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Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Paneer Butter Masala

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Long time back when we used to live in India, my husband came on a trip to US with one of his colleagues Neeraja. They went shopping together and landed up buying the same clothes and jackets for their children. So in couple of work parties my daughter had the exact same attire as Neeraja’s daughter. It was pretty funny. Couple of months back Neeraja came to visit us and I was reminded of this incident.

Since Neeraja is vegetarian I made Paneer Butter Masala along with some Doi Phulkopi. Here goes the recipe for the former as requested by Neeraja.

Ingredients

  1. 200gms paneer cut into cubes
  2. 3tbsp. finely chopped onion
  3. 1tsp. ginger paste
  4. 1tsp. garlic paste
  5. 1tsp. cashew powder 
  6. 1tbsp. tomato paste or tomato puree
  7. 1tsp. coriander powder
  8. 1tsp. cumin powder
  9. 1tsp. Kashmiri red chili powder 
  10. 1/2tp. garam masala powder
  11. 1/2tsp. chicken tandoori masala
  12. 1tbsp. tomato ketchup
  13. 1/2 tsp. kasuri methi (Dry fenugreek leaves)
  14. 1/2 cup milk
  15. 1tbsp. sugar
  16. Salt to taste
  17. Chopped cilantro
  18. 1/2 cup fresh cream or whole milk
  19. 4tbsp. butter

Procedure

Cut paneer into medium cubes and dunk them in lukewarm water. Keep one or two cubes aside for garnishing.

In a bowl take garam masala powder, cumin powder, coriander powder, chicken tandoori masala, chili powder, cashew powder, tomato ketchup, kasuri methi and mix well. Slowly add 1/2cup of milk and whisk it o make a smooth mixture. Keep it aside.

Heat butter in a pan and add chopped onion to it. Fry on low heat till they become translucent. Add ginger garlic paste to it and sauté till the raw smell goes away. Add tomato paste and fry till you see a fine line of oil oozing out of the spices.

Add the liquid spice mixture you made before and stir everything well. Cook it covered for 3-4 minutes and then turn off the heat. cool it down completely.

Transfer the mixture in a blender and blend it really well. Now strain this mixture to get a smooth and silky gravy.

Transfer the strained gravy to the pan and once again bring it to boil. Drain the water and add the paneer cubes to the gravy. Sprinkle salt and sugar to it and give a gentle mix. Let it simmer for 2- 3 minutes and then pour the fresh cream over it. Mix once again before you turn off the heat. Garnish with chopped cilantro and shredded paneer.

Serve with naan or roti.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Pyaji (Bengali Onion Pakora)

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Curling up with a good book and some hot pakoras on a rainy day is unbeatable. In Seattle there is no dearth of rainy days, but the leisure time is hard to come by. This Monday I didn’t have anything to cook because there was enough left-overs from a weekend party. So suddenly at around eleven I had nothing to do and there was no one at home. Outside, it was cold and drizzling. A perfect occasion to brew up some hot Darjeeling tea, put on some nice Bangla music and have some Pyaji.

Ingredients

  1. 2 red onions sliced into half moons
  2. 1tsp. grated fresh ginger
  3. 2 – 3 green chilies finely chopped
  4. Handful of chopped cilantro
  5. 1/2tsp. chili powder
  6. 1/4tsp. turmeric powder
  7. 1/2tsp. baking powder
  8. 5 – 6 tbsp. besan (Chickpea flour)
  9. Salt to taste
  10. Mustard oil for deep frying.

Procedure

In a mixing bowl take onion, green chilies, ginger, cilantro leaves and sprinkle salt over it. Mix the salt thoroughly by hand. Leave it for 10 – 15 minutes. The salt will bring out the natural juices of the raw ingredients reducing the amount of water required for binding.

Slowly add besan and keep mixing it with the other ingredients. Once you have utilized all your besan you may need to  add little besan or water depending on the requirement to bind things together.

Add baking powder and mix it once more.

Heat oil in a wok till it smokes and then reduce the heat. Now using a spoon gently slide small amount of mixture into the hot oil. Try not to over crowd the oil. Fry on medium heat till all sides are golden brown and crispy. Remove and drain on a paper towel.

Sprinkle black salt all over and serve.

Monday, March 11, 2013

Caramel Custard or Flan

IMG_9727When I first visited a Mexican restaurant, I ordered a desert called “flan” and to my pleasant surprise they served what I know as “caramel custard”, which was one of my favorite. My mom used to make it in the pressure cooker. My daughter loved it and so I frequently make it these days but I use the oven.

You can either make it in small individual ramekins to give it a nice shape or you can make it in a big baking dish, which is what I have done here.

Ingredients

  1. 1 cup evaporated milk
  2. 1/2 cup sweetened condensed milk
  3. 1/4 cup heavy cream
  4. 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  5. 3 large eggs
  6. 1tsp. vanilla extract

Procedure

Position rack in the entre of the oven and preheat to 350F.

In a sauce pan heat the sugar till it melts and turns golden brown. This is the caramel sauce. Quickly pour caramel into a oven proof baking pan and immediately tilt the pan to coat the base. In another mixing bowl whisk all the other ingredients without creating lots of foam. Pour the mixture through small sieve into the prepared baking pan.

Set the pan into a larger baking tray and pour enough hot water into the baking tray so that it comes halfway up the side. Bake until the center is set. This will take about 25 minutes.

Cool on a wire rack and then chill in the refrigerator till you serve.

Run a small knife around the custard to loosen. Place desert dish on top of the custard pan and holding tightly turn dish and pan upside down. Shake the pan gently to loosen custard. Caramel syrup will run down sides of custard forming a sauce.

Friday, March 1, 2013

Rawa Idli

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Having lived in the southern part of India for one fourth of my life has had it’s effect on my cooking as well.One of the things we picked up heavily from Bangalore and Hyderabad is idli.

Making idli in a South-Indian household is easy because there is always batter ready at hand as it’s used in a variety of their cuisine. However, the same is not true for a bong household. So making idli turns out to be an involved affair.

In our Hyderabad home we had a cook who used to make and also taught me the much easier Rawa Idli. The good part of Rawa idli is that there is nothing to grind before hand and no lengthy fermentation process. It tastes great though.

The soaked+ground dal in the ingredient below is optional and something I had only seen my cook use.

Ingredients

  1. 1 cup rawa (sooji)
  2. 1/4 cup urad dal (split black gram) soaked and ground into a thick paste (optional)
  3. 1tsp. dry urad dal (for tempering)
  4. 1/4 cup finely chopped carrot
  5. 1/4 cup thinly sliced French beans
  6. Handful of chopped coriander leaves
  7. 1 cup plain curd
  8. 1/2 tsp. Eno Fruit Salt (or baking soda)
  9. 1tsp. mustard seeds
  10. 1tsp. dry chana dal
  11. 1tsp. hing ( Asafetida)
  12. Few curry leaves
  13. Salt
  14. 2tsp. oil

Procedure

Heat oil in a frying pan and temper it with mustard seeds, hing and curry leaves. When they stop sputtering add chana dal and urad dal to it and fry till they turn golden brown. Lower the heat and add rawa to it and fry for 2- 3 minutes. Switch off the heat and allow it to cool down completely.

Mix the roasted rawa mixture with urad dal paste and curd. Add all the chopped vegetables and salt. Lastly add fruit salt to it and mix everything together to make a batter. Keep it aside for 15 minutes.

Grease the idli molds with ghee and add idli batter to it. Steam for 12 – 15 minutes. If you are using pressure cooker, remove the weight.

Allow it to cool before you un mold.

Serve it with coconut chutney…

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