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Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Christmas Fruit Cake

IMG_3142One of my friends invited me to her home for Christmas and I planned to bake a cake for everyone. I generally make Christmas cake by soaking dry fruits in Rum. Since there were a few kids around I decided to make the cake alcohol free. Also this recipe doesn't need you to soak the dry fruits in advance and therefore doesn’t need prior planning. Bake it, when you need it!

Ingredients

  • 1 and 1/2 cup roughly chopped dry fruits (plum, black raisins, apricot, cherries, orange zest, almonds)
  • 250 ml. of orange juice
  • 250 ml. apple juice
  • 3 tsp. rum flavor
  • 1 tsp. baking powder
  • 1 and 1/2 cup all purpose flour
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 100 gm. butter at room temperature
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tsp. spice powder ( 1 tiny piece of cinnamon, 2 cloves and 1tiny piece nutmeg ground to a fine powder)

Procedure

In a sauce pan mix half of orange and apple juice and stir well. Add chopped dry fruit mixture to it and simmer them in a low flame till all the juices are dried up. Turn off the heat and allow it to cool. Now add 1tsp. of rum flavor to it and mix well.

Take out two table-spoons of fruit mixture and smear them with a spoon of dry all purpose flour.

In a separate bowl sift  all dry ingredients ( flour, baking powder and spice powder) together.

Now in a big mixing bowl cream butter with sugar till fluffy. Now add egg one by one and continue to beat until completely integrated. Pour the rest of the apple juice and 1 tsp. rum flavor to it and mix once again. Now add dry flour and dry fruit mixture to this batter and gently fold into it.

Grease a 10 inch nonstick loaf pan and spoon the cake mixture. Sprinkle the dry fruits that you have separated out on top.

Bake it for an hour in a preheated oven at 375F.

Remove cake from oven and place on cooling rack. In a cup mix rest of the orange juice with 1 tsp. rum flavor. Baste the top with this mixture and allow to cool completely before you turn it over. 

Store the cake in an airtight container or eat fresh.

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Monday, December 23, 2013

Chicken Manchurian (Hyderabad Style)

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Old Hyderabad is littered with small bakeries that along with cakes and biscuits serve this mind blowingly spicy, yet yummy Chicken and Gobi “manchuri” (as they call it). I am sure they have nothing to do with real manchurian or the similar named region in China.

One of the places we used to visit was in Ameerpet close to Jayadurga furnishing which was one of my favorite hang outs. They were served in small plastic cups and a toothpick to pick them up. I have tried to recreate them to help combat the freezing weather here. The only difference is I have refrained from using food colors (which unfortunately is copiously used in Hyderabad).

Ingredients

  • 1lb. boneless chicken breast cut into bite sized pieces
  • 1 tbsp. ginger garlic paste
  • 1 tbsp. Kashmiri red chili powder
  • 1 tbsp. red chili powder
  • 2 tbsp. lemon juice
  • 2 tbsp. all purpose flour
  • 2 tbsp. rice flour
  • Salt
  • 1 large onion thinly sliced
  • 1/2 green bell pepper thinly sliced
  • 1 tbsp. minced garlic
  • 3 tbsp. green chilies finely chopped
  • 1/4 cup chopped cilantro
  • Few curry leaves
  • 1 tsp. corn starch
  • Oil

Procedure

In a mixing bowl mix chicken pieces with ginger garlic paste, chili powder, lemon juice and salt. Marinade the mixture for half an hour. Now sprinkle all purpose flour and rice flour on it and mix well.

Heat oil for deep frying in a pan and add chicken pieces into it. Fry till they turn crispy. Remove and drain them on a paper towel.

In a frying pan take two tbsp. oil and heat it up. Add minced garlic. fry on low heat for a minute and then add onion and bell pepper slices to it. Fry them on high heat  for a minute or two. Don’t over cook them as we want their crispy texture.

Now to this add fried chicken pieces and toss them well with fried onion and bell pepper. if required sprinkle salt now. Mix once again.

Dissolve corn starch into 2tbsp. water and sprinkle over the chicken mixture. Immediately remove the pan from heat. Add chopped green chilies, cilantro and curry leaves over it and toss them really well.

Serve them in small cups and enjoy. 

Friday, December 20, 2013

Tandoori Chicken Stuffed Potato Bun

 IMG_1963

This year winter is very different here in Pacific Northwest. It’s super cold and barely getting above freezing for weeks at a time, rainfall has been less than 50% of normal. The dry freeze is not being kind to my tropical being. However, nothing can be done against the weather, other than off course making something warm, yummy and feast on it. I made something “hatke”, a fusion of Indian tandoori chicken and western potato bun. Hope you like it my dear readers.

Ingredients For Stuffing

  • 2 cups boneless chicken cut into tiny pieces
  • 1/2 cup chopped onion
  • 1 tsp. ginger garlic paste
  • 1 tsp. chicken tandoori masala
  • 1 tsp. gram masala powder
  • 1 tsp. finely chopped cilantro
  • salt
  • Oil
     

Ingredients For Bun

  • 1 pkg. active yeast
  • 1/3 cup warm water
  • 1 tbsp. honey
  • 1 cup boiled and mashed potato
  • 4 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 and 1/2 cup milk
  • 3 tbsp. butter
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1 egg for brushing 

Procedure

In a pan heat 2-3 tbsp. oil. Add chopped onion and fry it turns golden brown.

Add chicken pieces along with ginger garlic paste and salt. Sauté till the raw smell goes away.

Sprinkle chicken tandoori masala powder and garam masala powder and keep stirring on low heat till oil separates out. By this time chicken will be cooked. Sprinkle chopped cilantro and remove fro heat.

In a cup dissolve yeast in warm water and stir well.(The water should be around 40 C. Its better to use a food thermometer. If you don’t have try to feel it. You should be able to comfortably dip your finger in it till 10 count.) Keep them aside for five minutes.

In another mixing bowl mix milk with honey, butter and salt. Pour yeast water to it and stir well. Add flour and mashed potato to it. Mix well with a spatula till it forms a dough. Knead ten minutes. Apply oil over the entire surface and cover it with a kitchen towel. Let it rest for an hour in a warm place till it doubles its volume. I keep it inside my oven with the oven light on.

After one hour when the dough rises up punch it gently and divide it into equal 10 – 12 portions.

Make round ball with each of the portions. Flatten each ball and stuff it with 2tbsp. of chicken mixture. Cover the stuffing and again give it a round shape. Repeat this process with the rest of the balls.

Preheat oven at 375F.

Arrange the stuffed balls on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Beat the egg and brush the top surface of each bun with this egg wash. This will give the buns a rich golden color. sprinkle some chopped cilantro on it.

Bake it for 12 – 15 minutes or until they get a nice golden color. Take them out of the oven and brush them with butter to give a nice glossy look.

Tandoori Chicken Stuffed Potato bun is ready to be served.

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Sunday, December 8, 2013

Vanilla Cookie

IMG_0819DrawingRoom-4

One of our dear friends gave us a customized “Basu families Jar of yumminess” as a present. It now occupies the central position of our drawing room. Unfortunately it sometimes disappoints the little ones as it remains empty. I thought of rectifying it for the holidays by filling them with simple Vanilla Cookies.

Ingredients

  • 1and 3/4 cup all purpose flour
  • 100gms. unsalted butter
  • 100gms. powdered sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 10 – 15 almonds and pistachio roughly chopped

Procedure

Heat oven to 375 F. In a mixing bowl the butter at room temperature and sugar. Cream it with a electric mixture. Add egg, vanilla extract and continue beating.

Fold the mixture in refined flour and mix well. Scrape the sides when required.

IMG_0817Put the mixture in a piping bag fitted with your favorite nozzle. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and pipe out cookies on it. Sprinkle chopped almond and pistachio.

You can give them a shape of your choice by using your hand as well.

Bake for 15 – 20 minutes. Remove from oven and cool it off. Store it in an airtight jar.

Friday, November 22, 2013

Dim Posto (Egg in Poppy Seed Paste)

IMG_2104Dim posto is an uncommon bong dish. It’s pretty dry and makes a great lunch with hot steaming rice. I made this with a little twist and added sesame seeds. This is is optional and you can skip and only use poppy seeds.

Ingredients

  • 4 hard boiled eggs shelled
  • 1 red onion thinly sliced
  • 5-6 green chilies slit lengthwise
  • 1 tsp. turmeric powder
  • 4 tbsp. posto (poppy seed)
  • 2 tbsp. til (Sesame seed)
  • Salt to taste
  • Mustard oil

Procedure

First dry grind poppy seed and sesame seed in a grinder and make a coarse powder of it. Now make a paste of them with a green chili by adding some water.

Smear the boiled eggs with turmeric powder and salt.

Heat 4 tbsp. mustard oil in a pan and fry the eggs on medium heat till they turn golden yellow. Remove the eggs and keep aside.

Add onion slices and green chilies to the same oil and fry them on medium heat for a minute or two. The onions should retain their crunchiness so don’t over cook them.

Now add the poppy seed and sesame seed paste to it. Add boiled eggs and keep sautéing everything till oil gets separated. Add the seasoning and mix once more.

Drizzle one spoon raw mustard oil to get an extra zing. Serve with plain hot rice.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Daab Chingri

IMG_9132 I was super busy due to moving home and it’s aftermath. In the mean time couple of our main festivals went by. Even though I was not able to blog I did manage to make something special. I captured the photos and jotted the recipe down and hopefully now that things are settling down, I will find more time to blog about them.

Daab chingri or green-coconut shrimp needs the coconut to be cut and stuffed. I was struggling hard to open the coconut when my husband jumped in for my aid. He got his drill out and actually dilled holes to finally tame the coconut. It was worth the effort!!

Ingredients

  • 1 young green coconut (In absence of whole coconut you can use young coconut flesh available in the frozen section of Asian store)
  • 15 medium sized prawns deveined
  • 1 tbsp. black and yellow mustard seeds
  • 2 green chilies
  • 1 tsp. kalojeera (Kalonji)
  • 1/4 cup chopped onion
  • 1 tsp. minced garlic
  • 1 tsp. turmeric powder
  • Salt to taste
  • 2-3 tbsp.mustard oil

Procedure

IMG_0759 Make a 2 inch by 2 inch square cut on top of the young coconut. Pour the water in a glass and reserve it for later use. Insert a spoon and scrape off the coconut flesh. Take out the coconut flesh and make a smooth paste of it using the coconut’s water.

If you are using packaged coconut flesh, make a paste of it with little water.

Make another smooth paste of mustard seeds and green chilies.

Heat oil in a pan and temper it with a spoon of kalonji seeds. Add chopped onion and garlic. Fry them on low heat till they turn soft. Be careful not to burn the garlic.

Take clean prawns in a mixing bowl and one by one add turmeric powder, salt, mustard paste and coconut paste to it. At last pour the fried onion and garlic along with its oil. Mix well with a spoon. If required add few spoons of coconut water to it.

Cooking Process 1:

Cut the bottom end of the coconut flat so that it can stand up right.

Stuff the prawn mixture inside the coconut shell and seal the open end. I used folded banana leaves as a sealer, you can use flour dough to seal it. Pre heat oven at 400F and cook it for half an hour inside the oven.

Cooking Process 2:

Transfer the prawn mixture in a steel lunch box. Place the lunch box inside a pressure cooker. Pour 2-3 cups of water in the cooker so that the water level is halfway of the lunch box. Careful not to submerge the lunch box under water.

Close the pressure cooker lid and cook till 2 whistles come. Let the vapour release on its own before you open the lid.

Best enjoyed with plain rice…

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Carrot Sondesh

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Finally I am back after the longest break since I started this blog. We moved to a different house and to another city (in the same area though). The good news is that I have a bigger kitchen and more room to take better photographs. So hopefully I will makeup for the lost time.

Let me re-start blogging for something sweet to mark the occasion.

Ingredients

  • 5-6 large carrots grated
  • 1 cup freshly made chena (Cottage Cheese)
  • 1 cup grated khoya (dried whole milk)
  • 1/2 cup cashew powder
  • 2 black cardamom crushed into powder
  • 1 tsp. saffron soaked in warm milk
  • 3/4 cup sugar (adjust according to your taste)
  • 2tbsp. ghee (clarified Butter)
  • Few chopped almonds,pistachio, saffron and silver leaves for garnishing

Procedure

Heat ghee in a nonstick pan till it melts. Add grated carrot and a spoon of sugar. Sauté on low heat for about five minutes. Turn off the heat and let it cool.

In a mixer grinder take carrot along with chena and khoya and make paste of them.

Transfer the content of the mixer into a non stick pan. Add cashew powder and sugar to it. Sauté on low heat till the mixture comes together and starts leaving the sides of the pan. Sprinkle black cardamom powder and saffron infused milk to it. Turn off the heat and immediately transfer it in a flat plate or tray.

Flatten the mixture with a knife and let it cool down completely. Carefully place the silver leaf on top and garnish it with slices of almond and pistachio. Sprinkle few dry saffron strands and cut them into your favorite shape.

You can store this sweet upto couple of days in the refrigerator.

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Friday, September 13, 2013

Potoler Dorma

IMG_9882This is a traditional Bengali delicacy. Potol also known as parwal or pointed gourd is first de-seeded to create a cavity inside. The potol is first fried, then filled with cooked shrimp and finally served in a gravy.

Ingredient

For Stuffing

  • 8 pieces potol (Pointed Gourd or Parwal)
  • 2 cups shrimps
  • 1 large onion finely chopped
  • 4 cloves of garlic
  • 2 green chilies chopped finely
  • 1/2 tsp. turmeric powder
  • 1/2 tsp. red chili powder  
  • 1 tsp. Bengali garam masala powder
  • 1 tsp. sugar
  • Salt to taste
  • Oil

For Gravy

  • 1 small onion finely chopped
  • 2 tbsp. raisins
  • 1 tsp. ginger paste
  • 1 tsp. garlic paste
  • 1 tsp. turmeric powder
  • 1 tbsp. Kashmiri red chili powder
  • 1/4 cup plain yogurt
  • 1 tsp. sugar
  • Salt to taste
  • 1/2 tsp. Bengali garam masala
  • Whole Garam masala ( 1’ cinnamon, 2 cloves, 2 green cardamom, 1 bay leaf )

Procedure

First scrape the skin of the potols. Don’t peel them. Cut one end and scoop out seeds and flesh from one end with the back of a spoon. The other end will remain closed.

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Wash and pat them real dry. Rub them with salt and turmeric powder and shallow fry them till their outer skin turn soft and golden yellowish. Remove and keep them aside.

Now make the stuffing. Heat 2 spoon oil in a pan and add chopped onion and crushed garlic. Fry on low heat till they turn soft and translucent. Now add shrimp, salt, sugar and all dry spice powder.  This stuffing will be on sweeter side. Add raisins and mix well. The shrimp will release water. Cook them on medium heat till all the water is dried up. Turn off the heat and let it cool down completely.

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Take each potol and carefully stuff them with the shrimp mixture. Keep them aside.

Heat 2 tsp. oil in a pan and fry onion slices along with raisins till they turn golden brown. Remove and allow them to cool. Now make a paste of them.

Heat 2 tbsp. oil in a pan and temper it with crushed whole garam masala. When the oil becomes fragrant add ginger garlic paste along with turmeric and chili powder. Fry on low heat till the raw smell goes away. Now turn off the heat and wait for few minutes before you add yogurt to it, else the yogurt will form tiny lumps in the gravy. Mix yogurt with the spices and turn on the heat. Add fried onion, raisin paste to it and mix well. Keep sautéing till you see oil oozes out of the spices.

Add 1/2 cup of water to it and bring it to a boil. Lower the heat and carefully arrange stuffed potols in it. Let it simmer for a minute or two and then turn the heat off. Add a spoonful of ghee and sprinkle garam masala powder.

Best enjoyed with rice, and ghee bhat. 

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Tandoori Stuffed Gobi

IMG_1959 My mashi (aunt) loves cauliflower and so my cousin Puja went out and bought some with the intention of making Tandoori Gobi for mashi’s birthday. Puja was not that successful in finding a recipe online which she could successfully execute. She requested me to make some and post here.

I mixed mashed paneer (cottage cheese) with tandoori spices. Then stuffed the cauliflower with it and also smeared it on top. Finally baked it in an oven.

Ingredients

For Stuffing

  • 1 medium sized cauliflower
  • 250 gms. of grated paneer (Cottage cheese)
  • 4 tbsp. plain yogurt
  • 1 tsp. chopped ginger
  • 1 tbsp. raisin paste
  • 1 tsp. honey
  • 1 tbsp. Kashmiri red chili powder
  • 2 tbsp. chicken tandoori masala
  • 1 lemon
  • 2 tbsp. butter
  • Salt

For Infusion

  • 2” cinnamon stick
  • 5 cloves black cardamoms
  • 3 bay leaves
  • Salt

Procedure

Take a deep wide vessel and pour enough water to cover the cauliflower. Add all spices along with salt to the water and bring it to a boil. Keep boiling on medium heat for about 20 minutes till the water is fragrant.

Place the cauliflower in the water and boil on high heat for 10 minutes. Do not cover the pan while boiling. By this time the cauliflower would be 80% done. Gently remove cauliflower from the water with a slotted spoon and allow it to cool so that you can handle it comfortably.

IMG_1942In a mixing bowl take mashed paneer and one by one add yogurt, butter, lemon juice, chili powder, tandoori masala, chopped ginger, raisin paste, honey and salt. Whisk it thoroughly to make a paste.

When the cauliflower is ready to handle, over turn it and stuff the paneer mixture through the gap between the florets. Use your finger to reach almost every corner of it.

When the bottom portion is done, gently slather the stuffing on top of the cauliflower.

Allow it to rest for 30 minutes. Preheat oven at 350 F. Place the stuffed cauliflower on a baking dish and drizzle one spoon butter over it. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes. After 10 minutes drizzle another one spoon of butter over it.

Remove the baking dish carefully and sprinkle chopped coriander before serving.

Note: If you have a microwave with convection,  bake it for 15 – 20 minutes at 180C. For microwave with grill you can cook it at micro-grill combination mode for 10-15 minutes, but you need to brush oil at every 5 minutes.

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Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Muri-Ghonto (Fish Head with Rice)

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[Updated]

Folks from Bangladesh ensure that nothing from a fish goes to waste. Not only they don’t waste anything, they have the knack of turning them into delicious food. A great example is muri-ghonto. Its hard to believe how tasty fish head and bone become.

I made muri-ghonto last week. I served it cautiously to my daughter expecting her to not eat it. I was however, awarded with a 4-thumbs up, which involves her sitting down and giving me thumbs up with her hand and feet :)

Ingredients

  1. 1 head of rohu / catla cleaned and cut into quarters / halves
  2. 2 tbsp. of uncooked gobindo bhog / basamati rice washed and soaked in
    water for 30 mins.
  3. 2 medium potatoes cut into quarters
  4. 1 medium onion finely chopped
  5. 3,4 green chilies slitted length wise
  6. 1/2 tsp. garlic paste
  7. 1/2 tsp. ginger paste
  8. 2 + 1 tsp turmeric powder
  9. 1 tsp. chili powder
  10. 1/2 tsp. Bengali garam masala powder
  11. Whole garam masala ( 1' cinnamon, 2 green cardamom, 2,3 cloves )
  12. 2,3 bay leaves
  13. Oil
  14. Ghee (Clarified butter )
  15. Salt
  16. Sugar


Procedure

Marinate fish head with 2 tsp. of turmeric and salt. Heat oil in a pan till smoky. Fry fish heads on medium heat till all sides become yellow. Remove and drain on a paper towel. Discard used oil.

Take fresh oil and temper with bay leaves and pounded whole garam masala. Wait till oil becomes fragrant. Now add chopped onion and slitted green chilies. Fry on medium heat till onion becomes light pink.

Add soaked rice to it and fry for 1-2 min. Next to go in are potatoes followed by ginger garlic paste. Add turmeric and chili powder. Fry potato pieces well with all spices. You can sprinkle little water if the spices tend to stick the bottom.

Add fried fish heads to it and give them a nice mix. Season with salt and sugar. Pour about 1/2 a cup of water and bring it to a boil on high flame. After it starts boiling reduce the heat and cook it covered till potatoes are cooked and there is no excess water left in the pan. Sprinkle garam masala powder and add a tsp. full of ghee to
finish.

This is best enjoyed with pain rice in a lazy afternoon.

Marble Cake

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[Updated post]

One of the things we dis-allow or severely limit our child from having is high-fructose corn syrup. This is present in most commercial sweet food, hence I land up having to make sweet stuff frequently at home.

Now my daughter is down with fever and is in general refusing to eat most things. However, even her fever cannot down her sweet-tooth. So I took the easy route and made her some wholesome cake. It looks as (or more) good as it tastes and makes a great school snack as well.

Ingredients

  1. 2 cups all purpose flour
  2. 2 cups powdered sugar
  3. 150 gms of unsalted butter
  4. 3 eggs
  5. 1 tsp vanilla extract
  6. 2 tsp baking powder
  7. 3-4 tbsp of cocoa powder

Procedure

Pre heat you oven at 350F. In a bowl sift together flour and baking powder and keep them reserved.

Bring butter to room temperature. In a large mixing bowl using electric or hand mixer beat the butter till it becomes smooth and creamy. Gradually add sugar and continue beating till the mixture is light and fluffy. Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition.Beat in the vanilla extract with the mixture.

Now alternately add flour mixture and milk to the batter and beat in low speed. After preparing the batter divide it into two portions and pour them in separate bowls. Stir cocoa powder in one portion the second portion will remain as is.

Place the batter into a prepared baking pan by alternating spoonful of vanilla, chocolate. Once you have finished with your batter, take a table knife or wooden spatula through the batter in a swirling motion to marbelize it. Don't over-mix.

Place the baking pan in the oven and bake for 45-60 mins or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Allow it to cool on a wire rack before you remove the cake. Serve it warm or at room temperature. This cake can be preserved at room temperature for upto 3 days.

 

 

Kolkata Mutton Biriyani (Biryani)

IMG_1840 [Updated Post]

First off let me explain the qualifier “Kolkata” I used for this Biryani’s recipe. Each region in India has it’s own version of Biryani, they vary so drastically that today Biryani can be defined only as “rice and meat cooked together”. There are loop holes even in that definition.

The predominant biryani gharana (style) in India is the fiery South Indian or Andhra style, the Royal Awadhi or Lucknowi style and the North-western (Punjabi) style. Kolkata or Bengali Biryani is a sub-variant of Lucknowi style and like people in Bengal is a bit sweeter :P.

Which is better is an argument that can only be settled with arms. However, I know of a lot of Bongs who lived in Hyderabad and totally disliked the local biryani and yearned for the bong/Awadhi variant. My husband is of those guys who made it a point to carry back Biryani from a Bong store in Bangalore each time he visited there (quiet often at one point of time).

 

Ingredients

  1. 1 kg (2lb) goat or lamb meat
  2. 500 gm. of basmati rice washed and soaked in water for at least 30 minutes
  3. 2 tbsp. ginger paste
  4. 1 tbsp. garlic paste
  5. 4 potatoes cut into halves
  6. 1 large onion finely chopped
  7. 1 cup plain curd/ yogurt
  8. 2 tsp. Kashmiri red chili powder
  9. Rose water few drops
  10. Kewra essence few drop
  11. Few strands of saffron soaked in 2-3 tbsp. of warm milk
  12. Salt
  13. Sugar
  14. Make a powder of the following spices (I’ll refer to this as Biryani Masala in the post)
    1. 2" cinnamon stick
    2. 6-7 cloves
    3. 3-4 green cardamom
    4. 1/10th of a whole nutmeg
    5. 1/2" mace
    6. 1 tsp. saahi jeera (cumin)
    7. 1tsp of saahi morich (white peppercorn)
IMG_8795

Procedure

Cook the pre soaked rice in enough water seasoned with salt, green cardamom, cinnamon stick and few cloves. Cook till the rice is almost done. Drain the rice on a colander and spread on a flat plate. Sprinkle very little sugar on it.

IMG_8797Take oil in a heavy bottom pan or in a pressure cooker and heat it. Add chopped onion and fry till they are brown. Add the meat pieces and sear them on high heat. It will help the meat pieces to retain their juices. 

Add ginger, garlic paste and fry along with the meat pieces. Once the raw smell goes away add yogurt and Kashmiri chili powder. I love to add the potato halves at this stage followed by salt and sugar and fry them along with the meat and spices. Cook till the potatoes are 90% boiled. Remove the potatoes and keep them aside. Rest 10% cooking will be done in Dum.

Add water required to boil the the meat pieces and either pressure cook it or cook it covered for atleast 40 mins.

Once done remove the meat pieces from the gravy and keep it handy for further use.

Strain the gravy and keep the strained juice. This is called Tar (there’s a picture of it in a glass cup in the ingredients section).

Now comes the assembly part of the biryani. Take a heavy bottom pan which you can heat on your stove top.

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Grease the inner walls of the vessel with 1-2 tbsp. of ghee. Now start building up the layers. The thumb rule of layering biryani is the base and top layers should be made by rice.

This is the sequence I usually follow for my biryani. Rice layer followed by a layer of by meat, potato, saffron infused milk, 2-3 tbsp. of Tar. I finish this layer by sprinkling about 1 tsp. of biryani masala and a few drops of rose and kewra water. Use all your meat and rice to complete the layering. There should be 1/3rd space left in the pan once you finished layering. Cover the biryani pot tightly.

IMG_8813Now we are ready to put the biryani for Dum. Dum is basically slow cooking where the vessel doesn't come in direct contact of heat.  I take water in a bigger vessel and place the biryani pot inside that as shown in the photograph on the right. Let the water boil and then lower the heat and allow it to cook for atleast 45 minutes. Turn off the heat. Let it stand for at least an hour before serving.

Kolkata mutton biryani is best enjoyed with chicken chap (oh that recipe will surely follow). 

IMG_1837

Tadka Dal Dhaba Style

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[Updated post]

There are a ton of dhabas (Punjabi roadside shacks) in and around Kolkata. The most common food a bong orders there is “tadka-roti”. So it’s common for Bongs to ask for the same when they travel to North India expecting to be provided with the even better local version. However, all they get back is empty stares. Tadka is actually the n ame of tempering and not that of the dish, it’s rather “daal, tadka marke”.

Tadka is available in 3 types plain, egg and mutton tadka. Mostly served in earthen pots with phulka or tandoori roti.

Ingredients

  1. 1 cup moong dal or whole green gram
  2. 3-4 tbsp of chaana dal IMG_8504 (Bengal gram)
  3. 2 tomatoes coarsely chopped
  4. 1 large onion finely chopped
  5. 2 tbsp grated ginger
  6. 1 tbsp grated garlic
  7. 1 tbsp kasuri methi or dried fenugreek leaves
  8. 1 tbsp. coriander powder
  9. 1 tsp. cumin powder
  10. 1 tsp. turmeric powder
  11. 1 tsp. chili powder
  12. 5, 6 green chilies finely chopped
  13. Chopped coriander greens
  14. Ghee / clarified butter
  15. Salt
  16. Sugar
  17. Oil
  18. 1 tbsp of Bengali garam masala (http://www.bongcook.com/2011/11/bengali-garam-masala-powder.html)

Direction

Wash moong dal and chaana dal thoroughly. Remember there is more pesticide than daal in the bag that you opened Smile

In a pressure cooker cook both the dals with a pinch of turmeric and salt along with 3 cups of water. In case you don’t have a pressure cooker handy, soak the daals overnight and cook in a closed lid pan for 30 mins. Open the lid after the pressure releases.

In a frying pan heat oil and add chopped onion. Fry it on medium heat till the onions become light brown. Add grated garlic and ginger to it. Fry till raw smell goes away.

Add chopped tomato to it. Fry it along with turmeric powder, chili powder, cumin powder and coriander powder on low heat till it becomes mushy and the oil starts oozing out from the spices.

At this point add boiled dal. Season with salt and sugar. Let it come to a boil. When the dal starts boiling add kasuri methi and green chilies. Turn off the heat and cover the pan. It will help the dal to get the flavor of the chilies without making it hot.

Garnish with freshly chopped coriander greens.

Before serving heat ghee in a small pan and temper it with the garam masala. Pour it over the dal and give it a nice mix. Serve with hot phulkas ar tandoori rotis. 

This as you have guessed is the plain-tadka. To make egg-tadka scramble eggs and mix it in. For mutton tadka, cook minced meat along with the daal.

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Kadai Chicken

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Most Indian restaurants serve Kadai chicken, which is almost always served in a kadai :) (Indian wok). After importing a new copper bottom kadai from back home I decided to make some along with Paneer Kadai.

In US kadai chicken is a tomato based gravy which is very different from the one we generally had in India. In India it’s made more drier and gets it’s flavor from freshly ground dry roasted spices. I present here the later version.

Ingredients

  • 1kg. chicken
  • 1 large onion finely chopped
  • 4 large tomatoes coarsely chopped
  • 1/2 green bell pepper cut into cubes
  • 1/2 onion cut into cubes
  • 1/2 cup fresh cilantro
  • 2” ginger
  • 15 cloves garlic
  • 6 red chilies
  • 1 tsp. sugar
  • 4 tbsp. oil
  • Salt to taste
  • Dry roast and coarsely grind the following ingredients
    • 2 tbsp. coriander seeds
    • 2 tsp. cumin seeds
    • 8 black peppercorn

Procedure

Grind red chilies, garlic and ginger in a fine paste. Dry roast and coarsely grind coriander seeds, cumin seeds and black peppercorns.

Heat oil in a pan and add chopped onions to it. Fry on medium heat till they turn golden brown. Add 2 tbsp. red chili, ginger, garlic paste along with half of the coarsely ground powder. Sauté on medium heat for 3-4 minutes.

Add tomatoes along with salt and sugar and fry them till they turn pulpy. Add chicken and mix them well so all pieces are nicely coated with the spice mixture.

Add chopped cilantro and the rest of the ground spice powder. Give a real nice mix and then cook it covered on medium heat till chicken is done.

Add onion and bell pepper cubes to it and stir everything on high heat for a minute.

Turn off the heat and serve hot.

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Rabdi Sondesh

IMG_9347Recently I have joined bunch of food groups on facebook. In one of those groups Laxmipriya (I do not have her link to share) posted the recipe for Malai Sondesh. She used cream to soak the sondesh. I do not like the after taste of cream and hence made the same with thickened milk. So this is a slight variation and hence I called it Rabdi Sondesh. The fun thing is that you can make a bit more of sondesh so that you can treat yourself while finishing the rest of the dish.

Ingredients

  • 1 cup Chena (Homemade cottage cheese)
  • 6 cups full cream milk
  • 1/4 cup + 2 tbsp. sugar
  • 2-3 pods of green cardamom
  • 1/2 tsp. ghee for greasing
  • Few pistachio and cashew for garnishing 
  • Few strands of saffron

Procedure

For making homemade cottage cheese or chena take 5 cups of milk in a heavy bottom pan. Bring it to a boil on high heat. When the milk starts boiling reduce the heat and add vinegar or lime juice to it. As soon as the milk curdles turn off the heat and stir it well.

Line a strainer with cheese cloth and pour the curdled milk over it. Wash chena with running cold water to wash off any residual acidity. Bring the sides of the cheese cloth together and squeeze it to drain the excess water. Don’t drain it too hard.

Take chena in a flat tray and knead it with the heel of your palm. Add 2 tbsp. of sugar and crushed cardamom seeds. The chena mixture should be moist. If you feel  its not moist enough add few drops of milk to it.

Grease a steel Tiffin box with ghee and spread the chena evenly. Pour half cup water in the cooker and carefully place the closed tiffin box inside it. The water level should cover 1/3 of the height of the tiffin box. Cook it on medium heat without the pressure-weight for 15 minutes.

IMG_1842

Allow the tiffin box to cool down completely. Remove the cover and place a plate upside down on top of the open tiffin box. Turn it over. Now your sondesh is ready. Cut it into squares.

In a heavy bottom pan take milk and cook it on medium heat till the color changes to one shade darker of its original one. Don’t forget to stir it continuously. By this time it will be reduced to its half. add 1/4 cup of sugar and freshly crushed cardamom seeds. Stir well.

Add steamed chena cubes and turn off the heat. Let it stand for couple of hours before you serve. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Mangser Ghugni

IMG_1836I seldom used to eat street food in my childhood. My dad was always worried that I’d catch one of the tropical stomach bugs and fall ill. So when I finally moved into college, I used my new found independence and access to try out the famous Kolkata street  foods. One of them was mangser ghugni at the corner of College Square, Kolkata. The specialty about this place was that they use small pieces of meat instead of heavily ground minced meat. However, the kind of meat they used remains doubtful :)

Ingredients

  • 2 cups dried yellow peas washed and soaked in water for 4-5 hours
  • 1 large potato cut into small dices
  • 250 gms. bone on mutton
  • 1 cup + 2tbsp.finely chopped onion
  • 1 large red tomato finely chopped
  • 2 green chilies finely chopped
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
  • 1 tsp. ginger paste
  • 1 tbsp. garlic paste
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 tsp. turmeric powder
  • 1 tsp. red chili powder
  • 1/2 tsp. cumin powder
  • 1/2 tsp. coriander powder
  • 1/2 tsp. Bengali garam masala powder
  • 1 tsp. sugar
  • Salt to taste
  • Oil
  • 1 tsp. bhaja masala (Dry roast and coarsely grind 1tsp. whole cumin seeds, 1tsp. whole coriander seeds and 2 dry red chilies)

Procedure

In a pressure cooker take the mutton pieces and cook them with little salt and water on medium heat. It will take about 10 minutes. Let the pressure release on its own. open the lid and remove the mutton pieces with a slotted spoon. Reserve the mutton stock for later use.

When the meat pieces are cold enough to handle cut them into bite sized pieces and discard the bones.

Cook the pre soaked peas with salt, 1/2 tsp. turmeric powder and bay leaves on medium heat in a pressure cooker. Wait for 2 whistles, then turn off the heat. Wait for the pressure to settle down on its own, and then open the lid. The peas should be cooked but not mushy.

Heat oil in a pan and fry the potato cubes till they turn golden yellow. Remove and drain them on an absorbent paper.

In the same oil add 1 cup of chopped onions and fry on medium heat till they turn light brown. Add chopped tomato and cook till they are mushy. Add all wet spices and dry spice powders. Sauté on low heat till oil oozes out of the side.

Add mutton pieces to it and fry along with spices. Keep frying for few more minutes. Now add fried potato dices and boiled peas to it.

Season with salt and sugar along with the mutton stock. Stir it well and let it simmer for five more minutes. This dish would be of medium consistency. Turn off the heat and keep it covered.

Garnish with chopped onion, cilantro, green chilies and bhaja masla.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Diiiiiim

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My husband had this egg based dish at an restaurant in Bangalore many years back. Apparently it had boiled eggs, dipped in egg batter, fried and then cooked. It then had grated eggs sprinkled on it. So he named it egggggggggg or dimmmmmm (Bengali for Egg).

Based  on his description (which is flaky at best) I made this. We liked the final product and I think it will make a great starter, especially if you have vegetarian friends who also eat eggs (common variety these days).

Ingredients

  • 4 hard boiled eggs shelled
  • 1 raw egg
  • 1 medium onion thinly sliced
  • 1 large tomato chopped
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro
  • 2-3 green chilies slit lengthwise
  • 1 tsp. ginger paste
  • 1 tsp. shredded garlic
  • 1 tbp. kashmiri red chili powder
  • 1 tsp. turmeric powder
  • 1 tsp. garam masala
  • 1 tbsp. maida ( all purpose flour)
  • 1 tsp. corn starch or rice flour
  • 1 tsp. sugar
  • Salt to taste
  • Oil for deep frying

Procedure

Cut 3 boiled eggs lengthwise in quarters.

In a bowl take maida or corn starch or rice flour, 1 tsp. chopped cilantro, and a pinch of salt. Mix all these dry ingredients together. Now break the raw egg and add to it. Beat well to make a thick batter.

Take oil in a wok and heat it up. Pour 1 tbsp. hot oil in the egg batter and give a nice stir. Now dip each egg quarter into the egg batter and gently slide it in the hot oil. Fry on medium heat for a minute and then remove them on a paper towel.

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Take  4-5 tbsp. oil in a pan and sprinkle 1 tsp. garam masala powder to it. Add sliced onions along with sugar and a pinch of salt. This sugar will give the dish a vibrant red color. Fry onion on low heat till they turn soft. now add chopped tomato, ginger and garlic to it. Sprinkle Turmeric and chili powder and mix well. Keep frying the masala on low heat till oil separates out and the spices become mushy. Now add fried eggs along with green chilies and cilantro. Sprinkle salt. Mix well in a gently so that all eggs are well coated with spices. Remove from heat and transfer the content in a serving bowl.

Take the other hard boiled egg and grate it. Garnish your dish with shredded egg and serve.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Notun Gurer Kancha golla

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When fresh jaggery hits the market the shelves of sweet stores in Kolkata gets filled with stacks of Kancha golla and nolen gurer sondesh. Kacha Golla is really simple and brings out the true flavor and aroma of the fresh chena and jaggery. The key being that the sondesh is kancha or uncooked.

Ingredients

  • 1 liter whole milk
  • 3-4 tbsp. lime juice
  • 7-8 tbsp. date palm jaggery
  • Raisins and pistachio to garnish

Procedure

IMG_5834In a heavy bottom pan boil milk over medium heat. When it comes to a rolling boil gradually add lime juice and stir. The milk will start to curdle. When you see a clear liquid is separated from the milk solids strain it on a strainer lined with cheese cloth.

Wash the milk solids under cold running water to get rid of any acidic smell. Bring the corners of the cheese cloth together and squeeze out the excess water.Hang it from your kitchen faucet for about 15-20 minutes.

Transfer the chena on a flat surface and knead it with the heal of your palm till it is smooth and doesn’t have any more lumps.

In a non stick pan add jaggery with 2-3tbsp. water. Allow it to melt on very low heat. Once it melts completely turn off the heat. Keep stirring till the jaggery comes down to room temperature.Add the jaggery syrup to the chana and mix well.

Now make round balls out of them and garnish with raisins and pistachios. These sondesh is ultra soft so I prefer to serve them in paper cups.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Kheer Kadam

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As a kid I used to love the carefully arranged stacks of Kheer Kadamba at our local sweet shop. However, I could just see those and never eat ‘em. My dad was of the strong opinion that they are made from stale leftover sweets and very unhygienic. So I never really had them until much later.

Kheer Kadamba is a two layered sweet and almost looks like the earths picture from childhood geography books. The core is not made of magma but of dry rasgulla. The shell is kheer (milk solids). It is then rolled over a bed of shredded kheer.

The name of the sweet comes from the Kadamba flower.

Ingredients

  • 8 dry rasgulla
  • 100 gms. khoya or mawa + 50 gms. for grating
  • 2 tbsp. powdered sugar
  • 2 tbsp. milk
  • 2 drops rose essence

Procedure

Make rasgulla following http://www.bongcook.com/2012/11/bengali-rasgulla-or-rosogolla.html. Once the rasgulla is done let it boil in the sugar syrup for 5 more minutes without making the syrup thin (don’t add any more water). Allow them to soak in the thick syrup for half an hour. Remove and drain the rasgullas from the syrup and let them cool down before you start the next step.

Grate khoya and add sugar, milk and rose essence to it. Knead with your hand to make a soft and smooth dough. Divide the dough into eight equal portions and make smooth balls out of them.

Flatten each ball in between your palms and stuff it with one rasgulla. Cover the rasgulla nicely with the khoya mixture and smoothen the surface to give them a round shape just like laddoo.

Grate the other part of khoya and spread it on a plate. Roll each stuffed laddoo into the grated khoya mixture and place them on paper cups. If you see that the grated khoya is not sticking to the stuffed laddoos brush the laddoos with a layer of sugar syrup and then roll them over.

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Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Stuffed Chicken Breast

IMG_9937 My aunt saw this on some TV show and made it at home. She really liked it and insisted I try it out and blog about it. Keeping the taste aside it looks vibrant and colorful. Since it is baked while wrapped it remains very succulent. Being stuffed with colorful veggies and cooked with very little oil and cheese this is an excellent healthy low carb dinner option.

Ingredients

  • 2 chicken breast boneless
  • 3 tbsp. plain yogurt
  • 2 tsp.  ginger garlic paste
  • 2 tbsp. lime juice
  • 1 large onion finely chopped
  • 2 tsp. chopped ginger
  • 1 tsp. chopped garlic
  • 1 cup spinach leaves
  • 1/2 cup sliced mushroom
  • 1/2 cum sweet corn
  • 1/4 red bell pepper chopped
  • 5-6 basil
  • 1/4 cup parmesan cheese
  • 1 tsp. black pepper
  • 2 tbsp. olive oil
  • 2 tbsp. butter
  • Salt to taste
  • Aluminum foil or plantain leaf (to wrap)

Procedure

Take chicken breasts and pat them dry. Now on the thicker side make a slit with a sharp knife. Using your finger create a pocket inside the breast. You need to be little careful so that your finger doesn’t go through the other side.

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Marinate the chicken breast with yogurt, ginger garlic paste, lime juice and salt. Keep for half an hour.

Heat 2 tbsp. oil in a pan and add chopped onion, ginger and garlic to it. Sauté on medium heat till onions turn pink. Now stir in chopped mushroom, corn, bell pepper and spinach. Fry them on high heat for a minute or two. Lower the heat and add basil leaves, black pepper, salt and mix well. Finally sprinkle cheese and stir to combine. Turn off the heat. Allow it to cool down completely.

Now pack this stuffing inside the pocket of the chicken breast. Slather butter on both sides of the breasts. Wrap it in a aluminum foil. I had banana leaves so I used those.

Pre heat your oven at 350F and bake for 30 minutes. Remove the wrapper and place it on a cutting board.. Slice each breast into 4-5 pieces on an angle with a sharp knife,

Arrange them on a serving plate and serve with your favorite dip.

Monday, August 12, 2013

Chicken Bharta

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There is a famous restaurant in Kolkata called Honey-Da-Dhaba. They make this famous Chicken Bharta. I had heard a lot about it but never really got a chance to have it. The good folks at the dhaaba revealed their secret in a cookery show (available here). I followed their steps and loved the outcome, I am not really sure how authentic it is but it was tasty nonetheless. If you have had the good fortune of having the real stuff, do try out this recipe and let me know who well this matches up.

Ingredients

  • 1lb. boneless chicken
  • 1 big onion finely chopped
  • 1 medium tomato finely chopped
  • 1tsp. ginger paste
  • 1tsp garlic paste
  • 1/2 tsp. turmeric powder
  • 1/2 tsp. Kashmiri chilli powder
  • 1/2 tsp. cumin powder
  • 1/2 tsp. coriander powder
  • 1 tsp. kasuri methi  (dry fenugreek  powder )
  • 2 tbsp. cashew paste
  • 1/2 cup plain yogurt
  • 2 tbsp. cream
  • 1 tsp. sugar
  • Salt to taste
  • 2 tbsp. coriander leaves
  • 2 tbsp. butter
  • 4 tbsp. oil
  • 1 hard boiled egg optional
  • Whole garam masala (6 cloves, 6 cardamoms, 2 bay leaves)

Procedure:

Heat oil in a wok and temper it with whole garam masala. Let them sizzle. Add chopped onion to it and fry till they turn golden brown.Next to go in are ginger garlic paste and chopped tomato. Fry on low heat till oil oozes out of the spices.

In a bowl mix all dry spice powder with water and add to the spices. Fry till the raw smell goes away. Add boneless chicken pieces to it and mix well with the spices.

Add salt, sugar and cashew paste and yogurt to it. Stir it well. Now drizzle fresh cream and butter over it. Give them a nice mix. Sprinkle kasuri methi over it and let it simmer for about 10 minutes.

Turn off the heat and add chopped cilantro. Garnish with halved hard boiled eggs and serve.

I served it with palak naan. It goes well with any kind of Indian flat bread.

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Sunday, August 11, 2013

RaniDi-r Rosun Aloor Dum

IMG_0866In our school, it was a very common to see that a bunch of folks remained hungry with a box full of alur dum or ghugni at the end of the lunch hour. No, they didn’t pack those for their lunch. It was bought from Rani-Di. Rani-Di was distinctly different from her fellow colleagues. The crisp cotton sari, the curly long hair, the big red dot just in the middle of her forehead and a smile which was really a rare sight in our school made her stand out in the crowd, she was our Rani-Di.

Each day she used bring aloor dum, aloo kabli, ghugni and tetul or kuler acchar. Sometimes we had to wait in queue for the whole 30 minutes of our lunch time and didn’t even get time to eat it.

I used to urge my mom to make the same Aloo-r Dum. Based on my descriptions she tried multiple times but it never tasted the same. One day I asked Rani-Di and she told me to ask my mom to use garlic instead of ginger. Hence came the name.

Ingredients

  • 250 gms. baby potatoes
  • 6-7 fat cloves of garlic
  • 1 large tomato
  • 1 tsp. turmeric powder
  • 1 tsp. red chili powder
  • 1/2 tsp. cumin powder
  • 1/2 tsp. coriander powder
  • 1 tbsp. thick tamarind pulp
  • 1 tsp. sugar
  • Salt to taste
  • Oil
  • 2-3 green chilies finely chopped
  • 1/4 cup cilantro finely chopped
  • 1 tsp. black salt
  • 1 tbsp. bhaaja masala ( Dry roast and coarsely grind 1 tsp. cumin, 1tsp. coriander and 2 dry red chilies)

Procedure

Peel baby potatoes and boil them in salt water for 2-3 minutes. Drain water and smear potatoes with a pinch of turmeric.

Heat oil in a pan and deep fry potatoes till they turn golden yellow. Drain on a paper towel and keep aside.

IMG_0860Peel the skin of tomato and make a paste of it with garlic cloves.

Heat 3 tbsp. oil in a pan and add tomato garlic paste to it. Sauté on low heat till the raw smell goes off. Add cumin, coriander, turmeric and chili powder to it. Fry on low heat till you see oil seeps from the edge.

Add fried potato along with tamarind pulp and fry them along with the spices. Season with salt and sugar. Add 1/4 cup of water to it. Mix well and let it simmer on low heat till potatoes are done. Keep an eye so that you don’t over cook them.

If required turn the heat on high and let the excess moisture dry out. This is a dry dish and at the end the potatoes will be just coated with the spice mixture.

Turn off the heat and garnish with chopped cilantro and green chilies. Sprinkle generous amount of bhaaja masala, little black salt and add a dash of tamarind juice just before serving.

Potol Pur (Stuffed Parwal)

IMG_0847Potol was never my favorite. I never really understand why anyone would want to eat it, obviously other then the time when you stuff it with shrimps. Which brings us to Potol Pur. This is basically just the shell of potol stuffed with shrimp and other equally tasty stuff. I just love this and can just finish my entire meal with this.

My Dida (grandma) used to make this and later my mom picked it up. My mom did not throw away the potol seeds and mixed it with the shrimps. I think it was an elaborate scheme to make me have potol :)

Ingredients

For Stuffing

  • 5 potol (Parwal or Pointed Gourd)
  • 1/2 cup tiny shrimp (If you are using larger shrimps cut into bit sized pieces)
  • 1 small onion finely chopped
  • 2 tbsp. freshly grated coconut paste
  • 1 green chili finely chopped
  • 1 tsp. mustard paste 
  • 1/4 tsp. turmeric powder
  • 1/2 tsp. red chili powder  
  • 1 tsp. sugar
  • Salt to taste
  • 2 tsp. mustard oil

For Batter

  • 1/2 cup besan (Chick pea flour)
  • 2 tbsp. rice flour
  • 1/2 tsp. turmeric powder
  • 1/2 tsp. red chili powder
  • Salt to taste
  • Oil for deep frying

Procedure

Scrape the skin of the parwals and wash them. Pat them dry. Now cut the parwals lengthwise into halves.

IMG_0835With a spoon scoop out the flesh from them. Don’t discard them, keep them reserved.IMG_0837In a bowl take shrimps and mix them with chopped onion, coconut, mustard paste, chopped green chilies, turmeric and chili powder, salt, sugar and mustard oil.

Now stuff each parwal halves with the filling.

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In a mixing bowl mix besan, rice flour, salt, turmeric powder and chili powder. Add water little at a time to make a thick and smooth batter.

IMG_0841Heat oil in a deep wok and take out 1 tbsp. of hot oil from it to add in the batter you made.

Carefully dip each stuffed parwal in the batter and slide into the hot oil. Fry it on medium heat till the coating turns golden and crispy. Remove with a slotted spoon and drain it on a paper towel.

Serve with steaming hot rice with a spoonful of ghee.

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