Saturday, November 29, 2008

Roasted Brinjal (Begun Pora)

Aubergine is a great vegetable in UK, this is our very own brinjal in India and if you are living in US then its eggplant. One vegetable and three different name.
Then there are other names in regional languages like Begun in Bengali, What you call Brinjal in your mother tongue. Do let me know it will be great to know.

There are some very famous proverbs in Hindi which talks about color change. And that color change depicts the human psyche and estranged human nature.
Main gosse se lal ho gayi as if the color is a great way to depict the bad mood.

Or have you seen an angry Hero in a Hindi film shouting at the Villain and the color changing in the back ground. White –red-green-white-red-green.
Now at this point, I wonder do people also changes color?

Or have you seen the color change during a magnificent sunset or sunrise.
Or when a normal curry is flavored with turmeric powder, the color changes immediately to vibrant hue of yellow.
Or when you roast a usual vegetable, chicken or meat, the color also changes.
This is true in case of Brinjal also, Like the Purple Brinjal Change its color to Black when it’s roasted slowly on open flame placed on a wire rack .People way back even used to roast it over hot Charcoals when they have no other options or means.
Basting (rubbing with sauces or oil) it with oil or butter is preferred but not mandatory.
Roasting imparts a deep brown to black color to the vegetables. It results in caramelization of the skin which gives this distinct smoky flavor.Chemically it’s the reaction of a amino group and the reducing sugar , well I leave it up to that only.

Now, there is one such great event which talks about colors in cooking FIC being hosted by a colorful and vivacious host SunShinemom.

I personally think roasted brinjal taste good by itself, with a dash of salt and mustard oil( a must for Bharta) only.There is no need to add much spices or herbs to enhance the flavor.This is how we prepare roasted Brinjal in our home.

Roasted Brinjal( Begun Pora)
1 large Brinjal/Aubergine/Eggplant
2-4 tsp of mustard oil
Salt as per taste
1 onion chopped
4-5 tsp of fresh coriander leaves
Wash and Pat dry the Brinjal, Prick with a knitting needle in the middle to and fro in the middle.
Now at medium flame, roast the brinjal, see the steaming brinjal on stove top.Its fun to see it fuming.
After few minutes rotate the side and see the juices coming out. Ok ,It gave up its challange.
When it's completely burnt .Cool out and remove the burnt skin of brinjal carefully with knife or spoon.
Mash it with mustard oil, onion, salt and coriander leaves.
It’s ready to be eaten with roti. Quick and Easy.

You can add ginger, garlic, tomato and other herbs like Parsley or cumin powder etc, depends on the variation you are looking for.

Happy Cooking Friends
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Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Bharvaan Karela(Stuffed Bitter Gourd)

I was kind of reluctant to include Bitter gourd /Karela in our usual meals. Bengali meal however, always starts with Teto or bitter, that includes korola/kumro Bhaja or shukto which is a medley of vegatbles prominently Bitter gourd.
Now, with passage of time, I discovered the medicinal value of bitter gourd, thanks to in-laws and parents. I now make it a point to include it at least twice a week.
It’s generally easy for me to mash together boiled bitter gourd and potatoes or pumpkin. One whistle in pressure cooker that’s all is needed.
Bitter gourd fry on the other hand, takes a little bit of time and oil, but it taste great with fried onions or pumpkin pieces.

Now there is this another way of preparing bitter gourd in UP, which I really like eating .It tastes exactly just like a pickle, spicy and savory and surprisingly no trace of bitterness.
I really liked the way my childhood friend once told me about this preparation long time back which I tasted in her place while doing joint-study for our exams.

Bharvaan Karela (Stuffed Bitter Gourd)Ingredients 
Long Bitter Gourd - 4
2 medium size onion
2-3 tsp of fresh ginger paste
1 tsp of garam masala
1 tsp of salt for frying and 2 tsp of salt for marinating the bitter gourd
1 tsp turmeric powder
1 tsp of red pepper powder
2-3 green chilly slit in between
2 tbs of fresh curd or yogurt
1 lemon ,for lemon juice , makes 3-4 tsp of juice or you can add amchur powder also

.Marinating the Bitter Gourd Peel the outer serrated parts of bitter gourd with a peeler.
Make an incision in between and take out the seeds and pith ,now wash the Bitter Gourd thoroughly in water, sprinkle salt generously and rub them inside also with salt ,refrigerate the salted bitter gourd.
TIP- If you are making this dish, its better to marinate them in salt the day before you are going to prepare, this way they do not turn out bitter.

Preparing the Filling for Bitter Gourd
Heat up a kadai, add oil, sauté some fresh ginger paste, chopped onion, and add coriander powder, green chilly, red powder, garam masala, salt , fry for 4-5mints till onions become little brown , add lemon juice and yogurt , fry till yogurt dries out in the fried masala.
Take out in a vessel and cool the masala for stuffing

Stuffing the Bitter Gourd

Clean the Bitter Gourd in water 2-3 times thoroughly.
Now with the help of a spoon or even hands , fill in the masala .
TIP-Tie it with thread so that the masala don’t get out while frying them.

Frying the Bitter Gourd

Heat up the Kadai again, add 2-3 tbs of oil , now place the bitter Gourd gently , and cook covered at low for 7-8 mints , Turn the sides and repeat the cooking process for the other side .Take out and drain in paper towels .Eat with rice or roti of your choice. 

If refrigerated it remains fresh for 3-4 days.

Happy Cooking Friends

I would like to submit this recipe to Weekend Herb Blogging , a well known food event ,originally started by Kalyn at Kalyn's Kitchen
Now Being maintained By Halo Of Cook Almost Anything .
This week host is Scott of RealEpicurean .
Please visit these lovely sites for more details.

other recipes for WHB~
~Cauliflower Potato Curry
~Zucchini capsicum Curry

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Chicken Biryani For Rice-mela

What happens when you are tired after a hectic morning work schedules and you are preparing yourself for afternoon siesta, so that you can charge up the batteries for life.

You hear a commotion and you start cursing the things around you and with a tired look you roll over the curtain and see huge lighting equipments and professional cameras like these

And then you hear lights camera rolling and action …
You pinch yourself and wonder you are day dreaming while still awake or what?
This is what exactly happened on Monday and I was and am mesmerized by this experience, kind of awe of it.
Can you imagine my plight, all happening just in front of me; I can see clearly the whole unit of this Bengali Film, from director to cameraman to the upcoming actor and actress.
And hold your breath The dancing King, the Disco Dancer Mithun da Aai!
I was left little disappointed as his get-up was very unusual, couldn’t get the real image but then ,I had no other option also .

These are real hard working people, for one shot they gave 7-8 retakes, people behind these stars are the real heroes, they hold the camera, give the finishing touch, the light men, spot boys, junior artists and some unsung names also. Yes, I now exactly the ABCD of film making …Hurray!
Shooting of the movie, later I came to know, was made the entire day, exploiting the damn every corner of our housing society.
I heard a loud sound of “pack-up” and the park was all clear within 1 hour except for some “white plastic cups and plates” …ahhh! What a great evening it was.

Let’s just go to the Biryani recipe now.

Chicken Biryani
Serves for 4-5 people
Chicken 500-750 gms
Rice- 4cups ( I used Govind Bhog Rice ,little less long than the usual basmati Rice)

Masala For Chicken Gravy
5 onions chopped
5 garlic pods
½ inch ginger
1 ½ tsp of turmeric powder
2 tsp of red pepper powder
1 tsp of coriander powder
1 cup of fresh home-made yogurt
¼ cup of cream (optional, but if added it gives the richness to Biryani)
4 tbs of mustard oil
1-2 tsp of salt or as desired
1 tsp of sugar

Masala for Rice
2 onions chopped finely
4garlic pods chopped finely
2-4 tsp of ginger paste
½ tsp of red pepper powder
1 tomato chopped
2-3 tej patta
½ cup of cashews
½ cup of raisins
2-3 potaoes fried whole (optional to add in Biryani)

Wash the rice thoroughly in water and soak it for half an hour.
Meanwhile chop all the ingredients for chicken Gravy and make a smooth paste.
Make paste for ginger/garlic separately and the onion paste separately.
This would help fry the ginger and garlic well.

Now heat up a Kadhai, add mustard oil,add sugar and the smooth masala paste of ginger/garlic first fry at high for 1-2 mints.

Add the onion paste and continue frying at high for 2-3 mints.
Add the dry ingredients like turmeric, red pepper and coriander powder and salt.
Fry at high for 5-7 mints till the rawness of paste is gone.
Now add the chicken pieces. Add ½ cup of water and stir/fry for 5 mints.

Continue cooking at medium flame with out covering and sometimes adding little bit of water when the gravy dries out. Stop when the chicken is teneder, this generally takes about 30 mints without cover at medium flame.

Note-If the chicken is marinated before cooking,it tastes great even more.I didin't had that much of time ,so I skipped this step.But I would highly recommend to follow marinating the chicken pieces before cooking.
Making of rice or biryani
Heat up the kadhai, add refined oil, cumin seeds, tej patta
Now add chopped ginger/garlic and onions, stir/fry them till the raw smell fades away.
Add the rice and chopped tomatoes, fry at medium-high, stiring continuously and when the rice becomes translucent and shinning . Add cashews and raisins.

Transfer the entire fried masala rice to pressure cooker.I have cooked the biryani in pressure cooker(this gives the real space to rice grains and chicken pieces with bones to cook evenly) without locking the lid. You can use any big heavy bottom saucepan/dekchi for cooking the birayni.
Add water, it should be for 4 cups 5 cups of water. Cover the pressure cooker .You can add medium size fried potatoes to the cooking rice also.

Cook covered and check the rice when its half or ¾ done, this generally takes approx 10 mints.
Now transfer the cooked chicken gravy with chicken to the rice that’s being cooked.
Mix in well or you can layer the rice and then chicken gravy alternately,I generally prefer to slightly mix in with gentle touch.

Check if the rice is cooked, if not add little bit of more water, this time a little warm water to the cooking Biryani. Please cook at low.
Cover and place a weight over the saucepan. I had seen placing the Nora over it ,when my Father used to cook the Dum Ka Birayani .Since I didn’t had Sheel Nora , I didn’t put that .
This generally takes another 10 mints or depends on the rice you are using.

It’s better to prepare the Dum Ka Birayni 2 -3 hrs before serving ,as the cooked rice grains starts to dry up when it’s cooked, making it easily fluffy.Accompanied by lauki raita(will post later about it) ,it was a welcome change to our mundane menu.

This is going to Sri's Place at Cooking For All Season visit here for more details Rice Mela .

Happy cooking Friends

Friday, November 14, 2008

Mochar Ghonto (Banana Blossom Stir/Fry)

We have made our life so busy that sometimes we don’t even stop and ponder for few mintutes, and think about the things which used to make us happy.
One happy moment for me was to visit my grandmother’s home or our ancestral home.
There were big papaya tree, neem tree, drumstick tree and some flower plants like shiuli,joba ,togore pholer gach ( shrub)etc.
One thing which used to give me immense pleasure was to see long queues of banana Plants and banana blossom. These remained as somewhat GolpoKotha (Bookish Tale),for me now. The hustle- bustle of urban life has made us, somewhat robotic living in Pigeon hole.

As I was passing the vegetable vender’s shop in an auto , across the road side (Yes that’s how vegetables are sold here every morning and evening) I saw fresh Banana Blossoms or Mocha being sold out there .Just wished it could be so wonderful if I try making them again.
And the next day, FIL came back after a session of morning walk with mocha (banana blossom)Mind you there are specific days when Mocha should be purchased, never on Thursdays and Saturdays.
Never ever occurred to me to post about it, as I was thinking Mochar Ghonto being so traditional dish; nobody would have that much of patience and even desire to cook it.
But there are few at my little one’s Preschool, who constantly asks me for this recipe.
Here Girls this is for you.

But before the recipe.
Something about banana blossom or Mocha.
Mocha pronounced as Mo Cha, Cha as in Chair in Bengali.

Flowers of banana also known as banana blossom grows at the end of stem holding many bananas.
The male flowers are enclosed in the layers called as bracts which are generally discarded while cooking the mochar Ghonto.
These Bracts can be used for serving any salads, or some decorating food articles.
Each Flower has a somewhat hard stigma which is enclosed in the flower, has a grayish to blackish round tip and it resembles quite like thin match sticks. This needs to be plucked out while cleaning and chopping the flowers. These flowers are in clusters of 10 enclosed in the each Bract.
While penetrating or taking out the layers of bracts, we will go towards the heart of banana blossom which would be little off-white or pale yellow in color. These are very dense as far as their outer flowers are concerned. This is chopped finely and there is no need to take out the stigma.
Please remember while Chopping Mocha
While chopping Mocha, its better to place near
1 large saucepan with water
1 news paper over which you can place the cutting board
1 bowl with few tsp of mustard oil,to grease the knife and hands.While cleaning and Chopping Mocha,sometimes hands gets black color which does fade within 1-2 days.But when greased with mustard oil, this can be prevented up to a great extent.
Sharmila says " rubbing with lemon juice also helps in "

Mochar Ghonto

(Banana blossom stir/fry)
Serves for 5-6 people
1 banana blossom
1 medium size potato cut into cubes
For Flavoring
4 cloves
2-3 pods cardamom
Half inch stick cinnamon
1-2 tsp of coriander powder
1 tsp of red pepper powder
1tsp of salt
2 tsp of sugar

For tempering
2-3 bay leaf or Tej Patta crushed
1 tsp of cumin seeds
3-4 tbs of mustard oil
2 tbs of ghee
Its better to oil the hands, knife before chopping banana blossom.
Place a news paper, then place the cutting board, also you need a small bowl approx take 2-3tsp of mustard oil.Grease your hands and fingers with it.
Open the outer layer of banana blossom,take out the flowers and take out from it "the hard somewhat blackish at the top stalk" , and chop them finely.Follow the same pattern for the other layer of blossom, until you reach the central heart , which would be slightly pale yellow or off white in color .Chop it finely , you will see the sticky gum ,coming out while chopping the banana blossom, slightly oil the hands and knife again and cut carefully .

How to get rid of the Bitterness of Mocha

Wash them in water thoroughly 2-3 times , fill in a large pan with water, add the banana blossom(Mocha) to it , add 1tsp of turmeric powder , ½ tsp of salt and bring to boil .Cook for 5-7mints .
Cover and stop the flame, let it cool off well, now discard the remaining water and take out the Chopped banana Blossom, squeeze in the remaining water with hands (yes that’s how our aunts and Mothers have been doing it)Or better use the sieve.
Making of Mochar Ghonto
Heat up a Kadhai,add oil, temper it with cumin seeds ,tej patta
Add potatoes; fry them at high for sometimes.
Add turmeric powder,red pepper powder,coriander,cumin powder
Add salt and sugar.
Fry all the ingredients for 4-5 mints at high.
Add chopped banana blossom and fry them also.
Add all cloves,cardamom,cinnamon.
Slightly sprinkle some water with hands.
Cover and cook for 10 mints at low, or till the potatoes are cooked.
With the help of spatula, gently mash the entire gravy and mix in well
Add ghee over the top.
Serve with warm cooked rice.
Please add ghee and garam masala generously for the great flavor of Mochar Ghonto .
Sometimes to the above recipe, small shrimp or choto chingri mach or Bengal gram legumes (Kala Chana) is also added.

Please also read -
Paruppu Usili and Morkuzhambu at Suganya's Tasty Palettes
Banana Blossom Palya at Sia's Monsoon Spice
Banana Blossom Indonesian Style Tumis at Cynthia's Taste like Home
I would Like to mention,in recent days I have been forwarded many awards.Its Just that I haven't mentioned,doesn't mean I am being Rude to all of you.You all are special to me beacuse in this busy life with daily obligations you people come here and leave such nice responses.
Please remind me If I have forgotten to write your name in any case.
Thank You all for thinking about me,I am deeply touched.

Happy Cooking Friends
this recipe is going to Suganya's Place at Tasty palettes visit here for more details Vegan Ventures Round-2.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Vegetable Cutlets

Last Friday I opened the refrigerator and found out there were some beetroot and carrots that were still left. Now If I try making it in a simple Curry or Subzi , my folks would eat it without any complain but there sad and very oh-so-its-again-the-same-and-boring-stuff Look will haunt me while I would be again feeling Great-what-extra-You-want-me-to-cook.
I guess these are very common things in every household. Mine is not different and with two picky eaters, I have to keep experimenting with ingredients. They need something Mukhrochak(Appetizers/sizzlers) always. With sudden change in climate, the heart and mind both crave for more than the usual stuff .Something which would be deep fried and spicy, can well go with evening tea or can act as an appetizer before the full meal. Here it is presenting to you Vegetable cutlets.

Vegetable Cutlets
Makes 7-8 cutlets
1 beet root
1 orange carrot
1 medium onion
½ tsp of ginger paste
1 tsp of cumin powder
2 tsp of coriander powder
2 tsp of red pepper powder
1 tsp of salt or as per taste
2-3 tbs of oil
For the Dough
2 boiled potatoes
2 bread slices
2 tbs of besan
1 tsp of cumin powder
1 tsp of coriander powder
1 tsp of red pepper powder
Salt as per taste
oil for frying the cutlets
Wash the beet and carrot, peel them with peeler and then grate them finely.
Heat up a kadhai , add oil, fry the onions till they become translucent .
Add grated beetroot and carrot, and all the dry powders. Stir Fry at high for 4-5 mints.
Take out in a separate vessel.
Make the dough for cutlets

Make a soft dough out of 2 boiled potato, 2 slices of bread and little bit of besan or gram flour , add little more of coriander powder, cumin powder, red pepper powder and salt.Now make 7-8 small portions and roll into small balls
Grease your hand with oil, now take one rolled ball and slightly flatten in your palm, oil the flatten dough little bit and place the mixture in between , now cover the mixture with the dough evenly while working with both the palms and fingers. Make similar cutlets with the rest of the mixture and dough.
Refrigerate the cutlets for 2-3 hrs. TIP-Refrigerating the cutlets will help the cutlets to firm up the shape and also it will require little less of oil for deep fry.
Its better to deep fry the cutlets over a hot Griddle or tava , that requires little less oil.
Heat up a Tava, add oil and place the cutlets over the Tava, fry the cutlets on both the side, 2 cutlets at a time.
Take out and drain in paper towels. Enjoy them with evening tea or serve them as great appetizers in Parties.
There could be other options of making this dish Non-vegetarian by simply changing the stuffing with some cooked and shredded chicken pieces, minced meat (keema) or Fish fry that are still left in refrigerator.
Happy cooking Friends