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Sunday, January 27, 2013

Puli Pithey...a Sankranti Speciality!

Coconut-Jaggery filled Rice flour-Sweet Potato Dumplings in Thickened milk sweetened with Date Palm Jaggery

Making Puli Pithey has been on my agenda since I began making Paatishapta. But recalling Ma's elaborate preparation of this particular Sankranti speciality, I've always developed cold feet.

However, this time, after making Patishapta I had a substantial quantity of excess Patishaapta's coconut filling and so decided to proceed towards the much loved yet much dreaded preparation of Puli Pithey.

This is the recipe of Puli Pithey  I have grown up eating, savouring and later craving for. And so is precious to me....

Rice flour (of preferably Gobindobhog rice) : Sweet Potato = 1:1  (I used 1/2 kg of each)
Milk : Full cream 2 litres
Sugar : 1/2 of my Daal ladle
Gur : enough to sweeten the milk and mix with the coconut
Coconut : 1 medium sized
Hot / warm water
Salt : a pinch

In case of my Ma's authentic recipe of Puli Pithey the cocunut filling is to be mixed & cooked with sugar without any khowa (milk solids). But since I used leftover from my Paatishaapta filling, my filling had coconut (1/2 medium sized) + date palm jaggery (75 gm) + khowa (from approx 750ml milk).

Procedure :
I) Coconut filling : See recipe at 'B' of Procedure in this post.
    If desired, the khowa may be eliminated from this recipe and the coconut proportionately increased to 1 medium sized coconut, grated

II) The Milk base
Bring 2 litres of milk to a boil and add 1/2 a (Daal) ladle of sugar. Keep aside

III) The Dough
a) Pressure cook 1/2 kg sweet potato and mash them into a pulp. Keep aside.

b) The Rice Dough :
     1) Wash, Dry and grind the Gobindobhog Rice in fine flour. Keep aside a small bowl full of powdered rice aside for later use.
     2) In a Kadai, take 2 teacups of  water. Add a pinch of salt. And bring to a boil.
     3) Pour the rice flour into the boiling water and stir to make the dough. Add more hot water if needed to moisten the whole flour and make into a smooth dough. Cover and keep aside for ten minutes.

c) Rice + Sweet Potato Dough :
Now knead the boiled and mashed sweet potato and the Rice Flour Dough together into a smooth dough. If too moist, sprinkle some rice flour or Atta to reduce the moisture.

After keeping aside a ball * (approx 2" in dia) of this dough, use the rest for making the Puli

III) The Puli or the Dumplings :

- Pinch off balls of the size you would while making luchi/puri.
- Make a depression at the centre and mould them as a bowl.
- Fill it in with adequate amount of coconut-jaggery filling...not too much
- Now fold into half moon shaped dumpling and seal the edges by pressing together.
- Repeat with the rest of the dough & coconut filling

IV) * The 'Chooshi' or dough filaments :

I dont know the English word for Chooshi. Will just explain the making of it.
Smear your palms with a little of the rice flour+sweet potato dough ball kept aside. And also pat the smeared palms with dry rice flour. Now slowly rub your palms together...the approx 1" length snake like filaments falling of your rubbing dough smeared palms is Chooshi.
Repeat with the rest of the 2" dough and rice flour.

IV) The final assembly
- While the dumplings were being made, bring the boiled milk to a boil again and after the dumplings are made, slowly slide them into the boiling milk one after another.
- Simultaneously, mash the jaggery into paste and add it slowly into the milk, and keep stirring gently to mix.
- Finally add the Chooshi and stir gently.
- If you have some coconut filling in excess after making the Pulis, add them to the boiling milk and give a gentle stir...
- Once the whole assembly of Puli - Chooshi - milk have come to a boil and has boiled vigorously  for a few minutes, switch off the gas.

Serve hot or chilled. Both have their distinctly delicious flavours !

I found some of the other variations of Puli Pithey in Sharmila's & Indrani's kitchens.

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Malai Palak or Spinach in Milk Cream

A simple Palak recipe which tastes awesome with both rice & roti

DISCLAIMER : Quite unphotogenic to look at....but definitely delicious to eat!

Ingredients :8-10 bunches of Spinach / Palak / Palong Shaak
Garlic -5-6 cloves chopped fine
1 choppped Onions chopped
Tomatoes  - optional
Salt & Sugar to taste
Green chilies as per heat tolerance
Fresh Malai / Milk Cream / Doodher Shawr - 1 cup
Oil - 1 tsp

Procedure :
1. Wash the Palak leaves well, drain the water and chop.
2. In a kadai / wok, heat oil and add the chopped onions, chopped garlic and a pinch of sugar into the oil. Saute till the onions turn a translucent pink.
3. Add the washed & chopped Palak.
4. Cook with an occasional stir without lid to dry away the water.
5. Once the majority of the water has been vapourised off, add the malai / fresh milk cream / doodher shawr, followed by chopped green chilies.
6. Stir it around till the malai palak is moist but not watery. In case the need arises to drain off the last remnants of wateriness, sprinkle some atta (all purpose flour) on cooked Malai Palak and give it a stir.

The simple Malai Palak is ready to serve with steaming white rice.

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Tangy Herbalicious Prawns!!!

An impromptu recipe which I hope I can remember correctly! But actually there isnt much to remember in this recipe of Prawns except the fact that I dunked in a lot of fresh herbs into it and the final product reflected the freshness of herbs blended beautifully with the buttery fresh prawns with minimum spices....

Ingredients :

750gms cleaned shelled de-veined  prawns.
1 bowl full of chopped coriander and some (for garnishing)
1 bowl full of curry leaves
1 mmedium sized capsicum chopped
8-10 garlic cloves
1 diced onion & 1 finely  chopped onion
1 chopped tomato
freshly crushed peppercorns
chilli flakes
juice of 3 lemons
rock salt
a pinch of sugar
chopped green chillies & whole green chilies
potatoes cut as in french fries. 
white sesame seeds - 2-3 tbsp
rice flour (optional) - 2-3 tbsp
Tej Pata -1 

Prawns :
1. Marinate the prawns in lemon juice, rock salt, crush pepper for 1/2 hr - 1 hour.
2. Lightly saute the prawns. Keep aside.
3. In a kadai / wok, heat oil and throw in a Tej Pata, a tsp of crushed pepper corns and finely sliced garlic cloves. Also add the diced onions & chopped onions and a pinch of sugar for caramelizing . Fry till the onions turn translucent.
4. Add the chopped capsicum and fry on medum to high heat.
5. Now add the 2 bowls of fresh herbs - curry leaves and  coriander leaves. Stir them around. The aroma of fresh herbs is mindblowing!!!!
6. Add the chopped tomato and stir it around on high heat.
7. Add rocksalt.
8. Now add the sauted prawns and add salt, pepper and chili flakes as per your taste.
9. Stir briskly on high heat till prawn is done but ensure it's not overcooked. Squeeze a lemon, mix it around and garnish with the leftover chopped coriander.

French Fries with a crunchy twist:
1. While frying and stirring the herby prawns, marinate the sliced potatos lemon juice, salt, chili flakes and (slightly moistened) rice flour and abot 1-1.5 tbsp white sesame seeds (Til) .
2. In a frying pan/wok, heat oil and fry the potatoes on medium to high heat.When it's almost done, sprinkle some more white sesame seeds on the almost-done-potatoes. To minimise oil consumption, while frying potatoes, the potato slices may be blanched followed by being chilled in freezer.

Serve the herbilicious prawns with rice and garnish with the crunchy crispy french fry kind of potato fries!!

Friday, January 18, 2013

"Bangali Begun PoRa Dhoney Paata Baata Diye"

A non-recipe.....Smoked (Burnt) Brinjal with Ground Coriander leaves

Disclaimer : Considering that although this is a dish prepared almost religiously at least once a week, I NEVER ever thought it could be categorised into a 'to be blogged''s that simple and almost a zero-spice non-recipe.... and one more's DIFFERENT from Baingan Bharta!!!

This simplest of recipes reinforces and exemplifies the fact that Bengali cuisine is predominantly less on spice and the focus is more on retention of the authentic taste and flavour of the vegetables.

Well....Begun PoRa with Dhoney Paata Baata is a slice of my Mom/Grandmom's Saturday & Tuesday dinner menu....especially in winter when fresh green corianders leaves were in abundance.

I dont know why, but'Begun porano' i.e Brinjal Roasting was / is carried out ONLY on Tuesdays and Saturdays....and strangely, I too, despite claiming to be non-prejudiced and non-superstitious and logical minded, I too roast my brinjals on Tuesdays and/or Saturdays! coming to the basics :

Ingredients :

For Begun PoRa or Roasted Brinjal :
One Big Fat shiny Brinjal
Mustard Oil - about 2-3 tbsp
Green Chilli - as many as you want
Onion chopped (optional)-I did not use.

For Dhonepaata Baata or Coriander leaves Ground / Paste :
Coriander leaves - 6-7 bunches  or one big colander full of chopped coriander
Sugar - 1/2 tsp
Salt to taste
Green chillies - as many as you want
Mustard Oil - 1 tsp

Procedure :
Begun PoRa / Roasted Brinjal
1.The Big Fat Brinjal needs to be slit (criss-cross) right upto the stalk. Please dont remove the stalk, it helps to hold it over the flame while roasting.
2. Smear the surface with Mustard Oil and Rub it all over.
3. Hold it over the flame and keep turning it around as the flame scorches and roasts the skin of the brinjal. The idea is to roast it uniformly all over.
4. A smoky aroma fills the surroundings. And the outer skin of the brinjal is black, charred and almost peeling off.
5. Poke the inner smoked flesh to ensure its softened uniformly.
6. Peel off the outer charred skin and mash the inner smoked brinjal flesh well after adding the requisite amount of salt, chopped green chillies and chopped onions (optional). I had only one green chilli @home, hence used chili flakes for spicing up my begun pora!

Dhoney Paata Baata / Coariander leaves ground/paste :

1. Chop a colander full of coriander leaves and wash them well. Also wash some green chillies.
2. Now make a paste of the chopped coriander leaves + green chilies.
3. Using a Shil Nora (grinding stone used in most Bengali kitchens) would be the best option to make this 'Baata' / Paste, but the chutney jar of the food processor is a more convenient option (at least in my kitchen).

4. In a wok/kadai, heat a teaspoonful of mustard (and ONLY mustard oil) till smoking hot and pour the watery coriander leaves+green chilli paste. Stir briskly on medium to high flame till the moistness dries off and the paste turns a moss green colour. It's no longer watery now.

The 'Begun PoRa with Dhoney Paata Baata' is ready to be mixed with rice and savoured. 

Try mixing only Dhoney Paata Baata with hot steamed rice....I could devour a plateful of this rustic rice-Dhoney Paata Baata mix!!!

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Patishapta, Kite flying and relaxation on Sankranti!

(A sweetened pancake with coconut-jaggery-milk solids filling)

A Bong's Poush Sankranti celebrations amidst Hyderabadi Sankranti's Kite flying fervour!

Well it was fusion all the way.....Holiday, Pithey preparations, Kite Flying, my 7yr old decorating the main entrance with chalk powder muggu.....we did it all!!

I am surprised at how I've missed blogging here about the annual tradition of Pithey Paarbon and the famous Bengali Pitheys...though I have shared the recipe of Paatishapta in my now abandoned personal blog 'Whims and Wishes' (here & here)!

Well Paatishaapta being the easiest (in my opinion) of the Pitheys and the most oft prepared one by me, I'll post the recipe of it today. And will share the recipe of the more elaborate Puli Pithey later.....

Ingredients for Paatishapta which yielded approximately 30 pieces:

* 2 medium sized Coconut - freshly grated

* Patali Gur (DatePalm Jaggery) - 450 gm approximately

* Sugar- 1 Cup

* Flour (Maida)- 2 Cups

* Suji or Semolina - 1 Cup

* Rice Flour- 1 Cup

* Milk - 1.75 - 2 litres

*Khoa (dried or thickened milk) from 3 litres milk - yielded approximately 500 gm of which about 450-470gm was used
* Ghee - 2tbsp

Procedure : Instructions are given in the sequence I prepared

I mixed the Suji and Rice Flour. Then soaked the mixture in adequate milk. Left it aside and got on to work on the Filling.

Took the freshly grated coconut in a wok (Kadai) and added the sugar and approx 300 gms of jaggery. Stirred it around well. (Sugar provides the binding)
After mixing it considerably well, put the wok containing the mixture on fire and 
continued stirring.
Added the khoa after the coconut-jaggery-sugar mix had turned a lovely golden brown. All the while I was vigorously stirring the mix which is the most important aspect of making the 'Pur' or filling.
I continued the stirring process for about 30 minutes, till the coconut turned a rich brown and became sticky in texture.

C) PATISHAPTA BATTER (Continued):Part 2
I added 2 tbsp of ghee to the Maida and mixed evenly. 

Added this to the already milk-soaked mixture of Suji-Rice Flour. Had to mix it well as to ensure no lumps are formed. Added more milk to make the batter of medium consistency so that it spreads evenly on the tawa.

To sweeten the batter, add some broken pieces of jaggery (approx 150gm). The batter should be of mild sweetness.


I used a non-stick Tawa (a non-stick frying pan would do fine)

Smeared some oil/ghee (I used ghee....sinfully delightful!!) on the Hot Tawa. (I used the top of a brinjal cut horizontally, with the stalk makes the ghee smearing easy as the stalk acts as a handle)

Poured a ladle of batter and spread it in a circle as in Dosa/Pancake 

Fried in low to medium heat to ensure the patishapta is crisp yet soft. Flipped it over.

Made a snakelike shape with a tablespoonful of Pur and laid it lengthwise as is shown in the pic.

Folded the patishapta and turned it around a bit to give a golden brown look to it.

Served hot!!!

This Sankranti special delicacy is off to Foodabulous Fest Event organised by Preeti’s Kitchen Life.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Chicken-Spinach Frittata in Microwave

A one pot meal containing meat , greens, eggs! Frittata is the answer to Mealtimes blues especially so because my kids LOVE eggs!

And more often than not, I skip the oven top followed by grill mode of making frittatas and go for the one shot microwave mode!!!!

Ingredients :
Eggs - 3-4
Chopped onions
Boneless chicken pieces cut into bit sized pieces or shredded. If marinated in lemon/vinegar + salt + pepper + ginger + garlic, makes things easier....
Spinach - 5-6 mini bunches, washed, drained and chopped
Baby corn - sliced into thin many
Chopped coriander
Garlic 8-10 cloves, finely chopped
Chilly-Oregano powder
Any other herbs (fresh/fried) of choice
Chilli flakes
cheddar cheese - 1 cup.

Any other veggies or ingredients like capsicum, spring onions, carrots, beans, Mushrooms, cauliflower, broccoli etc etc can be used after sauteing / blanching in salt water

1.Heat some oil in a wok/kadai and throw in a tej pata, followed by crushed pepper corns and chopped/sliced garlic. Add the marinated chicken pieces. When the chicken is almost done, add the sliced babycorn and fry them along with the chicken. Fry on medium to high heat till browned and crispy. 

2.Simulaneously, in another wok/vessel, with/without oil, throw in the chopped spinach along with a pinch of salt and sugar and turn on the heat to high/medium and cook without any cover. Let the spinach give out the water and continue till the water dries up but the spinach is still moist.

3. Beat 3-4 eggs till fluffy. Add some fresh cream of milk or milk. (optional) Add salt & pepper and herbs of choice. I added chili - oregano mix. Mixed well

4. In a microwaveable flat bottomed container, make a bed of spinanch, top it up with fried chicken-babycorn. Pour the beaten egg on it.

5.Put it in microwave (HIGH) mode for 10-15 minutes (depending on the microwave). The bottom should have set and the top should still be slightly runny. 

6. Sprinkle the grated cheese. And put it in Micro+Grill mode for around 10 minutes or till the cheese melts and browning starts. In microwave, though, the browning is quite minimal despite cooking on grill mode.

7. Take it out, garnish with chopped coriander. 

I served it hot with potato wedges, sliced tomatoes.

But basically can be served with anything...bread, mashed potatoes, grilled veggies, salads or just as it is....