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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.

IMG_1857

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.

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