Thursday, 26 March 2015

Tyangra Maacher jhol / Tangra fish curry

 Tangra maacher jhol
I am beat. Drained. Exhausted.
Not an ounce of energy left to face another day. This after spending the last four days in an almost vacation mode. Less cooking, lesser eating, even lesser dishes.
We are vagabonds and live like nomads. Two people, with no routine to bind them. No time bound goals in everyday life. Flying or lazying on with time.
Every day is set on our time, our rules.
Every evening revolves around our plans and our menus.

Till we have guests.
Even then things go on quite leisurely.
But if the people visiting are your parents, then the whole thing becomes a different story altogether.

You have to be time bound; follow routines.
You have to follow a certain diet.
You have to have breakfasts and lunches .... the brunch word does not exist for them.
You have your evening tea at four in the after noon ... does not matter if the sun is on in full blast outside and you have had lunch just two hours earlier.
Nah ... you have to respect time.
And all the while get peppered with how indisciplined our life is.
And how acidity and numerous other ailments are waiting just around the corner .... waiting to pounce on us as soon as we touch forty.
bengali recipe for tangra macher jhol

I have been a good girl the last so many days.
I have bit my tongue numerous times over, obediently chewed on rotis twice a day during mealtimes, did not mention the word 'rice' even once, took in hing in every dish just as I would take salt.
And held my peace.

But no more.
Three days back, I finally broke an egg and poached it for a wonderfully filling breakfast ... even before their plane had even taxied off the runway.

I am not complaining.
Just heaving a sigh of relief at seeing a good stock of eggs, fish and chicken back in my fridge.
And at the fact that I can finally make a post too.

Tyangra macher jhol kichu khonn

 I make this thin, light jhol very often.
The best way to bring out the flavours of the Tyangra fish. complemented with the flavour of the fresh coriander leaves and the very unique, freshly ground black pepper powder.
This fish is great when made into a jhaal with mustard paste, but there are times when you would rather settle for a light curry to go with some steamed rice.
Especially during the summers.
And this is perfect for a light, summer lunch.

Didi had once made this for lunch, her mom in law's recipe. I had loved it then for the easy recipe ... the novice cook in me was relieved to be able to cook some fish. I love it now because it is the lightest of all jhols and has the minimum of ingredients. Helps to bring out the flavours of the fresh tyangra, that is usually not possible when it is dunked in a gravy full of masalas or even just the mustard paste.

I had made a post on this way back when I was a new blogger.
This is also one of those rare recipes where I use the tomato. I do not like adding tomatoes to recipes due to the fact that they do not add any flavour at all to the dishes .... being the hybrid variety.

Tyangra maacher jhol
Need :

Tyangra or the Tangra fish - 6 pieces , cleaned and marinated in a little turmeric powder and salt
Kalaunji (kalo jeera / nigella seeds)  - 1 tsp
Fresh green chillies - 3 to 4
Onions - 2, medium sized, chopped
Tomato - 1, chopped
Salt - to taste
Oil - 2 tbsp ( I use Mustard oil )
Haldi / turmeric powder - 1 tbsp
Freshly ground black pepper powder - 1 tbsp
Fresh coriander (dhania) leaves  - chopped,

How to :

Heat 1 tbsp oil in a kadahi till smoking hot.
Fry the fish well on both sides.
I fry it till crisp on the sides; you can fry it lightly too. 
Remove and keep aside.

Add 1 tbsp of oil to the same kadahi and add the kalo jeere.
Add the broken green chillies.

Next add the chopped onions and fry till translucent. Do not brown them.
Tyangra macher patla jhol kichu khonn

Add the chopped tomatoes, haldi and salt.
 Fry well till the tomatoes turn into mush.

Raise heat, add enough water. Check for salt.
Lower heat, cover and let it boil for around 5 minutes.

Remove cover and add the fish.
Add the black pepper powder and the coriander leaves.

Cover and simmer for around 5 more minutes.

Tyangra maacher patla jhol
Serve hot with steamed rice.
Makes for a perfect summer lunch. Or even dinner.


Tuesday, 10 March 2015

Chicken Pulao

Chicken pulao
When I was a student here, I would often go to my cousin didi's place on weekends to satiate my cravings for home cooked food. The cravings would be for different kinds of food at different times.
Sometimes, it would be for a simple mutton jhol, sometimes for a plain maach bhaja with rice and dal and on another day it would be for chicken.
The cravings would turn worse on the Sundays that I could not go over and our dabba would be missing.
Hunger pangs, nostalgia pangs, homesickness pangs ... everything would set in all at once. And I would feel I will not be able to live one more day if I did not get to eat this particular thing.

The result was always a call to Didi.
She would assure me she would get chicken/mutton/fish ... depending on my current craving ... and call me over.
I would calm down. Just for a while though.
Self pity would soon return ... usually early than later ... and I would wallow in tears for a while.
Then shake myself and walk down to the nearest udipi joint to get an Uttapam ... a novelty for me in those days.... smeared thick with coconut chutney and wrapped in a banana leaf, that would usually turn so soggy by the time I unwrapped it that I could easily cut it with a spoon.
After downing the terrible thing, I would reward myself with a local cupcake.
And wait for the next bout of hunger that came with dinner time.
I have never loved Mondays more in my life as I did then.

chicken polau

 Anyway, this post is not about morose memories.
This is about a simple chicken dish that I had learnt during those days.
Saying learnt would be wrong.
On one of my visits, didi's neighbour had brought a plateful of this beautiful, fragrant dish.
One spoonful and we were in heaven.
Didi asked for the recipe and her neighbour described it.
And my head registered it.

Much later, when I had a home and a kitchen of my own, I made this.
It is simple, it is tasty, it is quick.
And absolutely loved it.
I have been making this ever since, but everytime I tried to click good photographs ( yes, there I go again ), I just could not. Hence no post.
This time, a few days back, I made it again for a quick lunch. Fell in love with it all over again.
And resolved to make a post ... good photographs or no.

I will not go into the details of the difference between a pulao and a biryani.
And also, this is a pulao and not the Bengali Polau.

Initially I used to make it in the pressure cooker but now I cook it in a heavy based kadahi or pan.

Need :

Chicken - 6 to 8 medium sized pieces
Lemon juice - 3 tbsp

Cooking oil - 1 tbsp
Rice - 1 and ½ cups, washed well
Sugar - 1 tsp
Haldi / Turmeric powder - 1 tsp
Red chilli powder - 1 tsp
Cloves - 2
Cinnamon / Dalchini - 1 small piece
Green cardamom - 2
Ginger paste - 1 tbsp
Garlic paste - 1 tsp
Beaten curd - 4 tbsp
Tomato - 1, grated ( optional )
Biryani masala powder - 1 tsp

chicken pulao and salad
 How to :

Marinate the chicken with  the lemon juice for half an hour.

Heat oil in a heavy bottomed kadahi.
Add sugar. When it starts to caramelise, quickly add the haldi powder, red chilli powder, cloves, dalchini, and the green elaichi.

Now add the ginger and the garlic paste.
Fry well till oil starts to leave the sides.

Add the chicken, the beaten curd and salt.

Add 2cups of water and cover and cook till chicken is half done.

Remove cover, add the grated tomato and the rice.
Give a good stir and add 2½ cups of water.

Add the biryani masala.

Cover and cook till rice is just done and all water is soaked up.
Remember to check for water in between and if needed add a little more.

Cover and remove from heat, fluff it up lightly with a fork to loosen the rice, cover and let it stand for 5 to 10 minutes more.

chicken pulao
 Serve hot with some salad on the side.
If you have the time and the inclination to, you can make some raita too.

I had tossed some cucumber, tomatoes, onions and green chillies with some lemon juice, black pepper powder and salt, to go with it.

chicken pulao with basmati rice
And this is what my lunch plate looked one early spring afternoon.

Tuesday, 3 March 2015

Moong dal Turai / Ridge gourd cooked with lentils

Moong dal with turai or ridge gourd
While I was busy with numerous things in life, my blog crossed the 7 lakh number of visitors here.
I do not know what to make of it, considering I have been blogging for such a long time ... but I did take numerous long breaks too ... and whether the number is good enough or not.
So many people from so many countries visit, searching for recipes, that I often wonder at how far the Indian culture and Indians have spread all over the world.
The searches are always genuine.
Many land here searching for direct recipes but there are others who land here searching for 'Sharmila food blog', or 'Sharmila Kichu Khonn' or even a recipe's name along with my name and Kichu Khonn.

I feel good. And honoured.
I just hope they find what they have been wanting and looking for.
I often wonder too, if at all they tried my recipe. And how did they find it.
I wish I knew.
But most people do not leave a line ... whether liked it or not. Or if at all they tried it.
I wish they did.

Moog dal diye jhinge
Anyway, I tried my best to make post before February ended ... making at least four posts a month.
Unfortunately, could not.
After one batch of family left, I am now preparing for the next batch.
This time from the man's side.
So my kitchen and fridge gets an overhaul.
My freezer has to empty of fish and chicken. No eggs in the fridge too.
Which has been leading to an overdose of the same in my diet ... after all I cannot just throw them away.
Does irk me to some extent.
I am contemplating actually washing the freezer and sprinkling it with Ganga jal too, while I stabilise myself for the onslaught of hing and veggies and dal overdose for the next few weeks.
But since the good folks have never complained about my food habits, I guess I should be more gracious.

On one of these past days, I made this Mag ni Turai or Moog dal diye Jhinge.
I kept it dryish but you can make it slightly soupy too.
Many people add some masalas to it, but I kept mine simple, as usual. No tomatoes too.
Of course you can add them if you like. 

Need :

Moong dal - ½ cup, washed well and soaked for at least an hour
Turai / Jhinge / Ridge gourd - 2 big sized ones, chopped into medium pieces
Jeera / Cumin seeds - 1 tsp
Hing - ¼ tsp
Haldi / Turmeric powder - 1 tsp
Red chilli powder - 1 tsp
Dhania / Coriander powder - 1 tbsp
Amchur / Dried mango powder - ½ tsp
Salt - to taste
Cooking oil - 1 tsp
Water - as needed

Moong dal with ridge gourd
How to :

Heat oil in a kadahi.
Add the jeera and hing.
Then add the chopped turai and the soaked moong dal.
Stir well for a while.
Add the haldi powder and salt.
Add  a little water, cover and cook till both the turai and the dal is done.

Do check water from time to time and add if necessary.
If you want a gravy kind of dish , then add more water at one go and cover.

When the desired consistency is reached, add the dhania powder , the red chilli powder and the amchur powder.
Give a good mix, cover and cook for around 5 more minutes.

Mag ni turai
Serve hot.

This goes great with rotis, parathas or even as a side with rice.
If you like the flavour of roasted moong dal, do try that version too.
Gives a completely different flavour to it.