Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Kopir Tarkari -with Dakhini Twist-Cauliflower stir/fry

When ever I have tried to make cauliflowers here, somehow the original flavour that’s associated with Kopi/cauliflowers back home is missing here. Another reason can/may be I generally use sunflower oil for cooking purpose not the staple mustard oil, which is used heavily for Bengali dishes.
However, this time I tried to make kopi/cauliflower with some other ingredients which are again heavily used for South Indian dishes. So, I ended up with using desiccated coconut and loads of curry patta.
Now, I do feel if the freshest of the ingredients can be used, that gives a totally different flavour to any usual or a normal stir/fry. I would highly recommend using fresh scraped coconut and fresh curry patta pluck straight form the plant. This would definitively going to enhance the flavour of this stir/fry.
If I am not wrong, now all the things used in this stir/fry point to thoran, except the use of urad dal or chana dal for tempering. Here is how I tried to make cauliflowers with dakshini twist.

Kopir torkari –dakshini twist diye
Gobhi/kopi- half cut into small florets
½ cup of fresh grated coconut or desiccated coconut
½ cup of crushed cashews
½ cup of curry patta
1 medium size onion chopped finely
1 tomato chopped finely
1 tsp of panch phoron or black mustard seeds
2 tsp of cumin powder
1 tsp of coriander powder
2 tsp of red pepper powder
Salt as per taste
2-3 tbs of cooking oil

Heat up a saucepan/kadai, add oil, and temper it with panch phoron or mustard seeds.
Crush some quarter cup of cashews with the help of rolling pin. Grate/scrape some coconut or you may use desiccated coconut.
Now add chopped onion, coconut and cashews to the hot oil. Stir fry for 4-5 mints till onions becomes little translucent and coconut+cashews barely golden.
Add in the washed cauliflower florets.
Add all the seasoning –red pepper, cumin, coriander and salt. Mix well with the cauliflowers.
Now add in curry patta and chopped tomato. Add in 1 tbs of oil at this step while making this curry.
Mix all well and stir/fry for another 4-5 mints.
Now put the flame to low and cook uncovered stirring in between.This will going to take another10-12 mints.
There is no need to add water as it will come out from the onions+tomato that you have added.
Enjoy with rotis.

Happy Cooking Friends

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Hyderabadi Lukmi Or Keema Diye Shingara/Samosas -Two sides of the same coin

School lunch hour had finished a moment before and Vabhavi was walking towards her classroom through the school’s green field.She was eagerly looking at the small school gate near to the main, big Iron Gate as if trying to catch a glimpse of someone.
It has been two days since she last saw her Sevaram Kaka there. When she saw him last, he was waving bye to her and a smile which she kept constantly remembering over these past two days. Vabhavi was all puzzled by her Kaka’s sudden disappearance. She was little annoyed also with her Kaka for not telling her about anything before disappearing like this.
Sevaram was a Halvai and had a small Sweet Shop on the left corner of the school road. The road got its name from the town’s main higher secondary school which was on this road. So, people just started calling this particular road as school road out of utter convienence.Vabhavi was a student of class sixth in this school. Actually, Sevaram’s small sweet shop was extremely popular with locals living nearby. Every morning people would come to his sweet shop to hear the daily news. After all not every one has a small radio set with all the FM channels or radio Mirchi -91.3 FM in that particular area. Even if they have, they don’t mind mingling with their friends this way early in the morning or coming back from their work in the evening. And if that’s a winter morning, people generally don’t need a reason to be there. They would just love to soak up fresh morning sunshine while sipping a hot cup of Chai in small kulhar, turning the crisp pages of that day’s news paper. Some even read news papers, while eating jalebi with dahi in small earthen pots. Living in a small town has its own charm; people are not that much in hurry as compared to big metro cities where life is like a roller coaster. And if you miss the 8’O clock subway/tube/bus, you will surely going to be late either dropping your children to school or to your office.
Seva Ram had been making delicious snacks and sweets for a very long time as far as locals can remember about it. Vabhavi’s father was one of the frequent customers there. Many times Vabhavi would accompany her father holding his hands to her Kaka’s shop specially on her school holidays. On arriving there, she would be asked to pick her favourite sweet and snacks. She would often pick samosas with Laal Mithi chutney. Seva Ram would often pack few of them in a day’s old news paper to carry some home also.Vabhavi always loved to eat samosas while walking down the school road with her father, which leads to her home.
How she made a place into Sevaram’s heart is little unknown. But, Seva Ram adored this little girl so much that he would daily come in the lunch hour to her school and give some samosas to her dear niece.
Even Vabhavi’s father knew about it.
And He would often say” Tum Uski Adat Begadh Rahe Ho Sevaram” (You are spoiling her Sevaram.)

Seva Ram would often smile to this and say” Jane dijiye Na Shankar Babu, Bitiya Ko samosa acha lagta hai, or usey khilane mein hamein.” (Oh! it’s just that she likes eating samosas and I like to feed her some even.)

Vabhavi came from school with a heavy heart that day and asked her mother about her Kaka. Even her mother wasn’t really able to tell the exact reason of Sevaram’s disapperence. So, she was left with dismay.
That day when her father came from the Kachehari, she heard some voices coming down from the drawing room. She came down slowly thro the steps to the ground floor and heard her father and Seva Ram Kaka talking in the drawing room. She went to the kitchen first, her mother was making tea for both of them and some snacks also.
Vabhavi thought perhaps she can help her mother to bring these to the drawing room, and also this way she can hear what they really are up to.
What ever little she understood from their conversation, she came to know that her Kaka is now moving to a big city to help his brother with the sweet shop there. That means she would not be able to eat her favourite samosas from now on.

Tears started to roll down her eyes immediately, all three of them suddenly stopped talking to each other.Seva Ram immediately understood what has been bothering her now.
He came close to her, touched her head and started to gently stroke her hair consoling her.
“Bitiya, hum tumahare liye zaroor samosa leke ayange jab bhi tumse Milne ayenge, theek hain Na.”(When ever I will come to meet all of you here, I will make sure that I will bring samosas for you.) Even his eyes were moist with hint of tears.

And then after few more minutes her Kaka was gone. With that, he left some wonderful memories to cherish for Vabhavi and her parents. Few years later they also moved to this big city. And since then when ever her Kaka would come to meet up with them, he never forgot to bring a big pack of samosas.

Vabhavi was suddenly awakened from her thoughts, door bell was ringing. She knew it was her impatient 12 year` old son Abhi.
She opened the door with a smile and hugged her son. Abhi seemed to be little grumpy today.
And before she could ask him about his day in school, Abhi started telling -“You know Ma; they always serve pizza or baked beans and even Shepherds’ pie as school meals, but never samosas. How I wish I can eat samosas some day, like the ones Seva Ram Kaka brought for us that day.”
Abhi got hooked to the taste of samosas when last time he visited his grandparents in India. Vabhavi’s kaka came to meet them. He along with his brother has a flourishing business of sweet shops now in this big metro city. One of the main shops is in the heart of this big city and is a big food joint also.
As promised to Vabhavi, he always used to come with a big bundle of samosas and Besan ke ladoo for all of them whenever they would be coming back to home to meet Abhi’s Grands.

Vabhavi was smiling listening to her son. She went to the kitchen while her son kept blabbering about his school and his school friends. She took out some potatoes from the vegetable basket and put them in pressure cooker. She then started to look for some Maida. She has now some work to do before Abhi comes from his swimming sessions.
Perhaps, this was a better way to relive her childhood memories in a foreign land also.
(This is all part of fiction writing for Chalks and Chopsticks- afood blog event.No part is written on keeping anyone in mind living or dead.Even the incidents mentioned here are all fabricated.)
Keema diye petit Shingara/Keema Samosa
This will make many small samosas depending on the rounds you make with the dough.I was able to make at least two dozens of them.I brought some of them to my daughter’s school and the mothers of her classmates liked them also. Even my picky-eater ,my daughter liked it so much that , I had to go straight to the kitchen for frying next batch of samosas after coming back from her school.Petit samosas are way better than large ones as this way kids wont waste the left-over because there will be no left-overs, trust me on that.
Recipe is adapted from Here
Recipe requirements
For the keema
250 gms of chicken mince (you may use mutton mince also, but it’s better to pressure cook the mutton mince before drying them up with spices)
½ cup of cashews
¼ cup of sultanas or raisins
2-4 heaped tsp of cumin powder (if you can use fresh grounded powder, it will enhance the flavor)
2-4 heaped tsp of black pepper powder
2 tsp of red pepper powder
2 tsp of Shaan shekh kabab masala powder
2 fat cloves of garlic chopped finely
Half inch of ginger chopped finely
Salt as per taste
2 tbs of lemon juice
For the samosa dough
Approx 1 and half large tea cup of Maida (all purpose flour)
¼ cup of sooji (semolina)
3-5 tbs of oil /ghee for moyen
About 1 cup of cooking oil for frying the samosas.
In a saucepan, add in the washed minced meat, keep the flame at medium.
Keep stirring the mince; add in salt and red pepper powder, cumin powder, Shaan shekh kabab masala powder and black pepper powder.

Fry the mince for some times, add in lemon juice and keep frying the mince for about 10-14 mints till they become dry and crumbly. There is no need to add oil while frying the mince.
With the help of rolling pin and the cutting board, crush the cashews coarsely. Add crushed cashews and sultanas to above.

Meanwhile knead the dough. Soak sooji/semolina with some warm water in a separate bowl. Let it sit there for 10 mints or so. This way they will become soft and would be easy to knead with the rest of ingredients.

Take out the Maida/flour in a big bowl. Make a well in the centre; add oil. Add in the prepared sooji/semolina. Knead well all of them to semi-soft dough. Tip-It’s better to knead the dough beforehand and let it sit for 1-2 hrs prior of making the samosas.

Make small balls out of the kneaded dough. Roll each small balls to round shape, the rounds should turn into thin but not like paper thin, otherwise the filling will come out while frying them.
Cut the round in to half. Take the half in your hand now, fold the half into a triangle shape and with the help of your thumb and forefinger, and gently fill the keema filling into it. Seal the ends firmly by your thumb and forefinger of other hand. Make other samosas this way. I have tried to make very petit samosas as you can see here. This way kids would not waste and will enjoy small samosas very much. However if you wish you can make bigger rounds and increase the filling as well. But for that you also need lots more oil for proper deep frying.

Make other samosas this way and keep them covered with a kitchen towel for 1 hr outside or if you wish you may refrigerate also (this way samosas will need less oil for frying). When you are ready to eat, just heat up a deep bottom pan with 1 cup of oil and fry them very well.

Now to the way of making Hyderabadi Lukmi

The recipe for the dough and mince remains same here, except for the way the dough is rolled and then cut and then filled with the filling.Lukmi/lukmea is served in mainly at Hyderabadi marriage ceremonies or may be sometimes at the breakfast table. Mainly atta or whole wheat flour is used but I have used the maida+sooji combination for the dough.
Roll the balls to big rounds and then place the filling in centre. Seal it with the oil at the corners and then top it with other round. Press with a fork at all of the side of the round. If you wish you can make squares also as that is what the real lukmi is all about. Deep Fry them in hot oil at low. Take them out over tissue paper first and then serve with the sauces of your preference.

Just to Note-
Try to knead the dough at least 2 hrs before you are about to make/fry samosas.
Shape up the samosas and fill the filling inside and let it sit there for at least 1 hr before you deep fry them in hot oil. This way the samosas will fry up well.

This is my platter of fried stuff.

Now, I know from where I am getting those extra calories and I am trying to loose weight, eh? Now that’s what “dieter’s dishonesty” is, I guess. Sra are you reading this.

This post is going to Chalks and Chopsticks -3rd Edition - co-hosted by Aqua at Served with Love and Sra at When my Soup came Alive .

Happy Cooking Friends

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Thai Style Chicken Curry-Well almost

Last time when I was watching Telly in India, one preview of a show caught my attention. Those of you who are in India might have seen or at least heard about it by now. I am talking about a show on cooking and food. And the show will be hosted by a leading Hindi film actor. Initial round of criteria has been set to dial up some phone lines to get, entry into the show. This leading actor himself is known as a good cook. He used to be a chef while living in Bangkok.
My sheer guess is that this is based on a popular cooking show “Top Chef” that is being broadcast in America which has seen Padma Lakshmi as its quite interesting hostesses (I never knew she is interested in cooking up something)
I really don’t think cooking good food will matter on that TV Show. My sheer guess is that, this will again turn out to be a money endorsing, ad featuring reality TV Show.
Personally I am not that comfortable cooking when someone is constantly hovering around you in the kitchen or bombard you with all sorts of questions about ingredients and procedure. But that doesn’t mean I am not that kind enough to answer some queries that may be put at the dining table while eating. Talking food at dining table is a great way to understand the chemistry of that recipe which includes some special procedure or discussion about any special ingredients. Perhaps, that is the best way to get all the things out from me but not at the time of cooking in kitchen.
Whatever little I have seen about food shows with hostesses particularly the regional cooking show, when they invite you for cooking up something, you should be well prepared to face all sort of questions while cooking. These cooking show hostesses ask way too many things while cooking that are mostly meaningless. Sometimes diverting the attention from the procedure of the recipe. I have great interest or rather faith in one man show type of food shows ala –Sanjeev kapoor “Khana Khazana”, Cooking with “Nigella Lawson” and one famous cooking show “Yan Can Cook”. I have thoroughly liked the way they present their shows, so much going on without any disturbances.
There are many Bengali cooking shows on many different channels back home. And people (read ladies here) do come from all walks of life, from remote villages to main city, to show their culinary experience. Some of the recipes do caught my attention like Kasturi Rui (which I will be sharing here soon).
So, when my MIL proposed that I should go to these cooking shows to make some of the good recipes that I have here in spice and curry, I politely refused it. I was too afraid of seeing myself in telly and add to that, I can’t picture myself with those annoying cooking show hostesses. More-over cooking is not a competition but an art which gives you great satisfaction specially seeing so many smiley faces at the dining table. Seeing all those lovely smiling faces is what makes my day.
I, for that matter choose to be a simple everyday cook away from such limelight’s and will continue to do so in future also. I like to cook for my family and friends. I am much satisfied that I have created something which can give me some creative satisfaction and a place which I can call “my small world”.
And top it with, you all nice people who like to come here for recipes or some personal updates. You all are now part of my extended family and friends.
So, here a recipe quite popular recipe.But this time this is little different- as in Hindi filmy style “Zara Hatke”.

Thai style Chicken curry-well almost
I called it almost because the main ingredients like galangal and kafir lime leaves are missing in this curry. Galangal which is a root belongs to ginger family and kafir lime leaves are synonyms with Thai and Malaysian cuisine, is not that readily available here. If you find these two main ingredients near your place of living, do add them in this curry to give it more authenticity.
1 chicken breast cut into bite size pieces or approx 250 Gms of boneless chicken meat
2 carrots chopped into half inch pieces
1 green bell pepper
10-15 mange touts
10-15 cashews
1 can of light coconut milk-or almost 400-500 ml of coconut milk
2-4 tsp of all purpose seasoning/meat masala/curry powder
½ tsp of turmeric powder
2 tsp of red pepper powder
1 bay leaf
2-3 tbs of butter
In a pressure cooker, add 1 tbs of butter, saute chicken pieces for 1-2 mints and then pressure cook the chicken for one whistle. Let it cool for sometime. Alternately you can sauté chicken pieces in a saucepan, and then can cook it in about half cup of water for 15 mints at low and covered.
Meanwhile put a large pot with whole lot of water to boil. When the water starts boiling, add all the vegetables-baby corn, carrots, bell pepper, and mangetout. Let the vegetables cook there for 2-3 mints. Drain the water in colander and take the vegetables out in a separate bowl
Now in a large saucepan/wok/kadai, add 2 tbs of butter
Add in bay leaf, cashews and fry them for 1-2 mints at medium flame.
Now add cooked chicken pieces.
Add all the seasonings-turmeric powder, red pepper powder, all purpose seasoning, and salt. Coat well chicken pieces with spices
Add all the pre-boiled vegetables. Add in 1 can of coconut milk + some half cup of water. Cover the saucepan and let it simmer slowly for 30-35 mints.Serve and enjoy with warm cooked rice.
This turn out a great soup also , completely filling on a rainy day.

Vegetarians skip chicken pieces and make the rest of the curry as written above.
If you want to make it healthier, skip using butter and use canola/sunflower oil. But adding butter makes this curry more flavourful, trust me on that.

Happy Cooking Friends

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Some Random Thoughts

Hello there! Knock –Knock somebody there!! Or is it only my voice echoing back to me. Coming out from my hibernation, this post is all about my ramblings, nothing specifically concerned about food and recipes.
Ok it’s almost one month now since my last posting. You all must be wondering what I did during this break. I went back to home for a very short trip. That itself gave you plenty of reasons about my absence from blogging, isn’t?
When you are out of the blogging routine for quite sometime, you don’t feel like to log into the net and start the work process again. Even I am struggling to write something exciting here. Blame it all over the current state of my mind and my feeling of being homesick. However, going back to home gave me plenty of time to relax and unwind.
The timing also coincided with the FIFA world cup, and when we (read all Bengali) talk about football, we are really uncontrollable .Every street; every Para has their own team to support. Some even stay all awake late until night to catch the action live. Some of them even wear team jersey and all the fanfare to support their teams. Even in remote villages people do know the names of many footballers across the continent. My general knowledge has improved over this period of time and thanks to my DH, DH’s cousins Brothers and my FIL, I know Kaka is from Brazil and Messey is from Argentina. And the goal that Argentina did in a match against Germany went to offsite with three players near the goal post. Wow! I can’t believe I am writing this.
Ok, I am not going week on my knees, kind of teenage crush you know. I have passed that phase of life many years ago. Wish I can rewind those years like a video tape. DH was teasing me constantly, going head over heels about Messey, while catching up with the highlights of the Argentina –Germany match. But I have still left with some of my supply of adrenaline inside my body, so it’s all but natural.
Well I have planned to take many snaps during this trip, but things don’t always turn out the way you plan sometimes.

These are some of the snaps I took during my last two days there. Luckily it rained in Kolkata, so a big relief from the scorching heat waves there.
Well this teddy was wishing all the things we needed for our journey. So this cute teddy deserve a mention in this post, isn’t!

Taking a quick nap is always refreshing, and if they turn out cute couple like them, I think its worth of giving a space here. That place has been their small resting area for over a couple of years now. We get to see them almost daily during afternoon taking rest like that.

If you get to see two shalik bird together then it’s always a great amen. While growing up, when ever we have seen one we would always start looking out for the second one as told by our grand’s .Luckily both these were enjoying the weather after a cool splash of rain and so did we, seeing them together.

Now bricks can be used to cross the puddle and reach out to the swing.This looks so peaceful isn’t, but trust me if it’s evening time, children scream here and play like anything. Meanwhile, I will be watching them from my window with a cup of tea or many times would go out with daughter to enjoy swinging also. So, by the time it’s evening many will cross and reach to the swing with the help of those bricks and will enjoy rain or barish.

This reminds me of the song “Choti si kahani se, barishon ke paani se, sari vadi bhar gayi .”
And indeed there was this huge puddle made after a heavy splash of rain. This place is full of action during evening time. It seems even the swing is enjoying a much break from the scorching heat.

This coconut tree has been there in the park and every year yield green coconut or daab in Bengali.

Alright, finally I ate what Indian summer is all about. This year we have seen one of the best mango crop productions. Wish I was allowed to carry some of them here. Dasheri ,landga and himsagar variety were available when we reached in Kolkata. So, no more complain from my side anymore, peace for now.

I also tasted these, one of my favourite fruit. Ansh phol in Bengali, a kind of berry fruit. They almost do resemble like Litchis but they are different as per taste go. Does anyone know the English or any other regional name or scientific name of this fruit. Do let me know.

Alright then, that’s it for this post, hope I can regain my momentum to blog again. See you all soon.