Friday, April 30, 2010

Growing Organic-Sprout-Chaat

Sprouts are healthy and I don’t need to reiterate that. Whenever I want something instant and healthy to satisfy my hunger pangs, I end up making this. I usually have sprouts in my pantry which I like to make in home. Sometimes I also like to add yogurt and boiled potato cubes/corn to make it more filling.
Sprouting green chana is usually a 3 day process for me depending on the temperature and climate. This is a very basic and simple process without any hard labour.However if you compare the end result with the efforts you put in; the result seems to be more fulfilling and beneficiary. Anybody who is trying to get into shape, exercise is must but with proper meal plans. And trust me; nothing is better than this low-calorie high nutritious recipe which comes in with zero efforts.
I usually soak about 1 cup of green chana in ample amount of water in the night, the other day it turn out little bloated but no sprouting. I wash and clean the green china well in water and keep it again covered but with out water this time in a closed vessel. Before going to sleep, I again wash them well in water and cover them. I try to use a vessel large enough so that the sprouts can have plenty of space to germinate and breathe properly. And also a little warm weather is the trick.
The other day it turns like this

Again on second day, I wash them in water well and keep it covered overnight now preferably near my cooking range or oven. On 3rd day it looks like this.

Sprouting is generally a long process but you don’t need to stand over it and watch out for it. Just leave them overnight, covered in any vessel preferably a glass jar or a steel container and they turn out nice while you will be busy doing other day-to-day jobs, they will be taking the process on their own. I think nature can’t be more generous like these. And aren’t you satisfied that you are also growing something organic with zero efforts and minimal cost. Right?
I stock them in refrigerator for 2-3 days and take out in batches and make my sprout chaat fresh daily. Although I end up eating them in 2-3 days but they can be kept fresh in refrigerator for up to a week.
Boiled or cooked sprouts tend to loose some of the vitamins sprouting/germinating green chana has, so I prefer the raw salad or chaat over cooked ones.

Sprout chaat
1 cup of green chana sprouted
1 onion finely cut
Cucumber chopped ½ cup
1 tomato chopped
2 green chillies chopped
1/2 cup of chopped coriander leaves
1-2 tbs of Haldiraam Aloo bhujia

Wash green chana in water.Soak them overnight with ample amount of water and preferably in a large vessel. They will absorb all the water. Now discard the left-over water if any next morning. Now wash again the bloated green chana well in water. Cover it and keep it close to some humid place. I like to place it near my cooking range or oven at night. If you feel, you may go ahead and make the sprout chaat now. However if you keep them another night, they get sufficient time for proper germination.
Now make the sprout chaat, mix all the ingredients, adjust seasoning or use chaat masala if you wish to. Sprinkle some sev or Haldiraam aloo bhujia.Enjoy as your evening snack.

You may add boiled potato cubes or boiled corn.
You may like to mix in with some whisked yogurt to make it more filling or as side-dish.
Ask your kid to join in to make sprout chaat and explain the sprouting process with such live demonstration, I am sure they will be amazed like my 5 year old daughter.
And aren’t you satisfied that you are also growing something organic with zero efforts and minimal cost. Right?
Happy Cooking

Monday, April 26, 2010

Learning and Inspirations-Huli Podi for Blog Bites-Copycat Edition

I started this blog just to keep track of the recipes that I was preparing at that time. I never imagined that this would shape up like this in present form. I had no knowledge regarding HTML and programming was not my cup of tea. I learned everything from scratch, with my trial and error methods I finally managed to have this look of the blog. There are times when I look back and try to recall my earlier visitors who leaved their valuable footprints here. It always feels so good to get some nice response in return of the things we share here. I can always remember Vani.
In this particular Post , she specifically asked me to put some pictures of the recipe. To be honest I didn’t had digital camera at that time. So, uploading pictures was something out of my mind at that time. But her positive comment made me feel so elated and inspired by her advice; I purchased our digital camera and started taking food pictures thereafter, something which gives me immense pleasure still.
I copied this recipe for Huli Podi from her blog. If I am not wrong Huli Podi is also called as sambhar podi.I just reduced the quantity of dried red peppers as we can’t tolerate that much of spiciness easily as some of my friends can do. Also added some desiccated coconut to it. Wish I had something similar like my small masala grinder or coffee grinder with me now for a more even and smooth finish for the podi/powder. This has become one of the main spice powders in my daily cooking now. I am so hooked to the flavor of this pudi/powder that I even add it to my rui/ilish fish curries. Visit Vani’s recipe for Huli podi - Here

And there is another food blogger who always surprises me with her immense capabilities of creating lip-smacking dishes and beautiful knitting projects- Nupur.

With inspiration from Nupur's cute knitting projects and my Friend Joyeeta 's cute crochet projects, I tried my hand in making two scarf’s-one for myself and other for my daughter.
Picture below is my daughters’ cute pink color scarf which she adored wearing all thro this winter even going to school. This has started a new learning process; let’s see how things shape up in this field.

This one is her cute teddy sitting over her treasure box which she made out of an old shoe box.She has been keeping all her goodies or treasures in that box from stones to old paper cuttings, to her paint works and many such interesting things.

Sending this post to Nupurs Blog Bites-2 Copycat Edition , visit here for more details- Click Here .
Happy Cooking Friends

Friday, April 23, 2010

Mango Mousse

You saw a very delicious shining, mango pulp puree can in a supermarket while weekly grocery shopping. You now realize that back home summer has come with bounty full of delicious mangoes. Seeing an Oak tree from the window, you then start visualizing the old mango tree back home, which was everybody’s centre of attraction Last year . You now further realize that Mrs. M and Mrs. B must be so happy as you are no where there to claim your share. You start pitying yourself that you are stuck up in this land of peaches and apples and oranges but not mangoes.
Being jealous, you are now distressed. The other day you go to the supermarket .You purchase one large yellow mango, but it turn out more like a papaya. You become confused and then ring back home to ask have mangoes arrived there .On the other hand they seemed to be more inclined or interested in telling you about IPL fiasco or the recent Iceland Volcanic eruptions and it’s severe impact on global air travel. (We Bengalis love to talk anything under the sun!!).They keep talking about the fiasco and the volcanic ash for more. And at the time of hanging up the phone, finally confirm that mangoes are like wild mushrooms there with lots of varieties available-langra,chousa and Himsagar to name a few. To your amusement you came to conclusion later that you have probably eaten a mango originated near a place where Inca or probably Maya civilization flourished in past. Another vague guess may be from Macho-Picho who knows.

(Macho-Picho suddenly reminds you a scene from an old Bengali movie.Here Utpal Dutt ,played a character of anthropologist who has travelled throughout the world,shares good relationship with Anila's(played by Mamta Shanker) little boy in one of great Satyajit Ray's film Agantuk ).A beautiful and captive story of a unknown stranger who leaves behind many tales to remember.)
After all these recent developments in your life, you decide that enough is enough. You head straight towards the supermarket again and purchase that knight in shining armour -alphonso mango pulp can. You feel victory at your feet finally and you can now eat your share of mango or mango pulp, whatever!!

Mango Mousse
1 cup of alphonso mango puree (available in cans)
2 egg whites
2-3 sheet s of unflavoured gelatin (approx 2inch*2 inch sheet)
1 cup of whipped cream
2 tbs of milk
6-7 tbs of sugar or as per taste
½ cup of water
Cut the gelatin sheet with kitchen scissor into small pieces and dissolve in half cup of cold water. Cover it and keep it for 7-8 mints till they become soft. Drain excess water.
Meanwhile process mango puree and sugar together.
Beat egg whites to soft peaks.
Now whip up the cream and milk together. Fold about one third of this mixture to egg whites .And then keep folding gently till all the cream is used.
In a separate saucepan put some water to boil, and place the gelatin sheet with some water in a small bowl over it and gently keep mixing. When the gelatin sheets get dissolved completely, take off. Make sure the mixture doesn’t get too hot; this may prevent proper mousse to set.
Now put the gelatin mixture to the pureed mango pulp, mix well.
Its time to fold eggwhites+cream mixture with mango mixture. Fold them well.
Set them in individual serving glasses or a big vessel. Keep refrigerated for 6-7 hrs prior of serving. Enjoy the pure magic.

I have used 30 percent single cream for the above as this makes it light. If you wish you may use heavy whipping cream for further smooth textured mousse.
At the time of processing mango, add some lemon juice, this may help to thicken it more. Although I haven’t added it for the above.

Sending this to summer food events hosted by two talented food bloggers- Anupama and Indrani. Please visit their wonderful food blogs or follow the links below to know more.

Event at Anupama's Place - Mango Moods at Food-N-More .

Happy Cooking Friends

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Lessons learnt while Making Ice cream cake rolls

I was trying my hand in making cake rolls. As a beginner, I think I have just managed to make this cake Ok kind of. I wouldn’t say it was the most perfect try, as when I rolled it, cracks started to develop, which shouldn’t be happening for a perfect cake roll. This reminds me, I have some more miles to go.
This however was just enough to pacify our thirst for some new type of desert. I am glad I did my best for it.
Figure it out. I was going nuts to figure out what cake flour is. Lesson learned Number one-check synonyms for ingredients (that include knowing local names of ingredients) before trying out new recipes. I searched every aisle of my supermarket here, even asked one of the helper working in there. I came back home empty handed after all those efforts, but later when I checked in net found out that cake flour is self rising flour. I have been using self rising flour to make Banana Pancakes every weekend now and I don’t need to add that I have ample supply of these in my pantry. Despite of that I wasted precious time in finding/figuring out this. Cake flour is -Self rising flour with some added cornstarch to give that smooth and fine texture, a kind of perfect for this type of smooth cake roll recipes.Cake flour is accomplished by heavy milling.

Being adventurous is good but not this time. Lesson number two-never under estimate modern technology. I used a fork for folding the eggs; yeah I know a big mistake. I would suggest relying on your Kitchen Aid Mixer type Processor for it, as it saves your hands potential energy while folding eggs .By the time I finished folding egg yolks and then egg whites, my hands and fingers were aching. Lesson learned number three-Time to get some proper egg beater.

Sometimes small is mighty. Lesson Number- O.k ,last one in my list-If a particular recipe has asked for a special ingredients, never skip that, and more so if it is about baking a cake. Wax papers come handy when making these cake rolls. Mine was stuck in the baking tray and for that I have to tap it quite firmly to get hold of the cake, resulting in some cracks. Get good quality wax paper and bake over it. This way the cake can slide of the pan with ease.

This was very flavourful, a very soft cake and was much liked by my family despite all the goof-ups I have made.

Now with the entire lesson learnt, to the recipe , adapted from here-( Here )
Ice –cream cake roll
Recipe requirements
4 eggs separated
¾ cup of cake flour
¾ cup of sugar
¼ cup of cocoa powder
¾ tsp of baking powder

1 tsp of vanilla essence
2-3 cups of ice-cream any flavour
Pinch of salt
In a bowl, mix in cake flour, cocoa powder, salt.
Let eggs come to room temperature or let it sit for 15-20 mints prior of making this cake, then separate egg yolks and egg whites.
In a large mixing bowl, beat in egg yolks till it becomes thick and pale yellow .I did with a fork and it took me 10-12 mints of continuous and vigorous mixing, quite tiring though .I would suggest you to use any kitchen aid mixer. Just run it for 3-4mints at high and you are all done. Simple as that.
Slowly add sugar and vanilla to it and keep mixing it well. It took another 10 -12 mints with a fork/egg beater.
In a separate bowl, beat in egg whites to white soft peaks or until light and puffy. Then keep adding rest of the egg whites to form light and soft peaks.
Line a greased 15 inch*10 inch*1 inch baking tray with wax paper. Grease and flour the paper.
Preheat oven at 175 deg Celsius or 350 deg F, bake it for 15-16 mints. Take out and check-if touched it should spring back. Turn this cake over a kitchen towel dusted with confectioner’s sugar or icing sugar.Take out the wax paper slowly now.
Then roll this cake up and let it cool for sometimes.
After it has cooled, unroll the cake and then generously spread any flavor ice-cream. Roll this cake again. Cover with plastic wrap and freeze.
Before serving, just thaw it for 4-5 mints, cut and serve with some chocolate sauce or some extra ice-cream.

I looked for cake flour in net, and came to conclusion it is the self rising/raising flour available here. So I have used self rising flour for the above recipe.
The filling can be any flavored jam or marmalade or even any flavored ice-cream. This cake roll reminded us of cassata ice-cream that we used to have in Delhi.

And let me wish all my readers a very happy poila Baishak, Baisakhi,Rongali –bihu ,Puthandu and Vishu.
Shobo nababarsho everybody

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Aakhnir Jol Diye Rui Mach'er Pulao/Yakhni Fish Pulao

A small girl was curiously watching her father working in kitchen. Her mother is smiling and was helping her little brother and sister to do their homework. The cool, soothing wind was coming from the cooler fan. And some cut water-melons were neatly placed over the dining table. Summer days meant watermelons and turning the cooler for her.And her father would definitely help her mother in cooking. Her little brother who seemed to be impatient, was trying to grab one of those delicious water-melons kept in a bamboo fruit basket .Whenever he would try to do that, her mother would gently tap a pencil over his hand and swing it in the air and nod her head in a firm NO and then point it over the note-copy to finish doing his home-work. Her brother with no choices left would make faces to her and would start again doing his homework. Her cute, chubby, little sister would burst into innocent, childish laughter seeing all these.
Little girl-“Baba, ki banacho tumi?”- What are you making father?
Baba-“oh! Manu ,I am making yakhni pulao”
Little girl blinking her wide eyes-“ki yaakh-yaakhhni pu-pull lao, seyita ki hoye” it seemed a tongue twister and an alien word to her.
Baba-“Tumi aro ekto boro hole janbe” you will come to know when you grow a little bit more.
Little girl still amused , decided to hang out in kitchen some more time and saw her baba so enthusiastically assemble the pulao.She was assigned the job to peel onion. While peeling an onion, tears started flowing down from her eyes easily. Her father quickly came to rescue and wiped the tears coming out. He took away the onions and washed them well in running tap water. He then gave them to the little girl and assured her it won’t bother her now. It didn’t make her cry anymore after that, she was again amused. That day she saw another hidden, soft part of her baba/father which she was totally unaware of.
In a foreign land, that little girl now a married lady with a curious daughter like her is trying her hand in making that old yakhni pulao.
Her 5 year old daughter, mischievoiusly playing with her dupatta-“Eyi ta ki banacho mamma?” What are you making mother?
She could feel that life does come a full circle. Another generation is getting ready to carry the legacy forward. Her little girl had decided to hang out some more time in the kitchen and had picked some onions to peel. She, this time smiling, quickly washed them in running water and gave it to her daughter.

Yesterday made rui mach’er pulao, so thought of posting it. I was trying to capture each step of this pulao while making it. Hope you will find this post useful. I have heard so much about aakhnir jol /aromatic water for preparing pulaos that I decided to make it this way. I have told you about an Old Bengali book that I have, I consulted that book. Although I picked the basic of making aakhnir jol, but added many more other ingredients to make this pulao even more flavourful.

This recipe is adapted from that book. Also I have seen baba (my father)  making pulao with another way. He used to make a potli/small bag of sort, out of plain cotton cloth/muslin cloth and would generally stack up all the aromatic garam masala in it , tie it well and then would keep that potli simmering in water ,that aromatic water he would then use up in making pulao.Then he would usually keep the pulao cooking over dum(covering with the lid and placing a heavy thing ,usually a noraof Bengali -"sheel nora"- a kind of mortar-pestle type of thing ) at low flame or sometimes when he would have time, he would seal the lid with kneaded wheat flour dough. That pulao would turn out so flavorful that I don’t have words to explain here. This pulao reminded me of that delicious pulao.Oh! And I happen to confirm this , he told me thats call "dum style of cooking" ...

I managed to make it this time in oven which actually is quite similar to dum style of cooking ...and I have planned to make it the other way over stop-top next time also. Now to the recipe -

Aakhnir jol diye Rui mach’er pulao /Yakhni Fish Pulao
Recipe requirements

For the Aakhnir Jol/Aromatic Water
3-4 cups of water
10-12 cloves/lobongo
2 big cardamoms/boro elaich
2 stick cinnamon/dalchini
Some twigs of jaitri/mace
10-12 black pepper /gota morich
2 tsp of cumin powder
2 tsp of coriander powder
2 tsp of garam masala
2 tsp of black pepper powder
2 cloves of garlic chopped
1 medium size onion chopped finely ( Usually many times onions and garlic is avoided in proper traditional cooking )

Prepare aakhnir jol/Aromatic water

Bring a pot with 3-4 cups of water to a boil and then add all the above listed ingredients for the aromatic water/aakhnir jol
For the fish gravy
1 tsp of turmeric powder+1 tsp of turmeric powder (for the fish gravy)
1 -2 tsp of salt
2 tsp of red pepper powder
2tbs of cooking oil
Marinate fish pieces in ground turmeric and salt. Keep aside for 30 mints.
Now heat up a frying pan/deep bottom pan and add cooking oil.
Fry each fish pieces each side for 3-4 mints.
Now in that oil itself, add 1 cup of water, add turmeric, red pepper powder and salt. Add in fried fish pieces and cover with lid .Let it simmers for sometimes-5-8 mints at med-low.
Meanwhile the fish gravy is being cooked. Let’s assemble the rice for the pulao

Recipe requirements for fish pulao
2 cups of basmati rice/gobindo bhog rice
2 medium size onions chopped
3-4 cloves garlic
1 inch ginger chopped
2-3 bay leaves
2-3 tsp of mixed garam masala ingredients whole like mace/dalchini/cloves/black pepper
2 -3 tbs of ricotta cheese
1 tbs of good quality milk powder
¼ cup of shelled pistachios
½ cup of cashews
¼ cup of raisins
½ cup of desiccated coconut/fresh scraped coconut
1 tbs of yogurt
1 tsp of sugar
Salt as per taste
1 tbs of cooking oil+1 tbs of cooking oil+1 tbs of cooking oil

Wash rice thoroughly in water for 2-3 times. Soak it in water for 30 mints; meanwhile work on the aakhnir jol /aromatic water and frying fish pieces etc.

Coarsely chop cashews and pistachios .Heat up a cooking pan or big enough to hold the entire contents listed above. Add oil and fry cashews pistachio pieces till they turn golden. Take out in a separate bowl.

Mix in ricotta cheese and milk powder in a glass.TIP-This makes our instant khoya.If you have fresh khoya then that would be added advantage.
Add 1 tbs of cooking oil in that pan itself, fry the ricotta cheese+ milk powder mixture at low till they turn nice brown in colour.

Add in desiccated coconut( Wish I had some fresh coconut ,I would suggest if you have the option then use fresh coconut ).Fry some more time and take it out after shallow frying.
Now add in 2 tabs of cooking oil, add bay leaf, add chopped garlic, ginger and fry them well for 5 mints till they turn out nice golden.

Add in chopped onions ,, fry till they turn out nice brown.

  Add fried ricotta cheese mixture and cashews and pistachio. Fry them well for another 5 mints. Add 1 tbs of plain yogurt.

Add in soaked rice and keep frying for another 5-7 mints.

and keep frying rice with the masala till they get evenly mix , say about 5-8 mints.Keep the flame at med-low.

Now assemble the pulao
Preheat the oven at 190 deg Celsius (fan assisted).
Now take out the fish pieces. Scoop out some rice mixture and transfer it in oven proof dish or casserole.
Now keep the fish pieces and then again layer rice mixture alternately.

Layer this way till all rice mixture is used up.
Now add in 2 cups of aakhnir jol/aromatic water to it by the sides of the dish. Cover it with foil ,place the dish in the second shelf and bake it for 25 mints. Cut a lemon in half and sprinkle half lemon juice over the baked pulao, mix in gently.Keep it covered.Let it sit there for 1 hr and then serve.Enjoy your delicious rui mach’er pulao.

1. Use khoya in place of ricotta+milk powder mixture. I didn’t have khoya so came up with this instant khoya.
2. I baked mine for 30 mints, thought it was bit more so, I would suggest keeping looking after 25 mints. It would be better to take out when its 22-26 mints from the oven and keeping it covered with foil. That way the rice if there is some uncooked portion will be cooked by the moisture that gets trapped and it will prevent over cooking or soggy rice pulao.Sprinkling some lemon juice will also help.

3. I have made the fish cooked a little bit in some gravy before I added them to fried rice mixture. I do think this way fish absorbs more flavor .If you feel, you may add the fried fish pieces directly to it.

4. Aakhnir jol is one staple way of making pulao more flavourful.Use this aromatic water in any type of meat-based pulao.I do think lamb or mutton pulao will turn out even more flavorful with this.And many times onion+garlic is avoided in preparaing Yakhni water, I have personally liked the use of onions+garlic, in case you like to skip then it's entirely up to you .

One more close look

This post is going to Aquadaze at Serve With Love ,for more details of a very unique and lovely event ,visit this link -- Chalks and Chopsticks .

Happy Cooking Friends