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Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Sojne Data Charchori- Drumsticks and Vegetables stir/fry


These days I do often make charchari, as I find them nutritious and healthy.This drumsticks or sojne data charchari has well balanced fusion of other vegetables as well, like tender cauliflower leaves, sweet potato, brinjal, carrot and radish.Although sometimes I do even add fried bori/lentil dried dumplings which turn out even more delicious.The basic rule that suits me is mix and match the vegetables and to ones own choices of vegetables.I have seen while growing up how my Ma and then after my marriage how Ma-in-law would be paring vegetables in chorchori, although somehow I do not decipher to that.How do you choose and pair vegetables in charchori/labra, would love to know more about that?


Anyways, I am sure most of you while grocery shopping must have come across many varieties of potatoes. Just to start off there is King Edwards potato, Russet potato, Maris Piper potato, Red potato, white potato, Yukon gold potato etc.It is estimated that there are 4000 types of potatoes that are being currently cultivated and among them 80 varieties of potato is commercially cultivated in UK – more here in Wiki.With these many choices one tends to get confused if not clear about the varieties of potato.
Maris piper and King Edwards potatoes are considered "main crops" as they are harvested in  late summer or early autumn ,with the potato skin is quite firm and they are little bit floury or starchy. Some are good when made as jacket potatoes like Yukon Gold Potatoes, and some are good when roasted like – King Edwards potato.
Actually texture of potato varies-1. Floury/starchy, 2.waxy/boiling and 3.All purpose types-which are in between..
In starchy potatoes -they tend to fall apart after being cooked, and they do absorb butter/oil more.
Waxy Potatoes -they can hold up their shape even after being cooked or boiled so best if they are used up in soups or potato salad.
The in between- all purpose potato -have less starch and they do tend to fall apart quite less as compared to starchy ones- good for stir/fry recipes like this sojne danta Bengali Charchari. Russet is a highly starchy potato.
Most of the times I do tend to pick red potatoes which tends to hold up shape after being cooked so it must be less starchy more like waxy. While Yukon gold potato and Maris piper are the all purpose potato- good for stir/fry, salad, soup, jacket potato, mashed potato etc…
Charlotte –slightly waxy new potato – the skin is not firm yet and are the earliest ones  or the “new potato” ,which we all know as “noton aloo” in Bengali ,is the first most choice for making aloor dom.In UK most of the time I tend to pick up King Edward and Maris piper potato as they are “main crop” and are available mostly throughout the year, and living in US I used to pick Yukon Gold or russet potatoes. Although this time one can even see packets of potato marked “new potato”, they are absolute delight as in Russian Potato salad or may be roasted whole or our very own traditional Bengali Aloor dom.here a recipe with Yukon Gold Potatoes, and also with Baby New potatoes.........


In Indian stir/fry recipe if it calls for using potatoes- the best economical varieties are the White Potatoes,-although Russet potatoes, King Edwards and Maris piper potatoes can also be used. There is an excellent post on varieties of potatoes here...
Potatoes are excellent source of carbohydrates and our stir/fry recipes are incomplete with out them. Do include them in your day-today meals along with fresh green vegetables.
Now to the recipe

Sojne Data Charchori-Drumstick and Vegetables Stir/fry
Recipe requirements(serves 4-5 people)
  • 2-3  long drumsticks/sahjan/Sojne dan’ta
  • Tender cauliflower leaves chopped about two cups
  • 1 carrot
  • 1 medium size potato
  • 1 sweet potato/ranga aloo
  • Half radish
  • Brinjal  or any other vegetables
  • Seasoning
  • ¾ tsp of turmeric powder
  • ½ tsp of red pepper powder
  • 1 tsp of salt
  • ½ tsp of sugar
  • 3-4 tbs of mustard oil

Method
  • Clean the vegetables and cut in equal size. Trim the sides of drumsticks shave off the skin and then chop into 2 inch pieces.
  • Cut carrot, radish,sweet potato, brinjal and potatoes in equal size.Take off tender leaves of cauliflower and chop them roughly.Wash and clean in running water to discard mud or dirt.
  • Now put a saucepan to heat, and then add mustard oil.
  • Now add in panch phoron, dry red pepper. Let it splutter.
  • Now add in washed and chopped vegetables. Keep on stir/fry for a minute or two.
  • Then add in all the seasonings-turmeric powder, red pepper powder, salt and sugar.
  • Add in little bit of water-about 3/4 cup, mix well all. Now cover it and let it cook for about 10-15 mints or till the potatoes are cooked.
  • Open the cover, mix in with the spatula, mashing the potatoes a little bit for the semi-dry or “makha-makha” texture for the chorchori.



Note-
This is best eaten with warm cooked rice. Although I do like it with roti/chappati also.
Sometimes I do tend to add fried bari/wadi/ sun- dried lentil dumplings...
Other recipes-
Preoccupied's Sojne data charchari with mustard seeds paste...
Ahaar's -Labra with brinjal and sajne data
and more here
Sajne data and Aloo torkari ..
Bori sajne data diye Pona mach'er jhal

And before I end this post, let me share some more snow pictures with you..Please click on the picture to see enlarged picture......




Usually we end up walking to school, this is bit tiring for us but still it re-vitalize the senses and we love to be up close with nature.




The perfect setting for the play "Snow-white"....although we recently watched Adventures of Tintin -"The secret of the Unicorn"..absolutely a roller-coaster family movie and felt like missing out some fun, even if we blink our eyes.The story kept us all captivated and everything was happening very fast.If you liked reading Tintin comics then this should not be missed.




Happy Cooking Friends 

Monday, January 21, 2013

Dudh Puli Pithe and it snowed


When I started cooking as an everyday cook, I know that’s a long story, won’t go into details, there are many setbacks to discuss here, but keeping in mind the determination, I never gave up even if I failed in making-um cooking many things. Oh! And failures do make us realize that we are human after all not machine.


Anyhow, I have seen how earnestly my Ma would be making various puli pithe during poush Sankranti and some times even after it was way over, even though she has spent her entire life being a “probashi Bengali”. After my marriage, I even noticed in my shashur-bari, how earnestly my Ma-in-law, a WB born and brought up lady would be preparing her menu plans for these 4-5 days, starting from payesh and ending on various puli pithe, malpua, shoro chakhli etc. One thing which is common at both the end is the urge to keep traditions alive and to pass it on to next generations.
Now to be honest I can sustain without these high calorie sweet things and this goes alike with my DD and DH.But since it’s about keeping the traditions alive and trying to connect with ones roots, here I am in a foreign land making all these puli and pithe during Poush-Parbon.Prior to Poush Sankranti , may be two days ago, my ma-in-law told me to make some sweets-payesh, bhaja pithe and savoury shoro chakhli , for she also gave me a rough estimate and recipe procedure for making them.



I thought perhaps may be, we picked up where we last dropped it ,and the very next day I was into making payesh, dudh puli, bhaja pithe and patishapta.I have never made dudh puli myself, this is the first time that I have to don the cap. I was bit nervous and excited both, and I am bound to feel that, but I felt satisfied that somehow I was able to pull it off well. Seeing and sensing the satisfied faces at the dinning table, my enthusiasm was revived and then I also soaked some mong dal and brown rice to make shoro chakhli, and then next day on poush Sankranti, wet grinded them and made shoro chakhli for dinner.



Shoro chakhli as you know all is quite similar with pessarattu as both are made with mong dal - whole/green ones and the yellow ones both and also don’t require fermentation time. One can grind them,mix the batter and start making shoro chakhli straight ahead just like dosa.I have used brown rice this time instead of plain rice or basmati rice.

Here is bhaja pithe and shoro chakhli.How to make shoro chakhli, here is the recipe......



Then there were some patishapta and bhaja pithe to get along with it as well.





Dudh puli or the rice flour dumpling cooked in milk , is a very de-glamorized sweet, plain thickened milk and rice flour Mexican empanadas sorry I mean sheddo puli dunked into it, but one bite into it, and all the flavors of cooked coconut-noton gur/jaggery-rice-thickened milk gets bursting in.Add in saffron to the thickened milk, and  it elevates the flavor two step upwards.

Here is how we made puli pithe- one batch, I deep fried them and stored in air tight containers to be relished with it’s own pace and the other batch I happened to steam cook them to make dudh puli with it.




now to the recipe

Dudh puli pithe- Rice flour dumplings in milk
Recipe requirements
For the dough to make shells
  • 1 cup of rice flour
  • ¼ cup of all purpose flour/Maida
  • ¼ cup of fine semolina
  • Two pinch of baking soda
  • ½ tsp of fennel seeds
  • ½ tsp of sugar

For the filling/pur
  • 2 cups of coconut- fresh or desiccated coconut
  • Gur/jaggery – about 60 -80 gm or as per taste 

For the dudh- milk
  • 4-5 cups of whole milks
  • Few strands of saffron
  • ½ tsp of cardamom powder

Method
  • In a microwave safe bowl- add in about a cup of water and the jaggery pieces.
  • Cook in microwave at full power for 2 mints.Take out and mix well with a spoon. Repeat till all the jaggery is dissolved and you get liquid jaggery.You can even use liquid notun gur/jaggery or sugar what ever is available to you.
  • Now add in fresh scarped coconut or desiccated coconut. Put the entire content again in microwave and cook at full power for 2 mints. Take out and mix well with a spoon.repeat this 3- 4 times till the mixture becomes somewhat semi-dry. Add in 2 tsp of ghee to this and again put into microwave for 1 mint. When the gur/jaggery mixture starts collecting well and has become somewhat dry, stop microwaving. You can even do this on stove-top, I found working in microwave is easy and less time consuming.
  • Now warm up a cup of water. Mix the dry ingredients- rice flour, flour/Maida, semolina/sooji.Add in pinch of baking soda. Add in fennel seeds. And knead the dry mixture ingredients into semi soft dough with the lukewarm water and splash of cooking oil.This time though I skipped oil all together.
  • Divide the dough into equal portions or small balls.this much will yield 14-16 puli pithe approx. Cover with a damp cloth so that it doesn't get dry. Roll each ball slightly with the help of rolling pin to about a 6-7 cm disc just like you will roll luchi with some oil...Be careful and do this with gentle hands as the dough is soft, it may rupture.I happen to deep fry half batch and rest of them were steam cooked.
  • Now scoop a tbs of coconut-jaggery mixture or the “narkol pak “-in between and fold the sides to seal it well. Now be creative and make different shapes if you wish to do so. I have made them like Chandrapuli /crescent shape just like gujiya or pyarki.
  • Steam and cook them for about 15- 20 mints. I have done a post on how to make sheddo puli.At that time made it with grounded rice but luckily this time though had fresh supply of rice flour so that made great change to the texture of the shell for puli pithe.
  • Meanwhile put 4-5 cups of whole milk to boil. Reduce the flame and let it simmer till it reduces to half or becomes little bit thick, but not thick as in khoya.Add in ½ tsp of cardamom powder and few saffron strands.
  • Transfer the steamed/sheddo puli to this thick milk. Cook further 2-3 mints. Stop the cooking and let it covered. Let puli pithe rest in the thickened milk and absorb the flavor of saffron and cardamom for about 1-2 hr. Dudh puli is ready.
  • If you wish you many even chill and refrigerate or relish it straight now. But trust me the next day, the flavor is enhanced and puli is much softer. I don’t get noton gur/nolen gur/khejur gur here easily. That was the last stock I had, and in case you can find Sri Lankan Palm jaggery –that tastes quite similar to noton gur if I am not wrong.

Other poush parbon recipes

And here are some of the snow pictures…

We were out in snow........


Snow art in the car park- the zig-zag cuts made by cars while steering along in the car park.



"Har ek dali, har-ek patta,
Barf se gili, har-ek zarra,
Kuch dhowan, kuch khawab
Kuch hosh, aur Kuch madhoshi
Aur hai ek lamhe ka tahrav ".........


"Woh Kagaj Ki kashti , Woh barish ka Pani" ......only difference is  -walking in the snow with snow sledge..This kid was having a great day out in snow..........




and with sibling - Let me take you for a joy ride in snow..........




Enjoy snow if you are under it's radar,stay warm and protected....

Happy Cooking Friends......

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Til aur Badam Ki Mithai - White Sesame Seeds and Almond bar


Having grown up in a small town, I have always loved the pace with it goes along. Come every "Makar Sankranti", blue sky is filled with all sorts of colorful kites. As I ride along the boat of memories quite often now, I remember how some lazy afternoons on each Makar Sankranti will be spent on our home terrace watching many kites soaring high up in sky. I never tried kite flying /“Patang bazi”  as in Hindi, is but a real art which seriously I tend to lack. But have seen my brother very keenly flying kites quite a lot as kid, but then every kid has done it at least once in his or her lifetime, right? I really don’t know if these days he still finds some time to unwind like this. Life in a metro city is busy and often comes with some prices. Everybody is running a race they don’t even meant to run on first hand and flying kites is not a priority anymore now, unless once in a while some “Bollywood” movie comes along the way, even that fails to inspire these days.



Last time when I was in Kolkata during “Poush-Paban” period, we visited my father-in-law's native place where we no longer live now. This was quite interior of a village; I mean a typical rustic Bengal village, with narrow, steep turning paths with big puddles and mud ,and small ponds along the path where one can even see ducks and ducklings.One can even see fishing activity earnestly being carried out by cute little kids with make-shift fish hooks/knots.And some kids playing football with bare feet in mud, fully drenched.
While I got intrigued by the food which was made in kitchen by ladies of the house that time- well just to mention various puli and pithe as it was "Poush-Paban".The big house which was once, a center of attraction and people from all walks of life gathered to celebrate, is now, somewhat looks deserted – but then isn't, the same story everywhere ? Anyhow we caught up couple of kids with some enthusiastic grown ups flying kites on home terrace. This reminded us of our childhood- there a broken part was again being reunited.Last time our dear daughter and her grandparents were into making kites and then successfully flying it in our apartment complex, triggering a trend of kite flying in our housing complex. I don’t know what’s happening this year though.



And in UP, Makar Sankranti is a big festival, a holy dip in river Ganges is a ritual which is necessary and never to be missed and so is relishing “til ke ladoo” or “til’er naru” as in Bengali. I had some white sesame seeds and almonds, so thought of making some barfi just like this- Chocolate Kaju Barfi .The fun part is, this cooked mixture of crushed and powdered sesame and almonds can easily be shaped as naru/ladoo, what ever way you prefer to make, it is a great munching snack. Pack in some in lunch-box as sweet treats.

Now to the recipe
Til and Badam Ki Mithai/Patti – White Sesame seeds and Almonds bar
Recipe requirements
  • 1 cup of white sesame seeds
  • 2 cups of almonds
  • 1 cup of sugar
  • ½ cup of water
  • 2 cardamoms
  • 1/2 tsp of cardamom powder
  • 3 cloves
  • 1 tsp of fennel seeds
  • 3-4 tbs of ghee

Method
  • Dry roast white sesame seeds/til seeds and badam /almonds for about 7-8 mints at medium flame. Make sure they don’t get burnt.
  • After cooling little bit, transfer them to food processor or grinder and ground them with two cardamoms and 3 cloves.
  • Make sugar syrup
  • Dissolve sugar in water and add in fennel seeds and cardamom powder.
  • Make thick sugar syrup. Add in powdered white sesame seeds and almonds, keep stirring for a while.
  • Add in ghee and keep on mixing the mixture content.
  • When whole of the mixture seems to start collecting well, stop the cooking.
  • Grease a plate with some oil. Spread out the mixture evenly in the plate. Make knife marks and cut through as squares or diamond shapes what ever way you prefer.
  • Although many times, this can easily be rolled in to small balls as in ladoo also.
  • Store in air tight container or Tupperware. It remains fresh for a week in cold and dry conditions.



Note
You may replace almonds with other nuts like walnuts , or cashews or pistachios or even make bar with white sesame seeds only.Roll individual bar into ladoo if that appeals to you more.
There is another recipe at Banaras ka Khana -a blog by Sangeeta.

Happy Cooking Friends

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Mutton Liver,Kala Chana and Sweet corn Torkari/Sabzi


Now that holiday season is over, and everything is back to its normal routine as it used to be before the start of the winter holidays, suddenly I feel,I have many things to work on which includes updating this blog also.
I haven’ taken off the Christmas decorations yet, will do it once the Sankranti/Lohri is over, still trying hard to cling on to festive spirit here, even though the holiday season is over for most of us I guess.



We were eating out during this holiday period many times, something which we do not practice.Now I don’t know who started the saying or even if it has any relevance in today's context -“What ever you tend to do in the initial days of a brand new year, it gets repeated again or may be circumstances makes way to happen things accordingly. Putting into this assumption, although I would really wish this shouldn't happen,as I can not see what stores for us in future. And that’s when new year good wishes and prayers comes in, and are counted on, even if they come little late by your side. It’s better to be late than never. So, even I am late, Here I go again-Wish you and yours a very happy new year-a year filled with peace,prosperity,health,love and harmony.
This space also needs some attention. Well everybody is trying to catch some sort of attention, so why leave the blog and its author alone. And grabbing attention is not an offense unless one intends to do with a good heart, assuming these days’ people do have hearts which rules over their mind.

Anyhow this liver,Kala Chana and sweet corn recipe was saved in drafts since last year. And even I do have cooked meals everyday during this holiday period, but I didn’t find time to go –click-click. As for that you don’t need to rush, but we were always on a go most of the time.Brunch meals were made every holiday morning –aloo paratha, upma, chivda poha,scrambled eggs with cheese, tomato –onion, Choc√≥ chip muffin, chocolate muffin, banana pancake, Black-forest cake and Christmas cake were relished but sorry friends no pics to validate here. And little snack- or light lunch was eaten outside. Dinner was assembled quickly with wraps and salads, and with some left-over from morning, fresh chopped or grated vegetables were integral part of those wraps and salads inspired by Moroccan,  Italian and Indian cuisine-carrots/cabbage/onion/cucumber/sweet corn/lettuce were frequently used vegetables- and occasionally some chicken tikka take-away from M&S which were juicy and delicious.
This was brief account of what we were eating during this holiday period. 



But even with all that, I really liked when we had a full Bengali menu on last Sunday with-  Bhaja mung’er dal, aloo-bori bhaja, Shukto, chicken kosha, plum-raisin-tomato chutney and then after eating, rather relishing all this, we dozed off. Evening was spent sipping a cup of coffee and watching”Scooby-Dooby Doo- “-most of the time it’s only cartoon movies playing here and you have guessed it right. And then one fine day we were out for a movie- “Tinker Bell and the secret of the Wings”......Don’t know what made us happier - to see the cartoon movie or seeing a glowing, smiling face sitting just beside us, may be perhaps the latter. 
Whatever, holidays were spent the way it should be- "with no rules and resolutions."
Don’t know if it’s just me, but I have a very bad record as far as keeping or sticking to New Year resolutions, like the bad child of a class. And will never try to make it straight out even, will take things as it will keep coming to us.
After all these blabbering, now to the recipe of Mutton liver sweet-corn,Black gram stir/fry.




Kaleji-Mutton Liver Sweet corn and Kala Chana sabzi
Recipe requirements( serves-4)
  • About 200-250 Gms of mutton liver or chicken liver
  • 1 cup of frozen sweet corn
  • 1 cup of cooked Kala Chana-Black Gram
  • 2 green chilly
  • 1 tsp of grated ginger
  • 2 tsp of grated garlic
  • 1 medium size tomato
  • 1 medium size potato
  • 1 cup of chopped coriander leaves
  • Seasoning and flavoring
  • ½ tsp of cumin seeds
  • 2 tej patta
  • 2 tsp of coriander powder
  • ½ tsp of cumin powder
  • 2 tsp of red pepper powder
  • ½ tsp of turmeric powder
  • 1 tsp of salt
  • ½ sp of garam masala
  • 1/2 tsp of ghee

Method
  • Wash and clean liver pieces.Chicken liver cooks fast as compared to mutton liver or lamb liver. Rub little bit of salt and turmeric powder. Keep aside.
  • Now add in cooking oil to hot saucepan, add in cumin seeds and tej patta or bay leaf, and let it splutter.
  • Add in ginger and garlic.Add in small potato cubes.Stir fry them for 3-4 mints.
  • Now add in liver pieces, cooked Kala Chana ( can use canned ones as well ) and frozen sweet corn.
  • Keep on stir fry for 4-5 mints.
  • Add in dry ingredients-turmeric, coriander, cumin, red pepper powder and adjust with salt.
  • Now add in chopped green chilies and coriander leaves. I have not added this time though.
  • Add in chopped tomatoes and half cup of lukewarm water.
  • Now cover it and cook till liver are done –about 15-20 mints for lamb liver or mutton liver and 10 -12 mints for chicken liver. Add in ghee and garam masala and mix well all.Freshly churned garam masala is more flavorful.
  • Transfer to serving bowl.
  • Garnish with some cheddar cheese bits or shavings.

Note
  • This recipe is well adjusted for green peas as well. Add in frozen green peas or broccoli florets for the touch of more veggies to this liver stir/fry preparation or "sabzi"" as we like to call in Hindi, and "torkari" as in Bengali. 
Happy Cooking Friends

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Chocolate Kaju Barfi


Another year is soon going to end, just few more hours left, and at this cross junction, with mixed bag of emotions, some good and some bad- well yes without emotions , human is a machine- what else. I can only wish and pray that may this New Year brings loads of happiness, peace and well being to all of you.
I happened to make these Chocolate Kaju Katli or Barfi during Christmas, and I was about to publish it last week itself, but felt otherwise. As I was quite shaken with whatever was happening around us in last couple of weeks.



Anyhow with this New Year – all I can wish and pray that our children should go on flying high, uninterrupted with wings of ambition and wishes. May God fulfill all their dreams….
My dear daughter like all other kids out there likes chocolate. So, I happened to tweak the traditional kaju katli recipe a little bit and incorporated chocolate flavor – Two layers of katlis- one plain kaju katli and the other one chocolate kaju katli were added to form a nice textured barfi.
Believe me, the amount of work that goes in stirring while making kaju katli, it all makes up for when you see the contented, smiling faces at the eating table.
While I am not specific of any measurements as the parameters of sweetness is different for everyone. This is how I made it; please adjust the amount according to your taste-buds. One thing a must for katli/barfi – is that we should make thick sugar syrup – multiple strands sugar syrup as we need to bind the grounded cashews well. Add in ghee as it enhances the flavor and leaves a nice aroma, moreover it will prevent the damp dough going dry. But all said and done we need to be quick as the dough becomes hard quickly as sugar gets crystallized when made into multiple strands.



Now to the recipe

Chocolate Cashew Barfi
Recipe requirements (measurements are approx)
Makes- small 20-22 barfi
  • 2-3 cups of grounded cashews
  • 2-3 tbs of premium chocolate powder
  • 1 or 1 and half cup of sugar
  • ½ cup of water
  • Few saffron strands
  • 2-3 tbs of ghee

Method
  • In a heavy duty grinder – grind toasted cashews and make a smooth powder.
  • Divide this powder into two portions. With one portion mix in chocolate powder and reserve the other portion in a separate bowl.
  • Now to the making of sugar syrup.
  • Dissolve sugar in water and keep on boiling for about 10-15 mints. Add in saffron strands.
  • We will make thick sugar syrup for kaju barfi/katlis.So, when press in between tip of fingers multiple strands can be seen.
  • Now divide this sugar syrup into two portions – one for the plain kaju katli and other one for chocolate katli.
  • Mix in the grounded cashew and chocolate cashew powder with the sugar syrup and keep on stirring till it forms a semi dry mixture. Add in ghee also; take it off from the heat. Let it cool off a little bit and then knead gently with clean hands to make damp dough.
  • Now quickly roll both the dough into large rounds. Now lift the chocolate round and place it on the normal cashew round ones.



  • Press it gently and cut into diamond shapes with a sharp knife. Store in air tight containers. These barfi stays fresh for 4-5 days in normal room temperature.


Here are some of the recipes- Kind of recap for 2012.Although like every year I should have done a full detailed post with links to each recipes-I will leave it for some other day.







































There are still many other recipes which haven't got mentioned here , but were equally delicious and relished by us.Hope to catch up some breathe after this.

See you all in a brand new year.....Happy New Year!