Cinnamon Powder : 1/4tsp
Cardamom Powder : 14tsp
Red Chilli Powder : 1tsp
Turmeric Powder : 1tsp
Salt : As Required
Sugar : 1tsp
Cumin Seed : 2-3 pinches
Bayleaf : 1
Ghee[clarified butter] : 1tsp
Oil : 4-5tbsp

METHOD :
Peel both the potato and raw bananas. Cut half and then lengthwise as seen in the picture. Wash and chop the tomatoes. Rub the potato and raw banana pieces with little salt and turmeric.

Heat oil in a wok. Fry the raw banana and potato pieces separately in batches. Keep aside. Temper oil with cumin seeds and bay leaf.

Add the ginger paste and fry for 2 minutes. Add the chopped tomatoes and stir till it melts and separates from the oil. Add the cumin powder, chilli powder,  turmeric powder and salt. Stir well for a minute. Add the fried potatoes and fold in well.

Add a cup of water and let boil for 2-3 minutes covered. Now open cover and add the fried raw banana pieces. Let boil for 2 minutes. Add the sugar, cardamom powder and cinnamon powder. Stir and let boil for a minute.

Add the ghee and give a stir. It is done. We love to have it with rice but it goes well with chapati too.











Thursday, 8 December 2016

STUFFED RAW PAPAYA KOFTA CURRY



Its almost weekend, we are again threesome from twosome.... so everything seems happy happy. From an almost no cooking mode to moderate cooking is the present scenario at home. The quiet mom with a quieter son was living a quiet life, missing someone. When the mamma was just about to believe that her son has stopped loving her, would he come and sit at the other corner of the couch threatening mom to throw out of the window if she tries to hug him. The mamma keeps wondering when and how the lolly polly mamma's boy turned onto become a daddy's one. Yet she is never worried, instead takes pride that they are different. If the equation of relationships is strong and is well understandable, one should not worry at all. There will be a lot of cooking for the coming week now since the senior is not accompanying us for holidays this time. I absolutely do it in my own will because my man has never demanded anything from me ever neither had he ever put any restrictions on me. As I always say I am a very bad example of women's lib or may be the definition of women's lib is different to me.

Life and Philosophy is as interesting as of cooking for me. So I do not miss the chance of expressing my thoughts along with my recipes. If given a choice, I may quit the recipe part, its getting complicated for a free willed person like me, perhaps for others like me too. I lack farsightedness, hence misunderstood . Anyway we are heading for a good movie tonight, so the mind should be set free. I wished to share this kofta curry made with raw papaya and dry fruits with you all today. Kancha Pepe or Raw Papaya is a common vegetable among us. I tried this Raw Papaya Kofta Curry just to get a breakthrough from our very own Aloo Peper Dalna or few other veggies with kancha pepe. Since, Raw Papaya is in itself  bland, I tried it with a dry fruit stuffing . Let us prepare this Stuffed Raw Papaya Kofta Curry together.


INGREDIENTS :

Raw Papaya : 1medium [kancha Pepe / Kacche Papite]
Cashew nut : 6-7chopped
Raisin : 7-8chopped
Pistachio : 5-6chopped
Onion Paste : 2tbsp
Ginger Paste : 1tsp
Garlic Paste : 1tsp
Onion Sliced : 1big
Green Chilli : 2chopped
Red Chilli Powder : 1tsp
Turmeric Powder : 1tsp
Cumin Powder : 1tsp
Coriander Powder : 1tsp
Salt : As Required
Sugar : 1tsp
Melon Seeds : 1/2tsp
Plain Yogurt : 1/4small cup
Refined Flour : 1/2small cup
Cumin Seed : 1/4tsp
Bayleaf : 1
Oil : 1small cup [for frying the kofta n for the curry]

METHOD :

Peel and wash the raw papaya. Cut the two ends and cut further into four halves. Cut off thinly the inner skin along with seeds and discard. Wash again and shred the papaya. Take in a bowl, add two cups water and little salt. Microwave for 4 minutes. Take out, strain the water once cool and squeeze off all the excess water.

Add the sliced onion, chopped green chillies, little of turmeric, cumin, coriander powders and salt. Mix very well. Add the refined flour and mix well. We can now shape small balls. Chop the cashew nuts, raisins and pistachios.

Make a hole in each ball and fill with some chopped dry fruits. Close and shape the balls round again.
Heat oil in a wok, fry the kofta in batches till brown. Transfer onto tissue paper.

Make a paste with the melon seeds and plain yogurt. Temper same oil with cumin seeds and the bayleaf. Add the onion paste and fry for 2 minutes. Add the ginger-garlic paste and fry for further 2 minutes. Add the yogurt and melon seed paste and stir for a minute.

Add the rest of the turmeric powder, cumin powder, coriander powder, red chilli powder, sugar and salt. Saute for a minute. Add 1big cup water and let boil for 3-4 minutes. Gently add the kofta balls. Let cook for a minute. Transfer to a bowl.

Enjoy with rice or roti !!




Monday, 5 December 2016

SEMOLINA N DALIA KHEER





A beautiful, sunny morning and I am sitting at the favourite corner of our couch. As usual I am taken over by many a thoughts. I was happy with my performance at yesterday's Marathon event.... I am not a runner, I jog, I brisk walk, most importantly I absolutely enjoy the total ride. Walking together with so many people, the smiles at me coming from unknown quarters gives me pleasure. I was thinking of the yesteryear's very lethargic, fat, quiet girl who was never fond of any kind of sports. Some of my childhood buddies will echo my words, so today when they pat my back, they mean it, and I am as much as proud of their achievements..... big or small. My participation in sports was limited to taking part in MarchPast as it was compulsory and clapping for my friends and brother. So to me, doing half marathon is a pretty big thing given my medical condition and BMI. Age?? Do not give it much importance. Feel young, be young. Just when the mind was in such a happy state, yesterday evening we got the news of a death at the race event...... the person was just 29 years old, collapsed just a kilometre away from the finishing line and died later in the hospital.... very much saddening. I am not a seasoned or experienced runner, yet I would suggest do not push yourself too hard, listen to your body. Relax, we are not in a competitive run and most of our bodies are not trained as such. So go in your own pace and enjoy the ride.

I am just sitting idle, unable to go for a walk with the body aches and thinking of the bereaved family. I strongly felt I should compile a recipe post to get out of my present thought process. Not so much in the mood to write  an elaborate recipe, I thought of sharing this simple dessert recipe of kheer done with semolina [suji] and dalia [broken wheat]. This recipe is nothing but a modification of our very own Sujir Payesh [semolina kheer] that we grew up eating. After my son was born, I tried to give him such proteins like dalia, now I use it for myself as a substitute for rice. At times I mix both and prepare either a halwa or a ladoo or a kheer that is liked by my men. Let us prepare this easy recipe of Semolina n Dalia Kheer together.

INGREDIENTS :

Full Cream Milk : 2lt
Sugar : 11/2medium cup [or according to your tastebud]
Dalia [broken wheat] : 1/2small cup
Semolina : 1/4small cup
Cashew nut : 7-8 [halved]
Raisin : 10-12
Bayleaf : 1-2
Green Cardamom : 2-3
Ghee [clarified butter] : 1-2tbsp
Garnish as you wish or do not.....

METHOD :

Soak the raisins in water for an hour. Heat the ghee [clarified butter] in a wok. Dry roast the semolina and dalia for about five minutes till they are light brown.

Pour the milk in a heavy bottomed vessel, put on gas and boil adding the bayleaf till it becomes one third. Add the semolina and dalia mix. Stir well, cover and let cook for 6-8 minutes stirring every 2 minutes.

Add the sugar, stir and let boil for another 6-8 minutes. Add the cashew nuts, raisins, discarding the water and the green cardamoms tearing them a bit. Boil for 2-3 minutes. It is done.

Transfer to a serving bowl, let cool, refrigerate and serve chilled.




Sunday, 4 December 2016

CHALKUMRO GHONTO / ASH GOURD WITH LENTIL FRITTERS



This dish was part of my 200th blogpost last year, where I compiled four heirloom recipes from the kitchen of Bengal. I thought let me share them individually with the wish to reach more people. I take a lot of pride in my roots and lot of bloggers are actually doing the job very beautifully. I humbly add mine, recipes that have come down to us for generations should be compiled and archived. Honestly, when I started with the blog, I very much wished to keep it exclusively as an archive for family recipes, representing  Bengal's Kitchen. Somehow midway I could not keep my promise and the blog turned onto a 'Khichdi'..... meaning.... a hotchpotch one. It feels good to see some of my friends doing the same beautifully, I just provide fillers when they are not doing it.

I have decided to archive certain family recipes on the blog. Whether I promote them or not, they should be on the blog. I know even my daughter-in-law may not try them, yet they should be there. This particular dish is prepared with AshGourd and Lentil Fritters or Dal pakora. Actually, the dal pakora is a substitution for 'bori'..... that is dried lentil balls.. With the on and off rain scenario here, I never try preparing them at home. There is a way of doing it in microwave which I am yet to try. So, I team this non-spicy dish with dal pakora. You can also substitute the Ash Gourd with Bottle Gourd or Raw Papaya. Let us prepare this healthy, vegetarian dish together.

INGREDIENTS :[for the dal pakora]
Masoor Dal : 1/2 cup
Nigella Seeds[kalojeera] : 1/2tsp
Salt : As required
Turmeric Powder : 1/4tsp
Sugar : 1/4tsp
Oil to fry.

INGREDIENTS :[main]
Ash Gourd [chalkumro] : 1medium
Green Chilli : 2-3
Cumin Seed : 1/4tsp
Salt : As Required
Turmeric : 1/4tsp
Dry Red Chilli : 2
Bayleaf : 1
Sugar : 1/2tsp[optional]
Oil : 2tbsp

METHOD :
Peel, wash, cut and shred the ash gourd. Add salt n turmeric, mix well.

Let us do the dal vadas first. Soak the dal in water for 1 hour. Grind to a paste discarding the water.

Add kalojeera,salt, turmeric,sugar. Beat well for 2-3 minutes and shape into small balls. Heat oil in a wok and fry the vadas till golden brown.

Once done, add 2tbsp oil in the remaining oil. As it get hot, temper with cumin seeds, bayleaf and halved red chillies.

Add the shredded ash gourd, stir and cover. Keep heat at low.

After 12-14 minutes, uncover and add the vadas and slitted green chillies. Stir and cover again.

Keep stirring every 3-4 minutes till the water dries up. Add the sugar, stir again, cook for 2 minutes, its done.

Dal vadas are used as a substitute for bori [dried lentil ball].



Thursday, 1 December 2016

CABBAGE FRITTERS / BADHAKOPIR BORA





Its monsoon here, raining every now and then. One good thing about the weather here is that it does not rain incessantly. So, there is ample reason to romanticise with the tiny droplets that create a ripple deep within. As I walk past, I stop and watch the water drenched leaves, flowers. That is one major reason why it takes four hours for me to finish a half marathon. Nothing in this world comes in a platter. Then, I love all attributes of nature, except for its fury. With the senior on a tour , not really in a mood / mode to cook. Not that he is a big eater but when one member from the threesome is absent, one just not feel like. Besides, my boy is happy with his dose of chicken with  luchi[Bengali Bread]. With such simplification of kitchen cores, one does have ample time for reading, listening to old favourite numbers. I also wished to revisit some of my old favourite movies from Ijjazat to Step Mom, I can watch them any number of times. I can create a movie hall ambience with a big bowl of popcorn too, yet unable to get into the mood. Though there had been several threat messages sent during such absence, the answer had always been  "phew... let me work"..... the obvious answer should be "good... let me shop". I think all women will agree with me.... The problem with me is I am a bit miser and cannot shop till I drop.... so it is always a win... win situation on the other side.

So when one has ample time to sit and write such silly notes, it means she wants to share a recipe with you all, keeping in tune with the simplistic approach of her blog. Whether it is monsoon or not, everyone love fries and fritters. We do it with all available vegetables, perhaps. My senior's big aunt who expired few months back was an expert on it. In that humble home, each evening there had / has to be 2-3 kinds of fries to go with lentil and rice.... ohh.... so yum. This cabbage fritters or Badhakopir Bora are a childhood favourite. The mom thing had a trouble some time given a foodie daughter and her son is still so..... my dude brother is definitely not going to like this post today, haha. Yet I am eager to prepare this yummy vegetarian fry / fritter together with you all.

INGREDIENTS :

Cabbage : 1small [shredded]
Onion : 2big[sliced ], authentically not used
Nigella Seeds [kalonji] : 1tsp
Turmeric Powder : 1tsp
Chopped Green Chillies : 2-4
Sugar : 1tsp
Salt : As Required
Rice Flour : 1small cup
Gram Flour : 1/4small cup
Refined Flour : 2tbsp
Oil : 100ml.... left over can be used later

METHOD :

Through the outer leaves of the cabbage. Wash and cut into 4 pieces. Cut and discard the hard portion. Now shred the remaining portion and wash again.

Cut the two ends of the onions and peel. Wash and slice. Take both the shredded cabbage and sliced onion in a big bowl. Add the chopped green chillies. Add little salt, mix well and keep aside for 10-15 minutes.

In a wide mouthed bowl, take the rice flour, gram flour, refined flour, nigella seeds, sugar, salt and turmeric. Add water to it little by little and mix well until it reaches a paste like consistency.

Heat oil in a wok. Drain any excess water from the cabbage-onion mix. Take some mix, coat with the batter well and carefully add to the oil. Fry at medium to low heat as and when required.

Fry in batches, once done transfer onto a tissue paper first and then to a serving plate.

Enjoy with tea or as an accompaniment to rice and dal / lentil.

















Monday, 28 November 2016

DAL BHAPE / STEAMED LENTIL




....... and it was so easy to do.... I totally loved and enjoyed doing it. I am scared of whatever is complicated..... recipe or otherwise. Whatever is easy.... whether it is a recipe or easy going people makes me happy, gives me pleasure. Yet, I so much respect some dear people who put all their heart and soul in preparing and drafting a recipe, or may be preparing a lesson plan for their next day class or say put immense effort to be a near perfect housewife. I am none of them, rather would say I feel myself enriched been surrounded by such beautiful people. Everything seems happy happy, going to meet family and friends soon. It feels so great to be silly with your dear ones. The ones with whom I was a bit angry few days back.... I am settling meeting dates in advance with the same.... we are as silly as we had been many winters back...... the silver streaks, the under eye bags could not reach deep inside. Some of them are coming down to the city at the same time, just to sit together, giggle, do naughty talks going back to teen hood. The only glitch is that my senior is not been able to accompany me this time.... who happens to be as dear to them as much as of mine.

This typical 'kochughechu' type Bengali was so happy to discover this recipe at a friend's place last month. . Her name is Paramita Chakrabartty, a foodie herself and a fabulous cook. We were giggling all through when she was telling us the story of her daddy's diet till date which is a full 5-7 course typical Bengali meal. I could suddenly connect with it as we have seen in our family years back. A fat wallet? colourful home decor? gadgets? decades back these were not important part of life but the food plate had to be full from Gondhoraj lebu to chutney. This steamed dal is not to be confused with Dhokar Dalna's Dhoka which was/is regular at my side of the family. This dal is prepared by totally steaming it. My friend did not use onion like me. She did with matar dal, I did with moong dal. The process was hassle free, just prepare the mix and put on steam. So it was an altogether 'dhinka chika' kind of cooking listening to my favourite numbers. This dish I dedicate to myself because my not so Bong men hardly love such things. We can save time by doing it in microwave but I am yet to try. Let us prepare this Dal Bhape or Steamed Lentil together following the stepwise pictures.

INGREDIENTS : 

Moong Dal [skinless green gram lentil] : 1big cup
Shredded Coconut : 1/2big cup
Onion : 1big[sliced]
Green Chilli : 2[chopped]
Turmeric Powder : 1/4tsp
Salt : As Required
Mustard Oil : 1tsp + As required to drizzle later

METHOD :

Dry roast the dal till it turns light brown. Wash and soak in hot water for 2-3hours. Grind to a paste adding water little by little. Transfer to a bowl.

Add the sliced onion, chopped green chillies, shredded coconut, salt and turmeric. Mix well.




Now grease a steel container with mustard oil. Transfer the dal mix to it. 




Cover the box tightly. Heat enough water in a wok. Place the steel container on the wok. 





Let it cook for 1hour 15 minutes to 11/2hour. Let cool. Take out and open cover.



Loosen the sides with a knife and turn onto a plate. Serve hot with piping hot steamed rice drizzling some mustard oil on it. Since my men are less of a Bong, and cannot have raw mustard oil, so they had with ghee.




Thursday, 24 November 2016

BIRD NEST FRIES





Fry, Fry, Fry..... You are so worth to try..... I know the health aficionados will be after me. Then we are heading towards weekend, I would keep my ears shut to what I preach. I am neighbour to a health freak couple friend who help me a lot with my diet. Though not always do I follow their valuable inputs, but yes, I always give a thumbs up to them for their self control . I love food so much so that it is impossible to follow a routine. Hence, I am far from my dream body, but then we cannot have the best of both worlds. My friend tries her best to keep me in track, wants to introduce me to her personal trainer, but I am a laid back character in all aspects. So if four days of the week is healthy eating for me, rest three days is indulgence. For my men all days are indulgent days, anything from burgers to poori / paratha with meat curries.


I got the idea of bird nest from the various food groups I am part of. This was my first attempt of doing this evening snack, I could not create a perfect shape of it. I took a safer path of doing a full covered one. My main ingredient here is yogurt because I too much love and wished to have dahi kebabs which I am yet to master at home. That thin cover making process I need to correct. So I had to take help of a dough to cover it... coat with vermicelli and deep fry. Let us do this yummy, vegetarian snack together and enjoy it with our evening tea coming weekend.

INGREDIENTS : 
Plain Yogurt : 500ml
Refined Flour : 1big cup
Gram Flour : 1/4small cup
Corn Flour : 1small cup
Green Chilli : 2-3[chopped] 
Cumin Powder : 1/2tsp 
Coriander Powder : 1/2tsp
Chilli Powder : 1/2tsp
Cumin Seed : 1tsp
Baking Soda : 2pinches
Chaat Masala : 1tsp
Black Salt : As Required
Sugar : 1/2tsp
Salt : As Required
Vermicelli : 100-150 gm
Ghee [clarified butter] : 1tbsp
Oil : To deep fry

METHOD :
We will take the yogurt in a bowl and beat well. Pour it onto a clean, white cloth and tie to the kitchen tap. Let it be like that for 2-3 hours. By then all excess water will go.

Now we will take together the refined flour, gram flour and the baking soda in a big, wide mouthed bowl and mix well.

Then add the chopped green chillies, cumin powder, coriander powder, chilli powder, cumin seeds, little salt and ghee to the flour mix. Rub well for 2-3 minutes. Add water little by little and keep kneading to form a firm dough.

Keep the dough covered for 1/2 an hour. Take the vermicelli in a plate. Prepare a batter with cornflour and little salt.

Take down the yogurt and transfer to a bowl. Add the sugar, black salt, chaat masala and mix well.

Prepare medium sized balls from the dough, fill with yogurt mix, close and flatten lightly with your palm. Now dip each one in batter and roll onto the vermicelli very well.

Heat enough oil in a wok so that we can deep fry. We will fry them in batches till both sides are brown and well done.

Transfer onto tissue paper first and then into serving plates.



Serve hot with your choice of chatni or sauce.













Monday, 21 November 2016

LIGHT RIDGE GOURD CURRY



There is a saying at my home that chillies and oil comes for free at our home. Every visiting friend has by now by hearted it perhaps. No I do not take is as an assault or criticism on me because that is not his nature except for accusing a large number of people for choosing a wrong guide of late. His research did not match the result.To that I say cool darling its not an one of case, echoing you I would say people learn from their mistakes. We are also doing the same mistake of treating someone as Godly who is actually far from it. People will either realise or struggle and juggle through / with life. Next month when I will give a big note to the poor vegetable seller, he/she will look at me with blank, painful eyes. Nothing happens to our class, we eat, merry, drink whoever holds the rein, its the lower strata of the society who suffers, always.

Coming back to the chilli and oil discussion, it is true that I love to use them generously in my cooking. I love spices actually. At times I just open the containers and smell them, oh so natural. I may sound very silly to the world, what to do I am that way. I was never smart enough to change according to other's needs..... Stubborn to the core?.... yes I am.... take me as I am or quit..... it was some 19 autumns back.... on this day a very worried mother told someone, my daughter does not understand life, she is fragile, handle her with care please..... a promise was made and kept till date....
Hopefully he is not reading this otherwise would have gone wild as to why I went public with this day after repeated requests of not to .... and the duo will always conclude mamma is such a silly thing....

This kind of light curries are an after effect of the scoldings and warnings.... S...... we need to cut down on spices and oil. This recipe of a very healthy curry with ridge gourd was learnt from a dear friend....  Piyali Mohanty..... our kids were in the same pre school. When our kids were at school, we used to sit and discuss on everything.... from films to food. A very good cook herself she told me about this healthy curry. I do not remember the exact recipe, neither did I whatsapp her for the details..... I just went ahead with it in my own way. Before I get engaged with some special cooking for the evening, I wished to share this simple, easy to do healthy and light curry with ridge gourd for all of you today. Let us do it together.


INGREDIENTS :

Ridge Gourd : 2-4
Milk : 1/3small cup
Turmeric Powder : 1/4tsp
Nigella Seed : 3pinches
Wild Celery Seed : 3pinches
Ginger Paste : 1/2tsp
Green Chilli : 2[slitted]
Salt : As Required
Sugar : 1/2tsp[optional]
Oil : 2tbsp

METHOD :

Peel and wash the ridge gourds. Cut half each one and then cut further length wise. Discard the seeds if there are too many. Apply little salt and turmeric.

Heat oil in a wok, temper with nigella seeds and wild celery seeds. Add the ginger paste and stir for a minute, now add little turmeric and salt.

Add the marinated ridge gourd pieces. Stir well and cover.

After 5 minutes, open cover and you will see it has released water and is almost done.

Add the milk and slitted green chillies, cover cook for another 2 minutes. Add sugar, stir and take down after 1 minute.

Serve hot and fresh with rice. Since we are using milk here, it is preferred to be had fresh and not refrigerate for the next day.






Thursday, 17 November 2016

FRESH FRUIT STUFFED SWEET



At our home, weekends call for a sweet and I love doing them, the simple ones though. The Indian supermarket here has an array of packaged sweets air flown from India. I do buy the dry varieties at times when there are special occasions or prayers at home. Once a friend said the sugar syrup of the tinned sweets has bacteria. Ever since I try to prepare sweets fresh at home. There is also a sweet shop in the Indian Market selling fresh sweet. I do buy them whenever I visit that area, however I miss the touch of that professional hands in the making as it is back home. Off course, we do not get the winter special date jaggery sweets anywhere here, for that we have to travel a few hundred kilometres which I feel is worth it. Till then my men have to be happy with whatever little I can do.

The fresh fruits are kept at home to pack along with their lunch boxes. The peculiar duo will eat fruits only that way, if given at home they will not touch. In so many years I am adjusted to such things and play my own tricks as and when required. I do eat fruits but has been prescribed not to eat much. This morning I saw its about to be the weekend, yet there are a few leftover fruits that needs to be used. Everything has a shelf life. Never in a mood to do elaborate cooking these days, I planned for this Fresh Fruit Stuffed Sweet. We can do the stuffing with any fruit but not with one with too much water content. Take note that the fruits have to be sweet. I used bread because the coverage of the sweet had to be little harder as it is a no cook one. Moreover, it will be stuffed with fresh fruits, hence should be firmer than our usual sweets. I have provided stepwise pictures for the whole process. Let us prepare this Fresh Fruit Stuffed Sweet together. I tried with little amount, you can adjust as required.

INGREDIENTS : [for homemade paneer]
Low Fat Milk : 500 ml
Plain Yogurt : 1/2 small cup
Ice Cubes : 1/2small cup

INGREDIENTS : [for the sweet]
Homemade Paneer : As we get
Milk Powder : 1/2small cup
Refined Flour : 1tbsp
Sugar : 1/2small cup
Green Cardamom Powder : 1/4tsp
Bread : 2-3pieces
Ghee [clarified butter] : 2-3tbsp
Orange: 6-7 segments of one
Grapes : 7-8
Garnish as you wish or do not
Any other fruits can be used with less water content, I did with what I had at home

METHOD :
Pour the milk in a heavy bottomed vessel. Switch on gas and bring it to boil. Beat the plain yogurt and add to the milk. Stir and switch off gas. Add the ice cubes. Let rest for 5-10 minutes.

Strain the whey through a white cloth and tie with your kitchen tap. Squeeze the extra water. Let it rest for about 45 minutes.

Heat 1tbsp ghee in a frying pan. Cut the sides of the bread slices and toast both sides brown. If you think your paneer and milk powder mixture is firm after kneading, you can manage well, skip the bread part.




After 45 minutes take down the paneer and untie.




Transfer to a plate. Add milk powder, refined flour, sugar, mash and knead well for 10 minutes.



Add rest of the ghee and the toasted bread torn into small pieces. Mash very well for another 5 minutes.



Now the mixture is firm and non-sticky. Keep it covered for few minutes. Meanwhile peel the orange, take out the skin of the segments and throw the seeds. Chop into smaller pieces. Wash and chop the grapes into smaller pieces.

Rub your hands with little amount of ghee.Take portions from the mixture, shape round, make hollow, stuff with little amount of fruit mix, close and smoothen with your palms.



Now its done. I prefer to serve it chilled.


Monday, 14 November 2016

GRAVIED SPICY PANEER



It happened so last week that the daddy thing went on a short trip, the mumma - son duo had a fulfilling dinner with their favourite Paneer [Indian Cottage Cheese] ..... that definitely does not mean the daddy of the house has any problem with whats cooking in the kitchen.... I so much wished that he peeped into the kitchen once in a while .... but then that will be so much in contradiction with what he says.... No Rule is the only Rule in this House. If I say there has to be certain rules set for the teen,  he says he will learn from his mistakes..... I want my son to be happy in life..... No wonder many years back, some of us, his friends would bump into his home more often.... which was a kind of 'thandi haoa ka jhoka' .... space for freedom and fun.... a relief from our military moms whose 'don't' list seemed so long for us.... Coming back to present... he only urges his lady not to feed him so much 'ghaspus'.... greens. That is where the lady needs to assert a bit.

The new neighbourhood we shifted a month ago also has an Indian minimart nearby and I really do not have to travel 5-6 km always to get Indian stuffs .... that makes me happy.... It is there I found this new brand of paneer which proved to be a good deal. Now I am not really so sincere  that I will prepare my own paneer always. I enjoy my long outdoor walks, chitchat with friends in the same neighbourhood, girls get-together, family get-together, sometimes weekend fiesta with family, when do I cook.... Besides all these, getting lost in Bollywood fantasies is too much of a favourite..... Living with two overtly practical men, I have to balance. Done with all these, I do cook a bit. So the other day I got this small packet of paneer and prepared it fresh. It was 8pm already, hence I wished something simple and hassle free. You will see I did the curry with minimal spices. The use of cashew nut paste made it thick, creamy and mildly sweet. The marination of paneer with spices and lemon juice made it flavourful and tastier. Let us prepare this Gravied Spicy Paneer together.

INGREDIENTS :
Paneer : 250gm
Cashew nut : 7-8
Ginger Paste : 1tsp
Onion Paste : 1tbsp
Chilli Powder : 1tsp
Turmeric Powder : 1tsp
Coriander Powder : 1tsp
Cumin Powder : 1tsp
Lemon Juice : 2tbsp
Salt : As Required
Milk : 1/2small cup
Cumin Seed : 1/4tsp
Bayleaf : 1
Oil : 4tbsp

METHOD :
Marinate the paneer with cumin powder, coriander powder, little chilli powder, little salt and the lemon juice. Keep aside for 15-20 minutes.

Prepare a paste with the cashew nuts adding little milk.

Heat oil in a wok. Discard the marinade and lightly fry the marinated paneer pieces in batches. Keep aside.

Temper oil with cumin seeds and a bayleaf. Add the onion paste and fry for 2 minutes. Add the ginger paste and fry for 2 minutes.

To it add the cashew nut paste. Stir for a minute and add rest of the chilli powder, turmeric powder and required amount of salt. Stir well. Add half small cup of water.

As the gravy comes to boil, add 1/2 small cup milk and let boil covered for 3-4 minutes. Open cover and add the spicy, fried paneer pieces. Let cook for a minute.

Its done. Transfer to a serving bowl and serve hot with rice or chapati.



Thursday, 10 November 2016

DANADER


Danader ...... a lesser known sweet from my hometown. It hardly has a pedigree, yet I chose to prepare it simply because I used to love having it once upon a time. I remember how I loved having fried sweets and the amount of scolding I used to get for an unhealthy tastebud. At our house only rasgulla was considered as a 'healthy sweet', just as marie and cream cracker in the biscuit clan. The sibling duo craved for cream filled biscuits at times which were rarely allowed to us. Whenever mom sent me to the sweet shop to buy rasgulla and sandesh, I craved to have this danader. At times, I could not resist from buying me two, knowing the rest at home will not eat it. I loved to eat, so scolding did not affect me much when it came to food. I was threatened with fear of anything, from worms to early death. At this stage of life, I feel I could have been a little more wise and listen to what mom had to say. Wish I could rewind and correct few actions of mine.... I remember reading 'Chander Pahar' the evening before Chemistry exam.... always failed to understand what railways has to do with maths ..... I rather loved travelling in train, sitting beside the window and watching the wonders of nature passing by. The fat, old lady continues to be a dreamer, lost in her own small world of fantasy... in spite of someone saying S.... there is something called reality.... remove the headphone and come down.... She giggles ....... I married you to handle the harsh reality on my behalf.... undaunted... she makes her way to the kitchen singing .... dil hai chota sa.... choti si asha....

This Danader is no way similar to rasgulla, but much harder in texture and sugary in taste. One who really has a sweet tooth will love it. Authentically this sweet is not served with sugar syrup as seen in this picture but rolled in sugar once done and served. I felt that will be too much to roll it on sugar, hence I skipped doing it. While serving individually, I skipped adding the sugar syrup too. For the recipe I had drawn inspiration from GEOCITIES.ws , though not followed them thoroughly. I had to keep in mind that unlike rasgulla, we will fry the sweet before adding to boiling sugar syrup yet they should not turn brown on frying like gulabjamun. The garnish is absolutely unnecessary, I did it as I wished to. Let us prepare the danader together.

Recipe Inspiration : GEOCITIES.ws

INGREDIENTS : [for homemade paneer]
Fat Free Milk : 2lt
Vinegar : 2tbsp
Ice Cubes : 1small cup

INGREDIENTS : [the finished product]
Paneer : As we get
Semolina [suji] : 1/2 medium cup
Sugar : 1small cup + 1tbsp
Water : 1big cup
Ghee [clarified butter] : 1/2 medium cup
Green Cardamom : 3-4
Garnish as you wish or do not....

METHOD :

Let us prepare the paneer [cottage cheese] first. Pour the milk in a deep bottomed vessel. Switch on gas and put the vessel on it..... Once the milk comes to boil, add the vinegar and switch off gas.... add the ice cubes and let it rest for 10 minutes.... 

Strain the whey through a thin cloth, tie it on the kitchen top... squeeze the extra water. Let rest for 1/2 an hour.

Take down and transfer to a wide mouthed bowl. Mash for 6-10 minutes. Add the semolina and 1tbsp sugar and keep kneading for another 10 minutes. If the dough is too soft, you can add little more semolina.

Prepare tennis size balls. Heat ghee in a wok. Lightly fry the balls not allowing them to get brown. Transfer on to tissue paper.

Simultaneously, boil 1 small cup sugar and 1 big cup water together. Tear the green cardamoms and add to the boiling water. We must remember these are not rasgullas, so we will add the fried paneer balls only when the syrup turns little sticky. 

The paneer balls will not double the size like rasgulla.... we will take them out within few minutes from the syrup, let cool and serve.

Authentically, danader is served after rolling on sugar while still warm..... I skipped that process.....



Monday, 7 November 2016

BATTER FRIED STUFFED TEASEL GOURD



Teasel Gourd again takes me down memory lane to a small township..... 100 km away from my hometown to my maternal grandparent's place. I was born there and brought up in that home for a pretty long time..... My mom been married at a young age who became a mother while still in college, I was looked after by the rest, pampered and spoilt with love to the extreme.... I vividly remember everything about the positive environment I grew up in and deep within try to assimilate all the broken pieces till date. Where is that vibrance lost ?? There is perhaps nothing called right or wrong in the world..... just a difference of perspective..... Just back from a movie few hours back, there is a question-answer session going on inside. The silly romantic went with certain hopes as her favourite subject is Relationship........ Watching it I could not digest what it had to say and eventually got disturbed, yes I get horribly disturbed when I fail to see emotional quotient in a relationship..... and I realise I am rigid and too old right from a tender age.... I find myself screaming at the world.... leave me alone with my beliefs.... Looking at me, the senior says there is no problem with the world, all problem is within you... broaden your spectrum madam S..... He  had no qualms with the subject of the movie and considers it to be quite normal..... well we accept and respect each other's differences of opinion....

Coming back to food, this teasel gourd, kantola or kakrol... as we call it in India, were grown in abundance at my maternal grandparent's place.... they do not need any such care, they just grow in abundance during monsoon. They are either eaten fried, in mixed veggies or as this..... batter fried with a stuffing.... Mine is a purely vegetarian stuffing and then batter fried.... as I had long back at a friend's place..... this batter fried kantola was not so common at our home, we mostly had it fried. I followed my friend's mom's recipe as much as I could remember. Such an awkward incident happened that day that it is impossible to forget.... While aunty was batter frying the stuffed teasel gourds and the two sisters and me were chatting.... suddenly a hiss hiss sound under the bed... In those days middle class homes had good storage under the bed.... and there came out a snake from a 'hari' [patila, deep bottomed vessel?]. Before I fainted it was driven off, kudos to the sister duo. The feeble heart me did have this crisp and yum batter fried teasel gourd with a plate full of piping hot rice.... Let us do this vegetarian dish together providing stepwise pictures for the same.....

INGREDIENTS : [ for the stuffing ]
Flesh of Teasel Gourd : 6-8
Shredded Coconut : 1/2 medium cup
Mustard Seed : 11/2tbsp
Green Chilli : 4-5
Salt : As required
Nigella Seed : 2-3 pinches
Turmeric Powder : 1/4 tsp
Oil : 2 tbsp [mustard]

INGREDIENTS : [for the batter]
Refined Flour : 1/4 medium cup
Gram Flour : 2tbsp
Rice Flour : 1medium cup
Salt : As Required
Sugar : 11/2 tsp
Water : As Required

INGREDIENTS : [ finally ]
Teasel Gourd : 6-8 [halved and scooped]
The cooked stuffing
The batter
Oil : 1big cup to fry...

METHOD :

Wash the teasel gourds, cut the ends..... half them... Scoop out the flesh.... Apply little salt and turmeric to the pieces. Keep aside. You can get rid of the skin of the gourds too.... I do not.

Wash the mustard seeds through a strainer. Blend all the ingredients for stuffing except for the salt, turmeric, nigella seeds and oil.



Heat oil in a wok and temper with nigella seeds. Add the blended raw thing, salt, sugar and cook till dry... it will take 10-12 minutes. Add the refined flour, stir.



It is done, we will transfer to a bowl and let cool.



With help of a spoon, fill in the halved kantola or teasel gourd.



Prepare the batter adding water little by little. It should be a paste like consistency. Coat the stuffed teasel gourd with the batter very well.



Heat oil in a clean wok. Fry the battered stuffed teasel gourd in batches.



Fry at low heat till all sides are brown. Transfer onto tissue paper to get rid of excess oil.



Enjoy with piping hot steamed rice.


Thursday, 27 October 2016

MITHAS...... A FESTIVE FEEL....



Roshnai... Mithai..... Celebration with crackers..... its that time of the year again when we lit up our homes n minds both, together. So there should absolutely be no place through which evil can get in .... or to be precise and correct we should not let it come out from within ..... yes, both good and evil are an inside thing... what needs to be taken care of is who wins over whom... Such festivals from time to time.... does help us to refreshen our minds... the entire environment contributes towards it.... The lady who is giving such big talks forgot a total of twelve diyas in the shop today, thanks to The Almighty.... the rest of the things came home safely.... this is nothing unusual with her given her nature.... the condition just aggravated with age and her incapability to deal with her surroundings.... sitting on a train / bus in opposite direction of her destination, not been able to recognise known people on road, no other reasons...... actually she was in another world, also because her observation power is.... nil or null? Back to the bygone days, her mother had to listen such complains that her daughter did not talk to the person or at least smiled when she met . The world never believes in silly acts, neither does it forgive a small mistake.... better we embrace all complaints and ignore it the next moment.... tough but essential for inner peace..... When she was at high school, her little brother complained to the mother after she returned home one day ... mum didibhai washed my clothes, combed my hair, served me food but never talked to me the whole day..... a genuine complain indeed..... yet she pledges to the world let her be herself.... else she gets more confused....

Now that her little brother, now a big man [physically though] is visiting them in two days with his bubbly wife.... do you think she has time for any elaborate cooking this week? Such a busy week with the joy of celebrating Diwali with them and the excitement of having Bhaiphota at home after six long years. Yet she wished to share a sweet dish with the world, been in tune with her friends though not at par with them. Had she not been so laid back with no urge to excel, she could have at least contribute fruitfully to the society.... but she can always gift you an easy to make, very few ingredients, almost no cook sweet. Let me stop talking too much [another sign of aging, haha] and share with you this sweet.... a lingering mithas [sweetness], that rules our mind during any festival, which I prepared few days back. Done with homemade paneer [Indian Cottage Cheese] mainly, its taste is guaranteed.

INGREDIENTS :
Milk [fat free] : 1lt
Lemon Juice : 11/2 to 2tbsp
Milk Powder : 1/2big cup
Refined Flour : 1tbsp
Sugar : 1/2medium cup
Green Cardamom Powder : 1/2 tsp
Ghee [clarified butter] : 1tbsp
Garnish as you wish

METHOD :
Let us prepare the paneer first. Take the fat free milk in a vessel, switch on gas and bring it to boil.

Just when it is boiling, switch off gas and add the lemon juice. We will see the milk will curdle.

Cover the vessel and let it cool a bit. Now strain the whey water through a clean, white cloth. Tie the cloth to your kitchen tap, squeeze the extra water. Let it stand for 20-25 minutes.

Take it down and transfer the paneer to a plate or bowl. Mash and knead for 5-10 minutes.

Transfer the paneer to the blender. To it add the milk powder, sugar and green cardamom powder.


Blend the mixture for 2-3 minutes with intervals scrapping the sides. Transfer to a plate and add 1tbsp ghee to it.



Rub your hands with a drop of ghee and knead the mixture further for 3-4 minutes. At this stage you may need the refined flour to tighten the dough. Knead further for 2-3 minutes.

Take out small portions and shape as desired. Garnish as you wish.


Offer to your God and enjoy whatever the occasion is.




Monday, 24 October 2016

SPICY TWISTER FRIES



Diwali at the doorsteps, hence many of us would wish to give the world dishes just appropriate for the festive season, be it sweet or otherwise. At home too, the celebration mode / mood is on since Durga Pooja. During the olden golden days, our celebration started from Durga Pooja and went on till Bhai Phota / Bhai Duj . Between this period whosoever visited home were treated with homemade goodies.... essentially snacks and sweets... The Bhai Phota day was so full of fun...  with mom's brothers and my brother's visiting.... though the circle was incomplete as some relatives lived far off and never could make it..... Fun, Food, Crackers made life happier. Though I am individualistic, little self centred, I do believe a joint family system has its own advantages. Been together feels good if we can respect each other's space..... which is again an utopian concept.

I am so awestruck to see my blogger friends gifting so lovely Diwali dishes. I was thinking of starting with a simple savoury snack that can be made quickly and stored for a couple of days without been spoiled. Hence, these spicy twister fries. These fries are made mainly with refined flour adding few spices, made flavourful with ghee and use of Nigella seeds. Let us do the Spicy Twister Fries together  and treat family and friends this Diwali.....

INGREDIENTS :
Refined Flour : 2 big cups
Baking Soda : 1/4 tsp [optional]
Ghee : 4 tsp + 1tbsp
Nigella Seed [kalonji] : 11/2 tsp
Cumin Powder : 1tsp
Coriander Powder : 1tsp
Red Chilli Powder : 11/2tsp
Salt : As Required
Oil : 100 - 150 ml [for frying]

METHOD :
Take the refined flour, salt and baking soda in a big container and mix well. To it add the nigella seeds, cumin powder, red chilli powder, coriander powder.



Mix well and rub for 2-3 minutes. Add warm water little by little and form a dough. Keep kneading for about 10 minutes until the dough is soft, yet firm.



Cover with a moist, soft cloth and keep aside for about 15 minutes.


Open cover and knead for another 1-3 minutes. Prepare balls from them.



With rolling pins, shape into round chapati.


Now roll each roundels and cut into 3-4 pieces as below.



Now twist them and cut further into halves.



Heat oil in a wok. Add 1 tbsp ghee to it and let it melt. Fry the spicy twisters in batches and transfer onto tissue papers.


Once cool we can store them in airtight containers for about 4-5 days without refrigerating.