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Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Aloo, Cholar Torkari

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This is a common curry served at road side shacks in and around Kolkata along with Puri and Kachuri. Most of us grew up gobbling this down along with the famous Luchi. I made some of this recently to go with Dahl Puri.

Ingredients

  • 8-10 medium size potatoes, halved and cut into quarters
  • 1/2 cup chick peas soaked overnight and boiled
  • 1 tbsp. paanchphoron (five whole spices mixed together in equal quantities – celery seeds, fennel seeds, cumin, Nigella seeds and fenugreek seeds)
  • 5-6 whole dry red chilies
  • 1 tsp. hing (Asafetida)
  • 1 tsp. turmeric powder
  • 1 tsp. red chili powder
  • 1 tsp. coriander powder
  • 1/2 tsp. sugar
  • 2-3 tbsp. mustard oil
  • Salt to taste
  • 1 and 1/2 cup of water
     

Procedure

Heat oil in a pressure cooker. Temper it with whole dry red chilies, hing and five spice mixture. Let them splutter for a while.

Add the quartered potatoes and the boiled chick peas. Fry on low heat for a minute. 

Add turmeric powder, chili powder and coriander powder to it and cook on medium heat for another minute.

Add water, salt and sugar. Give a nice mix and pressure cook it till one whistle comes.

It goes excellent with puri, kachori. I served it with Dahl parantha.

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Dahl Puri

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One of our friends kept raving about some Dahl Puri which he had at a small restaurant in Seattle. He was so impressed that I had to also try it out. After a few attempts we finally got to Pam’s Kitchen at the University District one evening. I was surprised to know how a large percentage of Caribbean population is of Indian origin and our food has taken a different twist in their kitchen. I loved the Dahl Puri which they served along with a medley of Goat curry and Potato-bean curry. Even though they call it Puri it is more closer to Indian Parantha than the traditional Puri.

This is my recreation of the same, but obviously with a bong twist.

Ingredients

For the filling

  • 2 cups yellow split peas
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1/4 tsp. turmeric powder
  • 1 tsp. ground roasted cumin
  • 2 green chilies
  • Salt to taste

For the dough

  • 3 cups all purpose flour
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 2 tbsp. baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp. instant yeast 
  • 1 cup water

Procedure

Wash split peas and boil them in a sauce pan with about six cups of water and a pinch of turmeric powder. Once it comes to a rolling boil reduce the heat and cook for about thirty minutes.

Drain them on a strainer and let it cool down.

Take all the ingredients of the filling in a food processor. Grind them into a smooth mixture. There should not be any whole piece of grain left in the mixture.

In a mixing bowl take flour, yeast, salt and baking powder. Add water little at a time and start kneading. You might need to add little more water than a cup. keep kneading until you make a firm dough.

Cover the dough with a kitchen towel and let it rest for thirty minutes.

Divide the dough into six portion and make smaller balls out of them.flatten out each dough ball in your hand to form a six inch circle and dust one side of it with dry flour. Fill this up with 3 tbsp. of filling and then using your finger close the open end and seal.

On a flour dusted surface roll out each stuffed dough ball into a disc of 12 inch diameter.

Heat a skillet (Tawa) on medium high heat. Brush the surface with oil. Place the rolled out disc on hot tawa and let this side cook for thirty seconds. Flip it over. Once the puri is done it well swell up like a ball. Remove from tawa.

Serve hot.

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Friday, October 24, 2014

Adraaki Chicken - Ginger Chicken Indian Style

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My daughters only first cousin Sumo loves spicy chicken. He told me to post a recipe which his mom (my sis in law) could make for him. Since today is Bhai-Phonta, this goes out to Sumo from his sister Pori.

Aadraki chicken is the Indian Ginger Chicken (not the more popular indo-chinese dish of the same same). As the name suggests copious quantities of ginger is used to make this spicy yet delicious dry curry.

Ingredients

  • 2lbs. boneless chicken cut into small pieces
  • 2 medium onions chopped
  • 1 large tomato chopped
  • 2-3 green chilies slit lengthwise
  • 3 tsp. ginger paste
  • 1/2 tsp. turmeric powder
  • 1 tsp. red chili powder (If your spice level is low use paprika powder or Kashmiri Red chili powder)
  • 1 tsp. coriander powder
  • 1/2 tsp. cumin powder
  • 1/2 tsp. black pepper powder
  • 1 lime
  • 1 tsp. whole cumin seeds
  • One slice of ginger cut into sticks
  • 2 tbsp. chopped fresh cilantro
  • 1/2 tsp. sugar
  • Salt to taste
  • 3-4 tbsp. oil

Procedure

In a bowl take chicken pieces and add ginger paste, turmeric powder, black pepper powder, lime juice and salt.

Heat oil  in a wide pan and temper it with whole cumin seeds. Once they stop sputtering add chopped onions and fry them on medium heat till the edges start becoming brown. Add green chilies and marinated chicken to it.

Add all the dry spices like coriander, cumin and chili powder. Fry the chicken on medium heat along with all the spices for five to seven minutes.

Now add sugar along with chopped tomato and ginger sticks. Keep frying till tomato melts and the chicken is cooked. In this dish we won’t use any water and the chicken will be cooked uncovered so controlling the heat is important.

Garnish with fresh cilantro, green chilies and ginger sticks. Serve with hot chapatis or paranthas.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Mango Peda

 

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This was the longest time I have not blogged since I started. My one and a half month long trip to India was the initial reason. After I returned Durga Puja kicked in, and with that started the season of house parties. Finally now that I have a little breather, I thought I’d post about the sweets I made for this Diwali. I love peda which is a sweet-dish made of condensed milk. I have been making them for some time. This is a little variation from the traditional milk peda in that I added mango pulps. Hope you like it.

Ingredients

  • 2 cups mango pulp (I used readymade one, you can use fresh pulp as well)
  • 1/4 cup sugar (If you are using fresh mango pulp)
  • 1 cup milk powder
  • 2 cups whole milk
  • 1/3 can sweetened condensed milk (Approx. 100gms)
  • 2 tbsp. saffron
  • 1 tbsp. freshly ground cardamom powder
  • 2 tbsp. ghee (Clarified butter)
For Garnishing
  • Slivered almonds
  • Chopped pistachios
  • Saffron
  • Seeds of black cardamom
  • Warq (Silver paper)

Procedure

In a bowl mix milk powder along with milk. Whisk well so that the mixture is smooth and lump free.
If you are using fresh mango pulp follow this step. In a pan take mango pulp along with sugar and cook it on medium heat till the mixture turns thick. If you are using canned mango pulp skip this step.
In a heavy bottom pan take mango pulp (canned or the one you just cooked). Add the milk mixture to it along with the saffron strands. Mix well. Start cooking on medium heat while stirring continuously.
Once the mixture is reduced to its half add condensed milk along with a tbsp. ghee. Cook till the mixture turns into a dough and leaves the sides of the pan.Turn off the heat and sprinkle cardamom powder. Mix well and let it cool down completely.
Grease your palms with ghee. Take small portions of the dough and make small balls out of it. Flatten each of them by pressing slightly in between your palms.
Arrange them on a greased tray. Stick one black cardamom seed at the centre of each peda. Top with silver paper and garnish with almonds, pistachio and saffron.

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Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Ginger Cookies

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When we were kids we used to get these ginger biscuits with the word BIL imprinted on it from most probably Britannia. I loved those biscuits and since we are a little away from inventing the time machine to go back and get those, I make my own. Try them out, they make wonderful accompaniment to some great Darjeeling tea to warm up your cool evenings.

Ingredients

  • 2 and 1/2 cup all purpose flour
  • 150 gm. unsalted butter
  • 1/4 cup honey                 
  • 100 gm. dark brown cane sugar
  • 100 gm. cane sugar (White)
  • 2 tbsp. freshly squeezed ginger juice ( I grate around 2 inch fresh ginger root and squeeze out the juice)
  • 2 tbsp. lemon zest
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 1 cup granulated white sugar for garnishing

NOTE: If you don’t want to add fresh ginger juice you can use 1 tbsp. ginger powder

Procedure

Preheat oven to 350F.

In a bowl melt butter and allow it to cool down a little. To it add honey, egg, lemon zest and ginger juice. Stir it well to mix them well.

In another bowl sift flour with baking soda. Add two types of sugar to it and give a nice mix.

Now slowly add this flour mixture little at a time to the liquid mixture to form a dough. Cover the dough with a cling wrap and keep it in the refrigerator for an hour.

In a medium sized bowl take half a cup of white granulated sugar and keep handy. Now make small lemon sized balls from the dough and roll it over the sugar coating them thoroughly.

Place them on a baking sheet keeping spacing about 1.5 inches apart. Flatten each of them with your palm and bake them for about 10 – 12 minutes. The cookies will be firm with a little soft centers. Take them out of the oven and cool them on a wire rack.

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Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Chole Gosth

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Generally I make Chole Gosth when I have little left over meat. Not enough for everyone at home but at the same time the folks want to eat something non-vegetarian. It’s like cheating a little bit, but not really because it tastes awesome (if I may say so myself Smile).

Ingredients

  • 2 lb. mutton cut into medium pieces on bone
  • 1/2 lb. chickpeas soaked overnight
  • 2 large onion finely chopped
  • 1 tsp. ginger paste
  • 1 tbsp. garlic paste
  • 2 large tomatoes chopped
  • 5-6 green chilies
  • 1 tsp. cumin powder
  • 1 tbsp. red chili powder
  • 2 tbsp. chole masala
  • 1 tsp. sugar
  • Salt to taste
  • 4 tbsp. oil
  • Handful of freshly chopped cilantro for garnishing

Procedure

In a pressure cooker take soaked chole and add 2 cups of water along with a pinch of salt. Cook till two whistles come. Let the pressure settle down on its own. Open the lid and transfer the chole in some other container. Keep an eye not to overcook them. They should retain their shape.

Add 4 tbsp. oil in the pressure cooker and add chopped onions. Fry on low heat till you can see the edges turn brown. Add mutton pieces to it and fry them along with onions on medium heat till the meat takes a light brown hue. Add tomatoes, green chilies, ginger garlic paste. Sprinkle cumin powder, chili powder,chole masala, salt and sugar. Sauté on medium flame till the oil starts getting separated from the edges.

Pour half a cup of water and give a nice mix. Close the pressure cooker and cook the mutton on medium heat for 15 minutes. Let the pressure release on it own. Open the lid add add the boiled chick peas to it.

Mix once again and allow them to simmer together on low heat till you have a thick gravy.Turn off the heat.

Garnish with freshly chopped cilantro and green chilies.

Serve with Naan, chapathi or Paranthas.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Sahi Mutton Chanp

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Southern Amenia, a famous restaurant in Golpark, Kolkata served a different kind of Chaap. It differed from the traditional Kolkata Chaap in being a bit mellow. When we were in college we used to love frequenting Southen Amenia just for this Sahi Chaap. Unfortunately worker dispute lead to it’s closure. Some of the workers even started making it on their own and selling it from a shack right outside the Amenia building. Now that all remnants of it has disappeared I have to make it for myself. Hope you enjoy it as well.

Ingredients

  • 1.5 lb. mutton chops
  • 1 medium onion coarsely chopped
  • 7-8 garlic cloves crushed
  • 2-3 dry red chili
  • 4 tbsp. thick plain yogurt
  • 1 tsp. red chili powder 
  • 8-10 almonds blanched and peeled
  • 1/4 cup milk 
  • 1 tsp. freshly ground Bengali garam masala
  • 1 tsp. rose water 
  • 2 tbsp. ghee (Clarified Butter)
  • 2 tbsp. oil 
  • Salt to taste

Procedure

Make a smooth paste of almond with milk and reserve it for later use.

You need to get mutton (goat meat) chop pieces to make chaap. In Kolkata you can just let the butcher know and he will make the chops ready for you. Outside your homeland, you need to specifically instruct the butcher to break the chops with the broad side of their flat knife. Otherwise use your metal meat tenderizer to flatten the chops.

Heat 1 tbsp. ghee in a pan till it melts. Now add chopped onion, sliced ginger and crushed garlic to it. Fry on medium heat till the onions start getting a golden brown hue. Turn off the heat and let them cool down to room temperature.

Now add the fried spices to a grinder and make a smooth paste of them with a spoon of yogurt.

Wash the chops and pat them dry.In a mixing bowl mix yogurt with the onion, ginger, garlic paste and red chili powder. Season the mixture with salt.

Rub this spice mixture well on both sides of the chops. Allow it to rest for half an hour.

Heat oil in a wide frying pan till it melts. Now reduce the heat and temper it whole dry red chilies. Arrange the mutton chops in a single layer. Cook it covered on very low heat for about 45 minutes.  Frequently remove the cover and mix the spices. Fry the chops till you can see that the oil gets separated from the rest of the spices.

Now add almond paste to it and cook for another five minutes on low heat.

Sprinkle rose water and garam masala powder over it. Drizzle one spoon of ghee and keep it covered till you serve. Enjoy with Biryani or laccha paratha.

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Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Pish pash

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Living in the Pacific Northwest I am used to rain. Unlike others I never grow tired of it. After a spell of hectic summer schedule I loved when rain decided to return to our evergreen state. The parched trees and my mind welcomed it. I decided to just soak it in and be a bit lazy. But I also wanted to provide something warm for everyone’s plate. Pish pash works wonders in these scenarios. It’s an Anglo-Indian one pot meal, where rice is cooked with Indian whole spices, meat, veggies and potatoes. It is primarily flavored with Ginger.

As the name suggests it’s a medley and you can play with what you decide to put in it, chicken works equally well as mutton or goat meat.

Ingredients

  • 1 cup long grain rice washed and drained
  • 500 gm. medium sized mutton pieces on bone
  • 1 onion cut into medium sized chunks
  • 2 medium sized potato cut into quarters
  • 2 cm. square of ginger cut into thin square slices
  • 1/2 cup green peas (I used frozen)
  • Salt to taste
  • 2 tbsp. refined oil
  • For tempering
    • 2 bay leaves
    • 1” cinnamon stick
    • 2 green cardamom pods
    • 2 cloves
  • For garnishing
    • 1 medium sized onion thinly sliced
    • 8-10 cloves garlic cut into round slices
    • 5-6 dry red chilies

Procedure

Heat oil and add onion chunks and potato pieces to it. Sauté on medium heat for two to three minutes and then remove them and keep aside.

To the same oil add ingredients listed under tempering. When the spices starts sizzling add mutton pieces to it and sear the for a minute or two. Add salt and 4 cups of water. Pressure cook till the meat is tender. When the pressure releases on its own remove the lid.

Add washed and drain rice to it along with the sautéed onion and potato. Season with salt. Add enough water so that there is 5 fingers of water left above the rice mixture level. Mix well and cook it covered on medium heat till the rice is cooked and mushy.

By this time heat butter in a pan and fry the red chilies and garlic slices till they turn crispy. Remove them on a paper towel. Use the remaining butter to crisp fry the onion slices.

Take a ladle full of pish pash and top it up with the crispy fried red chilies, onion and garlic. Best enjoyed on a lazy rainy night. 

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Monday, July 28, 2014

Peas or Koraishutir Kochuri

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Peas Puri or Koraishutir Kochuri as bongs call it is brings on fond memory of Kolkata. It reminds me of the freezing 60°F (15°C) winters in Kolkata. It’s during that time fresh green peas hit the local market. The kids in the house were given the chore of taking the peas out of their pods. The yield rates were around 50%, the other 50% were stuffed in the mouths with small little hands.

These days in the world of frozen goodies, the famed Koraishutir Kochuri can be made any time of the year, all that is needed is a short trip to the local store. 

Ingredients

  1. Frozen peas-1 cup (preferably the fresh ones, or else frozen peas will do)
  2. Ginger-1 inch
  3. Green Chili –2
  4. Asfoetida / Asafetida / hing – 1pinch
  5. Dry roasted cumin powder – 1 teaspoon
  6. Whole wheat flour – 1 cup
  7. All purpose flour (maida) – 2 cup
  8. salt- 1 teaspoon
  9. White oil or ghee(clarified butter) -2 tb spoon
  10. Warm water - 1/2 cup
  11. Dry flour for rolling the paratha – as required

Procedure

In a grinder add a little water, peas, ginger and green chili. Make a fine paste out of IMG_7367them.

Take oil in a frying pan. Add one pinch of asfoetida. Now add the paste you just made. Keep on stirring till the water completely evaporates and the pea mixture becomes dry and thick enough to make small balls out of it. Now add salt to your taste and if the peas are not sweet enough you can add little sugar to it. Let it cool and then sprinkle some dry roasted cumin powder.

IMG_7370Now we need to make the dough. In a wide vessel take the flour, salt and the oil or ghee for shortening. Rub the ghee into the flour with your finger tips. Now slowly add the warm water and knead it until the dough becomes soft and smooth. Cover it with a damp cloth or kitchen towel and allow it to rest for 30 minutes. Once again knead it and make small ping pong sized ball out of it.

Take a ball you made out from the flour and keep it on your palm. Using the other IMG_7371palm press it and make a small disc. You can also use your rolling pin to make this disc. Make a small ball out of your pea stuffing and put it in the center of the disc.  Bring the sides together and cover the opening. Now flatten it with your palm.

Roll out by applying little oil on both the sides.

IMG_7373Take oil in a wok or kadai and heat it. Deep fry the kochuri till both sides puff up.

Traditionally koraishutir kochuri is had with chana dal or potato curry (aloor dum). However, this time when I made it we had some home made mango chutney from my Tamil friends, it made a killer combo.

Healthy option

If you are like me and need to take care of someone who is prone to over-eat you can take the healthier option of making Peas Paratha.

The stuffing is made exactly the same way. For the dough replace with whole wheat flour. While rolling out the dough use more dough to create larger parathas. Also the dip-fry step is omitted in the Paratha. Heat a tawa or a skillet. Place the paratha on the heated tawa and cook for half a minute. Now flip the other side and pour oil with a spoon around the edge. Cook this side and flip again. You will notice brown spots on the surfaces  when the paratha is cooked.

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Semiya Kheer

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Eid Mubarak to all my friends celebrating Eid today. Hope you have been having your fill of Kheer or Payesh at the end of iftar parties. Here goes my recipe for Semiya Kheer that I like to serve as dessert at the end of a heavy traditional Bengali meal.

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup vermicelli
  • 5 cups whole milk
  • 3-4 tbsp. mixed dry fruits (Cashew, Raisin, Pistachio)
  • 1/4 tsp. cardamom Powder
  • 1 tbsp. ghee
  • Pinch of saffron

Procedure

In a heavy bottom pan take milk and let it come to a boil. Once it starts boiling lower the heat and keep stirring it till it reduces to about 3 cups.

In a non stick pan heat ghee till it melts. Add cashew and raisins to it and fry on low flame till the nuts take a golden brown color. Remove and set aside.

Add vermicelli to the same pan and roast it on medium flame with the remaining ghee until turns golden brown.

Add roasted vermicelli and half of the dry fruits to the reduced milk. Cook on medium heat until the vermicelli is cooked.

Add sugar to it. The milk will become thinner immediately after you add sugar. Keep it simmering till you get the previous consistency. Turn off the heat and add cardamom powder to it. Stir well.

I like my kheer hot directly from the stove. You can go ahead and chill it in refrigerator. Garnish with rest of the dry fruits and saffron.

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Sunday, July 27, 2014

Murg Masur Pulao

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Eid Mubarak to all my friends who are celebrating Eid tomorrow. Hope you are filling to your brim at the Iftar parties.

When I was a college student, one of my friends Shama used to bring Murg Masur Pulao to the class just after Eid. It would come in a huge container and in no time disappear. I have no idea where Shama is today, but I hope she is doing well and still enjoys this great dish. Thanks to the fantastic pulao I am thinking of her from another corner of the world.

Ingredients

  • 500 gm. bone in chicken cut into medium pieces
  • 2 and 1/2 cup long grain Basmamti rice washed and soaked in water for 30 minutes
  • 1 cup Masoor (Red lentil with skin) washed and soaked for 2 hours
  • 2 medium potatoes cut into quarters
  • 2 large onions thinly sliced
  • 2 large tomatoes cut into round thin slices
  • 1/2 cup plain yogurt
  • 1 tbsp. ginger paste
  • 1 tbsp. garlic paste
  • 2 tsp. red chili powder
  • 1/2 tsp. cumin powder
  • 1/2 tsp. coriander powder
  • 1 tsp. garam masala powder
  • Whole garam masala ( 2 black cardamom, 4 green cardamom, 1” cinnamon stick, 5 cloves, 1 tp. shahi jeera)
  • 1 bunch fresh fenugreek (methi) leaves finely chopped
  • 4 tbsp. mint leaves
  • 4 tbsp. chopped cilantro or coriander leaves
  • Salt to taste                 
  • 1/4 cup oil
  • 2 tbsp. ghee
  • 1/4 cup warm milk
  • Few Saffron strands 
  • Few drops Kewra water

Procedure

In a heavy bottom pan heat oil and add onion slices to it. Fry till golden brown. Remove half of the fried onion on a paper towel and reserve for later use.

In the rest of the onion add ginger garlic paste, and chili powder. Sauté till the raw smell subsides. Now add chopped fenugreek leaves and tomato slices to it. sprinkle coriander and cumin powder. Fry till the moisture dries up.

Add chicken pieces to it and fry well so that the meat pieces are nicely coated with spices. Add salt and cook it covered till the meat is tender.

Now add potato quarter to it and fry along with the meat for about 5 minutes. Sprinkle garam masala powder and keep it covered. Add yogurt to it and cook till chicken and potatoes are tender.

In a separate pan boil the soaked lentil with salt till cooked. Take care so that they retain their shape.

In a large pan boil enough water with salt and whole garam masala and add soaked rice to it. Boil till the rice is 90% done. Drain the water.

Soak saffron strands in warm milk and keep aside.  

For layering in a large pan take half of the rice. Lay evenly the chicken and potato mixture with the lentils on top. Add chopped cilantro, mint and slit green chilies over it. Add  half of the golden brown onions.

For the top layer spread evenly the remaining rice. sprinkle saffron milk over it. Top it up with the rest of the chopped mint, cilantro and green chilies.

Finish it up with the rest of the golden onions and kewra water. 

Place this pan covered on the lowest mark of heat for 30 minutes.

Dish out and serve it with raita.

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Sunday, June 22, 2014

Malai Chum - chum

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This recipe took a long time to get published as I just didn’t get time over the holidays. A lot of friends has been asking me for it and finally it’s here. Sorry for the delay. I made this over Diwali for my Husband’s office Diwali get-together. Indian folks in his office were supposed to bring in a dish each, I decided to go with traditional Bengali sweets which is famous across India. I chose Malai chumchum as it is popular for its mild sweetness and silky soft texture.

Ingredients For Chaana

  1. 8 cups whole milk
  2. 1tsp. saffron
  3. 1/2 cup vinegar diluted in 1/2 cup water

Ingredients For Sugar syrup

  1. 4cups of sugar
  2. 10 cups of water

Procedure Of Making Chaana

In a heavy bottom pan take the milk and bring it to a boil. Optionally you can use saffron in the milk to give the chum chum a rich color, or omit it for clear white chum chums. If you choose to use saffron you will see within few minutes it will start releasing its color. Once it starts boiling reduce the heat and slowly pour diluted vinegar to it while stirring the milk.

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Soon the milk will start curdling. It means the milk solids will be separated from the watery whey.IMG_6386Now strain the milk mixture on a colander lined by a cheese cloth.IMG_6390

Rinse the milk solids with fresh running water to remove any residual acidity.

Wrap the cheesecloth around itself to squeeze out moisture from the chaana (paneer).

Now tie the muslin cloth from the faucet of your kitchen sink for 3-4hrs to drain out the last drop of whey.

Take chaana out of the cheese cloth and knead it with gentle pressure to make a soft dough.

Now take small balls out of it and roll them in elongated shape. Flatten each of them by putting them in between your palms. Keep them on a clean plate.

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Take a wide sauce pan and dissolve sugar into the water. Bring it to a boil on high heat.

When it starts boiling reduce the heat to medium and allow the syrup to simmer for another 5 – 6 minutes.

Remove the lid and gently release chum chums in batches; into it. Chum chum will expand when it is cooked, so keep enough room for their expansion.

Cook them covered on medium heat for 15 minutes and then turn them over. Cook for another 5 minutes and then remove them with a slotted spoon.

Arrange them on a plate and allow them to cool in a refrigerator for 30 minutes.

By this time prepare malai for chum chums.

Ingredients for malai

  1. 1 cup whole milk
  2. 1 cup heavy cream
  3. 2tsp. sugar
  4. Crushed pistachio for garnishing
  5. Optional saffron

Procedure of making Malai

In a heavy bottom pan mix together milk, heavy cream and sugar. Optionally add saffron. Now let it boil on medium heat. Stir continuously to avoid scalding.

Soon you will see it starts getting thick. Cook for some more time till it gets a spread like consistency.

Take out the chum chums from refrigerator and either using a flat knife or using pastry bag with malai filling spread the warm malai on the top surface of chum chums. Let it soak for a minute, then apply the 2nd layer. Sprinkle crushed pistachio and saffron over them to garnish.IMG_4871

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Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Kumro Saag diye Motor Dal

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IMG_1289We are regular visitors to the local Farmer’s market. We love the fresh organic produce as well as the artisan food. In one of those visits I was flabbergasted to find Kumro saag (Pumpkin twigs) and pumpkin flower being sold in a corner. I bought a bagful (literally!!) and made some delectable Saag with Yellow split peas using my grandmoms recipe.

Ingredients

  • 1 cup motor dal (Yellow split peas)
  • 2 cups chopped pumpkin twigs along with their leaves (Cut into 1” pieces)
  • 1 tsp. kalojeera (Kalonji)
  • 2 dry red chilies
  • 1 tsp. turmeric powder
  • 1 tbsp. sugar
  • 2 tbsp. oil
  • Salt to taste

Procedure

Wash dal thoroughly and cook in a pressure cooker with 2 cups water, turmeric powder and salt till one whistle comes.

In a pan heat 2tbsp. oil and temper it with kalojeera and dry red chili. When the spices stop sputtering add pumpkin twigs to it. Sprinkle one pinch salt and sauté for a minute. Cook it covered for about 3-4 minutes. By this time the leaves will start wilting.

Remove the lid and add boiled dal to it. Add sugar and mix. Check the seasoning and adjust accordingly. Let it simmer for about another 5 minutes on medium heat. This dal will have a medium consistency.

Serve with plain rice. 

Monday, June 16, 2014

Dhania Maachie (Fish in Cilantro Sauce)

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My experiment using local fresh fish for traditional Indian recipes continues with this recipe. Commonly Dhania Maachie is made with fresh water small fishes like Khoira, Puti in India. However, my supply of those are restricted to the frozen section in the local Bangladeshi store and I suspect they were caught and packaged sometime in the last century. In this version I used striped bass and it turned out pretty well.

Ingredients

  • 4 medium sized fish steaks (I used wild striped Bass)
  • 1 large tomato roughly chopped
  • 1 medium bunch of cilantro
  • 4 medium cloves of garlic
  • 2 green chilies
  • 1 tbsp. + 1 pinch nigella seeds (Kalojeera)
  • 1 tsp. black pepper corn
  • 1 green chili ( quantity can be changed depending on your heat tolerance level)
  • 2 tbsp. turmeric powder
  • 1 tsp. sugar
  • 4 tbsp. mustard oil
  • Salt to taste

Procedure

Smear fish steaks with 1 tbsp. turmeric powder and salt. Keep it aside for about fifteen minutes.

Heat 2tbsp. oil in a frying pan till it smokes. Reduce the heat and fry fish steaks till both sides turn golden. Remove from oil and drain them on a paper towel.

Dry roast pepper corn and nigella seeds for about a minute. Now dry grind them in a grinder. Add cilantro, garlic and green chilies to it. Make a fine paste of them by using minimum water.

Heat 2 tbsp. oil in a pan and temper it with a pinch of nigella seeds. When the seeds stop spluttering add chopped tomato to it and sauté them on medium hear till they become mushy.

Once you see a fine line of oil separating out from the tomato add the cilantro paste along with a tsp. of turmeric powder to it. Keep sautéing till you find a nice aroma and the raw smell goes away.

Now add half cup of water along with sugar and  salt. Give a nice mix and let it come to a boil. Now gently release the fish steaks into the gravy and let it simmer for few minutes. When you see that the steaks are coated with the spices and the oil has been released you know you are done. Serve with plain hot rice.

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Thursday, June 12, 2014

Bhendi Posto (Okra in Poppy Seed Paste)

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My daughters favorite veggy is Bhendi or Ladies finger. If she were to choose she chooses Bhendi over mutton, which is pretty weird Smile

So as you can guess we buy tons of Bhendi and make it in different ways. The most common being Bhendi fry with Daal, the next being Bhendi Posto (Okra with Poppy seeds).

Ingredients

  • 1lb. okra small sized
  • 2 tbsp. poppy seed
  • 1 dry red chili
  • 1 tsp. kalonji (Kalojeera)
  • 1 tsp. sugar
  • Salt to taste
  • Oil

Procedure

In a grinder make a smooth paste of poppy seed and dry red chili with little water.

Wash okra and pat them dry. Now snip off both ends.

Heat  4-5 tbsp. oil in a pan and temper it with kalonji seeds. When it stops sputtering add okra and sauté them on high heat for a minute. Sprinkle salt and sugar and cook it covered for 2-3 minutes. Remove the lid and do rest of the cooking uncovered. When it is almost done add poppy seed paste and mix with okra gently so that they don’t break.At the end each okra should be coated by poppy seed paste. Add 1 tsp. mustard oil at the end to get an extra zing.

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Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Aam Dal (Lentil with Raw Green Mango)

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We are just back from Mexico. The weather there constantly reminded me of sultry Kolkata. The temperature hovered around 35 Celsius and the humidity at 99%. Even though I was having my fill of Taco’s and Tequila’s what I craved was Mango Daal and Alubhaja, the staple summer lunch of Bong’s.

Ingredients

  • 1 cup red lentil
  • 1 small raw mango peeled and cut into big chunks
  • 1/2 tsp. turmeric powder
  • 1/2 tsp. sugar
  • 1 tsp. black mustard seeds
  • 2-3 dry red chilies
  • 1 tbsp. mustard oil
  • salt to taste

Procedure

Wash lentils till water runs clear and transparent. Add chunks of mango, turmeric powder and a pinch of salt to it. Boil lentil with 2 cups of water in a pressure cooker till 1whistle comes. Turn off the heat and wait till the pressure settles down.

Open the lid and gently stir the mixture once.

Heat mustard oil in a small pan till it starts smoking. Now reduce the heat and temper it with mustard seeds and whole dry red chilies. Once they stop spluttering add the tempered oil into the lentil mixture. Season it with salt and sugar and once again turn on the heat. Let it simmer for a minute or two and then turn the heat off.

Serve with hot rice and alubhaja.

Monday, May 12, 2014

Alubhaja–Extra Crispy Potato Fry

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It is hard to explain to someone who has never had daal with crispy potato fry, how good it is. It all sounds very simple until you really give it a try. The cut and fry has to be just perfect.

Digha a beach town close to Kolkata is a regular vacationing spot for most Bongs. We used to also go there for our Zoology field trips. None of those visits were complete without the visit to Parijat and Baluchari restaurants in Digha. They were known for their seafood and more for their crispy potato fries. They were what we used to call “plate system” where you choose the type of meal and they would ensure your plate is never empty. However, they soon imposed the upper limit on the fries as people would go on asking for it.

I had to impose a similar upper limit when I made the same fries. My daughter was unstoppable.

Ingredients

  • 4 medium sized potatoes
  • 1/2 tsp. turmeric powder
  • 1/2 tsp. salt 
  • Ice cold water
  • Oil for deep frying

Procedure

Peel the potato and cut it into thin round slices. Now with a sharp knife cut them into juliennes. You will have to cut the potato very thinly and evenly. Make sure to dunk them in water as soon as you cut them.

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Once you are all done with cutting wash them thoroughly and dunk them in ice cold water for about 15 minutes. Drain the water and again dip the potato juliennes in another set of ice cold water for 20-30 minutes. This time add half a teaspoon of turmeric powder in it.

Drain the water and spread the potatoes on a paper under fan to make them completely dry.

Take enough oil in a deep wok and heat it till it smokes. Add a handful of potato juliennes in hot oil at a time and keep it stirring continuously with a slotted spoon for even cooking. It also prevents formation of any lumps.

Continue frying them in the hot oil. It takes about 3-4 minutes for the potatoes to become crispy. Now reduce the heat and remove them with a slotted spoon. Drain them on a paper towel.

Sprinkle salt just before serving. Alubhaja tastes best with hot rice and plain musur dal

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Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Chingri Potol er Jhal

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Potol or Parwal was rarely available outside Bengal. However, with the whole world shrinking I do see them now even in the US at the local Indian grocery store. It is one of those veggies which kids (at least mine) hate eating. So I add shrimps to make it more enticing.

The masala used has to be freshly roasted and ground spices without which the dish is incomplete.

Ingredients

  • 10-12 potol or parwal
  • 3 medium sized potato peeled and cut into quarters
  • 20 medium sized prawns deveined and cleaned
  • 1 small knob ginger
  • 2-3 green chilies slit lengthwise
  • 1 tbsp. + 1 tsp. whole cumin
  • 1 tbsp. whole coriander seeds
  • 1 dry red chili
  • 2 green cardamom
  • 2 cloves
  • 1” cinnamon stick
  • 3 bay leaves
  • 2 tsp. turmeric powder
  • 1 tsp. red chili powder
  • 1 tsp. sugar
  • Salt to taste
  • 1 tbsp. ghee (Clarified butter)
  • Mustard oil

Procedure

Scrape off the skin of parwals and cut them into halves.

Marinate the prawns with 1 tsp. turmeric powder and salt. Keep them aside.

Now dry roast 1 tbsp. cumin seeds, coriander seed, dry red chili, cardamom, cloves, cinnamon and 1 bay leaf. Roast till you just starting to get their aroma. Immediately remove them from the hot pan and allow them to cool down.

First dry grind the roasted spices into a powder. Add ginger to it and make a paste with all of these by adding little water.

Heat mustard oil in a pan and fry the marinated prawns on low heat for a minute. Remove and save them for later use.

IMG_1275Temper the same oil with 1 tsp. cumin seeds and 2 bay leaves. Let the sizzle. Add parwal halves and potato quarters to it. Fry on medium heat till the edges of the vegetables take a brownish hue.

Add the spice paste you made and reduce the heat to low. Keep sautéing till the raw smell goes off. You may need to sprinkle some water if the spices tend to burn.

Pour about a cup of water. sprinkle sugar and salt to your taste and mix well.

Cook it covered on medium heat till the veggies are done. Add the fried prawns and let it simmer foe another two minutes.

Add a dollop of ghee along with the green chilies and keep it covered till you serve with plain hot rice.

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Railway Mutton Curry

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[Updated]

Railway mutton curry takes you back to the colonial era when travelling by first class train was for the privileged. This not too spicy  mutton dish used to be served in the railway refreshment room and long distance train to cater the British palate. This curry was generally served with bread or dinner rolls. The vinegar used in the curry used to extend the shelf life for the long haul train rides.

There are many variants of this recipe which clearly indicates the train route they were served on. The usage of tamarind and curry leaves are tell-tale sign of Southern Railways. Eastern recipes omitted these. I chose the one which is more close to my choices.

Ingredients

  1. 1lb. goat meat cut into medium pieces
  2. 2 medium onions finely chopped
  3. 3 potatoes peeled and cut into  halves  ( I used 5 whole baby potatoes )
  4. 4-5 cloves of garlic
  5. 1” ginger finely minced
  6. 1/2 tsp. dry roasted whole cumin seeds
  7. 1/2 tsp. dry roasted whole coriander seeds
  8. 1 tsp. turmeric powder
  9. 2tbsp. vinegar (Original recipe suggests half a cup of tamarind juice)
  10. 5-6tbsp. oil
  11. 1tsp. sugar(This one is added by me. The original one doesn’t have sugar )
  12. Salt
  13. Tempering
    1. 1” cinnamon stick
    2. 2 cloves
    3. 4 black peppercorn
    4. 5-6 curry leaves ( I didn’t use )
    5. 2 dry red chilies broken into pieces

Procedure

Take half oil in a pan and temper with the ingredients listed under tempering. Let them sizzle and add whole garlic cloves, chopped onion and mince ginger to it. Fry on medium heat till they turn golden brown.

In a grinder take all the fried spices along with roasted whole coriander and cumin seeds and grind them to a fine paste by using little water.

In a mixing bowl take mutton and mix it with the ground spices. Let it rest for 15 minutes.

In a pressure cooker take the rest of the oil and fry the potatoes on medium heat till they take a light yellow hue. Remove and reserve for later use.

Add the marinated mutton pieces to the oil and fry on high heat for 5 minutes. Add vinegar or tamarind juice to it and season it with salt and sugar. Pour sufficient warm water and pressure cook it till 1 whistle on high heat. Turn off the heat and let the pressure release on its own. Now throw the fried potato pieces to the gravy and give a nice mix. Do the rest of the cooking covered but without the pressure on low heat till the meat is tender and the potatoes are done.

Serve with rice or bread. 

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Sunday, May 4, 2014

Chicken Cutlet

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My first choice in cutlets is braised cutlet. While growing up I used to regularly visit Ashoka Restaurant in Behala, Kolkata for their sumptuous cutlets. On Thursdays in Kolkata we have “no meat day” which weirdly boils down to restaurants not selling mutton. Chicken and fish is apparently not meat. On those days my fall back option was chicken cutlet. I present here my second choice, hope it might become someone’s first :)

Ingredients

  • 1lb. minced chicken
  • 1 large potato boiled and grated
  • 1 large onion minced
  • 2” ginger minced
  • 8-10 fat cloves of garlic minced
  • 2 green chilies finely chopped
  • 2 tbsp. finely chopped cilantro
  • 1 tsp. black pepper powder
  • 1 lime juice
  • Salt
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 cups bread crumbs
  • Oil for deep frying

Procedure

In a large mixing bowl take minced chicken and add chopped onion, ginger, garlic, green chilies to it. Sprinkle salt and add lime juice. Mix well and let it rest for at least an hour.

Now add cilantro and black pepper powder. You will notice that after an hour of marination the mixture has released some water. To help in the binding this is the time to add grated boiled potato to it. Mix it once again.

In a bowl take two eggs and add half teaspoon salt to it. Beat it well to make the egg wash. In a flat tray take enough quantity of bread crumbs and spread it to cover each cutlet.

Take a handful of chicken mixture and give them a shape of rectangle by pressing it gently in between your palms. Now dip each of them in the egg mixture and roll them on the breadcrumb. Arrange them on a tray and keep it refrigerated for at least half an hour.

Take out half an hour before you want to fry them. Heat enough oil in a wok. Gently slide each cutlet in medium hot oil and fry them till they turn brown and crispy. Take it out with a slotted spoon and drain on a paper towel. Serve hot with some onion rings and mustard sauce. 

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