Am now stuck with numerous bottles of this drink for almost one whole month henceforth. And I never thought I would hate the taste(?) of water so much.
My fault? I neglected it a little too much.
And apparently my kidneys too.
They decided that my tummy and taste buds were getting a tad too much of attention.
Started acting up.
Got themselves a few stones ... can't call them very precious ... ( and oh they have a proper name too ... Renal Calculi ) .... and sat back smugly and watched the fun as I went hysterical with pain.
So no posts for a while as am in no condition to even stand up, leave alone cook. Of course am allowed to eat .... dal ... water ... rice ... water ... lauki ... water ... soup and some more water on the side.
I so wanted to reach my 200th post before my blog turned two ... looks like I can't make it. I do have a couple of recipes in my drafts ... maybe I'll try to post them in a week ... or when am feeling a little better.
So if am not around or leaving lines in your blogs, dear friends, do know that your dishes are so good that am busy wiping that green off my face .... or too busy doubling up with pain. :-(
Bon apetit all !!
Wednesday, March 31, 2010
Monday, March 22, 2010
( I have made this dish with cauliflower too and it tastes just as good ... so vegetarians and vegans can give it a try. )
Chilli chicken has to have chillies. And it should be hot ... real hot. Back home we got chilli chicken that had biggish pieces of chicken ... bones and all ... not the pathetic wee little boneless pieces we get here ... deep fried in a thick batter and tossed in soy gravy.
And did it have chillies! Either chopped or slit lengthwise, it would be full of fresh green chillies that used to be so hot we had to pick them out from the dish before gorging.
Out here, what we get is so different. First you get small bite sized pieces of god-knows-what, dunked into so dark a soy gravy that you feel it has been deliberately used to hide whatever is missing.
And the worse part is you get no chillies. The whole dish would be full of capsicums .... green capsicums ... cut thickly, often bigger than the chicken pieces.
How I hate them! I mean I really cannot understand this obsession with capsicums / bell peppers when it comes to cooking Chinese dishes.
Does not matter if you have good vegetables or not, does not matter if you have good chicken or prawns or not ... just throw in mugfuls of soy sauce and handfuls of ajinomoto and bucketfuls of bell peppers ... and you have a Chinese dish done.
Even the best Chinese restaraunts are obsessed with dunking in bell peppers into dishes.
Anyway, when I want to have chilli chicken, I make some for myself. And I do not go the whole way of deep frying and stuff.
Just a quick toss of things available at home ... and a quick cooking process. And a hot dish is ready.
So if you are home after a long day, just put this on the stove top and put your feet up. Your dinner would be ready in less than half an hour. :-)
Chicken - 6 to 8 pieces ( I use Real Good )
White Vinegar - around 3 tbsp
Onions - 2, medium sized, sliced thickly
Garlic - 8 cloves, chopped
Green chillies - according to preference, chopped
Soy sauce - 2 tbsp
Sugar - 1 tsp
Salt - to taste
Cooking oil - 1 tbsp
How to :
Marinate the chicken with vinegar ( do not add salt ) and keep aside ( for as long as you make the other preparations).
Chop and slice the vegetables.
Heat oil in a wok / kadahi.
Add the onions, garlic and chillies and stir fry for a while.
After the onions turn pinkish, add the chicken with the vinegar water. Stir for a while.
Add salt, cover and cook till chicken is done. ( No need to add water as the chicken pieces will release water ... but if you are using boneless pieces, you might need to).
Remove cover and check if chicken is tender. Do not overcook it ... it will turn tough.
Add the soy sauce ( remember, soy has salt ... so add accordingly ) and the sugar.
Cook for some more time ... or till desired consistency of gravy.
Goes great with rice or bread. I love to have it with crisp rotis too.
If you have any left over rice in the fridge, you can add it to this at the last part of cooking ( you will need to adjust the seasonings ) ..... make a great one pot meal too!
Enjoy all !! :-)
PS : Inspite of my repeated requests, my inbox is still being flooded with events & roundups announcements. So this is to declare that I've finally had to put all those mail ids through a sieve that will dump them into trash.
Thursday, March 18, 2010
I am posting this humble stir fried shaak or leafy vegetable for two reasons.
One ... I have been getting a lot of visits from people searching for recipes with the Laal shaak / Red Spinach. So decided to post it after all.
Two ... I don't have any other recipe or snap ready in my drafts. :-p
Traditionally, a Bengali full meal ... usually a lunch ... has to have a shaak or leafy vegetable on the side, that is eaten with the rice served. It can be a plain stir fry or can be made into a Chorchori / Charchari by cooking a mix of other vegetables with it.
I have not tried this shaak as a Chorchori yet ... but I do often fry some Bori / Vadi / Mungaudi in a little oil, crush them and add them to this fry.
This stir fry of the Lal Shaak / Red Spinach / Amaranth leaves is a favourite at home. Made very simply, it is just the garlic that gives a flavour that goes so well with the distinct flavour of these leaves.
If you don't like garlic, you can try this with a tempering of kalaunji / nigella seeds and dry red chillies or fresh green chillies.
Laal Shaak / Red Spinach / Amaranth leaves - 1 bunch, cleaned and chopped
Cooking oil - 1 tbsp ( I use Mustard oil )
Whole dry red chillies - 2
Garlic cloves - 5, crushed
Salt - to taste
How to :
Heat oil in a wok / kadahi.
Add the whole red chillies ( break them first or they might burst ) and the crushed garlic.
Fry a little and then add the chopped leaves.
Add salt, cover and cook. Remember to stir once in a while so that it does not burn.
When it is done and all water had dried up, remove cover and give a final stir.
Serve hot. Goes best on the side with hot rice and dal.
TC all !! :-)
Monday, March 15, 2010
Halwa is basically a sweet dish made either from grains, flours, vegetables or fruits along with milk or condensed milk and sugar as its main ingredients.
I was introduced to the Lauki ka halwa / Doodhi ka halwa ... after I got married. Before that I had no idea what else could be done with the humble lauki other than a curry / torkari or a raita. In fact I wasn't even interested in the vegetable ... and if it was made with shrimps, just picked out the shrimps from the dish and left it alone.
But later I was introduced to North Indian cuisine ... mainly Rajasthani cuisine. And Rajasthanis are known for their love for sweets as much as their love for savoury and deep fried things.
So there I was, just married, ... a Bengali who did not care for sweets at all ... having jalebis for breakfast, halwas at lunch and kheer at dinner.
I can't say if I had more sweets or more savouries then ... all kinds of kachoris and namkeen ... just to get rid of all that sweetness in my throat.
Anyway ... now I know how to make sweet dishes at home.
So when the call from home came on Holi , the question had to come too ... " So what did you make for Holi?"
We were having a very busy time during Holi ... in fact had almost forgotten about it ... leave alone to go the kitchen and cook up sweets.
I had glanced around ... body language you know ... when you are about to fib :-p .... and saw a lauki in the vegetable bowl .... so blurted out "Lauki ka Halwa".
There was a sound of smile in the further conversations and I was relieved.
So set about making the halwa ... can't stay a liar for long. :-)
I make this halwa like the way I make Gajar / Carrot ka Halwa. The best part is the Lauki does not take as much time to cook as the gajar ... so this is quicker ... well ... just a little quicker.
Lauki / Bottle gourd - 1 medium sized
Milk - around 2 cups ( whole cream milk works best ... but you can use skimmed milk too )
Sugar - around 10 tbsp ( you might need more ... depends on the amount of lauki ... so taste to adjust)
Elaichi / Green Cardamom - 2 whole and 3 powdered
Saffron - a few strands ( optional )
Ghee / Clarified butter - around 1 tbsp ( just enough to toss the lauki in )
Cashewnuts - as per your wish ... whole or broken
How to :
Heat the ghee in a deep pan or a wok / kadahi ... preferably non stick. Stir fry the cashewnuts for a while .... do not brown ... and remove.
In the same ghee, let in the whole elaichi. Then add the grated lauki and stir well.
( You can add a pinch or .... less than ... a pinch of salt ...actually very, very little ... so that the water drains out and the lauki cooks quickly).
Add the milk and let it boil. Remember to keep stirring to avoid it getting burnt at the bottom.
When the lauki is well done and the halwa turns thickish, add the cashewnuts, sugar and the elaichi powder.
It will release water. Let it cook till it has dried up well .... make sure the sides do not burn.
Serve hot or cold.
Enjoy !! :-)
Blogspot is acting crazy ... shows one comment waiting to be moderated ... and yet refuses to display it. This has been going on for the past two days and is driving me bonkers. :-(
Hope this does not go on for long.
Other Halwas on Kichu Khon
Thursday, March 11, 2010
Bhaja means fry or frying in Bengali ... usually a stir fried or deep fried vegetable dish ( of course there is non vegetarian version like the Maach Bhaja / Fish fry too ) that is eaten as a side dish of a meal.
There was ... and still is ... one direct train that I used to board every vacation to go home when I was a student. The journey used to be of two and a half days .... longer if it started late. I was never gregarious ... in fact very quiet ... so kept to myself. A book was enough to make me forget the time or stretch of the journey.
Since I was a regular traveller, one of the attendants became a familiar face to me. I never recognised any other attendant except this man. And strangely he was always there in every journey.
He seemed to keep an eye out for me. Never spoke unless absolutely needed .... and neither did I ... he was always around if I needed anything. I just had to look around and the moment he passed by he would look towards me .... and if I wanted anything, I just had to say it.
I would usually sleep in late ... and he would keep the breakfast pack without disturbing me. But after I got up he would come along, quietly pick up the pack and bring it back hot. I still don't know if it was a fresh pack or he reheated the stuff ... but I always got hot food.
Passengers were not usually pandered to and whatever was on the menu used to be served without any deviation. But for me, if I did not want a full meal, he would readily get an omlette and bread for dinner.
And when we reached our destination he would disappear. I never got 'round to ever thank him ... though I have no idea how I'd have thanked him then ... I used to be so shy. But the bottomline is he just used to do his job ... and disappear. Until another journey.
The train still exists ... but I have long forsaken it for greener pastures.
It was on this train, that I had this Alu and Borboti fry in one of the meals. Never to touch a vegetable then, I somehow liked this fry with the thick and slightly burnt parathas they served.
I have tried making it myself a number of times but could never get the right taste ... and had given up attributing it to that special taste or flavour all outside food have.
I tried making it again ... and this time used my cast iron wok / kadahi and instead of red chilli powder, I used ground black pepper for the spiciness.
The food for the train must have been prepared in large amounts ... so it's natural that it would get slightly burnt ... especially since this is a dry dish. But I purposely burnt it for that charred flavour.
Got that taste ... exactly that same rustic flavour. It was so perfect that it took me back to those journeys ... and I remembered the attendant. :-)
The taste also reminded me of such bhajas ( fries ) that were cooked in Thamma's ( paternal grandmom ) kitchen.
It was one of those days when all the snaps came out perfect ... so uploaded all of them. :-p
Borboti / Long Yard Beans - 1 bunch
Aloo / Potatoes - 1 or 2
Haldi / Turmeric powder - a little
Salt - to taste
Mustard oil - 2 tbsp ( other cooking oils can be used too ... but the flavour would be missing)
Black Pepper seeds - freshly crushed ... to taste
How to :
Wash and cut the beans and the potatoes into medium sized longish pieces ( check out the snaps for an idea).
Heat oil in a kadahi / wok. When it is very hot ( else the potatoes might stick ... unless you are using a non stick vessel), add the vegetables.
Add the haldi and salt.
Cover and cook ... stirring once in a while till the vegetables are done.
Add the freshly crushed black pepper and raise the heat. Stir fry on high heat till the vegetables start to char a little.
Remove and serve hot.
Enjoy this simple dish with some hot rice and dal.
Great with parathas too!
Am coming up with the all time fav Lauki ka Halwa in the next post ... so hang on till then friends. :-)
Wednesday, March 10, 2010
( Vegans can blend some silken tofu with a little lemon juice and salt and use in place of curd / yoghurt .... thanks Vaishali for the tip ). :-)
As a child, the vegetables part in my meals were disliked with a passion. And if it was the Lau / Lauki / Bottle gourd, well .... it would stay untouched. But I liked this cooling raita that was made during the summers. And it was always served cold. Maybe that's the reason I used to like it ... the summers back home can be real torturous ... so anything cold was always welcome.
This is a simple dish .... and as I later realised, very quick to make. The main flavours are of the curry leaves and mustard seeds tempering. And of course the cooling tang of curd / youghurt.
If you want it bland, it's fine. Want a little spice ... then add some whole dry red chillies or fresh green chillies ( I have used the former). And for extra flavour, throw in some finely chopped ginger.
It becomes even more quicker to make if you have steamed the lauki beforehand ( you can cook it in a steamer or run it in the MW with a little water and salt for 10 mins).
Even if you have not, I assure you this won't take too long to make.
When peeling the lauki, if you cut thickish peels, then you can make this simple yet wonderful dish, the Lau Khosa Bhaja, that I posted ages back. :-)
1 Lau / Lauki / Bottle gourd - peeled and cut into medium cubes
Fresh curd / Yoghurt - 1 or 2 cups ( depending on how much lauki you have )
Curry leaves - 6 to 8
Mustard seeds - 1/2 tsp
Whole dry red chillies - 2
Cooking oil - 1 tsp
Ginger - 1 tsp chopped
Salt to taste
Sugar - just a pinch
How to :
Heat the oil in a wok / kadahi / deep pan.
Add the mustrad seeds and wait till they start to splutter.
Now add the curry leaves and chillies.
Add the lauki, a little salt, cover and cook till the lauki is done. ( If using precooked lauki, then just toss it around for a while ).
After the lauki is well cooked, add the chopped ginger, stir some more, remove in a bowl and keep aside to cool.
After it has cooled well, add the curd ( beat it a little to make it smooth ) and mix well.
Keep in the fridge serve only when it is real chilled.
Goes great on the side with any meal of rotis or rice. And if you are on a diet, have it as is for lunch. It is healthy and tasty too. :-)
Updated : The following lines are not for my regular readers and friends who have always been generous in leaving encouraging comments for my recipes and writings.
I have noticed that as the number of visits to Kichu Khon are increasing ... and the number of mails, asking for details of recipes, too ... the comments are decreasing day by day. If I go by the number of visits statistics show, my comment box should be overflowing with comments everyday. Sadly reality is far from it.
C'mon folks ... I love to hear from you here .... so if not good manners how about some morale boosting? ;-)
TC all!! :-)
Monday, March 8, 2010
I have been craving for some plain vanilla cake for a while now ... like the ones that were made in my childhood ... with eggs, vanilla, lots of cashews and cherries. Just could not make the time to make one.
A few evenings back I found a little time at hand ... and wanted to munch on something. But there was nothing at home except some biscuits and bread. Nah ... did not feel like having them. Again felt like having a slice of cake or a baked cookie.
So just got up and walked into the kitchen. Mixed up some flour with a few other things thrown in ... and I had a mix to bake!
Now what do I want ... a cake or a cookie ?
Cannot make it into a cake ... I ran out of baking powder. Cannot make it into a cookie ... it was too sticky ... had no intention of adding more maida ... means more oil ... and more baking powder ( I had just the empty bottle now ).
So decided to drop them into a muffin tray and see how they behave.
I had once seen Nigella make something like that ... mentioning that the muffin batter does not have to be too smooth ... so went ahead. Whatever will be, will be. If not anything, it will be edible at least. I mean how wrong can a sweetened mix baked well go wrong? ;-)
And that's how I got these. :-)
Maida / Apf - 1 and a half cup ( a medium sized tea cup )
Baking powder - 1 tsp ( I ran out of bp ... so do not know if a little more would have helped or not)
Baking soda - 1/2 tsp
Vanilla essence - 1 tsp
Sugar - 5 to 6 tbsp ( you can grind it to a powder too ... I did not)
Salt - very little ... just a pinch
Chopped candied cherries - around 2 tbsp
Cooking oil - 3 tbsp
Cold milk - just enough to make the dough ( very little actually )
Butter - just a little ( 1 cube will do )
How to :
Pre heat oven at 100 degrees C.
Except the milk, mix everything together and knead well.
When everything has mixed properly, add a little milk to mix some more. It will turn into a sticky paste ... do not do anything other than just to bear with it.
Just make sure there are no dry lumps of maida ... the batter should not be very smooth.
Line a muffin tray. Scoop out a spoonful of mix and gently drop it into the slots in the tray.
Bake at 100 degrees for 20 - 25 minutes. ( I always bake cookies and muffins at a lower temp to be on the safe side ... have not tried baking at high temp like a pro yet). :-)
Brush a little butter on the top of the muffins and bake for 5 more mins.
Remove and cool. They will harden a little after cooling.
Wonderful muffins ready in a jiffy! They were airy inside, not too chewy, not too dry. Perfect! :-)
They are best when warm ... so run them in the MW for a while before serving.
Enjoy with tea or coffee.
Since it is already very hot here, we had it with tall glasses of cold coffee. :-)
Friday, March 5, 2010
Kadhi is a yoghurt or curd based preparation that can be enjoyed as is or used as a base for things like vegetables or pakodas to be cooked in. This dish is common in Gujarati, Rajasthani and Punjabi cuisine ... each having a different flavour due to the different seasonings and temperings.
Bengalis too make a kadhi of their own ... that is entirely different from the above three in taste and flavour.
The Lahsooni / Lahsuni Kadhi is a part of the thali ( full plate ) meals ... mostly Gujarati or Rajasthani ... in restaraunts. But ... yes, there is a but ... it is never served along with the other dishes in the plate.
The reason for this is many pure vegetarians do not eat onion and garlic ... hence this avoids any mixup.
The kadhi usually served in a thali is the white coloured and sweetish Gujarati kadhi. To get the Lahsuni kadhi, you will have to ask for it. Ask for 'Peeli ( yellow) kadhi' or 'Lahsuni kadhi' and you will get it.
I came to know about this because I have seen my husband do that. And insist for it to be served very hot ... tastes best that way.
(Updated : The shiny fat is from the curd .... after cooking ... not oil.)
I make this kadhi whenever I have run out of vegetables or dals ... i.e. whenmy pantry is empty. Or ... more importantly ... whenever I do not feel like being in the kitchen at all. And yet have to have some homemade food.
A comfort food at its best, this kadhi takes very little time to cook ... and the best part is you don't have to stand and keep watch ... does not demand any attention at all.
So if you are in the mood to be lazy, or are very tired, or desparately want to catch up with that book .... just set this on the stove and some rice in the MW or the cooker.
And go put your feet up. Your steaming hot dinner will be ready in a few minutes ... without any extra effort.
And the best part is it is healthy ... no masalas, almost no oil. :-)
This kadhi is different from the one I make for Kadhi Pakoda ... will post the recipe for that soon.
Curd / Yoghurt - 2 cups ( better if it is a couple of days old for the tang )
Besan / Gram flour - 1 tbsp
Garlic / Lahsoon cloves - 5 - 6 ( half crush in a pestle ... just one blow for each )
Hing / Asafoetida - 1 pinch ( you may add a little more if you love the flavour ) Haldi / Turmeric powder - 1 pinch
Red chilli powder - to taste
Water - around 4 - 5 cups ( you may want more )
Salt - to taste
Cooking oil - 1 tsp
How to :
Take the curd in a big sized bowl and whisk well till smooth. Add the besan, the masalas and water.
Add just a little salt ... we will add more later after the kadhi is done ( else it will become to osalty once the kadhi has thickened).
Heat oil in a deep wok / kadahi or pan (better if it is non stick). Do not make it too hot.
Add the hing and then the curd mixture. Throw in the garlic and set to boil.
Stir once in a while. Do not be impatient ... keep the heat on low all the while. If you are using a non stick vessel, you are safe ... there's no fear of it sticking to the bottom.
After it has cooked well ( the garlic should be well cooked and soft & the kadhi will be infused with its flavour ) and reached the desired consistency ( if you are having it on the side with rotis you can thicken it more ), adjust salt.
Remove and serve hot.
I love to sip the spicy hot kadhi like a soup. :-)
Goes best with steamed rice.
Go on ... enjoy a bowlful today!! :-)
In the past few months a lot of my blog friends have passed on some awards and tags to me. Since I was on a short break, I find it a little difficult to check out each and everyone for a mention here. But do let thank you all sincerely for having thought of me. Much appreciate it. :-)
Take care all !!
Tuesday, March 2, 2010
Warning : Long rambling; too easy recipe. ;-)
The word Muri in this comes from the word 'muro / mudo' which means fish head. And 'Ghonto' usually means a mix of some things cooked together.
A very popular Bengali dish, the Muri Ghonto is also made with dals / lentils , cabbage and also with a mix of leafy and other vegetables. But the one made with rice is best loved by all. It can be called as a kind of pulao made with fish head.
Jethi (aunt) makes the best Muri Ghonto. Back home our neighbour was a big joint family which Jethi belonged to. But the word 'neighbours' was used only to describe to strangers that we are different families ... coz it was difficult to make out otherwise.
Both our houses were huge. And each had four entries ... the main gate for the family and other genteel, the one side entry for different vendors, ranging from the fishwala to the green grocer to the ones selling cotton bedsheets ... and so on. The back door was for those who worked for the families ... from the cook to the maids to the gardener ... etc.
And on one side a door of each house faced each other. There was only a small space between them. These two doors opened early at sunrise and were shut only when the families have retired for the day. Of course, they would open again sometimes late into the night during emergencies like an illness or someone arriving or leaving.
And throughout the day there would be a constant flow of people to and from both houses. We children grew up together. It was very common to find a member of either family having breakfast, lunch or dinner in the other house.
And when there were a lot of relatives visiting ( and a lot of means a real huge number as with joint families) they spilled over to the other house.
Jethi and other kakis (aunts) were as much our own as the kakimas in my family ... celebrating our successes in school,college and other things later in life, admonishing us for our pranks and cooking for us our favourite meals and dishes.
Each had a speciality when it came to cooking ... which the others did not bother to pick up or learn.
So whenever Jethi made the Muri Ghonto with rice , she would hurry over just before lunch, with a huge bowlful ... huffing and puffing, her homely and affectionate round face red and bright.
Wiping her face with her aanchal, she would call out and place the bowl on the table only when somebody appears. And would hurry away ... brushing away requests to sit down for a while and take a breath.
Now when I recall, it was always Jethi herself who used to bring over stuff .... never sent it through anybody else ... not a child, never a maid or a servant.
After Jethi and her family moved to Calcutta for good, I terribly missed the dishes she made. Especially her Chal diye Muri Ghonto.
In one of our conversations on the phone, she did mention the recipe ... but I did not give it a try initially due to two reasons.
One ... it sounded ridiculously simple. So much so that I thought she tweaked it to make it easy for me ( I was wrong).
Two .... she mentioned jeera / cumin seeds paste. Since I hated jeera very passionately once upon a time, I tried making it without the jeera.
Bad idea. Wasn't even close to Jethi's dish.(I suspect this is an East Bengal or Bangal recipe as Jethi has her roots there.)
Now I make it this way ... and savour the taste along with loads of memories.
A medium sized fish head ( I usually use the Rohu fish )
Rice - 1 cup ( washed )
Dry red chillies - 2 or 3
Jeera / Cumin paste - 2 tbsp ( if using jeera powder, just soak it in water for a while)
Ginger paste - 1 tbsp
Haldi / Turmeric - 1 tsp
Mustard oil - around 4 tbsp to fry the fish and 2 tbsp for the dish
Water - 2 cups
Bay leaves - 2
Cinnamon - 2 or 3 pieces
Salt to taste
How to : Marinate the fish head with turmeric powder and salt.
Heat 4 tbsp ( or more if the fish head is bigger ) of mustard oil in a wok or kadahi. Fry the fish head in it. Remove and break into medium sized pieces. Keep aside.
Heat around 2 tbsp of mustard oil in another kadahi. Add the bay leaves, the chillies and the cinnamon.
Add the ginger paste and fry for a while ... but not for too long.
Add the jeera paste and fry some more.
Now add the fish pieces ( or potatoes ) and toss around for a while.
Add the rice, haldi powder and salt and stir well.
Add water, cover and cook till the rice is just done.
Remove from heat, give a stir to separate the rice grains, cover and keep for a few more minutes.
Check out one of my favourite posts at Sandeepa's .... and am not talking of just the Muri Ghonto. :-)
TC all !!