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Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Non-Veg Entrée – 2012

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It’s that time of the year, when you look back over the past year and think of all you have done. For bongcook that means finding the best recipes from 2012.

Here’s a list of the non-vegetarian entrée I made this year and loved the most. These are served with rice or breads. I will cover those in a subsequent post.

Sea-food

  1. Pabda Macher Jhaal
  2. Pyajkoli diye Tangra
  3. Doi Mach
  4. Macher Morich Jhol
  5. Chital Macher Muithya
  6. Prawn Paturi
  7. Lal-Kankra
  8. Rui Macher Sukha
  9. Borishali Rohu
  10. Tel Koi

Mutton

  1. Rogan Josh
  2. Kosha Mangso
  3. Bhuna Mutton
  4. Jackfruit with Mutton
  5. Mutton Chaap
  6. Railway Mutton Curry
  7. Kosha Mangsho Thakurbari Style
  8. Morich Mutton

Chicken

  1. Chicken Korma
  2. Kosha Murgi
  3. Palak Murg
  4. Roast
  5. Jhol
  6. Do Pyaja
  7. Jeera Chicken
  8. Chicken Daak Bungalow

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Snacks - 2012

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    It’s that time of the year, when you look back over the past year and think of all you have done. For bongcook that means finding the best recipes from 2012.

    Here’s a list of the snacks I made this year and loved the most. Friends I hope you enjoy them over the winter break. Spicy kebabs and snacks go very well on chilly winter days with a steaming cup of coffee or more spirited drinks.

    1. Vegetable Chop/Cutlet (veg)
    2. Egg Devil (egg)
    3. Kolkata Egg Roll (egg)
    4. Moglai Paratha (egg)
    5. Fish Batter Fry
    6. Chicken Tikka Wrap
    7. Chicken Resmi Kebab
    8. Chicken Lasuni Kebab
    9. Chicken Tikka
    10. Spicy Chicken Slider

    Monday, December 24, 2012

    Merry Christmas with Rich Fruit Cake

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    This is the time to fill up your hearts with Christmas carols, cakes and candies. This is the time of Santa’s annual visit. My daughter is diligently tracking Santa’s progress across the world using Norad’s website. He apparently has already delivered 4 billion gifts (as of the time of writing this post :))

    In our childhood there wasn’t the concept of rum-cake or the usage of a lot of spice powders in cake. My mom used to make a simple fruit cake in the pressure cooker. This year I decided to recreate the same recipe but in a oven.

    Ingredients

    1. 1 1/2 cup of all purpose flour
    2. 2/3 cup granulated sugar ( I used less sugar to adjust the sweetness of the dry fruits )
    3. 1/2cup unsalted butter at room temperature
    4. 3 large eggs ( Yolks and white separated )
    5. 1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
    6. 1 cup mixed dry fruits ( I have used the following, you can add your own favorites )
      1. Raisin
      2. Dried cranberry
      3. Cashew
      4. Sliced almonds
      5. Glazed cherries

    Procedure

    Preheat the oven at 350F.

    Sieve all purpose flour and baking powder. Take a spoonful of this dry mixture and mix with all the dry fruits. This will prevent the dry fruits from sinking during baking.

    In a mixing bowl whisk the egg whites with a hand mixer until soft peak forms. It takes about 2 minutes. In a separate bowl beat egg yolks with butter and sugar till it becomes creamy.

    Now alternatively add the dry ingredients ( flour + baking powder ) and egg white to it. Gently fold them into the mixture using a spatula until incorporated.

    Add dry fruits to it and once again fold them into the prepared batter. Transfer the batter in a greased baking tin and bake for 30 minutes in the oven.

    Insert a knife at the center to check if the cake is done or not. If the knife comes out clear it means it is done. If not bake for few more minutes.

    Cool it on a wire rack before you cut and serve.

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    Enjoy with your friends and family and have a Merry Christmas!!

    Friday, December 21, 2012

    Prawn Pulao

    IMG_4592Since today the world was supposed to end, I didn’t cook anything. But then it was lunch time, the world was still hanging around and we were hungry. So I dug into the refrigerator (which wasn’t stocked that well either because of the world ending and all). I had some frozen prawns and decided to make one pot meal.

    Ingredients

    1. 1lb. tiger prawns
    2. 1/2 cup onion juice
    3. 1 cup gobindobhog or jeera rice
    4. 4,5 green chilies slit length wise
    5. 1tbsp. grated ginger
    6. 2,3 bay leaves or tejpatta
    7. Whole garam masala (1” cinnamon stick, 2-3 cloves and 2 green cardamoms)
    8. 4-5 tsp. ghee (clarified butter)
    9. 2tbsp. sugar
    10. Salt to taste

    Procedure

    Wash rice with several changes of water and spread them flat on a paper towel. Allow it to air dry for some time.

    Marinate prawns for 15 minutes with onion juice and salt. Heat 2 tsp. ghee in a pan and fry marinated prawns on medium heat till they turn pink. Remove fried prawns with a slotted spoon and keep aside.

    Add rest of the ghee to the pan and allow it to melt. Temper with bay leaf and slightly bruised garam masala. Wait till you get the fragrances of them. Now add green chilies to it and sauté for a minute. Remove green chilies and reserve them for later use.

    Now add rice to it and fry on medium heat for about 5 minutes. Fry till you see all grains of rice glisten and are well coated with ghee. This step ensures that all the rice grains stay separate and will not become sticky when your pulao is done.

    IMG_4583Add grated ginger, salt and sugar to the rice. Mix everything well. Pour one and half cup of war water to it. Cook it covered on medium heat till rice is almost done.

    Remove the cover and add fried prawns and green chilies to it. Continue cooking till rice is completely done. Leave it uncovered and fluff gently with a fork.

    This is a one pot meal and doesn’t require anything else to be served with it. 

    Friday, December 14, 2012

    Stone Fruit Cake

    IMG_1234Approaching Christmas means baking time :). All the stores around are filled with baking supplies and I didn’t need any more prompting!!

    Stone fruit cake which is a favorite of mine is made with “stone fruits”. These are fruits with single large seeds at their center (like stones). Examples would include plum, peach and apricot. The cake looks nice because the procedure of making it ensures that the fruits do not sink to the bottom of the cake, but rather peek out of it from the top.

    IngredientsIMG_4561

    1. 200gms all purpose flour (maida)
    2. 150gms granulated sugar
    3. 100gms butter + extra for greasing the pan
    4. 2 large eggs
    5. 2tsp. baking powder
    6. Stone fruits of your choice. (It is better to avoid canned fruits. since they are ultra moist, the cake will become soggy)
        1. 1 peach (taste peach and other fruits. If sour adjust the quantity of sugar)
        2. 2 apricots
        3. I used few dried cranberries along with them.

    Procedure

    Preheat oven at 180F. Prepare a baking tray lined with a butter paper.

    Whisk flour and baking powder in a bowl. Cream the butter and sugar together on medium speed for 3-5 minutes till light and fluffy.

    Add eggs one at a time and scrap down the sides of the bowl after each addition.

    Add the flour mixture in two increments, mixing just until a soft, smooth dough forms.

    Divide the dough into two portions. One slightly larger than the other. Allow the smaller portion to chill in a refrigerator.

    Dollop the larger portion onto the lined baking pan. Pat the pan to spread it around.

    Cut fruits into small pieces. Scatter them over the batter. Generously sprinkle sugar on top of them if they are sour.

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    Take out the chilled batter from the refrigerator and dollop small balls of dough over the fruit with a spoon.

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    Now transfer your baking tray inside the oven and bake for 30 – 40 minutes or till they turn golden brown.

    Cool before you serve. Since this contains fresh fruits this needs to be refrigerated for preservation.

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    Wednesday, December 12, 2012

    Chicken Daak Bungalow

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    This recipe comes from another era, when people used to travel and stay in forest and daak (mail) guest houses that littered the country-side. The care-taker of these British era bungalows had simple kitchen at their disposal and in that they would whiff up simple yet extremely well tasting concoction of spices. They would use the simple mortar and pestle to pound the spices, this coarse spice mixture is the signature of this recipe.

    A decade ago we had travelled to a small hill station called Kemanagundi from Bangalore. We stayed in a non-descript department of horticulture guest house. The caretaker literally ran and caught a chicken from the courtyard and prepared this for us with his hand ground simple spices. I still remember the fun of having daak-bungalow chicken under the light of lanterns, wrapped up in blankets to fight the bitter cold.

    Today the daak-bungalow chicken has left the confines of the bungalows and is a common specialty item served in Bengali themed restaurants in Kolkata.

    ingredients

    1. 1.5 lb. chicken cut into medium pieces on bones
    2. 3 medium potatoes cut into halves 
    3. 2 medium onions cut into big pieces 
    4. 7-8 garlic cloves
    5. 1” ginger
    6. 1tsp. turmeric powder
    7. 5-6 whole red chilies broken in irregular pieces and crushed  
    8. 2,3 bay leaves
    9. Whole garam masala ( 1’ cinnamon stick, 2 green cardamoms and 2-3 cloves roughly crushed )
    10. 1tsp. sugar
    11. Salt to taste
    12. 2,3 tsp. oil  ( I used mustard oil, you can go for any refined oil like canola )

    Procedure

    Clean chicken pieces and smear them with turmeric powder. Keep them aside.

    Now take onion, ginger, garlic and crush them roughly using your pestle. If you have Sheel Nora then nothing like it. Use your nora (stone rolling pin) and you will be done in no time. Fine chopping and paste will not bring the flavor you want, so just crush them.

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    Heat oil in a pan and fry potato halves till they turn golden. Remove with a slotted spoon and keep aside. Temper the same oil with bay leaves and crushed whole garam masala. Let them sizzle for a while. Now add crushed onion, ginger and garlic to the oil and fry on medium heat for about five minutes.

    Add chicken pieces to it and fry them on high heat for a while. Add crushed red chilies, salt and sugar to it. Throw the fried potato halves in and mix everything well so the chicken and potato pieces are nicely coated with oil and spices.

    Pour about 2 cups of warm water and bring it to a boil. Cook it covered till chicken is done. Potato halved will also be cooked by this time.

    Check the seasoning and adjust accordingly. Serve with a plateful of plain white ice.   

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    Monday, December 10, 2012

    Borishali Rohu/Rui

    IMG_5735This is a simple recipe used for making Hilsa in Bangladesh. While chatting with my Mashi over phone she told me that she was making it for lunch. I didn’t have Hilsa at home and so I decided to try the same recipe with Rohu.

    Even though simple spices are used, the distinct taste of coconut milk with kalonji (nigella) paste gives it an unique flavor.

    Ingredients

    1. 4 pieces of fish cut into steaks
    2. 1tsp. kalonji ( Nigella Seeds )
    3. Few green chilies slit lengthwise
    4. 1tbsp. green chili paste
    5. 1tsp. ginger paste
    6. 1tsp. nigella seeds paste ( Kalonji paste )
    7. 2tsp. turmeric powder
    8. 1/2 cup thick coconut milk
    9. 1/2 cup milk
    10. Salt to taste
    11. Mustard oil

    Procedure

    Smear fish steaks with salt and half turmeric powder.Keep them marinated for 15 minutes.

    Heat oil in a wok(Kadai) and fry the fish steaks till both surfaces turn golden yellow. Remove with a slotted soon and keep them aside.

    In a small bowl mix all wet paste and keep handy. Now temper the same oil with kalonji and when they stop sputtering add the wet spice mixture to it. Lower the flame and sauté for a while. Sprinkle turmeric powder to it and fry little more.

    Once you are sure that all the raw smell has subsided, add coconut milk to it. Gently slide in the fish steaks and crank up the heat. When the gravy start boiling, lower the heat and add little warm milk to it. Cook it uncovered for 5 minutes.

    Add green chilies and turn off the heat. Drizzle some mustard oil over it and serve with a plate of hot steaming rice.

    Wednesday, December 5, 2012

    Jeera chicken (Cumin flavored chicken)

    IMG_4456Some days back when I was driving my daughter and her friend Raghu for Halloween, I heard an interesting backseat conversation.

    Raghu said “Prokriti do you know that we are animals”. She replied, “yes we are mammals”. Raghu then said “yeah and soon we will be extinct like dinosaurs”. When I asked my daughter whether she knows what extinction is, she said “its like never coming back, like the foods you cook only once and after blogging you never cook them back”.

    I have made so many stuff over the years and haven’t blogged about them, that these days rarely I make anything special twice. Jeera chicken is one of those, by popular demand I have to make it again one of these days.

    Ingredients

    1. 1lb. chicken boneless (cut into strips)
    2. 1 medium onion chopped
    3. 1tsp. ginger paste
    4. 1tbsp. garlic paste
    5. 1tbsp. green chili paste
    6. 1tsp. turmeric powder
    7. 4tsp. cumin seeds
    8. 1tsp. black peppercorn
    9. 2tbsp. plain yogurt
    10. 4-5 green chilies slit lengthwise
    11. 1tsp sugar
    12. 2 bay leaves
    13. 2 black cardamom
    14. Salt to taste
    15. 2tbsp. refined white oil

    Procedure

    Dry roast 3tsp. whole cumin seeds and 1tsp. black peppercorn. Grind them to make a coarse powder and store it  for later use.

    Heat oil in a wok and temper it with 1tsp. whole cumin seeds, cardamoms and bay leaves. After it stops spluttering add chopped onion to it and fry them on medium high heat till they take a nice tan. Now add green chilies to it and fry till they release their zingy flavor.

    Add the chicken pieces and sear them on high heat along with onion and chilies. Wait till they loose their raw color and turn light brown. Turn the heat off.

    In a bowl beat the yogurt along with all dry and wait spices. Once you are sure that the chicken has cool down a bit add the yogurt mixture to it. Mix everything well and then turn on the heat. cook on low heat till oil starts oozing out.

    Now add salt and sugar to it and cook them covered on medium heat for another 10-15 minutes. This is a dry dish so allow the excess moisture to evaporate.

    Sprinkle ground cumin and pepper powder over it and keep it covered till you serve.

    Goes well with phulkas and rotis.

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    Monday, December 3, 2012

    Tel Koi

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    Based on whom you ask, Koi can turn out to be very different fishes. For us Koi is the climbing perch or Anabas, it is not the fancy oriental Koi.

    At the beginning of our stay in the Pacific North West, we managed with the local fish and cooked things like Salmon-er Jhaal. However, there is so much you can manage with.

    When my dad came visiting us I hunted around town and located a good Bangladeshi fish-store. On my first visit I found some Koi and decided to make the authentic Bengali Tel Koi in all its mustard oil glory.

    If you buy one of those frozen Koi’s, make sure that it is indeed void of scales. In particular check the head and neck area and take care to remove all remaining scales. In my first attempt I didn’t do it and had to rename the dish to “aash koi” :)

    Ingredients

    1. 4 pieces Koi fish washed and cleaned
    2. 1tbsp. ginger paste
    3. 1tsp. turmeric powder
    4. 1tbsp. chili powder
    5. 1/2tsp. cumin powder
    6. 1tsp. coriander powder
    7. 2tbsp. plain yogurt
    8. 2 bay leaves
    9. 4-5 green chilies
    10. 1tsp. sugar
    11. Salt to taste
    12. Mustard oil

    Procedure

    Rub turmeric powder and salt to the fish and keep it marinated for 15 minutes. In a wok heat enough mustard oil and shallow fry the fishes one by one. remove with a slotted spoon and keep them aside.

    In a small mixing bowl make mix turmeric powder, chili powder, cumin and coriander powder with ginger paste and little water and keep it ready.

    Now temper the same oil with bay leaves and green chilies. Add the paste paste to it and keep sautéing till oil seeps out of masala. Turn off the heat and allow it to cool down  a little.

    In the mean time, beat 2tbsp. yogurt and 1tsp. sugar with a fork. Once you are sure that the yogurt mixture is lump free add and mix it well with the fried spices. Turn the heat on to low and cook for a while.

    Add a cup of water to it and season with salt. Let the gravy come to a boil. Now gently release the fried fishes one at a time in the gravy. Throw some more green chilies in it. Allow it to cook for 3-5 minutes before you turn them over. Cook for another 2 minutes and turn off the heat.

    Goes great with white rice.

    Friday, November 30, 2012

    Lau Shaager Morich Jhol

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    I suddenly discovered bottle gourd creepers (lau saak) at the local farmer’s market. I had never imagined that I’d be able to get freshest of lau saak here in US. I tried to ask the Chinese lady selling them how they eat it. However, her English was too limited for me to figure out the recipe.

    I brought them home and cooked it following my mom’s traditional lau-saak recipe. I didn’t use bottle gourd itself with the vegetable because my mom used to tell me that you never cook fruit along with it’s plant because cooking mom and kids together isn’t really a good idea. So I used pumpkin instead.

    The same recipe can also be used with pumpkin twigs with bottle gourd (remember no same plant and it’s fruit :))

    Ingredients

    1. 1 lb. bottle gourd twigs cut into 2” pieces
    2. 1/2 lb. orange pumpkin cut into cubes
    3. 2 medium potatoes cut into cubes
    4. 2 green chilies slit lengthwise
    5. 1tsp. kalonji ( Nigella ) seeds for tempering
    6. 1tsp. whole wheat flour (Atta)
    7. 1 tbsp. nigella seeds and 1 green chili grind into fine paste
    8. 1 tsp. sugar
    9. Salt
    10. Oil

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    Procedure

    Start by heating mustard oil in a pan. Drop nigella seeds and slit green chilies. sauté them for 1-2 minutes. Add potato and pumpkin cubes in the midway of your sautéing process. Sprinkle salt and sugar and fry the vegetables for 3-4 minutes on low heat. Add a cup of water and continue cooking till they are half done.

    Now add bottle gourd twigs and mix everything well. Continue cooking covered till all the vegetables are tender.

    Adjust consistency of the gravy to how you like it Traditionally it is runny. Stir 1 tsp. of whole wheat flour in 1/2 cup of water and pour it over. Gently mix it. It will give a mild thickness to the runny gravy.

    Now last but not the least add nigella and green chili paste to it and mix well before you finish.

    Enjoy with plain rice.

    Wednesday, November 28, 2012

    Chicken Do-Pyaja

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    During the British Raj a lot of different food started entering the Bengali household. Chicken was one of them which was previously not allowed inside Bengali kitchen. Since the women still refused to cook them at home the rich began employing Bawarchi’s or chefs from other parts of India. The bawarchi bought the nawabi cuisine with them. One of them was Chicken-do-pyaja. With time the ladies of the house started learning from them and added their own twist to the cuisine. The spices became milder and the oil was spared to make it more healthy.

    Ingredients

    1. 2lb chicken cut into medium sized pieces
    2. 2 onions sliced
    3. 1 cup plain yogurt
    4. 1 tsp. ginger paste
    5. 1 tbsp. garlic paste
    6. 1 tsp. turmeric powder
    7. 1 tbsp. Kashmiri red chili powder
    8. 1 tbsp. sugar
    9. 1 pinch saffron soaked in 1/4th cup warm milk
    10. 5 tbsp. ghee (Clarified Butter)
    11. Dry roast and grind it to make a fine powder of the following
      1. 1tsp. sahi jeera (Caraway seed)
      2. 1tsp. white peppercorn
      3. 3 green cardamom
      4. 3cloves
      5. 1”cinnamon stick
      6. 1/4 nutmeg (jaifal)
      7. 1 leaf of mace ( javitri)
      8. 1/2 tsp. fennel seed (Sauf or mouri)
    12. For tempering
      1. 2 bay leaves
      2. 1” cinnamon
      3. 2 cardamom

    Procedure

    Marinate chicken with yogurt and ginger garlic paste and allow it to rest for at least 2 hours.

    Heat 4tbsp. of ghee in a wide pan and temper it with bay leaf, cinnamon and cardamom. When the spices start sizzling add sliced onions to it. You can add little sugar to it to make the dish vibrant. Fry onions on medium heat till it turns golden brown. Remove one tbsp. of fried onions from it for garnishing.

    Now take the  chicken pieces and shake off the marinade from it. Gently slide them into the pan and sear it  on high heat. This way you can seal the juice inside the chicken. Sprinkle turmeric and Kashmiri chili powder to it. Keep on frying on medium high heat till oil separates out.

    Now add the marinade and sprinkle half of the roasted ground spice powder, salt and sugar over the chicken pieces. Give everything a nice mix and cook it covered till chicken is tender. This gravy will be thick and dry, so If you see  any excess moisture put the heat on high and allow it to dry.

    Turn off the heat. and transfer it to the serving dish. Garnish with the fried onions you have reserved.

    In a separate small pan heat 1tbsp. of ghee and pour the rest of the dry spice powder. When it sizzles pour it over the cooked chicken and immediately close the lid (this is called the tadka). Keep it covered till you serve.

    Serve with fried rice, parantha or naan.

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    Monday, November 26, 2012

    Oven Grilled Mackerel

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    We first had this when my Konkani friend Anita made it for us in Hyderabad. My husband loved the masala and this has turned out to be one of his favorite dinner. I make it for him, but cannot stand the strong sea fish smell. So I make it a point to have my dinner first before cooking this. That and ventilating the home well afterwards :)

    Ingredients

    1. 1 mackerel ( blue fish about 2’ long )
    2. 5-6 cloves of garlic
    3. 1/2 cup cilantro or coriander greens
    4. 2-3 green chilies
    5. 1/4 cup mint leaves
    6. Juice of 1 lime
    7. Salt
    8. 2tbsp. mustard oil + 1tsp. mustard oil (OR any refined oil)

    Procedure

    Clean and rub the fish with lime juice and salt. Set it aside for 1/2hr. Now wash the fish with cold running water.

    In a grinder make a thick paste of garlic, cilantro, mint leaves and green chilies. Add salt and mustard oil to this wet mixture and whisk well.

    Make 1” long slits at 2” intervals down middle of the fish on both sides.

    Rub the marinade on both sides of the fish including the cavities. Let it rest for 30 minutes.

    Pre heat your oven at 375F. Oil a baking dish and place the marinated fish. Drizzle few drops of oil over it. Grill for 25 – 30 minutes in the middle rack.

    Serve hot.

    Saturday, November 24, 2012

    Lal Kankrar Jhal (Crab in Red Hot Sauce)

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    Easy availability of Alaskan crabs has turned crabs from a rare delicacy to a common staple at our household. My daughter never lets us skip it on the grocery trips. I have posted bunch of crab recipes but most were from the other coasts of India. This is a traditional Bengali recipe.

    Ingredients

    1. 2lb. crab (I got crab claws)
    2. 2tbsp. onion paste
    3. 1tbsp. garlic paste
    4. 1tbsp. dry red chili paste
    5. 1/2tsp. turmeric powder
    6. 1tbsp. chopped green chilies
    7. 1tbsp. ginger cut into thin strips
    8. 2tbsp. tamarind pulp
    9. 1tsp. yellow mustard paste
    10. 5-6 green chilies slit lengthwise
    11. 1tsp. Bengali garam masala powder
    12. 200gms. mustard oil
    13. 1tsp. sugar
    14. Salt to taste
    15. Whole garam masala for tempering
      1. 2 green cardamom
      2. 1” cinnamon stick
      3. 2-3 cloves

    Procedure

    Take crab and cut into halves. The legs need to be crushed a bit. This is done so that the spices and salt gets into the juicy flesh.

    Now heat mustard oil in a pan and toss the crab pieces. The color of the crab will turn vibrant orange. Remove and set aside.

    Temper the same oil with whole garam masala. Wait till the oil becomes fragrant. Lower the heat and add garlic paste to it. Sauté for 2-3 minutes before you add onion and red chili paste to it.Drop chopped green chilies. Fry everything together on low  heat. Now add turmeric powder, salt and sugar one by one. stir continuously till you cook out their raw smell. If required you may sprinkle little water so that the spices don’t get burnt.

    Add fried crab pieces to it and mix well so all sides of the crab pieces are nicely coated with spices. Throw the ginger sticks in. Now add a cup of water and simmer it covered for about 10 minutes. Add mustard paste and tamarind pulp to it and crank up the heat to high.

    Stir everything together till all the moisture evaporates and the oil oozes out from the gravy. Sprinkle garam masala powder and slit green chilies.

    Serve with plain hot rice.

    Friday, November 16, 2012

    Rui Maacher Sukha (Dry Carp Curry)

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    At our daughter’s school they get turns in “cafeteria duty”. For a week she gets to serve lunch to the entire school and in return she gets to eat lunch without having to buy that. This serves as a great learning on work and compensation.

    Having had “formal training” we thought we’d give her newly learned skills a trial at home. So we asked her to serve lunch. Promptly she headed to the kitchen, washed her hands, patted them dry and asked for gloves :). It took some convincing that gloves are optional at home. After that she did a fantastic job of laying down the table mats and serving us lunch. The food was extra sweet.

    Ingredients

    1. 4 steak pieces of rui (Any sweet water carp can be used)
    2. 1 medium onion thinly sliced
    3. 1tsp. ginger juice
    4. 2tbsp. tomato paste
    5. 1tsp. mustard paste
    6. 1tsp. turmeric powder
    7. 1tbsp. chili powder
    8. 2,3 bay leaves
    9. 1/2 tsp. nutmeg (jaifal) powder
    10. 1tbsp. ghee (clarified butter)
    11. 1tsp. sugar
    12. Salt
    13. Mustard oil

    Procedure

    Smear the fish steaks with turmeric powder and salt. Keep it marinated for about 15 minutes.

    Heat mustard oil in a wok or kadai and fry fish pieces one by one till both sides take a golden hue. Remove and keep them aside.

    Take some more mustard oil and heat it up. Add bay leaves and sliced onions to it. Fry them on medium heat till the sides of the onions turn light brown. Add tomatoe puree and mustard paste to it. Mix everything well and fry them together in low heat.

    Now add turmeric and chili powder to the fried spices and season it with salt and sugar.

    Add fried fish steaks to it and pour half cup of water to it. Let it simmer on high flame till all the  fish pieces are well coated with the spices. This is a dry dish, so dry up any excess moisture.

    Add ghee and one tsp. ginger juice to it. Wait for a minute before you turn off the heat. Finish it off with a pinch of nutmeg powder.

    Enjoy with steaming white rice or pulao.

    Wednesday, November 14, 2012

    Kosha Mangsho, Thakurbari Style (Dry Mutton Curry)

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    Last couple of days I had been watching a bunch of movies based on Rabindranath Tagore’s novels on Youtube like Naukadubi. Watching all of these movies reminded me of this spicy curry from the Tagore family which I hadn’t made for some time. I read about it in a book by Purnima Devi from the Tagore family (or Thakurbari) who was a renowned cook. I had one of her books many years ago. This recipe is different from the regular Kosha Mangsho in the spices that is used. Today is Bhai phota and I made it for this special day. It goes great with basanti pulao.

    Ingredients

    1. 1 kg mutton (goat meat)
    2. 2 medium onions
    3. 1”ginger
    4. 6-8 cloves garlic
    5. 8 whole red chilies
    6. 1/2tsp. turmeric powder
    7. 4tsp. coriander powder
    8. 4tbsp. plain yogurt
    9. 1tsp. sugar
    10. Salt to taste 
    11. 4-5 green chilies
    12. Mustard oil
    13. 2-3 tsp. ghee(Clarified butter)
    14. Dry roast and make a powder of
    1. 4-5 green cardamoms
    2. 1” cinnamon stick

    Procedure

    Grind together onion, ginger, garlic and red chilies. Now in a bowl transfer the ground wet spices and add yogurt, turmeric powder, coriander powder to it. Mix everything well.  Marinate the meat pieces in this paste. If you can marinate it overnight, nothing like it. But it should be marinated for at least couple of hours.

    Heat mustard oil in a pressure cooker or heavy bottom pan. Add marinated mutton pieces and cook on high flame for about 5 minutes. Add salt and sugar to it. Now lower the heat and cook till the oil separates. Add half cup warm water.

    Pressure cook on medium flame for 15 minutes. Turn off the heat and allow some time for the steam to release on its own. In case you want to reduce the amount of gravy continue to heat on high flame.

    In a separate pan heat ghee and add roasted and powdered cinnamon and cardamom to it. Give them a quick stir and pour it over the meat curry. Garnish with green chilies and serve with hot rice or Bengali mishti pulao.

    Monday, November 12, 2012

    Happy Diwali with Spicy Chicken Kebab Sliders

    DSCF4922

    In our childhood in Kolkata the day before Diwali was celebrated as Kali Puja. We would light up the house with diya and then burst noisy fireworks (pataka). This was rooted in the traditional custom of bursting crackers to scare off evil demons. After couple of hours of doing it we’d be ready for the dinner, which used to be a special affair. Now in Kolkata sound pollution control has resulted in the ban of sounds-crackers, but thankfully the special dinner remains.

    Here in the US our plans is to head to the local temple which organizes spectacular fireworks and then come home to have some easy to fry chicken kebab.

    IMG_3604Ingredients

    1. 250gms. chicken paste
    2. 2 heaped tbsp. of plain yogurt 
    3. 2tbsp. finely chopped ginger
    4. 2tbsp. finely chopped garlic
    5. 1 medium onion finely chopped
    6. 2 tbsp. chopped green chilies
    7. 1 tbsp. chopped coriander greens (cilantro)
    8. 1tsp. chopped mint leaves ( I have used crushed dried mint leaves )
    9. 1tsp. turmeric powder
    10. 1tsp. chicken tandoori masala
    11. 1 tsp. bengali garam masala
    12. 1tsp. bhaaja masala. Dry roast and grind to a powder the following
      1. 1tbsp. whole cumin seeds
      2. 1 tbsp.coriander seeds
      3. 4 dry red chilly
    13. 1 egg beaten
    14. 3-4 tbsp. chickpea flour (Besan)
    15. 1tbsp. sugar
    16. Salt to taste
    17. 2-3tbsp. clarified butter (Ghee)

    Procedure

    In a large mixing bowl take the chicken paste and one by one add all the ingredients other than ghee. Pound everything together with your hand and mix them really well.

    Now take lime sized portions from the chicken mixture and flatten them between your palms to give a shape.

    Grease a non stick tawa with ghee and arrange the kabab patty on it. Shallow fry both the sides on low heat till  the meat is cooked enough. Once done increase the heat and let the kababs turn golden brown on each sides.

    Serve with green chutney or ketchup.

    Sunday, November 11, 2012

    From Street to Home: Kolkata Style Phuchka and Churmur

    IMG_6249

    Our Kolkata college memories are filled with standing infront of the local phuchka vendor starting the conversation with “দাদা টাকায় কটা" and ending with “দুটো ফাউ”. Later when we moved to other cities, it was one of our eternal quest to find a phuchka center and explaining to everyone that gol-gappa or the panipuri is NOT phuchka. Phuchka is a West Bengal and Bihar specialty which varies significantly from rest of India.

    When I decided to make phuchk the first name that came to my mind was our friend Jhuma. It was oft rumored that she was going to marry a phuchka-walla and settle down :). We always used to go eat phuchka with her because she got heavy frequent customer discount. One of our college professors saw her eating phuchka while he was coming in and saw her do the same while leaving for the day. Next day in class he asked her whether she stayed the entire day in front of the stall gobbling them down.

    Jhuma’s phuchka fondness could only be contrasted against my father-in-law’s disgust for it. He’d share graphic details of the contents on the hands of the phuchka-walla as he dipped it inside the tamarind water. Few who could bear to hear him out could eat phuchka for the next few weeks. Ultimately though the craving won out. I started to write down the story he narrated, but then figured out that most of my readers would just leave this page and not read the recipe.

    This recipe takes the easier route of getting packed phuchka like Deep Panipuri and taking it from there.

    Ingredients for Tamarind Water

    1. Seedless dried tamarind (lemon sized ball)
    2. 1tsp. beet noon (Black salt)
    3. 2tsp. bhaaja masala. Dry roast and grind to a powder the following
      1. 1tbsp. whole cumin seeds
      2. 1 tbsp.coriander seeds
      3. 4 dry red chilly
    4. 4 cups water

    Procedure of making Tamarind water

    Soak the tamarind in one cup of water for about half an hour. Now squeeze the pulp out of it and discard the fiber.

    Take around 3 cup of water in a mixing bowl and add tamarind pulp and one tsp. green chili paste to it.

    Sprinkle 2tsp. bhaaja masala, 1tsp. beet noon (Black salt) and half a tsp. of plain salt to it. Stir it well till salt dissolves. Taste and adjust salt and sour balance in it.

    Ingredients for stuffing

    1. 1/2 cup yellow peas soaked in water overnight
    2. 3 medium sized potatoes peeled and boiled
    3. 4-5 green chilies finely chopped (you can adjust it depending on your spice level)
    4. 1/2 cup coriander leaves (cilantro) finely chopped
    5. 1tbsp. bhaaja masala (see above on how to make it)
    6. 1tsp. red chili powder
    7. 1 tsp. beet noon (black salt)
    8. Plain salt as required

    Procedure

    In a pressure cooker boil the soaked peas with salt. Cook it for one to two whistles. Let the pressure release on its own. Allow the cooked peas to come down to the room temperature.

    In a big bowl take all the above ingredients and add one or to spoonful of tamarind water to it. Mix them well but try to not squish the peas.

    Ingredients For phuchka

    I bought Deep Panipuri packet from Indian store. Each of the packet has 30 pieces. Here I have given the measurements enough for 30 panipuris. I use the puffed ones for phuchka, and the flat ones for making churmur.

    Bringing everything together

    Puchka is best had when someone is continually making it for others. If you wait to eat them it will get soggy.

    Take phuchka and poke a hole at the center of each of them with your thumb. Stuff it with little potato filling and give it a quick dip in the tamarind water and serve it immediately.IMG_6251

    churmur

    Once we were done eating phuchka we’d generally get churmur to-go. This is the same thing as phuchka in chaat format where everything is mashed together. We’d take it back home for the family and also as something to munch on as we headed back home.
    1. 5-6 panipuris specially the flat ones
    2. 1 medium potatoes boiled and chopped
    3. 2tbsp. boiled yellow peas
    4. 1/2 tsp. chopped green chilies
    5. 1tsp. chopped cilantro
    6. 1tsp. finely chopped red onions
    7. 1/2tsp. bhaaja masala (see above on how to make it)
    8. 1/2tsp. beet noon (black salt)
    9. 1/2 tsp. red chili powder
    10. 2tsp. tamarind water
    11. Salt

    Procedure

    In a bowl mix everything together other than panipuris. Taste to check the salt and sour balance. Adjust accordingly. and keep it ready. Just before serving crush the panipuris and sprinkle over.

    IMG_6252

    Saturday, November 10, 2012

    Lau Shukto (Bottle Gourd with Lentil Dumplings)

    IMG_3958

    Shukto is a generic name for vegetable mish-mash. It’s a bitter food which is served as the first course. Old timers believed that shukto should be eaten first so that it cleans up germs in the system.

    I generally make lau (bottle gourd) in summer like it is generally made back home. I made this some time back and it somehow stayed forgotten in my blog drafts. I thought I’d post this out before it really starts snowing around here :)

    Ingredients

    1. 1 bottle gourd finely chopped
    2. 1 bitter gourd (Karela) thinly sliced
    3. 1/2 cup yellow split pea(Motor Dal) soaked in water for 3-4 hrs.
    4. 1 tsp. grated ginger
    5. 1 tsp. poppy seed and mustard paste
    6. Dry roast and grind 1/2 tsp. fenugreek seed and 1/2 tsp. radhuni (Optional)
    7. 1/2 cup milk
    8. Salt
    9. Sugar
    10. Oil
    11. 1tsp. clarified butter (Ghee)
    12. For tempering
      1. 2 bay leaves
      2. 1/2 tsp. mustard seed
      3. 1/2 tsp. fenugreek seed

    Procedure

    Drain the soaked dal and grind it into a thick paste with little water. Add salt to it and mix well. Now make small dumplings out of it. Heat oil in a pan and gently slide the dumplings into the oil. Fry on medium heat till both sides turn golden brown. Remove and drain it on a paper towel.

    Fry thin slices of karela till they become crispy. Remove and keep them handy. Discard the oil if it turns black.

    Heat 2 tsp. oil in a pan and temper it with bay leaf, mustard and fenugreek seeds. Let it sizzle. Add grated ginger to it and sauté for a while. Add chopped bottle gourd  and sprinkle salt over it. Since the quantity of the final product will be reduced to its half, be cautious with the amount of salt you are adding. Give it a nice mix and cook it covered till the bottle gourd becomes soft. Now add sugar to it.

    Stir the poppy seed and mustard paste in half cup of milk and pour it over. Throw the fried dumplings and karela slices in. Mix everything well and allow it to simmer on low heat for another 2-3 minutes.

    Add a dollop of ghee and sprinkle the dry roasted spice powder over it. Turn off the heat and keep it covered to retain the flavor of ghee and spices. This dish should neither be to dry nor too runny.

    Enjoy with hot steaming rice.

    Wednesday, November 7, 2012

    Hinger Kochuri with Kumro Aloor Torkari

    IMG_5828

    Once Halloween comes up in US, everyone finds excuse to put some form of pumpkin in anything they eat or drink. While some like pumpkin pie makes sense, others like pumpkin latte seems weird to say the least.

    I had to get pumpkin for the little devil at home, so I decided to make something Indian out of it. Since my husband worked really hard at carving it up, I decided to treat him with his absolute favorite Hinger Kochuri (asafetida stuffed poori) and pumpkin potato curry.

    IMG_5771

    He was so happy to have it, that he dug out the photo he took many years ago of his favorite dingy kochuri shack in Behala. He insists that the guy is pure genius and an artist (see English Vinglish)

    2006_1106_175337

    Kumro AlooR Torkari

    Ingredients

    1. 3 large potatoes cut into medium cubes along with their skin
    2. 100gms pumpkin peeled and cut into cubes
    3. 1tsp. turmeric powder
    4. 1tsp. chili powder
    5. 1tsp. asafetida powder or hing
    6. 2-3 dry red chilies broken
    7. 1tsp. paanch phoron
    8. salt
    9. 2 tsp. oil

    Procedure

    Heat oil in a pan and temper it with paanch phoron, hing and dry red chilies. Wait till you get a pungent smell. Now add pumpkin and potato cubes to it. Add turmeric and chili powder and fry them for a minute. Season with salt and mix well.

    Now add one and half cups of water to it and cook it covered on medium heat till potatoes are done and pumpkin cubes are very mushy and melts. There should be no solid pieces of pumpkin, they should’ve all turned into a gooey paste.

    Remove from heat and transfer to a serving bowl.

    Kochuri

    Ingredients For Stuffing

    1. 1 cup white urad dal soaked overnight
    2. 1 tsp.ginger paste
    3. 2-3 green chilies
    4. 1 tsp. turmeric powder
    5. 1/2tsp. kalonji  (nigella seeds)
    6. 1+2 tbsp. hing (asafetida)
    7. !/2tsp. sugar
    8. Salt
    9. 1 tsp. oil

    Procedure To Make The Stuffing

    In a grinder grind urad dal along with green chilies into a paste.

    Heat oil in a frying pan and temper it with a spoon of hing and kalonji.

    Now add the paste of dal to it. Sprinkle turmeric powder, salt and sugar over it and mix well. Fry the dal mixture on medium heat till you see the paste is coming together.

    Turn off the heat and let it cool.

    Once it cools down, add the rest of the asafetida and ginger paste to it. To retain the flavor of hing in hinger kochuri, we add asafetida at the end. Knead it well.

    IMG_5812

    Ingredients for dough

    1. 2 ups maida (All purpose flour)
    2. 1tsp. salt
    3. 1/2 tsp. sugar
    4. 1/2 – 3/4th cup of water
    5. 2 cups oil for deep frying

    Procedure To make Dough

    In a mixing bowl take all the dry ingredients (1 through 3) and mix well.

    Add 2tbsp. of oil to it and mix with the flour mixture using your fingertips till it takes a crumb texture.

    Knead it by adding water little at a time till you get a soft smooth dough. Keep it covered with a damp cloth for 30 minutes.

    Knead once more and then make ping pong size balls out of the dough.

    Approximately you will get around 20 balls.

    Procedure of making kochuri

    Take each balls you made from the dough and press it between your palm to flatten it. Now put a spoonful of stuffing at the centre of the flattened dough and round the dough again by gathering the sides together.

    IMG_5814

    Roll them into discs as you would make pooris.

    Take enough oil in a wok and heat it up before you slide the kochuris in. Give both sides a minute before flipping them.

    They might not always fluff up like a puri as they have stuffing in it.

    Your kochuris are ready.

    Monday, November 5, 2012

    Bengali Rasgulla or Rosogolla

    IMG_0613

    Even though Hindi is very similar to Bengali, its common knowledge that all pronunciation changes by replacing A’s with O’s. Say a name like Ashok becomes Oshok, my daughter is named Prokriti and not Prakruti. Similarly we say Rosogolla and not Rasgulla. The secret reason is that we always imagine the round rosogollas in our head and unconsciously use it everywhere. Also it makes Bengali and the bong folks the sweetest ever :)

    Being a NRB (non-resident Bengali) and a food blogger the most frequent question I get is “how to make rasgulla at home”. This seemingly simple and extremely tasty desert is one of the most technical to make. While it’s easy to land up with a white ball in a syrup, getting the right texture and softness is way more difficult then it seems.

    Rosogolla is responsible for making Bengali sweets famous across India and outside and is easily the most commonly known bong food.I am always careful about making it, as the last thing I want to do as bongcook is to screw it up.

    Ingredients for making ChEena

    Cheena is homemade soft cottage cheese and is the primary ingredient in Rasgulla.

    1. 1/2 gallon whole milk
    2. 1/2 cup vinegar diluted in 1/2 cup of water
    3. 1tsp. all purpose flour (maida)
    4. 1tsp. sooji ( Semolina )

    Procedure of making cheena balls

    In a thick bottom pan take the milk and bring it to a boil. Once it starts boiling remove it from heat. Stir for 5-7 minutes till the milk is slightly cool.

    Add the diluted vinegar solution to it and stir the milk gently. You will see the milk will curdle and the whey will separate out from the milk solids. When the whey becomes clear, it indicates that the milk is completely curdled.

    Line a colander with a cheese cloth and strain out all the whey.

    IMG_5834

    Gather all the sides of the cloth and twirl it gently so that most whey is drained out. Don,t make it over dry.

    IMG_5835

    For making rasgulla you have to use this cheena immediately.

    Transfer the chenna onto a clean flat plate and add maida and semolina to it. Mix well. Knead the mixture with the back of your palm so that it is free of lumps. Then make table-tennis/ping-pong sized balls. Roughly around 20 from the amount of ingredients I mentioned for this recipe. Be careful that there shouldn’t be any cracks in the ball or else they will break off from the cracks later.

    IMG_5836

    Ingredients for making sugar syrup

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

    Procedure

    Take a pan and add 2 cups of sugar in 3 cups of water. Heat till sugar dissolves completely and then increase the temperature and boil the syrup vigorously for 1-2 minutes.

    Now add the chenna balls by turning over the plate on which they are kept. Do not touch them as they are fragile.

    Cook the chenna ball in the sugar syrup while sprinkling water through out the cooking time.

    Cook it for about 20 – 30 minutes depending on the size of rasgullas you made. Take out one after 15 minutes, if ready stop boiling. Ensure the syrup froths all the time while cooking.

    IMG_5838

    Check whether rasgullas are cooked or not. If the rasgullas spring back and retain its shape when pressed, it is done.

    Another way of checking is to drop a rasgulla in a pan of cold water. If it sinks, it is cooked.

    Remove the pan from heat and transfer the rasgullas in a bowl along with sugar syrup. Wait for at least couple of hours before eating so that the rasgullas get time to soak in all the sweetness.

    Tips

    • Rasgullas should always be made on a high temperature
    • Sugar syrup must froth all the time
    • Sprinkle water little at a time approximately 1tsp. at a time when boiling in sugar syrup

    Friday, October 26, 2012

    Pasta Salad with Shrimp and Vegetables

    IMG_3941This super easy one pot meal is perfect for days when you don’t feel like spending too much time in the kitchen. This particular recipe involves very little cooking and is my default take away lunch for a day picnic and potlucks when I can’t think of anything extraordinary creative.

    Ingredients

    1. 8oz. penne pasta
    2. 2 medium red onion thinly sliced
    3. 2medium carrot diced
    4. 1/2 cup button mushroom thickly sliced
    5. 1 medium broccoli cut into small florets
    6. 1/2lb. shrimp meat
    7. 2tbsp. finely chopped garlic
    8. 1tsp. roughly chopped parsley (You can use basil or oregano instead)
    9. Black pepper powder to taste
    10. Salt
    11. 1tbsp. butter
    12. 2tbsp. extra virgin olive oil

    Procedure

    Cook the pasta as per package directions. Don’t overcook because you want your pasta to hold their shape. Once cooked drain water and rinse in cold water to immediately stop the cooking process. Transfer the pasta into a big mixing bowl.

    Melt butter in a pan and add chopped garlic to it. Allow it to become light brown before you add all chopped vegetables and shrimp to it. Sauté the vegetables on high heat for about 2 minutes.Remove and bring them to the room temperature.

    Add sautéed vegetables and shrimp to the mixing bowl. Add all the seasoning ( Salt, pepper powder ) and olive oil. Toss well with a spatula to coat evenly.

    Your one pot meal is ready to be served.

    IMG_3943

    Wednesday, October 24, 2012

    Kucho Nimki

    IMG_5770

    Once Durga pujo is over the custom is to visit friends, family and neighbors to wish each other on Bijoya Dashomi. We touch our elders feet, bless the younger ones and embrace our peers with heartfelt good wishes. Visitors are offered various savory snacks, one of the most common being home made kucho Nimki. These are salty diamond shaped snacks.

    Ingredients for dough

    1. 2 cups of regular flour ( Maida )
    2. 2tsp. oil
    3. 1tsp. salt
    4. 1/2tsp. sugar
    5. 1 tsp. kalonji (Nigella seeds)
    6. 1/2 cup of water approximately

    For Frying

    1. 2 cups of white oil or any refined oil

    Procedure

    IMG_5758IMG_5761IMG_5762IMG_5764

    In a mixing bowl take all ingredients other than the water. Now mix everything well using your finger tips till the mixture looks like bread crumbs.

    Add water little at a time and knead the dough. Knead till you get a stiff and smooth dough.It will take around 5-6 minutes of kneading to get the desired one.

    Cover the dough with a damp cloth and allow it to rest for 30 minutes.

    Before you start rolling knead the dough once more. Dust the working surface which you are using to roll the dough into circles. Divide the dough into 5-6 equal portions and roll them out really thin one by one.

    Now using sharp knife cut each circle into small diamonds.

    In a wok or kadai heat oil for deep frying and fry the diamonds in batches. Fry on medium high heat till the sides turn brown.

    Remove them with a slotted spoon and drain them on a paper towel. Store in an airtight container once it cools down.

    You are now all set to receive guests for Bijoya Dashomi. 

    Subho Bijoya with Narkel Naru

    IMG_5803Durga pujo is over and this is the time to wish each other on Bijoya Dashomi. After bidding farewell to Ma Durga with sweet and sindoor (vermilion), we touch our elders feet, bless the younger ones and embrace our peers with heartfelt good wishes. It is a time for family reunion, to renew bonding with friends and relatives. This is not just a celebration of the triumph of good over evil but also a wish that Ma Durga will bring fulfillment and prosperity in the upcoming year. And then we do what Bongs are famous for. We eat, which can not be completed without nakel naru and nimki.

    Narkel Narus are of two kinds. The gure’r naru is the one made with sugar cane jaggery and deep brown in color.The other one chinir naru is made with sugar, this is the one I cover in this post. The availability of frozen grated coconut and condensed milk saved me from the painstaking process of grating coconut and reducing the whole milk to its 1/4th volume.

    Ingredients

    1. 1lb. grated coconut (I used frozen)
    2. 300 ml. sweetened condensed milk
    3. 1 cup whole milk
    4. 2tbsp. crushed roasted peanuts

    Procedure

    In a thick bottom pan take the grated coconut and stir around for about 5-6 minutes. Add whole milk and condensed milk to it and mix well. Keep on stirring on low heat.

    The mixture will soon become thicker and you can see bubbles coming up on the sides. Keep mixing while scrapping off the bottom frequently. I prefer to use a nonstick pan for this process.

    It takes 10-15 minutes for the mixture to get cooked.

    Turn the heat off and add crushed peanuts to it. Mix once again.

    Allow the mixture to cool down.  Naru becomes harder when it is cooled. So start making them when the mixture is still warm.

    Grease your palms with little ghee and make ping-pong sized balls using your palm.

    Keep them on a plate. Once they are completely cooled transfer them in an airtight container. Remember theses narus contain milk and hence their shelf life is less.

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