Monday, 29 August 2016

STRAWBERRY HALWA



The story behind the making of this Strawberry Halwa goes as this..... we had a visiting guest a couple of weeks back who got us a big bag full of fruits completely forgetting that we are a family of three. My men are not so much of a fruit lover. To be precise, they love few specific kind of fruits like mango, grapes, apple, pear. Our guest who is like a brother and his darling wife got us a box full of strawberry. For two days the box rested in the refrigerator and the Uncle Podger in me totally forgot about it. I usually offer any fruit brought home to God before consuming it. On the third day when I took out the box, I found that few of the strawberries already has spoiled. Strawberries even after refrigerating spoils quickly. I was sad because I do not like wastage and strawberries are a quite expensive thing. I was wondering what can I do quickly with the rest of them.

The senior of my men still loves to have strawberry with cream but the junior will not have a bite. I do have them at times with a bowl of yogurt. To be frank, our taste buds are not adapted to having strawberry as a fruit. It is not commonly found at the place of our origin. So with the rest of the strawberries I wished to prepare something edible by the family, also very close family friends were to come that day. The idea of Strawberry Halwa cropped up because I have seen a couple of such recipes with other fruits. So I landed up with this no fancy, simple, homemade Strawberry Halwa. Let us prepare this Strawberry Halwa..... a sweet made of strawberry paste and semolina together.

INGREDIENTS :
Semolina : 1big cup
Strawberry : 8-10
Sugar : 11/2 medium cup
Green Cardamom : 2-3
Bayleaf : 1
Red Food Colouring : A pinch[optional]
Ghee[clarified butter] : 4tbsp
Pistachios [chopped] : for garnish [optional]

METHOD :
Wash and chop the strawberries and prepare a paste with them in a blender. Keep aside.

Heat ghee in a wok. Slightly tear open the green cardamoms and add to the wok along with the bayleaf.

As we get a nice aroma, add the semolina.  We will keep on stirring for 5-8 minutes. We will see the semolina turning light brown and nicely roasted. Transfer to a bowl.


Clean the wok and put on the oven. Add the strawberry paste and stir for a minute. Add sugar and 2 big cup water. Stir well.

When the mixture comes to boil, add the roasted semolina. Fold in very well.

Let it cook for 3-4 minutes at low heat. If required add little more water. Add a pinch of food colouring if you wish to. Mix well. We can add a spoonful of ghee at this stage.

Transfer the halwa to a square mould. Let it set for an hour. Turn onto a plate. Cut them into desired shapes and garnish with chopped pistachios.

Please Note : I have used water instead of milk to get the desired colour.


Monday, 22 August 2016

DAHI PANEER



A lazy, weekday night if we are not in a mood to go into an elaborate process of preparing a vegetarian dish, washing, cutting and again wash, saute for quite sometime to bring the right taste.... what comes to our rescue?? In our family it is Paneer. A scrumptious curry with paneer accompanied by a meat curry and dal is immensely enjoyed with roti / paratha by my men. My senior is not so much of a paneer lover but is happy with a bowl of meat curry. So, often I keep aside my knife and chopping board... prepare a paneer curry absolutely relaxed with my headphones on.... and get priceless reward.... of illuminated faces....

This paneer dish is made in a yogurt based curry with minimal spices. What I liked about the Dahi Paneer curry is its creamy texture for using cashew nut paste and its tangy sweet taste. Be with piping hot rice or Indian breads, it tastes good. Let us prepare this Dahi Paneer or Yogurt Paneer together.

INGREDIENTS :
Paneer Cubes : 300gm
Ginger Paste : 1tsp
Plain Yogurt : 100gm
Cashew nut : 7-8
Melon Seed : 1/2tsp
Cumin Seed : 1/4tsp
Bayleaf : 1
Red Chilli Powder : 1tsp
Turmeric Powder : 1/2tsp
Salt : As Required
Sugar : 1/2tsp[optional]
Oil : 3tbsp

METHOD :
Apply little salt to the paneer cubes and mix well. Keep aside for 10-15 minutes.

Prepare a paste with melon seeds, cashew nuts and the yogurt in a blender.

Heat oil in a wok. Temper with the bayleaf and cumin seeds.

Add the ginger paste and saute for 2 minutes.

Add the yogurt, cashew nut and melon seed paste. Keep stirring till the oil separates from the spice mix.

Add the red chilli powder, turmeric powder and salt. Stir well for 1/2 a minute.

Add 1 medium cup water. Stir and let boil for 2 minutes.

Add the paneer cubes. Let boil at low heat for 2 minutes.

Add sugar, stir carefully. Its done.

Transfer to a bowl. Serve hot with rice or chapati.








Friday, 19 August 2016

SEABASS / BARRAMUNDI / BHETKI DRY CURRY



This  fish loving Bong has not blogged on a fish dish for quite sometime. As said before, we do not get the fish varieties we grew up eating at this place. To be precise, we do get them all but frozen. Hence, I do not find any reason to compromise on taste or health. This is a place where a variety of fish are available, even after few years of stay, I failed to adapt to their taste. To change with time, place, environment is a necessity and I am poor at that. Perhaps, I am unfit for the world itself. Ability of acceptance is a quality if one has it, I have no regrets either for not having it.

In our childhood, we lived in a locality which had one of the biggest fish and vegetable market. I remember mom at times prepared fish curry with the freshest varieties using minimal spices and oil. It tasted heavenly. I so much miss that. Of the few fish variety of our choice we get here, Seabass / Barramundi / Bhetki is one. Though a dear friend says Seabass and Bhetki fall under the same category but are not same. Since we get them quite fresh here, I often buy and cook them in different ways. The recipe of Seabass I am going to share today is a no fancy one, yet it is an aromatic and tasty fish curry. Let us prepare this Seabass / Barramundi / Bhetki Dry Curry together.

INGREDIENTS :
Seabass : 6-8 pieces
Onion Paste : 2tbsp
Ginger Paste : 1tsp
Cumin Powder : 1tsp
Red Chilli Powder : 1tsp
Turmeric Powder : 1tsp
Nigella Seed [kalonji] : 1/4tsp [alternatively cumin seed]
Lemon Juice : 2tbsp
Salt : As required
Coriander Leaves : 1tbsp chopped to garnish [optional]
Oil : 4-5 tbsp

METHOD :
Wash the fish pieces thoroughly, marinate with the lemon juice. Keep aside for 1/2 an hour.

Now through away the marinade. Apply little salt and turmeric to the fish pieces and rub well. Keep for 15 minutes before frying.

Heat oil in a wok. Fry the fish pieces in batches till light brown on both sides. Transfer to tissue papers to get rid of any excess oil.

Temper same oil with nigella seeds. Add the onion paste and fry till brown. Add the ginger paste and fry for 2 minutes.

Add salt, remaining turmeric, red chilli powder, cumin powder. Stir well for 1/2 a minute.

Add a medium cup of water to the wok and stir. As the gravy comes to boil, add the fried fish pieces.
Let cook for 3-4 minutes. Switch off gas as the gravy thickens.

Transfer to a serving bowl and garnish with chopped coriander leaves.

Enjoy with piping hot steamed rice !!




Tuesday, 16 August 2016

JALAPENO N CABBAGE PARATHA



Homemade Indian breads are a hot favourite at my home. Any day my men would prefer breads over rice. Our family hails from the eastern part of undivided Bengal. Hence, many years back we had been ardent rice eaters. This old lady had rice thrice a day, while going to school, back from school and for dinner. Indian breads like paratha and poori were meant  for our lunch boxes and for elaborate weekend breakfast. My extreme love for carbohydrates culminated into my body. My daddy was so concerned and worried about it, he got an yoga instructor for me, would never let me stay on bed beyond 5.30 am, took me out for cycling. All in vein, I never took physical fitness / health seriously. Today I can feel how important it is to keep fit for the good of our self and for the family. Less of carb and more of protein and veggie works wonder. I am still far from my target because the foodie in me can never sacrifice her cravings for tasty food. If I make parathas, I will make a small one for myself. Same with poori, rice varieties, sweet..... I do not or cannot deprive myself from the simple joys of life. For a foodie, good food is a religion.

My men are by no means salad kind of person, end of the day they love their share of bread, meat, pizza, burger. So I need to act accordingly. I prepare paratha or poori with or without stuffing. At times in a hurry I would make a dough with all the stuffing mix, roll into parathas and fry them. My men love them with a meat curry, I would serve myself with a bowl of raita or dip. That day I had some jalapeño and cabbage in the pantry, so this idea of preparing some Jalapeño and Cabbage Paratha popped up. Let us prepare this easy to make, no stuffing Jalapeño and Cabbage Paratha together.

INGREDIENTS :
Whole Wheat Flour : 2cup
Refined Flour : 1cup
Cabbage [shredded] : 2 small cup
Jalapeno Pepper [chopped] : 3-4
Onion [sliced] : 1 medium
Cumin Powder : 1tsp
Coriander Powder : 1tsp
Turmeric Powder : 1/2tsp
Carrom Seed [ajwain] : 1tsp
Salt : 1/4tsp
Coriander Leaves [chopped] : 2tbsp [optional]
Oil : 2tsp for each paratha

METHOD :
Take the two flours in a wide mouthed big bowl, add salt and one tbsp oil to it. Mix well.

Take the chopped jalapeño, shredded cabbage, sliced onion, cumin powder, coriander powder, turmeric powder, carrot seeds, chopped coriander leaves, little salt in another bowl and mix well.



Add the mix to the flour and rub well for 2-3 minutes. Add water little by little and keep kneading until a smooth dough is formed.



Cover the dough with a moist cotton cloth for  1/2 an hour.



Uncover and shape into tennis size balls.



Roll into round size paratha dusting little flour on them.



Heat griddle on gas top. Fry each side properly adding 1tsp oil. I fried one paratha at a time.



Serve fresh and hot with your choice of curry, dip, chutney or sauce.


Tuesday, 9 August 2016

CHANA DAL VADA / CHOLAR DALER BORA / LENTIL FRITTERS



Any kind of fries / fritters / pakoras are a favourite at home as a tea time snacks or with lentil stew and rice. Both ways it rocks. If I prepare pakoras everyday, they will have it everyday, specially the junior. Considering the health factor, I prepare them at a gap of say 10-15 days. Pakoras or fries at home are a must when guests visit. I love treating my guests with nice platters of starters..... both vegetarian and non-vegetarian. We love getting cosy with our guests over wine and food. Remembering last week, we had some guests for whom I made shami kebabs, on which I blogged in the initial days of my  blogging, I saw my senior having quite a couple of them which is unlikely of him. He even skipped his dinner. I got the message, I will do it more often.

These Chana Dal Vada / Cholar Daler Bora were prepared a couple of days back for a visiting friend. I remember mom used to prepare vada or pakora with dals. Later, I watched my husband's big aunt making pakoras / vada which are yummilicious to the extreme and with a variety of simple ingredients. Me too love doing the same. I added some shredded coconut to the dal mix, I always feel chana dal / Bengal Gram and coconut makes a good combination. Let us prepare these Chana Dal Vada / Cholar Daler Bora together.

INGREDIENTS :
CHANA DAL [BENGAL GRAM DAL] : 200gm
SHREDDED COCONUT : 50gm
RICE FLOUR : 2tbsp
GREEN CHILLI : 2-3[chopped]
CORIANDER LEAVES : 2 sprig[chopped]
TURMERIC POWDER : 1tsp
SALT : As Required
SUGAR : 1tsp
OIL : 100-150ml [for frying]

METHOD :
Wash and soak the chana dal / Bengal Gram Dal 2-3 times and soak in hot water for 2 hours. Drain the water and prepare a bit coarse paste using the mixer-grinder. Add little water in between, if required.Transfer to a bowl.

Wash and chop the green chillies and coriander leaves, add to the dal paste. Add the shredded coconut, rice flour, salt, sugar, turmeric powder. Mix all the ingredients very well.

Heat oil in a wok. The oil should neither be too hot or less. We want crispy vada / pakora, well cooked without burning.

Prepare small balls from the paste and drop into the oil carefully. Turn over after 2-3 minutes. Repeat 3-4 times till the outside is brown. Keep adjusting heat from time to time.

Once done, transfer into tissue paper before serving.

Serve with your choice of chutney or sauce. Enjoy!





Saturday, 6 August 2016

ILISH MACH BHAJA / FRIED HILSA OR SHAD



Ilish /Hilsa or say Shad is our religion when it comes to food. Our Community is a fish loving one, Ilish and Prawns featuring at the top. As of me, I perhaps can have Ilish everyday, at every meal. Though its skyrocketing price does not allow us to do so. However, we fail to resist ourselves when we see this silvery beauty in the market. It is recommended that we buy ilish weighing more than a kilogram to get the best taste. Back home, they say it has really become a pinch in the pocket to get a good quality, big one. So what was a weekend pleasure during monsoon has become an occasional one these days for us.

This fried Hilsa or Ilish Bhaja we love to the hilt. If it is a good quality fish, it releases its own oil. It is with this oil we love to have piping hot steamed rice accompanied by a green chilli and the fried ilish or Ilish Baja. On my husband's side of the family, if it is Ilish, the lunch will be a two-course one with Ilish Mach Bhaja and it's curry and nothing else they would prefer. Let us prepare this super simple and quick Ilish Bhaja and enjoy with steamed rice.




INGREDIENTS :
Ilish Pieces : 4
Salt : As Required
Turmeric : 1/2tsp
Mustard Oil : 1tbsp[the fish itself releases oil]

METHOD :
Clean and wash the fish pieces very well. Apply salt and turmeric and keep aside for 10 minutes.

Heat oil in a wok. Add 2 fish pieces at a time. Fry at low heat each side 4-5 minutes. They need to be crispy fried.

Reserve the oil to have with piping hot steamed rice, with a green chilli, a dash of salt and a crispy fried hilsa piece.



Wednesday, 3 August 2016

CHICHINGE CHINGRI / PRAWNS WITH SNAKE GOURD



In tune with my wishes to compile a series of my family recipes that are essentially Bengali, I thought of presenting this dish of snake gourd with small prawns today. This is common with both sides of my family. There is both vegetarian and non-vegetarian version of this dish. My mother used to prepare the non-vegetarian version more to feed her veggie hater, fish loving daughter some veggies. I do both versions in turns to go with lentil and a fish or meat curry. In general, at Bengali homes we cook a lot of veggies like cabbage, bottle gourd, ash gourd, pointed gourd, even bitter gourd with small prawns.

In Bengali, we call snake gourd.... chichinge. This dish called Chichinge Chingri or Prawns with Snake Gourd is done very simply with almost no spices. Cutting the chichinge or snake gourd is a bit time consuming, otherwise the rest of the cooking is quick given that snake gourd is soft and takes less time to cook. Let us prepare Chichinge Chingri or Prawns With Snake Gourd together.

INGREDIENTS :
Snake Gourd [chichinge] : 2-3big
Prawns[small] : 150-200gm
Dry Red Chilli : 2[halved]
Green Chilli : 2[slitted]
Nigella Seeds[kalonji/kalojeera] : 1/4tsp
Turmeric Powder : 1tsp
Salt : As Required
Sugar : 1/2tsp [optional]
Oil : 3-4tbsp

METHOD :
De shell, clean and wash the prawns thoroughly. Apply little salt and half of the turmeric powder. Keep aside.

Scrape the snake gourd with the back of a knife. Discard the two ends, cut half width wise and then length wise. Cut into smaller pieces as in the picture. Wash thoroughly and apply little salt and turmeric.

Heat oil in a wok. Fry the small prawns till golden brown discarding the marinade and keep aside.

Temper same oil with nigella seeds and halved dry red chillies. Add the cut snake gourds. Stir and cover.

A lot of water will release. Uncover and stir every 3-4 minutes until the water dries up till 80 % and the veggie is cooked well.

Add the fried prawns, sugar and slitted green chillies. Stir and let cook for another 2-3 minutes. Its done.

Enjoy with piping hot steamed rice!!