Friday, 30 December 2016

Chingri macher Malaikari / Prawns cooked in coconut milk

 Chingri macher malaikari
The year went by at the blink of an eye. Or so it seems.
It has been a quiet year for me. And good too ... in some ways.
I have been able to get back into normal routine after the tremendous loss of the earlier year.
And I have learnt that whatever time we have, we need to make full use of it.
We need to stay happy, do what we want to, follow our heart and accept the fact that life can be a bitch at times.
And can love you at others too.

I do not have this habit of making resolutions.
I have never tried to, ever since I was a young girl.
All that I have done is stay focussed and do what I have to do.
I do not bind myself inside a grid of promises ... even to myself.
All I do is to follow life and deal with whatever it gives me to deal with.

I may have had to make compromises .... and I still have to. But then, there are times when you have to do what you have to do.
There are times when you will not like what you have to do. And it will be very easy to just take another road that will take you away from it.
But again, there is this thing called the need of the hour.
And you know you must do it, in spite of not wanting to do it.
That is called the sense of duty.
That is called maturity ... or the right way to take on life.

So when I have to give up something I like to do, to be able to do something that I don't like to, I tell myself that there will be another day, when I will have all the time to myself.
And I go ahead and do what is the right thing to do. Even if I don't like it.
And believe in my heart that everything is for a good.

Like the last few days have gone not exactly like I wanted to.
The one thing that I find  very difficult to accept is being taken for granted.
And ungratefulness.
Those are things I have had to deal with, from people who go by the name of 'friends'.
So maybe, henceforth, I will do something different ... just so that I do not have to go through this hurt in my heart again.

This year, I had my trip to the US of A ... which was a wonderful thing to happen.
I saw nature's most wonderous creation ... the gorgeous Niagara falls ... and was overwhelmed.
And was thankful to fate for making me so happy in a long time.
prawn malaikari
I do not know what the new year will bring for me.
And neither do I want to.
All I pray for is health and a little happiness.
And a little more understanding and accepting in my life. That I will have the strength not to be affected by negativity ... like I always have.
I can do with a little more emotional security. And some me time.
That's all.
Books, music, knitting, travelling ... I can fit in myself.

A few days back, I had bought some very good prawns as we were having guests over.
But they stayed inside the freezer as the guests preferred to eat out most of the time.
So, yesterday, I took them out, wondering what to cook.
I knew I had do at least one more post before the year ended and wanted it to be a good recipe.
Going through my drafts, I found the same old daily food that my blog is famous for.
So decided to make something really good and celebratory.
Peeked into the fridge and saw a can of coconut milk and voila! I knew what it would be.
Quickly made a coconut and peas pulao for B and then set about cooking this lovely, creamy malaikari ... more for you and the blog than for myself.

My Ma makes a malaikari that used to be very, very subtle in flavours ... the coconut milk played a dominant part. I went through a few recipes on the net and saw they were slightly more richer and wanted to try that way. After tasting this, I can say I love both versions now.
Will post Ma's recipe later someday.

This recipe uses onion paste as well as ginger and garlic paste. I could not make a paste so grated the onion ... you can see the tiny bits in the gravy. Did not make much difference to the flavours.
I use ginger + garlic paste and was worried but the coconut milk immediately resolved all doubts ... imparting that beautiful sweetness and rich, smooth creaminess to the gravy.
Chingri malaikari
So here is the recipe.
Do let me know if you give it a try this new year.

 Need :

Fresh water prawns - 250 gms
Onion paste - 2 tbsp ( I used grated onions but do you the paste )
Ginger + garlic paste - 1 tsp
Turmeric powder - 1 tsp
Whole dry chillies - 2, broken
Whole garam masala - cinnamon, cloves, green cardamom - 2 each, crushed
Bay leaf - 1
Cooking oil - 2 tbsp (I use mustard oil )
Coconut milk - 1 cupful ( I used the thick canned one )
Sugar - to taste
Salt - to taste
Water - half cup
Malaikari ingredients

How to :

Clean, devein and marinate the prawns with turmeric powder and salt.
Chingri macher malaikari

 Heat mustard oil in a kadahi or wok.
Lightly fry the prawns and remove and keep aside.
Do not overcook them.
 Chingri malaikari

In the same oil, add the bay leaf, dry red chillies and the crushed garam masalas.
Then add the onion paste and a little sugar.
Fry well till the rawness goes away.
Then add the ginger garlic paste and fry till oil starts to separate from the sides.
 Now add the fried prawns and mix everything together.
How to make chingri malaikari
 Raise heat, add a little water and bring to a simmer.
Check for salt and adjust according to taste.

Then lower heat and add the coconut milk.
Adjust seasoning again ... the gravy will be a little on the sweeter side,
Cover and simmer for five minutes.
Prawns malaikari recipe
 Remove cover and check for gravy consistency. 
Serve hot.
Chingri macher malaikari
This malaikari goes very well with plain rice or the Bengali mishti polau.


Sunday, 18 December 2016

Mutton Kheema or Minced mutton curry

Mutton kheema
It has been around more than a month that I had fish last. I did not buy any and cleaned out my freezer just before my trip to the Big Apple. Neither did I buy or make any mutton ... which I eat very little anyway. So I was practically on a little chicken here and there.
And now, with being ill with a bad throat, fever and all the other accessories that come along with, I was craving some non vegetarian food.
I longed for spicy, throat tingling food that would rattle my taste buds back to their senses.
Everything seems to taste bland and smell of nothing right now.

But cooking non vegetarian food, especially when you are ill, is no mean feat.
The very thought of washing the stuff under running water made me cringe and I would bundle myself up even more. Not to mention the lack of strength to actually stand and cook.
B was handling the cooking part initially and was doing pretty well when it came to putting some soft, steaming hot khichuri on my plate both times.
But then just one week into my illness, he came down with the same too.
And then, it was milk, bread, biscuits and some bread again ... all the way.

We had to cancel our trip home twice .... and now have given up trying booking tickets again.
Right now, we are focusing on getting well first ....  even before we start to think of making a trip to the cold, cold North India right now.
I have started to cook and have fallen back on my cooking in bulk plans ... which is helping hugely and ensuring that we are getting home cooked meals at least.
When the paracetamol is working, I make dal in bulk and knead atta too.
Also cook rice in bulk and make some vegetable bhaja.So all we have to do during mealtimes is load the plate and warm it in the microwave for a minute.
And we have a plateful of hot, homecooked food in a jiffy.

Now that winter is here in full swing, I am getting desperate to go out and buy fresh vegetables.
This is the time for hot, fresh vegetable parathas ... be it the methi paratha, aloo paratha, gobhi paratha or mooli paratha. Winter dinners have to have the parathas on the plate. Along with home made fresh achars.
But I will wait for a few more days.

Mangshor keema

Last evening, B said "Let's go out for a small drive. "
It was indeed getting suffocating at home ... staying put all these days while the outside rejoiced in the beautiful weather.
So we went out.
It was early evening and the sun was mellow. The trees were turning dark against the orange sun.
The air was crisp when I rolled own the windows for a while.
But the traffic was bad and we decided to turn back. Both of us mentioned at the same time that we ahve seen Pune in the best of times .... when there was almost no four wheeler traffic and zero pollution.
And especially when the outskirts of the city still had those rolling jowar fields and we could see a sunset just by standing on the banks of a river.
All of these are a dream these days .... the way the city has grown into a jungle in just 7 to 10 years.

We turned back and were heading home when B said "Would you like to buy some fish?" I was about to say yes then did not feel like eating fish. So we drove on.
And then, just around the corner, I spied the old mutton shop and immediately felt like eating some hot, soupy mutton jhol and bhaat.
I felt like eating something in a long time, given my taste buds have gone for a long vacation.
So, I went in and bought some good mutton.
And then, visions of the very soothing, warming and soft Mutton Pishpash swam before my eyes.
And I knew that was what I want.
The jhol can wait.

So today I will be having some steaming hot mutton Pish pash for lunch.
And I have this beautiful, spicy Mutton kheema recipe for you.
Beautifully cooked, creamy and spicy, this mutton kheema is the perfect dish for a winter dinner.
Or a lunch too.

I have made it the traditional Bengali way ... with lots of garlic, ginger and whole garam masala.
If you want to make it slightly dryish and pair it with Luchis, you can follow the recipe here.

Mutton keema
Need :

Mutton kheema or minced mutton - 250 gms
Curd - 1 teacup
Onion - 1 medium, chopped
Onion paste - 1 tbsp
Ginger + Garlic paste - 2 tbsp
Turmeric / Haldi powder - 1 tbsp
Red chilli powder - 1 tbsp
Whole garam masala - 2 cloves, 1 small piece cinnamon, 1 black cardamom, 1 bay leaf
Garam masala powder - 1 tsp
Coriander / Dhania powder - 1 tbsp
Salt - to taste
Sugar - 1 tbsp
Cooking oil - 2 tbsp ( I use mustard oil )
Water - for gravy

How  to :

Wash the minced mutton and marinate it with the curd for at least half an hour.
( You can marinate it and then go about preparing the masalas and other things in that time. )

Heat oil in a heavy pan or kadahi.
I use a well seasoned  iron kadahi / wok.

Add the sugar and wait till it changes colour to brown, on low heat.
Add the haldi powder + red chilli powder + the whole garam masalas very quickly.

Add the chopped onion and fry till it turns brown.
Now add the pastes and fry well till dry and oil starts to leave the sides.

Now add the minced mutton and stir and mix well.
Keep stirring and mixing on low heat till everything comes together.

Add salt and a little water and cover.
Cook on low heat till mutton is cooked.
Do check for water in between.

Once the mutton is done, remove cover and cook till all water evaporates.
Add the garam masala powder and cover for around 5 minutes.

Remove cover and serve hot.
Mutton kheema

This goes best with rotis or parathas.
But you can pair it with some crisp, toasted bread too.

A sprinkle of fresh lemon juice and some chopped onions on it, and you are good to go.


Tuesday, 13 December 2016

Moong dal cooked with fresh, seasonal vegetables

( Vegans just skip the ghee )

"Tumi ki ekhono eka bikele, anmoney, amake bhabo ..."

It is almost quarter past one in the night and that is Rupankar singing on shuffle mode into my ears.
There is a quiet all over ... the winter night has settled inside different coloured blankets; snug and warm.
The sky is unusually bright and the stars twinkle brighter than ever.
As I glance out into the night, I see a white layer of smoke on the trees. It is not fog.
Someone, maybe some of the night security guards of the buildings,  must have lit a fire on the streets, to stay warm.

"Akash e shona rong ..."
The song has a summery feel to it.
Reminds me of long gone summer evenings spent at home. I used to love staying up at night, either knitting or embroidering. And almost always, it would be Jagjit Singh crooning away.
Irony .... especially when it is the middle of winter right now.
That is the magic of music I guess ... can easily take you to back to summer evenings filled with balmy, heady breeze or to dark, rainy nights of thunder and storm, when it is actually cold and chilly outside.

Now, I have grown up and ventured into other aspects of music too. Like Bengali music is no longer limited to Rabindra sangeet for me. Or Bengali modern songs do not mean only those albums released during Durga puja.
I do listen to a plethora of other singers and their experiments with different genres.
And have learnt to love all of them.
That is how we grow up I guess. Learn to be patient. Learn to like and love.

Like, I like this very simple vegetarian dish made with just a few vegetables and some lentils.
Fresh, healthy and light on the stomach.

This is actually a cross between the very common Dalma and Moong dal with vegetables.
And it entirely depends on what masalas I have at hand .... as in dry masala powders.
I mostly use just the roasted jeera/cumin powder with a dollop of ghee to dress this. You can go ahead and use garam masala too ... but that might take away the fresh flavours of the roasted dal and the vegetables .... let me warn you.

I also add grated coconut to this for both nutrition as well as the flavour factor.
The fresh coconut adds a sweetness to this ... so no added sugar needed to balance the salt.
I almost never use tomatoes in my cooking ... very rarely if I do ... mainly because I do not like the hybrid fleshy ones that impart no taste at all.

Winter with its bounty of fresh vegetables is the perfect time to make this dal with vegetables.
Full of fibre and nutrition, it is great as a breakfast if paired with Soru Chakli pithe, as a lunch if paired with rice and some papad and achar, and dinner if paired with rotis or parathas.
Not to mention that it takes just a few moments to cook.

Need :

Yellow moong dal - 1 cup
Fresh vegetables - cut into cubes
I used potatoes + cauliflowers + drumsticks + okra + beans
Grated coconut -  ½ cup
Jeera / Cumin seeds - 1 tsp
Whole dry red chillies - 2, broken
Grated ginger - 1 tsp
Roasted jeera/cumin powder - 1 tbsp
Red chilli powder - 1 tsp
Haldi / Turmeric powder - 1 tsp
Ghee - 1 tsp
Salt - to taste
Water - to cook ... around 4 cups
Cooking oil - 1 tbsp , I use mustard oil
Fresh coriander leaves - chopped. for garnish

How to :

In a heavy bottomed pan or kadahi, dry roast the moong dal till it turns aromatic and very slightly brown.
Remove from heat, cool and wash well.

Heat a pressure cooker.

Add the oil.
When smoking hot, lower heat and add the jeera + dry red chillies.

Add the ginger  + the vegetables and stir well.

Add the haldi + red chilli powder + salt + the dal.

Stir and fry well on low heat.

Add the coconut and enough water to cover everything .

Cover and cook for two whistles on low heat.

Remove from heat and cool.
Remove cover and check for consistency. If needed add some more water and bring to a boil.

Check for seasoning and add the ghee.
Cover and let it simmer for a few minutes.

Serve hot with a sprinkle of  roasted jeera powder and fresh coriander leaves.


PS: I am trying my best to compile and write about my trip to the USA in my travel blog, Country Roads,  as regularly as I can. 
I am almost always logged in there ... but it is a huge task shifting through all those photos and going back in memory ... especially when I am down with the sniffles and a sore throat and all the accessories that come along with them, right now.
They have kept me bed bound; but I will be posting my third post very soon.
Till then, do bear with me my friends.

Tuesday, 6 December 2016

Phulkopi Aloo Matar er Ghugni or Cauliflower and Potatoes cooked with dry Peas
Hello! Hello all!!
Hope all of you are doing very well and having a beautiful winter.
I am fine and doing very well, thank you.
And the reason I am sounding so bright is the line I came across on Indiblogger this morning.
"No comments? Every blog has its day. Keep blogging."

I am also smiling because of another trip looming in the horizon. It is still in a slightly swinging phase ... swinging between now or a little later,  ... but I am looking forward to it nonetheless.
I am still very much in zombie zone after that hectic trip to the USA and would have liked to savour some more 'me time' and rest.
But the call of kachoris and jalebis with hot milk on winter mornings, gobhi ke pakode in the evenings and homemade, delicious food and the loving pampering  and a little shopping thrown in, is too tempting to resist.
So I think I am ready to travel. Again. 😋

On another note, I hope you are following me on my travel blog ... Country Roads. I have been trying my best to sit down for a few minutes everyday to rummage through the uncountable photographs to select a few proper ones and edit them so that I can make a post regularly.
Not an easy job, given the loads of pending laundry and getting the house back into shape and resetting the kitchen routine again.
Still, I managed to put up my second post on my trip to New York City in November.
Do hop over to see some wonderful colours of Fall in Central Park.

Today's recipe is one easy jugaadu or 'put together in a hurry' recipe.

I had soaked some dry, white peas to make my usual Ghugni.
I usually cook them in the pressure cooker, where they turn very soft and get that perfect just mushy texture for the Ghugni or to be used as a filling for Phuchka or the Pani Puri.

Yes, I sometimes have Phuchka for dinner.
Home made.
But this time, I had boiled them in an open pot. This way, you can keep an eye on them and can take them out when just done.
I use the just done and firm ones in a lot of vegetable curries or thin jhols.
I was in a hurry the other night as I was knitting something and did not want to stay away from the pattern for too long ... the calculations go all haywire then .
But had to get up to make dinner. And I saw this beautiful cauliflower in the fridge, along with the bowlful of peas, I knew what I was going to do.
Just throw in everything together and voila! a simple, light vegetable dish comes to form.

This dish tastes best when made with fresh cauliflowers during winter.

Need :

Dry white peas - soaked and cooked in water with turmeric and salt
Cauliflower florets - cut into medium sized pieces
Potato - 2, cut into cubes
Grated ginger - 1 tbsp
Garlic paste ( optional ) - 1 tsp
Jeera or Cumin seeds - 1 tsp
Whole dry red chillies - 2, broken
Roasted jeera/cumin powder - 1 tsp
Turmeric or Haldi powder - 1 tsp
Red chilli powder - 1 tsp
Sugar - 1 tsp
Salt - to taste
Oil - 2 tbsp ( I used mustard oil )
Water - depending on the amount of gravy you want
Fresh coriander leaves - chopped
How to :

Heat oil in a heavy kadahi / wok / pan.

Add the jeera + dry red chillies,

On low heat, add the ginger + garlic paste and fry a little.

Add the potatoes + cauliflower pieces.

Mix well and add the turmeric powder + salt.

Give another good mix, raise heat and add the water.

Cover and cook till the potatoes are half done.

Remove cover and check for water.
If needed, add a little more.

Add the boiled peas and the red chilli powder.

Cover and cook till everything is cooked well.

Remove cover and check for water ... cook till it reaches the desired consistency.

Add the jeera powder and sugar.
Cover and cook for some more time.

Remove cover and  sprinkle fresh coriander leaves.
Serve hot.

I kept it a little dryish this time as we were having it with Luchis.
If you are having it with parathas or rotis, then do keep some gravy.

This makes for a wonderful winter dinner.
Pair it with Methi parathas  and some achar for a warm, wintery, weekend tv time dinner.