Friday, 20 December 2013

Kanji Vada
 The first time I had Kanji vada was in Jaipur, on a cold winter afternoon in the middle of a Diwali week.
They are sold on hand carts ... big sized mud pots filled with the fermented, tart water and big sized and very soft lentil dumplings or vadas in it.
I did not like the taste ... found the taste close to something rotten ... and promptly rejected it.
The Rajasthani man was not amused and insisted that the properly made ones are really tasty.

And so on the next Holi, I was introduced properly to the perfect, home made Kanji ... this time made by sis-in-law at her home.
I'm not too fond of sour things ... but liked the taste this time.
It was fermented just right and had that light tartness .. not too sour , not too salty.
The vadas were fresh and perfectly soft ... not falling into pieces like they have reached a state of  'too much of fermentation'.
I loved it this time.

In the intial years of my marraige I never made this. But later I started to make it once every year.
But not in winter. I used to make it in October. The intensity of the sun was just right to ferment the water in just a couple of days.
This time however I made this in December and it came out perfect.
My Rajasthani in-laws do not add anything to the kanji other than just the vadas.
Sis-in-law uses the black carrots that she gets abundantly in Delhi during winter. I used some plain carrots.
I used Urad dal and also added some fresh chillies and sliced ginger for some taste.
With the intense sun on my balcony, it took just 4 days for the Kanji to ferment.
I sunned it under direct sunlight on the balcony for 4 days and then kept it in the light sunlight on my dining table for the next 5 days that it lasted for.

On my dining table these days .... 
Need :

Ample sunlight
Urad dal - 1 cup, washed and soaked overnight
Carrots - sliced into thin pieces
Ginger - sliced into thin pieces
Fresh chillies
Mustard powder - 3 tbsp
Black salt - 2 tsp
Red chilli powder - 1 tsp
Water - around 8 coffee cups
Oil - to deep fry

How to :

Make a paste of the soaked dal with some salt.
Heat enough oil and  deep fry small balls of the dal paste.
Take a clean bottle ... I have given the full picture of the bottle I have used to give an idea.
Pour in the water and rest of the ingredients.
Add the vadas too.
Close lid.

Sun it for 3-4 days in direct sunlight, with the lid slightly open.
Do remember to bring it inside before evening sets in.
After that it is ready to consume ... but do check for the level of tartness.
If you feel like, you can sun it for a couple more days too ... depending on the intensity of the sunlight that you get in your part of the world.
Serve cool. 
The carrots and the ginger soak up the flavours and taste great!

Saturday, 14 December 2013

Shorshe Narkel Chingri / Prawns cooked in mustard and coconut paste
Winter is on in full swing ... if I can say that. How is winter swinging I can't say. But yes, winter is here.
Not in the elusive way that it has been the last few years but in a proper wintery way.
Like it is supposed to be cold, real cold.
There should be a clear, crisp breeze.
The sky clear ... so clear that you can see the stars at night ...especially the Evening star ... huge and shining way too brightly.
The sun should be bright and shining and inviting.
You are tempted to stand in it ... soaking up the warmth on your shoulders and back.
And in a little while you feel so hot you need to step back into the shade.
And in a while you are tempted to step back into it again.
Yes, this winter everything is in place.

Mornings are foggy.
And cold.
Morning walkers are bundled in sweaters, jackets and caps.
Evenings are foggy too. And hold the sweet smell of wood smoke.
Maybe someone is burning dry leaves and twigs somewhere. I can see a thin billow of smoke afar, crossing the tree tops and meandering up and away.
Leaving behind that smell that reminds one of evenings in rural India, where every house lights it's chulha to  cook dinner and the air is filled with light smoke.
And you are tempted to spend your evenings leisurely ... bundled up in a comforter, lounging in front of the telly ... with spicy adrak wali chai and some deep fried munchies.
Right now I'm loving the glorious sun on my home ... windows, balcony ... even in the kitchen.
Am tempted to make full use of it ... my injured shoulder and arm notwithstanding.
Hence, ignoring  doc's warning against strain, I am making small batches of pickles and boris.
Of course other than sunning every piece of blanket, clothing,woolen, etc. that has soaked up the dampness of the last year.
Yes, am happy to be home. :-)

Here's a glimpse before I make a post on it ... in case I'm  banned from typing and posting ... again.

Last year I had my fill of fresh fish ... caught off the lakes right in front of me. Remember  I  had made the  Kaatla Shorshe. Well, I had some masala left, so used it to make prawns.
Not in the same way ... just the same masala.

I eat prawns with regularity. But realise that I hardly have any posts on my prawn recipes.
One of the reasons must be the lack of time.
Prawn is something I can munch on while frying them ... and happily finish a batch just like that.
And most times I just put in this and that together and cook up something ... needless to say, tasty.
 But by the time I finish cooking the whole lunch/dinner and finish with the prawns, it is mealtime.
And I do not have the patience to arrange+click for a post.

This particular recipe was, as usual, done in a hurry too.
But there was good sunlight ... something rare for me for the whole of last year ... so clicked some snaps.
Not as good as I would want them to be.
But decent enough to make a post.
So here is my Shorshe Chingri ... not bhaape (steamed ) though.
Need :

Fresh water prawns
Mustard paste - I used white and black mustard seeds
Coconut paste - I grind freshly grated coconut
Turmeric powder
Kalonji / Kalo jeere / Nigella seeds - a pinch
 Mustard oil
Red chilli powder
A pinch of sugar ( optional )

How to :

Clean the prawns and marinate them with salt and turmeric for 15 minutes.
Heat mustard oil in a kadahi / wok.
Fry the prawns, remove and keep aside.
At this point you will need to restrain yourself ... I cannot resist the hot, fried prawns and start munching on them. Go ahead , indulge, but only a piece or two.
In the same kadahi and oil, add the kalo jeere / nigella seeds.
Add the mustard and coconut paste.
Add a little red chilli powder.
Fry well till oil starts to leave the sides.
You can add some beaten curd at this point too ... I haven't.
Increase heat and add water.
Bring to a boil, add salt and sugar.
Add the prawns and cook till the gravy reaches desired consistency ... some like it dryish and others like some gravy ... so decide accordingly.
 Remove from heat.

Serve hot with plain steamed rice.

A few other Prawn recipes on Kichu Khonn

Prawns with burnt Garlic Noodles

Tomato Prawns 

 Chingri Malai Rice 

Tuesday, 10 December 2013

Spicy Chana Dal

They come in all kinds.
And whatever the kind, you love them.
You can do nothing otherwise. They endear themselves to you by just being themselves.
And by loving you ... just the way you are.
No expectations. No rancour.

One Sunday morning, three months back I got a call from my best friend from childhood C.
For those who came in late, you will know about C here.
I was very ill; confined to bed and in tremendous pain.
We had come back to the city to get treated by my old orthopaedic. Trying to settle into a bare house with minimum facilities was driving me crazy. Pain and invalidity were driving me towards self sympathy.
Days and nights were passing in a blur.
And then came the call.

I had just woken and the pain wakes up along with me; till I get to take the first painkiller of the day.
Groggy, I slowly moved to pick up the phone .... willing it to stop ringing by the time I reached it.
It did not. Went on persistantly.
I picked it up without looking at the screen.
"S?!  How are you?!!  Are you alright?!!!"
C's voice was urgent. Just hearing her voice put a wonderful cheer into me immediately.
But the questions put me off. I did not want to discuss my illness right now. Not with her; not so early in the morning.

"Hey! How are you?! What a surprise.", I said.
"Tell me first ... are you alright?"
"Of course I am! What's wrong?"
"I don't know. I have a feeling you are not well".
I take a breath. I had not told my parents back home about my illness then; not yet... I had kept telling myself.
How did C know then? "How did you know?"
"Know what?", she asked.
"That I am ill." ...  I was convinced she meant it as a joke.
"I don't know! Which is why I'm asking you."
So I told her I was not well. She listened quietly.
Then she said "I dreamt last night that you are very ill. So had to call you as soon as it was morning.
I am coming down."
Friends! :-)
I make this spicy version of the Cholar dal usually when I don't have any other dishes on the side.
Or when I have plans for only dal and rice for dinner or lunch.
Actually it is B's recipe. He loves to add tremendous amounts of onions and ginger to dals ... which personally I do not like.
Give me a simple dal anyday.
But this dal is perfect for a rainy day lunch or a light dinner on a cold, winter night.
Presently I am on a draft clearing mission ... all photographs languishing in my drafts folder are going to see the light of these bright, sunny, wintery days.

Need :

Chana dal / Bengal gram - 1 cup, washed
Cloves - 3
Green cardamom - 1
Cinnamon - 1 small stick
Jeera / Cumin seeds - 1 tsp
Onion - 1 medium, chopped
Ginger - 1", chopped
Garlic - 6 cloves - chopped
Green chillies - 2, chopped
Tomatoes - 2, medium sized, chopped
Turmeric / Haldi powder - ½ tsp
Red chilli powder - ½ tsp
Garam masala powder -1 tsp ( I sometimes add a pinch of Biryani masala instead )
Roasted Jeera /Cumin powder - 1 tsp
Salt to taste
Sugar - ½ tsp
Cooking oil
Fresh Coriander leaves - chopped

How to :

Pressure cook the dal with 2 cups of water, turmeric powder and a little salt for 2 whistles on low heat.
The dal should be cooked but not all mashed up and gooey.
Keep aside.

Heat a little oil in a kadahi / wok.
Add the jeera. When it starts to splutter add the cloves+green cardamom+cinnamon.
Now add the chopped onions and fry till translucent.
Add the garlic , ginger and the green chillies.
Fry well.

Add the tomatoes and fry till it becomes a thick paste. Use a ladle to mash them while cooking.

Raise heat and add the cooked dal.
If too thick, add enough water.
Check for salt. Add sugar.
Bring to a boil, lower heat and cover.
Simmer for 10 minutes, check that it does not settle and burn at the bottom of the kadahi.

Remove from heat.
Sprinkle the roasted jeera powder and chopped coriander leaves on it.
Serve hot.
This dal is slightly thickish and gravylike. Goes great with rotis or rice.
Add some salad on the side for a light, complete meal.


Monday, 9 December 2013

A few handiworks by me

A lace knitted frock jacket.
The belt and the edges are crocheted.

I have been asked, time and again, for some photographs of my hobbies.
I don't have too many hobbies ... i.e. if you leave out reading and writing and singing and cooking.
And knitting.
I don't say knitting and hobbies in the same breath. Knitting is passion.
I knit like I breathe ... no exaggeration here. I need to knit at least a few lines in a day.
Ironically, it was my hand that had to play mean. These days I don't knit as much as I used to once upon a time.
I've been knitting and embroidering from ever since I can remember.
I have knitted for grandmas, cousins, their children, friends, their children,myself, the in laws, the man ... everyone I know or who knows that I knit.

A crocheted hot water bottle cover.
But I've never photographed my handiworks for posterity. It just never struck me.
I just happily created things and gave them away with huge smiles and love.
And got even huger smiles and more love in return.
A lace knitted jacket ... for that light nip in the air.
After I was asked to show some works by me, I pulled out some old things and photographed them ... feeling silly all the while at the prospect of showing off in the form of a picture and not a real thing.
Here's a compilation.
A crocheted poncho/wrap.
The open neck helps it fall just right on the shoulders and down.

Will keep updating this space ... but I seriously doubt I'll really click every single curtain, cushion cover, dress, skirt, top, sweater, throw, blanket, etc. etc. that I make/knit/crochet.
But I'll try ... I promise.
Till then ...

Monday, 2 December 2013

Palak Dal / Spinach cooked with lentils
December. Already!
Last year this time I was on unfamiliar soils. Trying my best ... well not exactly my best but try I did ... to settle in. More than the new people, the climate got me.
I just could not get over the crisp, cool and wonderfully pleasant weather I had left behind.
People soothed me ... I'll get used to it ... they said.
I tried to believe them.
But my heart did not. Believe, I mean. Did not even try to.
And it was not helping me at all.

After coming back, every day has thumbed it's nose to me ... proving me right  and making me realise all over again what I had missed.
Not that I am complaining. With this wonderful weather I can take 10 thumbs, or noses, on, happily.

One thing that I missed here the whole year through was the rains .... except in the rainy season.
It never rained to surprise you.
And how I wished for a December or January rain ... the light drizzle of this little hilly city, that will catch me with surprise and make us shiver with the intensified cold.
Nah ... never got one.
Till now.

The last two weeks, it has rained intermittently.
On and off.
Just when we set off for the long drive promised by B on our anniversary day ... it rained.
Clean and sprightly droplets, happy and sparkling in the late afternoon sun.
We had just stepped out of the restaurant after lunch and were heading towards the expressway.
I was savouring every moment and sight ... given that I was actually being able to sit in the car and go for a drive was making me doubly thankful.
And the rain was a bonus.
And like a good bonus, it lasted till we had our fill. And then the late evening sun burst out of the clouds, gave us a picturesque goodbye and went to rest behind the Khandala hills.
And still left some vibrant colours spread across the sky till darkness took over.

It rained last night ... again. The blissful sound of pouring made us switch off the telly and rush to the balcony.
It was raining in earnest. And the trees were covered with fog.
We stood there ... taking in the cold air and the spray on our faces.
B suggested coffee. But I suggested just standing there ... I knew it would only for sometime .. then all that will be left will be the clean air and the fog enveloping us.
We stood there for a long time.
And got up this morning to a beautiful, fog enveloped morning.
And yes, there is a very light drizzle too.
I cannot do without the sun ... but, just for today, I wish that the sun gets a day off. :-)
I make this dal with Palak / Spinach very often ... most of the times for dinner, which is why I had never made a post on this. Right ... for the lack of good photographs.
Paired with hot, fluffy rotis and some salad on the side, this make for a good, wholesome meal.
I had learnt the adding of  fried garlic as garnish when I learnt to make this ... so had sprinkled some on the top too.
Else, just the addition of garlic while cooking is enough.

Need :

Palak / Spinach - 1 bunch
Chana dal / Bengal gram - 1 cup
Garlic - 6 to 8 cloves
Jeera / cumin seeds - ½ tsp
Haldi / turmeric powder - ½ tsp
Ginger -  1", grated
Green chillies - 2
Ghee - 2 tsp
Red chilli powder - 1 tsp
Whole red chilli - 1
Water - around 3 cups

How to :

Pick, wash and chop the palak.
Wash and soak the chana dal for around 20 mins.
Slice the garlic into roundels. 

Cook the chana dal in a pressure cooker with the grated ginger + green chillies + salt + haldi powder, for 2 whistles on low heat.

Heat 1 tsp ghee in a small pan.
Add the garlic slices and stir fry till brown.
Add the whole red chilli and remove from heat.

In the same ghee ( add some more if needed ), add jeera and the chopped palak.
Add red chiili powder and a little salt.
Fry for a while, till the palak releases water.
When slightly dryish, add the boiled dal and give a good stir.
Add water and salt, if necessary.

Add the roasted jeera powder and bring to a boil.

Lower heat and simmer for a while, covered.

Serve the dal steaming hot with the fried garlic and chilli sprinkled on top.
Goes great with rotis as well as rice.
A perfect dish for a fog enveloped winter evening.


Saturday, 30 November 2013

Rui Macher Jhol with winter vegetables .... and Dhone paata

Bad photos; good recipe.

The addition of fresh coriander leaves to a dish always brings a wave of nostalgia.It reminds me of winter.
Winters of my chilhood. When the morning ritual of buying fresh vegetables was happily taken up by the men of the family ... which was otherwise only another daily chore and most of the times passed on to the helping hands in the house ... at least during the rest of the months of the year.
Except of course the Ilish buying season. 

As soon as the big, fat, cloth bag was set down on the verandah in front of the kitchen, it would promptly fall on its face and fresh carrots, radishes, cauliflowers, spinach, green peas etc. would tumble out.
Thamma would pick and check every vegetable and discuss the quality and price ... turning a cabbage around, breaking a carrot with a snap or shelling a pea and munching on the pods to check for sweetness.

And among all these will be a big bunch of the coriander leaf. Or the Dhone pata.

The addition of the dhone paata would mean winter has arrived ... officially.
We would find the leaves added to almost every dish then.
Sometimes floating on the dals; sometimes mashed into the Aloo bhate ( boiled potato mash)  or the Begun pora (roasted brinjal mash ).
Salads would have liberal sprinkles of it.
A chutney was also made of it.
And sometimes was added to the jhols ... especially the Maacher jhol.

 The freshness and the distinct flavour of the leaves gives every dish a different level.
While I personally am not very fond of this particular leaf, I do add it to dishes and have marveled at the different outcomes.
When added to a dish that banks heavily on just ginger, the outcome is awesome.
Add it to a simple dal and enjoy a whole new flavour. I sometimes cook the leaves along with the dals instead of just sprinkling them as garnish ... the taste has always been different ... depending on the temperings ... and wonderfully flavourful.

I have been cooking fish a lot less lately than I did earlier. And right now I do not even remember when I had cooked fish last. But looking through the photographs, I found a few that I had clicked in a hurry the last time I had cooked the Rohu fish with vegetables.
Since winter is now here and the veggies are fresh and easily available, I thought I might as well make a post. The photos do not do justice .... the dish was much better.

This recipe has the onion+ginger+garlic paste ... very rare in my dishes.
If you want to make it lighter, skip the paste and just add the roasted jeera powder. Makes a wonderfully light, soupy and healthy jhol.

Need :

Rohu fish pieces - 4 
Onion - 1 medium sized
Ginger - around 1 inch
Garlic - 6 to 8 cloves
Tomato - 1 medium sized
Winter vegetables - fresh Cauliflower, Sheem, Brinjal, etc. ... cut into medium sized pieces
Potato - 1, cut into cubes
Haldi/Turmeric powder
Kalonji/Kalo jeere/Nigella seeds - half tsp
Whole dry red chillies - 2 pieces
Roasted Jeera/Cumin powder
Mustard oil
Fresh Coriander leaves - chopped

How to :

Heat around 4 tbsp of mustard oil in a kadahi or wok ( I used an iron kadahi )

When smoking hot, release in the fish pieces very carefully and cover.
Fry on low heat, turning them a couple of times.
Remove from the oil and keep aside.

Make a paste of the onion+ginger+garlic+tomato.

Heat around 1 tbsp of mustard oil in a fresh kadahi and  fry the cauliflower florets, potato pieces on high heat for a while.When the sides start to turn brown add the sheem, give a good stir, lower heat, remove from the kadahi and keep aside.
No need to cook them thoroughly.

In the same kadahi heat a little more mustard oil, or use the same oil if any left, and add some kalonji and dry red chillies.
Add the onion+ginger+garlic+tomato paste and fry well, till the rawness is gone.

Add the haldi powder, the red chilli powder and the jeera powder.
Add the fried vegetables, water and salt.
Cover and cook till the vegetables are done.

Remove cover, add the fish pieces and replace cover. Let it simmer for a few more minutes.
Remove from heat, sprinkle chopped coriander leaves and cover again.
Let it stand, covered, for around 5 to 10 minutes before serving.

Serve hot with steamed rice ... with a sprinkle of fresh lemon juice and a fresh green chilli on the side.


Writing has become difficult for me ... again.
My hand refuses to keep up with my thoughts ... hence the clumsy writing and sentence framings.
I hope you, kind readers will bear with me ... as always ...  for a few more posts .... which hopefully I will get to make anyway.
I can assure you of the recipes however ... and hope you will not be disappointed.

Thursday, 21 November 2013

Rawa Upma

( Vegans just skip the ghee )

Upma! pooh!
Why make a post on Upma, of all things? What does it take to make an Upma after all?! Some rawa, some vegetables thrown in, a dollop of ghee maybe ... nothing special or out of this world ... right?
Ask me.
My answer would be patience ... the time would span a good number of years; some memories ... wrack the brain to remember all kinds of upma I have ever tasted;  prayers ... every time I tried making this one dish I have prayed to the almighty real faithfully, and of course keeping my fingers crossed every time ... fingers and toes and everything.

Yeah ... making an Upma has been the biggest challenges I have ever faced ever since I started to cook. I can cook up a good Rajasthani spread or a good full course Bengali meal without a frown on my brows. But when it came to making the upma I got the jitters, the butterflies, the hibijis ... and still come up with something that would resemble a coagulated something.
Yet I would keep at it ... just because I love the darned dish so much. 

Jethima would make us upma some days as an evening snack, when we were young. She was a wonderful cook but the upma was definitely not her forte. I remember it was so oily it would happily slide down our throats ... if you discount the one stray thick slice of onion that one unlucky kid would end up with.
Ma has always gloated on her version of the less oil and fluffy version. Honestly, it used to be so dry it used to turn into a lump in our mouths ... that we kids could neither swallow nor throw up.
I wonder if the elders ever got 'round to wonder why we kids always demanded a little of the evening tea ... which we were never allowed to have ... on the evenings we were served the upma.

But I did not stop at trying to make that perfect upma, even if  it kept eluding me.
Recently, however, I have found that the texture is getting better and better.
And that is when I decided that I can put it on my blog now.

This is my version ... the way I make it these days. It is moist without being lumpy.
Most you must be experts at making this ... if you have any tips, please do share them with me.

Need :
Rawa / Sooji - A little more than ½ katori ( or a small sized coffee mug )
Vermicelli ( I use the pre-roasted ones) - ¼ katori
Cooking oil - 2 tbsp
Ghee - 1 tbsp
Urad dal - ½tsp
Onion - 1 medium
Ginger - 1 tsp, , chopped
Green chillies - chopped
Mustard seeds
Curry leaves
Carrots - chopped into very small pieces
Cauliflower - chopped into very small pieces
Green peas
Tomato - 1 medium, chopped
Salt - to taste
Sugar - to taste
Water - 1 and ½ katoris
(Use the same katori that you have used to measure the rawa)

How to:
Dry roast the rawa/sooji  till the 'just before brown' stage, in a thick bottomed open pan.
Remove from heat and stir in the vermicelli and stir around for a while in the same pan, but away from
the heat.

Heat the water on another burner or in the microwave oven.

Heat oil+ghee in a kadahi.
Add mustard seeds, curry leaves.
When they start to splutter, add the urad dal.
Next add the onions+ginger+green chillies.
Fry on low heat. Add a little salt ... just for these three.

When the onions turn translucent, add the vegetables.
Add some more salt ... just for the vegetables.
Cover and cook till the vegetables are done.
Remove cover and add the tomatoes. Stir and cover.
Cook till the tomatoes are done.

Now add the rawa+vermicelli to the vegetables.
Add salt to taste and sugar. Fry well on low heat for a good while... the rawa should soak up the ghee
and also the moisture from the vegetables.

Add the hot water and keep stirring well.
Toss and turn till all water is soaked up.
Give some more turns with the spatula, cover and let it rest for ... say ... 3 minutes.

Remove cover and fluff it up with a fork.
Serve hot.

This is my 270th post.
I have tried hard to keep Kichu Khonn going on, inspite of all the setbacks I have faced so far.
It has been possible only because of your love and encouragement. I have had to take many breaks, but each time was deluged with affectionate and encouraging mails and messages.
I have never felt alone ... even when I could not open my blog or FB.
I do not count the number of posts now ... the fact that I can make a post at all and you, my dear readers coming back here to write in, is reward enough for me.

Thank you all for your love and support.
I and Kichu Khonn hope that you will stay by us, as always.
Much love to all of you.

Saturday, 16 November 2013

Steamed Rice Balls
 B had just stepped out of the door and waiting for the lift when the new neighbors came out.
"Hi". Oh no ... he thought.
"We have just moved in and heard you are back. So good for us."
"You are very busy, na? We hear you going out and coming back all day ..."
"Yeah .. a little."
"Where is your wife? Would love to meet her."
"She is in ... yes ... maybe sometime."
"You love music a lot, na?! We hear music playing almost always ... especially at nights. We love music too. Why don't you both come over for tea this weekend?"
"Well ... I'll let you know ... thanks."
With that B rushed into the lift and left.
"Bilkul baat karna nahi chaahtey, hai na?" ... he heard the lady mention as the lift went down.

That was sometime back.
We did meet after all.
They turned out to be a nice and happy Punjabi couple ... new in Pune.
We did find out they love music ... albeit a little different from us.
Now we meet often and spend time together and have started to get to know each other.

They now know the kind of music we like.
And that I love to cook. And knit. And read.
That we are quiet people ... which gives them a motive to drag us and meet with all their friends and relatives.
That we love traveling and have just returned from a year long stay outside the state.

What they do not know ... still ... is the reason behind the music playing deep into the nights all the past few months.
B used to play my favourite songs over and over again, night after night, for more than 2 months ... while I sobbed on in pain ... both of us waiting for the pain killers and sedatives to work and bring sleep and some respite to my pain wracked body.

Now that I can sit for a while and type a little too, I'll start posting again.
I have a whole lot of photographs and recipes in the drafts, so I will not have to wait to be able to start cooking to make a post.
Yes, no cooking now. And no photographing too. Again. :-(

I know a lot of water has flown down the river since I posted last.
But fikar not.
Here comes another very different and very simple recipe from me.

I'd seen this kind of a dish on some South Indian's blog ... can't remember. And saw that this is very common in South Inmdian homes. Only ... they make it with rice flour.
I have used left over rice.
A good way to use left over rice ... not exactly a dish but a great snack.
Filling as well as light.

We loved it. Try it. Am sure you'd too.

 Need :

Left over cooked rice - 1 cupful
Green chillies - 2
Ginger - a small piece
Curry leaves - a few
Whole red chillies - 2
Mustard seeds - ½ tsp
Cooking oil / Ghee - 1 tsp
Lemon juice - 2 tbsp
Salt - to taste
A bowlful of water to steam

How to :

Grind the rice + ginger + green chillies + salt + lemon juice together in a mixie to make a paste.
Shape very small balls from the paste. Use a little water to wet your hands.
Do remember to keep them real small.
Steam the balls in a steamer or the way I did ... like so.
Do use a cover.
Heat a little oil / ghee in a pan. Add the mustard seeds + red chillies + curry leaves.
Add the rice balls and give a good toss.
Serve hot as a snack.
They go very well with the Tomato Onion chutney or the Coconut chutney or even this Peanut chutney.

Diwali came and went. I was quiet as I was at the sasural ... couldn't wish you all.
Hope you had a beautiful Diwali. :-)

Wednesday, 7 August 2013

Gawar fali ki sabzi / Stir fried Clusterbeans

I am a Bengali. And a proud one too.
But I am also a part of three more different cultures. Which do not make me any less a Bengali, but have indeed taken me to new depths. I know much about those cultures, traditions, food, dress, rituals. In short, everything that makes me able to say that I am proud to know or be a part of these cultures.

But somewhere along the way my blog started to be called or known as a Bengali food blog.
And I ... a Bengali food blogger.
Nowhere at no time have I ever claimed that my blog has Bengali food only ... or authentic Bengali food.
I do cook Bengali food ... with as much authenticity as my phone calls home and my other food blogger friends' input allows ... also my memory plays a part here too.
But I do not like being dragged into being labelled as a 'Bengali food' blogger
I'd rather be the Bengali 'food blogger'.

One of the many kinds of food that I regularly cook is the Rajasthani food. Almost daily I make a dal ... which would have temperings that is far different from the Bengali temperings. There will be a sabzi or vegetable dish, which again reflects the Rajasthani home cooking than the Bengali one.

I have actually divided the two kinds into two categories.
On the days I make rice, I make the dal and sabzi with Bengali temperings ... say the paanch phoron or the jeera+ada baat/ginger paste or fried onions+radhuni. This is mostly on days I make fish.
And on the days I make rotis, the dal and the sabzis have a Rajasthani flavour .... like the hing+jeera or whole dhania+red chillies ... and so on.
Both sides of the family ... that is the two of us ... are fine with it. Which makes things much easier for me.
Dinner is always something more neutral ... like the aloo paratha, methi paratha, pulao, etc. etc.

Though I'd love to follow this trend every single day of the week ... I cannot. But do stick to it most days.
Weekends are not counted.

One vegetable I had never eaten before marraige is the Gawarfali / cluster beans.
In fact it was never cooked at home too. The first time I saw it was when I went vegetable shopping and B picked them up with much enthusiasm.
I had no idea how to prepare it. Result ... a call home.
Mummy patiently explained how to cut it, why we need to boil it first, ... and so on.
End of the day saw a good, new dish on the table that B polished off happily.
I did not touch it. I still don't.
But both B and the in laws agree that I make a decent gawar ki sabzi.
And am happy with that.

Cluster beans should be brought very fresh. So fresh that they should break easily when you snap them.
If dry, they'll neither cook well nor will taste good. In fact, the bitterness is more prominent then.

I make this sabzi exactly the way Ma in law makes it. No changes.

Need :

Fresh gawar / cluster beans - 250 gms, washed and broken into medium sized pieces
Potatoes - 1, chopped
Jeera / cumin seeds - 1 tsp
Hing / asafoetida - 1 pinch
Dhania / coriander powder - 4 tbsp
Red chilli powder - ½ tsp
Haldi / turmeric powder - ½ tsp
Peanuts powder (optional )
Salt - to taste
Oil - 1 tsp

How to :

Take enough water in a bowl. Add salt and the chopped gawar pieces.
Boil uncovered till the gawar is cooked. .
Remove, strain and cool ... this straining helps in getting rid of the slight bitterness the gawar usually has.

When cool, take them in bowl and mix in the haldi powder, the dhania powder, the peanut powder, salt and red chilli powder.

Heat oil in a kadahi.
Add jeera and hing.
Add the potatoes and fry well.
Add a pinch of salt ... just for the potatoes.
Cover and cook till the potatoes are done.

Remove cover and add the gawar.
Give a good stir and cook till everything comes together.
If needed, add a little water.
 Cook well till dryish.
Remove from heat.

 Serve hot with rotis and dal on the side.

I do make another version of the gawar ... will post soon.