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Thursday, January 31, 2013

Bengali Style Mutton Braised Cutlet

IMG_9437Close to where I grew up there was this small café called Ashoka Restaurant in Behala Kolkata. They made the best cutlets ever with Goat chops. Braised cutlet is a remnant of British colonial era. The food the British got into Kolkata during the time it was the colonial capital of India slowly morphed its name and is generally called “Breast Cutlet” today. “Whats in a name” so call it whatever you like, it still tastes amazing.

Ingredients

  1. 8 pieces mutton chops
  2. 8 – 10 cloves garlic
  3. 4 – 5 green chilies
  4. 1 small onion
  5. Juice of one lime
  6. 1tsp. Bengali garam masala powder
  7. 1tsp. black pepper powder
  8. 2 eggs
  9. Salt
  10. Breadcrumb
  11. Oil for deep frying
  12. 1tsp. black salt (kala namak)
  13. Salad of your choice for serving

Procedure

If you are buying the chops from local butcher ask them to flatten them with the sides of their heavy knife. Else you can buy a meat tenderizer and flatten the chops. Wash them thoroughly and pat dry.

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In a grinder take onion, cloves, green chilies and coarsely grind them for a second or two. Transfer the ground spices in a bowl and add lime juice, black pepper powder, garam masala powder and salt to it. Mix it well.

Take a wide tray and arrange the chops in a single layer. Rub the spice mixture on both sides of the chops. Let them rest in a refrigerator for 5-6 hrs.

Now take the chops and shake off the excess marinade (reserve the marinade for later use). In a pressure cooker cook the chops on high heat till the first whistle. Allow the steam to settle down before you open the cooker.

Take the chops out with a slotted spoon and allow them to cool down to room temperature. You can now scrape off any extra meat attached to the bone with a knife. This will allow the bone to stick out of the cutlet.

Break two eggs in a bowl and beat them with a pinch of salt. Add half of the beaten egg to the reserved marinade and again slather this mixture to the both sides of the boiled chops. Keep the chops in the refrigerator for half an hour, so that the spices will get stick to the chops and you can taste them in every bite.

Spread enough bread crumb in a plate and roll the chops. If you want you can give them a double coating. To do so you need to dip the coated chops in the beaten egg and then cover with crumbs once more.

In a wok or kadai heat enough oil for deep frying till it smokes. Now bring down the temperature to medium and gently slide in the chops one at a time. Fry till both sides turn brown and crispy. It won’t take more than 2-3 minutes. Remove with a slotted spoon and drain them on a paper towel.

Sprinkle black salt and serve with salad and mustard sauce.

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Fish Fry

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Fish fry is one of our favorite items. A lot of people like it as an evening snack. However we treat ourselves with fish-fry and salads as an early dinner. This works great with our goal of limiting or avoiding carbs at dinner.

When I had just started blogging I posted my recipe for Bengali style fish fry at http://www.bongcook.com/2008/10/fish-fry-bangali-style.html. At that time I used to hunt for Bhetki in US and in absence use other alternatives like Sole, Sear and Salmon. Now I almost always use Cod. It tastes almost as good as Bhetki.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Chirer Pulao (Poha) For School Lunch

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In my school there was no concept of school provided lunch. So every day we had to take our own lunch from home. At lunch break all our friends sat down together and feasted from each others boxes.

Our daughter’s school district arranges lunch for its students. They are encouraged to eat healthy with mandatory servings of three portions of veggies and fruits. So they can pick a slice of pizza but also have to pick up broccoli and apples along with it. The problem is that there’s no one to enforce that it travels from the plate to the mouth. So so essentially the lunch becomes only Pizza or Pasta. To avoid this pitfall I generally send lunch with her and she gets to buy and eat junk only once a week on Fridays.

One of her favorites is Chirer Pulao. Which is a pulao made from flattened rice. This is generically called Poha across North India. The one I make has eggs in it. However, vegetarians can omit it.

Ingredients

  1. 2 cups of dry poha or chiwra (thick cut flattened rice)
  2. 1 medium onion finely chopped
  3. 2 – 3 green chilies finely chopped
  4. 1tsp. chopped ginger
  5. 1 medium potato cut into small cubes
  6. 1/2 cup green peas
  7. 2tbsp. chopped cilantro
  8. 10 – 15 peanuts
  9. 10 – 15 raisins
  10. 1tsp. turmeric powder
  11. 1tsp. Bengali garam masala powder
  12. 1tsp. sugar
  13. Salt
  14. 1tsp. ghee (clarified butter)
  15. Oil
  16. 2 – 3 bay leaves (tejpatta)
  17. Whole garam masala  (2 cloves, 2 green cardamoms, 1” cinnamon)
  18. 2 eggs (optional)

Procedure

In a colander or big strainer take dry poha and wash it thoroughly with water. Spread poha on a flat plate.

Take a spoon of oil in a frying pan and heat it up. Fry the peanuts on medium flame till they turn dark brown. Remove and reserve for later use. Use the same greased pan and break two eggs in it. Sprinkle a pinch of salt over it. Allow it to set for a while and then break with the spoon into small pieces. Remove and keep aside.

Heat rest of the oil in a pan and temper with bay leaves and whole garam masala. When they stop spluttering add chopped onion, ginger and half of the green chilies into it. Fry till onion turns soft and pink. Add potato cubes and peas followed by turmeric powder to it and fry on medium heat for 2-3 minutes. Add quarter cup of water and cook it covered on low flame for another 3–5 minutes. By this time potatoes will be cooked and most of the water will evaporate.

Now add pre washed poha to it. Throw the omelet pieces, peanuts and raisins in.  Sprinkle salt and sugar to your taste. Mix thoroughly. If needed drizzle 2 – 3 tbsp. of water over it and cook it covered on medium heat for 2–3 minutes.

Add a dollop of ghee and sprinkle a pinch of garam masala powder. Garnish with chopped cilantro, green chilies and keep it covered for 5 minutes before you serve.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Hakka Noodles from My Mom In Law’s Kitchen

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If I landed at my husband’s (my then classmate’s) home around evening, I’d always find him gorging on this Hakka noodles. Obviously I’d get my share :). She uses a bunch of non-traditional ingredients like cauliflower and green peas that are not common in the actual Indo-Chinese recipe. I used to say such good things about it in my circle that they demanded to try it out as well. On request my mother-in-law made two boxes for me to take to my friends. They loved it!!

I never really tried to make it myself. I always thought it’d never turn out to be the same. Sometime back in my visit to the local Indian grocery store, I saw some egg noodles (which isn’t common around here). I picked them up and called my mother-in-law. With her recipe I made this seemingly simple yet deceptively tasty dish which has a bong twist to it.

Ingredients

  1. 1pkt noodles boiled as per package direction ( I used Ching’s egg noodles )
  2. 2 eggs
  3. 1/2lb shrimp cleaned
  4. 1/2 cup small florets of cauliflower
  5. 2 baby carrots cut into thin sticks
  6. 1/2 cup green peas
  7. 1/2 cup chopped green onions
  8. 2 green chilies chopped
  9. 1tsp. dark soya sauce
  10. 1tsp. black pepper powder
  11. Salt to taste
  12. Vegetable oil

Procedure

Take a frying pan and heat 1tsp. oil. Break both the eggs and scramble them. Cook for a minute and remove.

In the same pan heat another spoon of oil and fry the shrimps on medium heat till they are cooked. Remove and reserve.

Take water in a sauce pan and bring it to a boil. Add all the vegetables other than chili and green onion  to it. Cook them on high heat for 2-3 minutes. Drain the water and dunk all these vegetables in cold water. This will help to retain the color and shape of the vegetables.

In a wok heat rest of the oil and add green chilies to it. Fry on low heat for about a minute. Drain the water of the boiled vegetables and throw them in the wok.  Fry them on high heat for another one to two minutes before you add boiled noodles and shrimps to it.

Add salt, soya sauce and black pepper powder. Stir fry on medium high heat till all the cooked ingredients and noodles are well combined and the noodles are no longer soft but little crispy. Garnish with chopped green onion and serve hot.

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Sunday, January 20, 2013

Grilled Prawn with Lemon, Tomato and Basil Sauce

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Winter break means that lots of meals are had at home. No banking on kids and husband finding their stuff in the cafeteria so that I can relax a bit. Making mundane stuff in the holidays doesn’t appeal to me either, more so because the first thing the little one asked me after getting up was what’s in lunch. “Can we get something interesting”. Grilled prawn is very interesting to me because it’s superfast to make and very very tasty :). The sauce I made went pretty well with it. Hope you enjoy it as well.

Ingredients For Grilled Prawn

  1. 10 medium sized prawns cleaned and deveined
  2. 1tsp. lime juice
  3. Freshly ground black pepper powder
  4. 1tbsp. butter
  5. Salt to taste

Procedure

Rub the cleaned prawns with salt, lime juice and black pepper powder. Keep them marinated for 15 minutes.

Skewer them in the bamboo skewers and brush little butter on both the sides. Heat a skillet and grill them by frequently rotating the skewers .If you want to get a charred effect hold the skewers directly on top of the flame or the hot coil, whichever you have.  Remove and place it on a serving dish.

Ingredients For Sauce

  1. 1tbsp. chopped onion
  2. 2 garlic cloves chopped
  3. 2tbsp. butter
  4. 1tbsp. all purpose flour
  5. 1 tomato on vine ( ripe )
  6. 2tbsp. basil ( Fresh or Dry )
  7. 1/2 cup vegetable stock or broth 
  8. Juice of one lemon
  9. Black Pepper
  10. Salt

Procedure

In a sauté pan add butter, onion and garlic and cook for few minutes on medium heat. Whisk-in the flour until they all get combined.

Add the broth to the pan and simmer for a couple of minutes till it starts to become thick. Toss the tomatoes till they turn soft. Season it with salt and pepper. Turn the heat on low and now add lemon juice and basil to it and mix well.

Pour over your grilled prawns and serve.

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Saturday, January 19, 2013

Enchor Chingrir Dalna ( Raw Jackfruit Curry with Shrimp)

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When I used to work and live in North Bengal our project manager invited me on his son’s naming ceremony. We headed off to their home which was in a interior part of North Bengal. It is one of the most beautiful parts of India at the foot hills of Himalaya. I vividly remember the spectacular beauty of Gorumara National Park and the thousands of streams and rivers flowing through it. After we reached the village we sat down for one of the best meals of my life. All made from the local farms and the plentiful fish and shrimps from the local rivers. One of the food I had stuck with me. I have made it on and off over the years. It’s an interesting combo of shrimp and raw jackfruit (kanthal).

The other day when my husband had some friends over I decided to make this, especially because our guests were also Bong which is a rarity for us. They loved it and wanted the recipe, so here it goes.

Ingredients

  1. 1 can raw jackfruit drained and soaked overnight in water
  2. 2 medium sized potatoes cut into quarters
  3. 1lb. large tiger prawns deveined and cleaned ( Reserve the shells for prawn stock )
  4. 1 medium tomato coarsely chopped
  5. 1 small onion minced
  6. 1tbsp. ginger paste
  7. 1tsp. garlic paste
  8. 1+1 tbsp. turmeric powder
  9. 1tsp. chili powder
  10. 1tsp. coriander powder
  11. 1/2tsp. cumin powder
  12. 1/2tsp. Bengali garam masala powder
  13. 1tsp. sugar
  14. Salt
  15. Mustard oil
  16. For Tempering
    1. 2,3 Bay leaves
    2. Whole garam masala ( 2 green cardamom, 2 cloves, 1” cinnamon stick )
    3. 1tsp. whole cumin seeds

Procedure

Start with making the prawn stock. In a saucepan take the shells of the prawns and cover them with enough water. Allow them to simmer on low heat till you need them for your gravy. This way you can extract the flavors of prawns to their maximum. Strain the stock before you add to your curry.

In a pressure cooker take jackfruit pieces and add a cup of water to it. Add a pinch of salt and cook it on high heat till the first whistle. Let the steam settle down on its own before you open the cooker. Drain the water and reserve the jackfruit pieces.

Now we get to the main part of our cooking. Rub the prawns with 1tsp. turmeric powder and salt. Heat enough mustard oil in a pan and fry the prawns till they change their color to a vibrant orange. Remove with a slotted spoon and keep aside.

In the same oil shallow fry the jackfruit pieces and potatoes till their edges turn brown. Remove and keep aside.

If needed add more oil to your pan and temper it with bay leaves, whole garam masala and cumin seed. Sauté on medium heat for a minute. If you want to get a vibrant red color to your gravy add little sugar to this oil and wait for it to caramelize. Add minced onion to it and patiently fry them on low heat till they turn light brown.

Now add all your wet spices to the oil and cook them on low heat for a while. Throw the coarsely chopped tomatoes in, followed by the dry spice powder. Cook till the tomato is mushy and the spices take a darker hue.

Add fried vegetables to it and fry them along with the spices. Soon you will see a fine line of oil oozing out of the spices. This is the time when you add the strained prawn stock to it. Add salt and sugar to season and stir the gravy well with the spices. Cook them covered for about 10 minutes on medium heat. You can add water if the stock is not enough.

When the vegetables are 3/4th done add fried prawns to it and cook everything together for another 2-3 minutes.

Garnish with a pinch of garam masala and ghee.

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Thursday, January 17, 2013

Kalonji Biscuit (Nigella Seed Biscuits)

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I don’t take to snow that much. Irrespective of the insulation my toes freeze over. The rest of my family however, takes to snow like fish takes to water. They frequently head out to the mountains for snow-shoeing, snowmobiling and other bunch of things which has the word snow in them.

Those days I thoroughly enjoy myself by curling up into warm blankets, reading books, listening to music with warm cup of coffee and munching on biscuits.

One of those biscuits is Kalonji spiced and is one of my favorites.

 

 

Ingredients

  1. 1.5 cup whole wheat flour
  2. 1/2 cup all purpose flour ( maida )
  3. 1/4 cup semolina ( sooji )
  4. 1tsp. baking powder
  5. 1tsp. salt
  6. 1tsp. sugar
  7. 2tsp. kalonji seeds ( Kalojeera or nigella )
  8. 1/2 stick butter
  9. 1/4 cup milk

Procedure

Pre heat oven at 350F.

Sift the flour in a bowl.

Add all other dry ingredients to it and mix well. Now add butter and using your finger tips mix it with the dry ingredients until you get a crumb texture. Add little milk at a time in the mixture and knead it to make a soft pliable dough.

Knead the dough once more before you start rolling them. Roll the dough on a floured surface until moderately thin. Using your cookie cutter cut into rounds from it. Remove the extra dough and roll it out once again and cut out rounds. Repeat until the dough is all used up.

Place the round cut outs on a baking sheet and bake for 20 – 25 minutes or until risen and golden. 

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Spicy Jeera Biscuit

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Bunch of my recent posts are on biscuits and other snacks because we are just coming out of winter holidays. Being at home in this bitter cold (by the way it’s –6 Celsius today) means having friends over, watching lots of movies and playing indoor games. All of these with copious amount of snacking and munching. To avoid falling onto more unhealthy stuff like potatoe-chips and popcorns, I make a lot of healthy biscuits and keep them in boxes around the house.

This is a slightly grown up version of biscuits as I added bunch of spices and chili-fakes to combat the cold.

Ingredients

  1. 1/3 cup all purpose flour ( Maida )
  2. 1/3 cup whole wheat flour ( Atta )
  3. 1/3 cup semolina ( Sooji )
  4. 1tsp. salt
  5. 1tsp. sugar
  6. 1tsp. baking powder
  7. 2tsp. roasted cumin seeds
  8. 1tsp. chili flakes
  9. 2tsp. chopped fresh cilantro ( Coriander Leaves )
  10. 4tbsp. canola oil ( You can use any other vegetable oil )
  11. 1/3 cup butter milk

Procedure

Pre heat oven at 350F

In a bowl soak semolina in buttermilk and keep for 15 minutes.

In  another bowl sift flour with baking powder. Now add other dry ingredients to it and mix until well combined. Drizzle oil over it and mix it with your finger tips till the mixture looks like bread crumb. Add chopped cilantro to it and mix well.

Now add soaked semolina to it and knead it to make a soft pliable dough. If needed you may add little water to it.

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Roll the dough on a floured surface. Roll it out till it is fairly thin. The dough is sticky and clings to the rolling pin. So one trick I use, is to place the dough inside cling-films and then rolling them.

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Now using a round cutter cut out small rounds from the dough. Repeat till the dough is all used up.

Place the round cut outs on a baking sheet and bake them or 20 – 25 minutes till the sides turn golden.

Allow them to cool under room temperature before you store them.

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Naankhatai–Indian Eggless Cookie

IMG_6672We eat a lot of cookies at home. I keep boxes filled with them and in a day they mysteriously disappear. Being the chief health officer at home, I have to be careful in not making them butter rich and at the same time they have to be tasty. Keeping all of these in mind I made naankhatai which is Indian eggless crumb textured shortbread cookie.

I use ground almonds in these cookies and the oil in them acts as a binding agent and lowers the need for butter. Also the natural sweetness allows me to use less sugar and make it healthier.

Ingredients

  1. 1 cup whole wheat flour ( Atta )
  2. 1 cup all purpose flour ( Maida )
  3. 1 cup finely ground almond
  4. 1 cup sugar
  5. 1tsp. cardamom powder 
  6. 1/2 cup butter ( At room temperature )
  7. 2tsp. baking powder
  8. 1/4 cup milk
  9. Few sliced almonds and pistachio for garnishing

Procedure

Pre heat oven at 350F.

In a big mixing bowl take all dry ingredients ( Whole wheat flour + All purpose flour + Ground almond + Sugar + Cardamom powder + Baking powder ) and mix really well

Add soft butter to it and using your finger tips rub it in the flour mixture till incorporated.

If required ad little milk at a time to it until a firm dough is formed.

Pinch out small pieces and roll into a ball by rolling them between your palms. Slightly flatten it by gently applying little pressure and then top it with an almond or pistachio slice.

Place them on a ungreased cookie sheet keeping a minimum of 2” distance in between.

Bake for 15 – 20 minutes. This should retain the pale color of shortbreads. Remove from the oven at allow them to cool down before you store.

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Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Omelet curry

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Omelet curry started out as a quick dinner remedy when I was working. When me and my husband came back from work, we were too tired to cook something and at the same time didn’t want to live off Maggi (instant noodles). We didn’t have much time for preparation either, even boiling egg seemed like eternity.

Over the years, however, it evolved from a quick and easy food to something we really like. It’s no longer quick either since I make pulao with it and really enjoy the whole deal.

Ingredients

  1. 4 eggs
  2. 2tbsp. onion finely chopped
  3. 1tsp. ginger finely chopped
  4. 1tsp. green chilies finely chopped
  5. 2 medium sized potatoes boiled and cut into quarters
  6. 1 small onion thinly sliced
  7. 1tsp. ginger paste
  8. 1tsp. garlic paste
  9. 1 ripe tomato cut into quarters
  10. 1tsp. red chili powder
  11. 1tsp. turmeric powder
  12. 1/2tsp. Bengali garam masala powder
  13. 1tsp. coriander leaves chopped
  14. 1tsp.sugar
  15. Salt to taste
  16. 4tbsp. refined oil

Procedure

In a mixing bowl take finely chopped onion, ginger and green chilies. Now break eggs one by one and add to it. Season with salt and beat them well with a fork.

Take 1tsp. oil in a frying pan and heat it up. Pour the egg mixture to it and swirl the pan to spread the egg mixture uniformly. Cook on medium heat till eggs set. Now lift one side of the edge and fold it. Press down lightly with spatula for about 30 seconds and then remove.

Cut the omelets into one inch squares and keep it.

Now in another pan heat rest of the oil and add onion slices to it. Fry on medium heat till the edges turn light brown. Add ginger garlic paste to it followed by turmeric and chili powder. Add boiled potato pieces to it. Fry on low heat for 1 – 2 minute before you add the tomato pieces. Season with salt and sugar.

Sauté everything on low heat till the oil oozes out of the spices. Now add 1/2 cup water to it and mix well. Bring it to a boil before you add omelets pieces to it. Simmer for another 5 minutes till the gravy thickens.

Sprinkle chopped coriander leaves and garam masala powder. Serve with rice, pulao or chapatti.

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Saturday, January 5, 2013

Desert - 2012

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In all the Winter madness I missed posting some of the 2012 collections of recipes. Here's some of the Bengali style deserts and sweets I made over 2012 and really enjoyed doing so. Hope you get some inspiration from the recipes and get into your own culinary adventure.

  1. Pati Sapta
  2. Doodh Puli
  3. Bhapa Aam Doi
  4. Misto Doi
  5. Ras Malai
  6. Mango Kheer
  7. Malpua
  8. Chaanar Payesh
  9. Rosgulla

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