Saturday, 31 December 2011

Happy New Year 2012 !!

Have a wonderful New Year, dear friends!
Thank you for keeping me in your thoughts.
And for caring to drop by to leave warm words once in a while.

Love you all.
Take care and stay well.

Thursday, 17 November 2011

Roti ka Poha / Snack made from leftover rotis

 I have always wondered what is it with people when comes to waiting in queues. 
Especially long ones. 
Everybody is restless, fidgety.
Keep bending to their side and try to look ahead.
 Look here and there.
As if the rest of the world has stopped moving just because that one person has to stand and wait.

And the one behind you, given the chance, will climb on your shoulder and crawl down to stand in front of you.
You can hear his/her mumblings of impatience.
And get poked with whatever things s/he is holding.
As if it is your fault the line is not moving ahead.
If it is a counter for tickets or bill payment, the person managing it is declared as the most inefficient worker. 

If it is a traffic line, it is even bad.
If it is a narrow two way lane, it is worse.
People will honk horns as if they had just discovered their vehicle had one.
And will surely overtake those already waiting in line, giving them a look that says "what duffers!"
In the process blocking the whole road.
Nobody can come from the front and nobody from this side can move.
Deed done, despite getting stuck themselves,
will still look smugly around. 

It is worse at the airports.
I recently made a trip home and was waiting to board.
People had gathered and filled up every possible seat at the waiting area with themselves, their kids, their hand luggage ...
which interestingly varied from a book
to several small bundles of things
to two plastic mugs and a kadahi,
their kids' luggage ... if a small rucksack and a water bottle can be called that.
Well ... they have the tickets ... so they'll use the seats.

And wait.
That waiting keeps building their restlessness.
Nothing helps ... not talking on phones, reading papers,
getting up importantly to get a coffee and then deciding against it
and turning around to grab back their chair again ...
nothing helps.

When finally the boarding gate is readied to let you through,
you see the rush!
Everybody scrambles to get up, collect their belongings, grab the kids, jump over people
 and run to stand in the line.
I just sit back and watch ... fascinated.
The line forms.
A very long line.
With the last person standing far, far away from the actual gate.
And they keep jostling
so that the they can move a wee little more ahead.
I still sit and watch.
And get looks of pity.
They talk to themselves or wonder ... poor girl, travelling alone.
Doesn't know boarding has started.

The line moves painfully slow.
The people finally get to board the bus in batches.
Those who get to have a look of triumph on their faces.
Those who cannot and have to wait for the next bus to move forward, have a look of defeat.
And they keep glancing at me.
The line has grown shorter ... what is she doing?
She'll miss the flight!

When there are exactly three people left to move through, I get up.
Board the last bus with the final group.
Just when I enter the plane, I glance around.
And see the disapproving looks and frowns.
After all, they'd been in the queue first!
And had to wait!
And hear a stage whisper ... "Itna late karenge toh desh kya hoga?"

This is a wonderful way of using up leftover rotis from last night's dinner.
I wanted to  call this the upma but decided against it as upma has water added to it
while this is a very
dryish dish.
You can add some water to this if you want it very soft ...
but that too will be just a sprinkle.
I love this dry.
So dry that some pieces of the crushed roti will be crispy.
But it still won't be too dry as the onions and tomatoes add some softness to it.
And if you are like me ... have to have some egg  for breakfast,
you can just scramble up some and mix it in.


 Left over rotis
Onions - chopped
Tomatoes - chopped
Green chillies - chopped
Curry leaves
Mustard seeds - for tempering
Cooking oil
Salt - to taste
Sugar - to taste 
Tumeric powder - a pinch

How to 
Lightly crumble the rotis, rubbing them between your palms.
The pieces should be coarse and not too fine.

Heat some cooking oil.
Add the mustard seeds and wait for them to start spluttering.
Add the onions and the chilles and stir fry for a while.
Add the curry leaves.
Add the tomatoes and fry well till cooked.
Next add the roti and mix well.
Add the tumeric powder, salt and sugar.
Stir fry for a while and mix well.
If you want it soft and not crispy, sprinkle some water and cover it for a while. 

Serve hot with a steaming cup of tea.
Enjoy !!

Sunday, 13 November 2011

Kucho Nimki / Flour Fritters

This post will be morbid ...  I need emotional catharsis.
If you don't want to brood, stay away.

Things have been happening in my life.
A lot more and a lot quickly than I'd ever wanted.
After months of suffering ill health and a trauma, I thought a lot of rest will heal me ... 
both physically and emotionally.
But no, nyet, nada.
The days I came back from home after the surgeries to this city, I saw my cousin sister ill.
Very ill.
In the ICU.
The whole family and friends came down.
I was surrounded with people ... way too many people.
And in that hustle and bustle I saw a quivering life slowly ebb away.
Very quietly.

N didi is ... was ... my second cousin.
And has been ... I still can't talk of her in the past tense ... in this city almost the same many years
that I've been.
I came as a student.
She came with her husband's job.
And her home was my haven from college and hostel.
Almost every weekend was spent at her place.
I want to eat non veg, I want my clothes washed and ironed, I just want to be with family ... 
I am at N didi's.
Even my friends loved to be at her place ... getting pampered with wonderful food and love. 

 She had never let it be known that she has been ill.
A diabetic, she has always been careless with her health.
And nobody around her bothered to be strict with her ... except for a casual criticism.
N didi would always laugh that away.
The last 2 years her health started to decline rapidly.
And I got to witness the kind of suffering the human body has to go through if not taken care of properly.
And after 2 excruciating months in the ICU, she passed away.
Quietly, painfully.
Leaving behind a void in her home, that is being futilely tried to be filled with her laughing photographs.

 N didi loved food. Loved to eat. And to cook and feed.
Her last lines to me, before they shut her up with the ventilator pipe down her throat, were ... 
"Amar jonne ektu patla patla luchi ar aloor torkari anbi?"
("Will you get some soft luchi and aloo ki sabzi for me?")
Inspite of my numerous requests, the docs did not allow.
And I still have not been able to eat luchi till date.

I do not know why I wanted to write about N didi here.
It is not only about emotional purging.
I had learnt a lot of the ways of cooking from her.
She never taught me how to cook, or ever discuss a recipe with me.
But she cooked beautifully.
And always answered my questions with patience.
That is ... if I asked, she taught me. Never ever tried to force me into the kitchen.

After I got married, N didi was just the person to call up when stuck in the kitchen.
She never gave me recipes, but always guided me through disasters.
When a phoron burnt, when the cooker refused to behave, when there was too much salt in a dish ....
also when I couldn't handle a maid ...
it was she who rescued me with advice.

It was she who taught me to make Rosogollas.
And yet, except a fleeting mention here, I do not think I've ever thanked her.
And she never expected me to.

This Durga Puja was celebrated by the family with a heavy heart. The only consolation we fell back on was 
N didi is pain free at last.

After coming back from my trip home, I tried to keep myself busy.
I tried to do house work, cook, laugh, go on trips, made FB my second home ...
... anything to get those painful days out of my mind.
And I tried to keep up with tradition.

Made some sweets and these salty Kucho Nimkis for Bijoya.


Maida / Refined flour - 1 big sized cup
Cooking oil - 2 tbsp
Kalonji - 1 tsp
Salt - to taste
Water - to knead
Cooking oil - to deep fry
I did not use any baking powder or soda ... you can if you want to.

How to

Knead everything into a firm dough. Do not make it too soft.
Roll out thick rotis and cut them diagonally both ways to get the diamond shaped pieces.
Heat the cooking oil in a cast iron or heavy bottomed kadahi.
Deep fry the nimkis in batches.
Remove on a kitchen towel or paper napkins to remove excess oil.
Cool and store in air tight containers.

Try to remove them just as they are turning just golden brown ... if you wait for too long, they'll turn dark.

Serve with a hot cup of tea.
Or traditionally ... with sweets and ghugni for Bijoya.

Sunday, 30 October 2011

Kachkola Khosar Chatni / Plantain Peels Chutney


Hi everybody!
Here's wishing you a very happy festive season!
Hope you all had a wonderful Diwali.
I did try my best to have one.
And did not judge my success on how many savories or sweets I got to make this time.
 We strung little lights all over the house, had friends over and savoured whatever little I could dish up myself.
And decided Diwali is all about having people who love you around you.

I actually did not disappoint myself on the kitchen front.
I did make the very popular Rajastani kachori, went ahead and made a fusion by pairing it with the very Bengali Cholar Dal.
And a spicy rassewali Aloo.
Also had made plain Luchis or Puris.
On the sweet front had Chawal ki Kheer or Chaler Payesh.
And then greed struck.
I snitched some break time from the busy schedule and was going through my reader when Bong Mom's new post caught my eye.
Could not help making those wonderful Besan ke Laddoos ... they looked so tempting.
But more than that the very quick way of making them caught me.
I made them after dinner! ... they are so quick to make.
And tasted awesome! :-)
They are a great life saver , like my Instant Moong Dal Halwa.
Thanks Sandeepa for that. 

In between my trip back home for Durga Puja, coming back, getting caught up with cleaning for Diwali, I did cook and eat too.
But hardly got the time to click and frame a post to share.
But there are times when new things do come up in the kitchen that I so want to share.
Like this chutney.
Made from fresh raw bananas/plantains' peels, this is a great thing to go with any parathas ... especially parathas made with left overs  or Methi parathas.
And you can vary the taste and flavours with the spices of you choice.
Healthy, tasty, ... perfect!


Fresh  raw bananas / Plantains
A few cloves of garlic ( depends on how much peels you have or how strong you like )
A piece of ginger
A small lump of Tamarind ( I used Kokum, you can use lemon juice too )
Some whole jeera
Some whole Black pepper
1 or 2 fresh Green chillies

How to 

Take out thick peels from the plantains.

Take some water in a microwave safe bowl and add some salt and the peels.
 Run in the MW on full power for 1 minute.

Remove and cool.

Put in all ingredients with the peels in a mixer and make a paste.
Adjust seasoning. 

And yes, it is completely oil free.

Serve this tasty dose of iron and fibre with parathas or fritters.
Enjoy !!

You can change the spices to add different flavours to this chutney.

Friday, 14 October 2011

Murir Moa / Sweetened Puffed Rice Laddoos

 Shubho Bijoya!!

After a long time, I was home for Durga Pujo.
Much as I had a wonderful time enjoying the familiar sights, smells and catching up on a lot that I had missed out on the last few years on Pujo,
I was equally disheartened to see huge changes.
The place of my childhood had changed. So have the people.
And the way of life.
To me ... everything.
Tried my best to find some semblance to my childhood ... guess I was wrong to do that.
I was only disappointed.

On the brighter side, I got to meet a lot of friends that I had lost touch with.
And many relatives I hadn't seen for a longish time.
Also, being and adult during Pujo has its advantages.
You can sit at the pujo bari the whole evening with friends, doing nothing but pure adda
catching up, comparing dresses and saris, 
laughing at silly bygone jokes or just pure gossiping .... while the evening stretched into late night.
Nobody will rush you ... that it is getting late ... you have to go home.

Or setting out pandal hopping with friends ... or enjoying street food, 
especially phuchka and jhal muri every single evening.
No ... I don't have much to complain on that.
Just wish that our elders did not age so quickly.

 Now I am back, with a heart full of memories and a phone full of new numbers.

I do not get to make too many things for Bijoya ... a time of celebrating the victory of good over evil.
The reason is Diwali ... which is always just round the corner.
It is for Diwali that I make all the goodies.
But this time I could not resist making a few things.

Maybe it is the visit home that made me crave for all things associated with my childhood.
So was very tempted at trying to make the Muri(puffed rice)r Moa. 
Dida always used to make the best murir moas.

While mine turned out perfect in taste, I failed miserably in making them as perfect rounds.
My hand too is partly to blame.
But am not complaining.
Making them is no joke ... so am glad I tried at least once.
Puffed rice - 2 cupfuls
Jaggery  - a little more than 1 cup  ( I used powdered )
Black pepper - 1 tbsp freshly crushed
Coconut - very thinly sliced
Ghee - around 3 tbsp
Water - ½ cup

How to

Heat around 2 tbsp ghee in a thick bottomed pan or kadahi.
Stir fry the coconut slices on low heat till they are crisp and brown.
Put in the jaggery and the water into the pan and keep boiling till the jaggery is completely dissolved and the water starts to dry up.
Wait till it becomes thickish ... then add the black pepper powder, 
the coconut slices and the puffed rice.
Keep tossing and stirring till everything is coated well.
Remove from heat and wait till it cools down halfway.
Now apply some ghee on your palms and take small scoops of the mixture and press with both hands to make round laddoos.
( Remember ... they will not bind if they are too hot or too cold. )
Cool well before storing.

The coconut gives a different feel and is enjoyable when you get a piece in a bite.
And the black pepper gives a beautiful flavour, especially when combined with jaggery.

These stay well for more than a week in airtight jars. 
If you stay in a place that is humid, throw in a few handfuls of plain muri or puffed rice in the jar along with the moas.
It helps to absorb moisture and to keep them crisp.
Enjoy !

Thursday, 8 September 2011

Crispy Mushroom and Aubergine Pancakes

I have posted savoury pancakes earlier, which was a vegetable version too.
Making these are easy. 
And a good way to get some vegetables in our diet.
But I do make non vegetarian versions too.
Sometimes I add eggs to the batter. 
At other times cooked minced meat ... either chicken or fish.
But that is when I am making them for a brunch or dinner. 
If I am making these for breakfast, I stick to vegetables.

I had a few small sized brinjals/ aubergines languishing in the fridge.
And some mushrooms too.
Threw in some cabbage with onions and green chillies. 
You can add any vegetables of your choice ... green peas, cauliflower, carrots, etc. are some good options.

I usually do not like any powdered masalas in my vegetable pancakes. But this time wanted some flavour in them.
So threw in some Italian mixed spices.
The result was beautiful! 

Need :

Maida / APF - around 1 cup
Water - just enough to make a thick batter
Thinly sliced mushrooms
Chopped cababge
Thinly sliced brinjals
Sliced onions
Chopped green chillies
Red chilli flakes
Italian spice mix (mine had a mix of thyme, oregano and basil)
Salt to taste
Cooking oil to fry

 How to :

Mix all the vegetables and spices together.
Add maida and water to made a thick batter.
Adjust salt.

 Heat a tawa or a griddle.
Smear it with a little cooking oil.
Pour in a ladleful of the batter and spread it evenly.

 Fry well on one side and then flip it over.
Cook on low heat till both sides are evenly browned.

Serve immediately ... while they're still crispy. 

The spices added a wonderful flavour to what might have been just another plain pancake.

Thursday, 1 September 2011

Kalo Jeere bata ar Lau diye Ilisher Matha / Hilsa cooked with Bottle gourd

( Vegetarians can enjoy this dish too. Just ignore the adding of the fish part in the recipe and serve with chopped fresh coriander leaves.)

I had started food blogging with no particular aim ... not even of keeping my recipes for myself. And with time got hooked to it. The more friends I made, the more people visited my blog, the more I got mails ... the more the addiction.

But I cannot overlook the fact that my blogging has been marred with breaks and has me thinking if it is jinxed for me. I am not superstitious ...
 still cannot make out why the moment I do a few posts, I have to take a break ...
that are turning longer by the time ...
with health related issues.

I am not ready to turn superstitious just yet ... but do wonder if having a havan done for Kichu Khon or chanting of a few mantras would let me do my favourite thing in peace ..
... i.e. cook and share it with you all.

And since I have not yet found the answer,
I am thinking of at least hanging a string of nimbu mirchi from my nose when
I sit down to make a post.  :-)

Am slowly getting back my kitchen to myself.
And was waiting for a taste of this year's Ilish/Hilsa.
Since I have been traveling a lot in the recent past, I did not get the chance of having ilish
even once this season.
So when my fishwala called, I rushed and bought a good 1.5 kg 'Kalkatta ka Ilish'.
Ilsih from Calcutta means Ganga's Ilsih ...
which is said to be tastier than the other varieties.

The fish was good.
Not too small ... too small sized Ilish has too many bones ... thin as threads ... and very difficult to deal with.
Not too big ... too big and with too much roe fish does not taste as good.

And after relishing the plain Ilish Bhaja, Patla Jhol, Ambol, and Chanchra,
I still had a few pieces and part head left.
Wanted something different, so called out to my FB friends for a recipe.

Sudeshna suggested making it with Lau / Lauki / the Bottle gourd
after coming to know of the few vegetables I had in my fridge.
Thanks Sudeshna for the quick suggestion!

 I'd been watching a lot of cookery shows the past few months and all the Bengali channels had Ilish as the main ingredient ever since the monsoons started.
And I kept track of all the recipes.
Since the Ilish is such a flavourful fish, too many masalas are not needed.
Just a variation in the tempering and you will get a wonderful dish!

So here is a new dish that I made with the Ilisher matha.
It was so good I did not need anything else to go with my plate of steaming hot rice!
I believe this will make a wonderful dish on the side if you are planning
a traditional Bengali meal or feast.

Here's is how I made it.

Need :  One Ilish / Hilsa head - medium sized
( marinate with some salt and turmeric powder ... no need to keep for longer than 10 mins )
Mustard oil - around 6 tbsp
Kalo Jeere / Kalaunji - around 4 tbsp
Kalo Morich / Black Pepper - 1 tbsp
Lau / Lauki - 1 medium sized
Grated Ginger - 1 tbsp
Green Chillies - 3
Haldi / Turmeric powder - a pinch ( not more )
Salt - to taste
Sugar - to taste - 1 small pinch

How to :

Peel and chop the Lau into small sized pieces.
Grind the Kalo Jeere and the Black Pepper seperately in the mixer ... without water.
( I just ran the Kalaunji twice  but made a finer powder of the black pepper ).

Heat the mustard oil in a kadahi / wok.
Fry the fish head well on all sides ... cover after letting in  and when turning ... splutters real bad.
Do not over fry or brown it too much.
Remove and lightly break it into pieces ... usually pressing it down with a strong ladle helps it to break into proper sized pieces. 

Heat a little more oil in a fresh kadahi
( usually the same oil is used but if the oil gets burnt or there is too much turmeric when frying the head, it affects the taste ).

Break the green chillies into half and add them to the oil.
Next, add the chopped lau and toss well.
Now add the grated ginger, a little turmeric, sugar and salt.
Cover and cook till the lau is almost done.
Remove cover and add the ground Kalo jeere / Kalaunji.
Cover again and cook for 5 mins. This helps in the flavours to seep in.
Now remove cover and add the fish head and replace cover.
Do check if there is enough moisture or add a little water if needed.
Cook for 10 more minutes.
Remove the cover, sprinkle the ground black pepper and give a good stir.
Replace cover and remove from heat.

Serve with hot steamed rice and a dal on the side.

This dish turned out to be one of my best experiments so far!
It is so different that I'd encourage vegetarians to try making the Lauki this way once.


Other Ilish Recipes on Kichu Khon

Wednesday, 22 June 2011

Hot & Sour Vegetable Soup for 'Of Chalks and Chopsticks'

 The morning was unusually bright and clear. Outside, there blew a light breeze. And the sun shone in all its brilliance.
"How deceptive", thought Sunanda, as she sat watching the chilly morning from inside her cozy living room. "Just like the calm in this house."
This calm was an interlude, she knew. The furious argument that she and Vikram had earlier that morning, had ended with the door slamming and Vikram leaving the house in a rage.

"How unnecessary!" Sunanda thought again. "There was really no reason for this unpleasantness."
With a heavy heart, she leant back into the soft cushions, still staring outside. Married for just a few months, a sudden move to a new place, far away from friends and family, she has been trying her best to set up a good home. To know the man she was married to, his likes, his dislikes.

Vikram was a good man, she thought. Vibrant, sensitive, humorous, easygoing. Not one to get ruffled easily.

Not until it came to his collection of books.

An avid reader and collector of books, Vikram's collection ranged from the comics he had in his childhood to the latest paperbacks, hardbounds and magazines.
He was not frivolous in his choice of writings or writers, that much credit she had to give him. But she couldn't understand his obsession.
Books, especially those in his collection, were to Vikram what gold or silver would be to any other mortal.

Sunanda had often watched her soft spoken and usually affable husband turn almost rude to anybody who might so much as mention anything about borrowing a book from him. And she had been equally surprised when Vikram and his brother fought with equal passion when it came to tallying which book belonging to whom is yet to be returned.

But never in her thoughts had she ever anticipated that those darned books would come between she and her husband. That it would be something as common as a book, of all things, that will be the cause of their first serious fight.

It had all started last evening. And for the nth time, Sunanda wished Vikram had listened to her request of going out for dinner.
Inspite of herself, she gave a little shudder. It must be the cold.
Looking around wistfully, Sunanda realised she was hungry. There was no telling when Vikram would return. This Sunday was going to waste.
With a sigh, she got up and went to the kitchen.

The mind still occupied, she got hold of a few vegetables lying on the countertop and started to work on them.

 "So, what do you want to do tomorrow evening?", asked Vikram. Both of them looked forward to weekends and making plans.
"Let's go out for dinner.", said Sunanda. "A proper, sit down dinner at a good place. I'm so tired of being adventurous and trying out the hole-in-the-wall places."
"Hmm ... why not?", smiled Vikram.
"No, wait. On second thoughts, let's call over the guys and chill out at home. You won't have to cook, we'll order out."
"O.k.", Sunanda gave in. She knew Vikram liked to be with friends and she did not mind them too. "Besides, it is really too cold these days."

Sunanda looked at the small pile of chopped carrots and cauliflower with dismay.
"What on earth am I going to do with these  now?! And why did I chop them into such small pieces?!"
She was in no mood to cook. And definitely not in a mood to think of some new recipe to try out. But she was hungry too.
"Oh well! I'll just throw these into a pan of water and make a stew."

Menu decided, she moved at a more confident pace.
She took out some baby corn, beans and green peas from the fridge. After chopping the baby corn, she chopped up some ginger and garlic too.
Suddenly she had a craving for something spicy and hot.
"I'll make a hot and sour soup. Just as I feel today."

She took out a heavy bottomed pan and filled it with a few cups of water. On another day, she would heat some oil and lightly fry the vegetables and then add water. Today, she kept it as easy to make as possible.

"The rooms are set and everything is spic and span!", called out Vikram.
Sunanda smiled at the sound of pride in his voice.
"I'm ready too.", she replied.
Soon, their friends started coming in. Within a few minutes, their home was filled with laughing voices, gentle music in the background and the sound of clinking glassware.

The water had started to boil. Watching the rolling water distractedly, she started to throw in the vegetables by turns. First, in went the chopped garlic, then the ginger, green chillies and then the carrots, cauliflower, peas, baby corn and the beans. She then added some salt and a pinch of sugar. While the vegetables were cooking, she busied herself by keeping the rest of the ingredients at hand. She needed the soy sauce, white pepper powder, green chilli sauce, vinegar and some corn starch dissolved in water.

Sunanda had just opened the fridge to bring out the dessert when she heard Vikram's slightly raised voice. Not liking the tone of it, she walked into the living room to check out. Sure enough, she found Vikram and Deep in an argument. Nothing new, considering the two of them have been friends from school and are always arguing over something. But Sunanda instinctively felt something was wrong. This was not the usual banter the two friends usually have.

Looking askingly at the rest of the small group, that had suddenly fallen silent, Sunanda followed the eyes of one of them and found out the reason behind this heated argument. Lying on the coffee table was one of Vikram's latest acquisition ... a hardbound he had been wanting for a while. The book, with its gleaming glossy cover was lying there, looking very innocent.

"But it's just a book, for heaven's sake!", Deep was heard exclaiming.
"Just a book! Just a book! You call it just a book?!" Vikram's voice rose a notch higher.
"Well, that's what I see!"
"Exactly, you won't see anything beyond that. That requires something else."
"Oh c'mon Vick! Why are you being so unreasonable?"
"Unreasonable? I'm being unreasonable?! You use my book as a coaster to hold your dirty plate and I'm the one who is being unreasonable?!"

Sunanda added the rest of the things into the soup. Finally, she added the dissolved corn starch and let it boil for a minute more. Satisfied with what she saw, she poured herself a big mugful of the very hot and flavourful soup and went back to where she was sitting earlier. Sipping the soup, she reveled in its warmth. It was spicy enough to burn her throat a little ... and she loved the tinge.
Restless, she got up and walked to the window.

"I think you should call Deep and apologize." She had tried to reason with her husband that morning.
"I won't."
"Oh c'mon Vikram, was it really necessary? The way you behaved with him?"
"What do you mean? He is the one who should know how to handle things that belong to others."
"Agreed. But all he did was use your book for a while. He must have not been looking. Am sure he did not do that on purpose."
"Besides why do you keep your precious books all over the house? I can see a few on the window right now."
"Go ahead. Blame me. But I'll not apologize. Not to some barbarian who has no respect for books. I'll never tolerate ... never ... no!"

With that he slammed his way out of the house.

Tears stung her eyes. She needed to get out of this and finish the chores.

With a sigh, Sunanda picked up the now empty cup and froze.
The bright, dark circle of soy stared up at her from the
lovely face of Gauhar Jaan*.
Sunanda gave a small sigh and closed her eyes in silent resignation.

This goes to this month's Of Chalks and Chopsticks, started by Aqua and hosted by Sandeepa.
Updated :  I have italicized the flashback parts on Jaya's suggestion. Much thanks dear Jaya!!

Suno, suno, suno .... Disclaimer :

1. My mind has been in a very befuddled state of late ... so please bear with me if this piece of attempt-to-fiction seems too juvenile. Even I do not know how much sense it makes ... so my dear friends, please forgive me for I do not know what I write.

2. My photographs do not look as beautiful as they are expected to be.
Check out the snap that the story needs to be based on here, agree with me and come back pronto to leave me a line ... ok ... more than a line will work even better.

3. * While I have read about the life of Gauhar Jaan (in a Bengali Sharadiya collection), singer, kathak dancer and a courtesan in the 19th-20th century, I have not actually seen any of the book(s) written on her ... so have no idea what they look like ... i.e. hardbound/a thin book/a big book/a small book/glossy book .... get the idea.

So there folks!

Feels great to be able to be back on Kichu Khon, though this post does not guarantee my continious presence here henceforth. I still need time to be back.

Meanwhile ... heartfelt thanks to everybody for allowing me stay around, for being in touch. And for giving Kichu Khon company.
Every time I log in, I find at least 2 or 3, sometimes more, comments waiting for me. Makes my day ... has been ever since I stopped blogging around 4 months back.

Warm hugs to all of you. Stay healthy. Stay happy. Stay well.

Updated on 11/02/13 :  Sending this to Sayantani's event teamed with Cuponation.

Thursday, 24 February 2011

Doi Kopi / Cauliflower in Yoghurt Gravy

... & Au Revoir.

As promised in my last post, here is the vegetarian version of the wonderful dish called the Doi Maach.

Not much is needed to be done ... it is pretty quick and easy to make.
Just as we fry the fish first and then add, so is the cauliflower fried first.
Just make sure that you do not fry it till done ...
it will cook in the gravy.
The frying part is to give the florets that crispy brown colour.

I am not repeating the recipe again. 

Right now I do not feel like writing much,
but I have something to say.

Ever since I started this blog, I have been hooked to it.
I have loved sharing not only recipes, but also small pieces of my life here.
I have found some very good friends too.
And I love my blog so much.

But now I seriously feel that blogging is jinxed for me.
While all these years I should have blogged numerous recipes and my experiments, it has
been the other way 'round.
I have been forced to take numerous breaks.
Unwanted breaks.
And since all were health related issues ... I had no choice.

 And every time you all have stood by me, supported me with your strong words 
and encouraged me to be back.

Which is why am feeling so bad to say that I may not blog again.
At least not for a very long time.
I'll keep the hope alive in my heart though.

At first I thought I'd just stay quiet and disappear.
But could not.
Because I am selfish. I need all your prayers.
Because I am scared. I need all your positive thoughts.
Because it would have meant I am ungrateful ... which I am not.
Not after the deluge of mails and comments and good wishes that I got on my last break post.
Hence this post.

There are a few friends I have made here who I cherish a lot;
who are very special to me.
And who, I, know will worry and start to mail me.
To them I request ... Please don't.
I hope I do not sound too indifferent  or rude ... but really,
I can say nothing now.

Just stay well dear friends.
And take care ... very good care, of yourselves.

Love you all.

Thursday, 17 February 2011

Doi Maach / Rohu Fish in Yoghurt Gravy

( Vegetarians ... do stay tuned. The next post will be on the veggie version of this wonderful dish. )

It has been a while since I made a post on fish last.
Not that I've not been eating my staple diet ... just that I make something quickly, 
seem very pleased with the results
and serve myself a hot hot meal.
Just do not feel like picking up the camera, arranging and clicking.

Doi Maach is very common to Bengalis ... a very common dish on a Bengali lunch table.
And there are many ways of making this.
You can make it with a lot of masalas. You can make it spicy.
Or you can make it simple ... like I do.

This dish is supposed to be creamy, very light coloured.
But there are no hard and fast rules here.
Add more turmeric if you like the colour ... add more chilli powder if you like it spicy 
( and it gives colour too ) ... etc. etc.

I keep my recipe straight and simple. 

One very common problem while making the Doi maach is the curdling of the curd.
One of the reasons I hated eating Doi maach at home or at a relative's place was due to the curdled doi/dahi.
I abhorred the watery liquid that separated the solidified curd
... with the woebegone fish lying in
in the joke called Doi maach.

The reason is ... most people use sour curd ...
i.e. curd set at home and is older than 2/3 days.
Later when I started my affair with the kitchen, I learnt a lot.
Like when you add sour curd, no matter how well you beat it, 
to a dish cooking on  high heat, it will curdle.
What to do?
Nobody had the  right answer to this query of mine.

And then I learnt how to make the kadhi !!
SIL, on her description of the recipe, had mentioned the addition of a very little besan/gram flour 
to the curd mixture so that it does not curdle.
And bingo!!
I had my answer!

While my very pure vegetarian SIL patiently explained to me how to make the Kadhi,
 I was busy with visions of the perfect Doi Maach that I can finally relish 
swimming before my very eyes!
No ... I did not let the gentle soul know about my visions ... 
 ... of the most unthinkable non veg food ... the fish! 

And ever since I've always been able to make the Doi maach sans a curdled gravy of doi/dahi!

I keep the gravy of my Doi Maach very mild flavoured and light coloured.
I do use a little onion paste here ...
( if you are a regular on Kichu Khon you will know how little I use onion,ginger,garlic pastes).
And I love the flavour of the cardamom that infuses with the paste while cooking
and gives a beautiful flavour to the gravy.

Need :

4 Pieces of the Rohu fish
( washed, marinated with salt and turmeric and lightly fried in Mustard oil )
1 cup of Fresh curd / dahi / yoghurt
1 tbsp of  Besan / Gram flour
A Pinch of Haldi / Turmeric
2 Green Cardamoms
2 small pieces of  Dalchini / Cinnamon
2/3 Whole dry Red Chillies
4 tbsp of Onion paste
1 tsp cooking oil
Salt and sugar to taste

How to :

Beat the curd and the besan well and keep aside.

Heat oil in a kadahi / wok.
Add the cardamom, dalchini and whole red chillies.
Add the onion paste and keep stirring on low heat till the oil leaves sides and 
the onions lose their raw smell.
Now add the curd and besan mixture, turmeric and a little water.
Keep the heat on low all the while.
When it starts to boil slowly, add the salt and sugar.

Cook for a while.
When it reaches the desired consistency, add the fried fish pieces.
Let them simmer for some more time.
( Do not cook for a  long while after adding the fish ... the pieces will soak up the gravy and 
turn very soft  ... might break when serving).

Serve hot.

Goes great with steamed plain rice.
Enjoy !!

Other Dishes with Dahi / Curd on Kichu Khon

Thursday, 10 February 2011

Sarson ka Saag & Makke ki Roti

It surprises me that I have never made a post of this favourite meal of ours inspite of
blogging food
for so long!

Sarson ka saag means Mustard greens/leaves.
Makke di roti means flatbread made from maize flour or corn meal.

Every winter, this is one dish that becomes a regular on my table.
While this city is pathetic when it comes to
the availability of fresh greens,
winter is one time when we do get some fresh bunches of methi, palak
and sometimes the sarson.

Last year, when I had cooked this, I had clicked some snaps.
But never got 'round to making a post.
So this time, instead of making this for dinner, I made it our lunch.
So could click ... and hence this post.

I never try to make this dish ... a complete meal ... at one go.
Becomes quite overwhelming that way.
What I do is ...
work with sarson ka saag one day ...
I clean, wash, boil in water, puree it ..
and freeze it.

Work on the palak next, when I get some time.
Exactly the same way ... and freeze it.
So, on the day I decide to make this dish, all I need to do is get the purees and cook!
Easy and quick again !!

I love the coarseness in the mustard greens' paste ...
so usually add the stems along with the leaves.
If you feel that will add to the sharpness
of the sarson,
just add a little more of the palak paste.

And I never use chopped onion or garlic in this.

And the fried garlic gives it a wonderful rustic flavour.
Pair it up with butter, and this dish is something that you will want to make again and again.

If you cannot make the makke ki rotis, you can still enjoy this with plain rotis.
But then, of course, it won't be the same.

I am posting the recipe the way I make it.
I do not claim this to be the traditional way it is cooked
in the North or the Punjab.
And so I do not want any rude comments on how this is not the authentic way, etc.etc.

Makke ki Roti

Need :

Makke ka atta / Maize flour - 1½ cups
Atta / Wheat flour - ½ cup
Cooking oil - 2 tbsp
Ajwain / Carrom seeds - 1 tsp
Red chilli powder - 1 tsp
Salt - to taste
Lukewarm water - to knead
Maida / apf - to roll the rotis

How to :

Knead all the above ingredients together into a soft but firm dough.
Keep aside, covered, for around 15 minutes.

Divide the dough into medium sized balls.
Roll out slightly thickish rotis ... use dry maida to roll them.

Heat a tawa.
Cook the rotis, flipping occasionally.
Use the spatulla or a thick, folded cloth to apply slight pressure on the rotis
so that they puff up slightly.
When done, remove and apply butter on them.

Serve hot.

The Sarson ka Saag / Mustard Greens

Need :

Sarson ka saag / Mustard leaves (boiled and pureed ) - 1 big sized cupful
Palak / Spinach leaves - ( boiled and pureed ) - ½ cup
Garlic - around 10 - 12 cloves
Ginger - 1" piece
Green chillies - 2
Kasuri methi / Dried Fenigreek leaves - 1 tbsp
Salt - to taste
Sugar - to taste
Oil - 2 tbsp
Corn meal - 1 to 2 tbsp

How to :

Crush the garlic, ginger and the green chillies into a rough paste ... seperately.
( Use a mortar and pestle for this).

Heat oil in a deep kadahi.

Add the garlic and on slow flame let them turn brown.
( Do not raise the heat ... let them cook slowly. )

Add the ginger and the chillies and fry well.

Now add the pureed palak and sarson.

Add salt and sugar.
Fry well for a while.

When it starts to boil,
add the corn meal and keep stirring so that no lumps are formed.

Add the crushed kasuri methi and cook till it turns thickish.

Remove from heat.Serve hot with a dollop of butter.

Keep this dish low on salt and
add the sugar to keep it very subtly sweet.

We enjoyed this rustic meal with a few green chillies crushed with sea salt.
And raw onions.

A perfect winter meal!

Another look !