Saturday, 30 November 2013

Rui Macher Jhol with winter vegetables .... and Dhone paata

Bad photos; good recipe.

The addition of fresh coriander leaves to a dish always brings a wave of nostalgia.It reminds me of winter.
Winters of my chilhood. When the morning ritual of buying fresh vegetables was happily taken up by the men of the family ... which was otherwise only another daily chore and most of the times passed on to the helping hands in the house ... at least during the rest of the months of the year.
Except of course the Ilish buying season. 

As soon as the big, fat, cloth bag was set down on the verandah in front of the kitchen, it would promptly fall on its face and fresh carrots, radishes, cauliflowers, spinach, green peas etc. would tumble out.
Thamma would pick and check every vegetable and discuss the quality and price ... turning a cabbage around, breaking a carrot with a snap or shelling a pea and munching on the pods to check for sweetness.

And among all these will be a big bunch of the coriander leaf. Or the Dhone pata.

The addition of the dhone paata would mean winter has arrived ... officially.
We would find the leaves added to almost every dish then.
Sometimes floating on the dals; sometimes mashed into the Aloo bhate ( boiled potato mash)  or the Begun pora (roasted brinjal mash ).
Salads would have liberal sprinkles of it.
A chutney was also made of it.
And sometimes was added to the jhols ... especially the Maacher jhol.

 The freshness and the distinct flavour of the leaves gives every dish a different level.
While I personally am not very fond of this particular leaf, I do add it to dishes and have marveled at the different outcomes.
When added to a dish that banks heavily on just ginger, the outcome is awesome.
Add it to a simple dal and enjoy a whole new flavour. I sometimes cook the leaves along with the dals instead of just sprinkling them as garnish ... the taste has always been different ... depending on the temperings ... and wonderfully flavourful.

I have been cooking fish a lot less lately than I did earlier. And right now I do not even remember when I had cooked fish last. But looking through the photographs, I found a few that I had clicked in a hurry the last time I had cooked the Rohu fish with vegetables.
Since winter is now here and the veggies are fresh and easily available, I thought I might as well make a post. The photos do not do justice .... the dish was much better.

This recipe has the onion+ginger+garlic paste ... very rare in my dishes.
If you want to make it lighter, skip the paste and just add the roasted jeera powder. Makes a wonderfully light, soupy and healthy jhol.

Need :

Rohu fish pieces - 4 
Onion - 1 medium sized
Ginger - around 1 inch
Garlic - 6 to 8 cloves
Tomato - 1 medium sized
Winter vegetables - fresh Cauliflower, Sheem, Brinjal, etc. ... cut into medium sized pieces
Potato - 1, cut into cubes
Haldi/Turmeric powder
Kalonji/Kalo jeere/Nigella seeds - half tsp
Whole dry red chillies - 2 pieces
Roasted Jeera/Cumin powder
Mustard oil
Fresh Coriander leaves - chopped

How to :

Heat around 4 tbsp of mustard oil in a kadahi or wok ( I used an iron kadahi )

When smoking hot, release in the fish pieces very carefully and cover.
Fry on low heat, turning them a couple of times.
Remove from the oil and keep aside.

Make a paste of the onion+ginger+garlic+tomato.

Heat around 1 tbsp of mustard oil in a fresh kadahi and  fry the cauliflower florets, potato pieces on high heat for a while.When the sides start to turn brown add the sheem, give a good stir, lower heat, remove from the kadahi and keep aside.
No need to cook them thoroughly.

In the same kadahi heat a little more mustard oil, or use the same oil if any left, and add some kalonji and dry red chillies.
Add the onion+ginger+garlic+tomato paste and fry well, till the rawness is gone.

Add the haldi powder, the red chilli powder and the jeera powder.
Add the fried vegetables, water and salt.
Cover and cook till the vegetables are done.

Remove cover, add the fish pieces and replace cover. Let it simmer for a few more minutes.
Remove from heat, sprinkle chopped coriander leaves and cover again.
Let it stand, covered, for around 5 to 10 minutes before serving.

Serve hot with steamed rice ... with a sprinkle of fresh lemon juice and a fresh green chilli on the side.


Writing has become difficult for me ... again.
My hand refuses to keep up with my thoughts ... hence the clumsy writing and sentence framings.
I hope you, kind readers will bear with me ... as always ...  for a few more posts .... which hopefully I will get to make anyway.
I can assure you of the recipes however ... and hope you will not be disappointed.

Thursday, 21 November 2013

Rawa Upma

( Vegans just skip the ghee )

Upma! pooh!
Why make a post on Upma, of all things? What does it take to make an Upma after all?! Some rawa, some vegetables thrown in, a dollop of ghee maybe ... nothing special or out of this world ... right?
Ask me.
My answer would be patience ... the time would span a good number of years; some memories ... wrack the brain to remember all kinds of upma I have ever tasted;  prayers ... every time I tried making this one dish I have prayed to the almighty real faithfully, and of course keeping my fingers crossed every time ... fingers and toes and everything.

Yeah ... making an Upma has been the biggest challenges I have ever faced ever since I started to cook. I can cook up a good Rajasthani spread or a good full course Bengali meal without a frown on my brows. But when it came to making the upma I got the jitters, the butterflies, the hibijis ... and still come up with something that would resemble a coagulated something.
Yet I would keep at it ... just because I love the darned dish so much. 

Jethima would make us upma some days as an evening snack, when we were young. She was a wonderful cook but the upma was definitely not her forte. I remember it was so oily it would happily slide down our throats ... if you discount the one stray thick slice of onion that one unlucky kid would end up with.
Ma has always gloated on her version of the less oil and fluffy version. Honestly, it used to be so dry it used to turn into a lump in our mouths ... that we kids could neither swallow nor throw up.
I wonder if the elders ever got 'round to wonder why we kids always demanded a little of the evening tea ... which we were never allowed to have ... on the evenings we were served the upma.

But I did not stop at trying to make that perfect upma, even if  it kept eluding me.
Recently, however, I have found that the texture is getting better and better.
And that is when I decided that I can put it on my blog now.

This is my version ... the way I make it these days. It is moist without being lumpy.
Most you must be experts at making this ... if you have any tips, please do share them with me.

Need :
Rawa / Sooji - A little more than ½ katori ( or a small sized coffee mug )
Vermicelli ( I use the pre-roasted ones) - ¼ katori
Cooking oil - 2 tbsp
Ghee - 1 tbsp
Urad dal - ½tsp
Onion - 1 medium
Ginger - 1 tsp, , chopped
Green chillies - chopped
Mustard seeds
Curry leaves
Carrots - chopped into very small pieces
Cauliflower - chopped into very small pieces
Green peas
Tomato - 1 medium, chopped
Salt - to taste
Sugar - to taste
Water - 1 and ½ katoris
(Use the same katori that you have used to measure the rawa)

How to:
Dry roast the rawa/sooji  till the 'just before brown' stage, in a thick bottomed open pan.
Remove from heat and stir in the vermicelli and stir around for a while in the same pan, but away from
the heat.

Heat the water on another burner or in the microwave oven.

Heat oil+ghee in a kadahi.
Add mustard seeds, curry leaves.
When they start to splutter, add the urad dal.
Next add the onions+ginger+green chillies.
Fry on low heat. Add a little salt ... just for these three.

When the onions turn translucent, add the vegetables.
Add some more salt ... just for the vegetables.
Cover and cook till the vegetables are done.
Remove cover and add the tomatoes. Stir and cover.
Cook till the tomatoes are done.

Now add the rawa+vermicelli to the vegetables.
Add salt to taste and sugar. Fry well on low heat for a good while... the rawa should soak up the ghee
and also the moisture from the vegetables.

Add the hot water and keep stirring well.
Toss and turn till all water is soaked up.
Give some more turns with the spatula, cover and let it rest for ... say ... 3 minutes.

Remove cover and fluff it up with a fork.
Serve hot.

This is my 270th post.
I have tried hard to keep Kichu Khonn going on, inspite of all the setbacks I have faced so far.
It has been possible only because of your love and encouragement. I have had to take many breaks, but each time was deluged with affectionate and encouraging mails and messages.
I have never felt alone ... even when I could not open my blog or FB.
I do not count the number of posts now ... the fact that I can make a post at all and you, my dear readers coming back here to write in, is reward enough for me.

Thank you all for your love and support.
I and Kichu Khonn hope that you will stay by us, as always.
Much love to all of you.

Saturday, 16 November 2013

Steamed Rice Balls
 B had just stepped out of the door and waiting for the lift when the new neighbors came out.
"Hi". Oh no ... he thought.
"We have just moved in and heard you are back. So good for us."
"You are very busy, na? We hear you going out and coming back all day ..."
"Yeah .. a little."
"Where is your wife? Would love to meet her."
"She is in ... yes ... maybe sometime."
"You love music a lot, na?! We hear music playing almost always ... especially at nights. We love music too. Why don't you both come over for tea this weekend?"
"Well ... I'll let you know ... thanks."
With that B rushed into the lift and left.
"Bilkul baat karna nahi chaahtey, hai na?" ... he heard the lady mention as the lift went down.

That was sometime back.
We did meet after all.
They turned out to be a nice and happy Punjabi couple ... new in Pune.
We did find out they love music ... albeit a little different from us.
Now we meet often and spend time together and have started to get to know each other.

They now know the kind of music we like.
And that I love to cook. And knit. And read.
That we are quiet people ... which gives them a motive to drag us and meet with all their friends and relatives.
That we love traveling and have just returned from a year long stay outside the state.

What they do not know ... still ... is the reason behind the music playing deep into the nights all the past few months.
B used to play my favourite songs over and over again, night after night, for more than 2 months ... while I sobbed on in pain ... both of us waiting for the pain killers and sedatives to work and bring sleep and some respite to my pain wracked body.

Now that I can sit for a while and type a little too, I'll start posting again.
I have a whole lot of photographs and recipes in the drafts, so I will not have to wait to be able to start cooking to make a post.
Yes, no cooking now. And no photographing too. Again. :-(

I know a lot of water has flown down the river since I posted last.
But fikar not.
Here comes another very different and very simple recipe from me.

I'd seen this kind of a dish on some South Indian's blog ... can't remember. And saw that this is very common in South Inmdian homes. Only ... they make it with rice flour.
I have used left over rice.
A good way to use left over rice ... not exactly a dish but a great snack.
Filling as well as light.

We loved it. Try it. Am sure you'd too.

 Need :

Left over cooked rice - 1 cupful
Green chillies - 2
Ginger - a small piece
Curry leaves - a few
Whole red chillies - 2
Mustard seeds - ½ tsp
Cooking oil / Ghee - 1 tsp
Lemon juice - 2 tbsp
Salt - to taste
A bowlful of water to steam

How to :

Grind the rice + ginger + green chillies + salt + lemon juice together in a mixie to make a paste.
Shape very small balls from the paste. Use a little water to wet your hands.
Do remember to keep them real small.
Steam the balls in a steamer or the way I did ... like so.
Do use a cover.
Heat a little oil / ghee in a pan. Add the mustard seeds + red chillies + curry leaves.
Add the rice balls and give a good toss.

 Serve hot as a snack.
They go very well with the Tomato Onion chutney or the Coconut chutney or even this Peanut chutney.

Diwali came and went. I was quiet as I was at the sasural ... couldn't wish you all.
Hope you had a beautiful Diwali. :-)