Wednesday, 30 March 2016

Morala mach er Tauk

Mourala mach er tok
I am not a good patient.
And definitely not one you would want to be around or take care of.

Nobody likes to be ill and illnesses definitely do not bring out the best in you.  I agree to that.
And god knows I have had my share of ailments and more in this lifetime.
And those I have borne with as much courage as I could.
Or as much as a dislocated shoulder, an almost permanently painful hand, painful feet, a weak back and neck, two surgeries, etc. etc. allow me to.
All of them have made me immobile and restricted to the bed for a period of a minimum of three months to a maximum of one and a half years.
I have bore them all ... and the time ... stoically.

But I am not talking of those large scale ones.
I am talking of the small sized ones that are always lurking around the corner of a year and jump on and grab hold of you at the slightest provocation.
Those small sniffles, a little ache here and a little ache there, a little fever today and a little tummy trouble tomorrow ... those little thorns.
They hurt. And they hurt well.
As if they had been waiting all their life to get hold of you, get you down in misery and then revel in the completeness of their existence.

I hate them. With a passion.
And with a reason too.
I turn cranky, restless, want attention, new books, soothing words and everyone around me at all times.
And I want good food.

Growing up, I have seen other children  suffer from all kinds of ailments that only kids are supposed to suffer from. Ear aches, throat pains, tummy troubles, fever, ever present cold and cough, measles, chicken pox ... every thing assigned only for children.

And then I grew up, left home, settle on my own, and started to fall ill every now and then.
I mean I got the measles and mumps long after I got married .... get the drift?
Definitely not at a respectable age for these ailments.
The doctor had asked just one question ... " Didn't you ever go out and play when you were a child?

I am sure them measles were embarrassed too and had turned tail, in around a week.
The mumps were a little more persistent.
The Doc had advised to not even think of phuchkas or chaats .... literally.
Which only made me think of them more, wondering why.
And why it hurt so much every time I thought of them.

Learnt that apparently those impure thoughts would stimulate the already painful salivary glands, making them even more painful.
And I had to live with that torture for a full two months of my adult life!
Morala maach er tauk

And now, I am down with this very painful, very persistent, all consuming, overwhelming, good for nothing , (with all worthy beeps), tonsillitis.

This too is  something that belonged to my siblings ... the whole brood, except me.
I used to join them, when the mothers would line them up on the kitchen verandah for a hot water gargling session on winter nights, at Dadu's place, just to compete who could throw the water farthest.

But right now, I am at my, not only wits but also patience's end.

I feel like looking up at the sky and appeal for a break from the almighty.
Which, of course, I can't.
Because my throat hurts so bad that I can hardly talk. Or whisper.
Because my head hurts so bad due to the high fever that I can hardly move it.

So I just rue.
Because I can't call up Bapi and hear his soothing voice.
Because I can't call Ma and burden her with worry ... not right now.
Because I can't call up Didi anymore.
Because I can't have B around me because this is time a crit sit has to come upfront.
Because I can't wallow in self pity and cry a little because the throat will hurt even more, if constricted ... or made to work in any way.

Because I feel like having a plateful of steaming hot and spicy biryani and have to make do with bread soaked in milk.

Now that I have offloaded my pains on you and Kichu Khonn, I hope tomorrow will be a better day.

Morala mach er ambol

I wasn't too sure of posting a recipe today. But I, anyway, am.
I had bought some fresh Mourala or Morala fish and had planned to do at least three kinds of recipes ... both to be able to eat and make some posts ... since I hardly get fresh Morala regularly.

But the fish was so fresh that I couldn't help munching on them as I fried them. So by the time I realised I had finished almost half of my quarter kilo of fish, I had only a handful left on the plate.
So quickly decided to make the tauk or the sweet ambol.

The ambol or the tauk is eaten at the last in any Bengali meal. Believed to be an  excellent palate cleanser after any rich food as well as an aid to digestion.
And is perfect for summer lunches.

It doesn't take much to make an ambol or tauk.
It usually has a thin gravy and a souring agent and a sweet agent for balance.
Ambols usually are on the sour and salty side while tauks are sour and slightly more sweetish.

This Morala mach er tauk is sour, sweet and slightly spicy from chillies.
, mishti and jhal.

Need :

Fresh Mourala fish
Mustard oil
Mustard seeds
Whole red chillies
Chilli powder
Tamarind pulp

How to :

Marinate the fish with salt + turmeric.
Fry in mustard oil on high heat.
It will turn crisp.
Remove and keep aside.

And restrain yourself from munching on them ... ok, maybe a few but not all.
Mourala maach er ambol

Heat mustard oil.

Add mustard seeds and red chillies.
When the seeds start to splutter, add the tamarind pulp and water.

Raise heat and bring to a boil.

Add sugar, salt and red chilli powder.
Check for taste.

Add the fried fish and lower heat.
Let it simmer for a while.

Serve cooled.
Morala mach er tok
Here is my lunch plate from that day ... bhaat, aloo beans bhaja, aloo and dal sheddho makha and morala mach er tauk.


Tuesday, 29 March 2016

Baingan ka Bharta / Begun er Bhorta

Long weekend, four days of holidays at a stretch and vacation, break and trips are somehow synonymous.
Or so I thought when all I could hear was where are you going or did you get a room finally ... all around me. Or suggestions for places to stay on the outskirts of the city.
Pune does not have any dearth of places to visit or stay or spend a few days ... all within 50 or 60 kms radius. Raise the distance a little more and you will end up in some of the most beautiful beaches in the  country.

I had been wanting to plan a trip but this time B was not too keen. Considering we had just returned from Kolkata and he promptly falling ill, I realised it will take some more time to convince him that the two were not really related.
But what actually held us back was the weather. Pune had been unbelievably hot the past few weeks with the temperature climbing to 39 degrees. And what with its dry climate, romping around in the dry countrysides of Maharashtra was really not tempting enough.
Last year we had been to Mahabaleshwar, a hill staion,  around this time and found it hotter than Pune.
So I hope you get the drift.

And exactly one day into the holidays, the saying "there is a reason for everything" was proven true. For us. For me.
I fell ill with severe tonsillitis... thanks to all that cold water from the fridge, ice creams and sodas ... and high fever.
Today the fever has abated a little, the paracetamol has worked finally, and antibiotics are still on.
And while trying to force gooey stuff  nee food down my throat, I am spending my days dreaming of that Kolhapuri thali or fish thali that I would have been gorging on, had we been to the beach.

And while B has taken over the kitchen, I am making full use of the time to get my hands on the books I had got from Kolkata. Finally!
Since I cannot sit for long and type, I will let the photographs do the talking.
There is nothing much into a Baingan ka bharta actually.
It is a quick and easy dish, one of our most made dishes, usually for winter dinners.
Just roast the brinjal and temper it with some onions and spices. And you are done.

Need :

Big sized yet soft brinjal - 1
( Never buy a brinjal that feels tough, it should always be soft to touch yet heavy )
Mustard oil or any cooking oil - 2 tbsp
Onion - 1 big, chopped
Tomato - 1 big, chopped
Green chilles - chopped
Fresh coriander leaves - chopped
REd chilli powder - 1 tsp
Haldi / Turmeric powder - 1 tsp
Dhaniya / Coriander powder - 1 tbsp
Whole jeera / Cumin seeds - 1 tsp
Salt - to taste
Sugar - to taste

How to :

Apply a little oil on the brinjal and roast it on direct flame, turning it once in a while to cook it well.
Remove , cool, peel and mash with a little salt.

Heat oil in a kadahi.
Add jeera + onions.
Fry on low heat till onions turn translucent.

Add the tomatoes + green chillies and fry till the tomatoes turn soft.

Now add the turmeric + red chillie powder + dhaniya powder.
Mix well.
Now add the mashed brinjal and mix well.
Check for salt and add if needed.
Add a pinch of sugar too.
Fry till everything mixes well and all water dries up.
Sprinkle fresh coriander leaves.

Serve hot with fluffy hot rotis.

Enjoy all !!

Monday, 21 March 2016

Lauki with Kala Chana or Chola ar narkel diye Lau or a Sundal

Narkel chola diye lau

It isn't often that I hurry to make a post on something that I have cooked the same day or the day before. Since I post what I cook for that day's lunch or dinner, I try to click photos quickly, before we finish off the food. Or, in my case, natural daylight disappears.
I then let the photos rest in a folder, waiting for me to get some time out, edit and make a post.
Which is not happening regularly these days. I mean, not the cooking part, but the clicking part.

But this particular dish turned out to be so beautiful that I could not resist posting this almost immediately ... ignoring all the other recipes sitting in my folder.

The days have turned very hot all of a sudden, and it is not even the end of March. The temperature soared to 39 degrees and stayed there for the last two days ... thumbing its nose at us.
We, on our part, went through the rituals of the day huffing and puffing. Pune's dry climate, when combined with heat, can be deadly.
Too much of dehydration, lethargy. The skin starts to dry and burn, even if you are indoors.

And cooking on such days, and eating, seems like punishment.
While my cooking is always on the lighter side, I am at my wits end to make it even more lighter.

Lauki with kala chana
These days I soak a lot of things and keep them handy. Like brown chickpeas, kabuli chana, green moong dal, rajma, etc.
All I need is to soak them overnight and store them in the fridge.
Sometimes I let them sprout a little too.
And just munch on them when hungry. Or throw in a couple of other things like cucumber, lettuce, tomatoes, etc. and make a salad.
The rajma I keep boiled. Makes for a great salad too.

It was one such day when I stood in the kitchen that seemed like an oven at 10 in the morning.
And wondered what to make for lunch.
B had been asking for sambar chawal for a while now. Looked into the freezer  and found some frozen toor dal ( boiled).
And my menu was set.
Grabbed a bunch of vegetables and threw everything together to make a sambar ( I intend to make a post on that too ... some day ).

And then spied half a lauki or bottle gourd in the corner of the vegetable tray in the fridge. Since the Bengali in me cannot have just dal chawal and has to have something on the side ... always, I grabbed the lauki, brought out some soaked and boiled kala chana and tossed them together to make a light side dish.
The tempering of mustard seeds and curry leaves and some grated coconut ( yes, I grate and freeze coconut too ) gave it a South Indian flavour.
Went perfect with my sambar and rice.

The best thing that makes it light and a perfect summer dish is the fact that this is cooked with no oil.
And very little oil is used just for the tempering. Easy on the tummy in these hot days of summer.
Here is how I made it.
Chola diye lau er tarkari
Ingredients for Chola ar Narkel diye Lau :

Lau / Bottle Gourd / Lauki - 2 cups, chopped into small pieces
Kala chana / Black Chickpeas / Kalo Chola - 1 cup, soaked and boiled with a little salt
Grated coconut -  ½ cup
Whole Red Chillies - 2, broken
Mustard seeds or Shorshe dana - 1 tsp
Fresh curry leaves - 7 to 8
Cooking oil - ½ tsp
Salt - to taste
Sugar - to taste

How to cook :

Grind the coconut into a rough paste ( you can use it as is too, but grinding brings out the flavours and the sweetness ).

In a heavy kadahi put in the chopped lauki + boiled chana + coconut + haldi + salt and enough water to cook the lauki.
Cover and cook till the lauki is done.

In another kadahi, heat oil.

Add curry leaves + mustard seeds + whole red chillies.

Add the cooked lauki and simmer till desired consistency.

Check for salt.
Add a pinch sugar too.

Cover and let it stand for 5 minutes.

Remove cover and serve hot or cool.

Bottle gourd sundal

This was our lunch plate. Light and easy.
I had fried some sabudana papadams too.

C'ya all around, folks!

Don't let summer get hold of you.
Drink lots of cooling fluids and stay cool and calm.

And do check out my coolers for summer here.  

Monday, 14 March 2016

Narkel Doi Chicken or Chicken in a coconut milk and curd gravy

Chicken cooked with coconut milk
( Vegetarians can make this with paneer or the cauliflower. )

Like Tuesdays are my vegetable shopping days, Wednesdays are allocated to masala making.
Mondays are usually very hectic, as after the weekend, which I take totally off, fresh batch of cooking and laundry take up almost half the day.
So I make all the  masala pastes on Wednesday.
Most times, it is onions, ginger + garlic, and tomato pastes that I make and freeze in ice trays.
Lasts almost a week or more.
On other times, I make the mustard paste ... that one thing that makes Bengali dishes, especially fish dishes, a class apart, from the usual ones.
I also make the Posto or poppy seed paste for all those Bengali vegetarian meals, especially lunches.

Once a month, I make all the dry, powder masalas too ... like the dhaniya or coriander, jeera or cumin and the garam masala too. And the Bengali bhaja masala.
The dry masalas usually last me a month.
There are some other masalas I make that I would love to share here someday.

Masala paste
Last week I had clicked this photo and so thought of including it to give you an idea.
These pop up ice trays are a big help. Not only they have small sized slots but also getting a cube out is much easier than conventional ice trays.

I had also made this chicken cooked in coconut milk and curd. I could have called this a  Doi chicken too. Only, the quantity of coconut milk is more here ... and hence is more dominant in flavour.
Another very easy and very quick recipe, I rely heavily on it when I have sudden guests. Or for a quick meal.
This curry is very light and has almost no heavy spices. Fragrant with the combination of the cardamom and the coconut milk, its light, soupy gravy is the perfect side dish to any spicy biryani.
You can also enjoy it with naan, parathas or even the Bengali Mishti Polau ... that I had made to go along with it.

Narkel dudh diye chicken

There isn't much to write today.
So let's get on to the recipe for this beautiful chicken curry.

Ingredients needed for Narkel Doi Chicken :

Chicken - ½ kg, medium sized pieces , washed
Coconut milk - I used around 300 ml of thick coconut milk
Curd - around 1 cup, well beaten till smooth
Grated ginger - 1 tsp
Grated garlic - ½ tsp
Choto Elaach or Green cardamom - 3 pieces
Whole dry red chillies - 2, broken
Dalchini or Cinnamon - 2 small pieces
Onion - 1 medium sized, thinly sliced
Fresh green chillies - 2, chopped
Cooking oil - 1 tsp
Ghee - 1 tsp
Salt - to taste
Sugar - to taste
Water - 1 cup
Doi narkel chicken

How to :

Heat oil + ghee in a heavy kadahi.
( You can cook this in a pressure cooker too. )
Add the green cardamom + red chillies + cinnamom or dalchini.

Add the sliced onions and lightly fry them. Do not brown.
Add the ginger + garlic and stir a little and immediately add the chicken.

Stir well and turn the chicken pieces over once.
Add salt and  water.
Cover and simmer for 5 minutes.

Remove cover and add the coconut milk.
Add sugar.
Cover and cook till done.

Remove cover and add the curd.
Mix well and add water if necessary.
Check for seasoning.

Cover and simmer till chicken is done.
Remove from heat and sprinkle chopped green chillies on it.
Cover and let it stand for 5 minutes.

Chicken cooked with curd

Serve hot.

I had made some mishti polau as I had guests.
Will post the recipe next time.

Till then, enjoy!!

PS: Hope you are following my posts on our recent trip to Kolkata, my travel blog.

Kolkata - Day 1

Kolkata - Day 2

Kolkata - Day 3

Tuesday, 8 March 2016

Moong dal with fresh green peas Or Koraishuti diye bhaja muger dal

 The morning started as usual, just as any other week day would.
Today was our 'stock up on green vegetables' day, just as every Tuesday is.
That means a hurried breakfast, a whole hour or more of shopping for vegetables, coming back, doing the dishes and then of course, think about lunch.
And wash, dry and store the vegetables in the fridge.
It was only after I had done the dishes and sat back to rest awhile that I opened facebook and was reminded that it is International Women's' day today.

Big deal.

Yes, that is what I thought.
It makes no difference to me. And I pray that it never does.
Why do we have to get a single day dedicated to us to remind us, or the men, or the world and its cousin and cat that we are special?
Do we need just one day to remind the world that we are beautiful, affectionate, loving, caring,respectable, capable, brave and proud?
Do we need just one day for people to notice our existence?
Do we need just this one day to get pampered and gloat how everyone made you feel like a queen or a princess?

Does celebrating Women's day guarantee that some lady some where does not have go to work and still not worry about what to feed her children for dinner?
Will it mean that some where a little girl will not have to cry of hunger? Or feel unsafe?
Will it mean some frail, old lady will get some love from her family members who usually ignore her presence?

We don't need special days for special treatments.
We want everyone to think of us this way for the rest the days of the year.
We know what we are. And what we are capable of.
We just want the world to know. And accept.

A few flowers, chocolates, cakes, dinner,drinks. These are not celebrating womanhood.
Celebrating womanhood is keeping in mind what a woman wants. And fulfilling it.
A little respect. A little love. Lots of acknowledgement. Lots of trust.
A hug of security.
A smile of sincerity.
A warm heart. A dose of humour to make her smile.
Encouragement. Walking together.
Faith. Belief. Attendance.

All these will celebrate a woman, a girl, an old lady.
Make them smile.
Make them happy.

It is the simplicity in your heart that will win her over.
And make her celebration of being herself even more beautiful.

Just like this simple dal that I made for lunch one day.
Keeping the saga of dal alive on my blog, I wanted to post this too as it turned out to be very flavourful.
I am not happy with the photos, but since fresh green peas have disappeared from the market already, there is no chance that I will be making this dal immediately in the near future.
So decided to make a post anyway.
After all, the recipe is more important.

You can, of course, make this with frozen peas too. Which I plan to, too.
Loved it that much.

Ingredients needed :

Yellow Moong dal - 1 cup
Green peas - ½ cup
Grated ginger - 1 tbsp
Turmeric powder - 1 tsp, or a little less
Jeera / Cumin seeds - 1 tsp
Fresh green chillies - 2, broken
Bay leaves - 2
Cooking oil - 1 tbsp ( I use mustard oil )
Ghee - 1 tsp
Fresh coriander leaves - chopped
Water - to cook ( around 2 cups )

How to cook :

In a heavy bottomed kadahi or pan, pour in the dal and dry roast it on low heat. 
Keep stirring it constantly ... do not let it burn.
When you get that light brown colour and the nutty aroma of roasted dal, remove from flame and cool.

Wash the dal well.

Heat a pressure cooker.
Add oil + jeera + bay leaves + green chillies.
Add the grated ginger and stir a little.

Add the dal and the green peas and stir well.
Add the turmeric + salt.

Add water and ghee.
Close the lid and cook on low heat for 2 whistles.

Remove and sprinkle chopped coriander leaves.

I sprinkled some chilli powder + roasted jeera powder.
But would love to say I loved the plain one better.

The beautiful aroma of roasted moong dal along with the sweetness of fresh green peas complement each other perfectly.
Add a fresh dash of ghee and the flavour will be perfect.

You can also cook the dal separately and the temper it.
I cooked everything together to save time.

Try it with steaming hot rice or soft phulkas hot off the tawa.
I had it with rice.

Here is a look of our lunch plate today.
Simple, homemade, healthy food for the soul.

And here is to every woman in this world.
Go, live it girl!
You rock!

Thursday, 3 March 2016

Rui mach er Jhura - spicing up the plain Rohu
The Mach er Jhura or Maach er Jhuri is an authentic  dish from far away Bangladesh.
Take a piece or pieces of any plain fish , add some beautiful masalas and spices is all that takes.
Also, since it is a jhuri / jhura, the pieces are not kept whole but pulled apart into a mince.
And fried till dryish.

When I was down with my injured hand and shoulder, thankfully long back, I did nothing but watch the telly.  The reason because I was simply not allowed or able to do anything.
It was during this time I watched a lot of regional cookery shows and picked up this recipe from one of them.
Most recipes call for boiling the fish first and then removing the bones.
But I lightly fry it first. The only reason is I cannot stand the smell of boiled fish.

I used to make this Fish Keema  whenever I needed to use it for stuffings.
But in this jhura, I have not used anything chopped but all pastes.
The result is you don't get a bite of onions or green chillies but you do get the flavours.
This Jhuri is spicier and has a good dose of garlic and red chillies.

The macher jhura can be made from any fish, small and big sized.
The small ones can be the Parshe, Pabda, the Loita or even the little Morala mach.
I prefer to use the bigger fish, mainly if using for a stuffing, like the Katla or the Rui or Rohu ... the main reason being I find it very difficult to deal with the smaller and finer bones of the former variety.
Need :

 Rohu fish or Rui mach - a few pieces, lightly fried in mustard oil
Onion paste
Garlic paste
Ginger paste
Green chilli paste
Haldi / Turmeric powder
Red chilli powder
Dhaniya / Coriander powder
Jeera / Cumin powder
Garam masala powder
Mustard oil
Salt - to taste

How to :

Pick the fish pieces for bones.
Keep the shredded meat aside.

Heat oil in a kadahi or wok.

Add the pastes one by one, stirring continiously.

Add the haldi powder and the red chilli powder.
Fry till dryish and oil starts to leave the sides.

Add the dhania and the jeera powder and the shredded fish.
Mix well.

Keep frying on low heat till everything comes together and there is no more moisture left.

Add the garam masala powder and another round of red chilli powder.

Remove from heat but do not keep tightly covered.
This goes great on the side with rice and dal.

I sometimes add some big sized bones to it too ... great to chew on during a meal ... as any Bengali would agree.