Sunday, 4 December 2016

CHALKUMRO GHONTO / ASH GOURD WITH LENTIL FRITTERS



This dish was part of my 200th blogpost last year, where I compiled four heirloom recipes from the kitchen of Bengal. I thought let me share them individually with the wish to reach more people. I take a lot of pride in my roots and lot of bloggers are actually doing the job very beautifully. I humbly add mine, recipes that have come down to us for generations should be compiled and archived. Honestly, when I started with the blog, I very much wished to keep it exclusively as an archive for family recipes, representing  Bengal's Kitchen. Somehow midway I could not keep my promise and the blog turned onto a 'Khichdi'..... meaning.... a hotchpotch one. It feels good to see some of my friends doing the same beautifully, I just provide fillers when they are not doing it.

I have decided to archive certain family recipes on the blog. Whether I promote them or not, they should be on the blog. I know even my daughter-in-law may not try them, yet they should be there. This particular dish is prepared with AshGourd and Lentil Fritters or Dal pakora. Actually, the dal pakora is a substitution for 'bori'..... that is dried lentil balls.. With the on and off rain scenario here, I never try preparing them at home. There is a way of doing it in microwave which I am yet to try. So, I team this non-spicy dish with dal pakora. You can also substitute the Ash Gourd with Bottle Gourd or Raw Papaya. Let us prepare this healthy, vegetarian dish together.

INGREDIENTS :[for the dal pakora]
Masoor Dal : 1/2 cup
Nigella Seeds[kalojeera] : 1/2tsp
Salt : As required
Turmeric Powder : 1/4tsp
Sugar : 1/4tsp
Oil to fry.

INGREDIENTS :[main]
Ash Gourd [chalkumro] : 1medium
Green Chilli : 2-3
Cumin Seed : 1/4tsp
Salt : As Required
Turmeric : 1/4tsp
Dry Red Chilli : 2
Bayleaf : 1
Sugar : 1/2tsp[optional]
Oil : 2tbsp

METHOD :
Peel, wash, cut and shred the ash gourd. Add salt n turmeric, mix well.

Let us do the dal vadas first. Soak the dal in water for 1 hour. Grind to a paste discarding the water.

Add kalojeera,salt, turmeric,sugar. Beat well for 2-3 minutes and shape into small balls. Heat oil in a wok and fry the vadas till golden brown.

Once done, add 2tbsp oil in the remaining oil. As it get hot, temper with cumin seeds, bayleaf and halved red chillies.

Add the shredded ash gourd, stir and cover. Keep heat at low.

After 12-14 minutes, uncover and add the vadas and slitted green chillies. Stir and cover again.

Keep stirring every 3-4 minutes till the water dries up. Add the sugar, stir again, cook for 2 minutes, its done.

Dal vadas are used as a substitute for bori [dried lentil ball].



Thursday, 1 December 2016

CABBAGE FRITTERS / BADHAKOPIR BORA





Its monsoon here, raining every now and then. One good thing about the weather here is that it does not rain incessantly. So, there is ample reason to romanticise with the tiny droplets that create a ripple deep within. As I walk past, I stop and watch the water drenched leaves, flowers. That is one major reason why it takes four hours for me to finish a half marathon. Nothing in this world comes in a platter. Then, I love all attributes of nature, except for its fury. With the senior on a tour , not really in a mood / mode to cook. Not that he is a big eater but when one member from the threesome is absent, one just not feel like. Besides, my boy is happy with his dose of chicken with  luchi[Bengali Bread]. With such simplification of kitchen cores, one does have ample time for reading, listening to old favourite numbers. I also wished to revisit some of my old favourite movies from Ijjazat to Step Mom, I can watch them any number of times. I can create a movie hall ambience with a big bowl of popcorn too, yet unable to get into the mood. Though there had been several threat messages sent during such absence, the answer had always been  "phew... let me work"..... the obvious answer should be "good... let me shop". I think all women will agree with me.... The problem with me is I am a bit miser and cannot shop till I drop.... so it is always a win... win situation on the other side.

So when one has ample time to sit and write such silly notes, it means she wants to share a recipe with you all, keeping in tune with the simplistic approach of her blog. Whether it is monsoon or not, everyone love fries and fritters. We do it with all available vegetables, perhaps. My senior's big aunt who expired few months back was an expert on it. In that humble home, each evening there had / has to be 2-3 kinds of fries to go with lentil and rice.... ohh.... so yum. This cabbage fritters or Badhakopir Bora are a childhood favourite. The mom thing had a trouble some time given a foodie daughter and her son is still so..... my dude brother is definitely not going to like this post today, haha. Yet I am eager to prepare this yummy vegetarian fry / fritter together with you all.

INGREDIENTS :

Cabbage : 1small [shredded]
Onion : 2big[sliced ], authentically not used
Nigella Seeds [kalonji] : 1tsp
Turmeric Powder : 1tsp
Chopped Green Chillies : 2-4
Sugar : 1tsp
Salt : As Required
Rice Flour : 1small cup
Gram Flour : 1/4small cup
Refined Flour : 2tbsp
Oil : 100ml.... left over can be used later

METHOD :

Through the outer leaves of the cabbage. Wash and cut into 4 pieces. Cut and discard the hard portion. Now shred the remaining portion and wash again.

Cut the two ends of the onions and peel. Wash and slice. Take both the shredded cabbage and sliced onion in a big bowl. Add the chopped green chillies. Add little salt, mix well and keep aside for 10-15 minutes.

In a wide mouthed bowl, take the rice flour, gram flour, refined flour, nigella seeds, sugar, salt and turmeric. Add water to it little by little and mix well until it reaches a paste like consistency.

Heat oil in a wok. Drain any excess water from the cabbage-onion mix. Take some mix, coat with the batter well and carefully add to the oil. Fry at medium to low heat as and when required.

Fry in batches, once done transfer onto a tissue paper first and then to a serving plate.

Enjoy with tea or as an accompaniment to rice and dal / lentil.

















Monday, 28 November 2016

DAL BHAPE / STEAMED LENTIL




....... and it was so easy to do.... I totally loved and enjoyed doing it. I am scared of whatever is complicated..... recipe or otherwise. Whatever is easy.... whether it is a recipe or easy going people makes me happy, gives me pleasure. Yet, I so much respect some dear people who put all their heart and soul in preparing and drafting a recipe, or may be preparing a lesson plan for their next day class or say put immense effort to be a near perfect housewife. I am none of them, rather would say I feel myself enriched been surrounded by such beautiful people. Everything seems happy happy, going to meet family and friends soon. It feels so great to be silly with your dear ones. The ones with whom I was a bit angry few days back.... I am settling meeting dates in advance with the same.... we are as silly as we had been many winters back...... the silver streaks, the under eye bags could not reach deep inside. Some of them are coming down to the city at the same time, just to sit together, giggle, do naughty talks going back to teen hood. The only glitch is that my senior is not been able to accompany me this time.... who happens to be as dear to them as much as of mine.

This typical 'kochughechu' type Bengali was so happy to discover this recipe at a friend's place last month. . Her name is Paramita Chakrabartty, a foodie herself and a fabulous cook. We were giggling all through when she was telling us the story of her daddy's diet till date which is a full 5-7 course typical Bengali meal. I could suddenly connect with it as we have seen in our family years back. A fat wallet? colourful home decor? gadgets? decades back these were not important part of life but the food plate had to be full from Gondhoraj lebu to chutney. This steamed dal is not to be confused with Dhokar Dalna's Dhoka which was/is regular at my side of the family. This dal is prepared by totally steaming it. My friend did not use onion like me. She did with matar dal, I did with moong dal. The process was hassle free, just prepare the mix and put on steam. So it was an altogether 'dhinka chika' kind of cooking listening to my favourite numbers. This dish I dedicate to myself because my not so Bong men hardly love such things. We can save time by doing it in microwave but I am yet to try. Let us prepare this Dal Bhape or Steamed Lentil together following the stepwise pictures.

INGREDIENTS : 

Moong Dal [skinless green gram lentil] : 1big cup
Shredded Coconut : 1/2big cup
Onion : 1big[sliced]
Green Chilli : 2[chopped]
Turmeric Powder : 1/4tsp
Salt : As Required
Mustard Oil : 1tsp + As required to drizzle later

METHOD :

Dry roast the dal till it turns light brown. Wash and soak in hot water for 2-3hours. Grind to a paste adding water little by little. Transfer to a bowl.

Add the sliced onion, chopped green chillies, shredded coconut, salt and turmeric. Mix well.




Now grease a steel container with mustard oil. Transfer the dal mix to it. 




Cover the box tightly. Heat enough water in a wok. Place the steel container on the wok. 





Let it cook for 1hour 15 minutes to 11/2hour. Let cool. Take out and open cover.



Loosen the sides with a knife and turn onto a plate. Serve hot with piping hot steamed rice drizzling some mustard oil on it. Since my men are less of a Bong, and cannot have raw mustard oil, so they had with ghee.




Thursday, 24 November 2016

BIRD NEST FRIES





Fry, Fry, Fry..... You are so worth to try..... I know the health aficionados will be after me. Then we are heading towards weekend, I would keep my ears shut to what I preach. I am neighbour to a health freak couple friend who help me a lot with my diet. Though not always do I follow their valuable inputs, but yes, I always give a thumbs up to them for their self control . I love food so much so that it is impossible to follow a routine. Hence, I am far from my dream body, but then we cannot have the best of both worlds. My friend tries her best to keep me in track, wants to introduce me to her personal trainer, but I am a laid back character in all aspects. So if four days of the week is healthy eating for me, rest three days is indulgence. For my men all days are indulgent days, anything from burgers to poori / paratha with meat curries.


I got the idea of bird nest from the various food groups I am part of. This was my first attempt of doing this evening snack, I could not create a perfect shape of it. I took a safer path of doing a full covered one. My main ingredient here is yogurt because I too much love and wished to have dahi kebabs which I am yet to master at home. That thin cover making process I need to correct. So I had to take help of a dough to cover it... coat with vermicelli and deep fry. Let us do this yummy, vegetarian snack together and enjoy it with our evening tea coming weekend.

INGREDIENTS : 
Plain Yogurt : 500ml
Refined Flour : 1big cup
Gram Flour : 1/4small cup
Corn Flour : 1small cup
Green Chilli : 2-3[chopped] 
Cumin Powder : 1/2tsp 
Coriander Powder : 1/2tsp
Chilli Powder : 1/2tsp
Cumin Seed : 1tsp
Baking Soda : 2pinches
Chaat Masala : 1tsp
Black Salt : As Required
Sugar : 1/2tsp
Salt : As Required
Vermicelli : 100-150 gm
Ghee [clarified butter] : 1tbsp
Oil : To deep fry

METHOD :
We will take the yogurt in a bowl and beat well. Pour it onto a clean, white cloth and tie to the kitchen tap. Let it be like that for 2-3 hours. By then all excess water will go.

Now we will take together the refined flour, gram flour and the baking soda in a big, wide mouthed bowl and mix well.

Then add the chopped green chillies, cumin powder, coriander powder, chilli powder, cumin seeds, little salt and ghee to the flour mix. Rub well for 2-3 minutes. Add water little by little and keep kneading to form a firm dough.

Keep the dough covered for 1/2 an hour. Take the vermicelli in a plate. Prepare a batter with cornflour and little salt.

Take down the yogurt and transfer to a bowl. Add the sugar, black salt, chaat masala and mix well.

Prepare medium sized balls from the dough, fill with yogurt mix, close and flatten lightly with your palm. Now dip each one in batter and roll onto the vermicelli very well.

Heat enough oil in a wok so that we can deep fry. We will fry them in batches till both sides are brown and well done.

Transfer onto tissue paper first and then into serving plates.



Serve hot with your choice of chatni or sauce.













Monday, 21 November 2016

LIGHT RIDGE GOURD CURRY



There is a saying at my home that chillies and oil comes for free at our home. Every visiting friend has by now by hearted it perhaps. No I do not take is as an assault or criticism on me because that is not his nature except for accusing a large number of people for choosing a wrong guide of late. His research did not match the result.To that I say cool darling its not an one of case, echoing you I would say people learn from their mistakes. We are also doing the same mistake of treating someone as Godly who is actually far from it. People will either realise or struggle and juggle through / with life. Next month when I will give a big note to the poor vegetable seller, he/she will look at me with blank, painful eyes. Nothing happens to our class, we eat, merry, drink whoever holds the rein, its the lower strata of the society who suffers, always.

Coming back to the chilli and oil discussion, it is true that I love to use them generously in my cooking. I love spices actually. At times I just open the containers and smell them, oh so natural. I may sound very silly to the world, what to do I am that way. I was never smart enough to change according to other's needs..... Stubborn to the core?.... yes I am.... take me as I am or quit..... it was some 19 autumns back.... on this day a very worried mother told someone, my daughter does not understand life, she is fragile, handle her with care please..... a promise was made and kept till date....
Hopefully he is not reading this otherwise would have gone wild as to why I went public with this day after repeated requests of not to .... and the duo will always conclude mamma is such a silly thing....

This kind of light curries are an after effect of the scoldings and warnings.... S...... we need to cut down on spices and oil. This recipe of a very healthy curry with ridge gourd was learnt from a dear friend....  Piyali Mohanty..... our kids were in the same pre school. When our kids were at school, we used to sit and discuss on everything.... from films to food. A very good cook herself she told me about this healthy curry. I do not remember the exact recipe, neither did I whatsapp her for the details..... I just went ahead with it in my own way. Before I get engaged with some special cooking for the evening, I wished to share this simple, easy to do healthy and light curry with ridge gourd for all of you today. Let us do it together.


INGREDIENTS :

Ridge Gourd : 2-4
Milk : 1/3small cup
Turmeric Powder : 1/4tsp
Nigella Seed : 3pinches
Wild Celery Seed : 3pinches
Ginger Paste : 1/2tsp
Green Chilli : 2[slitted]
Salt : As Required
Sugar : 1/2tsp[optional]
Oil : 2tbsp

METHOD :

Peel and wash the ridge gourds. Cut half each one and then cut further length wise. Discard the seeds if there are too many. Apply little salt and turmeric.

Heat oil in a wok, temper with nigella seeds and wild celery seeds. Add the ginger paste and stir for a minute, now add little turmeric and salt.

Add the marinated ridge gourd pieces. Stir well and cover.

After 5 minutes, open cover and you will see it has released water and is almost done.

Add the milk and slitted green chillies, cover cook for another 2 minutes. Add sugar, stir and take down after 1 minute.

Serve hot and fresh with rice. Since we are using milk here, it is preferred to be had fresh and not refrigerate for the next day.






Thursday, 17 November 2016

FRESH FRUIT STUFFED SWEET



At our home, weekends call for a sweet and I love doing them, the simple ones though. The Indian supermarket here has an array of packaged sweets air flown from India. I do buy the dry varieties at times when there are special occasions or prayers at home. Once a friend said the sugar syrup of the tinned sweets has bacteria. Ever since I try to prepare sweets fresh at home. There is also a sweet shop in the Indian Market selling fresh sweet. I do buy them whenever I visit that area, however I miss the touch of that professional hands in the making as it is back home. Off course, we do not get the winter special date jaggery sweets anywhere here, for that we have to travel a few hundred kilometres which I feel is worth it. Till then my men have to be happy with whatever little I can do.

The fresh fruits are kept at home to pack along with their lunch boxes. The peculiar duo will eat fruits only that way, if given at home they will not touch. In so many years I am adjusted to such things and play my own tricks as and when required. I do eat fruits but has been prescribed not to eat much. This morning I saw its about to be the weekend, yet there are a few leftover fruits that needs to be used. Everything has a shelf life. Never in a mood to do elaborate cooking these days, I planned for this Fresh Fruit Stuffed Sweet. We can do the stuffing with any fruit but not with one with too much water content. Take note that the fruits have to be sweet. I used bread because the coverage of the sweet had to be little harder as it is a no cook one. Moreover, it will be stuffed with fresh fruits, hence should be firmer than our usual sweets. I have provided stepwise pictures for the whole process. Let us prepare this Fresh Fruit Stuffed Sweet together. I tried with little amount, you can adjust as required.

INGREDIENTS : [for homemade paneer]
Low Fat Milk : 500 ml
Plain Yogurt : 1/2 small cup
Ice Cubes : 1/2small cup

INGREDIENTS : [for the sweet]
Homemade Paneer : As we get
Milk Powder : 1/2small cup
Refined Flour : 1tbsp
Sugar : 1/2small cup
Green Cardamom Powder : 1/4tsp
Bread : 2-3pieces
Ghee [clarified butter] : 2-3tbsp
Orange: 6-7 segments of one
Grapes : 7-8
Garnish as you wish or do not
Any other fruits can be used with less water content, I did with what I had at home

METHOD :
Pour the milk in a heavy bottomed vessel. Switch on gas and bring it to boil. Beat the plain yogurt and add to the milk. Stir and switch off gas. Add the ice cubes. Let rest for 5-10 minutes.

Strain the whey through a white cloth and tie with your kitchen tap. Squeeze the extra water. Let it rest for about 45 minutes.

Heat 1tbsp ghee in a frying pan. Cut the sides of the bread slices and toast both sides brown. If you think your paneer and milk powder mixture is firm after kneading, you can manage well, skip the bread part.




After 45 minutes take down the paneer and untie.




Transfer to a plate. Add milk powder, refined flour, sugar, mash and knead well for 10 minutes.



Add rest of the ghee and the toasted bread torn into small pieces. Mash very well for another 5 minutes.



Now the mixture is firm and non-sticky. Keep it covered for few minutes. Meanwhile peel the orange, take out the skin of the segments and throw the seeds. Chop into smaller pieces. Wash and chop the grapes into smaller pieces.

Rub your hands with little amount of ghee.Take portions from the mixture, shape round, make hollow, stuff with little amount of fruit mix, close and smoothen with your palms.



Now its done. I prefer to serve it chilled.


Monday, 14 November 2016

GRAVIED SPICY PANEER



It happened so last week that the daddy thing went on a short trip, the mumma - son duo had a fulfilling dinner with their favourite Paneer [Indian Cottage Cheese] ..... that definitely does not mean the daddy of the house has any problem with whats cooking in the kitchen.... I so much wished that he peeped into the kitchen once in a while .... but then that will be so much in contradiction with what he says.... No Rule is the only Rule in this House. If I say there has to be certain rules set for the teen,  he says he will learn from his mistakes..... I want my son to be happy in life..... No wonder many years back, some of us, his friends would bump into his home more often.... which was a kind of 'thandi haoa ka jhoka' .... space for freedom and fun.... a relief from our military moms whose 'don't' list seemed so long for us.... Coming back to present... he only urges his lady not to feed him so much 'ghaspus'.... greens. That is where the lady needs to assert a bit.

The new neighbourhood we shifted a month ago also has an Indian minimart nearby and I really do not have to travel 5-6 km always to get Indian stuffs .... that makes me happy.... It is there I found this new brand of paneer which proved to be a good deal. Now I am not really so sincere  that I will prepare my own paneer always. I enjoy my long outdoor walks, chitchat with friends in the same neighbourhood, girls get-together, family get-together, sometimes weekend fiesta with family, when do I cook.... Besides all these, getting lost in Bollywood fantasies is too much of a favourite..... Living with two overtly practical men, I have to balance. Done with all these, I do cook a bit. So the other day I got this small packet of paneer and prepared it fresh. It was 8pm already, hence I wished something simple and hassle free. You will see I did the curry with minimal spices. The use of cashew nut paste made it thick, creamy and mildly sweet. The marination of paneer with spices and lemon juice made it flavourful and tastier. Let us prepare this Gravied Spicy Paneer together.

INGREDIENTS :
Paneer : 250gm
Cashew nut : 7-8
Ginger Paste : 1tsp
Onion Paste : 1tbsp
Chilli Powder : 1tsp
Turmeric Powder : 1tsp
Coriander Powder : 1tsp
Cumin Powder : 1tsp
Lemon Juice : 2tbsp
Salt : As Required
Milk : 1/2small cup
Cumin Seed : 1/4tsp
Bayleaf : 1
Oil : 4tbsp

METHOD :
Marinate the paneer with cumin powder, coriander powder, little chilli powder, little salt and the lemon juice. Keep aside for 15-20 minutes.

Prepare a paste with the cashew nuts adding little milk.

Heat oil in a wok. Discard the marinade and lightly fry the marinated paneer pieces in batches. Keep aside.

Temper oil with cumin seeds and a bayleaf. Add the onion paste and fry for 2 minutes. Add the ginger paste and fry for 2 minutes.

To it add the cashew nut paste. Stir for a minute and add rest of the chilli powder, turmeric powder and required amount of salt. Stir well. Add half small cup of water.

As the gravy comes to boil, add 1/2 small cup milk and let boil covered for 3-4 minutes. Open cover and add the spicy, fried paneer pieces. Let cook for a minute.

Its done. Transfer to a serving bowl and serve hot with rice or chapati.