Thursday, 28 August 2008

Chenchki / Mixed vegetables

This is one simple dish that makes good use of any leftover vegetables in your fridge. Extremely quick to make, this has no added masalas.
The vegetables cook in their own juices .... hehehe .... literally .... and that is what that gives it that distinct flavour and taste.

I made this to have with puris on the weekend ... but ended up having it with something completely different .... in a place completely different too. The story is here.

Need : Vegetables cut into cubes ( I had aloo, kaddu, parwal, baingan ... can add a lot more), chopped onion, kalaunji, haldi powder, whole red chillies, a little mustard / any cooking oil and salt to taste.

How to: Heat a little oil. Add the chillies and kalaunji. Then add the onions and fry a little. Now add all the vegetables, haldi powder and salt.
Note I did not add any sugar as the kaddu / pumpkin will give the required sweetness.
Cover and cook till the vegetables are done.
It should be slightly mushy.
Goes great with hot rotis/ parathas/ puris.

Monday, 25 August 2008

Capsicum in besan

Honestly I do not know the name of this dish. I had it at a Maharashtrian friend's place and like more for the easy way it is done ... not to mention the time ... it can be made in a jiffy.

An extremely uncomplicated recipe, it is a life saver when you have no idea what to make or when you have run out of veggies or other stuff.

Need :

Capsicum / Bell peppers - 2 medium sized, sliced lengthwise,
Onions - sliced lengthwise
Besan / Gram flour around ½ cup
( you might need more or less depending upon the moisture released by the bell peppers and theonions )
Jeera / Cumin seeds - a pinch
Haldi / Turmeric powder - a pinch
Red chilli powder
Hing / Asafoetida - a small pinch
Cooking oil - 1 tbsp
Sugar - to taste
Salt - to taste.

How to :

Heat oil in a kadahi or wok. Add the hing and the jeera.

Then add the onions and fry a little.

Add the capsicums and fry till they turn soft.

Add salt and sugar now.

Now add the besan and keep stirring.

Add the haldi and chilli powder.

Keep stirring till the besan absorbs all moisture.

Sprinkle a little water if necessary and keep stirring till besan is done.

( If it gets too moist with the water, add some more besan ... but fry it well after that ).

Serve hot.

This will be a very dryish dish.

Great on the side with hot rotis and some dal.
I love it with dal & chawal too. :-)

Friday, 22 August 2008

Ilish Maacher Patla Jhol / Hilsa in thin gravy & a Meme

This jhol is made by my Nakakima (aunt) ... and is as simple a dish as she is a person. Innocent as a child and absolutely non-political (joint family or otherwise) she would always love to be around us kids. And loved every joke of ours. A complete misfit everywhere ... the family had elders to look into every matter ... from cooking to everything else. And we kids definitely did not need an elder in our escapades. But the best thing about my kakima is she never ever pretended to be smart or outspoken ... which is why I have always loved her. :-)

Sometimes she would make this jhol with aloo and baingan pieces ... a very thin gravy
It is only years later ... after I started to cook .... I realised that since the Ilish has such a distinct flavour of its own .... we really do not need anything too overwhelming to cook it. It would only spoil the whole dish.

I got my first Ilish of this season. And started off with nostalgia. :-)

Need : Ilish pieces (marinated in salt and haldi powder and lightly fried in mustard oil), aloo peeled and cubed, brinjal cubed in a little bigger size than the aloo, sliced onion,whole red chillies, paanch phoron, roasted jeera powder, haldi powder, mustard oil and salt to taste.

How to : Heat oil. Add the paanch phoron and red chillies. Then add the sliced onions and fry for sometime.

Add the vegetables and the haldi powder water. Add salt.
Cover and cook till the vegetables are done. Remove cover and add the fish pieces and a little roasted jeera powder. Cover and simmer for some more time.

Goes great with hot, steamed rice. :-)

I have been tagged by dear Jaya . And am doing this only for the dear person that she is.
Thanks for thinking of me Jaya.
Am really curious about who comes up with these things.
As I start off, am already bristling at that word in the first line .... Rule. Rule? Sigh. Ok ... go ahead .... rule.
now as per Rule ,
Pick up the nearest book
Goto Page 123
Now Find the fifth sentence
post next three sentence
Tag 5 People and acknowledge the person who tagged you
1st line .. errr Rule .... it does not mention which way .... left or right. I have my huge bookcase on my left ... and the small bookracks on the wall on my right. Ok girl ....think.
If I reach out to my left I will have more the numbers of books to choose from than on the right. Crichton and Mary Higgins, Conan Doyle and Khashoggi, even Sukumar Ray and soooooo many more .... all bore their eyes on me. Ruuuuuuun. So I reach out to my right.

Jerome K. and James Herriot dominate. But then Twain and Jack London are vying for attention too. And there goes Victor Hugo ... smirk,smirk ... coz my hand falls on the hunch. Eeeeeek!

But Rule .... Rule .... don't forget the next Rule.
2nd Rule I go to page 123.

3rd Rule ..... Ok .... sigh .... I do find a sentence ..... 5th sentence .... by now am wishing for a lifer.
4th Rule ... "post next three sentence " .... well .... help me somebody!
The creator of this 'book' meme has possibly never heard of singulars and plurals. Lord ... give me the strength .... lightly to bear ..... Ok .... ok ... almost done ... get going.
Here goes .... ".... of the eleventh century,the slated obelisk of the fifteenth, the round and naked keep of the castle, the square and embroidered tower of the church, the great and the small, the massive and the light. The eye was long bewildered amidst this labyrinth of heights and depths in which there was nothing but had its originality, its reason, its genius, its beauty, nothing but issued from the hand of art, from the humblest dwelling, with its painted and carved wooden front, elliptical doorway and overhanging stories, to the royal Louvre , which then had a colonnade of towers. But when the eye began to reduce this tumult of edifices to some kind of order, the principal masses that stood out from among them were these."
I wonder even more ..... who is going to get what out of this???? Is anybody at all going to read the above lines? And if at all somebody has so much time .... will they bother to even wonder what comes after this ????

5th Rule ..... heee heee heee, haaa haa haaa, my turn now to play spoilsport. I have to get back for making me type with one finger after all. ;-p

I have already acknowledged dear Jaya.

And am saving 5 more people this torture. Besides ... rules are meant to be broken :-))

So long folks !!!! :-)

Thursday, 21 August 2008

Doi Begun / Dahi Baingan

My blog has some silent visitors ... who are silent here ... but do give their feed back either by calling me or through mails. They are my best critics ... 'they did not like this' ... 'it could have been better this way' ... 'is this the actual way when you made it for us' ... etc etc.
Helps a lot. Thanks guys. :-)

One silent visitor is our good friend and hubby's colleague H. He loves my cooking and is always very frank with his opinions ... which I appreciate greatly. His favourite is the Doi Begun or dahi baingan. It is brinjals in a sweet gravy of curd. When he did not find it in my blog he promptly wrote to me .... insisting that 'his heart is breaking'. :-)

So when Mr. & Mrs. C came over for dinner last weekend and I made this dish .... amongst other things .... I made sure to take a snap and post it pronto.

This is a slightly sweetish dish ... and the salty taste is given by the brinjals.

After I learnt to make kadhi, I started using the same process of adding besan to the curd so that it does not curdle. Helps everytime.

Need :
Brinjals / Aubergines / Eggplants ... cut into thickish roundels and marinated with salt and turmeric / haldi powder,(you can chop them up too )
2 cups Curd / Yoghurt,
1 tsp besan,
Mustard oil to fry the brinjals - around 1 tbsp
1 tsp of any white cooking oil,
1 tsp of mustard seeds,
Whole dry red chillies,
Around 2 tbsp sugar.

How to :

Heat enough oil ( preferably mustard oil ) and deep fry the brinjals .
This Begun bhaja or fried brinjals can be had as a side dish to a meal too.
You can stir fry them in a little oil, with some salt,  if you are using them chopped ... just cover and cook till they are done, then raise heat to give them some colour.

Mix the besan with the curd and add a pinch of haldi powder to it. Mix well with a little water till smooth. Add the sugar too.

Heat the cooking oil in a different kadhai / wok and add the mustard seeds, curry leaves and chillies.

Now add the curd and cook on a low flame till it comes to a boil.

Keep stirring till you get the desired consistency ( it should not be too watery) and add the fried brinjals.

Cook for some more time.

Keep aside to cool and then keep in the fridge. This is usually eaten cold ... as a side dish with a meal of rice and other stuff.

Updated : I just remembered that we can make this with Kaddu / pumpkin too. Just cut them into not too thick slices and grill with a pinch of salt (no deep frying here).

Wednesday, 13 August 2008

Tangy plum

I had some plum that we had bought so enthusiastically on our last grocery trip ... but they were way too sour to eat ... actually it is the skin that was so sour.

Did not know what to do with them .... and no ... am never in favour of spoiling and throwing away things.

Thought of making a chutney like the ones I do with mangoes / tomatoes.
Only this time I did not add any tempering like mustard seeds / curry leaves. With the barest minimum things I came up with something very different.
I had added sugar first .... but it was not enough ... still too sour ... so dunked in a good amount of gur / jaggery.

Went overboard and added a pinch of garam masala too. :-) Had no idea what was going to be the outcome.

Need : Plums (halved and not pitted ... u can if u want to), half a teaspoonful of oil ( yes, very little), sugar / jaggery (enough to make it sweet), a pinch of garam masala ( very little), very thinly sliced ginger and a little pinch of salt.

How to : Heat the oil in a non stick pan / kadhai. Add the plums and the salt and cook for a while.

Now add the sugar / jaggery, sliced ginger and the garam masala . If you like ginger, then be generous. It gives a beautiful flavour. Cook till all water dries up.

Ready !! :-) It actually turned out tasting great !!

Am sending this to Sunshinemom's even FIC Red. Since the pic does not do justice to the dish ... am apprehensive if it will qualify for red. At least it is natural colour. :-)

Keeping my fingers crossed. :-)

Tuesday, 12 August 2008

Khichuri & co. / Khichdi / and an award (again)

Rains and Khichuri or Khichdi are synonymous to any Bengali. And bhaja or deep fried is a part of Bengali fare. And if it is with khichuri ... nothing like it. Though I love bhajas / fries, I try to keep the oil at the minimum these days and do not deep fry most stuff .... except the brinjals when am making Begun bhaja / deep fried brinjals.

The khichuri is light and kind of mushy and made of lentils and rice. If preferred, vegetables can be added too. Actually it is very light and healthy ... only the bhajas make it heavy ... both with oil ... and guilt. ;-)

If time and laziness on a rainy day permits, it can have a lot of fries and gravies as accompaniments. But it is great with just Papor bhaja (Papad fry) and a little pickle / ghee. Beguni or batter fried brinjals / aubergines are a favourite with steaming hot khichuri.

I had some fish ... so fried a piece for myself. :-)
Else an omlette will also do ... if you have to have a non veggie stuff.

And if you are having guests over ( guests who come over for khichuri are the closest ones ... sitting on the floor, sharing adda, great music and simple food ... ) then it can be a feast galore with Kosha mangsho/ Maacher kalia, etc. The list can be never ending then.


Can be done in a kadhai or a pressure cooker.

Need :

1 cup rice,
1 cup of Red Masoor dal / Mushur dal and Moong dal mixed together,
Grated ginger,
Whole garam masala ( green cardamom, cinnamon, whole dry red chillies, bay leaves), A pinch of turmeric / haldi powder,
1 onion sliced,
1 chopped tomato and tomatoes,
1 tbsp sugar,
Salt to taste,
Cooking oil or ghee
Vegetables like carrots, cauliflowers, green peas,potatoes, etc. can be used too

How to :

Wash the rice and dals and soak.

Heat oil or ghee in a kadahi / big sized wok.

Add the garam masala and then the onions. Fry for sometime.

If using vegetables, add them now.

Add the tomatoes.

Add the rice and dals.

Fry for sometime.

Add the turmeric, salt and sugar.

Add lots of water ... it should be watery and mushy.

Cover and cook till done and reached desired consistency. You can add water midway if needed.

Need :

Brinjals cut into thin pieces (make sure there is no water on them),
Red chilli powder,
Enough oil to deep fry.

How to :

Make a batter with the besan, water, salt and chilli powder.

Can add a spoonful of rice flour to this to make it extra crispy.

Heat oil in a kadhai. Mustard oil is good for this as it is not absorbed too much by the brinjal.

Dip the brinjal pieces one by one in the batter and gently release them in the oil.
Cook till both sides are brown.

If the brinjal pieces are thin they will get cooked properly.

Can use the same batter to make aloo, baby spinach, or the plain chopped onion bhajas. The more the bhajas with the khichuri, the merrier. :-)

Ok, enough of food ramblings. Here's something else.
During my recent disappearence from blogging for a while ... a very little while ... I had a one man fan club ... notyet100.

I still do not know from where she found my new url ... but consistently visited my blog and left warm words. My sincere thanks to her. She has a great blog ... but I have been a very occasional visitor there ... which am going to rectify at the earliest.

And she has passed me an award too. And so has dear Pragyan. She has a blog that has some great Oriya recipes .... and successfully leaves me homesick with each post.

The Blogging Friends Forever award. This award is supposed to be passed on .... like all other awards ..... and there are some rules too.

I'll take some time to pass this on ... as it takes a lot of blog hopping and deciding .... again rules. :-)

I just hope this will be the last of all awards.
Monsoon is washing this city away .... may the blissful rain wash away all other grief, hurts,sorrows and ill will from people's minds and hearts too.
Enjoy the rains!

Try biting into a crispy hot beguni with some chaat masala sprinkled on it .... and savour the flavours. :-)

And yes, did I mention that you should be standing in front of the window with cold rain spraying on your face. Lemme know if anyone tries this. ;-)

Another Khichdi / Khichuri / Khichudi that I often make is here

Monday, 11 August 2008

Pora Pithe / Poda Pitha

Poda pitha

Pora/poda means burnt / roasted. Pithe / Pitha(in Oriya) is anything that is made from agrarian products like rice, coconut, lentils and jaggery.... that is so common to states like Bengal and Orissa. They can be sweet or salty.

This can be called a desi cake too. :-) Ususally in villages a dying chulha (stove) after the days' cooking is used to make this thing. The mixture is wrapped in banana leaves and left to slowly roast in the dying embers.

In the absence of a chulha these days, we can make it in a heavy bottomed kadhai .... or alternatively .... bake just like a cake too.
Here I am giving the recipe and amounts that I use to make it. If you want to, you can add a teaspoonful of baking powder too.

Need : 2 cups rice (washed and soaked), 1 cup urad dal (washed and soaked), fresh coconut chopped into small pieces, crushed black pepper, 6 tbsp sugar (or more if you want this to be sweet), 2 pinches of salt, ghee.

How to : Grind the soaked dal and the rice into a coarse paste. Mix into it the sugar, coconut and black pepper.pora pithe
Smear a heavy bottomed vessel or kadhai with ghee and pour the mixture into it. Cover and keep it on a slow flame.
After one side is done ..... see the pic below .....
Podo pitha
....... flip the whole thing over to roast the other side too. Remember to cover it. Does not take more than 20 minutes to cook.

sweet poda pitha
Poda pithe narkel diye

Mishti Poda pithe
 (These photographs have been stolen and used by other bloggers ... of course without my permission.)

Done ! :-)
Poda Pithe

Keep it to cool on a high rack ..... so that it does not turn soggy from all the moisture that it will release.
I remember the salty one that Ma used to make .... we would have it for breakfast .... dipping it in very thin and piping hot Jolkhabarer torkari on cold winter mornings.

The sweet ones like this can be had anytime ... as a snack with or without tea. It will stay in the fridge too .... but if kept outside .... do not cover or close in a container ( I am talking of the Indian climate).

Podo Pitha

Enjoy ! :-)

Check out the savoury version of this Poda Pitha here.
Same process and equally tasty.

Sunday, 10 August 2008

Narkel Bhaat / Rice cooked in Coconut Milk

Belonging to a zamindar family ... that too on a coast ..... automatically brings along a lot of privileges that we children took for granted .... only until we left home and set up our own homes.

One of them is the abundant supply of coconuts in the house. Later, when we grew up we came to know that all the rice our big family (read joint family .... with numerous relatives and relatives' relatives visiting at any time the year round) and numerous big and small guests consumed, came from our fields in the villages our family 'owned'.

Of course not to mention the fish part of our daily diet from our pond in Dadu's house. Only on occasions like weddings and others .... where huge number of guests had to be fed .... the fish and prawns on the menu came from the ponds of our villages on the coast.

Coconut was something the 'Godam ghor' ( store house ) always had. Huge piles of browning ones ...when you pulled out one... a few others rolled down .... having us kids running away as fast as we could .... squealing at the imaginary enemy coming down at us. :-))

The tender green ones were consumed for water. But the others were used almost daily. Fresh coconut would be grated and used with chire ( pressed rice ) / muri ( puffed rice ) for breakfast. Or on vegetable dishes. And the very dry ones would be used by Thamma to make coconut oil.

Narkel bhaat .... though an occasional dish ... was a favorite .... and still is. It is a slight variation of the usual Bengali "Mishti bhaat" or "Sweet rice". These days coconut milk is so easily available .... we don't have to shudder when we think of making narkel bhaat or prawn malaikari.

Need : 1 cup Basmati rice (washed ), 2 packets of coconut milk ( I used the 200 ml ones), sugar, ghee, whole garam masala ( dalchini ( cinnamon) , green elaichi( cardamom) ,tej patta (bay leaves) ), whole red chillies, a pinch of salt, kaju and kishmish (cashews and raisins).

How to : Heat ghee in a heavy kadhai. Add the garam masalas, tej patta and red chillies.
Add the rice and fry for some time on low flame.
Then add the kaju and kishmish and the coconut milk. Add sugar ( just enough sugar to give a very light sweetness to the rice).
Add a pinch of salt ( just to complement the sweetness ). Cover and cook till rice is done.

Serve hot. Goes great with any spicy dish with gravy.

Friday, 8 August 2008

Kosha Dim

Kosha literally means 'Bhuna'. Onion/ginger/garlic paste ... fried well in oil. Dim is egg. :-)

Need : Boiled eggs, onion/ginger/garlic/tomato paste, haldi powder, a pinch of sugar,red chilli powder, 2 tbsp cooking oil ( I used mustard oil), garam masala powder, salt to taste.

How to : Heat a little oil first. Add the boiled eggs and fry them a little with a pinch of haldi powder and sugar. This gives a colour to the eggs and also the skin turns slightly crispy.
Remove and keep aside.
Now add the rest of the oil and the onion paste. Add the haldi powder and red chilli powder and fry well till oil seperates.
Add some water and the eggs (make a little cut in them so that the masala enters) and keep stirring till all water evaporates.
I had some boiled aloo .... completely crushed one and added it to give a little body to the gravy.
Sprinkle the garam masala and cover for some time.
Goes great with hot rotis / parathas. Also can be had with khichuri (khichdi) too.

Bread Upma

I do not know why I get affected by things so easily (see previous post) ... but it is true that the zing has gone out my enthusiasm to post.

The weather could not have been lovelier .... dark, wet days with the light consistent rain this city is so famous for. And am rustling up some real hot delicacies in the kitchen.
Am happy to share these with hubby ... and sometimes close friends ..... cozying up in my crocheted throws .... (aaahhh .... got to add them too in my handiwork blog) .... watching across the huge bay windows of our flat ... which gives an excellent view of as far as eyes can see ..... we can see the rain approaching from the far off hills .... and with a hot cuppa .... and some good music ..... am in heaven. :-)
But much as I enjoy these snacks and meals ... I do not feel like sharing them anymore. Maybe I'll recover my trust again soon. Till then let this stay for posterity.
So am starting off again with a common breakfast dish. The bread upma is made in my house only to use up left over bread. Earlier I used make a sweet dish like shahi bread .... but since that takes a lot of deep frying .... and also uses a lot of sugar ... have completely stopped making it.
Need : Crumbled bread pieces, sliced onions,mustard seeds, curry leaves, a pinch of haldi powder, juice of half a lemon, a pinch of sugar, 1 tbsp cooking oil and salt to taste.
Whenever possible (read available in the fridge) I add vegetables like green peas, carrots, cauliflower, etc etc.
How to: Heat oil in a kadhai. Add the mustard seeds. When they start to splutter add the curry leaves and the onions. Fry well.
If adding vegetables add them now. Fry them well ... if needed cover and cook.
Now add the bread and haldi powder and salt. Keep tossing and add the sugar and lemon juice.
If needed sprinkle some water ... just to make the whole thing mix well.
Serve hot.

Friday, 1 August 2008

Sabudana khichdi

 This is another favorite that I learnt to make after a lot of trials.

Sabudana khichdi is made regularly, almost every week, in Maharashtrian households, on vrat or days of fasting ... usually a Thursday. Or on festivals that require fasting as a ritual.
High on starch, this is the perfect thing to fill you till you can have a full meal.

Most people find making this tricky. So did I. The key is to have the sabudana properly soaked. My Maharashtrian friend had told me to soak it for 1 hour and then take out of the water and spread it on a flat plate and leave it overnight.

But later I came up with my own version of soaking it. I just wash the sabudana well and soak it with water only skimming the top. Not too much ... too much water will make it soft ... and when frying it, the moisture will turn it lumpy.
 About an hour or two later, I leave it in the fridge, without a cover on  ... for the next day / the day after .... any day ... no probs.
 All I have to do is take it out and crumble with hands .... it loosens out and is ready.

Another thing that I do when I visit my home ( which is for a little longer time ) is to prepare the whole thing and leave it in the fridge ... (no potatoes then) .... all hubby has to do is heat oil and do the tempering. Ready in minutes. :-)
Need :

Soaked sabudana
Roasted and crushed groundnuts
Boiled potatoes - peeled and roughly crushed into medium sized pieces
Curry leaves
Mustard seeds
Chopped green chillies
A little red chilli powder
Salt to taste
Sugar ... a little more than usual ... the perfect sabudana khichdi is slightly sweetish

How to :

To prepare the sabudana mixture ..... put the soaked sabudana in a bowl.
Add salt, sugar, red chilli powder and the crushed groundnuts to it and mix well ... loosely seperating the pearls.

H eat ghee in a kadahi.
Add the mustard seeds, curry leaves, green chillies and the crushed boiled potatoes.
Fry for a while.
Add just a little salt for the potatoes.
Fry well and then add the sabudana mixture.
 Mix well and fry for sometime.

Remove from heat and serve hot.

It is usually eaten with curd on the side. Or Kokum ki Amti.