Tuesday, 26 April 2016

Pui pata diye Posto Bora / Malabar spinach leaves stuffed with poppy seeds paste

Pui pata diye posto bora
 Ok ... I was so chuffed with that break that I was sure I would be cooking a lot and doing a hundred posts in just a few days.
 Well ... in reality, while I was indeed doing a hundred things a day, making a post was definitely not one of them.
Initially, it was the heat that kept me off the kitchen premises. We survived on salads and snacks and juices and some more salads. No full meals at all.
That gave me a lot of time to catch up on my sewing projects.
As well as the knittings. (Photos coming up soon. )
Yes, I knit wool even in summer.

And then the temperature suddenly fell and Pune was back to being its old self again ... read 23 degrees.
Evenings are very pleasant these days with a beautiful cool breeze that turns a little cold too as the night advances and the temperature reads 17 degrees.
So I am back in the kitchen .... cooking all summery meals of the tauks, a lot of ambols, aamer chaatni and a lot of posto too.

Pui pata diye posto bora
Also, I had that beautiful lot of fresh Malabar spinach or our very favourite Pui shaak that I had to finish. I did not want it to wilt and go to waste as it does stay well in the fridge for long.
So quickly cooked a few good dishes with it ( posts coming up soon ).

I had asked for ideas on my page in fb and Christina Roy had given the idea of stuffing it with a fish and the batter frying it.
I did not have fish at hand.
So decided to use posto instead. And since posto or poppy seeds have a binding quality, I did not use a batter ... which would mean deep frying. Not for this hot weather.
So kept it light and pan fried the leaves.
Since they were fresh, they retained their sweetness and made a good combination with the posto.
Loved every bite.

This is a very easy recipe and does not need a lot of prep too. And gets done in a moment.
I have given step by step photographs for the recipe here.
Do try to make it just before you sit for your meal if you like it hot off the pan.

Now, on to the recipe.

Need :

Fresh Pui leaves - slightly big in size
Posto or Poppy seeds - 4 to 5 tbsp
Onion - 1, chopped
Fresh green chillies - 2, chopped
Salt - to taste
Mustard oil - 2 tbsp

How to make it :

Soak the posto for at least 3 hours. Grind into a paste using very little water.
You can check out the post here . 

Pick, wash and lay out to dry the pui leaves like so. Both sides should dry well and have no water on them.
Pui shaag with posto bora
 Mix the posto onions and the green chillies with the posto and salt well.

 Lay the leaves flat and spoon a little of the posto mixture on them. 
Pui shak er pata with posto bata
 Cover them with another leaf and give a gentle press to hold together.
Pui shaak er pata bhaja
 Heat mustard oil in a flat pan.
Lay the leaves carefully and gently press them with a finger, to set them.
Malabar spinach leaves stuffed with poppy seeds paste
 When the posto starts to hold, carefully turn them over.
Pui pata posto r bora
 Remove and place on a paper napkin to blot out any excess oil. 
Pui pata diye posto bora
Serve hot on the side with rice and dal.

Makes for a great Bengali summer lunch when served with steaming hot rice and the tauker dal.

You can check out my Posto diye Pui shaak too.


Sunday, 17 April 2016

Lauki aur Chana dal ki sabzi or Cholar dal diye Lau

Lauki aur chana dal ki sabzi
I am back from a longish vacation ... or a break, rather .... and ready to make new posts.
B had a business meeting with his team that had come all the way from the US, in Bangalore. And insisted I tag along.
I wasn't too sure at first. But the thought of spending a full week all alone got to me.
Earlier I was never this wimpy kind. But the experiences of the last few months still have not let go of me altogether and I do have difficulties facing some days in whole and others, in part.
Evenings are especially disturbing.

So, I tagged along ... the cost of an extra person in a five star notwithstanding.
And I am so glad I did.
This break did me wonders.
Not only did I get to spend time on my own, with nothing looming in the horizon, but also I got to meet some very fabulous people too.

The people from B's team are wonderful. While I had known about them all the while, I could now put faces and characters to those names finally.
Spent some wonderful evenings with them, after they returned from a hard day's work in this sweltering B'lore heat.

I also got to meet some good friends that I had made while we were staying in Bangalore a few years back. When I was leaving Bangalore the last time, I was very ill. And some of them had helped us in every possible way.
I was so glad I could go back and thank them personally.

Cholar dal diye lau
The bonus was getting to meet my childhood friend after a good 15 years or more.
She had got her daughter along too and it was wonderful catching up with her over an extended lunch of more than 3 hours , about all the time that has passed by and all that has happened in our lives.
Both were surprised at the other's change.
She, the ever delicate and sheltered girl, is now a full fledged business woman, handling her Dad's industry smoothly.And bringing up a child too. But she is just as quiet as she was earlier.
I, on the other hand, have changed and am more talkative and opinionated now.
Not as delicate as before and yes, I have learnt to cross the road and buy stuff from shops on my own.
It was time well spent, laughing at our sheltered childhood.

Another thing that I did was spend some good time, and money of course, at an ayurvedic spa.
Also, I had taken my crochet along. Spend a few lazy afternoons knitting and watching the tv, when it was a roaring 41 degrees outside.

And the cherry on this wonderful cake was getting to buy a bunch of Pui shaak ( the Malabar spinach ) before I left Bangalore.
It is my favourite leafy green and very unfortunately do not get it in Pune. But I knew where I could buy this in Bangalore and had kept the morning of our last day for this.
Since the team had already left, B had that one day for me ... or half the day as we flew back in the evening. So booked a cab, went all the way to HAL market and bought two huge bunches of this glorious green.
So when B's manager said they were glad I had come along and I replied that I was glad too, I knew I was speaking the truth and from my heart. 
This trip has been the best ever, in a very long time.

Now to today's recipe.
I cook the Lauki or the Lau or the bottle gourd with the Chana dal or the Bengal gram in numerous ways.
At times I cook it with the Masoor dal too, in the liquid form. And at times I cook it in the dryish form too.
But my favourite is the slightly dryish variety that can be eaten with both rotis as well as rice.
The Chana dal, when not very cooked and mushy, is great for this kind of dishes.
Well cooked but still retaining its form, it complements the lauki pieces well.

I also cook this combination in two different ways and more. Sometimes the Bengali way, with the Paanch phoron or the Radhuni as the tempering. And the Rajasthani or the North Indian way at other times, with jeera and sometimes hing as the tempering.
And then there are the versions using onion, onion + ginger or even with garlic.
Whatever way, it is one of our favourite vegetarian dishes.

Chane ki dal with lauki

Ingredients needed to cook Chana dal with Lauki :

Chana dal / Bengal gram - 1 cup
Lauki / Lau / Bottle gourd - 1 medium, diced into medium pieces
Jeera / Cumin seeds - 1 tsp
Hing / Asafoetida - a pinch
Haldi / Turmeric powder - 1 tsp + 1 tsp
Mirchi / Red chilli powder - 1 tsp
Dhaniya / Coriander powder - 1½  tbsp
Cooking oil - 1 tbsp
Fresh corainder leaves - chopped
Salt - to taste
Water - to cook the dal
Chilli flakes ( optional )
Lemon - cut into half

How to cook :

Cook the chana dal with 1 tsp haldi + salt + 5 cups of water for 2 whistles on low heat. 
The dal should be just done and not mushy.
Remove and cool.

Heat oil in a kadahi.

Add the jeera + hing.
Add the lauki pieces and toss on medium high heat for a good while.
Add haldi + salt.
Cover and cook till almost done.

Remove cover and add the dal.
Check seasoning. Adjust water.

Cover and boil for some more time.

Remove cover and add dhaniya powder + red chilli powder.
Cover and simmer.

Remove cover, add dhaniya leaves, chilli flakes and  freshly squeezed lemon juice.
Switch off heat and cover and let it stand for five minutes.
I add chopped dhaniya stems too.

Lau diye cholar dal
Keep the consistency as you wish.

Enjoy with roti or rice.

Thursday, 7 April 2016

Shorshe bata diye Rui mach er Kaanta jhaal

Shorshe bata diye rui maach er kaanta jhaal
Almost a week into April and no posts here.
There was nothing to write about. And I was not in a condition to sit and write too.
The days passed by slowly, inundated with mashed food and numerous medicines.
Friends on fb rallied around and gave me numerous options of soft cooked food ... which made my days bearable.

Thankfully I am on the mend now.
Just a little weakness.
To keep myself busy, I fished out a huge lot of left over wool and started a crochet project.
It will take some time, so I will update my other blog with its pictures in leisure.

Also, I finished a dress I was making some time ago.
It was lying half done ... as I couldn't make enough time to sit down and complete it with patience.
Now that it is done ( you can check it out here ), I can't wait to try it out.
Maybe when I go out next. And it is not to the doctor.

Pune is already blistering in this early summer heat.
I can't even start to think of what will happen when it is late April and then May.
With family and friends' increased pressure on us, we finally gave in and brought an air conditioner home. We have always resisted buying one.
Contributing to global warming and carbon footprints has never been on our agenda ever.

And had never actually needed one too,since Pune has such a beautiful weather and we are blessed with a location that is still very green, we had never imagined that we would have to resort to this.
But slowly, the green is disappearing. The little stream near our home is now covered with filth, thanks to a local politician who has encroached upon the land and now has set up numerous hutments.
We have watched haplessly as we saw the beautiful jungle with lots of wildlife and birds disappear before our very eyes.

The kingfishers and herons and the hornbills do not come any more.
(I have some beautiful pictures here, in the earlier posts  .... they are all that I have of the place now).
Other birds hover around, looking for a little water, and cannot find their regular drinking place.
We have set up small pots of water  on our balcony for them.
But that is all we can do.
I hope other people are doing the same.

Rui mach er kaanta jhal
This recipe has been languishing in my folder for almost 2 years, or more.
Why had I not posted it ... I have no idea.
From the pictures, I guess they were clicked in winter. And I do make this quite often.
Yet, had never made a post.
So decided to post this today. And free them from the jail of my 'ToBePosted' folder.

The kaanta (fish bones) jhaal used to be made at my Dadu's house regularly. I think it was Thamma's or my Jethimoni's recipe.
It is made with the big sized fish bones or the bony parts of a big sized Rohu or the Katla.
Mostly the head, the neck and the tail parts are used ... so that the bones are easy to deal with and can be chewed on leisurely ... and yet there would be no fear of any getting stuck in the throat.

I have used parts of the head, tail and some of the bony parts of the peti of a Rohu fish or the Rui mach.
Shorshe Rui jhal
So ... here goes the recipe of how to make Rui mach er kaanta jhal.

Need :

Bony parts of the Rohu fish - around 250 gms, fried with salt + turmeric
Mustard paste - 3 tbsp
Potatoes - 1, medium, sliced into longish pieces
Onion - 1, medium, chopped
Kalo jeere / Nigella seeds - 1 tsp
Green chillies - 2
Mustard oil - 2 tbsp
Turmeric powder - 1 tsp
Salt - to taste
Sugar - to taste
Water - to cook

How to make :

Heat 1 tbsp mustard oil in a kadahi.

Add the kalonji or nigella seeds + green chillies.

Add the onions + potatoes and fry well on high heat.

Cover, low heat and cook till potatoes are done.

Remove cover and add the fish pieces and some water.

Add turmeric powder + mustard paste + salt + sugar.

If needed add some more water.
Mix well.

Cover and cook till everything comes together and mixes well.

Remove cover, give a good mix and pour 1 tbsp of raw mustard oil all over.
Cover and let it stand for 5 minutes.
Serve hot with plain rice.