Friday, 30 May 2014

Khichu with Rice flour / Savoury porridge with Rice flour
 "How to make kechu with 2 cups of rice flour"

This was one of the search lines that  showed up on my blog.
At first, I was intrigued ... thought maybe it meant 'kichu'. But how would anyone make kichu , that too with rice flour?
A query on my fb page also did not yield any result. Except for one blogger friend who mentioned it is "khichu" and a kind of rice porridge. No recipe.
So I called up Mummy, my mother in law.
Being a Rajasthani, she'd surely know.

"Woh hum Saajaa banate hain na beta, bilkul wahi cheez hai. Buss, yeh chawal ke atte se banti hai", she said.
Sajaa!!! Of course!
It has been ages since I made Saja last. So had almost forgotten about it.
But does it have the same ingredients?
"Haan, wahi jeera, hing , mirchaa aur tel".
Hmmm ...

I was not too satisfied. Sounded too easy.
So searched the net. And found two kinds of recipes.
One, with hing, like Mummy said. Another with garlic.
One recipe mentioned boiling the garlic paste. Another mentioned frying it and adding as a tempering before serving.
I know how to make with hing since I am used to making the Sajaa.
So decided on the latter one ... fried garlic being one of my favourite things in food.
That I had run out of hing was just a coincidence.
 The Khichu is made from different kinds of flour like the rice, makke ka atta ( corn meal ), jowar and bajri flour. Some temper it after making it; others temper the oil first and then add the flour to the boiling water.
Both ways are equally good.
The texture is soft and smooth and it has a good hint of spice due to the red chilli powder and green chillies.
I added a little lemon juice and that brought out the flavours all the more.
I also added some baking powder for some softness ... I don't add it when making the sajaa but was unsure of how the rice flour would behave.

This was quick to make and made for a good breakfast, just as the Saajaa does.

Need :

Rice flour - Half cup
Water - 3 cups ( use the same cup )
Garlic - chopped , around 1 tbsp
Red chilli powder - 1 tsp
Soda bi carb - a pinch
Baking powder - ½ tsp
Oil - 4 tbsp
Salt - to taste
Lemon juice - 3 tsp 
Fresh coriander leaves
How to :

Heat around 2 tbsp oil in a pan.
Add the garlic and fry on low heat till it turns just brown.
Turn off heat and add the chopped green chillies. Stir well. 
Keep aside.

Take a deep kadahi or pan.
Pour in the water + red chilli powder + salt + soda bi carb + baking powder + 2 tbsp oil.
Cover and bring to a boil.
Add the lemon juice and boil on low heat for around a minute.
Add the rice flour slowly, stirring all the while.
Mix in the rice flour well, making sure there are no lumps.
Keep stirring till all water is soaked up and the rice flour is well cooked.
Make sure to hold a cover to shield yourself as the paste will tend to bubble up and burst.
It should take around 3 to 4 minutes for the whole thing to cook well and dry up.
You can see the texture of the insde in this photo.

"Sajaa!!! Nana ji banate thhey!"
This was what B said after tasting a spoonful.
And I knew I was on the right track.

Serve the Khichu  hot with a sprinkle of fresh coriander leaves and the fried garlic and a little oil from the same.
Enjoy !!!

Wednesday, 28 May 2014

Rui Maach Bhaja / How to fry Rohu fish
 It happens every year. Year after year. 
And it has happened again.
Every year .... when I'm blogging, I'll discount the numerous days when I'm not ... I see bloggers all over  celebrating their blog's b'day.
They bake awesome cakes.
Or make Biryanis.
Or some such exotic things that I may never get to cook ... much less taste.
They organise events and giveaways.
And the whole blogging world celebrates with them.
Their blog gets good wishes and love. And the blogger gets kudos for being able to keep going for so long ... etc. etc.
And I promise myself ... next year I'll celebrate Kichu Khonn's b'day ... for sure.
I even think up a write and also what I'll cook.
Chicken? No ... it has to be something special. Mutton. Or prawns.
And I'll bake something too.
And sit back smugly ... happy with my scheme.
And watch the year flow by.
And then one fine day I sit up with a jolt. "What date is today??????"
And there it will be ... a date way past the b'day date.
And I'm filled with remorse .... for having let Kichu Khonn down ... all over again.
 This year is no different. I realised yesterday that I've repeated the heinous crime. 
I said a quiet 'sorry'. Kichu Khonn replied a quiet ' it's alright'.
But I still couldn't write a post.
Today, I finally gathered myself and sat down to write a post.

Considering I haven't clicked too many photographs recently, I had to decide on my old photos.
And saw this fried fish photographs.
What pushed me to make a post on this is 3 different emails and a few search lines that I got to see over the past few months.
For a 'new to cooking' Bengali, making the maacher jhol is the first most important test in the kitchen.
But even before that, s/he has to fry the fish first.
And that can be quite a challenge.
Yes, even if you have that non stick kadahi.

A comment said "I tried to make macher jhol but the fish broke when I was frying it. Can you tell me how to fry it properly?"
The emails asked for the same thing ... "Why did the fish break when frying?"
The search lines say " How to fry Rohu fish without breaking"

In all these questions, I heard that plaintive cry many years back .... "Didi, all the fish broke and have stuck to the kadahi. The mess wouldn't come off and the kadahi is all brown  .... what do I do?"

I had my cousin to my rescue. Many people turn to the internet for help.
Something that most of us take for granted can be extremely complicated for newbies in the kitchen.
Hence, this post is for all those struggling to fry the Rohu or the Katla fish  to make that jhol or kalia.

If you are buying the fish ... keep the following in mind.

Firstly, something that I've always said in my answers , the fish has to be fresh.
I mean as fresh as a frozen fish can be since we do not get freshly caught fish these days.
So, to get an idea on how fresh a fish is ... always look at the eye of the fish.
It should be bright and not dull / pale and whitish in colour.
Secondly ... the body of the fish should be firm. When pressed with a finger, it should not get a dimple.
Thirdly ... when cut, there should be enough blood. Sounds gross ... but that is the best way to know if a fish is fresh or not.

Get the fish cut into your preferred pieces ... the peti or the gada.

The peti has thicker and less bones that are easy to pick.
It is usually used in simple jhols/curries. Children usually get this piece on their plates as it is easy to deal with.

The gada will have finer and more bones. 
It is mostly used in jhaals, kalias ... the spicy dishes that usually are not served to very small children.
It is also used in jhols.
Or into plain rings like my photos show, which will have a combination of both the peti and gada parts.

Now to the frying part.

Need :

Pieces of the Rohu or Kaatla fish - cut and washed well
Turmeric powder
Mustard oil
Lemon juice (optional ... but helps in reducing the smell of raw fish)

How to :

Marinate the fish pieces with the salt, turmeric and lemon juice and keep aside.
Do not keep the marinated fish for more than half an hour ... maximum of an hour.
If needed to keep longer, keep it in the refrigerator.

Take a heavy bottomed kadahi ... preferably a cast iron one.
Many would prefer to use a non stick one ... no problem with that.
 I use a flat bottomed non stick pan to reheat the already fried pieces.

Sit the kadahi on low flame and heat it well.
 Now add around 5 tbsp of mustard oil and spread it all over with the help of a spatula.
The sides of the inside of the kadahi should get coated well with the oil.
(Do not use a wooden spatula ... a steel one works best with an iron kadahi).

On low heat, let the oil heat till you can smoke from it.
With the spatula, gently smear the heated oil on the sides on the inside of the kadahi  again.
Now the kadahi is properly seasoned and will work as a non stick.

Now raise heat.
Holding a cover with one hand ready, pick a piece of the marinated fish and gently slide it into the hot oil and immediately cover it.
Be very careful ... the hot oil will splutter ... so use the cover to shield yourself.

Do not add more than 2 or 3 pieces at a time .... the fish will stick to each other and will be very difficult to separate and turn them later.

Now raise heat and let it fry for around 2 minutes.

Lower heat, remove cover and very carefully and gently turn the pieces over.
Cover and let it cook for 2 more minutes.

Remove cover, raise heat to medium and  gently bring one piece to the side of the kadahi and hold for a while for the extra oil to drain.
Remove all the pieces likewise and keep on aside.

For the next batch, let the remaining oil heat a little more. Or if you need you can add more oil.
Remove any leftover residue from the first batch with the spatula .... the oil should be debri free.
Continue in the same way for the rest of the fish pieces.

If you want a crispy fry to eat as a plain bhaja, you can keep the fish in the kadahi for some more time after removing the cover ... till one side turns dark brown. Turn it over and brown the other side too.

When frying the mudo / muro / fish head, be extra careful as it will splutter a lot.
Keep it covered when frying, at all times.
Fry the inside part lightly so as not to burn the soft meat.

You can fry small fish also the same way.
So here's the Maach bhaja ... hope this helps all of you who have been struggling to make it. 

Use the fried pieces to make a plain jhol, the kalia jhol or the jhaal.
( Recipe links at the bottom of this post.)

Or eat it  plain as a side with rice and dal.

I love it crispy and fresh off the kadahi with some onions and green chillies.

And thank you everybody for staying with Kichu Khonn and for your encouragement and love.
Thank you everybody who care to take time and leave comments here.
Also a thank you to those who don't, yet have landed on my blog and found it useful.

A special thanks to all my blogger friends who have stood by me and Kichu Khonn ... through thick and thin. It is for you that Kichu Khonn gets to see a b'day every year.
Thank you all!!!

Here's a list of Macher jhol or Macher jhal that you can make with this fried fish 

Rui macher kalia jhol 

Rui macher patla jhol 

Rui macher jhol dhone pata ar winter er sobji diye

Shorshe Rui  / Rui macher jhaal

Shorshe Katla bhaape 

Thursday, 22 May 2014

Saunf Paneer / Fennel seeds powder flavoured pieces of cottage cheese
 The sky has stayed glum for the last 6 days. Or more.
Like a child denied its favourite toy.
Like a young girl just rebuked.
Like a heavy heart that doesn't burst. Yet wants to.
Like tears threatening to spill. Yet don't.
The sky stays grey. Still. Sad.
Rain threatening to spill. Yet doesn't.
Not even a light breeze is allowed.

 It's glumness spills over to us below.
It gets difficult to breathe in this hot  humid.
We keep looking up at the sky, hoping for a break.
Maybe the clouds will part and the sun will smile through.
No luck.

Our cool and breezy hilly city has turned into a serious, brooding and stuffy place to be ... the last few days.
There is the smell of rain in the air.
But no relief.
It is as if someone has put a dome over the whole city .... blocking out sunlight as well as free flowing air.

So we wait.
For the dull clouds to disperse.
To let in some sunshine and air.
To let us breathe again.

Lately, I've been trying out a lot of recipes from other blogs and blogger friends.
While not all have been clicked and presented, every one of them have been enjoyed immensely.
Trying out others' recipes brings a much needed change.
The ingredients are different, the temperings will be different, the way of cooking will be different.
And the whole dish will be different.
This change is hugely welcome to me ... I'm tired of my own way of cooking.
It is almost like someone else has cooked for me with love.

I recently tried Soma's wonderfully simple but full of flavours recipe of Paneer in fennel flavoured tomato sauce. 
 Personally, I'm not a huge fan of paneer. But if I have good paneer, I love to try simple recipes so that the freshness of the paneer does not get smothered by overwhelming masalas.

I loved Soma's recipe so much that I got another block of paneer the same week and made it again.
We had guests and everyone of them wiped their plates clean ... this gravy is so delicious.
And yes, they smacked their lips too. :-)

 I had made a few changes in the recipe to suit the availability of ingredients in my pantry ... like I used peanuts powder instead of almond; I did not have ginger powder, etc.
So I am giving the recipe here.
The original recipe is here.

The best thing about this recipe is it is a no onion garlic recipe.
Fuss free.
Need :

Paneer pieces - 10 to 12, make sure you use fresh paneer
Fennel seeds powder - 3 tbsp
Peanuts powder - 5 tbsp
Grated tomato - 2 medium sized cups 
Green cardamom - 2
Cinnamon - 2 small pieces
Black pepper powder - to taste
Red chilli powder - 1 tsp
Turmeric powder - ½ tsp
Cooking oil - 2 tbsp
Ghee - 1 tbsp
Sugar - ½ tsp
Salt - to taste
Water - as needed

How to :

Heat oil.
Let in the green cardamom (make sure you break them first ... or they will splutter real bad)
and the cinnamon.
Add the grated tomato and fry for a while.
When it starts to lose its rawness and the extra water, add the fennel powder, black pepper powder, turmeric powder and the red chilli powder.
Fry well till all moisture dries up.
Add around a cupful of water, salt and sugar.
Cover and simmer for a while.
Remove cover and add in the peanut powder.
Add some more water - remember to check on the salt every time you add water.

Let in the paneer pieces and give a gentle stir for them to get coated properly with the masala.
Cover and simmer for some more time.

Remove cover and check the thickness of the gravy.
Sprinkle the ghee on it and cover.
Remove from heat.

Serve hot with rotis.
Absolutely divine ... this one dish is.

Have you tried to make Paneer cubes at home ?
The recipe is here. 

Have you tried to make my very quick Paneer Butter Masala yet?
The recipe is here.

Do try .... and don't forget to let me know how you liked it. :-)

Tuesday, 13 May 2014

Mushroom Pulao
Hope summer is treating you well in your part of the world.
In my city, summer, as usual, is pleasant.
A day or two would be uncomfortable but that is all.
Just when you think you can't take it any more, there will be a cooling shower and a wonderfully cool breeze and all will be well for the next whole week. Or more.
These days, the evenings are pleasantly cold. And yes, I don't need the fan running beyond the point 2.
Spent a good part of last evening, that extended into late night, sitting in the swing on the balcony ... loving the quiet all around, the moonlight and of course, the cold breeze.
Got up only when I could not deal with the goosebumps any more.
Hope all of you get some respite from this scorching summer soon.

 It has been more than a month now since my last post. I really don't have a reason why I did not make a single post, considering I have a good number of clicked, edited and ready photographs in my folder.
Maybe it is the weather; maybe it is the lack of a little enthusiasm to actually sit down and type down my thoughts.
Making a post for me means I need to write something too. Even if it is a food blog. Even if it is about a food recipe.
I need to write my mind. And my heart.

Even if I do know that there is no pressure from anywhere or anybody to make a post, I have realised that it is a very easy way out. So, right now, I have psyched myself to be under pressure from Indiblogger's rank.
It is that 80 that keeps me going. Kichu Khonn has seen an 82 and an 84 as well as an 87 too.
But that was too long back.
Right now I need all the incentive to keep Kichu Khonn going.
Of course, I have the highest respect and gratefulness for all my readers' visits and mail ... prodding me about the next new post.
What with my limited allowance of computer usage time due to various reasons and the constant ill will that plagiarists create, I really need all the mojo I can ... from anywhere; anybody.
 So this ranking of Indiblogger is pushing me. It is like going back to school. That same self created pressure to hang on to for life ... that figure of 8. Scoring anything after 80 was my only aim.
It never mattered that I never scored a 90 ever ... except for once in Map reading in Geography.  I became a big fan of map reading then. But only for a while.
I quickly realised that it will not get me my 80s every time ... and was happy to return the position of my favourite subject to English literature and language. And slept well after that.

Life does not give me marks for any achievements now ... big or small.
So when I see that 80 on my side bar, I heave a sigh of relief. And gear up to make that next post ... lest it comes a point down.

I make this Mushroom pulao very often. A quick one pot meal, it not only saves time but also is one of those rare vegetarian dishes that I love. Works perfectly for both of us.
I pair this with the raita sometimes, a salad or a freshly grated cucumber koshimbir at other times.
But if it  is summer, I always pair it with this ripe mango salsa ... or you can call it a salad too.

It is the perfect foil to the spiciness of the pulao. Yes, I make it a little spicy and loaded with garam masalas ... one of those rare recipes of mine.
 You can of course tone down the masalas and the spice.
Need :

For the pulao :

Mushrooms - 1 cup packed, cleaned and quartered
Rice - 1 cup ... use the same cup , washed well
Onions - 3 medium sized, sliced
Ginger paste - 1 tbsp
Garlic paste - 1 tsp
Tomato paste - 3 tbsp
Whole garam masala - cloves, cinnamon,  cardamom , whole black pepper
Turmeric powder - ½ tsp
Red chilli powder - 1 tsp
Garam masala powder  or  biryani masala - 1 tsp
Cooking oil - 4 tbsp
Salt - to taste
Sugar - to taste
Water - 2 cups
Ghee - 1 tbsp

How to :

Heat around 1 tsp oil in an open pan. Add the mushrooms and saute till all the water it releases dries up.

Heat another small kadahi or pan and add around 3 tbsp oil.
Add the sliced onions and let them fry on low heat till they are caramelised and turn brown in colour.
( You can deep fry them too ... but I avoid due to all that oil needed. )
Remove from the pan and spread on a paper napkin to soak up the excess oil.

In another pan or a heavy kadahi, heat the remaining oil.
Add the whole garam masalas.
When they start to splutter, add the garlic and ginger paste and fry well.
Next add the tomato paste, the turmeric powder, red chilli powder.
Keep stirring till the tomato loses its raw smell.
Add the rice and fry well along with the masala.
Now add the fried mushroom, the garam masala or biryani masala and give a good stir.
Add the water, salt and sugar.
Cover and cook till rice is done .... do check in between and add some more water if needed.

Remove from heat, sprinkle the ghee, cover and let it rest for 5 minutes.

For the ripe mango salsa :

Chop up some ripe mango, onion, tomato, green chillies.
You can add other things of your choice too.
Sprinkle some salt, sugar, lemon juice and give a good toss. Chill in the refrigerator.
I have used broken Basmati rice since I had it at hand.
It lends a sticky texture to the pulao.
If you want a fluffy, dryish  pulao, with each rice grain separate, do use the long grained Basmati rice.

Serve your spicy mushroom pulao hot, with the sweet tasting fried onions sprinkled on top ....with the soothingly cold salsa on the side.
A quick dish and always a huge help when you have sudden guests and want to stay for a meal.
 Enjoy !!

Do check out the other varieties of the Pulao on Kichu Khonn ... both vegetarian and non vegetarian. 

Cheerio all!!!