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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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