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Sunday, April 28, 2013

Chitol Maachher Peti'r Jhol

Light Mustard Gravy of Chitol Fish

The  Chitol is a delicacy of Bengal. While the bony 'Gaada' or dorsal part of the fish is deboned and made into Muithas / Koftas, the 'Peti' or belly portion of the fish containing less and more easily manageable bones are delightfully oily and soft.

I personally like the light gravy which brings out the rich taste of the fish rather that the more spicy 'Kalia' preparation where the taste of the fish is submerged in the deluge of onion-ginger-garlic-garam masala. But of course this is a very personal preference.....

Ingredients :

a)Chitol Maachher 'Peti' portion - approx 1 kg
b)Kalo jeera / Kalonji - 1/2 tsp
c)Holud / Haldi /Turmeric powder - 1 tsp
d)Chili powder - 1/2 to 1 tsp
e)Kashmiri Mirch powder - 1 tsp
f)Tomato chopped - 1 small (optional)
g)Dhone/Coriander seeds powder - 1 tsp
h)Sugar - a pinch
i)Salt - to taste
j)Mustard paste - 2 tbsp or more depending on how spicy you want the gravy
k)Mustard Oil - 1 tsbp
l)Green Chilies - 2-3 ..again personal preference
m) Bori / small Lentil dumplings - a handful
n)Dhonepaata / Coriander leaves

Procedure :
1. Shallow fry the fish (after smearing the pieces in a mix of turmeric-salt)

2. Heat oil in a kadai and add ingredients at sl.(b) to (i). Sprinkle some water and cook on medium to high heat till the oil separates. .....Koshano

3. Add the shallow fried fish and gently turn them around in the moshla/masala/spice mix.

4. Add a cup full of water.

5. Add 3-4 tsp of mustard paste mixed with 1/2 cup of water.Cover and bring to a boil. If boris (tiny lentil dumplings) are available, add to the boiling gravy.

6. Add slit green chilies and chopped Dhonepaata.

7.Savour with hot steamed rice. 

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Chitol Maachher Muitha

Chitol Fish Koftas 

Chitol Maachher Muitha is an essentially "Bangaal" (the erstwhile Eastern region of undivided Bengal which is now present day Bangladesh) delicacy made out of the 'Gaada' (Bonier or dorsal part ) of the fish.

Seeing Chitol Maachh in the supermarket last sunday, I couldnt control my temptation and purchased a huge 2.5 kg fish.
Instructions were immediately taken over phone regarding the cutting of the Gaada-Peti and communicated to my bewildered fish seller!

Rushed back home and called up my cooking encyclopedia, ready with pen and paper, and jotted down the elaborate process of the Muitha making....

Ingredients :
For the Koftas :
The 'Gaada' or bonier part of the fish (the fish I'd bought was 2.5 kgs!!) which was approx 1 kg 
2 medium sized potatoes for every kg of gaada
2 eggs
Ginger paste - 1 tsp
Garlic paste - 1 tsp
1 small onion - finely chopped
1 small onion - made into paste
Jeera powder - 1 tsp
Chili powder - 1 tsp
Sugar - a pinch

For the gravy :
1 onion - chopped
2 onions - paste
Garam masala - whole, made into a paste/powder 
Tej pata
ginger paste - 1 tsp
garlic paste - 1tsp
1 tomato - chopped (optional)
Chili powder
Kashmiri Chili powder
Jeera powder/paste - 1tsp
Potato 2-3 cubed
Oil (preferably mustard)

Procedure :
Muittha / Kofta - 
I) De-boning of the fish:
1. Wash the fish. Placing it on a flat surface, with the skin on top, hammer it lightly with the Nora of the Sheel-Nora (traditional grinding stone used in Bengali kitchens) or anything heavy

2.The fish will loosen. Now turn it around, so that the fleshy surface faces up and scoop out the flesh with a spoon.

Save the skin for kataa chochchori (we Bongs are quite the scavengers ;)) . The pic below is the starting material for Kataa Chochchori

3. Using the Sheel-Nora, grind the fish ...most of the bigger bones will come apart. Now using fingers, mash the fish further and also remove the remaining bones.

If minced, de-boned Chital is available, the rest of the Muitha making is actually a cake-walk.....

II) The rest of the Muitha making -
1. For 1 kg Gaada, use 2 medium sized boiled potatoes and mash them well and mix with the boneless, minced fish. While mixing and mashing, you may be able to remove more fine bones....

2. Add to the minced fish+mashed potato mix : 2 raw eggs, ginger, garlic paste, onion chopped, onion paste, jeera powder, chili powder, salt, sugar. Knead well as in kneading dough.

3. Put a large vessel/kadai full of water to boil. Divide the fish dough into fist sized (mutho/muitha) spheres. And slide into the boiling water. Cook for about 15 minutes. Turn the spheres from time to time. To check if done, insert a fork/needle as we do in baking. If it comes out clean, it's done.

4. Take the 'spheres' out of the water. Keep aside to cool. When cooled, cut them into approx 1.5" cubes.

5. Shallow fry them lightly.

These can make delicious finger food/snacks/starter and in case that's what you intend to make them into, fry them till they are crispy and golden brown.

The Gravy :
1. Heat oil in a kadai. Add the chopped onion, paste of garam masala, tej pata, a pinch of sugar. 
2. Along with the above 'phoron', the cubed potatoes may be added to avoid sauteing them separately.
3. When the onions are light brown in colour, add onion paste, ginger-garlic paste, chili powder, kashmiri chili, jeera powder, salt and tomato. Fry them in medium to high heat....'Koshano' or 'Bhunoing'
4. After the oil separates from the cooked masala, gently slide in the fried Muitthas / Koftas. Turn them around gently to cover them in the masala/spice mix and fry for a minute or so....add about 2 cups of water to make a gravy of medium thickness. Cover and bring to a boil.
5. Just before taking it off the flame, add a tbspn of ghee and 1/2 tsp of powder garam masala (without roasting) (garam masala at the end is optional, though)

The Chitol Maachher Muittha is ready to be savoured with plain steamed rice.

This post is being linked to "Spotlight: Show Your Best Creation" @ Cuisine Delights

Saturday, April 6, 2013

Cheesy Vegetable Fritters

Fritters / Chops/Cutlets made of Chhana (Fresh & fluffy Paneer), grated Cheddar Cheese and any finely chopped vegetables

Simple, fast and delicious....that's the other name of this dish.

Ingredients :
Chhana / Paneer from 2.5 litres full cream milk
Grated processed cheese  (used Amul) - 4-5 cubes or as many as you want
Any finely chopped vegetables : I used carrot, beans, capsicum, finely sliced babycorn, sweet corn kernels, mushrooms
Chopped garlic
Chopped Onions
butter / oil
Tej pata
Crushed peppercorns
Pepper powder
Oregano powder
Bread crumbs
Oil for frying

Procedure :

1. Curdle boiling milk with lemon/vinegar to make Chhana/Chhena/Paneer/Cottage cheese. Drain away the whey and press it lightly to retain the softness and fluffiness of the Chhana.

2. In a kadai, heat the butter. Add tej pata & crushed pepper corns into the heated butter, followed by chopped garlic and onions. Fry till golden brown.

3. Now add the chopped vegetables in descending order of hardness.....carrot, beans, baby corns ...capsicum etc...all in medium to high heat. If using mushrooms, better to saute them separately as mushroom will give out loads of water and make the other veggies soggy. We want the veggies to retain their crunchiness

4. Mix the crunchy fried veggies with the soft paneer and toss the mix in the kadai to mix well.

5. In the hot mix, gradually add the grated cheese and keep stirring. The cheese will melt and assimilate into the rest of the chhana-veggie mix.

6. After cooling, shape the doh-like chhana-cheese-veggie mix into friiters. Dip into a thin batter of cornflour+water and then roll in bread crumbs.

8. Shallow fry and serve with sauce, chutney or as it is....

Saturday, March 30, 2013

The little chef and her Cookies

Last year during her summer camp, 'cooking up a storm' was one of the activities where she'd been a part of a group of 6+ somethings who'd baked some lush, gooey, chocolatey , melt-in-the-mouth cookies! Not happy with just the two cookies which each of them were allowed to bring back home and also share with a choco-obsessed loving Mom, then and there she'd declared that she'll bake more of these.....the two paged photocopy of the recipe was carefully preserved and the intermittent reminders in the form of mild whinings were meted out to the not-too-enthusiatic-about-baking Mom...who turned a deaf ear and hardened her heart, determined not to be emotionally blackmailed!

Now that she was a year older, and hence more persistent and her arguments were logical, and to top it all, the final exams were over and hence free time was in abundance, the Mom couldnt continue feigning selective deafness and had to succumb to the pressure giving free reign of her kitchen to the little lady!

Out came the precious list and recipe....and off they (the reluctant Mom & the oozing-with-enthusiasm mini-chef) went and brought back a bag full of stuff.....sugars of different kinds, unsalted butter etc etc...

Unfortunately after reaching home, the Mom realised that her kitchen scale was broken and hence the measurements were approximate...but the cookies turned out yum...and could give any professionally baked cookies a run for their money! ;)
May be beginners' luck ...... but the mini chef and Mommy assistant were immensely satisfied with the outcome!!!!

Ingredients (as given in the printed recipe..lot of substitutions were made)

125 gm of unsaltede butter
90gm of soft light brown sugar
90 gm castor sugar
125 gm chocolate spread (used nutella + Hershey's chocolate syrup)
200gm plain flour
30 gm cocoa powder
1 tsp baking powder
2-3 drops vanilla extract (used 1.5 caps of vanilla essence)
150 gm of white chocolate chips (used 1/2 bar of Cadbury's Dairy Milk, broken into unequal bits)
1 egg
A pinch of salt

Procedure (as given in the recipe ...followed more or less accurately except for the weight measures which were approximate)
1. Preheat oven to 180 deg C. Cream the butter and both types of sugar in a large bowl until the mixture turns creamy.
2. Still using the electric whisk, beat the egg, chocolate spread (2-3 tsp of nutella+1/2 cup of Hershey's chocolate sauce in our case....that's all there was at home), vanilla essence/extract into the creamed butter and sugar mixture, until fully mixed in.
3. Sieve the flour, baking powder, cocoa powder and salt and mix in a bowl.
4. Add the sieved flour mixture with the chocolate mixture and mix them together. Stir in the chocolate chips.
5. Spray /brush some oil on the baking tray (not mentioned in the recipe).
6. Place 6-7 heated dessert spoonfuls of the cookie dough on the baking tray leaving space between each mound so that they can spread as they cook.

7. Bake for 14 minutes.

8. Take the trays out of the oven and leave the cookies to set for 2-3 minutes. When set transfer onto a cooling rack.

Enjoy the cookies...fresh off the oven....or later ....when they're cold and crispier ...with tea / milk .....

Sharing this recipe with Guest Host Mireille's event "What's with my Cuppa", originally started by Nupur.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Cream of Broccoli Almond Soup

Some left over broccoli which had turned yellowish and hence didnt want to use it for normal stir fry or in mix veggie dish preparation. So soup it was to cater to the kiddo tummies in the evening..

Ingredients :
Broccoli - I used 3/4 of a medium sized broccoli cut into medium sized florets
6-10 Garlic cloves chopped roughly
1 tej pata
Almonds - a handful...about 10-15..blanched, to ease the removal of skin
Pepper corns ...freshly crushed
black Pepper powder
Chili flakes (optional)
grated Cheddar cheese
Milk - 3 cups

Procedure :
1. Pressure cook the broccoli, chopped garlic with tej pata and a pinch of salt.
2. After blanching the almond in hot water, peel off the skin and saute the almonds in butter till golden brown
3. Now in a blender, make a paste of the pressure cooked broccoli-garlic and sauted almonds.
4. Heat butter and add crushed peppercorns to the heated butter. Fry for a few seconds and add the blended broccoli-garlic-almond. Cook on high heat till the raw flavour is eliminated.
5. Add milk and milk cream (malai/দুধের সব্র ). till it is of creamy & soupy consistency. Mix on high heat and lower the heat, cover and bring to a boil.
6. Adjust the salt by adding rock salt.
7. Sprinkle pepper powder, chili flakes (optional). Take it off the flame.
8. After pouring into soup bowls, garnish with grated cheddar cheese.

Serve this bowful of healthy goodness ....steaming's a meal by itself!

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Mouri Murgh with Peas Pulao

Chicken with Fennel ...served with Peas Pulao

A friend had pointed out that my blog hardly has any typically "Bangali Murgi'r Jhol"!! And upon going  through my posts, I realised how right she was!!

So today I was all set to make the typical "Bangali Murgi'r Jhol"...but the "Murgi" had other plans! 

And while making the chicken curry, my whims predominated and what resulted was a mild fennel flavoured chicken impromptu experiment with a happy ending!

And realising that there is barely any rice based item in this blog, I thought of jotting down the recipe of Peas Pulao...the lightest, easiest and quickest of all Pulaos.

Mouri Murgh

Ingredients :
Chicken - 1 kg
Finely chopped medium sized onions - 2
Finely chopped tomatoes - 2
Potatoes cubed - 4
Garlic paste - 2 tbsp 
Ginger paste - 2 tbsp
Tej Pata - 1
Whole garam masala - 2-3 nos. of 1"sticks of Cinnamon, 2-3 green elaichi, 2-3 black elaichi, 4-6 cloves
Fennel Seeds - 1 tsp
Turmeric / Haldi / Holud - 1 & 1/2 tsp
Dry roasted (on hot tawa) & ground Mouri / fennel seeds - 3-4 tbsp
Jeera powder - 1/2 tsp
Kashmiri Mirch - 1/2 - 1 tsp
Green chili - as many as you want 
Chopped Coriander leaves/Dhonepaata
Salt to taste

Procedure :
1. Marinate (at least for a few hours) the washed & cut chicken with 1 tbsp each of Ginger & Garlic paste, salt and 1/2 tsp of Turmeric/Haldi/Holud powder.
2. In a kadai, heat oil and saute the cubed, washed and Haldi-Salt smeared potatoes till they turn golden. Keep aside.
3. In the same kadai, add another tablespoon of oil (I used mustard oil). Drop in the Tej Pata, whole garam masalas, fennel seeds 
4. Stirring the above for a few seconds, add garlic paste, chopped onions followed by a pinch of sugar for caramelising and adding colour. Fry on medium - high heat till the onions get a brownish colour.
5. Add the ginger paste followed by chopped tomatoes. Turn up the heat and fry till the colour turns brown and the tomato-onion turns into a well fried mush.
6. Mix  Turmeric-jeera powder-kashmiri mirch powder-2 tsp of roasted-ground mouri/fennel seeds-salt with a few drops of water...make a paste and add to the kadai. Cook the masala well.
7. Add the marinated chicken and stir around till all the pieces are well coated in masala. Do this on high heat. Once the chicken is well coated with the masala, keep turning around...koshano / bhunoing (frying on high heat). While at it, add the rest of the roasted-ground mouri/fennel seeds and continue frying (koshano / bhunoing).  Add the cubed and sauted potatoes
8. If time permits, continue cooking in the kadai till the chicken is tender. And you may need to sprinkle water now and then to prevent burning. But like me, if you are running short of time, transfer to a pressure cooker. Add a mug of water. 2 whistles are adequate. Once cooled, and the lid comes off, transfer to the serving bowl and garnish with chopped coriander leaves / dhonepata.

Serve with roti / rice / Pulao. 

Peas Pulao

Ingredients :
Basmati - 3 cups
Peas (preferably fresh ones) - 4-5 cups
Cashew / kaju - a handful, slit lengthwise 
Ginger paste - 1 tbsp
Tej Pata - 1
Whole Jeera - 1 tsp
Whole garam masala - 2-3 nos. of 1"sticks of Cinnamon, 2-3 green elaichi, 2-3 black elaichi, 4-6 cloves
Jaiphal / Javitri powdered - 1/2 tsp
Ghee - 1 - 2 tbsp
1/2 slice lemon

Procedure :
1.Wash the rice, dry it if possible, on a newspaper in the sun.

2. Heat Ghee in a kadai. Add whole garam masala, tej pata, whole jeera, ginger paste. Fry for a few seconds.
3. Add the washed and (preferably dried) basmati rice followed by the sugar, salt, Jaiphal or Javitri powder. Mix well on medium flame.
4. Add the peas. Again give everything in the kadai a stir to mix. 
5. Transfer to a rice cooker. Add 5.5 cups (same cup as used to measure the rice) of water. Squeeze half a piece of lemon (learnt from some blog on the net sometime back and follow it religiously for all pulaos and as promised the result is amazing...the cooked rice DO NOT stick)

 The Peas Pulao is ready!!!

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Cooking Her Own Harvest...

Alu Chaat (Spicy Potato Salad)

 My 7 year old was back from an outing to a vegetable farm! She was super excited and her most prized possession for the day was her precious bag full of fresh potatoes, other vegetables & cotton which she'd picked up / harvested herself! And she proclaimed that SHE & ONLY SHE would cook the potatoes and serve us!

And what would that be? Super confident after her debut as a masterchef just the week before with nothing less than SCRAMBLED EGGS, she proclaimed ALU CHAAT!!! I did a mental somersault in joy, thanking my lucky stars that she hadnt been too ambitious and opted for other lofty dishes!!!

So the potato harvester's recipe of Alu Chaat...

Ingredients for :

A) Potato Mash
8 medium-large sized potatoes
A bowl of Chhole - luckily it was readily available at home as when she announced her culinary plans for the day, the overnight soaked Kabuli Chana had been pressure cooked for our breakfast of Chana Masala!
very finely chopped onions - 1-2
rock salt
roasted jeera powder
chili flakes
Chaat masala
chopped green chilies (was not added today...for obvious reasons ;))
Chopped coriander

B) Tamarind chutney/water
2 tbsp of readymade tamarind paste or a 2" dia ball of tamarind soaked in water and made into a pulp
rock salt

roasted jeera powder
chili flakes
chaat masala
sugar - a little
a mug of water

Procedure :
1. Wash and pressure cook the potatoes after halving/quartering them. 2 whistles are enough. 
2. While the potatoes are being boiled, prepare the tamaring water (tetul jol/imli paani) by mixing all the ingredients under "B" with water.
3.Now coming back to the potatoes....Cool, dunk in cold water and peel the skin. Mash with hand or masher.
4. Mix the mashed potatoes with all ingredients (except chopped coriander) under "A".
5. Add the tamarind water / tetul jol to make a moist  spicy potato mash. Taste and adjust the other spices if required. 
6. Garnish with sev bhujia / crushed phuchka/paani puri's puri / cornflakes and then finally with chopped coriander leaves

The yummilicious ALU CHAAT was ready!! And what made it yummier was the fact that it was harvested and prepared (fully) by my little lady!

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Saucy Fish?!

No....there's nothing 'Saucy' or cheeky about this fish preparation....the name suggests Sauces as the main ingredients....that's all! A super quick 15 minutes (if you dont consider the marination time) recipe from start to finish....

Ingredients :
Bhetki Fish fillets : about 8-10 leftover irregular pieces after preparing the fillets for making fish fries...

Chopped Onions
Finely chopped capsicum - 1/2
Finely chopped coriander leaves/Dhonepaata - for garnishing
Sugar - 1 tsp

For marination :

Worcestershire sauce - drizzle to coat all the pieces
Soya Sauce - about 1.5 tbsp
Chili Vinegar - 2 tbsp
Chili flakes - 1 tbsp
Ginger paste - 1 tsp
Garlic paste - 1tsp

Olive Oil - 1 tsp

Procedure :
1.Add all ingredients under 'Marination' and coat all the fish pieces well and marinate, preferably, for an hour..

2. Transfer the marinated fish along along any juice into a microwaveable container, preferably with a cover/lid. Microwave in Low power (whatever is the minimum power) for 8-10 minutes. Check the "done-ness" after 5-7 minutes and decide. Keep it covered after switching off the power. Make sure it's not becomes fibrous....
3. In the meantime dry roast the chopped capsicum on a hot tawa on high for a minute or so give a smoky taste
4. Caramelise finely chopped onions by adding a little bit of sugar while frying the onions in a little oil.
5. Garnish the microwaved fish with caramelised onions, dry roasted capsicum & finely chopped coriander leaves.

Serve hot with steamed rice, butter rice, bread or just some potato wedges and salad.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

A bowl of Soup to calm a cold-cough-fever ridden cranky toddler

Chicken with Veggies & Egg Soup

A cranky toddler down with cold-cough-fever, holed up indoors for 4 long days....just needed to be perked up with something she loved....SOUP! So a bowlful of hearty wholesome soup it was.....

I did not have chicken stock...I more often than not, dont. But that hardly matters.....There's always an alternative and a pressure cooker....

So here it is...any vegetable can be used. I used the ones I had....

2 boneless chicken leg pieces or 1 large chicken breast - chopped into small pieces
1 Carrot cut into tiny cubes
3-4 french beans chopped into tiny pieces
A handful of corn kernels (I used frozen)
A handful of fresh peas 
1/2 Capiscum chopped 
Chopped onions - 1
5-6 cloves of garlic-sliced
fresh ginger - 1/2 inch - cut into thin strips
pepper corns-freshly crushed : 4-5
Black Pepper powder
Tej Pata - 1 or 2
Salt to taste
Butter - 1 tbsp
Sesame Oil - 1 tbsp
Eggs - 2

Got the idea to add the beaten eggs to the soup and to use sesame Oil , from Soma's Egg Drop Soup. 

Procedure :
1. In a large pressure cooker, heat butter. Add the Tej Pata, sliced ginger & garlic, crushed pepper corns and finally the chopped onions. Stir till the onions turns translucent.
2. Add the bit sized chicken pieces. Stir around on high heat till slightly browned. Add the fresh peas
3. Add 2 mugs full of water. And pressure cook till 2 whistles go off. If you have chicken stock, add only 1/2 mug of water and pressure cook the chicken and them add the chicken stock and again bring to a boil.
4. While the pressure cooking is on, heat a tawa without oil and dry roast the chopped capsicum. Dont overcook..just to remove the moistness/rawness of capsicum and to give it a smoky flavour.
5.After release of the pressure, take off the lid of the cooker, raise the heat and again bring to boil. When boiling, add all vegetables except capsicum/bell pepper and boil for a minute or less. The vegetables should retain their crunch and not turn soggy. Add the dry roasted capsicum.
6.Adjust the salt and pepper. Add a drizzle of sesame oil into the boiling soup.
7. Beat 2 eggs. Lower the heat and add the beaten eggs slowly in a thin stream while stirring (with a fork) the simmering soup in one direction as described in Soma's Egg Drop Soup. My egg ribbons/strands were not as fine and delicate as hers ..but tasted smooth and silky!

Serve Hot!!!
To see the kiddo's eyes light up with joy as she slurped the steaming bowl of soup was an immense relief after a long day of seeing her being ill and moody!