Showing posts with label recipe. Show all posts
Showing posts with label recipe. Show all posts

Tuesday, June 19, 2018

How to make easy chicken biriyani at home

After a stint in vegetable recipes we decided to go non veg in a grand way. We hadn't had biriyani since long, courtesy: the meat scandaland the lull was so intense that we arranged for the array of exotic biriyani ingredients in the wink of an eye. The biriyani that we usually prepare at home and love eating too is moghul inspired, different from what my elder sister prefers. She makes biriyani with gravy and strong pudina (mint) flavour, something close to Hyderabadi gharana. My younger sister and her family love mughlai biriyani though, and one of the purposes of their visit to Calcutta could very well be attributed to this fact alone. She is an excellent cook herself and has her own recipe for biriyani which she claims is easier than mine. This I will only be able to confirm once I try it out myself. 

The biriyani pot
So, we decided to prepare chicken biriyani at home on a super summer weekend day. It's my favourite and my mothers’s too. One thing I must tell you about my mother here. She never fails to amaze me with her ability to buy the best of things. Her eye for detailing with regards to making any food perfect is just impeccable. So when I told her that I was going to prepare biriyani the next day she laid the best in front of me. Needless to say, biriyani requires an elaborate preparation and the right kind of ingredients enhance the taste to a great extent. So, once you decide to make biriyani at home - just be totally into it. 

The biriyani recipe that I am going to share today is easy, delicious and requires less prep time. (This is Calcutta style biriyani and is special in the way it contains boiled eggs and potatoes, something you will never find in biriyanis from other regions.) We finished cooking in an hour time and allowed it to rest for one more hour and there we were! Although the wait seemed really long it was worthwhile in the end. I decided to forgo the dessert and swapped it with another help of biriyani. Perfect choice! 

What you will need:

A heavy, thick bottomed pot/ handi/ container with a heavy lid that sit perfectly on it

Basmati rice (800 gm)
Whole biryani masala
Chicken (15-18 pieces)
Curd (hung in muslin to drain out excess water) (300 gm)
Onion (4 large)
Ginger (100 gm)
Garlic (8 corns)
Lime juice (2 fresh limes)
Eggs (8)
Potato (cut into half from the middle) (optional)
Plum (aloo bokhra) (optional)
Oil and Ghee
Salt, sugar
Khoya kheer (dried and thickened whole milk) (50 gm)
Milk (2 cups)
Saffron (5-6 strands)
Rose essence (1 tsp)
Kewra essence (1 tsp)

For biriyani masala

Cardamom buds (8)
The marinade
Cinnamon stick (2)
Clove (8)
Mace (3)
Nutmeg (1)
Black peppercorn (8)
Caraway seeds (Shahjeera) (1 tsf)
Dry red chili (2)
Bayleaf (optional)
Fennel (optional)
Star anise (optional)

For the marinade

Curd
Ground masala
Red chili powder
Lime juice
Ginger, garlic paste
Chicken being marinated
Onion juice (optional)
Salt and sugar

For the smoked flavour (dhungar):


Natural charcoal (Kath koyla)
Ghee
Cloves, Cinnamon stick
Steel / copper/ bronze bowl

How to prepare the beresta (crispy golden brown onion slices

Deep fry the onion rings in a deep pot till it turns golden brown

How to prepare saffron milk

In a bowl add a few saffron strands, teaspoonful of kewra, teaspoonful of rose water and ghee to 2-3 cups of warm milk. Keep it aside for 30 minutes till the saffron leaves a beautiful yellowish colour.

Saffron milk
How to prepare the masala (spice mix)

To be able to come up with a decent biriyani you will need a very special masala. Although this is easily available in the market I prefer to prepare it at home the same day. This adds much freshness and flavour to the rice.  To prepare the masala you will need to heat the whole spices for a few seconds and then grind them on grinder. Store it in an air tight container to trap the flavour.

Basmati rice 3/4th done
How to cook the biriyani rice

Pre soak the basmati rice for 30 minutes. Put a few whole spices (cardamom, cinnamon, cloves) in water and bring it to boil. You can also tie the spices in a muslin cloth and drown the potli in the water. Add salt, fresh lime juice and little white oil before adding the pre soaked rice. Cook it till it’s done 3/4th. Drain the water and allow it to cool.

How to marinate the chicken

Beat the curd and add ginger, garlic paste, onion juice, lime juice, the masala and red chili powder and allow the chicken to sit in the marinade for 3-4 hours. 
The beresta
The chicken being cooked

Now, the steps to make chicken biriyani

In a pot/ deep container/ handi deep fry the onion rings till golden brown. Remove from oil and plate 
aside. 

Fry the previously boiled potatoes cut into half from middle with little salt and keep aside. This step is optional. 

Add ghee in the same oil and add the chicken with the marinade. Cook till the gravy thickens and the chicken gets tender. Remove the chicken pieces. 

Add more ghee in the gravy and prepare a bed with an evenly spread out semi cooked basmati rice, then put a layer of chicken pieces and fried onions, boiled eggs, potatoes, plums and grated khoya and then a layer of rice again. Continue to make more layers till you use up all the rice. Spread more fried onion rings on the top. 

I did not have khoya kheer at home. So I used kheer sandesh (a bengali sweet made from thickened milk).

Pour the saffron milk slowly on the top and close the lid with a heavy lid and make sure the vapour doesn’t escape the pot. You can also seal the sides of the lid and the sides with foil paper. Allow the pot to cook on very slow fire for 20 minutes. You may have to sprinkle more milk/ water to moisten the biriyani. Allow an hour of standing time before serving.


The almost done chicken biriyani with eggs
Now, the last bit - adding the smokey, tandoor effect to the biriyani. (You may also decide to skip this altogether.) 'Dhungar' is tricky but quite fun. It infuses the food with a smoked, burnt flavour and adds a uniqueness that we keep trying to figure out after eating tandoori food at restaurants.

For this, burn the natural charcoal (kath koyla) on oven till red hot. Put it on the metal bowl. Add ghee, a few cloves, 2 cinnamon sticks. When you see white smoke coming out remove the lid of the pot and tuck it immediately inside. Remove after 2 minutes. The smoked charcoal can overpower the original biriyani flavour if kept for long. So watch out!

To enjoy this delicious Calcutta style chicken biriyani with all its oriental flavours you must eat it hours after you finish cooking. Plate it with a piece of half potato, an egg and a chicken piece. Serve it with raita, onion, tomato salad, fresh lime and green chillis. Eat it guilt free and keep wondering how you managed to pull it off so well!




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Wednesday, May 30, 2018

Prepare Bengali Garam Masala at home

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In my previous posts I have shared my fondness towards authentic Bengali vegetable recipes. That was when I decided to write about an important spice blend, garam masala. The heart of most Indian and of course Bengali recipes contains a very interesting blend of spices,. We call it ‘Garam Masala’. ‘Garam’ means ‘hot’ (as in the strong flavors that the spices exude) and ‘masala’ means ‘blend’. As you must be knowing that Indian cuisine contains a lot of oriental spices and 'garam masala' is the most common of them. Keeping the basic ingredients intact the masala varies from region to region. Here, I am going to write about the Bengali garam masala which includes a proportionate mix of cinnamon sticks, cardamom pods, cumin seeds, star aniseeds, clove sprigs, peppercorns, bay leaves, nutmeg and saffron. 

Even before it's prepared the whole spices release an extensive aroma that enrich and enhance the food they go into. It’s the essential seasoning that the vegetable recipes (niramish ranna) cannot do without. We can find the ready-made version of the spice blend in almost every shop around the block. However, there is nothing like preparing it at home, a batch ahead, and using it straightaway. I have seen my grandmother, and now my mom, picking, clearing (with clean cotton cloth) and grinding the spices at home. Although it sounds elaborate, it hardly takes 10 -15 minutes, depending upon the quantity you wish to grind.

The mix is prepared in simple steps and it needs to be stored in airtight containers to retain the fresh, exotic aroma. Garam masala adds texture, color and flavor to the food and enhances a simple recipe.

The chief ingredients are easily available and once you get those, arrange for an airtight container and a grinder (coffee grinder will do as well). Roast all the ingredients, except the saffron, on a slow flame till the spices get a shade darker. Remove from the flame immediately, add the threads of saffron and allow it to cool down. Once cooled, grind the spices in the dry and clean grinder. Sieve the mix and store in an airtight container. Garam masala prepared at home can be stored for several months while still retaining the original flavor.

The ingredients:

2 tbsps cumin seeds
1 star aniseed
1 tbsps black peppercorns
4 pods cardamom
4 cloves
3-4 sticks, moderately sized cinnamon sticks
2 bay leaves
1 whole nutmeg
A few threads of saffron (optional)

Tips

Be patient. Roast on slow, low heat.
Add the saffron after the skillet is removed from the flame, but when still hot.
Sieve thoroughly to remove coarse particles.
Store in an airtight container only after it has cooled down.
Try putting a little amount in your food to start off since it has a strong flavor that you might need time to get used to.

Medicinal value

'Garam masala' is an amazing blend of spices that keeps us warm in winter and cool in hot months. The individual spices have great medicinal values, that add to the usefulness of the spice blend. It has intrinsic qualities that help in digestion (they help stimulate the secretion of enzymes), nutrient assimilation, reducing inflammation and in relieving pains. It also relaxes the body muscles, eases out mental stress, acts as an appetizer and helps coping with cough, cold, bronchitis.

Garam masala has a strong flavour and not everyone likes it. So striking a right balance is very important. I like it when used in small quantity and only in a few specific dishes. My mother has mastered the art of what it takes to make a dish just perfect and hopefully I will too soon.

Photo copyright: MouD

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Authentic Bengali 'niramish' Shukto recipe

A traditional Bengali gastronomy comprises of five or more elaborate courses starting with a bitter vegetable dish and ending in a sweet note. In between we have some delightful range of varied Bengali delicacies that's going to make you revisit Bengal again and again. 

Today I am going to share a vegetable recipe that needs hands on apprenticeship before you can actually plate it to the guests. Shukto is usually eaten in the beginning of the afternoon meal (lunch) which is considered the main meal of the day. It has a bitter taste due to the primary vegetable bitter gourd and it has gut cleansing science behind it. There are several variations of shukto recipes and both East Bengal and West Bengal have experimented with this traditional dish keeping the basic ingredients intact. My mother cooks a few alterations depending on the season and availability of the vegetables.

Shukto

Shukto is an appetizer packed with vegetables and some very special spices. It is usually served at the beginning of the meal with steamed rice and a liberal spritz of clarified butter/ ghee.

Ingredients

Fresh produce cut in slices include:

Bitter gourd (uchhe/ korola)
Potato
Sweet potato (optional)
Egg plant/ aubergine/ brinjal
Plantain/ raw banana
Parwal/ a type of gourd (optional)
Drumsticks (optional)
Green chilies


Spices:

Mustard seeds
Radhuni seeds (optional)
Bay leaf

Coriander ground
Cumin ground
Ginger paste
Poppy seed paste (optional)

Milk
Ghee/ white oil

In a wok deep fry the "boris", drain the oil and keep aside. Fry the cut bitter gourds till medium brown and put aside. Sauté the rest of the cut vegetables in while oil (mixed with ghee) till half done. Dish them aside. In a wok put oil and sizzle the mustard, radhuni seeds and the bayleaf till they start to pop. Add ginger, coriander and cumin paste and cook for a minute before putting all the fried vegetables in the wok.  Add sugar and salt and the slit green chilies. Then add lukewarm water and simmer till the vegetables are tender and once it is done add a cup of milk. Bring it to boil. Add ghee on the top before dishing out.

Serve this delicious shukto with steamed rice, gondhoraj lebu (lemon) and ghee.


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Tuesday, May 15, 2018

The meat scandal and the Bengali delirium - To eat or not to eat

The recent meat scandal took a psychic toll on Calcutta a.k.a. Kolkata. The food loving city witnessed a delirium that shook the nation overnight. In what seemed to be a compulsive frenzy the Bengalis turned from being meatatarians to being vegetarian just in a wink of eye! That is particularly strange because the Bengalis swear by fish, meat and everything that is "non-vegetarian". So, to turn
a Bengali meatless you need to do something really horrific and nothing more horrific can ever happen to any nation than to mess up with the staple of its people. 

The meat scandal unleashed a whole new perspective of consumerism in Kolkata. What we wanted to buy and what we actually bought - the disparity has been staggering. The horrific act of supplying rotten meat and carcasses of animals to the eateries and we, as end users, eating it in delicious packaging left us shocked and disgusted. It’s a different level of never seen before criminal connivance.

Following this, copious bytes on television channels unfolding news of unhygienic and criminal act of meat scandal has left the meatatarian Bengalis pathetically shaken. 
The ghastly criminality traded
in the toxic rotten flesh even to the reputed eating houses and made us loathe it more. So, when we as a family, found ourselves refraining from eating meat and chicken it was not a surprise.  The decision was compulsive and generic. 

Our kitchen, too, like most Bengali household, is hit hard by this sudden sting operation. In an endeavour to replace the meat satiation, my mother is busy revamping her culinary skills. She wanted to do this since long and now she has enough reasons and motivation. The end result – we are enjoying the traditional, almost forgotten, delicious vegetable recipes at home. So, if you find me writing down about vegetable Bengali recipes in the several of the articles henceforth don't be surprised. 

Keep visiting folks. I will be up with some wonderful authentic Bengali vegetable recipes soon. Thank you.


Pic credit: LiveLiving

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Of Janmashtami, Malpuas, family tradition and more

Janmashtami (Janmashtomi) is one festival that we look forward to ever since the childhood days. It was the time we would have our house wrapped in some undefined joy of festivity. Janmashtami is celebrated all over India in the month of August/September and on the eighth day of the Hindu calendar. The birthday of lord Krishna is a very special occasion for the Hindus. They consider Him as their savior, philosopher, friend, lover and everything that is human, everything that is Godly.

The festival has transcended beautifully over the years and today I see it with much love since that is the time we are fondly reminded of our Dida (grandmother). She was a lady of strong integrity and was revered by one and all. She never forced the ritualistic regime. That probably is the reason that we have learned to imbibe the true fervor of the festivals in their entirety. It was never forced, it was never too much of something that we would have detested later in lives. We never detested it nor did we regret later. It was probably because of the values that were instilled upon us very subtly.  

We have grown up seeing the grandeur of family tradition while celebrating Janmashtami. At the wake of dawn, my grandma would immerse the idols of lord Krishna and Radha (his muse) a lavish milk and ghee bath, deck them with new clothes and ornaments and start the puja (religious rituals). The food offerings included assortments of seasonal fruits, our own home made sweets made for this occasion alone, Bhog – a special rice and pulses mixed food, rice polao, luchis (puris), kheer (condensed milk with rice), 8 different types of fries made from 8 different vegetables, other special vegetables side dishes, sweet and sour chutnis/ pickles and whole savory of sweets. Having said that, Janmashtami is never complete without Taler Bora and Malpua for these are supposedly lord Krishna's favorite sweets.

Our role was not more than just hopping around eating all the goodies. I particularly liked the occasion since I was not told to study that day, something that happened very very seldom. Things have changed since. We have grown up, my sisters have relocated to different countries, and my grandma is no more. But some things never change, I still live in the same old house and we still have the more than a century old Krishna and Radha idols along with the legacy that my grandma has left behind. Today i see my mother doing everything that she has grown up seeing her mother do, and I on my part still enjoy the Bhog, Malpua, Sweets etc. 


Coming to the special Janmashtami Bengali sweet savory, Malpua needs special mention. It is one savory that every other household celebrating the festival will prepare and needless to say every household has its own Malpua recipe. My mother has hers and I have mine. I have streamlined on the ingredients and made the recipe much easier and faster to cater to my taste and time.


What is Malpua

Malpua is an Indian delectable dessert much similar to sweet round pancake dipped in sugar syrup. It’s a gourmet’s delight. To prepare them you will need easily available kitchen ingredients. The ingredients will be available in almost every store round the corner.

Ingredients

Milk (8 cups)
Condensed milk (2 cups)
Water (2 cups)
Sugar (3 cups)
Fennel seeds (1 tablespoon)
Refined flour (3 cups)
Rose essence (1 teaspoon) - my addition
Clarified butter/ Ghee/ white oil (1 cups)
½ teaspoon of cardamom powder (optional)
Few strands of saffron strands (optional)
Silvered almonds and pistachios to garnish (optional)


Preparing the sugar syrup

Prepare a sugar syrup of single thread consistency. Add 1 tsp of rose essence and a few strand of saffron. Set aside to cool.


Preparing the batter for the Malpua

Bring the milk to boil and keep boiling till it reduces to half. Set aside and wait till it cools down.
Sieve the refined flour and add it slowly to the reduced milk. Keep stirring to avoid the lump formation. Stir well and stir continuously.

Add sweetened condensed milk. Stir to attain a smooth consistency of pancake.
Add fennel seeds and cardamom powder to the batter.


Process

Heat the ghee (clarified butter) on thick bottomed frying pan and pour the batter in a blob in the center to form small pancakes. Wait till the sides turn golden brown. Turn over and wait for the side to cook till it gets golden brown.

Dip the Malpuas in the rose sugar syrup and let it sip the juice.

Serving

Remove the Malpuas before serving and drain on a wire rack to drip the excess syrup. Dish them out delicately on a flat platter, garnish with chopped dry fruits.

And that's Malpua for you!

Note to yourself

With all those goodies, Malpua is, no doubt, a guilt food. Nonetheless you can indulge in it once in a while since it's irresistible. 

Image copyright: Mimpi

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Easiest ever Bengali machher jhol (fish curry) recipe - fantastically simple and delicious

Another day of blogging and I was tempted just about to write something relating to health again when I was reminded of my critic friend who has just begun to feel that My Numberless Dreams is but a health blog. Even with all the critiques that this blog has acquired over the years, I would just not accept this. So, categorically and deliberately, I digressed and so this food blog happened. Besides, this is the easiest thing to do when you have time constraints, an early next day work to catch and more.   

Today's recipe is yet another of fantastic Bengali fish curry recipes that you will be able to prepare very easily with ordinary kitchen ingredients. Bengali fish curry is all about lot of red and fresh green chilies, garam masala, onion-ginger-garlic paste, oriental spices and of course lots of love.

What you will need

Fish thoroughly cleaned, cut and marinated in turmeric power and salt
For the spicy curry - red chili paste/ powder, turmeric powder, garam masala dust, ginger-garlic-onion paste
For seasoning - oil preferable mustard oil, whole garam masala, whole jeera (cumin), green chili whole

That is just about everything you will require. Remember to clean the fish nicely and cut it into moderately sized pieces and put it aside after marination with salt and turmeric powder (haldi). In a skillet heat mustard oil till smoke comes off and then very carefully release the fish cubes. Turn sides when it gets golden on one side and strain them from the skillet. Now, for the gravy, in the left over oil sprinkle whole garam masala, cumin seeds (optional), sprigs of bay leaves, red chili whole and add the ginger-garlic-onion paste. Add little turmeric, red chili paste and salt and little bit of sugar to caramelize. Keep stirring in slow heat till the skillet starts to leave oil. Pour a cup full of water, add the fish and cook in slow fire. Turn off the oven till a thick consistency is formed and the gravy turns fantastically liquid orange.

Serve with steamed rice, green chili and freshly cut lemon (pati lebu or gondhhoraj lebu).

As much as this sounds simple, for the first timers the recipe can get messed up by inappropriate mix of spices or by overcooking. Bengali fish curry preparation is impeccably simple yet has an undefined check and balance that can be learned only through practice. That probably is the reason why the grand-mom's are the best cooks ever and the moms become one when they turn grand-moms.    


Photo credit ~ 3.bpblogspot

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Your own Bengali recipe - Potoler dolma, potoler dorma

Today I am going to share an easy recipe. Potoler Dolma/ Dorma is a delicacy in Bengal. Notwithstanding the fact that it is not usually available in the UK or the US, I am going write this blog since this dish can also be prepared using other vegetables as well and of course I love it (no points for guessing).
Potol or Parwal is a green vegetable indigenous to India. It is also called green potato, perennial vine or pointed gourd. While researching, I also found that it contains major nutrients like magnesium, potassium, copper, sulphur, several vitamins, calcium and plays essential roles in human metabolism.

Potoler Dorma/ Dolma is simply put fried and served-with-gravy stuffed potol. The stuffing can be varied according to your taste and imagination, ranging from coconut-mustard crumbs to fish to meat stuffing. This recipe is about Potoler dolma with chingri (shrimp) stuffing.

What you will need:

Fresh, rounded potol/ parwal
Shrimps
Onions - chopped and paste
Ginger - paste and julienne
Garam masala - whole and powder
Coriander, cumin, red chili, turmeric dust
Green chili, freshly chopped coriander leaves
Salt to taste, pinch of sugar
White oil, ghee/ clarified butter

Preparation:

Graze the skin and wash the vegetable (potol) under running water. Cut the ends and scoop the seeds out from the potol till a nice pocket is formed inside the vegetable.

The stuffing:

Clean and wash the shrimps. In a wok add white oil and ghee and saute the chopped onions, ginger julienne, shrimps, turmeric and red chili powder, garam masala powder, freshly chopped coriander leaves and green chilies. Keep stirring till the ingredients get nicely blended.

Fill the hollow vegetable nicely with the shrimp and spice blend. Allow to rest for 15-20 minutes. In a wok add oil and ghee and fry the rested potol till it changes color.

For the gravy, add oil in the wok and sprinkle small amount of whole garam masala, cumin seeds, 1-2 small bay leaves.
Add onion and ginger paste and one by one add the dust of red chili, coriander, cumin and turmeric and little water. Sprinkle sugar and salt and stir continuously till a nice rich gravy is formed. Add the stuffed potols, add warm water and turn down the flame. Simmer for a while and allow to rest.

I like eating potoler dolma with steamed rice. You can try it with parantha, roti, bread - trust me, you are going to love it nonetheless.

 
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Surprise the guests with delicious Fish Koftas (balls)


Photo (C): tastytreat  

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Khichudi - the ultimate rain food for the Bengalis


It's 12 o' clock in the night here and I am witnessing the first rains of the season. The sky from my window is blanketed with blinding sheets of silver rains and as they kiss the austere road, I can see the water gushing in wild stream cleansing the city. I decide to shut the window as it gets translucent on my freshly splattered face.

This is the ideal weather to eat Khichudi/ khichuri/ khichdi - a very special Bengali comfort food with rice, lentils (dal), spices, clarified butter, seasonal vegetables and a whole lot of experimental culinary stuffs. Khichudi is be best relished with aachar (pickle), fried fish, fried papad (papar bhaja) and fish-aubergine-potato fritters (beguni, aloo bhaja).

Khichudi is simply rice and pulse porridge cooked in mustard oil (the ultimate Bengali seasoning base) together with turmeric powder and a generous amount of exquisite Bengali spices (cumin seeds, bay leaf, panch phoron, whole red chili etc.) and clarified butter (ghee).

Although there has been a gastronomical frenzy of complimenting Hilsa fish fry (ilish mach bhaja) with khichudi, I love it with egg omelets. My mother's special egg omelet (dim bhaja) is just lip smacking. Mom has her very special touch that goes into the preparation of omelet. She adds lots of chopped onion julienne and fresh green chilies and let me tell you, it can never go wrong! Padadam or papad ( papar bhaja) deep fried in oil is another fritter that goes well with khichudi. Even though I hardly take papad these days, today is one such days when I do not mind letting go of the regime.
Khichudi, for most Bengalis, goes best with ilish machh bhaja (Hilsa fish fry) and beguni (aubergine fritters). This is probably the simplest of recipes and a delectable combo meal that the Bengalis can die for on any rainy day.

Machh bhaja (fish fry) is fish blocks fried in mustard oil and beguni is aubergine dipped in a batter of besan (pulse flour) and fried deep in mustard oil.

I have always loved khichudi. It has been a hit with my family as well. Coming to my family, my brother-in-law has his way with khichudi and he is brilliant every time. He adds cauliflower, green peas, potatoes, carrots and many other seasonal vegetables that add to delectable variety to the khichudi clan.

We eat Khichudi with spoonfuls of ghee and fresh green chilies and fresh lemons and of course we eat it together sprinkled with lovely family chit chats. Khichudi is the ultimate comfort food and I do not need any occasion to eat it. It's healthy, sumptuous and a complete food that we Bengalis eat during festivals, on special occasions, during monsoons and on normal days. Besides, khichudi has special fervor for me since it brings back fond memories.





Image - youtube, fishncurry, journospeak and MouD

 

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Saturday, June 15, 2013

Sweet bengali pulao (polao) with cashews, raisins, nutmeg, garam masala

Bengali pulao (polao) is different from fried rice. It is not like biriyani or chinese fried rice, it is typically bengali with cardamom, cinnamon, clove (garam masala) flavor and a devotional fervour. This, I say, because polao is prepared mostly during festivals, pujas and special occasions.


Bengali pulao originally is brilliantly virgin colored. However, you can get tints of yellow orange by adding saffron in it. Preparation time is less and the method is one of the easiest. You will need, govinda bhog rice (small grained flavored Indian rice), ghee (clarified butter), garam masala (cardamon, cinnamon, clove, nutmeg etc), cashews, raisins, little milk (or kheer), sugar and saffron (optional).

Add few small green cardamons, cinnamon sticks and cloves to generous scoops of ghee in a non-stick container with a lid. Watch for golden brown color. Add cashews and fresh raisins to it. Add the washed and milk soaked rice grains and stir in light hands. Stirring continuously, add a little salt and sugar. Add warm water (double the quantity of the rice) and close the lid. Simmer in low fire till the water is gone and you get to smell a sweet cardamon flavor of the beautifully done pulao.

Bengali pulao is best enjoyed with aloo dam ( potato in Indian spices and gravy) or mutton kosha (spicy red meat gravy). The fact that it is sweetish and rich in calorie has reduced its popularity but that doesn't stop it from being one of the most delectable food among the Bengalis worldwide.


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Image: mix-curry

 


Monday, May 7, 2012

Snack on with healthy and yummy aloo chat

One of my favorite lunch box food while in office is aloo chat or aloo kabli, as we Bengalis call it fondly. I just love it, so much so that it has become my favorite workplace snacks now. I have also managed to inspire my colleagues to snack on it as well and in no time one of my colleagues volunteered to take up the elaborate task of preparing aloo kabli in office. He is a pro now and I am so proud of him.  

Aloo kabli is a popular street food of Calcutta and the people of city love it all round the year. Enriched with vitamins, carbs, protein and vitamin C etc. it is a wonderful all time snacks and it is healthy too. The best part - it's so much fun when eaten together with friends and loved ones. I have tried to prepare aloo kabli at home, several times, and I have understood one simple fact. It's but impossible to make perfect aloo kabli like the aloo kabliwalas do. It's an art that's not taught in B schools but requires years of hands on experience, sometimes passed on from one gen to the next and so on. So, if you are still tempted to make a decently done aloo chat at home you will need some very common kitchen ingredients. These should be hand picked with much love (the most important ingredient). 

For aloo kabli you will need:

Cut boiled potatoes
Chopped tomatoes
Chopped onions
Chopped green chillis
Ginger julienne
Chopped coriander leaves
Fresh lime juice
Sprouted chana (chickpea) soaked overnight
Tamarind pulp
Salt to taste
Bhujia (optional)
Roasted peanuts

And then you will need a very special masala (spicemix) nicely roasted and ground:

Red chili
Coriander
Cumin
Aaamchur

Toss all the ingredients together, very nicely, till the masala blends into the potatoes and you are done! For aloo chat you can also add variety of other stuffs like yogurt, pomegranates, sprouted green dal, grapes, muri (puffed rice) etc. I love aloo kabli more than aloo chat and it has to be only with potatoes, green chillis, coriander leaves, onion, tomatoes and chickpeas tossed with lot of tamarind water. 


Monday, January 30, 2012

Prepare bengali fish curry in just a few steps

Bengali fish curry is distinctively delicious and an awe to many. It has typical bengali spices that are different from northern or southern Indian cuisines. The lovely aroma of the spices and the ingredients make bengali fish curry very special indeed.

The easiest way to start off with bengali fish curry is to get a few common ingredients in your kitchen. This includes:

Freshly done onion, garlic, ginger paste
Coriander, cumin, turmeric and red chili powder
Whole cumin seeds and garam masala dust
Freshly chopped parsley/ coriander leaves, green chilies
Oil, preferably mustard oil

These are the very basic ingredients rich in authentic bengali flavor and are of immense health benefits.

Clean and cut the fish (rohu, katla, boyal, tangra, pabda etc.)under running water. Season the fish with turmeric powder and salt and set aside. Fry the fish in mustard oil, keep aside. Add 1 tsp of cumin seeds for 1/2 sec and allow it to exude flavor. Quickly add the onion, garlic and ginger paste, red chili powder, turmeric powder, little sugar and salt. Keep stirring till the blend starts to give out the oil. Sugar is for caramilization and color. Add the fish and add little water. Sprinkle 1 tsp of garam masala powder. Cook for 5-8 minutes and remove from the flame. Add fresh coriander leaves and green chilies for flavor and cover the lid again to retain the flavor.


Serve with steamed rice and fresh lime cuts and lots of love. Eat it slowly, appreciate, relish the authentic flavors of the bengali fish curry and love it.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Less spicy, light mutton curry not just for sick times

Some days are just too drab and monotonous and some days are full of spices when you have had a lot of empty calories as in junk foods. You come back home - tired and not quite hungry yet want to eat something and not skip the dinner altogether. On such days settle for something like mutton stew - less spicy, with lot of broth and refreshing. Allow the meat to cook in whole onion, chopped garlic, ginger julienne, fresh pepper, red chili powder, little turmeric-coriander-cumin powder and garam masala powder. Add farm fresh potatoes nicely diced and salt, close the lid, put it on pressure and you are done with!

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Paranthas serve hungry souls just right!

I was hungry. Really hungry. And all I could think of are the calorie guilt foods that would help me procrastinate even more on my endeavor to eat less and eat right. This time though I kept my foot down. No more cookies, chips and finger foods. I was craving for tasty and substantial food that would keep me going for a few more hours.

I found nicely kneaded whole wheat flour stored in an air tight container. May be my mom has her plans after she returns from her evening stroll. But I was hungry and the guessing game irritated me.

I made a few round balls out of the kneaded flour in a jiffy. Rolled them into thin triangular shapes with little refined oil on them, semi toasted them on the flat wok. Brushing with little oil each time I turned the sides, I made them golden brown, crispy and beautifully appealing. We have variety of pickles at home, courtesy my mom. It was just a matter of spooning them out on my plate of paranthas.

I ate them and I ate them all like a hungry, mad dog and awaited the shocking look on my mom's face when she returns. It's going to be great fun!

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Chinese noodles with lots of farm fresh veggies and soupy love

As much as I love Chinese food I have developed strange taste buds for all kinds of Chinese variations and extensions. Soya sauce, vinegar, worcestershire sauce, chili sauce, garlic, ginger, onion and lot of farm fresh veggies like carrots, french beans, cauli flower florets, spring onions etc. - prove to be a great platter with metamorphosed Chinese flavor.

Chinese noodles is easy and fast to cook. Dip the beautiful long strands of egg noodles in hot water to make it tender and just rightly soft. Saute the freshly cut vegetables, sprinkle the sauces, add semi boiled shredded chicken, shrimps etc and plate it immediately. Chinese food is cooked even as you eat it. So relish it while eating and allow the flavors to melt into your mouth.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Soy Sauce Eggs: Easiest, fastest and yummiest eggs you have ever tasted!


Mahogany eggs dipped in luscious soy sauce - have you ever tasted something like that? If not yet just save yourself 7 minutes before your pack your lunch box for the next day and see how sumptuously you are served for the day. Besides, the taste is uncompromising. Soy sauce eggs are wonderful as snacks because they don’t need any additional seasoning.

Use super quality authentic soy sauce, which is darker in appearance and richer in flavor than regular soy sauce. One trick to note–when peeling your hard boiled eggs, peel carefully, trying to avoid nicking the surface of the egg whites. If you do nick the surface, the eggs will still taste delicious, but they just won’t be as pretty.

You will need:

Hard boiled eggs
Authentic soy sauce

Preparation:

Pour the soy sauce into a pan and heat it on slow flame. When the soy sauce starts foaming up, add the eggs. Roll the eggs around in the soy sauce to coat them, and continue rolling them around the pan until the eggs are a dark mohagony color and the soy sauce has been reduced to a thick sludge.

Remove the eggs, letting any extra soy sauce drain off, and place on a plate to cool.

And you are done with nice pretty and healthy mahogany eggs!


Learned from Malaysia Rasa.

Friday, November 11, 2011

The easiest snack to prepare: Healthy and spicy chickpea salad

This dish is surprisingly good and easy to prepare considering that the ingredients are so simple and easily available. Cooked Chickpea salad is very healthy and makes an excellent item to snack on. It also makes a nice accompaniment to many major dishes.


What you will need

teaspoons olive oil (any other oil will do)

diced onions, freshly chopped green chili and coriander leaves

turmeric, whole cumin

par-boiled chickpeas, drained and rinsed

lemon juice, salt and pepper to taste

How to make

1. Heat a sauté pan large enough to easily hold the beans over medium heat. Add oil to heat, then add the onion and sauté until transparent.

2. Add the turmeric, cumin, coriander and pepper and continue to sauté until the spices are aromatic and a bit toasted, about 3 minutes.

3. Add the chickpeas, lemon juice, salt and pepper and cook for another 5 minutes to blend the flavors.

4. Serve with freshly chopped green chilies and coriander leaves.


Photo credit: NYTimes

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Surprise your guests with delicious Fish ball curry (Machher Kofta)

Koftas are essentially meatballs with lot of interesting Indian spices. There have been several innovations on the ingredients, shapes, texture etc. on the making of koftas. The most exciting of these possibly is the intrusion of vegetables which replaced the minced meat. A vast population of India eat vegetables and the meat is happily replaced by various seasonal vegetables to make delectable koftas. This is certainly a smart culinary move since that managed to include the whole veggie populace in no time.

Koftas are delicious. This is particularly so in India. You may have seen Malai Kofta on the menu at your local restaurant served in rich creamy gravy. In other regions Koftas are served steamed, poached and grilled on skewers.

Last week, when my mother bought bhetki fish, I literally snapped at her. Oh no, not again! The fish, mostly over hyped, doesn't seem to have any taste of its own. My mother knows this and to calm me off came up with this recipe. Later, in the evening, I was awed by the delicacy. I thanked her and she gave me a signature look that only we, three sisters, would understand. To others it is undefined and to us it is our mom.

For the preparation, she par boiled the fish and took out the bones and separated the skin. Added flavorings such as onions cubes, parsley twigs, garlic paste, pepper powder and the boneless fish are mixed with lentil flour for tightening the mix. You can mix with soaked bread, rice powder, egg whites or any other binding agent also.


She then deep fried the fish balls in refined oil to make perfect golden brown snackie fish balls. For the gravy,  in a wok she heated white oil and sprinkled whole garam masala, bay leaves, onion ginger and garlic paste. She added red chili powder, salt and turmeric powder and continued to stir in slow heat till the oil starts to leave the wok. She then added the fish balls/ koftas, added little warm water and cooked till the gravy thickens to a nice spicy red gravy.

She served the fish kofta with gravy with steamed basmati rice and lots of love.

Tip:

The fried fish balls can also be served on mini skewers and served as snacks and appetizers. Koftas can also be an exciting addition to alfresco dining and the perfect finger food complemented with yogurt dip.