Thursday, January 31, 2008

Khichuri aar Ilish macher bhaja(Hilsa fish fry)

In a heavy rainy day during monsoon season ,we would be craving for khichuri .It takes very less time to prepare also. If you have some veggies add them to enhance the flavor .For us Kodaishuti r Phulkupir Khichuri(peas and cauliflower Khichuri) is a favorite during those rainy days.
However as temperatures dropped drastically in this part of India.Today it rained heavily with cold breeze blowing high ,can we escape khichuri magic ,No we cant .

Luckily our local fish markets are loaded with fresh supply of Ilish mach from Padma (Ganges in Bangladesh) also .So what could be better than eating Khichuri and Ilish mach Bhaja .

Ilish (Hilsa) fish is a Bengalis culinary delight .There is Ilish macher bhappa,paturi and a simple fish fry .This fish is high in fat content ,fish fat infact is good for health .They have unique taste and flavor .

While Bengali cooking is mainly of pairing the ingredients like Monger Dal and Begun Bhaja ,Bhetki macher jhaal aar phulkopir torkari ,Khichuri and Ilish (Hilsa) fish fry is another combination no one can resist .
Khichuri is a wholesome meal itself.This is just perfect food for toddlers also ,as this comprises essential carbohydrates (Rice) and proteins(Lentils).You can try other lentils also, like my mother who uses masoor+Toor (arhar dal) to make khichuri .She adds little bit of tomatoes also ,for that extra zing in Khichuri.

This is our version of Khichuri .

Khichuri aar Ilish mach bhaja(Khichuri and Hilsa Fish Fry )
Serves for 4-5 people easily
Rice -1 cup
Mong dal /small yellow lentil-1- 1 ½ cup
Peas -1/2 cup
Cauliflower –broken into big florets 8-10 pieces
Onion -1 medium size chopped
Garlic 2 cloves
Ginger -1/2 inch chopped finely
1-2 tej patta
1-2 dry whole red pepper
1tsp of turmeric powder
1tsp of salt
Pinch of sugar
1tsp of ghee for flavoring (optional)
1 tsp of garam masala (optional)
2-4 tbs of oil for frying

How to Proceed

1 In a kadai/saucepan slighltly roast mong dal till golden brown ,You will get a fine smell of roasted mong dal also .Stop and take out in a vessel ,clean it thoroughly under tap water .Repeat the cleaning step 2-3 times till you get a clear image of the dal soaked in water ,this help to cook dal efficiently .Wash and rinse rice also in the same manner.

2 In a large heavy bottom pan ,we call dekchi in Bengali ,add water upto the half ,add dal and cook for 4-5 mints ,at this time if you see white froth forming ,with the help of spatula gently lift all and discard .
3 Now add turmeric powder ,salt and sugar .Add rice also. Let it simmer for another 10-12 mints .
4 Meanwhile in a frying pan add oil and let it heat up properly .Fry the cauliflower florets till little bit of brown at low.(Before frying cauliflowers make sure they are properly dried and there is no trace of water on them For that matter cut and clean them before cooking them, otherwise while frying, oil will splutter that makes cooking them difficult)

5 Now take the cauliflowers out ,add little more oil ,Add cumin seeds, tej patta,ginger and garlic ,whole red pepper ,fry for 1-2 mints and then add onions .Fry onions till brown .Stop and check the gravy that is cooking .

6 If you find rice and lentil are evenly mixed you can add the above fried masala .Take out 2-3 grains of rice and dal and if you can mash them easily ,your khichuri is soon to be ready.Add cauliflowers and peas and let it simmer for another 5-7 mints .
7 Stop and cover the khichuri , at this step ,if you feel there is not enough gravy in the khichuri ,add little water , by heating the water in a separate vessel .For me Khichuri with extra gravy is always welcome because that gives you the real pleasure of eating it .

8 Meanwhile clean Fish and marinade them with turmeric powder and salt .Fry them till brown and crisp .Check this post about fish fry and Fish Curry.You will require little less oil for frying them as they release oil while frying them a lot .

Take out in serving plates ,eat and enjoy this winter .
Happy Cooking

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Mango Lassi

We remember drinking mango lassi during summer time a lot .This was and is one of our favorite drinks .We would eagerly wait for summers to have our favorite mangoes and mango lassi .However this winter when I was craving for mango lassi ,I got mango Nector in a tetra pack from our local grocery shop and here it is mango lassi made in the easiest way possible .My little daughter shares the same passion for it like me.

Mango lassi
1cup Fresh curd/yogurt
2-3 tbs or ¼ cup of Tropicana Mango Nector
1tbs of Sugar
Pinch of salt
Some ice-cubes 1-2 (optional)
Mix in all in a blender at a low speed ,take out in serving glasses chill it and enjoy .

As I was about to take this snap, suddenly there appears her hand in my camera frame,before I could realize the snap was taken effortlessly in seconds ,I must tell you it wasn’t preplanned, but it just happened in a zap of seconds. She gave me a mischievous smile while sipping mango lassi( as if telling me “you take snaps later ,first let me taste it” ) and I kept laughing later on .Quite right and point taken you cook things to eat and drink .......
This is going to Jai and Bee of Jugalbandi .Please visit here for more details .click rules, and click theme.Thank You .

Frequently Asked Question

Some of the Useful things you may need while Cooking .

Phanch Phoron –mix in kalo jeera(nigella seeds),jeera(cumin),methi(Fenugreek) mouri (fennel).Store in a air tight container ,stays fresh upto 6 months.

Coconut milk-Take the meat out of coconut , add 2-3 cups of water grate it in a blender.This is the easiest way to get home –made coconut milk.

Garam masala powder-Grate in a grinder Cardamom(elaich) 10-15 ,clove(loung) 10-15 ,dalchini(cinnamon)2-3 sticks of 1inch long ,and a little less of Jwatri ,Boro elaich and 3-4 black pepper (optional,I generally don’t add them ,its better to add a dash of it while cooking ,gives a good flavor),stays fresh for 1year .

Khadhi -a yogurt based lentil gravy eaten with rice or rotis,mix in 1-2 cups of dahi/yogurt +1/2 cup of water (add more if you want a thin gravy)with 2tbs of Besan (gram flour)+1/2 tsp of holod(turmeric powder) and temper it with shoreshe(mustard seeds),shokno lonka(dry red peppers), curry leaves.This is as simple as it can be.You may add some grated fresh ginger,onion and methi (Fenogreek seeds)to it also for variation in taste.

Badaam chutney –you need posto (white poppy seeds),roasted peanuts(badaam),1 onion,1 green chilly (add more according to your affinity towards spiciness’),grind it all by adding little of water in a mixer.Serve with dosas,roti etc.

Blanching Almonds-Boil some water and take it off from the flame .Add almonds to the hot water and keep it there 10-15 mints.The skin will loosen thus making it easier to take the skin out.Even you can soak them overnight in water ,next morning its easy to peel the skin off .

How to toast walnuts-Preheat oven to 350 deg F.Spread Walnuts and brown it for 10-12 mintsfor crisp and crunchy.

Edible Flowers-Chive,lavender,strawberry, marigold, fennel and rose. Often you find that essential sabzi powder is not in your pantry ,in that case you can try making it in home ,all you need is little effort and a reliable mixer /grinder.

Coriander powder-roast dhone(coriander) in a kadai over lower flame for 5 mints ,let it cool off and then grind it well in a grinder.Same can be done to get Jeera (cumin) powder.

How to check for the purity of Honey-add 1drop of Honey in 1 glass of water ,if it settles down in the bottom of glass ,it’s a pure one and if it dissolves then chances are that sugar is added.

Now to some of the international cuisine.

Marinara sauce- a pasta sauce ,in short add chopped onion+garlic(3 cloves will do wonder ,can add upto 4-5)in 2 tbs of extra Virgin oil EVOO, tomato paste ,salt ,pepper ,a touch of sugar sprinkle dried rosemary and the wine (optional).Add chopped tomatoes cover ,simmer for 30 mints .Add water ,1 tbs of fresh oregano , 4 tbs freshly snipped basil.Simmer for another 15 mints.Butter your marinara sauce.When I don’t have the dried herbs I use dried Italian Seasoning also .

Italian seasoning-this seasoning is quite used in flavoring Italian dishes and its basically a mixture of Marjoram,Thyme,Rosemary,Savory,Sage Oregano and Basil.You can check them in your local grocery outlet under herb segments .Mix in above to get your home made Italian seasoning .

How would you substitute Buttermilk in baking cakes In a cup of milk ,add 1-2 tsp of vinegar and add to the cake batter as required.

Greek Seasoning-in short ,1 tsp of Oregano (dried),1 tsp of garlic powder (no –salt added),1tsp of salt ½ tsp of Pepper ,1/2 tsp of paprika (can add crushed flakes of red pepper),pinch of Thyme leaves.

A simple salad Dressing –mix in fresh curd ,mint leaves ,mustard powder,sugar and salt.Chop in some of the fruits or veggies you want ,toss in and serve .

How you would reduce spice from curry
If a normal curry turn out spicy and hot -
If you have added potatoes to the curry like a Chicken curry or Mutton Curry then,mash some potatoes and mix in well.
cut and chop a tomato finely and add it to the curry, adjust salt after adding tomato.

If the Pulao turn out sticky
A) If you are making the rice( make sure to take the vessel off the stove-top few minutes before rice is being properly cooked,rest will be cooked due to the heat/moisture the hot rice generally has) and then mixing it with cooked vegetables by layering method ..then it wont stick..

B) there is other method also ,fry the rice well with other spices for 5-7 mints ..and then add in vegetables ..cook at low ,slowly..inspite of these ,if it still sticks..

C) Add in some lemon juice while it still piping hot ...adding few tsp of butter also help..sprinkling some cold water also helps.try to keep open the vessel for few minutes after the pulao is cooked ,till the moisture escapes out and then cover it.Hope it helps ..

Friday, January 18, 2008

Matar Paneer/Chanar Dalna

Matar paneer /Chanar Dalna

Recipe for Matar Paneer/Chanar Dalna
Paneer -250 gm cut into cubes
2 medium size onion –one cut into pieces and other one for the paste
Garlic 2-3 cloves
1 inch ginger
1 medium size tomato pureed in mixer
2-3 loung (cloves),1 tej patta /bay leaf
2 tsp of coriander powder
1 ½ tsp of jeera/cumin powder
½ tsp of black pepper powder
1tsp of red pepper powder
Salt as per taste
½ tsp of sugar
2-3 tbs oil for cooking
1 cup of peas (matar)
Now to the Method
Make the masala paste –in a mixer ,grind in garlic ,ginger ,onion.
Meanwhile heat a kadai /frying pan ,temper oil gently with 2-3 loung/cloves at this time and the bay leaves (this gives a good smell to plain oil),then add sugar (I have seen my father doing it while cooking chicken /mutton ,this gives a fine red colour to the gravy )
Add chopped onions and fry till brown ,after that add the masala paste,tomato puree and all the dry ingredients adjust salt as per taste .
Fry all at medium flame for about 7-8 mints till oil separates out .The colour at this moment of the gravy will be slightly deep brown .Add 1 -2 cups(small) of water .Increase the flame
Add peas at this time ,there is no need to fry them (The green colour will remain intact),if the gravy starts to boil ,lower the flame cover and cook for 5 -7mints.
You can add paneer/cheese pieces that are fried little bit (my mother does the same ) or paneer cubes as it is .
There is another thing you can add for variation is capsicum ,for that you need to chop capsicum of equal size as that of paneer ,and while stir/frying the masala add them.It gives a nice colour to the gravy also .
We are celebrating our 59 th Republic Day , (more info here ) this year ,
why we have kept our eyes closed still like this fellow.

When we should open our eyes to the real changes we need to materialize .Open up the eyes ,lets see the things which needs our first most attention .This year make it happen .Lets make our India again “Sone ki Chidiya “.Well I am not going to point out things that needs to be done ,its you who needs to stand up for your country ,and act .So ,just open your eyes and see ,see beyond caste ,race ,religion state ,age and all the differentiating criterias. Be one and unite for a better cause , and that is for your motherland.

Vande Matram

Pooja has come up with a nice theme for Republic Day celebrations , please visit here for more details.Theme for Republic Day celebration .

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Kolkata the City OF Joy

Remember my Old post about Kolkata many-moods-of-kolkata-city-of-joy

This Post was long due ,its just that I didn’t find enough time for it as Durga Puja for us is so special and more over I wasn’t feeling to write at that time ( was then in festive mood …)For me Festivity means lots of going out ,eating out and meeting friends and family .It gives immense pleasure and is sure fun to get involved in community puja ,more when you pandal hop during those four days .The memories linger for the year till Ma arrives again , another year with different memories to collect . I know its too late to write about our October feast but some how when I look back I think this will remain my best puja celebration so far .

Kolkata surprises me in every aspect ,I remember going out during Durga Puja a lot , my husband was quite reluctant to use his own vehicle for this purpose as its very difficult to drive during these days .So,we took our reliable taxi in yellow . We hopped at least 50 puja pandals , some of them being very popular ,some not ,some had lavish, huge puja pandals with large chandeliers ,lots of lighting ,large portrait size idols .Some of the weird decorations like use of dried palm leaves,jute, cotton towels, Brass metal and what not .This year though the Village concept was very much evident in puja pandals ,we noticed at least 7 of them being made on this concept ,then there is famous Harry Poter castle in FD block ,salt lake which was very near to our home .
While Pandal hopping ,catched one of the old traditions of Kolkata hand pulled rickshaw in College Street. This street remains one of the happening streets of Kolkata ,small shops of books,clothings ,wedding cards,saris ,ready-made dress materials and everything you think about ,one can find it here.
college square puja pandal is a milestone for every Bengali ,this year though the pandal was built like a large castle along the small pond .pic
Then we went towards the central avenue ,got stuck in traffic jam ,see our taxi driver peeping his head to see the traffic rush .pic
The other day on ashtami we went to Sobha Bazaar puja pandal ,the raj bari pujo , It reminded us old mama bari pojo type .See the calmness in her eyes.pic
Something about Sovabazaar Rajbari Durga Puja,it is performed in both the houses of the deb family .It was in the year 1757 after the battle of Plassey ,first durga puja was organized by then Raja Nabakrishna Deb,its still being celebrated by the two palaces with great enthusiasm ,The idols are being made inside the home itself. The Ekchala goddess is decorated in prestige Daker Shaj.Four days sees all the rituals in correct manner that includes Kumari Puja ,sandhi Puja ,anjali, sacrifice(now vegetables),Bhog and Bisarjan.The immersion ceremony used to have an interesting ritual ,two Nilkantha birds would be set free during the ceremony ,the myth behind this was that the first bird would fly to kailash to convey message that Maa Durga has departed and the other would be set free after immersion signifying that Maa had reached Kailash .Its always so intriguing to know the whole story behind this puja.
Then there are some other old Badir puja , like Sabarna Roy Choudhary’s Durga puja hailing from Barisha which was started around 1610 .Then another is Khilat Ghosh Bari puja which is some 150 years old at 47 Pathuriaghata Street ,this building extends over four bighas of land .The important aspect is the Illumination of the courtyard .Some other also like Hatkhola Dutta Bari Durga puja,Shiv Krishna Daw bari puja etc…..This info source Times Of India Kolkata edition .
Again on nabami , we hopped some 10 -12 pandals , even my little one was so excited to go out during these days ,luckily she wasn’t cranky at all ,she also enjoyed a lot hoping puja pandal .I guess that was a blessing in disguise as it didn’t spoilt the festive mood we were then in …
And on dashmi it was turn to bid farewell to Ma, this time though I and MIL gave up ,all our energy drained ,we stayed back home and my hubby and FIL went out for last round of Pandal Hopping ,while They caught this woodwork in one of the puja Pandal .Pic
Imagine all the hard work for just these four days ,artist spend sleepless nights while making these Idols at Kumar Tuli,then the baton is taken by the local artists ,how they visualize the concept of pandals ,their planning ,paperworks and team management ,as if everything happening in synchronization. Many –Many Kudos to them for organizing such good and lavish events .We happened to talk to one of them ,he told us he and his team members are decorating this puja pandal for the last 20 -25 days at a stretch ,now that’s the spirit of Kolkata which makes it so special.May this spirit lives for ever .As I am writing this post there is a massive fire that broke out at Borobazaar , people/firemen till are not able to control it ,please pray for the families who have been under this threat..May God give them strength to face this disaster .
More news Here.

Friday, January 4, 2008

Steamed Cupcakes in Pressure Cooker

Steam Cupcakes in Pressure Cooker 

The Cupcakes in Pressure cooker Story

You know during these holidays , it became a challenge for me to bake cake without the traditional oven and even any baking dishes .My maa –in-law came with the solution of making the cake in pressure cooker ,well she has been doing it for past 15 years now ,and she is quite a lovely cook .She makes some of the most soft and spongy cakes and that too in pressure cooker ,interesting .
So when two of us get together we indulge in good cooking, its another thing that we both end up eating most and others staring us like “Ki Hoche ta ki “(what are these two ladies upto ).

Well we are poles apart as far as our choices are concerned ,she loves to watch her favorite saas-baho serials.I glued to MTV(we have 2 sets of TV ,so nobody complains),although we both like watching Discovery(and sometimes watch HBO movies together (read in hush-hush voice) .We both like to discuss who’s going take to dulhania Deepika Padukone ,will it be Yuvraj or apna Dhoni.We both love to shop till drop. She loves wearing south-silks/Kanjiverams ala Rekha type and trust me she looks gorgeous still today , and me wearing salwar –kameez.She is aware of this blog ,so sometimes ask me about the things I do for my blog. She has her own sets of rules ,she has encouraged (read in strict voice) me to do Yoga on a daily basis ,in her own words our body is our first priority ,if we don’t care for ourselves then how come we will take care of our family. Well that’s so true also.

 Irrespective of our differences that still crop up sometimes(generation gap) ,we feel close enough to share our deep dark secrets ,agony,sadness ,loneliness ,short-comings ,failures,success.I understand her feelings when she is worried for her son because I am also a mother now .We both catch-up with our day today happenings with our evening cup of tea.
One thing that binds us together irrespective of our differences is our womanhood .So lets celebrate womanhood ,and look around and find our friends in our MILs,mothers,sisters, daughters,girlfriends,sister-in-laws. Just think of life without them , I guess it will be boring and mundane.

Lets expand our views and overcome our shortcomings to know each other better.God has given us one life, lets make it beautiful and happening for the people who love us the most.

Now to The recipe.........

However ,this is the recipe for cake but at the last moment just putting it before baking we found out that the level in the bowl is more than half and there will be chances of spoilt tastes.So, my Ma-in-law came up with the idea of making it cupcakes and that too being baked in small steel bowls.
So ,it was like “cake hote –hote cupcake ho gaya “.

Things you need to make cupcakes in Pressure Cooker

For this I have used normal steel bowls slightly greased with ghee .It will be better if you have old aluminium dishes as they are best to bake in with pressure cooker .
Your reliable old pressure cooker ,mine is some 7 years old , sometimes old is gold.

  • 1 cup powdered /white sugar (we grind it in mixer)
  • 1 cup flour
  • 3 eggs
  • 1/3 cup of ghee (clarified butter)
  • 1 -1 ½ tsp of baking powder
  • pinch of salt ,1 tsp of garam masala(in place of cinnamon powder +nutmeg powder if you have these then its absolutely fine too )
  • 3-4 cloves (lounge) crushed a little bit.

How to Proceed
  • Cream Ghee and sugar together evenly with spoon or your hand whichever suits you , that is your secret to a soft cake .
  • Add egg one by one by slightly beating them ,mix in all well.
  • In a separate bowl ,Mix in flour, baking powder,salt ,garam masala ,dry fruits.

  • Mix in both the things in one bowl and gently fold in ,don’t beat it .
  • Grease in 2 small steel bowl ,fill the cupcake mixture only upto half .This recipe makes 4 cupcakes .Fill in the batter upto half.Sprinkle crushed Lounge(cloves) over it .
  • Preheat the pressure cooker for 3 mints.When slightly heated lower the flame ,put the bowls inside ,cover the pressure cooker and take the whistle off .
  • Steam cook in for 15-18 mints .Put off the gas flame and let it cool .
  • Take out baked cupcakes and again let it cool ,now serve with tea or coffee that’s upto you .
  • It taste yum and soft ,may be due to ghee factor or my Mil’s affection towards us .
  • Enjoy your evening tea with it .

Happy Cooking