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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.

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Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Kucho Nimki

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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

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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.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Mango Kheer

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The count down is over now and Durga Puja is onto us. The usual cues of blue skies and fluffy white clouds are missing and so is the sound of dhaak from the local pandal. Instead we have the stinging cold air and thousand shades of gray covering the Seattle sky.

The childhood memories of gathering shiuli flowers before puja, the endless hours of deciding which new clothes to wear on which day, the smell of new clothes and shoes, the time spent with friends and family at the puja pandal all seemed so unreal as we drove towards Rama Krishna Math near Seattle to attend our local puja.

However, as we arrived at Tapovan (the temple) everything suddenly seemed like the same. Women were shivering but still flaunting their saris, everyone was in their best attires. There was a huge queue in front to get into the pandal to offer pushpanjali. My daughter confusedly asked, “is this the airport that we need to take off our shoes?”.

The queue infront of the food stalls were even longer. Even though it was a pot-luck, most people including me had got the same Khichuri and Labra. Some had got some nice sweets as well. I kind of felt bad about not doing the same. I had made some Aam (mango) kheer couple of days back and realized it would’ve gone really well. Maybe that’s what I’ll get next time.

Sharadiya Subhecha to all my readers.

Ingredients

  1. 1 lit full cream milk
  2. 1 can sweetened condensed milk
  3. 1/2 cup sugar
  4. 1 cup mango pulp (I used canned one, you can make your fresh mango pulp as well )
  5. Few cubes of fresh mango

Procedure

Take milk in a heavy bottom pan and bring it to a boil. Keep on thickening the milk till it reduces to half of its initial volume. While doing so stir it continuously to avoid scalding at the bottom of the pan. Also control the temperature so that the milk does not froth over.

Remove the pan from heat an bring it to room temperature.

Now add condensed milk to it and stir.Taste it. If you think the sweet level is less adjust by adding sugar to it. If you are planning to add canned mango pulp, add less sugar. Refrigerate and chill.

When it is cooled add the mango pulp and swirl. Pour in dessert bowl and garnish with the cubes of mango.

Friday, October 19, 2012

Egg Curry

IMG_8758Last week my daughter carried back some exquisite virus from the local sickness exchange center (also known as school). One by one all of us got knocked down like dominos.

So when I went down, my husband made some egg curry from the crude recipe I blurted out. I was told that the results were pretty good. I cannot really comment as I couldn’t taste or smell anything. However, Shreya our resident expert who is 3 year old and unforgiving in her opinions said that she really liked it.

Since I didn’t really have good egg recipes in my blog, I asked him to take photos all the way. I guess he did a decent job of it, what do you think?

Ingredients

  1. IMG_56256 hard boiled eggs
  2. 8 baby potatoes peeled
  3. 1 large onion finely chopped
  4. 1 tsp. ginger paste
  5. 1tbsp. garlic paste
  6. 1 large tomato roughly chopped
  7. 1tsp. turmeric powder
  8. 1tbsp. kashmiri red chili powder (You can use paprika powder as well)
  9. 1 tsp. sugar
  10. Salt to taste
  11. 1/2 tsp. Bengali garam masala powder
  12. For tempering
    1. 2 bay leaves
    2. Whole garam masala ( Pound it in a mortar and pestle)
      1. 1” cinnamon
      2. 2 green cardamoms
      3. 2 cloves

Procedure

IMG_5611Heat mustard oil in a pan and add boiled eggs. Fry the eggs on high heat. Wait till one side is fried properly before you turn them over. Remove with a slotted spoon when both sides turn brown.

To the oil add bay leaves and bruised whole garam masala. Sauté for a second before you add chopped onion to it. Fry the onions till they are light brown. Now add baby potatoes followed by ginger garlic paste. Fry everything together till you see oil separates out from the gravy.

Add chopped tomato, turmeric and chili powder. Mix well and cook it covered for 4-5 minutes. By this time tomatoes will become mushy. Add salt and sugar to it.

Drop the fried eggs and give a nice mix. Add water depending on the gravy you want and cook it covered till potatoes are tender.

Turn off the heat and add garam masala powder.

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Thursday, October 18, 2012

Chicken Tikka Wrap

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I had made chicken tikka the day before we were flying to Boston to meet up with some friends. Flight food is bad everywhere but the food served on the US flights are pathetic. Travelling to the East coast from the West is upwards of 7 hours of flying and so I decided to make some quick take away food. I wrapped the chicken tikka I made, in tortillas. They turned out to be a great option and I think I’ll be able to pack it for my daughter’s school lunch as well.

Ingredients

  1. 4, 10” flour tortillas
  2. 2tbsp. grated cheese (I used cheddar)
  3. 4 skewers of chicken tikka
  4. 4 leaves of iceberg lettuce
  5. 4tbsp. thick curd or plain Greek yogurt
  6. 4tbsp. green chutney (You can use mayonnaise or ranch dressing instead)
  7. Salt

Procedure

In a bowl stir together yogurt and green chutney. Season with salt.
Place tortillas on a flat counter and start building up the layers. Spread yogurt mix just enough to cover the surface.Top with lettuce, one skewer of chicken tikka. Don’t forget to take out the skewer from the chicken. Drizzle a spoon of yogurt mixture over it.
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Carefully fold one side over and roll it up tightly. Place the wrap on a plate with the seam side underneath and cut into halves.
Your lunch box is all set to go!

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Bengali Style Malpua

IMG_5720Bengali sweets are the best in India. If you have any doubt take it up with our Rasgolla, Chamcham and Sandesh. Even though Malpua is a generic Indian sweet which every region prepares differently, the Bengali version stands apart with a distinct taste of fennel and its crispiness. In the Northern parts of India Malpua is made out of khoya and maida whereas in Bengali household suji or semolina is used instead.

Couple of days back one of my cousins called up to get the recipe. I made the crispy malpuas which are immediately taken out after a quick dip in sugar syrup. You may also soak them for awhile and make a more soft and soggy version.

Ingredients For Batter

  1. 1/2 cup maida or all purpose flour

  2. 1/2 cup suji or semolina

  3. 1tsp. sugar

  4. 1tbsp. fennel seeds crushed

  5. 300ml. evaporated milk (If you are using whole milk, take 500ml of the milk and thicken the milk to 300ml. by boiling) 

Ingredients for sugar syrup

  1. 1 cup water
  2. 1 cup sugar
  3. 2-3 whole green cardamoms

Ingredients for frying

  1. Oil for deep frying

Procedure

In a mixing bowl take all the ingredients listed under “Ingredients For Batter” and mix it well so that there are no lumps inside it. If you feel this is too thick add little milk.

Allow it to rest for 1-2 hrs.

In a saucepan take sugar, water and  cardamom pods and  boil them together till you get  a syrup of one thread consistency (thin consistency).

In a frying pan heat sufficient oil for deep frying.

Pour a ladleful of batter in the oil to form a small pancake of 2” – 2.5” diameter.

Fry on medium heat. Cook one side then flip it over.

When both sides turn brown remove them with a slotted spoon and immediately immerse in sugar syrup. Leave it for maximum 30seconds.

Remove and serve hot.

Monday, October 15, 2012

French Toast

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French toast used to be our default, no-brainer snacks when we were kids. If we came back home with a bunch of friends after an evening game, or if a neighbor made a sudden visit, it was always French toast that saved the day. Very tasty yet, extremely easy to make, I use it even now when my 7 year old monster demands “snaky snaky!!”.

Apparently the French has two variant of this. A sweet version is made with egg, milk, sugar and cinnamon. We however, have their savory version which is made with egg, salt and spices.

Ingredients

  1. 2 slices of sandwich breads
  2. 2 eggs
  3. 1tbsp. finely chopped onion
  4. 1tsp. finely chopped green chilies
  5. 1/2tsp. chopped ginger
  6. 1tsp. chopped cilantro
  7. Salt to taste
  8. Oil for deep frying

Procedure

Cut bread slices into squares or triangles according to your choice. In a bowl whisk two eggs with salt, onion, ginger, green chili and cilantro.

In a wok heat enough oil for deep frying. Now dunk each pieces of bread into the egg mixture and carefully slide it in the hot oil. Fry till both sides turn light brown.

Remove with a slotted spoon and drain them on paper towel.

Serve hot with some ketchup as an evening snack.

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Sunday, October 14, 2012

Chaanar Payesh

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Ganesha with Mother DurgaLet me start by wishing all my readers Subha Mahalaya.
Today is Mahalaya, which signifies the start of the fortnight long celebration of Durga Puja at our home. Mahalaya is very significant to Bongs. It marks the day, the schools close for Durga Puja. The roads are choked with gazillions of people putting in their final effort to close the pujo shopping. Frantic efforts to finish the extravagant pandals, lighting gets underway.
In our childhood the morning of Mahalaya used to start at four to listen to Mahisasuramardini on the All India Radio. In this digital age many of these customs are losing it’s meaning. You can now stream mahisasuramardini at your own convenience, at any place and time, like from this site. It’s hard for our kids to imagine the ritual of getting up so early in the morning just to listen to a radio program.
Like most households our home also got into festive mood on that day. Since it was a holiday for my mom, she made lots of great stuff for us. One of the regulars used to be Chanar Paayesh (Cottage Cheese Pudding). Here goes the recipe.

Ingredients

  1. 1+1 liter full cream milk
  2. 1/4th cup granulated sugar
  3. 1/4th cup lemon juice or synthetic vinegar
  4. 1/2 tsp. cardamom powder
  5. Few pistachios and almond finely chopped

Procedure

In a heavy bottom pan take one liter of milk and bring it to a boil. When the milk rises to its surface slowly add lemon juice or vinegar to it and turn off the heat. Stir it well to mix. You will see the milk curdles and gets separated from the yellowish green whey.
Keep a strainer lined with a cheesecloth ready. Pour the curdled milk over it to strain the whey . You will see that the paneer or chana is collected in the cheesecloth. Pour one or two glasses of cold water over it to wash any residual sourness and the flavor of lemon out of it.
Tie the four corners of the cheesecloth and hang it from your water faucet for about half an hour.
In a separate thick bottom pan start boiling the rest of the milk and keep stirring continuously to avoid scalding. Lower the heat and let it cook for about half an hour. It will become a shade darker than its original milky white.
Add strained chaana or paneer to it and keep stirring to mix everything well. Let the paneer cook in the milk for 10 minutes. Add sugar and mix well. Taste and adjust accordingly. Remove from heat and sprinkle cardamom powder. Garnish with chopped pistachio and almonds.
Chill before you serve.

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Egg Korma

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The surprise birthday party dinner my husband threw for me was all good, but for the egg kurma. I didn’t like it and it left me craving for some great egg korma.

A long long time back my mom had made egg korma for my birthday. I could almost visualize the eggs partially submerged in a creamy, fragrant, silky sauce which had layers of flavors. Mild but still redolent with spices, that korma was the best that I ever had.

After all this craving I decided to go ahead and make myself some of that korma.

Ingredients

  1. 5 eggs hardboiled
  2. 2tbsp. boiled onion paste
  3. 1tsp. ginger garlic paste
  4. 1tsp. green chili paste
  5. 2tbsp. cashew paste
  6. 1/2 cup plain yogurt
  7. Mint leave (optional)
  8. 1tsp. sugar
  9. salt to taste
  10. Oil
  11. Tempering
    1. 1tsp. whole black pepper corn
    2. 3,4 whole dry red chilies
    3. 2 green cardamom
    4. 2,3 cloves
    5. 1” cinnamon stick

Procedure

Heat oil in a kadai or wok and temper it with all ingredients listed under tempering. When the oil becomes fragrant remove dry chilies and keep it reserved for garnishing. Add onion and ginger garlic paste to it. Fry on low heat till the spices turn light brown and the raw smell goes off.

In a mixing bowl mix yogurt with cashew and green chili paste. Pour the yogurt mixture over the fried spices. Add boiled eggs to it and fry together till each egg is well coated with spices.

Add 1 cup of warm water and crank up the heat. Season with salt and sugar. Simmer till the gravy is thick and oil floats over the surface. Sprinkle 1/2tsp. garam masala powder and dried mint leaves and garnish with fried red chilies.

Serve with luchi, parantha, Biryani or pulao. 

Friday, October 12, 2012

Chicken Tikka

IMG_9098Chicken tikka is one of the most famous of the Indian kebabs. Tikka means bits, pieces or small chunks. It is made out of boneless chicken breast pieces. The grilled marinated chicken pieces has an intoxicating taste and a lovely smoky flavor.

Summer in Seattle is gorgeous and we do not waste any chance to enjoy it to the fullest. When we first moved to these Northern latitudes my daughter was plenty confused when she was asked to eat dinner with sun shinning brightly in the sky. We had a hard time convincing her, as she still hadn’t learned to read the clock and vigorously indicating that the hour hand is past eight didn’t help. Now she makes us head to the nearest park for dinner and we happily agree. Nothing like firing up charcoal in the park grills and making some awesome kebabs.

These kebabs turn out great on gas grills or electrical oven as well, however, the smoky taste is stronger when made on charcoal.

In restaurants you’d find the bright orange kebabs which is made using food coloring. I avoid such additives, if you want you can add food coloring to the marinade.

Ingredients For First Marinade

  1. 1lb.boneless chicken cubes from breast
  2. 1tsp. ginger paste
  3. 1tsp. garlic paste
  4. 1tsp. kashmiri chili powder (paprika powder)
  5. 1tsp. lime juice
  6. Salt

In a mixing bowl take all the ingredients and mix well so the chicken pieces are nicely coated. Marinate in the refrigerator for 30 minutes.

Ingredients for second marinade

  1. 2tbsp. besan (Bengal gram flour, available in US on amazon as well)
  2. 1tsp. carom seed (optional)
  3. 2tbsp. thick curd (Yogurt)
  4. 1tsp. ginger garlic paste
  5. 1tsp. Kashmiri chili powder (Paprika powder)
  6. 2+1tbsp. mustard oil
  7. Ghee (Clarified butter For basting)
  8. Salt

Heat 1tbsp. oil in a pan  and temper it with carom seed. Add Bengal gram flour to it. Fry on medium heat till you get a nutty aroma. Remove and keep aside.

In a separate bowl whisk yogurt with the fried Besan and other ingredients. Give a taste check and adjust salt accordingly.

Add 2tbsp. of mustard oil to the marinade and mix. Now add the chicken cubes to this yogurt mixture and marinate for at least 2 to 3 hours. Overnight marination in the refrigerator works best.

For Grilling

  1. Skewers (metal or bamboo)
  2. Onions cut into squares
  3. Ghee (clarified butter) for basting
  4. If you have access to, use oil sprays like PAM Oil Spray (optional)

If you are using bamboo skewers soak them in water for 30 minutes. It will prevent them from catching fire in the grill.

Preheat the oven at 375F, for gas grills or covered charcoal grills turn up the heat and close the lid so that temperature reaches this. For open charcoal grills use your own judgment.

Now skewer the marinated chicken pieces and onions alternately. Spread them for uniform cooking.

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For Electric Oven (or combination microwave): Grease a roasting tray and place the skewers on it. Drizzle ghee, or spray oil over the kebabs and grill for 10 minutes and then turn them over. Spray or drizzle some more oil or ghee and roast for another 10 minutes.

For Gas or Charcoal Grill: Place the skewers on the grill, drizzle with ghee. Frequently turn it over and if you have, use the oil spray frequently ensuring that the kebabs do not dry up. Repeat for around 15mins

You can serve them directly on the skewers with some mint chutney and salad.

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Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Chingri or Prawn Paturi

IMG_3169Paturi means cooking something wrapped in fresh leaves, generally in plantain leaves. Traditionally the wrapped parcels used to be placed inside the pan of steaming freshly cooked rice. The steam provided enough heat to cook the paturi.

Prawn paturi has become one of the mainstay of authentic Bengali spread. When the tender prawns are cooked inside a plantain leaf with mustard, coconut paste, slender green chilies and golden yellow mustard oil, it takes you to such a height that every other food looks ordinary.

Ingredients

  1. 1 lb. medium sized prawns cleaned
  2. 1 tsp. black mustard seeds
  3. 1 tsp. yellow mustard seeds
  4. 3 tbsp. shredded coconut fresh or frozen
  5. 7,8 Green chilies
  6. 1 tsp. turmeric powder
  7. Mustard oil ( this is one of the key ingredients of this recipe, so please don’t substitute it with any other oil ) 
  8. Salt
  9. Sugar 
  10. Plantain leaf (You can use pumpkin leaf as well if you don’t get it ) 
  11. kitchen twine

Procedure

Wash the prawns and rub it with turmeric and salt.

In a blender add mustard seeds, shredded coconut, 2 green chilies and a pinch of salt. Make a smooth paste of all these ingredients by adding very little water to it.

Transfer the content in a mixing bowl and taste if the salt and sugar is properly  balanced or not. Adjust them as desired.

Now dip the prawns in this marinade so that each of them are well coated with the spice paste.

Once it is done add 2 tbsp. of mustard oil to it and let it rest for 15 minutes.

Cut the banana leaves into rectangular pieces. You can swipe them over the flame or can dip them in hot water for 2-3 minutes to make them more pliable.

Rub little mustard oil on the glossy sides of each  leaves

Place 2-3 prawns along with mustard paste in the center of the leaf. Place one green chili on top of it and fold the sides by overlapping each other to make a parcel. Secure them by tying each of them with kitchen twine.

If you have a steamer steam the parcels for 10 minutes. I don’t have, so I made them in microwave. Arrange the parcels in  single layer in a microwave safe dish and cook it in full power for 10 minutes.

Cut the thread to open the parcel before serving.

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Monday, October 8, 2012

Chaal Kopi

 

IMG_2297Bongs lives in a Bi-Focal world. They classify Indians into two categories. Bengalis and Non-Bengalis. After I left Kolkata whenever I was invited to so called Non Bengali friend’s home I used to get surprised that they use onion, garlic in their vegetarian food. It took me some time to explain to them that whenever we call some food vegetarian It is devoid of onions and garlic.

Chaal kopi is a vegetarian twist to the more popular Muri-Ghonto. When Bongs are forced to eat vegetarian due to some custom or festival, this is a common option, especially in winter when the fresh cauliflower hits the markets.

Ingredients

  1. 1 cauliflower cut into big florets
  2. 1 large potato cut into big cubes
  3. 4 green chilies cut lengthwise
  4. 1/2 cup fresh or frozen green peas
  5. 4 tbsp. jeera rice or gobindobhog rice soaked in water for 30 minutes
  6. 1 tbsp. grated ginger
  7. 1/2 tsp. cumin powder
  8. 1/2 tsp. coriander powder
  9. 1 tsp. turmeric powder
  10. 2 tbsp. golden raisins
  11. 1 tsp. sugar
  12. 1 tsp. ghee ( clarified butter )
  13. Salt to taste
  14. Oil
  15. For Tempering
    1. 1tsp. whole cumin seed 
    2. 2,3 bay leaves ( Tejpatta ) 
    3. 2 green cardamoms 
    4. 1 inch cinnamon stick 
    5. 2 cloves

Procedure

IMG_2259Heat oil in a pan and add cauliflower florets and potato cubes to it. Shallow fry them on medium heat till they take a light golden hue. Remove and keep them on a paper towel.

In the same oil add all the ingredients listed under tempering. Once they stop sputtering add grated ginger, green chilies, soaked rice and raisins to it. If you are adding fresh peas, add now (for frozen peas see later).  Fry them on low heat for 3-4 minutes. Soon you will get the fantastic aroma of the fried rice and spices.

Add the fried cauliflower and potato pieces to it. Season with salt and sugar. Sprinkle turmeric, coriander and cumin powder over it. Fry them all together till the raw smell goes away and oil separates out from the spices. If required add little water for this process.

Here the rice will be cooked along with the vegetables so we need to  be careful about the quantity of the water.Add water to it so that all the veggies are partially submerged. Cook it covered on low heat till the vegetables are done. It is better to check in between to avoid overcooking because in this dish we want to keep the cauliflower florets intact.

If you are adding frozen peas, add them now.

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Remove the lid and add 1 tsp. of ghee to it. If you are a health freak restrict the quantity to 1/4 tsp., but please don’t avoid it completely.

Enjoy with roti, parantha or rice. 

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Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Surprise!!!!

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Life is eventful, sometimes a bit too much so. For my Birthday this year, my husband promised an uneventful, lazy day where the bongcook didn’t have to enter the kitchen. Bus driver’s vacation is the last thing I wanted.

My daughter like any other seven years old, lives from Birthday to Birthday. The whole year goes by in planning of her upcoming Birthday, even if that is 10 months away. She also thinks that everyone like her is equally looking forward to that; even people on the wrong side of thirty. So all week she was jumping like a puppy and dragging her dad to the store to buy “supplies” which consisted of balloons and lots of streamers.

The “uneventful day” started by me being whiskered away for an early morning breakfast at our favorite water front Beach Café. After some great American breakfast and Italian coffee we were back by noon. Lunch was late and my husband allowed me a ration of just Greek Gyro salad. We were slowly moving across the globe towards home. I was told to not quench my “sparrow’s appetite” and keep room for the dinner.

By evening I was a tad disappointed to know that all that was left of the special day was to dress up and head to yet another restaurant. It was as if the whole birthday was all about eating.

In the evening instead of heading out to the garage we headed out towards our apartment’s clubhouse and pool area. I kind of guessed that maybe we will get into some limo which he was talking about.

Just in front of the club house clubhouse we decided to get some coke from the vending machine. It was kind of dark in there, a bit too dark!

My daughter had already started the usual chant of “Fanta for me, Fanta for me” and then there was a shrill cacophony “Surprise!!!” screamed 30 people. I had entered the trap, it was a surprise party for me and all my friends who had apparently forgotten to wish me from the morning were there.

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I was happy, amazed and shocked at the same time, the later emotion kinda won and I stood there frozen. This was the first real birthday bash that I ever had and it was legend……(wait for it)  ……ary.

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The clubhouse was decorated with balloons, streamers and flowers. My friends were all there and my husband had somehow managed to order Bong food from a caterer all the way up here in the US. He said there can only be bong-food to celebrate the BongCook’s birthday. No rosogolla no party!

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The intricate dance around this party slowly revealed. Apparently the kids were only let into the secret couple of hours before the party as they have phenomenal networking skill and the ability to leak information.

Though the party was organized by my husband, I could see the hands of all my friends on it. From the menu, to the decoration to the invitee list. Everything was just right.

IMG_5527My friends got me amazing bakeware, cookbooks and other related stuff. I realized they know me so well that they got me the exact things which I’d just love to have. Even if I tried, I wouldn’t be able to get anything better for myself. The kids got me flowers, played “Happy Birthday” on Mandolin, everything was just so nice.

 

IMG_5511-EditThe menu was

  1. Fresh mango cake
  2. Fruits
  3. Phool kopir singara (cauliflower Samosa)
  4. Vegetable biriyani
  5. Paratha
  6. Daal
  7. Malai Kofta
  8. Egg Korma
  9. Chicken Kosa
  10. Rosogolla

In spite of the great food, my daughter was not eating and sitting in a corner with tears in her eyes. On asking she said “I am so happy mama, tears are pouring out”. She was way more happier than me.

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At the end of the party a small voice quipped, “where’s the return gift aunty”. A big oops moment for the host who had forgotten about this. But I promise people will get their return gift cooked on/with their gifts very soon.

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Monday, October 1, 2012

Desi Asparagus Curry

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One of the better aspects of living in a different part of the world is that I can blend the local produce with our traditional Indian cooking. Asparagus was not a part of my regular Indian cooking. My daughter picked up the taste of steamed asparagus at school. I initially started using it with continental main course. However, having recently read an article about the goodness of this vegetable I decided to introduce it into our regular food.

You can try this with okra as well.

Ingredients

  1. 1 bunch asparagus
  2. 1 medium onion coarsely chopped
  3. 2 medium tomatoes finely chopped
  4. 1 tsp. grated ginger
  5. 1 tsp. grated garlic
  6. 2 tbsp. scrapped coconut
  7. 1 tsp. turmeric powder
  8. 1 tp. chili powder
  9. 1 tsp. mixed masala powder made by dry roasting and coarsely grinding
    1. 1 tsp. whole cumin seed
    2. 1 tsp. whole fennel seed
    3. 1 tsp. fenugreek seed
  10. For Tempering
    1. 1/2 tsp. whole cumin seed 
    2. 1/2 tsp. fennel seed 
    3. 1/2 tsp. fenugreek seed
  11. 1 tsp. sugar
  12. 2-3 tbsp. oil
  13. Salt to taste

Procedure

Wash asparagus and trim off the hard bottom part. Now cut them into bite size pieces.

Heat oil in a pan and temper it with all the whole dry spices listed under tempering. Let the spices sizzle for a while before you add chopped onion to it. Sauté on medium heat till they turn pink. Add grated ginger,garlic,coconut and fry on low heat for about a  minute or two.

When you get the nice aroma of fried ginger and garlic add asparagus to it. Sprinkle turmeric and chili powder. Fry everything together on high heat for a minute.

Add chopped tomatoes and season with salt and sugar. Mix them really well. Cook it covered on medium heat for till the asparagus becomes tender. Remove the lid and cook it on medium high heat till the moisture dries up completely.

Turn off the heat and sprinkle a teaspoon full of roasted dry spice powder. Keep it covered till you serve to retain all the flavor.

Enjoy it with hot phulkas.

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