Sunday, April 6, 2014

Rum Ball

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3115150987_eb750c5994_oEach time we go home to Kolkata we make it a point to visit Nahoum’s in New Market. This store has been at this place from 1916. Rulers have come and gone, the country has changed it’s boundaries, cities have changed name around it, but Nahoum has stuck to it’s origins. My favorite at Nahoum is their rum-balls. It is an European delicacy that had reached the shores of Kolkata via the British. It is generally made in the bakery with the left over cake/cookie crumbs bound together with chocolate and flavored with rum. Rum-balls taste the best after a few days of making them when the taste of Rum matures.

It had been some time since I last sent some goodies with my husband for his team-mates. Generally I send some Bengali sweets like Rasgulla/Sondesh but this time I thought of making a fresh batch of Rum-ball. Even though the rum-ball has it’s roots in Europe, it takes me back to my roots in Kolkata.

Ingredients

  • 500 gms. chocolate cake
  • 100 ml. golden rum
  • 4 tbsp. dark raisin
  • 4 dried plums
  • 4 candied cherry
  • 10 roasted almonds broken roughly
  • 3-4 tbsp. powdered sugar or honey
  • 1 tbsp. cocoa powder ( plain or Dutch processed)
  • 1/2 + 1 cups semi sweet cooking chocolate bar ( instead you can use 2 cups semi sweet chocolate chips)
  • 1 cup white chocolate chips or white cooking chocolate
  • 2 tbsp. unsalted butter

Procedure

If you are making chocolate cake don’t use it on the same day. Use after a day or two so that the cake becomes a bit dry.

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Cut all dry fruits into tiny pieces and soak them in 30 ml. of rum.  Best if you can soak it overnight.

Cut cake into small pieces and put it in a blender. Give them a very quick pulse to make coarse crumbs. Put all the crumbs in a big mixing bowl.

Now take the soaked dry fruits in the blender and give a very quick run of a second or two to just crush them. Just make sure you do not process the nuts into a paste.

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Add the crushed dry fruit mixture to it along with powdered sugar,cocoa powder and rum. mix thoroughly with a spoon.

Now take half a cup of semi sweet cooking chocolate or chocolate chips in a microwave safe bowl and warm it up for 30 seconds. Give it a stir and heat it up for another 30 seconds. Take it out and mix it with a spoon. If it is already melted fine, else you can again heat it up for another 10 or 20 second. Remember to take it out and stir it every 30 seconds, else the chocolate will burn and become unusable.

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Add the melted chocolate to the cake mixture little at a time and keep mixing. You will notice that after mixing the ingredients together, the batter is quite sticky. To prevent your hands from becoming a mess and to ease the process of making balls chill the mix for at least 30-45 minutes.

Cover the bowl with a cling wrap and let the mixture cool in the refrigerator for about 30- 45 minutes till it hardens a little.

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Take it out and shape them into 1 inch balls with your hands. Place them on a cookie tray lined with butter paper.

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Once you are done, then comes the glazing. Take 1 and 1/2 cup of dark chocolate and 1 tsp. of unsalted butter in a microwave safe bowl and heat them up for 30 seconds. Stir it and again heat it for another 30 seconds. Take it out and mix well to make a lump free chocolate glaze.

Dip each ball in the glaze of melted chocolate, making sure that the entire ball is coated with chocolate. Using a fork remove the ball from the glaze allowing any excess glaze to drip back in the bowl.

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Place the glazed ball on the cookie tray lined with butter paper. when you are done place the tray in the refrigerator to allow the chocolate to harden.

By this time mix 1 tsp. of unsalted butter with white chocolate chips and make a white chocolate sauce following the same procedure as described before. Let it cool down a bit then pour it into a pastry bag. Cut a small hole in the corner and drizzle it over the rum balls.

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Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Phulkopir Dalna (Cauliflower and Potato Curry)

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If you are a Bengali you have literally grown up eating Phulkopir Dalna. This is one of the most common and fundamental bong dish. At the beginning of Winter when fresh cauliflowers arrive at the local markets in Kolkata dalna becomes the staple curry at the bong household for the next few months. Even though cauliflower is used in a variety of recipes this simple dalna uses limited spices and help the true flavor of cauliflower to come through.

Ingredients

  • 1 cauliflower cut into medium sized florets
  • 2 medium sized potatoes cut into quarters
  • 1 large tomato chopped
  • 1” fresh ginger
  • 1 tsp. whole cumin seeds
  • 1 tsp. whole coriander seeds
  • 1 tsp. turmeric powder
  • 1 tsp. chili powder
  • 1/2 tsp. Bengali Garam masala powder
  • 1 tbsp. ghee (Clarified Butter)
  • 1 tsp. sugar
  • Salt to taste
  • For Tempering
    • 2 bay leaves (Tejpatta)
    • 2 green chilies slit lengthwise
    • 1/2 tsp. whole cumin seeds
    • Whole Garam Masala ( 1” cinnamon stick, 2 cloves, 2 green cardamom)

Procedure

In a pan dry roast whole cumin and coriander seeds till they turn fragrant. Let them come to room temperature and then make a fine powder of them in a grinder. add ginger to it and make a paste of all three of them by adding little water.

Heat 2 tbsp. oil and add cauliflower florets to it. Fry till the florets are well coated with oil and get a light brown hue. Remove from oil and keep aside.

Again add 2 tsp. oil and fry the potato pieces till they turn golden. Remove them.

Add 2 tbsp. of oil and temper it with bay leaves, whole garam masala, whole cumin seeds and green chilies.

Wait till they stop sizzling. Now add ginger, cumin and coriander paste. Sauté on slow fire till the raw smell of ginger goes away. Add chopped tomatoes, turmeric powder, chili powder and fry well till the oil is separated.

Add fried potatoes to it and sauté everything together till all the potatoes are well coated with spices.

Add salt and sugar and give it a nice mix. Add one and half cup of water to it and cook it covered on low heat till potatoes are half done. Remove the lid and now add fried cauliflower florets. Mix once again and cook it covered till the vegetables are done.

add a spoonful of ghee and sprinkle  little garam masala powder to it. Serve with hot rice or chapatis.

 

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Sunday, March 30, 2014

Baked Rasgulla

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One of my cousins is getting married soon. Like all big fat Bengali weddings the menu is being planned the first. Even though the wedding is close to an year away that’s what we are mostly discussing over trans-Atlantic calls. I am especially looking forward to the dessert which is baked rasgulla. Since it’s hard to wait that long I decided to make some for ourselves.

Baked rasgulla is rasgulla placed in thick reduced milk and baked to create a crunchy crust on a soft rasgulla base. This combination of soft smooth core and crunchy crust along with cardamom flavored milk is pretty amazing.

Ingredients

  • 15 pieces rasgulla (Make your own or use canned)
  • 1 cup fresh cream
  • 2 cups milk (I used 2%)
  • 1/2 cup milk powder
  • 3- 4 tbsp. sugar
  • 1 pod green cardamom crushed
  • 6-8 pistachio blanched and chopped
  • 5-6 almonds slivered

Procedure

Arrange rasgullas in a bowl and pour enough water to cover them all. Heat them up in microwave for 30 – 40 seconds. Drain the water. Take out each rasgulla and squeeze out syrup from them. We are removing the syrup so that the rasgulla can absorb the thickened milk.

In a heavy bottom pan take milk along with fresh cream. Add milk powder to it and mix well. Turn on the heat and keep stirring till it reduces to its one third. Now add sugar, and crushed cardamom to it. Let it simmer for one more minute. Turn off the heat and let it cool down. As it cools down the milk mixture will thicken further.

Pre heat the oven at 375F. Take an oven safe serving bowl and spoon a layer of milk mixture. Arrange the rasgullas on top of it. Add another layer of reduced milk on top. At the end sprinkle some chopped dry fruit.

Place the serving bowl on the top rack of your oven and bake it for about 15 – 20 minutes. When the top layer takes a brownish hue you know that baking is done.

Let it come down to room temperature before you serve.

Purir Goja

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Updated with new photo

Vacation to a lot of Bongs meant visit to Puri, a beach city in the state of Orissa in India. For one of my maasi (aunts) vacation “always” meant visit to Puri. She used to go there every year for almost a decade. Even for me the first time I saw a sea was in Puri when I was 5 years old.

Once in Puri the evenings are generally spent on the beach of the Bay of Bengal. The mornings are scorching hot and hence people generally spend that in site-seeing in video-coaches (buses playing movies in a VCR). One of these must visits is the famous Jagannatha temple. People offer puja there and bring back prasad to Kolkata for their friends and families. The prasad is always the famous Puri’s Goja.

Goja is a crispy sweet. It is a kind of wheat and rice flour cracker dipped in sugar syrup. Making it is easy when you know the exact steps. Otherwise it is easy to mess up the layering process. It took me couple of attempts to get the perfect Goja.

Ingredients

  1. 1/2 cup all purpose flour ( maida)
  2. Rice flour: 1/2 cup + 2 tbsp
  3. White oil (e.g. Sunflower or Cannola): 2 tbsp + oil for deep frying
  4. 2 tbsp. ghee ( clarified butter)
  5. 1 cup sugar
  6. 1 cup water

Procedure

In a small bowl mix 2 tbsp of ghee and 2 tbsp of rice flour and keep aside for further use.

In a thick pan take water and sugar and boil on a medium heat till the sugar completely dissolves and the syrup reaches a medium thick or one string consistency. Keep the syrup warm. The consistency of the sugar syrup should be such that once they dry on the goja it should leave the goja glossy and not caked white.

Take equal portions of maida, rice flour and 2 tbsp of oil in a mixing bowl and mix them well. Knead the mixture into a stiff dough by gradually adding water to it. Keep it covered for half an hour. Knead it once more and you are all set to go.

Divide the dough into even number of portions (2,4,6,8) and roll out each portions into flat chapatti (roti) like discs. Take one chapatti and apply the rice flour and ghee mixture on one surface with the back of a spoon. Now take another rolled out chapatti and cover it. Start rolling up the joined chapattis starting  from one end to other.  Once you finish rolling up cut with a knife into equal sized portion. Take each of these portions and roll them flat by lightly pressing your rolling pin.

Here a step by step guide for you. Click on the images to see enlarged version.

Heat oil in a pan and deep fry till both sides takes a golden brown hue. This is the time when the layers in the Goja will separate out. Remove and drain out the excess oil on a paper towel and dip them into the sugar syrup. Keep them for about 3-4 mins. Take out and serve hot or cold
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Morich Mutton (Lamb in Black Pepper Sauce)

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Updated: With new photos

In the Bengali movie Charulata 2011 there is a scene where the lady of the house was served “morich mangso” and caramel pudding. Being a fan of black pepper I instantly decided to try that the next day. Since the movie didn’t hand out the recipe I experimented with what I think should go into it, and here is my version of Morich Mangso.

Since it’s pretty cold around here I served it with saffron rice. Saffron is known to keep you warm and is used across the coldest parts of India (Kashmir) for that.

Ingredients

  1. 2lb. mutton
  2. 2 medium onions finely chopped 
  3. 1tbsp. chopped garlic
  4. 2 tsp. garlic paste
  5. 1 tbsp. ginger paste
  6. 1 lime juice 
  7. 1 cup thick yogurt (Curd)
  8. 2tsp. black pepper paste
  9. 10-12 black pepper corn 
  10. 2,3 green chilies 
  11. Dry roast and grind the following
      1. 1tbsp. black pepper corn
      2. 1tbsp. whole cumin seeds (jeera)
  12. Salt
  13. 1tbsp. sugar
  14. 4-5 tsp. canola or any refined oil
  15. 1tsp. ghee (clarified butter)

Procedure

In a mixing bowl take the meat pieces and marinate with yogurt, lime juice and half black pepper paste . Let it rest for about 2-3hrs.

Heat oil in a pan and temper the oil with black pepper corn and green chilies. Wait till they stop sputtering. Add onion and chopped garlic and sauté on medium heat. Add ginger, garlic paste and fry till the raw smell goes away.

Add the marinated meat and sear them on high heat till the oil gets separated from the spices. Now lower the heat and season it with salt and sugar according to your taste. Mix well and cook it covered on low heat till the meat is just done. It takes almost 45 minutes to an hour to get the cooking done. You can use pressure cooker to speed things up.

Once the meat is done crank up the heat and cook it on high flame till the excess moisture is all dried up. Sprinkle dry roasted spice powder and rest of the black pepper paste to it. A spoonful of ghee at this point of time will enhance the flavor. Turn off the heat and keep it covered.

Serve with jeera rice or peas pulao.

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Chingri Macher Malaikari (Prawn in cream of Coconut)

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Updated: With new photos

This makes it into the top 10 dishes of most bongs. Evolved in Bangladesh this has close ties to it’s neighboring Thai and Malaysian food. This is easy to make in the US because of the easy availability of canned coconut milk. The sweet tastemakes it a favourite among children.

Ingredients

  1. Prawns 10-12 cleaned and deveined
  2. Coconut milk - 1 can
  3. Onion 1 medium sized
  4. Ginger 1"
  5. Green chilies 5-6
  6. Bay leaf / tejpatta - 2
  7. Cinnamon stick - 2"
  8. Green cardamom - 2
  9. Clove - 4,5
  10. Turmeric powder
  11. Sugar
  12. Salt
  13. Ghee
  14. Oil

Procedure

  1. Make a fine paste of onion, ginger and two green chilies.
  2. Wash the prawns and pat them dry. Mix them with salt and turmeric powder and keep aside.
  3. Heat oil in a pan and fry the prawns till they are light golden in color. Remove and keep them aside.
  4. In the same oil add bay leaf, whole cinnamon, cardamom and cloves. As soon as you get the fragrance of whole garam masala add little sugar followed by the paste you made before. The sugar will give the onion paste a nice brown color because of caramelization.
  5. Fry the masala in low medium heat till it gets a nice golden brown color and the raw smell of onion and ginger is gone.
  6. At this point add little turmeric powder to it.
  7. Season it with salt and sugar.
  8. Add a can of coconut milk and stir it. Check the sugar level at this point. The malaikari is generally on the sweeter side.
  9. Cook the gravy till it thickens.
  10. Add the fried prawns and continue cooking them till the sauce takes a creamy consistency.

Serve it with white rice or pulao.

Note: Don't overcook prawns. It makes them stiff.

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Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Chelo Kebab

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IMG_3446In our visit to Kolkata we never miss out on our pilgrimage to Peter Cat on Park Street and have their famous “Original Chelo Kebab”. Peter Cat on their menu refers to this as “the protected regional product of West Bengal”. However, I have successfully conned the border security and customs and got this across the oceans.

Chelow kebab is the national dish of Iran, which is generally served with saffron basmati rice and accompanied with a grilled tomato. In olden days  putting a raw egg yolk on top of the rice was very common which is no longer in practice. So obviously Peter Cat’s claim is a bit dubious :)

The simplicity of the Chelo Kebab is it’s main lure. Peter Cat serves the kebabs on a simple bed of butter rice instead of the saffron rice.

Chicken Kebab

Get the recipe at http://www.bongcook.com/2012/08/chicken-reshmi-kebab.html 

Ingredients for lamb Kebab

  1. 200gms minced meat
  2. 1 medium onion roughly chopped
  3. 1tsp. chopped ginger
  4. 1tsp. chopped garlic
  5. 2 cloves
  6. 2 green cardamoms
  7. 1/2” cinnamon stick  
  8. 1tsp.black pepper corns
  9. 1 egg white
  10. 1tsp. chopped cilantro
  11. 2 slices of white sandwich bread
  12. Salt
  13. Oil or butter
  14. Skewers

Procedure To make lamb Kebab

In a grinder or food processor take all above ingredients except last two and process them for a few minutes till all the ingredients are well combined and take a look of dough. Transfer them to a bowl.

IMG_0736If you are using bamboo skewers don’t forget to soak it in water for at least 30 minutes, before you start shaping the kebabs. Keep a bowl full of cold water handy to keep your palms wet. Take a ball of the meat mixture in your wet hand and gently wrap it around a skewer. Lightly squeeze it into a long shape. Then pinch the meat into sections using your fingers like scissors.

Brush the kebabs with butter or oil and grill each of them for a few minutes turning frequently. All surfaces of the kebabs should take  dark brown color by the time you finish them cooking.

Ingredients for parsley rice

  1. 2 cups cooked white basmati rice
  2. 2tsp. butter
  3. 1/4th cup chopped parsley
  4. 1tsp. pepper powder
  5. Salt to taste

Procedure

Melt better in a  non stick pan on medium heat. Add cooked rice to it. Season with salt and pepper powder. Now fry them well till each grain of rice is coated with butter. Add chopped parsley to it and mix them once again before you finish.

Other Ingredients

  1. 4 medium tomatoes
  2. 4 eggs

Preparation

Tomato – Once you have finished grilling your kebabs, Place the whole or halved tomatoes on the grilling plate. Drizzle few drops of oil and grill them for 10 minutes.

Eggs- Melt butter in a non stick pan and fry the eggs ( Sunny side up ) one by one.

Plating Up

Each serving plate gets a generous serving of rice, a skewer of lamb kebab, chicken kebab and a grilled tomato.The rice is then topped with a fried sunny side up egg. One extra cube of butter on top of the rice will make it sinfully tasty.

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