Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Festive Greetings with Stollen

It does feel astonishing to recall how a year has gone. And at this crossroad, I really would like to take a U-turn to live all those happy moments again but can’t, as there is no option. The only way to move is, move straight ahead, where I see a blurred image of a brand new year, waiting patiently to be discovered.

With this festive season, lots of goodies to be made, cherish and share. There are probably many recipes out now in internet for this festive season. My take on this festive season is being busy, cooking Christmas pudding, blueberry muffins and of course then stollen. And once we are done with all those sugary things, we will then make roasted chicken with gravy, roasted brussel sprouts and cauliflower and colorful fruit salad. As of now, will share the recipe of German stollen.
Stollen, well it’s not at all stollen, it’s home-made to be precise. Anyhow, when I thought of doing it, their were many recipes out there. So, I read, re-read many recipes in the internet. Some of them were by professional bakers, some from home-makers and some were chefs. I don’t know what exactly a traditional stollen should taste, as I never been to Germany myself, so what goes in to making a traditional stollen in a German kitchen is somehow totally elusive for me.

 This is when I perceived two recipes for stollen-One was from here and another from here- last one seems more traditional to me. However, I did change the contents and their quantity to suit our personal preference. This turn out, soft inside and a nice crust on the outside. It was not overwhelmingly sweet or spiced, but a correct balance of it, as per our taste buds. And I don’t claim it to be authentic or traditional; it came near to the types we do get from stores over here.

However , if I do make it again I would like to follow instructions from the second link for stollen recipe.a traditional recipe I guess.

Now to the recipe- here is how we made it
Stollen – German Festive bread
Recipe requirements
  • 1 ¼ cup of plain flour+ ½ cup of whole wheat flour or use bread flour
  • ¼ tsp of salt
  • 1 tsp of baking powder
  • 1 tsp of active dry yeast
  • ½ cup of milk
  • 1 heaped tbs of sugar
  • 1 egg+ 1 egg yolk
  • 1 tsp of vanilla essence
  • 50 Gms of butter
  • 1 cup of mixed dried fruits soaked in orange juice/rum/brandy
  • ½ cup of raisins well soaked in orange juice/rum/brandy
  • 1 tsp of nutmeg powder
  • 1 ½ tsp of cinnamon powder

For the marzipan
  • 1 cup of tightly packed almond flour
  • ½ cup of caster sugar
  • 2-3 tsp of rose essence
  • 1 egg white
  • 30 Gms of butter

  • Soak all the dry fruits in orange juice prior to making this bread, preferably two days ahead so that they turn out soft. Keep them refridgerated. You can even soak them in rum or brandy for extra flavorings’ have used a mixture of walnuts+dry currants+glazed cherries+candied orange peels+raisins.
  • Now in a big mixing bowl- add in whole wheat flour, plain flour ,salt, and butter ( all the good brands have 25 gms marked over a 100 gms of butter block - so it’s easy to cut slabs) With clean hands you can rub butter all over the flour , so that you can get a coarse flour. Now add in active dry yeast and sugar. Mix well.
  • In a separate bowl, whisk in egg + vanilla essence. Add this to the dry flour mixture.
  • Start kneading the flour with lukewarm milk, about 7-8 mints, you will see the dough is starting to collect well.Leave aside and covered with a cloth or cling film, preferably in a warm place. Leave it to rise, mine took about 3 hrs.

Making of home-made -marzipan
Meanwhile make marzipan. If you have store-brought then you may skip this step. Otherwise home-made marzipans are very easy to make. Take the almond flour, caster sugar and egg white. Start mixing well and knead. Sprinkle some icing sugar over a working area and knead the marzipan well. This way it will help to collect well. Make a big circular ball of this marzipan; keep tightly packed in cling film and refridgerate.Try to use this up within 2-3 days.
Note- to get almond flour – blanch almonds – pat dry them with kitchen towel and make a fine powder in a grinder. To make caster sugar = Grind normal white sugar or granulated sugar in a grinder.

  • Meanwhile take out all the dry fruits in a bowl, walnuts, and raisins etc .Add in ground nutmeg, ground cinnamon and mix well.
  • After the dough has risen well almost to double if possible. Transfer that to a clean working area; sprinkle generously plain flour over the working area. Take the dry fruits mixture and start kneading, mixing in with the flour. Try to roll the dough inwards and then slightly flattening it outside. 
  • When all the dry fruits are used up and have stuck up with the dough. Roll the dough into a shape of a rectangle slab of about 25 cm x 28 cm roughly.
  • Take out the marzipan from the fridge, cut into half. Keep the other half back in to the fridge.
  • Roll out the marzipan dusting it with icing sugar into a long rope type preferably 22 cm long which should be slightly shorter than the unbaked stollen dough slab.
  • Place this marzipan along one side of the rectangular slab of the risen dough, or you may place it in centre as well .Flip the other end over it, covering the marzipan entirely and then turn the other side over top of it. Gently press the both the ends to secure and also the seams to seal the edges.
  • Take out a baking tray, dust it generously with plain flour, place the unbaked dough slab over it, and seam side down. Cover it with a cloth or a large vessel. Leave it aside to rise- about 1-2 hrs.
  • Preheat an oven at 170 deg C. After the dough has raised well, transfer it to the preheated oven, middle rack and bake it for 40-45 mints or until golden brown on outside.
  • Melt some butter in a cup in M/W.You can add sugar as well if you wish to, I haven’t added extra sugar.
  • Take out the stollen once it’s baked. Check with a wooden skewer piercing in to the core of the bread. If it comes out clean, the bread is baked properly.
  • Now make some small pores all over the bread with wooden skewers. Take the melted butter and brush generously with butter all over the bread. Flip the side of the bread and do it this side also.
  • Sprinkle some icing sugar all over for that magical look. Your stollen bread is ready. It keeps fresh for 2-3 days.

Note-There are many variations for stollen bread, some add cottage cheese to the dough, and some even add marzipan to the dough. They all are various means to make it soft. This bread turns out soft inside and with a nice golden outer crust. If that is what you are looking for in your stollen bread then go ahead and make it.

Happy Cooking Friends 
Merry Christmas and have a Happy New Year ....

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Lamb Korma With Garlic Naan

As the winter sets in firmly, we do need to fire up our energies to overcome the cold weather here. And what could be better than eating a lamb korma preparation. For this lamb preparation, I have used white poppy seed paste in place of blanched almonds, which of course is a way of incorporating nuts to get that rich gravy based curries such as kormas.A chicken shahi korma was made earlier -Here which of course was made with blanched almonds and yogurt.

 I have made this korma little high on hotness note, which is, not what milder kormas are known over here. The Awadhi kormas are known for the right balance of hotness and spices, taking a clue from there, this is what we have made. Now, I would leave it just like that, without proclaiming it as “authentic” or “traditional” lamb korma. I have made garlic naan as well to dip into the juicy korma.
Lamb Korma – our way
Recipe requirements
  • 1 kg of lamb/mutton
  • 5 medium size onions
  • 6-7 fat cloves of garlic
  • 3-4 green chilies
  • 30 Gms of white poppy seeds or 3-4 heaped tbs of poppy seeds roughly
  • About an inch of fresh ginger

  • 2 tsp of red pepper powder
  • ½ tsp of turmeric powder
  • 3-4 tsp of cumin+coriander powder
  • 1 tsp of cinnamon powder
  • 1 tsp of nutmeg powder
  • 1 tsp of salt or as required
  • ½ cup of plain cooking oil- corn oil etc

Whole spices used at tempering- all slightly crushed
  • 3-4 black cardamoms
  • 5-6 green cardamoms
  • 6-7 cloves
  • About 1 tbs of whole black pepper corn

Other ingredients 
  • ½ cup of yogurt
  • 2 tbs of cream
  • Twp generous pinch of saffron soaked in water
  • 2 tsp of kewra water

  • I have used leg steak and rib pieces for this preparation. You can use shoulder side as well. And we will cut into bite size pieces. Marinate these pieces with yogurt, salt and red pepper powder. Keep it marinating for about 2 hrs.
  • First wet grind poppy seeds in a grinder.Add in roughly chopped onions, green chillies, garlic and ginger.
  • Heat up a saucepan/kadai and add in corn oil. Now add in crushed whole cloves, black cardamom, green cardamoms, peppercorns.Let it crackle a little bit.
  • Now add in the prepared paste of onions+green chillies+ginger+garlic +white poppy seeds.
  • In a small bowl of water- mix in turmeric powder, cumin+coriander powder, cinnamon, nutmeg powders and salt. Add this paste in to the saucepan. Keep on stir/fry another 8-10 mints at med-high flame.
  • When the masala paste dries up and the oil separates out by the sides. Add in marinating lamb pieces to the above. Now keep on braising the lamb pieces for about 15-20 mints.
  • Now transfer this to a pressure cooker. Add in 2 cups of water and let it come to a boil. Lock the lid and cook till one whistle. Now lower the flame and let it cook for 10-15 mints.Alternately you can cook slowly on a stove-top, allow at least an hour to cook the lamb well.
  • Stop cooking it further, open, once the pressure subsides. If you want semi-dry gravy, then you can scoop out the cooked lamb pieces and let the gravy come to a semi dry form, and then again transfer the cooked lamb pieces to the gravy and mix well.
  • At the time of switching off the flame, add in kewra water, saffron water and cream, mix in well. Cover and let it rest for a while. If you want to serve it at the dinner time, make ahead in morning so that flavors incorporates well. At the time of serving, pop in to the preheated oven and heat it again or reheat over stovetop.And if you have left-overs, it tastes even better the next day.

Garlic Naan- Home-Made 
Recipe requirements
  • 1 cup of whole wheat flour/atta
  • 1 cup of self raising flour
  • 3-4 tbs of cooking oil
  • 1 tsp of garlic powder
  • 4-5 cloves garlic chopped coarsely
  • 1 tsp of sugar
  • 1 tsp of kalo jeerey/kalaunji/nigella seeds
  • 1 tsp of active dry yeast
  • ½ cup of whole milk
  • ¼ tsp of salt or as per taste
  • ½ tsp of dried herbs

  • In a big mixing bowl, mix in whole wheat flour and self raising flour. Mix in salt+sugar+garlic powder.
  • Add in active dry yeast and nigella seeds to the above. Mix in well all the dry ingredients.
  • Add in half cup of water to the whole milk and make it lukewarm.
  • Add in cooking oil to the dry ingredients mixture.Rub it evenly all through.
  • Now add in lukewarm diluted whole milk as required to knead into smooth dough.
  • Once the dough starts to collect well, knead it again well. Cover it with a cotton towel and let it rest for about 2-3 hrs or till the dough has risen up well preferably in a moist and warm place.
  • When the dough has raised well. Divide it into 7-8 portions.
  • Take one portions, put in chopped garlic and dried herbs.
  • Now roll in to tear shape or eliptical shape or what ever way you prefer pressing down chopped garlic and dried herb onto the unbaked naan.
  • Preheat an oven at about 200 deg C. Place those unbaked naan on a baking tray lined with baking paper.
  • Bake it for 10 mints. Take out, flip the naan and again transfer to bake it further 5 mints at same temperature.
  • When all the naans are baked similarly, put them in a serving bowl; preferably keep it cover so that it remains hot and soft. Serve and enjoy it with lamb korma.

Happy Cooking Friends

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Shorshe Kumro/Butternut-Squash recipe

This is festive season of the year again and every where the atmosphere is all charged up for Christmas shopping and holiday planning.

We haven’t done anything as such planning etc is considered, but will take things as it comes.As of now we went to central London to have a feel for the festive season.

Where ever you can glance through and put your eyes on , the entire neighborhood is all decked up and bursting with Christmas decorations.

We caught some of the views in Regent street and Oxford street as well.

Those places are crowded now with shopping frenzy people and why not it’s that time of the year again.

Now to the recipe for this post.I have slowly started using butter-nut squash more, and liked the sweetish biting taste it has.has. Shorshe kumro is a Bengali way of making pumpkin with mustard seeds paste.This traditional recipe is now being tried with butter-nut squash in our kitchen here in abroad.And we do hope that it will continue to be part of our daily meal plans in future as well.

Shorshe kumro /Butternut-Squash Cooked in mustard paste
Recipe requirements
1 whole butternut squash
2 heaped tbs of mustard seeds
2 green chillies
½ tsp of salt
2 tbs of mustard oil
½ tsp of red pepper powder
½ tsp of turmeric powder
1/2 tsp of nigella seeds/ kalo jeerey- kalaunji
Soak mustard seeds in water and make a wet paste with green chilies, either using sheel/nora – shil –batta or dry grind first in a mixer, and then adding water to make a smooth paste later.For the recipe of Mustard powder- here.
Now heat up a saucepan, add in cooking oil, let it come to smoky point.Add in kalo jeerey/nigella seeds
Add in buuter nut squash cubed pieces, and keep on stir/fry it further.Add salt, turmeric powder and red pepper powder.Coat well with spices.Now add in very little water just to cook the squash pieces.
After about 10-15 mints at medium flame, the squash pieces will turn out little soft, then add in wet mustard seeds paste and mix in very well.Stop cooking further.

Take it off from heat and enjoy with warm cooked rice.You may increase the heat levels if you want to have a spicy preparation.

Happy Cooking Friends

Friday, December 5, 2014

Apple Pie

Autumn is incomplete if we don’t bake anything with apples, autumns favorite fruit, isn't. But as we bid farewell to autumn finally and welcome winter over here, I thought perhaps, autumn apple pies are must now. It’s little late though, but for me it’s a kind of sweet farewell to autumn over here.

Although, there are many recipes with apples like this and this , but apple pies remains one of our favorites. And with festive season that is reckoning upon us, this sweet preparation with apples, will surely going to win many hearts if you wish to have a baking spree. You can even add other fruits with apples as well, like black berries or blueberries for that nice darkish color sweet filling.
I liked the flavor of cinnamon, so I have used cinnamon powder in the filling, however, you can even do it with other spices- like – nutmeg powder, or vanilla essence etc. You can even use brown sugar in place of normal sugar. I have used ready-made short crust pastry that are easily available here as the base for this apple pie.
Here is how we made it
Autumn Apple Pie
Recipe requirements
1 packet short-crust pastry
3-4 medium size apples 
5-6 tbs of sugar or to taste
2 tsp of cinnamon powder

Take out the short-crust pastry from the packet. Sprinkle plain flour over the working area.
Divide the pastry into two equal parts. One side for the base and the other side for covering the top.
Now with the help of a rolling pin, adjust the parts so that it fits well into the pie tin or baking tin, whatever you are using for it.
And flatten it properly at the edges with your fingers, pressing it down .If any cracks happen, dip your fingers in water and then press gently on the pastry to even out the cracks. Remove extra bit with the help of sharp knife, cutting out those extra edges. Reserve these to make any designs if you wish to do so later on.
Meanwhile shape out the other part and flatten it also so that it fits on the pie tin.
Peel, core and chop apples finely.
Now preheat the oven at 180 deg C.
Take the pie tin or sandwich tin, put all the chopped apples. Sprinkle sugar and cinnamon evenly all around over it.
Now cover with other part of short-crust pastry, with the help of your fingers, try to tuck in neatly and sealing the sides of the unbaked pie. Trim out any extra bit of pastry that is left at the sides. With the help of fork; make some marks all around to give a nice shape and sealing the edges of unbaked pie.
Now that you have collected all the unused short-crust pastry, make a dough out of it and roll it with the help of rolling pin, if you need, keep on sprinkling plain flour so that it doesn’t tear out or stick at the working surface.
Now give desirable shapes as you wish. I have given the symbolic autumn maple leaf shape.
Now prick all over top surface of unbaked pie with knife, so that it doesn’t puff up while baking.
Put the pie tin or any other baking tin that you have used to assemble the pie, in the middle rack and bake in preheated oven at 180 deg C for 35- 40 mints, depending on your make of the oven.
Take out when you see a nice golden to brownish crust at the sides of the pie. Eat it warm along with some cream and slices of apples. Or it goes well with vanilla ice-cream as well.

This is absolutely delicious; apples are cooked smoothly in its own juices, sugar and cinnamon powder. A delightful dessert for this festive season.

Happy cooking and have a lovely weekend...

Monday, December 1, 2014

Spiced Butternut Squash Soup- Mediterranean Inspired

As we see autumn slowly winding up its vigor near our vicinity, and this makes us feel, for the onset of winter ahead. Although we still want to cling on to those colorful autumn colors that brought such visual treats to us, but it isn’t going to happen anymore. The winter hibernating trees or dormant trees have shed their last leaves, preparing themselves for the harsh winter ahead.
So, to speak, I thought may be a spicy soup with autumn’s favorite vegetables is must. I have started using butter nut squash more, in our day-today cooking these days. It’s not that I am going over the board to make this vegetable almost everyday, but occasionally I do like the sweetness it adds up to any dish – be it a soup or a simple stir/fry.

I always dread the cutting part that accompanies with butter-nut squash, but slowly I am getting used to the cutting part as well. Another good way to easily eat them, is to roast them in oven, but then that requires time and of course  it is a different recipe.On the other hand, you may use a sharp edged knife and it works fine, however be careful while cutting and peeling it.
I thought it should taste something very similar like pumpkin, but it has little variation- sweetish to taste and at the same time a nice chunky texture as well. A simple stir/fry recipe goes well also. But then my mind was more into a Mediterranean inspired cooking. There, it’s very common to use pumpkin in many soup preparations. I had butter-nut squash and I wanted to use it up differently, what followed later on was a search for a soup with Mediterranean influenced pairing and spicing up.

I had everything in my pantry that I possibly can imagine for this soup; I wanted to give a nice tangy and sweetish flavor to the soup, so it came down to tomato and butternut squash dotting on to the line. Then it was easy to assemble spicing it up with ginger, cumin and a slight hint of fennel. Actually adding fennel is just my way of playing around with the ingredients, as I do really like the soft flavor it has. Although it is up to you, if you do not wish to add in, then skip it altogether.
Here is how we made it, spiced butternut squash soup, now who doesn’t like a warm bowl of soup with a heart attached to it, at least I don’t. 
Now to the recipe
Spiced Butter Squash and Tomato Soup Recipe (Mediterranean inspired)
Recipe requirements
1 whole butternut squash
½ tsp of fennel seeds
 3 tsp of cumin seeds
1 large tomato
 ½ inch fresh ginger / or 1 tsp of dry ginger powder
1 tsp of dried herbs like thyme or parsley
1 tsp of salt or as per taste
½ tsp of black pepper powder or to taste
2-3 tsp of cooking oil
 1 tsp of corn starch

Peel the skin of butter nut squash with a sharp edged knife. Be careful while peeling the skin. Now cut into chunks out of it, discarding all the seeds. Chop tomato as well.
Now heat up a pan, add in cooking oil, and add in finely chopped ginger. Add in squash and tomato. Keep on stir/fry till the tomatoes and squash become soft. If you want to use dried ginger powder then add in after the vegetables have turn soft.
In a separate pan, dry roast fennel seeds, cumin seeds and dry grind the seeds to get spice powder. Add this dry mixture to the above pan.
Take the content off from the heat. Transfer the entire content in a blender. Add in 1 cup of water, and blend all well, preferably in batches so that it does not over-crowd the blender. If you do not want a thick soup, and then add in more liquid. You may even use chicken stock as well.Add in dried herbs of your choice if you wish to.
Now in half cup of water, dissolve 1 tsp of corn starch. Reserve it to add later on.
Put the entire blended content again to cook. Let it simmer slowly for about 10-15 mints.
Add in corn starch water and give a nice stir. After 4-5 mints it will start to thicken. Remove from further cooking.Adjsut salt and black pepper now. Serve hot with any bread. I have used double cream for garnishing and served with crackers.sometimes I like to add red chily flakes in place of black pepper for the extra heat.


You may replace butternut squash with pumpkin as well. Replace yogurt in place of double cream for even healthy option.

Happy Cooking Friends

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Grilled Trout and vegetables- Recipe with spices

Every home has their version of traditions. So, when I ask about or start imagining thanks giving traditions, every kitchen, every home and all the people associated with it, will have different stories to tell. And these stories makes memories, with these memories, traditions are passed on to next generations. If you are celebrating these thanks-giving traditions – then wish you and yours a Happy thank-giving and even if you are not, don’t stop yourselves from being thankful to God. Please count on the blessings, he has bestowed upon you, me and all of us.
Ours is also a family with many such stories. Take this story part out, and what you get here is a plain recipe post. I am sure when you visit a food blog; you always try to find something. And that “something” can be “anything” for most of you- a recipe, clearing any doubts, checking the ingredients list or method etc or may be sometimes a mention which makes you think, oh! Yes that’s how it has been made by us, or is happening with us, or we also have been there and done that. Or may be a completely new recipe, where you haven’t even heard of those exotic ingredients or a new recipe.Or may be a story which you can co-relate to.

Nevertheless, bottom line is everyone is looking for “something” and that something can be “anything”, just like all the traditions you have inherited or will create, it can lead to something or may be possibly anything.

Well, we do not follow thanks giving traditions in our home; it’s a completely new concept or a cultural euphoria for us. But yes, we do respect food and God. And with this, I would say we are thankful to God for providing us a shelter, food and water and the people who love and care for us.
Although, traditionally, turkey is made on thanks giving day, but I think we create our own traditions or memories as well. 
I have a grilled fish recipe for this occasion. I have used rainbow trout fish- a sweet fresh-water fish, for this recipe, but other fish like sea-bream or mackerel or may be sea bass can also be used for this recipe. Although in Mediterranean cuisine, they do like to grill fish with bare minimum things- like with olive oil,lemon juice,salt and some herbs, but, since we do need to satisfy our Indian taste bud. We have made a dry spice mix, which can be used as a great rubbing spice mix for the fish.
You may even add in other vegetables for grilling- like potatoes, cauliflowers, onions, sweet potato and bell peppers. The red ones are sweet and juicy. Or may some grilled asparagus as your sides. Fish are generally healthy options. Here is how we made grilled fish with spices.

 There we created our own tradition on thanks-giving and it’s known you can not separate fish from a Bengali.

Grilled Rainbow Trout with vegetables and spices
Recipe requirements
1 whole Rainbow trout fish
2-3 medium size potatoes
Cauliwer florets
1 lemon cut into half
3-4 fat cloves of garlic
For the dry rub spice mix
1/4 tsp of turmeric powder( optional) 
1 tsp of red pepper powder
1 tsp of garlic powder
¼ tsp of ginger powder (sonth)
1 tsp of coriander powder
½ tsp of cumin powder
½ tsp of cinnamon powder
½ tsp of cardamom powder
½ tsp of Kashmiri red powder
1 tsp of salt
2 tsp of dried herb of your choice or mixed herbs like thyme/parsley/ kasoori methi etc

Clean the fish in running tap water. I have not used  the fish head; if you want you can include that as well. With the help of potato peeler, using the serrated sides of the peeler, de-scale the fish or use any other knife, stroking on the opposite direction to de-scale the fish.Make some marks with knife on the fish surface, just tearing the fish skin and some flesh underneath.

Now we will rub the dry spice mixture evenly on the surface of fish. Mix all the ingredients listed under dry rub spice mix- red pepper, cumin+coriander, garlic+ginger, cinnamon+cardamom powder etc. If you do not get dry powders for garlic and ginger, you can use fresh as well. Just grate them roughly and pat all over the fish surface. In place of cinnamon+cardamom powder, you may even use garam masala powder. There are even options of using garlic salt as well. You may use that also if it’s available to you.

Now after rubbing the dry rub spice mix, cover the fish with a aluminium foil, and keep it refrigerated.I have done a 24 hrs marination.The day I bought the fish, I rubbed the spice mix well and then kept it in the deep fridge .Then on next day, I took it out for grilling at least 3-4 hrs earlier to thaw the fish properly.
Now sprinkle about a tsp of lemon juice all over.

Now cut potatoes, and other vegetables of your choice. If you wish to use cauliflowers, potatoes, bell pepper, garlic, sweet potato etc then add in now. After cutting them in thick and chunky pieces, rub the spice mix powder on them also if you have some left-over, otherwise, simply use red pepper powder + any dried herb+salt. 
Set the oven at 190 deg C at grill mode/ in US it is broil mode.Or use stove-top skillet grill or cast-iron grill.But then spray some oil over the grill before you start grilling the fish.This gives a lovely charred look as well.
Now, prepare a baking tray, line up with foil, and put the fish in the middle rack.Generally this is what I like to do, otherwise you can put that on the top rack as well,if you want a lovely charred look then use a grilling tray for that matter.

If you want to add oil, then add in oil when you prepare the dry rub spice mix or half way through , flipping the sides of the grilled fish, just basting it with little oil.
Put the baking tray in the middle shelf, and grill the fish for 35-40 mints at 190 Deg C. Put a tray at the lower rack, in case there is some dripping.Half way through take the fish out, carefully flip the side and put it back into the oven.
Take out and let it rest for a while.
You can prepare any cold salad with it as well. How about a cole-slaw or a fresh corn mango salsa  for a change

And thanks for visiting here, all these past years.Happy Thanks-Giving friends.

Have a lovely weekend everyone.

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Peyaj Posto - Onions cooked with white poppy seed paste

Now that I have written about our travel in my earlier post...I would like to take off my traveling boots as of now and change into the home-slippers, and perhaps start cooking food for us.
Posto or white poppy seed paste is an integral part of traditional Bengali cooking.This can be included in many stir/fry vegetable recipes and fish recipes as well.There is this chicken recipe – posto bata diye murgi , and also a notey shaak with posto bata..........
Today it’s peyaj posto for you all. The recipe is simple with white poppy seeds to make posto bata/poppy seed paste, well almost and of course onion. I would say please use purple onions not the white ones. As they do give nice sweetish taste to the over-all dish.

After, I thought of putting up this recipe, I gave Google a turn, yeah I always do, so that I can recommend some other recipes .Most of the recipes that are written in the net about peyaj posto, do not talk about tempering/phoron part of this stir/fry. I am amazed and puzzled, as a general rule one always does the phoron/tadka/tempering and then add vegetables in a stir/fry recipe. I called back my Ma just to confirm my doubt and asked if I am doing it any wrong way these past years. So, she told me tempering should be done either by adding Panch-phoron or Kalo jeerey as this is what she always had been doing in past. I sighed that I am not the only person who believes in tempering and phoron for this stir/fry recipe.
But likewise, any recipe is totally dependent on the cook, even after many attempts one can not reproduce a delicious and simple stir/fry recipe again and again, what ever they might have eaten somewhere, and sometimes all it takes is a single attempt, and it hits the “Bulls eye”….Bang there!!

Peyaj posto ( Onions with white poppy seed paste)
Recipe requirements
3-4 medium size onions
3-4 green chilies
1 tsp of nigella seeds/kalo jeerey/kalaunji
¾ tsp of salt or as per taste
3-4  heaped tbs of white poppy seeds or 50 gms of white poppy seeds.
2-3 whole cashews
4-5 tbs of mustard oil
¼ tsp of turmeric powder (optional)
½ tsp of red pepper powder
Soak white poppy seeds and cashews in water for about 2-3 hrs roughly. Now wet grind those in grinder with water and green chilies.Add in salt as per taste also. Add water in batches, just enough to rotate the grinder blades. We will adjust water later on while stir/frying the onions.
Now heat up a saucepan, add in cooking oil. Now add in nigella seeds/kalaunji/kalo jeerey.
Add in chopped onion juliennes. Add in salt as per taste. Onions shrink while frying so; keep an eye on the content of salt. Start from adding less salt and then taste, if required add more. And also the poppy seed paste already has salt in it. Keep on stir/fry the onions for 5-7 mints or till they shrink in size.
Now add in posto bata/poppy seed paste to the above stir/fried onions. If required splash little bit of water. Keep on stir/fry this paste with onions, till the paste starts to dry up and starts sticking to the onions. It will take little patience to do stir/fry at medium heat, but it’s worth it.

Take it off from the heat; posto peyaj is ready to be served. Now have it with warm cooked rice.

Happy Cooking Friends

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Let Me Take you Far Away- 2

We were on a short holiday to North Wales, and we are glad it turned out a surprise for us.This region has its own rich history and culture. I have loved picturesque and lovely South Wales particularly Gower Peninsula in this earlier post .This time we thought of going to North Wales. 

We were based in Conwy and had a chance to visit Llandudno, Bangor and Llanberis holiday resorts as well. The ruins of Conwy castle was intriguing, so was the smallest house in Conwy Quay.We even liked walking on the Conwy town walls that surrounded the entire Conwy City, something which is unheard of in present day context.I mean an entire city inside the walled area, to me it sounded  like a page out of those old fairy-tale books.I thought somebody has transported me to that authentic medieval era.

As we were visiting it on Sunday, there was a food festival with local food on display.We had Wales cakes and a salmon burger, salmon fish fillet was slowly smoked and then was put as a filing in between baps or may be something similar looking, but the flavor was amazing.I think I am going to make salmon burgers someday soon.

We were using public transport all the times, which involved little bit of planning but still doable if one wants to explore this way. The winter Sherpa bus ride from Bets-Y-Coed to Llanberis has breath-taking views, while you ride through; every turn that it takes leaves you in awe. There are many walks in between this journey as well, where you can hop-on /off, if one wants to explore the region while walking. And of course there is Snowdonia mountain railway in Llanberis if one wants to go mountain top using the cog-wheel train or even there is an option of exploring it by hiking which starts from Pen-Y-pass car park. Sherpa bus service also takes you to the Pen-Y-pass car-park, although my only regret is, this bus service is limited to 2-3 times a day.

Welsh are warm-hearted people and they sure do take pride in their own culture. The native language is different from English and once you start traveling in bus, you sometimes do get to hear some strange sounding words and language. So, Llandudno is pronounced as “Klan-Dudno” ……and so on...We were amazed and felt that we were visiting a totally different country all together. Great orme visit by Tramway was another interesting journey. This is very similar to San Francisco tramway that runs periodically in the city. As we had been to SFO before, we knew the similarity it has. But then the Great Orme visit was done on a windy day, and when I say windy day, I mean it. 

There we met some people, who made their way to the top all by walking and hiking, some were tired and told us the entire leg was very exhausting for them. No, we couldn't think of doing it, instead we thought tram is a better option for us. Lets’ see some day if we can pull it off.What ever way you choose, views on top are splendid.They even have a mini-golf course, in case you want to spend little bit more time.
Many greeted us on our way or when ever we need any advice about public transport, while we were out during our visit there. Some even went ahead and recommended us to visit local spots for history and culture. We were not aware about national slate museum in Llanberis, until we were recommended by gracious local people, who even showed another walking path towards Slate museum. It’s good to know little bit more about hard-working Welsh people and their ancestral history.

And there are many such creations which are revolutionizing as well, such as Menai Bridge near Bangor, which connects parts of the Northern Wales with Isle of Anglesey. Now that part we have left it for some other day. But this bridge had been made some 200 years ago and it’s one of world’s oldest suspension bridges.

 On one side is Parts of north Wales and on the other Isle of Anglesey.Our second Hooghly Bridge in Kolkata, is also a suspension bridge in case you want to know.

And when I write about Wales, it is compulsory to write about the breath-taking sea-beaches. This part is, I would say is blessed with beautiful sea-beaches. There is this view from our accommodation, sunset was beautiful to watch, almost had a calming effect on mind.

We also had similar experience in one of a coastal beach near Conwy.Now who wouldn’t love to spend some time over there, just sitting and lost in thoughts, surrounded with nature’s beauty. 

Wales thank you for making a memorable holiday for us.Hope to see you again someday........

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Tinda ki Sukhi Sabzi with panch phoron and saboot masoor dal masala- Whole brown lentil dry stir/fry

We are into November? You would say am I asking or telling? Yes I know you all know it’s November, but it’s me who needs to confirm. Couple of days ago I heard a mention of “November Rain” some where...and from then it started echoing in my mind it’s November – it’s November. Well November reminds me, October is way past, it had come and gone- bye -bye .But then in October a significant history turning event was happening in my life. 
Now, I am telling you, not asking you .October meant festivals and togetherness, as we were away from our homeland then, feeling little sad that we missed out eating all those delicious festivals foods etc – I did wrote an absurd blog post just in half an hour and published it right here October 10th 2006, and then second right after two days here ,on this space which is now known to you as “Spice and Curry”, a blog name, which just came into my mind, right in a splash of moment out of no- where. 
I should say I have been here for 8 years , being sometimes active in updating this blog , some times passive- active( below normal updating) , sometimes active-active, I mean double active( super-action –packed updating) and sometimes total passive ( hibernating and sleeping).. ..But I tried to hang around here for 8 years, am I glad in doing it? Yes, absolutely!
Actually I should have wrote a big emotional  post on completing eight years of food blogging in October and blah blah but it looks like I missed the train, and I am not even a good runner like Geet aka Kareena Kapoor in “Jab We Met”, although, I liked the movie but that running part……

Anyways here I am with 8 years of food blogging and with lots of memories, especially food memories and blog post which I sometimes do go back and read, and wait, I guess may be I am not the only person reading those odd and absurd ,old posts. Sometimes I do get queries like this, this ,this and this …and many questioning the recipe like  this and this and then some appreciating the efforts like this and this ... and many more like these, makes my day, glowing and shining. Sometimes, I do read it aloud to dear hubby and also sometimes to my daughter who themselves have different opinions about these recipes…All in true spirits.

Anyhow, it gives me happiness coming here, writing and talking to you with recipes, pictures, food memories and our family memories, and I do hope you also share the same feeling. If you have been reading this far, may I ask you to drop few lines in comment section. As our leisure time slot is getting busy, but I do hope we shouldn’t stop doing things which gives happiness and spread happiness around us.
As  this blog is all about home-cooking  by a homemaker cum home-cook writing some of her recipes with food memories inter-woven.And home-cooked meal means simple stir/fry recipes that should accompany with rotis or rice, as that is what our main food is all about.

I have been cooking many vegetables and regular blog readers know that well and todays it’s tinda’s  turn.I was not sure what tinda is called in English or other languages  so goggled it and found that it’s Indian round gourd or apple gourd/Indian baby pumpkin in English.In Hindi it’s tinda or tinday ..Can anyone tell me other regional language names for tinda?
I am even tempted to add a whole brown lentil aka sabot masoor dal masala recipe as well.”Ek- ke- sath- ek- free” types of offer as its blog anniversary, sorry belated blog anniversary.We like the dry stir/fry preparation of whole brown lentils, and I don’t need to add the nutritious food values whole lentils are loaded with.
I know you all will be thinking where that cake slice or that sweet is. I will say, save it for some other day, soon it will be December, and you will find them everywhere in food blogosphere. As of now, it’s a tinda recipe and whole masoor dal /brown lentil recipe for you.

Tinda ki Sukhi sabzi with panch phoron
Recipe requirements
Serves – 3-4
About 500 Gms of tinda or large 3-4 /medium size 5-6 tinda-tinday
2 medium size potatoes
Half medium size tomato-or 6-7 cherry tomatoes
1 cup of green peas
½ tsp of turmeric powder
1 tsp of red pepper powder
½ tsp of cumin powder
1 tsp of panch phoron/or cumin seeds
Pinch of hing/asfoetida
2-3 dry red peppers
Salt as per taste
3-4 tbs of cooking oil- mustard oil or sunflower oil
Cut tinda and potatoes in cubes. Wash them in water well.
Now heat up a pan, add in cooking oil.
Now add in panch phoron, pinch of hing and dry red peppers. After half a minute later, add in cubed tinda, potatoes and green peas. Keep on stir/frying for about 7-8 mints. Add in dry seasonings-turmeric powder,red pepper powder and salt.
Now add in finely chopped tomatoes, and two ladles full of water. Cover the pan, and let it cook at medium flame for about 10-12 mints.
When potatoes are soft, with the help of the ladle, just mash and mix the potatoes with tinda.If you don’t want to mash and mix, leave them as it is. Sprinkle cumin powder now and mix.
Sprinkle dhaniya patta/coriander leaves. Take it off from cooking further.
A simple sabzi is ready to go well with rotis.

Saboot Masoor dal masala – whole brown lentils dry stir/fry
Recipe requirements ( serves 4)
2 cups of whole masoor dal/brown lentils
3 tsp of grated ginger
3 tsp of grated garlic
1 medium size onion chopped finely
1 medium size tomato
1 tsp of coriander powder
½ tsp of cumin powder
2 tsp of red pepper powder
 1tsp of garam masala
5-6 tbs of cooking oil
½ tsp of cumin seeds
½ tsp of fennel seeds
1 tsp of ghee
Soak whole brown lentils in enough water for about 3-4 hrs. Discard the water.
Now heat up a pan/kadai/wok. Add in cooking oil, add in cumin seeds and fennel seeds, stir/fry them till they just starts to swell.
Now add in finely chopped onions, grated ginger+garlic and keep on stir/fry for 4-5 mints.
Add in salt and all the dry ingredients- red pepper, turmeric, coriander-cumin powder and salt. Coat well with the spices.
Add in soaked whole brown lentils and keep on stir/fry for 4-5 mints at medium flame.
Add in about a cup of water. Cover the pan/kadai/wok and let it cook for 15-18 mints at medium-low flame. Add in finely chopped tomatoes and garam masala.Check in between if they are cooked or not and if still needs to be cooked then add in ½ cup of warm water again if the water has dried up and cook for 8-10 mints.

When the lentils are cooked and the water has dried, take it off from the flame.Add in ghee now and sprinkle chopped herbs of your choice and enjoy. Alternately you can use pressure cooker to cook whole brown lentils, just one whistle at high and lower the flame and let it cook 4-5 mints. Take it off and when the pressure inside pressure cooker subsides, open the pressure cooker lid. And then temper it with the masala- spice that you prepare separately.Have it with rotis.And in case you crave for gravies with dal , then increase seasoning contents and add more water to make gravies, but then that's another recipe.

Happy Cooking and have a relaxing weekend everyone.

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Home-made pizza recipe

The colourful autumn season is upon us and this brings such vibrancy to our monotonous routine over here. A leisure stroll into the parks and you are surrounded with such vibrant and colorful display. Sometimes, all you need is these little moments, moments where you can rejuvenate yourselves.
Time to bounce back to activity as with fall season, many recipes need to be tried and tasted. Baking and then of course soup preparations are all lined up these past days in our home. How about your home? What recipes you have been cooking this fall season?

It’s almost weekend so thought of posting a home-made pizza recipe. This pizza recipe had been our escape-route, when ever we don’t feel like going for the take-away pizza. And in due course of time, we have almost stopped doing pizza take-always these days. But, then when you have this craving for cheesy pizza, mid-week or weakened is just an excuse, right?
For us when it’s a pizza day, that means it’s a family day as we all work together, kneading the dough, chopping the vegetables and choosing the toppings. My dear husband and dear daughter- duo also equally share responsibility in making the pizza that day.Ok that’s another excuse for a laid –back time off for me.
This recipe has worked well for us many times. This has been worked and tweaked many times, as with the use of making with white bread flour, whole wheat; plain-flour etc, all resulted in different types of pizza dough recipes. But what worked best is the use of self raising flour mixed with fine semolina flour. I really liked the tip of adding semolina to the pizza dough as suggested by Jamie Oliver in his website as this gives a brilliant texture to the usual pizza dough. But from then onwards this pizza dough recipe has been modified with self raising flour. I am sure with bread flour it will be little different.

Anyways, this is our recipe now as we only make the pizza dough with self raising and semolina flour mixture but the toppings keeps on changing, even the flavouring part as well. Some days it’s chicken tikka flavor, and some days it has Caribbean influence.And even some days we see ourselves having veggie pizza with mushroom,bell peppers, onion and even asparagus.

Here is how we made the pizza dough recipe
Home-Made Pizza with Caribbean Flavour
Recipe Requirements
12 oz or 1 and ½ cups of self raising flour
4 oz or ½ cup of fine semolina
½ tsp of salt or as per taste
2 tsp of oil
2 tsp of sugar
3 tsp of active dried yeast
Lukewarm water about a cup or as per needed for kneading
For the toppings of the pizza
1 cup of sliced Jamaican Jerk Chicken pieces- recipe is Over Here
About 1 cup of chopped mushroom
½ cup of chopped onions
2-3 West Indian red pepper sliced
Any other vegetables of your choice
3-4 heaped tbs of any pasta sauce
 2 cups of mozzarella cheese or pizza cheese
In a big mixing bowl – mix in self raising flour+fine semolina. Make a well in the centre and now we will add salt, sugar and oil. Add in active dry yeast and mix well. No need to prepare the yeast separately.
Now with the help of Luke-warm water, start mixing in the dry ingredients and knead till it starts to come together well.
Keep this dough covered with a damp cloth for about 2-3 hrs to rise and puff up. Don’t worry if it turns out sticky or very soft.
After about 3 hrs when you see the dough has puffed up well or technically have risen well.
Then on clean and spacious surface sprinkle enough self raising flour, start kneading the dough on this, about 15-20 mints. The hands motion should be going outside while pressing the dough to flatten it and then roll back the dough. Repeat the process and keep on kneading this way. If required sprinkle more flour so that it doesn't gets sticky.
After a while of kneading the pizza dough, you will see the dough starts to collect well and the stickiness is gone, also the dough turned soft and smooth. Now press a finger tip over the dough, it should feel soft and smooth, the pizza dough is almost ready.
Keep this further resting for about 1 hr. Now divide this into two equal portions.You can increase the flour quantity to make 4 portions as well.
Now while the dough is resting, cut and chop the desired vegetable as toppings.
Roll the dough at least about at the time when you are ready to eat it about half an hour just before that. As the baking time is roughly 15 mints and also the preparation time is 10-12 mints.
Roll out into a flat sphere considering the width you want for your pizza base and smear pasta sauce; any pasta sauce. Place chopped vegetables over it. I have used West Indian red pepper which has a very fiery hot flavor as toppings for that Caribbean influence.
Now preheat an oven at 190 deg C. Bake the pizza for about 6-7 mints. Take it out and sprinkle generous amount of mozzarella cheese over it and again bake it for 7-8 mints. Take out and have it.
You can even make the dough in bulk and store in deep fridge. And when you are ready to eat, then take it out and allow it thaw for about 1-2 hrs, then roll and add your preferred toppings and bake.

Enjoy your weekend with home-made pizza recipe.

Happy Cooking Friends

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Kaju Katli On Shubh Deepawali

Hello ji, knock knock, anybody there?
Well now that I have started writing this post, and assuming you all have started reading this post .May I say, or rather ask you all, have you missed me? Now don't say "No” for that matter, actually deep down I just wanted to hear “Yes”. Well if it’s yes I am really happy – and that happy means a big “happy” with this smiling face J .Now, I should write more. Rolling my sleeves, bring it on.

Oh this is the time; I mean autumn time, lovely fall season around us. And also our festival season going around. Couple of weeks ago it was Durga Puja and Vijayadashmi.Sorry; I was not blogging then so couldn't wish you all. But hey, now that I have updated the blog and what better way than to update it on the very auspicious day of Diwali.
Let me wish all of you a very happy Diwali, cook loads of sweets, namkins etc and enjoy. I won’t be saying much as when we light a diya in every corner of our home, it eradicates darkness that surrounds us. May this light guide you ahead in your life and bring you peace, prosperity, health and harmony.

Yesterday made some sweets and one of them is kaju katli – cashew sweets. When I checked the blog recipe page, I realized that I haven’t written the recipe yet. Although I have made this sweet many times. There were some cooking mishaps as well, and sometimes the mixture won’t collect well on a bad cooking day. Yes, it happens and nothing to hide about it. But then there were also some days, I thought I will post the recipe with pictures. But when I realized, sweets were all gone and finished. Now, it’s a good feeling when the things you cook, is liked by your family, a rewarding satisfaction, isn’t?
But yesterday it came out well.So; I took the pictures and thought, its show and tell time.

Here is how we made it
Kaju Katli (Diamond shaped cashews sweet)
Recipe requirements
2 cups of cashews
3-4 heaped tbs of plain flour
1 and ½ cups of sugar( or as per taste)
¼ cup of water
5-6 saffron threads
1 tsp of cardamom powder
 4-5 tbs of ghee or clarified butter
We will first start with making sugar syrup for this sweet. The sugar syrup needs to be very thick and sticky. As when you will add cashew flour and plain flour within 5-7 mints it should stick together and can collect well. This may take some time, but make sure you do go to the stage when sugar syrup is two thread consistency.Now, add in ghee or clarified butter and also saffron threads. Put the flame at low level. Please take big vessel for syrup making so that you can stir and mix well.
Dry grind cashews in a grinder. Take them out and keep aside. Mix in plain flour and cardamom powder with it. I generally do add plain flour, as it helps in binding so does the sugar syrup.
Now at this stage you have to be quick, stirring the mixture frequently so that it doesn’t get burnt or get stuck at the pan base. Once they start to collect well. Take out little sample and try to roll in your palm, if it does shape well, it’s time to take the mixture off from further cooking.
Now grease a flat surface with oil very well. And take the mixture out and roll into a flat circle quickly. I have divided the mixture into two equal portions and then rolled it with the help of a rolling pin.
Please do not let it cool as when cooled it will be hardened and not easy, then to work out quickly.
After a while, make knife marks criss-cross and in diamond shape. Your kaju katli/cashew sweet is ready to be tasted. 
If you wish you can even decorate it with silver foil.Once it gets cooled off completely, store in an air tight container. This home-made cashew sweet remains fresh for 4-5 days. Refrigerate them and it stays fresh few more days.

Enjoy and have loads of sweets and please don’t count calories for that matter.

Wish you all readers a very happy happy Diwali J….

Friday, September 5, 2014

Boneless Chicken Dry Stir/Fry preparation - Chicken "Sukha" cooked with coconut and spices

Kids are back to school again and a month long summer holidays are over here. This means now, I have some spare time to devote on this blog. When ever we talk about non-veggie preparations, always red color, oil drenching gravy springs to our mind. But that being told, not all the chicken or even meat  preparations are doused with red coloring and flavor incorporating Kashmiri red pepper powder or even “Ratan Jot” for instance, both known to give that distinct red colors to the meat gravies. Sometimes even carmalization of sugar also adds up to the final result. But then there are some recipes which are very earthy, getting that distinct color from grounded turmeric and other Indian spices. 

This dry stir/fry preparation – or known as “Sukha’ in Hindi is a classic example. This chicken preparation, as it looks might not be a visual delight or what ever way you want to put it, but it has a very satisfying flavor of hotness and sweetness  with just a hint of sourness. And I would like to repeat, not all gravies or preparations are red in color, doused with heavy use of cooking oil.
But to be honest I had this chicken   fish preparation for the first time, in one of our south Indian friend‘s home. And seeing that I felt it might be just another passing thing as it was not at all, let’s say appealing to eyes, but when I had my food portions in my mouth, I knew it “K’, a sweet and down to earth person who made this preparation, is a great cook. I somehow fell in love with the sweetness of coconut and hotness of the freshly churned spices. I immediately asked her recipe and she obliged me with that. She had made this preparation with firm boneless cat-fish nuggets; all the spices and procedure remain same except the use of chicken in this recipe. We have moved in our life and so is K and M, our friends, but these precious little things about them, are always with us and I hope some of ours have remained with them also. That other day we were remembering them and DH reminded me about that dry stir/fry fish preparation that K, M’s wife had made that day. Actually, I wanted to make a dry preparation of chicken for a long time, so when DH asked me about that recipe, I thought why not give a try with chicken instead of fish.

There is no guessing game in this, coconut, curry leaves, brown mustard seeds and Anar dana is part of this preparation, and I know she had added tamarind paste to the original recipe, but since I don’t keep tamarind in my pantry, I happen to substitute it with Anar dana/dried pomegranate seeds. Any other souring agent like aamchur powder can also be used. The basic guideline is just to add a hint of sourness, not overwhelming contents. And I do keep a good stock of jalapenos peppers these days, so I happen to add them quite frequently in these types of dry stir/fry preparations. Actually they do add nice hotness to this stir/fry preparation.
Now that you know the basic ingredients, will write the recipe. And remember not all the gravy or meat preparations are red in colour. Some even are subtle and perhaps have loads of texture and taste way better than those oil drenched, red color gravies.

Boneless Chicken Dry Stir/fry – Sukha preparation with coconut and spices- South Indian Style
Recipe requirements
500 Gms of boneless chicken breast pieces cut into small bite size pieces
2 large purple onions
3-4 fat cloves garlic
½ inch fresh ginger root
½ cup of freshly scraped coconut or desiccated coconut
2-3 tbs of dried anardana/ dried pomegranate seeds
½ tsp of ajwain/carom seeds
2-3 cloves
2 black cardamoms
½ tsp of brown mustard seeds
Few cinnamon strands or cassia barks
2-3 jalapenos
3-4 rocket green chillies
Cumin powder- ¼ tsp
Coriander powder- 1 ½ tsp
Black pepper powder- 1 tsp
½ cup of Greek style yogurt
3-4 strands of curry leaves
½ tsp of salt or as per taste
3-4 tbs of cooking oil or use as per required

Wash and clean chicken breast pieces. Pat them dry and prick with a fork all over and cut them into bite size pieces. Sprinkle salt also.
Make a paste of onion, ginger, garlic, jalapenos, rocket green chilies, coconut, dried pomegranate seeds and carom seeds. Add in yogurt and mix very well. Now marinate this paste with the chicken breast pieces and keep aside for 2-3 hrs in fridge. You can even do overnight marinating.
Heat up a saucepan/wok/kadai.Add in cooking oil. Add in mustard seeds, let it splutter.
Add in curry leaves. Add in cloves, cinnamon and black cardamom.
Add in marinated chicken pieces with whole of the spice paste. Keep on stir/fry for 15-20 mints, sprinkle very little water if it starts to stick up in the base.
Cover the content and let it cook at medium –low flame for about 30-35 mints or till the chicken pieces are soft and pale in color.
These same preparations can also be made with other seafood like- prawn and crab.
Vegetarian can use paneer and tofu in place of meat or chicken.
You can even make a quick wrap with this chicken preparation.

Happy Cooking Friends

Friday, August 29, 2014

Niramish Chana'r Dalna - a Very Basic Bengali recipe

We always play down the vegetarian way of cooking a recipe, thinking that it will turn out plain= fika ranna/cooking.But there are umpteen ways of making a particular recipe and even a simple “ranna” /cooking that one craves for after having rich and high calorie food intakes, can very well be soul soothing and rewarding. Hold on to your thoughts, I won’t be doing  Ayurvedic lectures in this post – lectures giving info about – “pitta” or “vaat” or kapha “ implanting ingredients or their serious advantages- disadvantages  over non-vegetarian foods. Let’s not complicate things over here and stick to basic and simple. My basic is when we are done of eating too many rounds of non-vegetarian foods, one should slow down and eat food cooked with few ingredients or do the “niramish way of making a recipe” sans onion/garlic or even ginger, and using bare minimum spices. 

Niramish Chana'r Dalna with Narkol and Dudh 

Well, when I start with “niramish ranna”, people immediately conclude it with “chana” or “paneer’or should I say “poneer!”….so here is niramish chanar dalna sans onion+garlic+ginger.Although; ginger can be used in any niramish ranna/vegetarian preparation.

I really don’t know where I have first eaten this “chana” preparation. As per my faint memories,perhaps it was when my “Bodo Thamma” my real grandmother’s elder sister made this recipe. Like all the ‘widowed Vaishnavs”, we have seen her live a very down-to-earth life. But strange as it may sound, nobody even forced her to do it. It was her way of connecting with her god. She had an aura of calmness in her ever glowing eyes.Our family respected her for that and used to listen to her wise words, guiding us just like a north star on a dark turmoiled night. Although, I was just a pre-teen kid then, when she passed away, but I have a very diminishing image of her till today in my mind. A strict follower of lord Krishna, she had her various restrictions- white and pure clothes, short-cut hair , no make-up, jewellery  etc.And then making things even complicated, she used to eat only twice a day. Now, I would refrain from giving any other information about her, as some things should remain personal. This type of paneer recipe was again made on a “Puja” day in our parent-in-laws home. Although I can’t recall what spices were added at that time exactly, but it was a very basic and simple “niramish chanar dalna”, not even ginger+tomatoes were used.
 I guess my only contribution is to add narkol-coconut to the above to make it somewhat sweetish at this point. Now coming to this recipe. 

Niramish Chana'r dalna - a Very basic recipe to please God

This preparation comes handy if you have paneer blocks and coconut- fresh or even desiccated one for that matter .The sweetness of coconut merges well with the homogeneity of milk and paneer.Some even use whey liquid in place of milk. Some even may say after reading this recipe- as –“poneer, narkol and dudh with gravy”, I would say go ahead, what ever makes you feel happy about it and try making it in your kitchen as well. But then remember the original source where you first read it. My purpose of sharing this recipe will perhaps be achieved.
Now to the recipe
Niramish Chanar Dalna 
Recipe requirements
200 Gms of paneer cut into cubes
2 medium size potatoes cut into cubes
½ cup of semi-skimmed milk
¼ cup of medium desiccated coconut or fresh scraped coconut
½ tbs of coriander powder
¼ tsp of sugar
1 tsp of salt or as per taste
4-5 cloves
2-3 green cardamoms
2-3 dry red chilies
½ tsp of cumin seeds (optional)
3-4 tbs of cooking oil/sada tel
Since I have used ready-made “paneer” block available easily here, so there is no need of using the whey liquid for the gravy. Instead we will dilute semi-skimmed milk with water and add later.However if you want to use fresh “chana” and the whey liquid then make “chana” beforehand. My tip is to have a small box of citric acid in your pantry for that daily home-making of chana.Few pinches of citric acid and the fresh home made “chana “is easily done. Vinegar can also be used to curdle milk to get “Chana”.
Put a saucepan on heat.At medium flame, first fry the paneer cubes from each side in 2 tbs of cooking oil. Similarly you can fry potatoes cubes. For this recipe I generally don’t even fry the potatoes.take them out.
Add rest of the cooking oil; add in cloves, cardamoms, cumin seeds and dry red chilles.Fry them for about half a minute at medium low flame or till they just start to flare up.
Now add in fried potato cubes. Add in coriander powder and salt. Fry all for about 2-3 mints at medium flame.
Now add in fresh “narkol kora” /scraped coconut. In place of fresh narkol, one can use desiccated coconut as well.
Add in water to the ¼ cup of semi-skimmed milk to make it about 1 and half ½ cup of milk. Now add this to the above.
Let it cook for about 8-10 mints or till the potatoes turns soft. Add in fried paneer cubes and cover the saucepan and let it cook for 3-4 mints. Turn off the switch and let it rest in and also let paneer cubes soak up some gravy.
This is a lightest preparation of "niramish chanar dalna" and can be included as part of the “Bhog  Prasad”. However, if you want to jazz up further, then you may add ginger+cumin powder+ garam masala+tomatoes to the above.In place of sada Tel /Cooking oil , one can use pure desi ghee as well.

You may refer these recipes in net for the even more -spiced version of niramish chanar dalna- 

Since today is Ganesh Chaturthi ...So Gannapati Bappa Moorya ....Happy Ganesh Chaturthi everyone...

Happy Cooking Friends