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Sunday, April 26, 2009

The Evergreen Palak Paneer

Cottage cheese in a spinach gravy

The forever favourite Paneer dish is what I made as the main course when a vegetarian couple came over for dinner last week. Without much ado, I'll get down to business and jot down the recipe.....

Ingredients :
A.For the Green paste :
*Palak : 12 small bunches
*Pudina - a small sprig ( vegetable vendor always gives me a complimentary sprig or Pudina ;))
*Green Chilli -1 or 2
*Salt - 1 tsp
*Sugar - 1/2 tsp

B.Other Ingredients :
*Paneer : 400 gms (cut into small cubes or any shape you desire)
*Kesuri Methi - 1 tbsp (Optional), soaked in 1/2 cup of warm water

*Whole garam masala - 2 elaichi; 1 medium stick of cinnamon; 2 cloves*Bay Leaf -1
*Onion paste - 1 bowl
*Tomato paste - 1 bowl
*Ginger past - 1 tsp
*Cumin (Jeera) powder - 1tsp
*Coriander (Dhaniya/Dhone) powder - 1tsp
*Fresh Cream - 2 tbsp (Since I did not have it, I substituted as given in 'C')
*Ghee - 2 tsp
*Roasted and powdered Garam Masala - 1/2 tsp
*Flour :3-4 tbsp
* Oil - 4 tbsp

C.Fresh Cream Substitute :
*Fresh malai obtained after milk is boiled - 2tbsp
*Grate cheese : 1 cube
In a pan add the blended fresh malai and the grated cheese. Bring to a boil. Spinkle some water if to thick. Keep aside.

Procedure :
1. Blend all ingredients at 'A'. Keep aside.
2. In a wok, heat the Oil and throw in bay leaf, whole garam masala and whole jeera and a dash of sugar. Let them splutter and give off their lovely aroma
3. Add the onion paste and fry till it turns a light brown.
4. Add the ginger paste
5. Add the tomato paste and stir for sometime.
6. Add the masala paste made of jeera+dhaniya and cook the masala well.
7. Add the blended green paste. Add salt. Stir well to mix the masala and the palak paste for 3-5 minutes.
8. Add the cubed paneer and continue stirring slowly to ensure that the paneer does not break.
9. Add the soaked kasuri methi along with the water. Mix well
10. Cover the wok with a lid, lower the flame and let it cook till it comes to a boil. Check once in a while so that the gravy doesnt burn at the botton.
11. Mix the flour (ata) with some water to make a medium consistency past. Add to the boiling gravy and mix very well. This gives the gravy a smooth and creamy consistency.
12. In a small skillet, heat the ghee and add the roasted garam masala powder and add to the palak paneer gravy is it boils in the wok. Mix.
13. Take it off the flame and add the fresh cream or the substitute I made as at 'C'

Palak paneer tastes good with Paratha, Roti or Rice

This recipe is my entry to SWC-Cooking with Greens, an event hosted by Sowmya of Creative Saga. The logo of the event is....

Monday, April 20, 2009

Sunday Brunch with Pizza

The weekly grocery shopping is a chore I enjoy on most Saturday evenings. Normally its something SD and I do together. But yesterday since he was working, I went on my own and AD was bored and hence latched on to me...Once we reached the supermarket, and she was let free, pandemonium reigned supreme when completely unwanted stuff were being hurled into my cart in the guise of "helping you, Ma!". And since I didnt want to break her heart and more importantly didnt want a tantrum in a public place, I let her enjoy her shopping expedition. But as casually as possible and without drawing her attention, I would keep back the stuff at their places on the shelves. This is how, as I was about to return the packets of Pizza Breads, I touched the soft & superfresh breads and decided to keep them. It had been ages since I made Pizza @ home! I let the heart rule the head and decided a day's cheesy indulgence wouldnt be earth shattering !

So as I continued shopping I picked up some mushrooms, mozarella cheese...the remaining stuff were available at home!

Ingredients :
*Pizza Breads - 4
*mozzarella cheese - 300gm
* Butter
* Oregano (I use FABINDIA's Oregano+Chilli mix)
* Italian Seasoning (I use FABINDIA's Italian Seasoning)
* Chilli flakes (optional)
A.For the Topping

*Button Mushrooms - 1 packet (200gm)
*Onion (diced) - 1 large or 2 small
*Capsicum (diced) - 1
*Garlic sliced - 3-4 pods
*Green Chillies - 1 or 2 (chopped fine)
*Crushed Pepper Corns - 1 tsp
*Red Chilli flakes - 1 tsp
*Sugar - a pinch
*Salt to taste
*White Oil - 2 tbsp

*Minced Chicken - 200gm
*Onion (Finely chopped) - 1
*Tomato (finely chopped) - 1
*Ginger-Garlic paste - 1 tsp
*Italian Seasoning - a sprinkling
*Chilli-Oregano seasoning - a sprinking
*White Oil - 2 tbsp

Normally I blanch and puree fresh tomatoes, but since I was in a hurry, decided to use ONLY tomato ketchup.
*Tomato ketchup : 1.5 cup (if fresh tomato puree is being used, I use 3-4 tomatoes + 1/2 cup ketchup for the sauce)
*Garlic sliced - 3-4 pods
*Basil (Tulsi) leaves -5-6
*Olive Oil - 1 tbsp
*Pepper pod - crushed - 3-4
*Sugar, Salt - if required
*Oregano - 1/2 tsp
Procedure :
1. Prepare the Mushroom-Capsicum Stir Fry with all the ingredients at 'Aa'
2. Prepare the Minced Chicken Stir Fry with all ingredients at 'Ab'
3. Prepare the sauce with all ingredients at 'B'. First fry the sliced garlic in oil and add the tomato ketchup/tomato puree. If required make the consistency a bit thin by adding water. After it boil, add crushed pepper, basil leaves, Italian seasoning, Oregano and let it boil for a few more seconds before you take it off the flame.

4.Take each pizza bread. Smear with a tsp of butter.
5. Smear with a thick layer of the tomato sauce.

6. Sprinkle some grated cheese.

7. Arrange the toppings of chicken & mushroom as you like.

8. Again drizzle grated cheese as per your liking

9. Sprinkle pepper, chilli flakes, Italian seasoning, oregano powder.

10. Put it in the oven. My convection mode in microwave was not working. Hence I put it in Micro+Grill mode for 10-15 minutes or till the cheese melts.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Award & a Tag

Thanks a ton Kalpana for your awards!

And now the TAG! My first tag, so to say ! As I keep putting the tags aside and conveniently forget about them! So this time I thought I will take up the tag here goes my number tag!

1 : My one and only one Princess! My daughter AD..

2 : We are 2 sisters...Mydarlin baby sister, though all grown up with a career of her own, is still a baby to me

3 : My AD's age....she's all of three and going on 13!!!

4 : Members in our family photograph till I tied the knot! ;))

5 : The essential Paanch (5) Phoron in my kitchen! The ubiquitous Bengali spice Paanch Phoron consists of 5 spices - Nigella seeds (Kalo jeera), Fenugreek seeds (Methi), Fennel Seeds (Saunf/Mouri), Cumin Seeds(Jeera), Wild Celery seeds (Radhuni)

6 : My years with SD.... a heady concoction spiced with love, squabbles, temper, friendship and garnished with fun and fights, laughter and tears!

7 : The number of years I have spent away from my hometown after starting my career!

8 : The time in the morning when I finish my morning cuppa and start getting ready for the day!

9 : The number of kilograms I have put on since AD was born!! :(((((

10: At night it's Dinner time for us!! :)))

I would like to pass on the awards and the tag to RINKU, SUDESHNA, YASMEEN & SHARMILIA.

Fish Croquette aka Fish Chop

A common snack / starter in almost all Bengali households. The most recent occasion when I made these delicious & easy-to-make hors d'oeuvres was during the Poila Boishakh celebrations last Sunday...again photographs arent what I wanted them to be.....taking pictures just got pushed to the backburner of priorities!
The typical Fish Croquette or Maachher Chop is a mashed and spiced fish fillet in an envelope of mashed potato, rolled into a sphere/oval shaped, coated with bread crumbs and deepfried.

Due to lack of time to make this elaborate enveloped preparation, I cut a step short. The shortcut methodology didnt deter the taste one bit.....if I needed proof of its success, I got it, when I before I knew, the plates of the fishchops were being emptied!! :)

So here goes my recipe :

Ingredients :
#Katla / Rohu fish : 1.5 kg
#Ginger paste : 1 tsp
#Garlic paste : 1tsp
#Onion (finely chopped) : 1 medium
#Bay Leaf : 1
#Whole Garam Masala : 2 elaichi; 2-3 cloves; 1 medium cinnamon stick
#Salt : to taste
#Sugar : a pinch
#Turmeric : a pinch
#Cumin Powder : 1 tsp
#Red chilli powder : 1/2tsp
#Roasted and powdered Cumin : 3/4 tsp
#Green Chillies (finely chopped) - 1 or 2 (depending on spice/heat tolerance factor)
#Oil : 2 tbsp & 250ml for deep frying
#Potatoes : 5-6 medium to large potatoes - boiled and mashed
#Arrowroot powder / Cornflour - 3-4 tbsp
#Bread crumbs : 2 cups OR Bread Slices (stale ones preferred) - 5-6 nos. (see below to check out how to prepare breadcrumbs @ home)

Procedure :
1. Wash the fish pieces. Marinate the fish pieces with ginger-garlic paste, a pinch of salt and turmeric for 5 minutes. Steam the marinated fish for 8-10 minutes. Let it cool.

2. Mash the steamed fish and carefully remove the bones. Mash it to a smooth paste

3. Mix the mashed fish with mashed potatoes, add the desired salt and knead well to ensure no lumps are present.

4. In a wok, heat some oil. Throw in the bay leaf and whole garam masala.

5. As it splutters, add the finely chopped onions and a dash of sugar for taste & caramelisation

6. Fry the onions till brown, but not burnt. Add the turmeric, cumin powder, red chilli paste and cook the masala well to eliminate the raw smell.

7. Add the mix of mashed potatoes + mashed fish. Stir well and mix it uniformly with the onion-masala paste. The mixing should be uniform and the raw taste of potato & fish should be totally eliminated. It takes around 12-15 minutes. Keep stirring to ensure the mashed mix does not burn!

8. Sprinkle some roasted and ground garam masala just before taking the mashed mix off the flame. And again mix well.

9. The fish chop filling is ready for the shaping, moulding and coating to begin.

10. Let it cool. Pinch off 2-2.5" sized lumps and roll them into spheres or circular tablets or any shape you desire! The outer surface should be smooth.

11. In a flat bottomed bowl, mix the arrowroot/cornflour with water to make a paste of thin consistency.

12. In a flat plate, take the bread crumb and make an even layer.

13. Take each shaped fish chop, dip it into the arrowroot/cornflour thin batter, immediately followed by rolling in the bread crumb to form an uniform coating. Repeat for all the chops.

14. In a deep flat bottomed frying pan, take the oil, heat it and fry the chops. Take out the fried chops and place them on a kitchen tissue to soak off the excess oil.

15. Serve with Salads and/or Mustard sauce (Kashundi) or any other sauce of your liking!

Preparing Bread Crumbs @ Home :
-Take the stale breads (Fresh bread contains lots of moisture and hence is not too suitable for making crumbs)
-Place them in a flat tray in the microwave oven. Heat it in microwave for 2 minutes on medium heat. After completion of 2 minutes, keep it in the microwave for another 2-3 minutes for the bread slices to harden.
-Take out the hardened bread slices, break them into small pieces and put them in a mixie/dry grinder.
-Just run it for 5-10 seconds, to get fresh bread crumbs instantly!

The above post, which I had posted just after our Bengali New Years or POILA BOISHAKH, is my entry for
"Sunday Snack: Festive Snack of Navratri and Diwali" hosted by Indrani of APPYAYAN.

For us Bongs,
Fish Croquette aka Maachher Chop is an all time favourite and not restricted to any particular festival or ritual. And foodies that we are, these Autumn festivities which are so intrinsic to our being is the perfect time to enjoy and savour all the delicious savouries!

The logo for the event is ...

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Chingri Machher Malaikari

Prawns cooked in Coconut milk

Away from Kolkata on Poila Boishaakh was indeed depressing and more so when the Bengali New Year was on a weekday! Bengali New Years Day or Poila Boishaakh celebration is all about families, friends meeting up, feasting on sumptuous food and indulging in Nirbhejaal Adda!

So just couldnt reconcile to the fact that the first day of Boishaakh would be spent working as usual....but there was no option! The best we could do and did was have a Naboborsho get-together in we invited our Bong friends over on Sunday afternoon...thereby advancing our Naboborsho by just three days. It was a wonderful afternoon and the adda rolled well into evening....
Coming back to the Chingri Maachher Malaikari...this was one of the main courses on that day. Cooking for lunch is always a high speed cannot afford the leisurely pace of a dinner party...hence photography was my last priority and hence forgot to click several steps or ingredients and the finished product was also photographed almost towards the end of the party...maybe I will amend the pics at a later date when I make this again !

So here comes the recipe :

Ingredients I used:
*Prawns (medium sized) -1250 gms (large prawns are better for this dish)
*Coconut - 1
*Onion - 1 large (finely chopped)
*Tomato - 2 small - finely chopped
*Ginger - 1tsp
*Garlic - 3/4 tsp
*Bay Leaf - 1
*Whole Garam Masala - 2 elaichi; 2-3 cloves; 1 medium cinnamon stick
*Haldi - 1.5 tsp
*Red Chilli powder - 1 tsp
*Kashmiri Chilli powder - 1tsp
*Salt - to taste
*Sugar - a pinch
*Roasted and ground Garam Masala powder - 1 tsp
*Ghee - 1.5 tbsp
*Green Chilli - 2-3
*Potato - 1 medium - diced into small cubes and fried lightly (this is totally optional...I like potatoes with anything and hence add it)
*Mustard Oil - 3-4 tbsp

Procedure : In the order I prepared :
1. Wash, clean and devein prawns. Marinate the cleaned prawns with mustard oil, salt, turmeric for 15 minutes

2. Coconut milk preparation :
a. Grate the coconut.
b. Put the grated coconut in a mixie and run it for 5-10 seconds
c. In a wok, mix the coconut paste with 1/2 glass of water and bring to a boil. Let it boil vigorously. Take it off the heat.
d. Once the boiled 'coconut paste in water mix' is cooled, pass it through a clean cheese cloth and squeeze out the coconut milk till the residue doesnt have any moisture in it.
e. Keep the coconut milk aside for use at a later stage.

3. Saute the marinated prawns lightly. Keep aside

4. Heat a wok; pour the mustard oil

5. When hot, temper with whole garam masala, bay leaf.

6. Add the garlic paste, finely chopped onions and a dash of sugar for colour (sugar caramelizes to give the brown colour)

7. When the onion turns a light brown, add ginger followed by chopped tomatoes. Stir well to do away with the rawness of the onion, tomato, ginger-garlic.

8. Add the turmeric + chilli powder + kashmiri chilli + salt (mixed with a little water to make a paste). Stir to cook the masala.

9. Add the cubed and fried potato. Keep stirring till the oil separates from the masala.

10. Add the coconut milk. Cook on low heat.

11. Add the sauted prawns. Stir to mix. Cover the wok with a lid and continue cooking on low flame.

12. Let the gravy comes to a boil and thicken to desired consistency (if too thick, water may be added). Add the slit green chillies.

13. In a skillet heat the ghee and sprinkle the roasted and ground garam masala and when it sizzles in the ghee, pour it on the boiling Chingri (Prawn) curry. Mix well.

The Chingri Maachher Malaikari is ready to eat with steamed rice.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Shubho Naboborsho!

Shubho Naboborshe shokolke janai priti o shubhechha!

Today being Bengali New Year's Day, I wish you all

For us Bongs, Naboborsho celebrations are all about friends and family, getting together .. food, feast and adda are must haves on this occasion of New Years!

Living away from my hometown of Kolkata, today is a working day....

Keeping this in mind, we celebrated our Poila Boishakh (1st day of the first month of the new year 1416) last Sunday with was an enjoyable gathering of friends and their families!

Pics : courtesy my friend Hrsikesa who wished me this morning a Shubho Naboborsho with this deluge of pics which made my mouth water......

Monday, April 13, 2009

Bhetki Hariyali

My Ma introduced me to this dish...she had first tasted it at a Wedding Feast (Biye Baari). She being the great cook she is, made this awesome fish preparation abiding by the instructions of her taste buds!

Much later, after marriage, when I was the one who had to do the cooking whenever friends or relatives came over, instead of just placing my 'order' to Ma, I improvised Ma's green fish recipe, made it microwaveable and hence easier, faster and hassle-free.

This dish has never failed to score brownie points whenever it has been on the menu when I entertained and its ease of preparation makes it one of my favourite recipes.
A. For the marinade :
- Vinegar : 4-6 tbsp
- Ginger : 1tbsp
- Garlic : 3/4 tbsp
- Chilli flakes : 1 tsp (or depending on your spice preference)
- Black Pepper (freshly crushed) :1 tsp
- Salt : 1 tsp

B. Other Ingredients
- Bhetki fillet - 750gm
- Coriander leaves - 2-3 big bunches
- Green chillies (1 or 2)
- Pudina leaves - 1 small bunch
- Pearl onions - abt 10-15 (I didnt have pearl onion, so I used normal onions, diced)
- Cream - 2 tbsp (optional)
- Capsicum : 1 big or 2 small- diced


- Mix all the items at 'A' of Ingredients to prepare the marinade
- Now marinate the washed and cleaned fish fillets. For my convenience, I marinate overnight and cook in the morning. In case of hurry, 1/2 hours marination is sufficient.
- Grill or pan fry the marinated fish fillets. (This is an optional step and may be skipped)

Green Sauce Paste :
- Wash and roughly chop the coriander and mint leaves.
- Put them in a Mixie. Add a dash of sugar and salt, one or two green chillies. Make a smooth paste.

Assembling to bake :
- In a non-stick pan, stir fry the pearl onion and diced capsicum
- In a microwave proof deep container, spray/smear some oil.
- Arranged a layer of the fried pearl Onion and capsicum (keep a small quantity aside) in the cooking container.
- Pour half the quantity of green sauce paste on the fried pearl onions.
- Arrange the grilled / fried fish pieces.
- Cover with the remaining green sauce paste.
- Garnish with the remaining sauted diced onion/pearl and capsicum and a dash of cream (cream is optional).
- Bake it in microwave mode for 7-10 minutes.
The fish is ready to eat.
Note: Sorry about the awful formatting in this post...Blogger has been extremely non-cooperative...So till I reformat this post, please bear with me...
I had forgotten to click a pic of the Pudina/mint leaves. And this picture was taken from Google images

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Aam Pora Shorbot

(A Drink made of Roasted Raw Mango pulp)

Aam pora shorbot/sherbet is a perfect antidote to the scorching heat of the peak summer months of April, May in India. Returning from school to a chilled glass of home made Aam pora shorbot during the deadly hot summer months are fond childhood memories. At the onset of summer, Ma would make a huge quantity of the concentrate, add preservative (Sodium Benzoate) for storing, and use as and when required. She would dilute the spiced and sweetened concentrate with chilled water for instant use. It would last the whole tenure of summer.
These days, a variation of Aam pora shorbot...Aam panna, is a much in demand summer drink, available in packaged avatar too. That these healthy, soothing and tasty drinks are being chosen over the aerated variety to quench thirst is indeed a cause for celebration! These drinks have a high nutrient value, a saviour against heat strokes and dehydrations too.
Unlike Ma, I dont make the concentrate in bulk....I use 8-10 mangoes at a time so that the concentrate lasts me a week or so.
Note : Aam Panna and Aam Pora shorbot preparation is the same. The only difference is the starting material.
While in Aam Pora Shorbot, the green mangoes are roasted over fire, in Aam Panna, the green mangoes are boiled. I prefer the smoky taste of the roasted mangoes and hence, though more time-consuming, I make the Aam Pora variety more often.
So here goes the recipe :
Ingredients :
What I used...
Sugar : 250gm
Rock Salt : 1tsp
Red Chilli flakes :1tsp
Roasted and ground Cumin powder : 2 tsp

Procedure :
1. Roast the mangoes in their jackets over a flame.
2. Cool the mangoes and then remove the skin.
3. Scoop out the pulp and mash it after removing the seed
3. Pass the pulp through a sieve, so that the fibres, if any, are removed.
4. Add powdered sugar, chilli, flakes, rock salt and mix over medium flame for a minute or two.
5. Sprinkle roasted and ground cumin powder.
6.Take it off the flame. Cool and store the concentrate in glass bottles.

To make a drink, add 1/4 glass of the concentrate. Add ice cubes and chilled water.