Sunday, September 19, 2010

Shorshe diye Mangetout/Snow peas - Mangetout with Mustard seed paste

Shorshe diye sheem/mange tout/snow peas , many of you will ask what is that remarkable feature which makes it so important to blog about. Perhaps nothing special. This is not being served in any five star restaurants, for that matter in any Bengali restaurant (whatever little I know about them) nor is it an exotic food. This is a very simple Bengali home meal which can be made in jiffy. It requires no special or exotic ingredients or method or even hi profile new electronic gadgets.

What you need is a basic grinder and some mustard seeds and mustard oil ( don’t worry ,even if you don’t have like in my case , you can substitute it with plain cooking oil ) and some very few basic seasonings and a place which you can call “your home”.
Home is where your heart is, assuming that I must say this is perhaps a very simple niramish ranna you can do in comfort of your home, share and enjoy with loved ones.

Shorshe or mustard seeds are a very important ingredient in every Bengali household. And there have been very delicious dishes made from it also.Shorshe diye chingri, shorshe Ilish –recipe link Here- and many more.

What I do is I have made mustard seeds powder in bulk and have stored in a plastic jar. Whenever I need to prepare shorshe bata jhaal, I generally take that powder, add some seasonings like red pepper powder+turmeric powder and bit of yogurt and make a smooth paste. This paste is then I would generally add at the end of any shorshe’er jhaal that I am preparing at that time.This doesnot match the original taste of shorshe bata made on sheel nora but still it satisfy our cravings for quick shorsh'er jhaal.

Originally people in Bengal, would use sheel nora to make fresh mustard paste or shroshe bata.Over a period of time when joint family started to shrink, and people started to travel in search of bread and butter , families also became nuclear family. Perhaps, that’s how a necessity of having old things likes sheel Nora, hamol disti also started to become a rare acquaintances in a modern Bengali household. So, in place of sheel Nora and hamol disti, people found it convenient to use a mixer and grinder in a small apartment which has even a small kitchen.

Sending this to Back to Basic food event  now being hosted at Sra's place  , an event initiated by Desi Soccer Mom .

If you do think sheel nora works best for shorshe bata, I would highly encourage you to use it if any. However, if you have to juggle a stable career and a demanding family and that too a nuclear family , then perhaps it’s wisely to use your grinder and make a powder in bulk and store in a air tight jar and use as per your requirements.

Shorshe diye Sheem/mangetout/Snow Peas 

Make a smooth powder with the following ingredients
About 10-12 cashews
And about quarter cup of mustard seeds
And about 1 tsp of salt
1 tsp of turmeric powder
Dry grind mustard seeds, cashews together and then again mix in some salt and turmeric powder. If you wish you may add red pepper powder at this time also.
Now store this grounded mixture in an air tight container or plastic jar. Use as per requirement it stays fresh for 1-2 months. Make sure they do not trap moisture.
Make the paste for sheem shroshe/mangetouts
About 2 tsp of above mustard powder, some salt, ½ tsp of turmeric powder and about 1-2 tbs of fresh yogurt. If you wish you may add poppy seed powder also. Mix in well this paste and reserve for later use.
Heat up a saucepan, add about 2-3 tbs of cooking oil.
Now add 1 tsp of panch phoron.
Now add 15-18 sheem or mangetouts.
Fry them well for 1 mint.
Add salt, 3-4 tsp red pepper powder, turmeric powder and 2 green chilies slit in between.
Add about half cup of water.
Cover and cook till mangetouts turn soft. You may require cooking little more if you are using sheem/Hyacinth.
Now switch off the gas/hob.
Take the saucepan , off from the hob, and add the mustard seeds paste and gently mix in well.Adding mustard paste at the end won’t turn the gravy bitter.
Serve with warm cooked rice.

Other recipe at Sharmila's Kichu Khon with potato and onions.

Mangetouts are known as snow peas in US.In India sheem or Hyacinth an be used in place of mangetouts-Here is the recipe link from dupor'er khabar series for Sheem Shorshe.
You may use kalaunji/kalo jeerey/nigella seeds in place of panch phoron for tempering
This mustard powder can be stored for 1-2 months.Just make sure they donot trap moisture.always use clean and dry spoon to take out mustard powder.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Lemon Pickle or Nimbu Ka Achaar

Summer season is one particular season, which we were looking forward to this year here. Don’t get me wrong , when I speak of summer, I mean summers in western countries not the one we are habitual of seeing in India.I know it’s harsh and cruel as compared to the mild weather here.I just love the warmth of sun rays coming through our window glass and when it touches you, you feel rejuvenated. One thing which was on my to-do-list was to prepare home-made lemon pickle. I know what you must be thinking when so many good quality pickles are available in supermarkets, why to take pain for a lengthy and long process.

I know, but sometimes a simple thing to do can be very challenging and pickle making is one thing. So, I ventured out to this unknown zone. And over a time I have come up with this recipe to make my home-made lemon pickle. Pictures shared below is my 3rd attempt in making lemon pickle and turn out so good that I thought it’s worth of mentioning here. I don’t count half way efforts and when it can satisfy my level of expectations then only I go ahead and talk about it here. If you are just trying it out first time and things don’t go the way you have expected, don’t loose your heart there is always a second time.If I can do it so can you.Give it a try sometime.

I was always so intrigued by my Hindi speaking friends.And their delicious Tiffin box for which they used to have at least one type of achaar daily with a sabzi and paratha .Be it nimbu ka achaar or aam ka achaar or karounde ka achaar and so on…
I know if they happen to taste this perhaps they would have told me-“No we don’t add curry patta to our nimbu ka achaar.”
Then I would have gone on to say-“But this is how one of my south Indian friends makes it.”
So, perhaps they would have gone on to tell me this is not authentic, traditional nimbu ka achaar.
Isn’t it great how a simple nimbu ka achaar can be made in two different, sorry three or may be four different ways? Such is the diversity of our Indian cuisine for that matter our culture.

I liked the flavor of this achaar, spicy, tangy and it goes well with my dal and moong dal’er bhaat.
Now am I giving doubts to my Bengali friends-“eyi bhabhe bhaat, moong dal er sathe lebur achaar keo khaye naki, horrible!! Begun bhaja, aloo bhaja nahole potol bhaja khaye, keo Hindustani’r moton lebur achaar khaye naki.” But we do like eating with a fresh cut slice of lemon, isn’t?

Adapted from This Recipe, I do think I have improvised it a lot to suit our taste buds.
You can almost double,  may be triple the content for a full jar of lemon pickle. For 3 persons, I do think below measurements serve well.

Lemon pickle
Recipe requirements
4 -6 lemons
2 lemons for lemon juice
2-4 garlic (if you wish to add)
3-4 green chilies (if you wish to add)
Salt as per taste –I added about less than ¼ cup of salt.
Less than ¼ cup of sugar (if you wish to add, but not necessary)
½ tsp of methi powder/ grounded fenugreek
¼ cup of paprika
3-4 tbs of oil to add later
1 tsp of turmeric powder
For tempering
1 tsp of hing
2-3 tsp of mustard seeds
1 tsp of cumin seeds
4-5 small dry red pepper
About 20 curry patta or 4-5 twigs of curry patta
2-3 tbs of cooking oil/sunflower oil

Chop and cut 6 lemons into small cubes. Make sure to get rid off any seeds if any. Wash them in running water.
Now most important dry them very well before you start making pickle. Traces of water can spoil the pickle. Fungus may grow due to the moisture that is being trapped inside.
On a kitchen towel or you may use strong quality tissue paper to dry them up. Scatter all over; make sure they do not overlap. It may take up to 5-6 hrs if exposed to proper and continuous sunlight. Summers are best time for pickling specially after Holi.I made this batch in the month of June and it’s almost September ready to be eaten.
Now squeeze out juice from 2 lemons and keep them aside. Make sure to get rid off any seeds.
In a big mixing bowl, mix in cut lemon cubes, lemon juice, salt, sugar, cooking oil, paprika, fenugreek powder, chopped garlic and green chilies.

Prepare the tempering
Heat up a saucepan, add oil.
Temper it with hing/asfoetida, cumin seeds,dry red pepper and mustard seeds and curry patta.
Let it cool completely.If you wish you may go ahead and mix it well with the prepared pickle.
Otherwise wait for 3-4 days and then temper it.Meanwhile keep the lid closed and place the jar in direct contact of sunlight or at least 3-4 hrs daily sunshine.In India 1-2 hrs of sun exposure is sufficient.
It’s entirely up to you to add this tempering, if you do not wish you can skip it. Somehow I feel this adds up to the flavor of ripened pickle.
Store in a clean glass bottle which has tight lid.TIP- I happened to have a pasta jar which I cleaned it well with warm soap water and then sun dry it for 2 days.I used this jar for storing pickles. I have seen one of my UPean friends home, people use ceramic vessels called as “burni” and they cover it with a clean muslin or thick cotton cloth.
Transfer the mixed pickle to ripe and add rest of the oil and close the lid tightly.
Place it where you can get plenty of direct sunlight. It will take approx 2 months for proper ripening.
Meanwhile you may just shake the content and if you wish with a clean dry spoon (wipe dry with a cotton cloth), you may shuffle the content inside once in a while.

You should choose good fresh lemons without any bruises on skin.
Do not hurry up, initial few days it will turn out very sour. I thought it’s better to add some sugar to overcome the sourness of lemons. But if you do like very sour and spicy pickle you can avoid adding sugar and add little bit of red pepper powder to enhance the spice content.
I happened to add some garlic and green chilies also. But it turn out the garlic's were not soft, any reasons for that.
Be careful about methi/fenugreek. Too much fenugreek can actually turn the pickle bitter.
When I was making this, I was short of hing/asafoetida, but still this has turned out nice. So, if you wish you may skip hing.But asafoetida has remarkable medicinal value. It helps to reduce stomach related disorders and is great for digestion purpose.If you think, you should include it.

There is a No-oil lemon pickle recipe  at  Manisha's Indian Food Rocks. I have made that also, and it tastes delicious too.
And here at VKN's My Dhaba  also.

Then here at Mona'a Zaiqa  also.

Thanks for visiting Spice and Curry

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Pista Murg Keema - Chicken mince with pistachios

Ruchi saw the table clock placed over side chest of drawers, it was ticking half past 1.She lazily covered herself up with a sheet and turned other side on the bed. This morning she had a little fight with Abhi, and all she can now recall is Abhi going to office without having his breakfast. She can’t even think of the reason which started that ridiculous fight. Blaming and then recounting other’s mistake. This is what she hadn't dreamed of when she was coming to Delhi with Abhi after their marriage.A new place, unknown world to her and she was seeing Delhi thro Abhi's eyes.Then slowly she started to settle down and started kind of liking the the hustle-bustle of Delhi and warmth of a typical Dilliwalah.

They have been married for two years now. She started wondering if this is the same story in every home or is it only theirs. Her neighbors were an elderly couple Mr. and Mrs Ray .All she can visualize about them now at this point , is seeing them in the small green park almost every evening, walking together and smiling to each other and occasionally holding hands. Whenever she would be coming back from her daily grocery shopping from the DDA market no-2, which was quite near to their apartment complex.They would always acknowledge her Namaste, and would smile , seeing her with a bag of fresh vegetables and fruits.

She would always admire that silent pact of love and togetherness.Love is unconditional. And then she would start picturing herself and Abhi growing old together and spending time just like them. She all of a sudden felt a strange gust of pain and tears started to fill her eyes. A thin streak of tear started flowing down, smudging her kohl eyes, wetting the corner of pillow, her eyes were all swelled up due to her sobbing for the past two hours like that.
She pulled herself up from the bed with great effort and went to the bathroom to freshen herself. She saw a glimpse of herself in the mirror; she looked quite a tragedy queen perhaps Meena Kumari who knows. She quickly splashed some water over her face.

She then went into the kitchen and opened the refrigerator; she saw minced chicken/ keema lying there. She saw a cup of boiled chick peas in the corner, a left-over ,kept from yesterday. She then recalled that there were some roasted pistachios in the back of the corner wooden cupboard.

She recalled how Abhi was feeding her from his plate affectionately yesterday night, when she accidentally toppled her plate while watching Telly.Abhi scolded her for being so childish but then quickly, started feeding her from his share of food. She then realized she have been like that many times clumsy, without even realizing what she has been doing.

Wasn’t that love which Abhi was having for her when he volunteered to clean all the dirty utensils or knead the dough for roti after a hectic day of work at his office that includes to and fro , exhausting car journey from Dwarka to Noida Sec 25.
She started to look for her purse; she always kept her mobile in it and almost forgets about it. She finally managed to find her purse in the steel almirah, took out her mobile from it, and saw 4 missed calls. She scrolled down to missed call numbers list, they were all from Abhi.Abhi was trying to call her since morning and she on other hand didn’t even realized that. Again she was being such a fool for keeping her mobile in her purse.
She started to dial Abhi’s number and it was coming busy. She was sure; she has made Abhi angry again.
She left a SMS only to say that she was going out to Mrs. Ray’s home in the evening. But deep down she just wanted to scream that I am sorry for all the things that have happened in morning. But somehow she couldn’t.

She went to kitchen and started marinating the keema, she was not at all in a mood to deep fry the masala paste and then deep fry it with keema for that would have taken at least an hour. And she just wanted to get out of the kitchen as soon as it was possible. She knew it very well, Abhi always craved to have chicken recipes cooked for him. And today, she just felt she should go ahead and make it in a short span of time. Perhaps she was thinking this would melt the cold ice between them. “A way to a man’s heart is thro his stomach”, who would have coined this phrase perhaps was showing the correct path to all the ladies in the world for a happy ending and a perfect rendezvous.
She kept the marinated keema in refrigerator and went to Mrs. Ray’s home.Mr Ray was not in home and had gone to subzi/vegetable market. Mrs. Ray quickly made two cup of tea and offered it with Marigold biscuits. This perhaps was the norm in every Bengali household to have tea with  thin arrowroot biscuit or marigold biscuits.
Mrs. Ray started complaining about Mr. Ray that this old man has become stubborn over these years and doesn’t want to do go for evening walks anymore. He thinks this is a waste of time and he will start going to the Rotary club for a game of Bridge with friends, instead of going to walking with her.Mrs.Ray seemed worried about Mr.Ray health.

Ruchi can feel that grass is always not green when seen from near, there where some dry patches also.And it's up to you what you want to see- greener patches or dry patches. She hurriedly finished her cup of tea, almost burning her tongue and asked Mrs.Ray about a steamed fish Recipe, just to ease out the tensed environment around them.

She came out from Mrs. Ray’s home hurriedly, leaving Mrs. Ray wondering about her intentions.Mrs Ray concluded that it was her premature age and made herself preoccupied with reading a Bengali novel.

Ruchi went straight to DDA market no-2 to get some fresh flowers. It was almost 5 in the evening when she was able to come back home finally. She quickly put the marinated keema for a quick pressure cooking. She then made 6 rotis also.She then went to the dinning area.
She then neatly placed the dinner plates,cutlery and glasses over a cane dinning table which has a glass shining top.She then put candles over the brass candle stand and decorated the flower vase with fresh flowers. She knew her beloved husband; Abhi must be hungry and exhausted after a hectic day at office.

The next day while coming back from grocery shopping, she saw Mr and Mrs Ray on an evening walk, holding hands and smiling to each other.Her mobile started ringing, she took it out immediately from her purse, it was Abhi.

(This is all part of food-fiction writing for Chalks  and Chopsticks. Some part`is inspired from real people but incidents are fabricated.
This is going to Jaya at Desi Soccer Mom   for Chops and Chopsticks.Event originated by Aqua at Served with love)

I have some left-over boiled chick peas and some chicken mince. Now, usually I would have gone on to make Keema Ghughni with it, but this time I decided to make something different.

Somewhere may be in a cookbook, I read Neeta Mehta’s recipe for Pista Murg. But I just forgot to write the recipe. And over a period of time I completely forgot about that recipe also.

I started chopping the onions, ginger and garlic, but still nothing came to my mind about that recipe. So, I just thought it’s better to make all from scratch without any reference. So pista and murg idea I got it from that recipe but everything is just my way of making a normal chicken curry.
Now those of you, who don’t like mince/keema, can try it with chicken drumsticks (don’t get confused with drumsticks/sahjan/sojne data).And if you can trust my word here-this is the ultimate chicken curry. The kind of a recipe/dish, you want to serve when you want to impress your guest with your culinary skills and make them go crazy over it. Now don’t blame me if they start singing “crazy kiya rey”.

Recipe for Pista Murg Keema
About 250 gms of chicken mince
Wash the mince with a little warm water. Squeeze out excess water with your hand. Pat dry with kitchen towel gently.
Now, make a thick paste with the following ingredients in a mixer
1 cup of pre-boiled chick peas
1 onion
4-5 garlic
1 inch ginger
15-20 pista/ roasted pistachios...
2-3 heaped tsp of meat curry masala powder
1 tsp of cumin powder
2-3 tsp of coriander powder
2-3 tsp of red pepper powder
1 tsp of paprika
Now add little bit of approx 2 tbs of cream to rotate the grinder, if you wish you may add water in place of cream.
Marinate the washed keema/mince with this paste for 3-4 hours. Keep refrigerated.
Take out at least half an hour before you would make the chicken keema curry. Generally I like to marinate it in afternoon and I take it out the marinated keem at night.
Heat up a large pan/kadhai and then add about ¼ cup of cooking oil.
Temper it with 8-10 whole black pepper corn, 4-5 cloves and 2 bay leaves.
Add the marinated chicken mince.Chop a green bell pepper into bite size pieces. Cut and chop half a tomato finely. Add both the vegetable to it. Put this on pressure. Just one whistles at high and lower the flame. Cook further 10 mints at low. Take off from the flame. Open when the pressure subsides.
Alternately, you can slow cook the entire thing at low flame for about 45 mints...

Thanks for visiting Spice and Curry

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Zucchini Onion Fritters- a hybrid of Ghiya/lauki ke pakorey

Hope you all have a splendid time on Janamashtami-Belated Janamashtami wishes to all of you.May God Krishna give his blessings to each and every one of us.
It’s been quite a while now I have updated here. Be prepared for my ramblings in this post friends.And if you are still interested then read on.
Schools have open up after a long summer holiday. Kids are off to school now. And suddenly there is numbness in my apartment during daytime.This has become so calm that sometimes I want my daughter, to be back with me from her school, screaming and playing all over the house just as she would do in her holidays. You know the irony is few days ago, I was complaining to my DH that she is making a mess of the house all this summer vacation with all her crafts work scattered –too much work for a child like her , paper clippings, paper cuttings and paper sheets, craft feathers, masks and Origami Crafts scattered here and there. And with her cartoons running most of the times on Telly-Humf, Mickey Mouse clubhouse and Timothy goes to school; I started wondering when my daughter will start her new session in school. Now that it’s all over, I mean summer vacation, I want her to be with me again. I am even more complaining now isn't, writing it in my blog here openly.

There was this special day when our little angel turned six recently.We both as parents are really blessed to have a sweet daughter like her. May God Bless Her with all the happiness in the world.

This is her birthday cake with six fondant flowers all hand made without any cutters or rollers or accessories. Made two cakes in 13*9 inch baking sheets and layered it with double cream+cherry+strawberry flavored gelatin. Recipe for black forest cake is Click Here.

Now to our travel update.Since this was a long weekend with an additional holiday on Monday, we thought perhaps it would be a nice idea to spend it outdoor traveling by train.

We were also utilizing this long weekend holiday, visiting new places in around London. From Sunday onwards weather was sunny .And when sun is shining mostly everyday which is quite a rare happening in this part of the world, who wants to remain indoor or logged on to internet for net surfing, at least I don’t like to.
And when we have good network of trains here .There are possibly hundreds of places to visit. This is our savior when we are just nagging about how to spend our time here particularly on long weekend holidays. Just board any train and enjoy the serenity of nature’s beauty. A perfect way to spend a good relaxing time with family. And I don’t need to mention grown-ups and children both enjoy train journeys even if they are meant for about an hour.

Henley-on-Thames has a small town charm. People have a relaxing mood here. Thames River looks so sparkling clean here. We sat near the bank of the river for sometimes, to soak up the tranquility of that place inside us and breathe fresh air.

People here do come for boating.One of Britain’s favorite way of spending  a relaxed weekend.

And to some other hobby-knitting updates.

Another hobby which has been keeping me occupied during these days- is knitting.Whatever time I am getting  after traveling and attending to my family, I like to utilize this time pursuing my new hobby.

I have made a small bag for my little daughter. Just cast on some 30-40 stitches and knit for two rows, then knit in Stockinette stitching for rest of the rows till the desired length is obtained.

Fold in half to check the breadth and length for the bag. Bind off when desired length is obtained. For the handle of the bag –cast on some 100-110 stitches and then bind off next rows.You can increase or decrease the stitch for a longer or shorter handle.

With the help of a sewing needle or blunt end needle, sew the sides for the bag and then handles. If you wish you may decorate the bag with some beads or some plastic flowers for the extra girlie effect.You can choose other type of yarns also,I choosed this white fuzzy yarn as per my daughter's wish.You may like to visit here for detailed instructions then -Click Here for the free pattern.

 Now finally it's time for cooking , which I do take earnestly.

Now to the recipe for Zucchini Fritters

I have always felt there are many vegetables which are still under-used in Indian cooking like zucchini. I have used zucchini in a normal stir/fry way and also made zucchini with posto or poppy seed paste, a recipe inspired from Ahaar by Mandira.
I have been trying out many recipes from Julie Sahni’s cookbook recently(last made murg shahi korma(Click here for the recipe)
This recipe of zucchini fritters is inspired by her zucchini fritters. In eastern UP, ghiya or lauki ke pakore is very famous. I do think zucchini has striking resemblance to lauki/ghiya/bottle gourd because of its water content. Grate zucchini as you would have grated ghiya/lauki and mix in with chopped coriander, onion and all the seasonings, fry it in hot oil and you are ready with zucchini bhajiyas/pakoda.A little different recipe for pakoda with vegetables but worth trying it.

Zucchini onion fritters/Zucchini onion pakoda

Recipe requirements
1 medium size zucchini
1 onion
3-4 green chilies
½ cup of chopped coriander leaves
¾ cup of yogurt
1 cup of besan/chick pea flour
2 tsp of red pepper powder
2 tsp of coriander powder
1 tsp of cumin powder
Salt as per taste
Grate zucchinis and chop onion as finely as you can.
In a mixing bowl, add all the above-besan, yogurt, grated zucchini, chopped onion, green chilies, coriander and the seasonings-cumin-coriander powder, red pepper powder and salt.
Heat up a deep bottom pan/kadhai; add cooking oil up to half.
Heat up well, and drop one tablespoon of the batter to the hot oil and fry all the pakodas.
Drain over paper towel. Serve with a cup of tea and tomato ketchup.
You may use ghiya/lauki/bottle gourd in place of zucchinis.But it’s better to take the seeds out of the lauki from the middle and then grate.

Thanks for visiting Spice and Curry