Monday, 31 January 2011

Patishapta / Rice crepes with coconut filling

Patishapta! ... the most made Pithe in Bengali homes I guess.

Traditional Patishapta is made with a rice flour batter
and fresh coconuts and jaggery .... all harvested products.
But due to the fast paced life of recent times, it is no longer possible to actually go
through the whole process of cleaning, washing, soaking and grinding rice to make a fresh powder.
And then use that powder to make a batter.
So, many people make it with a batter of maida and sooji ,
a quicker version of the original, traditional way.

I usually do not make this frequently ... my favourite pithe is the Poda pithe.
But come winter, every Bengali has to taste the Patishapta once.

When made or had with fresh date palm jaggery, the Patishapta
evokes wonderful memories of childhood
in every Bengali.

With visions of our grandmothers making it on a chulha on cold winter evenings
and us children sitting around it,
savouring the soft, hot patishapta with jaggery oozing out of it,in the warmth of the hot unoon,
knocking on our hearts,
we try to recreate the same taste and memories in our own kitchens
with inept hands.

I am still not into complex cooking yet and would not have made this right now either ...
was happy just watching this wonderful sweet
all over Bong blogosphere ...
but for a reader who requested me for the recipe.

So went ahead and made it.
Thanks to esskay we did get to enjoy the patishapta this winter.

I made it the traditional way ... but added some lentils (urid dal) to
the batter to give the crepes a little softness ...
I have noticed that the only rice batter
tends to make the crepes
slightly dryish.

I have also added a very,very, very small pinch of salt
to the batter ...
to complement the sweet filling.

One tip I'd like to share ...
the first and second crepes will turn out slightly thicker and not very perfect.
But as you keep making them, they will turn out better and better.
And keep the batter thin ... helps in spreading.
And also brings out crisp sides.

Do use a well seasoned, cast iron tawa.
If you want to use a non stick tawa, make sure you add just a few drops of oil and smear it well all over.
Use a wet cloth to smear the oil.
And heat the tawa well ... but on a low flame.
Patience is the key here.

Also, I never try to make it at one go ... or in one day.
A little preparation done earlier helps hugely here.
For example ... I make the coconut filling on one day and store it in the fridge.
I soak the rice and dal overnight ( do not keep it in the fridge ).
And grind it on the next day.
Then keep it in the fridge till I need it ... that way it soaks well.
And all I need to do is heat the tawa and make the pithes whenever I want to.

Need :

For the pur / filling

Freshly grated coconut - 1 cup
Jaggery (I used granules) - around 1 cup
Elaichi / Green cardamom powder - 1 tsp
Water - ½ cup

For the Crepes

Rice - 1 and ½ cup
Urid dal - a little less than ¼ cup
Enough water to make a thin batter

How to make :

The Pur / filling

In a deep pan, put the water and the jaggery together and let it come to a boil.
When the jaggery melts completely, remove and strain it to remove any impurities.
Put it back into the pan and add the coconut.
Keep stirring.
Add the elaichi powder and keep stirring till the mixture turns dryish.

The crepes :
Soak the rice and dal together for around 2 hours ...  the more, the better.
Grind into a smooth batter, adding water if needed.
Add water to make a very thin,
free flowing batter.
( If you let the batter sit for a day, the crepes turn out even better. )

Heat a little oil on a non stick tawa / griddle.
If using a cast iron tawa, heat it well first.
Then smear a good amount of oil on it and heat it again.
Now wipe off the oil with a wet cloth.
Add a little oil again and smear it well and then wipe it off again, with a wet cloth.

Now pour a ladleful of batter on the tawa and spread it to make a thin round.
I cannot do it with the ladle ...
so pick up and turn the tawa in a circle ...
works for me. :-)
Let it cook for a while.

(This was the first one ... so is slightly thick.)

It should leave the bottom of the tawa easily when done.

Place some of the filling in the middle of the crepe.
Roll the crepe on the filling from both sides to cover it.

Remove from the tawa.

See the fluffy soft crepes? The texture was perfect!

A closer look.

I have noticed that if you use maida, it does turn a little tough when cool.

But the rice flour ones stay soft enough
to be easily cut with a spoon.

Make sure to smear the tawa with a little oil and heat it well before adding another spoonful of batter.

These fluffy white blankets of sweet are best served with some
date palm jaggery or Nolen gur
poured over them.
Or sweet, thickened milk.

I'm not so lucky .... so enjoyed them as is.

Enjoy !!

Some wonderful varities of the Patishapta on blogosphere

Sandeepa's Patishapta ...
using Maida, Khoya & Semolina ...
and a beautiful write ...
miss ya Bong mom ... come back soon.

Jaya's Patishapta ...
she has 3 different ways of making the batter and a huge info on the sweet.

Sayantani's Patishapta ...
using maida, semolina & khoya too ...
and has a wonderful writeup on Poush Parbon.

Other Pithes on Kichu Khon

Arisa Pithe

Poda Pithe

Puli Pithe

Monda Pitha

Tuesday, 25 January 2011

Bharwa Karela / Stuffed and stir fried Bitter Gourd

Karela or the Bitter gourd is almost always
hated by people.
But is needed in your diet due to its immense benefits to your health.
So there is no dearth of recipes to make it palatable.

While it can be fried or made into curries in numerous ways, the most popular way is to fill it with a stuffing of your choice.
I love to use the insides of the karela ( use them only if the karela is fresh
and the seeds still very soft ) for this stuffing,
but you can go ahead and experiment.

While vegetarians can use the versatile potato, paneer, chana
or the Posto / khus khus in different ways,
non vegetarians can use Chicken kheema
or the Fish kheema as a filling too.

Need :

Fresh Karelas / Bitter gourd
Chopped onions
Jeera / Cumin seeds
Garam masala powder
Hing / Asafoetida - 1 pinch
Haldi / Turmeric powder
Red chilli powder
Dhania / Coriander powder
Amchur / Dried mango powder - to taste
Besan / Gram flour
Salt - to taste

How to :

Wash the karelas and cut into half.
Some prefer to scrape off the outer skin ... I do not.

Core the karela.

Apply a little salt to the cored karelas.
Steam them (remember to cover the steamer ... I opened it to take the snap. )

While they steam ( will take around 15 minutes), prepare the stuffing.

To make the stuffing :

Heat oil in a pan.

Add jeera, hing, chopped onions and fry till the onions' edges are slightly brown.

Add the cored karela, haldi, mirchi, dhania powder, a pinch of garam masala and salt.
Fry well.

Now add the amchur.

Then add a little besan and fry well till properly cooked and browned.

Remove and keep aside to cool.

After the karelas are cooked ( check by inserting a knife, it should cut in easily ),
remove them and cool.

With a small spoon or your fingers, fill the steamed karelas with this mixture carefully.
Gently push in the stuffing to reach the ends.

Heat oil in a pan and shallow fry them.

Arrange them with the stuffing side down first. After the side browns, turn them carefully to brown all sides.

If you want you can add a little turmeric, red chilli powder and salt ...
or any other spices of your choice
while frying them.

Serve hot.

Goes great on the side with rotis and dal.

Enjoy !!

Other stuffed vegetables on Kichu Khon

Bharwa Mirchi

Potoler Chop

Other recipes using Karela on Kichu Khon

Dahi Karela

Monday, 17 January 2011

Vegetables & Coconut Milk Stew

( Non vegetarians can add boneless chicken pieces, chopped sausage or egg drop. )

While on my break, with nothing to do at hand, literally, surfing the net
was my only respite from boredom.
And while I came across some very good blogs and writings,
I was distressed to find rampant Plagiarism too.

Photos and text from my blog have been copied and used in numerous places.
I set about tracking down the people.
While most of them have picked my photos, a few have used excerpts of my writings too.
All without my permission. And no credit given to the blog.
I kept my search on.

The plagiarists ranged from bloggers to proffessional website developers to
journalists and writers for epapers and emagazines.
I wrote to whoever I could contact.
It was a problem because most of them did not have a form to post comment,
or an email id to reach them.
Others have their comments moderated, so my comments neither got published nor heeded to.

Most bloggers ... usually new bloggers ... were genuinely apologetic.
I can understand that.
They do not know much about blogging rules or ethics.
But learn quickly.

The website developers too were very prompt in replying with an apology
and removing the used photograph.
The sore losers were however the epapers' writers ... not that I could contact
all of them since most pages did not
have a 'contact us' link.

The most used photograph from my blog is of the Moong Dal Halwa.
Search for any festival on the internet and you are bound to come across this photograph with a recipe that does not resemble mine.

One, who had used this Moong dal halwa photo, actually wrote back to me offering me a 'deal'.
She offered to 'mention' my blog with the writing so that
my blog 'will gain a lot of hits and it will
help you as people will come to know you'.

Livid, I wrote back "Thank you, but no thank you".
My blog gets enough hits and I do not earn anything from it, so in no way am going to 'gain'.
She snaps back in her next mail that she is no longer interested
in keeping the photograph as it is all over the internet
and she has no time to check
if all of them have copyright claims like me.

This, after I had sent her the link to my blog and the post!

Another blogger from Kolkata, who claims to work in the IT industry,
and has a blog that is a mix of a whole lot of things,
has picked up many of my photographs
and used them on recipes that are not
even remotely similar to the snap.
She has stolen almost all of my Ilish snaps and also the Prawn Malai Rice.

She has a 'talent' for removing copyright signs, shrink the snaps to thumbnail sizes and use them.
Repeated requests from me to remove them have gone ignored.

Another has stolen my Posto Pui snaps and using them as some other 'shaak' recipe!!

A reader and blogger from Bangladesh regularly visits.
I found out later that she has been using my snaps for her blog.
After repeated requests she did remove the snaps though,
but not before complaining bitterly
about how the copyright sign was not visible.
Just the fact that the photograph belongs to somebody else is not enough for her.

Recently there is a blogger from Delhi who has been copying my text.
Needless to say, these people never leave a line on my blog.
Yet happily take the credit and respond to comments, on their blogs, regarding the beautiful snaps!!!

What I do not understand is if they are so interested in having their own food blog,
why can't they cook their own food, click their own snaps and use them.
They should know that just because something is on the web
does not mean they can use it freely.
It is somebody else's hard work; it belongs to somebody else.

I have no idea how to deal with this.
So all I can do is distort my beautiful photographs with big sized copyright signs.
Smaller signs have not worked;
the enterprising thieves trim the snaps or remove the signs.

Ranting done, I'll come to today's recipe.
A deliciously creamy, dreamy vegetables stew in coconut milk, this is very quick to make.
Perfect for these winter days or nights.

I throw in as many vegetables as I can.
And sometimes add some chopped chicken chilli sausages for myself.
And to add to the carb content, some boiled pasta which I almost always have in the fridge.

Need :

Chopped onion - 1
Chopped garlic - around 6 to 7 cloves
Very thinly sliced ginger - ½ teaspoonful
Vegetables cut into small cubes - around half a cupful of each
( I used baby beans, carrots, cauliflower, baby corn, mushrooms, fresh green peas )
Fresh green lime zest - ¼ teaspoonful
Thick coconut milk - 200 ml
Butter - 1 teaspoonful
Salt - to taste
Sugar - to taste

How to :

Heat a heavy bottomed kadahi / wok.
Add a little butter and then the garlic.
Stir a little ... do not brown.
Add the onions and fry till translucent.
Now add all the vegetables except the peas and give a good stir.
( If using chicken, add now).
Add the coconut milk and some water.
Add salt and sugar ( remember, the coconut milk imparts a little sweetness too).
Cover and cook till the veggies are done.
( If using boiled pasta, add now. )
Remove cover and add the green peas and the lime zest.
Give a good stir, cover and switch off heat.
Give it a standing time of around 5 minutes.

Serve hot.

The sweetness of the coconut milk combined with the lime zest gives a beautiful flavour to this otherwise very veggie stew.
I have tried adding a pinch of roasted jeera/cumin powder
to this at the end
and found the flavour very Thai like.
Loved it.

Just a bowlful of this healthy, wholesome stew for dinner is enough for us.
If you want to,
eat it with bread on the side for a fuller meal.

I can have this wonderful stew anytime ... day or evening.
Enjoy !!

Tuesday, 11 January 2011

Bedai / Parathas stuffed with spicy Moong Dal

The Bedai / Bedei is a wonderfully spicy snack that can double up as a meal too.
Also known as Bedmi puris when made into puris and not parathas, these are great to
make during festival times like Diwali too.

A very popular street food in North India, the Bedei is a common Rajasthani meal too. While it is deep fried and served with a potato curry in the North, I have seen it made as parathas at my Rajasthani in-laws place.

It was in Rajasthan that I tasted the Bedei for the first time.
Kaki (aunt-in-law) makes them as parathas,
which are acceptable to me as they need much less oil to cook as compared to the
deep fried ones ...
which resemble the Moong Dal kachoris.
And she makes the stuffing from the Moong ka Mogar ... a stir fried moong dal dish that can be enjoyed as is with rotis too.
While the traditional Bedei has the lentil in the stuffing coarsely ground,
Kaki keeps them whole.

Needless to say, I follow her version.
These are great to carry on journeys like picnics or long drives.

For the Mogar

Need :

Yellow Moong dal - ½ a cup
Jeera / Cumin seeds - a pinch
Haldi / Turmeric powder - ½ teaspoon
Red chilli powder - to taste
Laung / Clove powder - ½ teaspoon ( can add more to make spicy )
Hing / Asafoetida - a pinch
Amchur / Dried Mango powder - 1 tsp
Dhania / Coriander powder - 1 tbsp
Garam masala powder - 1 tsp
Cooking oil - 1 tbsp
Salt - to taste

How to :

Soak moong dal for around 1 hour.
Heat oil in a pan.
Add jeera and hing.
Add the soaked dal, haldi, mirchi and salt.
Keep stirring.
Add garam masala, laung powder and dhania powder.
Give a good stir.
Add a little water ... just enough to skim the surface.
Cover and let it cook till done.
Do remove the cover in between and check if all water has dried up. If needed add some more water ... but not too much.
When the dal is cooked ... it will easily break when pressed between two fingers ... removeand cool.

The dal should be completely dryish .... every grain seperate yet whole.
This can be eaten on the side with rotis too.

If you find the loose dal difficult to handle as a filling,
do not fret.
Just grind the soaked dal coarsely and
cook as above till dryish.

If you make and store this before hand, the parathas take no time to make.
And you have a meal in a jiffy!

For the parathas

Knead whole wheat flour with a little salt and a few teaspoonfuls of cooking oil and water.
Make a soft yet firm dough.

To make the Bedei

Make medium sized balls of the dough.
Shape into small bowls with your hand and spoon in some of the dal mixture.

Close the dough ball and flatten it gently with your hands.
Roll out round parathas, starting with the sealed side down, using dry flour to dust occassionaly.

Heat a tawa / skillet.
Put in the paratha. After a while flip to the other side.

When it starts to turn slightly dry,
apply oil, raise heat and cook ,
flipping occassionaly till both sides are browned well.

Serve hot, preferable off the skillet ... with dahi/curd and achar.

I enjoy it with the Onion chutney or the Tomato chutney too.

Enjoy this winter with these hot, spicy Bedei as breakfast,
evening snack with masala tea
or as a tv dinner !!

PS : I had been to Bhuj and the beautiful Rann of Kutch on a recent vacation. Have made the first post on the trip in my travelogue.

Other stuffed Parathas on Kichu Khon

Friday, 7 January 2011

Spicy Vegetable Pulao

I love one pot meals.
Ones that are quick to make, not too much of a fuss, do not need too much of stirring or
constant attention.
And that go easy on my still weak hand.

Winter nights are perfect for such meals.
I tend to laze around these cold evenings , finish chores, or maybe part of a book.
And in no time it is dinner time.
Drag myself to the kitchen and stand thinking what to make ... especially if it is from scratch.

One good thing is thanks to winter, I have a lot of vegetables at hand.
Fresh vegetables.
And never hesitate to dunk in handfuls of them into whatever am making.
Last evening I faced the same predicament.
And felt like having something very spicy.
But not deep fried or oily.
So came up with this. Since it was spicy we paired with the soothing raita.

Need :
Rice - 1 cup
Ginger paste - 1 tsp
Garlic paste - 1 tsp
Sliced onions
Chopped vegetables
( I used cauliflower, beans, mushrooms, baby corn, shelled fresh peas )
Haldi / Turmeric powder - ½ tsp
Red chilli powder - to taste
Biryani masala powder - 1 tsp
Water - a little less than 2 cups
Kasuri methi ( dried fenugreek leaves ) - 1 tsp
Lemon - half a piece
Cooking Oil
Ghee / Clarified butter - 1 tbsp
Salt - to taste
Sugar - to taste
( Can use tomatoes ... I did not have any )

How to :

Wash the rice and keep aside ( I do not soak it for a long time).
Heat oil in a heavy bottomed kadahi / deep wok.
Add the sliced onions and fry till translucent.
Add the ginger and garlic paste and fry well.
Add the turmeric powder, chilli powder and the kasuri methi.
Now add all the vegetables except the peas.
Fry well till vegetables are coated with the masala.
Now add the rice and give a few good stirs.
Add salt, sugar and the biryani masala.
Now add water, the peas, cover and cook till all water dries up.
Remove cover and give a stir.
Add the ghee. Squeeze in the lemon, give a stir and cover.
Switch off flame and let it stand for a while.

I made the raita by beating fresh curd / yogurt with salt.
And sprinkled some roasted and crushed jeera / cumin seeds and some red chilli flakes.

Serve hot with raita and salad.
Roasted papad and pickle also go great with this pulao.
Enjoy !!

Other One pot Pulaos on Kichu Khon

Saturday, 1 January 2011

Ringing in 2011 with Eggless Coffee Choco Nuts Cake

Wishing you a very Happy New Year 2011 !!

A full year gone. How ... I won't get into that.
I had committed I'll come back ... so am here.

And a post on the first day of the year seems so ... well ... appropriate.

But had no idea what to cook to make the first post of the new year seem special ...
... if not to anybody, at least to me.
Couldn't think of anything that can be done on the fly.
So did what I do best ... cook on a whim.

Grab hold of whatever I have ... mix them all together and bake.
The difficult part is when it comes to naming my experiments. :-)

Anyway ... am still not very much in my element.
My arranging skills have become rusty.
Need to relearn to hold the camera properly.

But I still love to bake.

And so do not wait to see if I have eggs in the fridge or do not.
This cake was made with whatever I had at hand.

Need :

1 cup maida/APF
(a little more than) 1/2 cup sugar
2 tbsp oil
1/2 cup milk
1 small piece of cinnamon
1 piece of clove
1 tsp baking powder
1 pinch of baking soda
coffee powder ( to taste )
choco chips
chopped almonds and raisins
( this was all I had ... you can add others )
5-6 drops of vanilla essence

How to :

Pre heat oven at 110 degrees C.

Run the sugar in a mixer with the cinnamon and clove.

Mix the maida + oil + sugar + baking powder + baking soda well.

Mix in the milk and stir well till there are no lumps.

Add the chopped dry fruits.

Add the coffee and give a stir.

Sprinkle the choco chips on the surface.

Oil a baking bowl and pour in the batter.

Bake at 110 degrees C till an inserted toothpick or knife or skewer comes out clean.

Cool and serve.

The choco chips melt to give a chocolatey taste to the strong coffee flavour.
Turned out super moist and gooey.

I had made some Orange syrup with fresh orange juice and zest a few days ago.
Poured a little on a piece.

Tasted wonderful.

The tartness and zing of the orange syrup combined with the coffee and chocolate gave the cake a mixed flavour of ... well ... maybe of the gone year ... 2010. :-)

May the New Year bring happiness and health to you !!


Other Cakes on Kichu Khon :