Sunday, June 22, 2014

Malai Chum - chum

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This recipe took a long time to get published as I just didn’t get time over the holidays. A lot of friends has been asking me for it and finally it’s here. Sorry for the delay. I made this over Diwali for my Husband’s office Diwali get-together. Indian folks in his office were supposed to bring in a dish each, I decided to go with traditional Bengali sweets which is famous across India. I chose Malai chumchum as it is popular for its mild sweetness and silky soft texture.

Ingredients For Chaana

  1. 8 cups whole milk
  2. 1tsp. saffron
  3. 1/2 cup vinegar diluted in 1/2 cup water

Ingredients For Sugar syrup

  1. 4cups of sugar
  2. 10 cups of water

Procedure Of Making Chaana

In a heavy bottom pan take the milk and bring it to a boil. Optionally you can use saffron in the milk to give the chum chum a rich color, or omit it for clear white chum chums. If you choose to use saffron you will see within few minutes it will start releasing its color. Once it starts boiling reduce the heat and slowly pour diluted vinegar to it while stirring the milk.

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Soon the milk will start curdling. It means the milk solids will be separated from the watery whey.IMG_6386Now strain the milk mixture on a colander lined by a cheese cloth.IMG_6390

Rinse the milk solids with fresh running water to remove any residual acidity.

Wrap the cheesecloth around itself to squeeze out moisture from the chaana (paneer).

Now tie the muslin cloth from the faucet of your kitchen sink for 3-4hrs to drain out the last drop of whey.

Take chaana out of the cheese cloth and knead it with gentle pressure to make a soft dough.

Now take small balls out of it and roll them in elongated shape. Flatten each of them by putting them in between your palms. Keep them on a clean plate.

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Take a wide sauce pan and dissolve sugar into the water. Bring it to a boil on high heat.

When it starts boiling reduce the heat to medium and allow the syrup to simmer for another 5 – 6 minutes.

Remove the lid and gently release chum chums in batches; into it. Chum chum will expand when it is cooked, so keep enough room for their expansion.

Cook them covered on medium heat for 15 minutes and then turn them over. Cook for another 5 minutes and then remove them with a slotted spoon.

Arrange them on a plate and allow them to cool in a refrigerator for 30 minutes.

By this time prepare malai for chum chums.

Ingredients for malai

  1. 1 cup whole milk
  2. 1 cup heavy cream
  3. 2tsp. sugar
  4. Crushed pistachio for garnishing
  5. Optional saffron

Procedure of making Malai

In a heavy bottom pan mix together milk, heavy cream and sugar. Optionally add saffron. Now let it boil on medium heat. Stir continuously to avoid scalding.

Soon you will see it starts getting thick. Cook for some more time till it gets a spread like consistency.

Take out the chum chums from refrigerator and either using a flat knife or using pastry bag with malai filling spread the warm malai on the top surface of chum chums. Let it soak for a minute, then apply the 2nd layer. Sprinkle crushed pistachio and saffron over them to garnish.IMG_4871

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Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Kumro Saag diye Motor Dal

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IMG_1289We are regular visitors to the local Farmer’s market. We love the fresh organic produce as well as the artisan food. In one of those visits I was flabbergasted to find Kumro saag (Pumpkin twigs) and pumpkin flower being sold in a corner. I bought a bagful (literally!!) and made some delectable Saag with Yellow split peas using my grandmoms recipe.

Ingredients

  • 1 cup motor dal (Yellow split peas)
  • 2 cups chopped pumpkin twigs along with their leaves (Cut into 1” pieces)
  • 1 tsp. kalojeera (Kalonji)
  • 2 dry red chilies
  • 1 tsp. turmeric powder
  • 1 tbsp. sugar
  • 2 tbsp. oil
  • Salt to taste

Procedure

Wash dal thoroughly and cook in a pressure cooker with 2 cups water, turmeric powder and salt till one whistle comes.

In a pan heat 2tbsp. oil and temper it with kalojeera and dry red chili. When the spices stop sputtering add pumpkin twigs to it. Sprinkle one pinch salt and sauté for a minute. Cook it covered for about 3-4 minutes. By this time the leaves will start wilting.

Remove the lid and add boiled dal to it. Add sugar and mix. Check the seasoning and adjust accordingly. Let it simmer for about another 5 minutes on medium heat. This dal will have a medium consistency.

Serve with plain rice. 

Monday, June 16, 2014

Dhania Maachie (Fish in Cilantro Sauce)

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My experiment using local fresh fish for traditional Indian recipes continues with this recipe. Commonly Dhania Maachie is made with fresh water small fishes like Khoira, Puti in India. However, my supply of those are restricted to the frozen section in the local Bangladeshi store and I suspect they were caught and packaged sometime in the last century. In this version I used striped bass and it turned out pretty well.

Ingredients

  • 4 medium sized fish steaks (I used wild striped Bass)
  • 1 large tomato roughly chopped
  • 1 medium bunch of cilantro
  • 4 medium cloves of garlic
  • 2 green chilies
  • 1 tbsp. + 1 pinch nigella seeds (Kalojeera)
  • 1 tsp. black pepper corn
  • 1 green chili ( quantity can be changed depending on your heat tolerance level)
  • 2 tbsp. turmeric powder
  • 1 tsp. sugar
  • 4 tbsp. mustard oil
  • Salt to taste

Procedure

Smear fish steaks with 1 tbsp. turmeric powder and salt. Keep it aside for about fifteen minutes.

Heat 2tbsp. oil in a frying pan till it smokes. Reduce the heat and fry fish steaks till both sides turn golden. Remove from oil and drain them on a paper towel.

Dry roast pepper corn and nigella seeds for about a minute. Now dry grind them in a grinder. Add cilantro, garlic and green chilies to it. Make a fine paste of them by using minimum water.

Heat 2 tbsp. oil in a pan and temper it with a pinch of nigella seeds. When the seeds stop spluttering add chopped tomato to it and sauté them on medium hear till they become mushy.

Once you see a fine line of oil separating out from the tomato add the cilantro paste along with a tsp. of turmeric powder to it. Keep sautéing till you find a nice aroma and the raw smell goes away.

Now add half cup of water along with sugar and  salt. Give a nice mix and let it come to a boil. Now gently release the fish steaks into the gravy and let it simmer for few minutes. When you see that the steaks are coated with the spices and the oil has been released you know you are done. Serve with plain hot rice.

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Thursday, June 12, 2014

Bhendi Posto (Okra in Poppy Seed Paste)

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My daughters favorite veggy is Bhendi or Ladies finger. If she were to choose she chooses Bhendi over mutton, which is pretty weird Smile

So as you can guess we buy tons of Bhendi and make it in different ways. The most common being Bhendi fry with Daal, the next being Bhendi Posto (Okra with Poppy seeds).

Ingredients

  • 1lb. okra small sized
  • 2 tbsp. poppy seed
  • 1 dry red chili
  • 1 tsp. kalonji (Kalojeera)
  • 1 tsp. sugar
  • Salt to taste
  • Oil

Procedure

In a grinder make a smooth paste of poppy seed and dry red chili with little water.

Wash okra and pat them dry. Now snip off both ends.

Heat  4-5 tbsp. oil in a pan and temper it with kalonji seeds. When it stops sputtering add okra and sauté them on high heat for a minute. Sprinkle salt and sugar and cook it covered for 2-3 minutes. Remove the lid and do rest of the cooking uncovered. When it is almost done add poppy seed paste and mix with okra gently so that they don’t break.At the end each okra should be coated by poppy seed paste. Add 1 tsp. mustard oil at the end to get an extra zing.

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Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Aam Dal (Lentil with Raw Green Mango)

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We are just back from Mexico. The weather there constantly reminded me of sultry Kolkata. The temperature hovered around 35 Celsius and the humidity at 99%. Even though I was having my fill of Taco’s and Tequila’s what I craved was Mango Daal and Alubhaja, the staple summer lunch of Bong’s.

Ingredients

  • 1 cup red lentil
  • 1 small raw mango peeled and cut into big chunks
  • 1/2 tsp. turmeric powder
  • 1/2 tsp. sugar
  • 1 tsp. black mustard seeds
  • 2-3 dry red chilies
  • 1 tbsp. mustard oil
  • salt to taste

Procedure

Wash lentils till water runs clear and transparent. Add chunks of mango, turmeric powder and a pinch of salt to it. Boil lentil with 2 cups of water in a pressure cooker till 1whistle comes. Turn off the heat and wait till the pressure settles down.

Open the lid and gently stir the mixture once.

Heat mustard oil in a small pan till it starts smoking. Now reduce the heat and temper it with mustard seeds and whole dry red chilies. Once they stop spluttering add the tempered oil into the lentil mixture. Season it with salt and sugar and once again turn on the heat. Let it simmer for a minute or two and then turn the heat off.

Serve with hot rice and alubhaja.

Monday, May 12, 2014

Alubhaja–Extra Crispy Potato Fry

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It is hard to explain to someone who has never had daal with crispy potato fry, how good it is. It all sounds very simple until you really give it a try. The cut and fry has to be just perfect.

Digha a beach town close to Kolkata is a regular vacationing spot for most Bongs. We used to also go there for our Zoology field trips. None of those visits were complete without the visit to Parijat and Baluchari restaurants in Digha. They were known for their seafood and more for their crispy potato fries. They were what we used to call “plate system” where you choose the type of meal and they would ensure your plate is never empty. However, they soon imposed the upper limit on the fries as people would go on asking for it.

I had to impose a similar upper limit when I made the same fries. My daughter was unstoppable.

Ingredients

  • 4 medium sized potatoes
  • 1/2 tsp. turmeric powder
  • 1/2 tsp. salt 
  • Ice cold water
  • Oil for deep frying

Procedure

Peel the potato and cut it into thin round slices. Now with a sharp knife cut them into juliennes. You will have to cut the potato very thinly and evenly. Make sure to dunk them in water as soon as you cut them.

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Once you are all done with cutting wash them thoroughly and dunk them in ice cold water for about 15 minutes. Drain the water and again dip the potato juliennes in another set of ice cold water for 20-30 minutes. This time add half a teaspoon of turmeric powder in it.

Drain the water and spread the potatoes on a paper under fan to make them completely dry.

Take enough oil in a deep wok and heat it till it smokes. Add a handful of potato juliennes in hot oil at a time and keep it stirring continuously with a slotted spoon for even cooking. It also prevents formation of any lumps.

Continue frying them in the hot oil. It takes about 3-4 minutes for the potatoes to become crispy. Now reduce the heat and remove them with a slotted spoon. Drain them on a paper towel.

Sprinkle salt just before serving. Alubhaja tastes best with hot rice and plain musur dal

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Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Chingri Potol er Jhal

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Potol or Parwal was rarely available outside Bengal. However, with the whole world shrinking I do see them now even in the US at the local Indian grocery store. It is one of those veggies which kids (at least mine) hate eating. So I add shrimps to make it more enticing.

The masala used has to be freshly roasted and ground spices without which the dish is incomplete.

Ingredients

  • 10-12 potol or parwal
  • 3 medium sized potato peeled and cut into quarters
  • 20 medium sized prawns deveined and cleaned
  • 1 small knob ginger
  • 2-3 green chilies slit lengthwise
  • 1 tbsp. + 1 tsp. whole cumin
  • 1 tbsp. whole coriander seeds
  • 1 dry red chili
  • 2 green cardamom
  • 2 cloves
  • 1” cinnamon stick
  • 3 bay leaves
  • 2 tsp. turmeric powder
  • 1 tsp. red chili powder
  • 1 tsp. sugar
  • Salt to taste
  • 1 tbsp. ghee (Clarified butter)
  • Mustard oil

Procedure

Scrape off the skin of parwals and cut them into halves.

Marinate the prawns with 1 tsp. turmeric powder and salt. Keep them aside.

Now dry roast 1 tbsp. cumin seeds, coriander seed, dry red chili, cardamom, cloves, cinnamon and 1 bay leaf. Roast till you just starting to get their aroma. Immediately remove them from the hot pan and allow them to cool down.

First dry grind the roasted spices into a powder. Add ginger to it and make a paste with all of these by adding little water.

Heat mustard oil in a pan and fry the marinated prawns on low heat for a minute. Remove and save them for later use.

IMG_1275Temper the same oil with 1 tsp. cumin seeds and 2 bay leaves. Let the sizzle. Add parwal halves and potato quarters to it. Fry on medium heat till the edges of the vegetables take a brownish hue.

Add the spice paste you made and reduce the heat to low. Keep sautéing till the raw smell goes off. You may need to sprinkle some water if the spices tend to burn.

Pour about a cup of water. sprinkle sugar and salt to your taste and mix well.

Cook it covered on medium heat till the veggies are done. Add the fried prawns and let it simmer foe another two minutes.

Add a dollop of ghee along with the green chilies and keep it covered till you serve with plain hot rice.

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