Monday, 29 January 2018

Narkel Doi Jhinge / Ridge gourd cooked with curd and coconut milk

Narkel doi jhinge
 Winter sure is in love with us this year. Just a day after I mentioned how hot the days already are, the weather took a turn and it was cold again.
I lived in denial for a couple of days, refusing to wear anything warm, especially in the mornings, but gave up soon. The mornings are all misty and cold, the evenings are chilly and the nights ... boy! are the nights cold!
I do not like cold weather and so reluctantly pulled out my comforters again ... all washed and prepped  to be packed away for the year .... and also the blankets.
And now I am shuffling around in my warm slippers.
So much for the warm weather.
Narkel doi jhinge
 The long weekend passed by in a blur.
After catching the Republic day parade on the telly ... a ritual I never miss unless there is an emergency ... , we set off to paint the town red, after a lunch of leftovers.
All I had in mind for the three days was shopping .... for myself, for B and for the house.
Pune is all out enjoying winter and the weather ... there are lots of exhibitions, flea markets and sales on.
So shopping I did.
Refurbished my kitchen shelves with modular boxes ... something I have been planning to for a longish while.
Am very happy the way kitchen shelves look now. No more space wasting with round bottles.
And my glass bottles are now free for my spices.

Just before the weekend started, I cooked this light, flavourful curry after seeing it on thegutlessfoodie's post on Instagram.
I am a fan of her food, photography and recipes.
And along with a lot of other recipes that I intend to try out, this particular curry had caught my eyes long back.
All that I was waiting for was some good ridge gourd / turai.
And as soon as B got some when shopping for vegetables, I immediately made this curry.
I followed Natasha's recipe fully except for the coconut part ... I did not have coconut at home but there was a pack of coconut cream in the fridge.
I used that.

This is such a beautifully light and flavorsome curry that you will love to have on any season.
But I think this has 'summer' written all over it.
Do give it a try and let me know.
Not a big fan of the ridge gourd / jhinge / turai, I am a convert now, after tasting this curry.

Ridge gourd in coconut milk

Need :

Turai / Ridge gourd / Jhinge - 2, medium, chopped
Thick curd - 1 tea cup
Coconut cream - 6 tbsp
Onion - 1 medium, chopped
Green chillies - 2 big
Curry leaves - 5 to 6
Whole dry red chillies - 1, broken
Roasted jeera/cumin powder - 1 tsp
Mustard seeds - 1 tsp
Jeera / Cumin seeds - 1 tsp
Turmeric powder - 1 tsp or a little less
Salt - to taste
Cooking oil - 1 tsp
Water - enough to cook in

How to :

Make a paste with the curd + green chillies + roasted cumin powder.

Heat oil.

Add the mustard seeds + cumin seeds + curry leaves + dry red chillies.

Add the onions and fry till translucent.

Add the chopped turai / ridge gourd + turmeric + salt.

Add a little water, cover and cook till done.

Switch off gas, remove cover and let in the paste + coconut cream .... stirring constantly .... or it will curdle.

Serve hot.
This goes best with steaming hot rice but you try it with other things too.

Narkel doi jhinge

While had it with roti and other sides, I had made my quick Chicken Pulao with some leftover chicken curry that I had ( you will find it in my Instagram stories. )
And it went very well with it ... almost like a cooling raita ... the perfect complement to the spicy pulao.


Tuesday, 23 January 2018

Lau diye bhaja Muger dal / Roasted Moong dal cooked with Bottle Gourd

Lau diye dal
Today is Shitala Shasti, a day after Vasant Panchami or Saraswati Puja.
And today is the day that sets the approach of spring and summer ... read warmer seasons.
And so, today things that are cooling to the body and the digestive system are eaten .... usually cooked the night before and cooled and eaten today.
In preparation for the hot summer, today is the day when we switch from dense foods ... read winter vegetables to water laden and cooling summer vegetables.
My mother in law has a beautiful local rhyme that names the vegetables to be eaten on different seasons .... and for summer it is the bottle gourd, pumpkins, cucumber .... and so on.

I try to follow it as much as I can.
So, while I do not have a Gota Sheddho ( vegetables boiled whole, cooled and eaten today ) to post today, I do have this very light dal made with the bottle gourd for a light, cooling lunch or dinner.

Lau diye bhaja muger dal
As far as sheddhos / boiled things are concerned, I eat them throughout the year as you will know if you check out my mashes / makhas.
Even dals / lentils .... I like them plain boiled with just a little turmeric and very little salt.

This dal is very quick to make. And if you have roasted the moong dal and stored it, then it is even quicker.

Need :

Yellow mung dal - 1 cup
Lau / Lauki / Bottle gourd - 1 medium, chopped
Grated coconut - 5 tbsp ( optional )
Grated ginger - 1 tsp
Whole dry red chillies - 2, broken
Tej pata / Bay leaf - 1
Roasted Jeera/ Cumin powder - 1 tbsp
Red chilli powder - 1 tsp
Haldi / Turmeric powder - 1 tsp
Mustard oil - 1 tbsp Salt - to taste
Sugar - a pinch
Ghee - 1 tsp ( skip if you are vegan )
Water - 2 cups and a little more

How to :

In a heavy bottomed pan, dry roast the mung dal, on low heat, till aromatic and has a few specks of brown here and there.
Do not burn.

Heat the mustard oil in a pressure cooker.

Add jeera + dry red chilli + bay leaf + grated ginger.

Add the chopped lau / bottle gourd and stir well.

Add the moong dal and stir well.

Add haldi + mirchi powder + roasted jeera powder + coconut.

Add salt + sugar.

Add water and pressure cook for two whistles.

Lau diye bhaja muger dal
Serve with a dollop of ghee and sprinkled roasted jeera powder + red chilli powder on top.

This goes great with rice as  well as rotis.


Sunday, 21 January 2018

Kachkolar chop / Batter fried raw banana

 Kachkolar chop

 And winter is gone! 
Just like that. One fine morning I wake up very early and do not feel like snuggling back into my soft, light yet very very warm razai, which are always a part of my shopping expeditions in Jaipur, any more. Instead I want to step out into the balcony to get some fresh air.
Which I do.
And was struck at the change in the air .... it was no longer chilly. Just a light cool.
And then, as the day progressed, I could feel the sun turning hotter and hotter.

It was just a day after Makar Sankaranti. Technically, it should still be very cold.
Instead, the days are turning more warm.
In fact the afternoons are so hot that all I want is some cooling Paanto bhaat for lunch.
I frantically went ahead and made some Mushur dal er bori as I was already out of stock and did not get any time to make them this winter.
Can't imagine a full year go by without a little bori on my plate.

And a couple of achars too.
I get the full sun all day through my big bay windows ... but only in the winter ... when the sun shifts south. Once it is Uttarayan, the sun quickly moves up north and I won't get any direct sunlight any more.
Boris need the soft warmth of the winter sun to dry slowly.
Hence my hurry.
Today I have soaked some Urad dal to make some spicy boris.
After this batch, am all set for the summer and the upcoming monsoons with enough bori in my pantry.

You can check out my recipes using the bori / vadi here

Kachkolar chop
 But this post is not about the bori.

Inspite of falling and staying ill for the larger part of winter this year, I did manage to rustle up some quick snacks .... more for myself to revive my bland taste buds than for anybody else.
A few I managed to click ...
among which was the Kaachkolar chop that I made one day.
The ones that were made in the evening did not see the light of the day.

I had boiled and stored some raw bananas .... I do that when I get them in bulk and to stop them from ripening and turning soft ... along with some boiled potatoes.
So one day, when I had skipped lunch and was very hungry by late afternoon, I made some spicy chops to perk me up.

While usual Bengali chops are usually coated with bread crumbs and then deep fried, I often coat them with besan/gram flour batter... thanks to my growing up in Odisha.
The chops there, like the Aloo chop or the Mutton chop are always coated with a thick batter of besan. I love the crisp outside and the soft, spongy inside of the coating before reaching the spicy filling inside.

Kachkolar chop

Here is how you go about it.
If you have the raw banana and the potatoes already boiled and stored, it will be a breeze and won't take much time at all.

Need :

Raw banana - 2, boiled and peeled
Potato - 1, boiled and peeled
Onion - 1, chopped
Green chillies - 2, chopped
Ginger - chopped, 1 tsp
Roasted jeera/cumin powder - 1 tsp
Red chilli powder - 1 tsp
Amchur powder - ½ tsp
Coriander leaves - chopped
Salt - to taste
Sugar - a pinch
Oil - to deep fry

For the batter -

Besan / Gram flour - 6 tbsp
Cooking soda powder - a pinch
Salt - to taste
Water - to make a batter 

How to :

Add a little water at a time to the besan + soda + salt to make a very thick batter.

Mash the raw banana and the potatoes with everything except the oil.

Make small balls and roll them smooth.

Heat oil.

Take the balls, dip into the batter and carefully let in to the oil.

Let it fry on low heat till it turns golden brown.

Remove and place on paper napkins to drain excess oil.

Kachkolar chop
Serve with your favourite dip or ketchup.

I paired them with some crisp muri / puffed rice tossed with a dash of mustard oil and some spicy chanachur.
And of course, there was ada chaa / ginger tea on the side.

And as I sat in the warmth of the late afternoon sun that winter day, munching on the muri, with a bite of the hot chop, memories of winters back home came flooding back.
And I gave in.
Let them wash over me as I regaled B with all those stories from my childhood winters spent with my cousins in Dadu's huge home and even huger chaad / roof terrace.
Of hot evening snacks being made in the kitchen for the uncles who would soon return from office.
Of Thamma calling out to a house help to hurry.
Of us squealing, screaming, laughing as we run all about the house, from the roof to the uthon in no time.
Of Dadu's indulgent smile as he watched us kids rushing pell mell all over. 
Of the wonderful smells wafting all over the dining room.
Of a kakima calling out to us to wear our sweater and scarves before evening set in.
Of the sun turning huge and red before dipping behind the eucalyptus trees.
Of one of the happiest childhoods one can have.

Kachkolar chop


Monday, 15 January 2018

Egg stuffed sandwich

Egg sandwich
 Or not.
Technically, I mean.
A proper egg sandwich will have boiled eggs. With or without spices.
Like my Ma makes.
But not me. I make my egg sandwiches with already cooked eggs.
And sometimes I stuff parathas with them too. Complete with whatever I want in them ... vegetables, spices, etc. etc.
And then again, there is the real Dim porota or Egg parathas.

But these sandwiches I make are to bring back those days when I was very new in the kitchen.
We had just moved into our flat after our marraige and the lady staying in the flat in front of us was a half Parsi.
She would make all kinds of good food and share with me.
Most days, we would have breakfast and lunch together. Lunch would be leftovers ... both of us would clean out our fridge.
But breakfasts on some days, we would make together.
Some days she would make the eggs and I would have bread and vice versa.
The tea, some days she would make and on some days I. 
And we would sit out on our big terraces and enjoy the food as well as each other's company.

It was she who made these sandwiches and I fell in love with them.
While she kept the eggs half cooked and with just freshly ground black pepper, I love to add vegetables and green chillies to mine.
And a dash of garam masala for the man.
These sandwiches are extra crisp and golden on the outside and soft inside.
I make them often, reminiscing the old days.
These make great snacks too on a winter evening or on a rainy day.

Egg sandwich
 Need :

Freshly ground black pepper
Chopped Vegetables of your choice ( I used green peas, sweet corn and carrots )
Chopped Onion
Chopped Green chillies

How to :

Heat a little butter in a pan.

Add the onion + chillies. Fry till onions turn translucent.

Add the vegetables, salt and black pepper.

Add the eggs and fry well.

Remove and cool.

Take sandwich bread and apply butter on both sides.

Place them on the sandwich maker and put some of the scrambled egg in it.

Place another bread on it and close.

Toast till golden brown on the top.

Egg sandwich
Serve hot with ketchup or any dip.

If you do not have a sandwich maker, you can toast it on a flat pan too.
Keep something heavy on the sandwiches and they will easily turn crisp and golden.

Enjoy with your favourite cuppa tea or coffee or even hot chocolate!!

Thursday, 11 January 2018

Rohu fish curry with winter vegetables and raw papaya

"When I woke up after a week of high fever and a very bad throat infection, I realised that not only has the first day of the brand new year has passed by but also a whole week has gone by.
So like a good Bong I stepped into the kitchen to rustle up a maacher jhol / fish curry,to drown my sorrows in.
The good thing about this jhol is it is light, soupy and very nutritious with a whole gamut of winter vegetables thrown in.
And a sprinkle of fresh coriander leaves to add to that wintery feel,since back home we add coriander leaves to curries only during winters... when they are available abundantly.
The fish is a fresh water Rohu / Rui.
And the vegetables are green papaya, cauliflower,green peas and the favourite of all Bengalis ... potatoes.
I added a squirt of fresh lemon juice to spike up the taste level to suit my bland taste buds.
Comfort food at its best .... to warm a winter afternoon and to soothe a medicine battered soul."

 This is what I wrote on my Insta post as well as on my FB page along with the photo of my still steaming hot rui maacher jhol, that I cooked for myself this afternoon.
And then decided to make a post of it too.
After all, it is well into two weeks of the new year and I have not been able to drop in here ... not even to wish you all a happy new year.
So here I am, writing about what I can happily say the most soothing maacher jhol I have ever made.

Since I am still too weak to stand for long in the kitchen, I decided to add a good number of fresh vegetables to the curry .... so that I don't have to make different bhajas or side dishes.
To make the jhol more nutritious and to break down the protein for good digestion, I added raw papaya to it. Since I am not too fond of raw papaya, but do include it in my meals, I keep trying to find ways to slip it into dishes.
And since this jhol had all of my favourite vegetables, I did not mind a few pieces of papaya in it.

So here goes the recipe for this super light maacher jhol.
And you need not be ill to relish it.
Try it while you still get fresh winter vegetables in the market ... especially those sweet cauliflowers and green peas.

macher jhol

 Need :

Rohu fish - 4 pieces, fried ( refer here on how to fry them )
Ginger + garlic paste - 1 tbsp ( I had frozen cubes and used two )
Onion - 1 medium, chopped
Potato - 1 medium, sliced
Cauliflower - a few florets
Fresh green peas - as much as you want
Raw papaya - 2 big slices, chopped
Fresh coriander leaves - chopped
Green cardamom - 2, crushed
Dry red chillies - 2, broken
Haldi / Turmeric powder - 1 tbsp
Garam masala powder - 1 tsp
Red chilli powder - 1 tbsp
Salt - to taste
Sugar - to taste
Mustard oil - 1 tbsp
Water - for gravy

 How to :

Heat the oil in a heavy kadahi / wok.

Add the crushed cardamom + red chillies.

Add the chopped onions and fry till almost brown.

Add the ginger garlic paste + haldi powder + red chilli powder + sugar.

Fry well till oil starts to leave the sides.

Add the vegetables and mix well.

Raise heat and add the water.

When it starts to boil add the salt, cover and cook till the vegetables are done.

Remove cover and add the fish pieces.

Add more water if needed and check for salt.

Add the garam masala and cover.

Simmer for 5 to 10 minutes.

Remove cover and sprinkle the coriander leaves.

rui macher jhol
Serve hot with plain rice.

Enjoy all the goodness in one plate!!

Wishing you all a very happy new year 2018!