Thursday, November 25, 2010

Kosha Shorshe Murgi- Hot and Spicy Chicken in Mustard Sauce and It's being four years of blogging

This blog is four years old now. For these past four years there have been some very active moments and some very dull moments as well. Even sometimes I thought that’s it, this is my final post and I was almost, well about to retire from active food blogging. But my better half always thought otherwise, although I must mention, he hardly has time to check what goes here so leave alone helping me in updating this blog. He has always inspired me to continue writing here, whenever I thought that it’s high time I should call my day here. I also somehow managed to keep working and updating the recipe index here on a regular basis.So, let’s hope that this blog continues to see many more sun shining days ahead.

And also let me take this big opportunity to thank every reader who have stopped by to read recipes here.And have become a great part of my life.Thanks to all of you who have liked this space and tried recipes from here.Without you all it wouldn't have meant anything to me.Thank You All Dear Friends.

There is literary no contribution from my better half as far as recipes are concerned here. So, when he came up with a recipe for chicken and made it too, I was kind of floored. Last time he made something on a similar genre was this –Hearty Fish Curry which was way, way back perhaps in 2008.

And I am writing it in bold and urging you all please read it in bold – I am still smitten. So, this sudden rush to post this recipe, although I have few other recipes lined up for publishing .It’s like breaking a protocol and gate-crashing but I am glad I am doing this.No regrets what so ever. And this is just a perfect way of celebrating four years in blogging which ironically was in October.But it's never late when you decide to acknowledge things.

I asked him to write down this recipe and his thoughts for this post, but he declined and said it’s your space and you should run your show also. Will you all please leave messages so that I can convince him to write something here in future?
Alright then my better half S says “Chef always doesn’t cook regularly but they do give instructions for a keeper recipe”. And I was kind of puzzled when he said he is going to make Kosha Shorshe Chicken. What Shorshe chicken, I mean I have heard shorshe mach,shorshe ilish, shorshe chingri and shorshe begun, shorshe dharosh and what not but never ever in life shorshe chicken. I thought may be he is joking or something weird or some creepy crawlies went inside his brain or probably he is overworked in the office. No, but I was wrong for good reasons.

When we were just starting to make it, he was not satisfied. He told me you haven’t defrosted the chicken earlier, not enough time for defrosting, so it’s not tender, and then how can chicken soak up the marinating juice. Wow! Did he mention marinating of chicken? And I thought this fellow doesn’t know how to make simple omelets.
Anyways he said it’s better to marinate the chicken prior of making this recipe. And he suggested using baby chicken or Cornish hen for this recipe. If you wish you may cut and divide into 4-5 big pieces. He suggested that since baby chicken has rather soft flesh, the cooked meat will be tender and bursting with flavors.
He further added if you have time, marinate the chicken overnight. What goes into marination? Lots of mustard oil, salt and red pepper powder and crushed red chilly flakes. And he said do not rush up and the entire cooking would be done on low flame and slowly.

Ok, if you forgot to marinate the chicken overnight, like the day we were making it. Just marinate for 1-2 hrs prior of cooking the chicken. But this time, he suggested marinating the chicken with the paste that you will be making for the gravy. But I said let’s go without marinating the chicken and fry the gravy first and then add chicken pieces which he seemed to agree later on. But he told me to write here specifically that marinating the chicken prior of cooking, is the key part for a tender and juicy chicken.
Since we were using Home-made mustard powder that I made it in bulk earlier, we used up that at the time of frying the chicken pieces with the paste. However if you are working with fresh mustard paste, I would suggest to add at the end.

Now to the recipe for

Kosha Kaju-Shorshe Chicken

Recipe Requirements and detail procedure

For the paste
4-5 medium size purple onions
7-8 fat garlic cloves
1*1/2 inch ginger
10-12 cashews
4-5 dry red pepper ( small ones which are very hot and spicy, which we call in Bengali” Dhani shokno lonka”)
1-3 tsp of fresh crushed red pepper
3-4 tsp of coriander powder
1-2 tsp of turmeric powder
3-4 heaped tsp of mustard powder
1 medium size tomato
3-4 tbs of mustard oil (a must for this recipe)
Salt as per taste
Crush some “ gota garam mashla” or whole garam masala like—mace, nutmeg,black cardamom, cinnamon and cloves with rolling pin and add it at the time of making the spicy paste.
Grind all the above in a mixer-grinder to a smooth paste.
Since we were using big pieces of chicken so, we used our pressure cooker pan. But if you have proper materials, then use a large thick bottom wok/or dekchi in Bengali so that you can fry well the chicken pieces.
Heat up approx 2-3 tbs of mustard oil and about 2 tbs of butter.
Add the prepared paste.
Now at high flame stir/fry the paste for 8-10 mints. When it starts to dry up a little bit, add about one ladle full of water.
Add marinated chicken pieces to the fried gravy. If you have marinated the chicken pieces with red pepper powder earlier, then adjust the spice level at the time of making the masala paste in mixer-grinder.
Fry it well on a high flame, stirring in between till the oil separates out and the color of gravy changes to somewhat dark and becomes thick just coating well all the chicken pieces or in Bengali “makha-makha”.
Now add approx 1 cup of water. Lower the flame and let it simmer slowly for 45-50 mints.
At the time of serving, I would suggest to warm it a bit more. Have this kosha shorshe chicken with rice piping hot. I haven’t tasted anything delicious as such this for ages now. And my mouth is watering remembering that delicious lunch we had last Sunday.
And it tastes even more flavorful the next day. Keep some left-over to enjoy next day.
My better half suggests using baby chicken or Cornish hen for tender juicy chicken.
Marinate the chicken overnight.
You can replace cashews with peanuts, but that would be altogether a different recipe. Be prepared for another variation with peanuts.
Cooking oil should be mustard oil; no other oil can compensate the flavour of shorshe chicken.

Wish all of you a very nice weekend.Happy Cooking.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Narkol Diye Brussel Sprouts- Spicy Brussel Sprouts stir/fry with Coconut

I must admit that one thing which we keep wishing is, the weekend holidays. But the moment with it comes, it’s gone also. I mean you start off getting late on Saturday, and then you realized that half of the day is gone while you were sleeping and being lazy. Saturday and Sunday means, late breakfast which is more or less is a sort of brunch for us and then we head out for some outings.
My hubby dear S doesn’t like to spend his Saturdays in home. Even I say that noops I am going to spend time in home. He would say you always spend time in home, its’ just that you need to get some fresh air also. And you have the entire weekdays to spend in home. Outings are good for your mind and body as well. A kind of person he is and as far as I have known him, I would say he likes to take his back-pack and leave out as soon as it’s holiday or weekend. He has very much mellowed down after our daughter is born, become more serious and a pro-active, possessive father too.
And the kind of bond these two shares, I mean there are particular times when I am not even allowed to enter their space. They would go out for dating sans me and would eat doughnuts and pastries, a way of expressing freedom, love in their own terms I guess. I do think every father-daughter relationship is like that a kind of special bonding.
Sometimes if they are in good mood, they would bring some for me also but that’s those rare occasions.
Most of the travel account that you read here are solely his ideas. He comes up with all ideas and then we plan accordingly. My contribution is only taking some snaps for my blog which he finds sometimes astonishing. But would patiently wait till I finish taking some snaps before we hop on to other place. He doesn’t believe in face book and twitter. He would say why I want to keep track of those friends/batch mates whom I have forgotten or lost account after passing school, college etc. If they were that much of important in my life, I wouldn’t have lost account of them in first hand. So, when I opened a face book account, yeah I have finally managed to do so. He was smiling and said you are also in peer pressure which was a very soft way of telling me you also succumbed to these modern social networking sites!!. I couldn’t disagree on that even I wished to.
I must say, the kind of happiness blogging gives me; face book hasn’t still allured me. I am there but still can’t figure it out much. I find true comfort here interacting with you all.

Now, to the recipe for the day.
Brussels sprouts are these cute little cabbages, green and a very healthy option of having a vegetarian stir/fry. Those of you, who read this blog regularly, know my inclination towards simple vegetable stir/fry. I finely chopped Brussels sprouts and then made a dry stir/fry with coconut. I do think that if I had some soaked brown chick peas or chana , that would have been even better. This dish was well eaten by my picky-eater daughter and Hubby dear also. We had it with rotis.

Narkol diye Brussel Sprouts

Recipe Requirements and Method

Half a packet of Brussels sprouts or approx 2 large cups of Brussels sprouts, chopped as finely as possible.
About half a cup of fresh coconut scraps or very small pieces
For the tempering
1 tsp of panch phoron
2-3 dry red peppers
1 tsp of turmeric chowder
2 tsp of red pepper powder
Salt as per taste
1 tsp of sugar
2-4 tbs of cooking oil
Chop Brussels’ sprouts finely.
Now heat up a pan, add oil, and temper it with panch phoron, dry red peppers.Tip-I would suggest to use " Shokno Dhani Lonka",  or small extra hot dry red peppers for that spicy kick in this dish.Or you may use fresh crushed hot dry red pepper available here in packets.
Now add fresh scraped coconut or coconut pieces.Tip- if you are working with fresh coconut.Soak them overnight in water, the other day use your wooden rolling pin to break the outer hard covering.It's much easier this way to handle the coconut.One of my South Indian friend here told me to try it this way.And yeah it worked very well.So, dont need to think about the left-over coconut pieces.Simply freeze them in zip-seal packets with date written.Stays fresh for months.I have still two batches of zip-sealed coconut in my freezer which I will be using up to make Narkel nadus and some fish curries.

Add the chopped Brussels’ sprouts, add all the seasonings
Red pepper powder, turmeric powder, salt and sugar.
Fry well for 7-9 mints at medium –low flame or till Brussels sprouts shrinks.
Now if you wish you may add some soaked black gram peas or brown gram peas.
Cover it and cook further 5-6 mints at low.
Open the lid, and stir/fry it well.
Add 1 tbs of butter and 1 tsp of black pepper powder.You may add about 1 tsp of sugar, but it's not necessary.
Serve with rice or roti what ever way you like to have it.

Happy Cooking Friends

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Pear Pancake- Quick and Easy Breakfast

You wake up in morning, and the first thing you do is, see outside your window. And this view greets you in the morning.

Well usually it will leave you thinking about the weather adversity here. But everything has something beautiful to offer, it’s the way how you perceive it.

This dense fog would remind me of train journeys back in India especially during winters. The lonesome train running on tracks, steaming through, cutting through the dense fog around it.
Passing by vast green fields, brick homes, ponds, peoples, villages and rivers and running ahead to reach the destination on time.

Now don’t get me wrong if I try to catch a glimpse of that bygone era. Here train journeys are pretty boring and mundane, no “tamasha” or hip-hop happenings or even some comical/interesting fellow passengers.
Back home while travelling in trains, whether you are travelling in Rajdhani or Shatabdi or whatever train you are boarding on. You would always be greeted on early mornings by the “Chaiwalhas” irrespective of your skin color, cast or religion. For him every one is, well, a customer only and he must sell his “Chai” to them.

Even if you try to sleep, covering your head, ear and yourself up well with your sheets/blankets or whatever you have for that matter, the typical sound they make while selling their tea “Chai- Chai”, will leave you craving for hot “Chai”. Such is the temptation that you will have to then reach out for your purse to search “Khuchro/phutkar/chiller” or cents/penny in English. A cup of “Chai” costs around Rs 10 these days may be.

And if you still manage to skip the temptation and have a little bit of sleep, the neighboring passenger would wake you up. And it’s the rule if you like early mornings make sure others don’t sleep late especially in trains.
And if you try to use the bathroom, don’t ever go near to it unless you are in dire needs. The sight of some pot-bellied gentleman brushing teeth will leave you, grumbling in tummy or even worse throw up. And even worse or good, worse for you and of course good for him, he will smile- 32 inch smile ,with all teeth out and say “Bahanji, aap pehle kar lein, hum baad mein brush karenge.” And this La Belle Femme would fume over for mentioning her as "Bahanji". And then she would generally hold back her strong emotions like "kadak chai ".And would generally give a feeble smile holding up semi-digested food in her mouth.
Children especially wake up early and try to sit near the windows. But then we were like that too when we were kids, isn’t?
When “Chaiwallahs” have taken the exit route from the narrow high way.Here comes another round of vendors’ selling peanuts, bhel and Jhaal muri wrapped in old news paper.

And yeah I warn you, don’t ever think about hygiene etc when you want to try out that spicy bhel or tempting jhaal muri they have to offer. Perhaps, one of the best, I have eaten bhel or jhaal muri is always on traveling in trains or perhaps just outside the Victoria Memorial in Kolkata or may be in the adjoining parks of India gate in Delhi. I tried to recreate that flavor many times in home, but I failed.
The entire journey would be one happening place and so many fascinating things will keep captivating your attention. Many of the fellow passengers would be busy playing cards. These days people can be seen sometimes working on laptops with back-ups and many of them listening to I-pods (India you have arrived well much before the commonwealth games). Some even try to face book and tweet through their Blackberries or Strawberries whatever...(See, I have been using these two social net-working sites as verbs, so you can imagine the impact these two have these days)
Well that was a small glimpse of a bygone era. Yeah, it seems ages here where I am sitting right now and typing these words. Some memories never fade away. They keep coming back to you.

Life is sometimes all about recalling all the memories that you have stacked in your mind.
 You stop for sometime, recall the past, pause for few moments, you cry or smile whatever and
Then shrug off and move on to cherish more ahead in life.
But you never live in past, and that’s the way it should be.

Alright then, now it’s the time for the recipe for the day
This is the season when pears are available here plenty. Now, you all know pears can be made into jams or jellies, or in cakes or muffins. Well, since the mood that I am in these days. I try to cook in jiffy.
Using the fruit in pancakes has always worked out well for me. Here you can see- Banana Pancake Cherry Banana pancake .

And now it’s the time for Pear pancake.
Recipe is very simple
Pear Pancakes

Recipe requirements and procedure
1 -2 pear preferably good quality and organics
1 cup of self raising flour
You can use plain flour but then don’t forget to add baking powder also then.
1 egg
About half cup of milk or enough to make the batter
1 tsp of vanilla essence
You can use cinnamon powder in place of vanilla essence for that cinnamon flavor.
Mash well pears wih fork, and then add egg, flour and milk.
Mix together all gently.
Heat up a heavy cast iron skillet/tava.
Drizzle some oil, rub well all over.
Now add 1 tsp-2 tsp of cooking oil.

Scoop out one full ladle of the batter and smear it well like small rounds.
Let the bubble form. Flip the side if you see bubble.
Cook another 2 mints.Each pancakes takes approx 3-4 mints at medium flame to cook.
Serve hot with butter or maple syrup or honey or even condensed milk.
About 1 cup of self raising flour makes approx medium size 5-7 pancakes.

And dont forget to send in your entries to Chalks and Chopsticks-6.Details are - Click Here .

Happy cooking friends

Friday, November 12, 2010

Ever Versatile Pressure Cooker Pulao and Some Random Thoughts

These days, I feel like cooking in jiffy. Don’t feel like spending hours in kitchen. Perhaps the weather is responsible for it. Changing season has almost left me on a verge of feeling cold and cosying up under blankets. Trees around us have started to go bare. It seems one vicious life cycle has ended. Strange is the natures’ rule, it just takes one week and the kind of weather we have these days, windy and rainy to wipe out green, strong leaves from their trees. And imagine the amount of work these trees have been putting up after the last spring season which brought bounty of beautiful flowers, vegetables and fruits to our homes. This confirms that nothing is permanent in this world but still we don't want to face the truth.

Golden-yellow, red, brown leaves are everywhere these days. I guess fall season has its own beauty too. Well I try to see the other prospect of nature too, other than being vicious. And I am sometimes amazed by its natural beauty, so raw but yet so pure.
Yesterday, it was very windy; I was walking down the path near our apartment complex and almost felt like it’s going to blow me away. Several broken umbrellas were lying on the path, which tells you about how fast winds were blowing at that time.Wherever you can focus your eyes on,there were piles of dried leaves.
Cold season has arrived early in Britain I guess, as some parts even witnessed first snow of the season. And this is the season, when people gear up for Christmas also. Shops and supermarkets are flooded with all sorts of Christmas goodies. You name it and its there-Biscuit tins, chocolates, cute socks, and all the novelty items.Another eventful year coming to end soon.
Today being Friday, I felt a sigh of relief. No early mornings tomorrow please. Weekends are usually our time to unwind ourself.Just want to live some  lazy moments.
Below are some of the snaps that were captured on our last weekend outing. Three places in one go, but the time is so less. Need some time management tips here.

London by Thames River

Thames River especially at the time of sunset has splendid and perhaps some breath-taking views. If you have some spare time to sit, then perhaps it’s the best way of unwinding yourself. A cup of coffee with your loved one is a special time at Thames River.

Near Birmingham palace, long walks means holding hands with your loved one and easing it out. And when you get tired, spend some time sitting over some of the benches there in the adjoining park area.Spent some time talking with your loved ones about your dreams and aspirations in life.And see your kid chase and feed some squirrels there.
Long walk near the Royal palaces have some splendid views especially during fall season.

Pile of dried leaves and three of us, I really don’t know what made me click this picture. Perhaps can be seen as a remembrance that we were there.

Is this a river of dried and fallen leaves or what?

If trees have their own voices, perhaps this would have asked every passer by-“I have survived till now, but for how long?” This tree was ready to shed all the leaves last weekend. Who knows may be this weekend nothing is left on it, not a single leaf.Can't imagine such beautiful thing is so short-lived.

Trafalgar square the most happening place in central London.Isn’t it a sort of an enigma, how a similar thing/place can be viewed differently and with a new dimensions. Perception about things/places and even people changes with times too.

Are you still with me, so good to hear that .Hope you liked these snaps and don't felt like sleeping.
After all these blabbering, let me write down the recipe now.

Alright then, quick cooking requires my faithful pressure cooker. So, here is the ever versatile recipe for Pulao in Pressure cooker.

Ever Versatile recipe for Pressure Cooker Pulao

Recipe requirements and procedure

Approx 1 and quarter cup of basmati rice .This works well for three of us. If you wish you may increase the measurement for 6-8 people.
2-3 tbs of cooking oil
Some cloves/loung/lobongo may be 3-4
1 stick dalchini/cinnamon
2-3 tej patta/ bay leaf what ever is available
Now when I said ever versatile, I mean it
You can make this pulao pure vegetarian or even non-vegetarian.
If you have pre-grilled or roasted chicken, use them in this pulao.
Another great way to use any left-over shammi kababs or tandoori kababs- for the recipe of Tandoori kabab visit -Click Here

If you wish to make pure vegetarian pulao then the possibilities are innumerable.
You can add any of the following, or may be add in combination.
1 -2 cups of chopped mushrooms
1cup of frozen peas
About half a cup of frozen corn
1 green bell pepper
1 red bell pepper
Or even 1 yellow bell pepper
And last 1 tomato chopped finely, this has to be used while making any variations for pressure cooker pulao.
And this is purely made without using any onions/garlic or even ginger.
So what are the flavouring that goes into it
1 tsp of turmeric powder
10-12 black pepper if you wish to add
2 tsp of red pepper powder
1 tsp of salt or as per taste
1 -2 tsp of sugar
Now to the procedure
Heat up pressure cooker pan, add cooking oil.
Temper it with all the whole garam masala, like cloves, cinnamon, black cardamom, and bay leaves.
Now add your choice of vegetables. Fry them well for 2-3 mints.
Add all the flavorings-red pepper powder, turmeric powder, salt and sugar.
Fry it well, add chopped tomatoes. If you wish to make non-veg pulao, then add any leftover grilled or roasted chicken pieces. I had some left-over tandoori kabab from the previous day, so end up using it.

Picture above is taken while I was eating it, my apologies for untidy corners.

I would not suggest using paneer while frying and then pressure cooking, as it may crumble up, but if you do really wish to add. So, it would be better if you prepare a dry fry separately. And then add when the pulao is ready to be eaten. This way paneer will retain the flavor even more.
For the dry-fry recipe of paneer-
Chop finely 1 onion, and 1 tomato. Fry onion/tomato very well with some cooking oil. Add about 2 tsp of red pepper powder, 3-5 tsp of coriander powder, and salt. Fry them well till they start to release oil from sides. Now add about 250 Gms of paneer cubes and mix well. This entire frying and making of paneer takes apporx 10-12 mints.
Add this prepared spicy dry fry paneer to the pulao at the time of serving.

Now you are all ready to put the things on pressure cooking.

What is more important is the amount of water that has to be used in making pressure cooking rice or pulao.
The amount of rice and the amount of water should be equal for good quality basmati rice.
Since I have used 1 cup of rice, I would use 1 cup of water to make pressure cooking rice.
After adding 1 cup of water, close/lock the pressure cooker lid. On medium –high flame, gas mark-5, put the pressure cooker for cooking.
One whistle and take off the pressure cooker from the flame or electric hob.
Let the pressure subside for 5 mints. Open the lid and then do not lock the lid again. This will prevent soggy pulao.If you wish you may squeeze some fresh lemon juice over the cooked pulao to stop over-cooking the pulao.Tip- how would you unlock the lid if you are in hurry. Bring the pressure cooker to the washbasin and run some cold water over it, viola it will work.
Serve with your favorite side-dish of dry spicy paneer or any other curry.
You know I even like to have this ever –versatile pulao with omelets.

Enjoy the fall season and Have a nice weekend friends.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Pabda mach'er Shorsher Jhaal - Fish in spicy mustard sauce

It has been raining since yesterday night continously.Purbaon Pal was left worrying about what lays ahead in his life. He has piles of work to do. There are few Deliveries to be made on Sunday morning. People from Beliaghata and from Dhakuria are coming on Sunday morning to fetch their Barwarir May’er Protima.
This year he was pleased to get few orders from overseas also, far off places like Poland and even one from Switzerland. He was glad that he finally managed to deliver the protima/clay idols just in time. It has been two weeks now that his helpers have shipped the clay idols to those countries. He felt a sense of contentment that at least people from overseas will perhaps get their protima in time.
He looked outside and up in the sky, and seeing grey thick clouds hovering again, started to worry about his so many unfinished works. Sharavan Maas has started yesterday and he has still many idols left to finish off.

People around him knew how good he is in making Clay Idols. People often say he has “Magic hands”, which brings lifeless clay idols into being vivacious and full of life. He has been a pioneer in this business and had crafted many fine pieces of clay sculpture or Idols. He and his forefathers have been in this business for almost a century or so now. He is one of the best “Kumar’s” (Potters or sculptures who make Durga Idols) in this famous landmark of Kolkata known as “Kumartoli”. But sad part of his life was that his two sons don’t want to pursue their family business and make protima for livelihood.
People from Belighata are insisting him to finish rest of the work of painting and “Chokho-daan” in the make-shift Pujo Mandap itself. This makes him little uneasy as it involves to and fro bus journey and spending quite an amount of time outside his home. He would have gone out there, but with growing age he has lost the agility of a young body. He perhaps would have asked his eldest son to do the “Chokho-daan” but being the head of the family he has to perform this ritual. And moreover his eldest son is not very keen on making Protima either.
A loud sound of thunderstorm broke the chain of thoughts and he realized that he needed some more clay to mold the hand. He quickly started to concentrate on finishing, molding of Idol’s hand. He knew proper sunshine is required for drying up the hay and mud structure. He finished the “protima” in few more hours. As “Godhuli Bela” was approaching, he thought perhaps he would freshen up a little bit with a cup of tea.
He asked one of his helper to keep the newly finished idols in a separate workshop adjacent to the working area meant for drying up the idols. They have kept some pedestal fans on for drying up the Clay idols in that workshop also. He felt nervous imagining the amount of work that still is left unfinished.
Imagining the situation, he shouted on Bhola , his one of associates - “ki rey Bhola , koto deri hoche plaster of paris ta banate”.Bhola,put down his cup of tea on floor hurriedly and started working on making plaster of paris.Two other helpers also started to speed up their working on other protima- Ganesh and Karthik.
Monsoon is one notorious season in Bengal.
In a small kitchen Purbaoun‘s wife, Nirupa was working on her “sheel nora” with some mustard seeds and some green chilies.And occasionally she would start worrying about the continuous heavy showers.
She remembered few days back “Purot mashayi” told them that this year Ma Durga is coming on “dolna”/swing and her “gaman” or returning to her home Kailash is on “gaj”/elephant. Usually gaman on Gaj meant prosperity and happiness.
She was grinding Mustard seeds on Sheel Nora to make shorsh’er bata for Pabda mach’er shorshe batar Jhaal.Nabin her eldest son has brought fresh fish from the fish market this morning before going to his work as a dutiful “Bengali Bhadralok”.They were a family of four, husband –wife and two sons.Nabin used to help his father in making clay idols but not anymore now. He has got a more secure job in a local bank as cashier and making clay idols for hours was not his first preference now.
Youngest son Niladri was still in college and for him life meant a big session of adda with his friends, and spending time on big city multiplexes. He is least bothered about his paternal profession or anything that goes inside his home.
Purbaoun Pal and his forefathers have been churning out Durga Clay Idol for the past 60 years now or may be even more .He had seen his grandfather work enormous amount of time with his father and other helpers to make Durga Protima/idol.
He realized that journey ahead is tough as he is getting old and his children don’t want to pursue his dreams any more. He looks up in the sky, more dark and thick clouds starts hovering around sky. Clear and blue sky seems a far cry here.

The story is a work of fiction but is inspired by those talented artists who churn out so beautiful and mesmerizing clay idols year after years which we worship as "Ma Durga".

Many like Purbaon Pal are struggling to make a decent life out of making Clay Idols. So, when ever you stop and gaze over beautiful protima/Clay idols, just try to recall those highly gifted and able hands that molds such beautiful creations. And manifest larger than life Protima/idols despite their difficulty in sustaining a decent life.

Few Bengali words

Barwari- A place where Durga Puja is conducted. It’s usually a local area where people form a sort of community and make a temporary Puja Mandap to worship Ma Durga.
“Purot Moshayi”- A priest who performs any Hindu rituals like Puja etc.
“Godhuli Bela”- Evening time of the day when sun is still not set.
“Kumars”- A clay idol sculpture or potter who makes clay idols. They live in famous landmark Kumartoli in Kolkata.
“Chokho Daan”- A very important ritual of making Clay Idol’s Eyes specially the third eye over the forehead .As this brings out the beauty and vivacity to the lifeless clay idol. This ritual is often performed by the elder or head of the Kumar Family. It’s even heard that many a times for “Kumars” this acts as a transit mode where they connect with God and often go on uncontrolled crying. They can feel God and so sometimes it becomes difficult to control tears. A very heart touching experience.

Pabda mach’er shorshe bata diye jhaal

Recipe procedure and requirements
5 pabda fish or about 500 gms of pabda fish
Ground mustard powder –approx 1 tsp
Salt as per taste
Wash and clean the fish well.
If you are using frozen fish like my case here. Then perhaps take them out prior 1-2 hrs and soak the entire packet in a big bowl with enough water. Usually fish here comes in packets and layered inside ice.
Remove and clean the gut of the fish well with water. Be careful as sometimes if you are lucky, fish may contain egg or fish roes.
And if you get fresh pabda fish then nothing is comparable.
Heat up a wok or kadhai, add approx quarter cup of mustard oil or any cooking oil. I would say please do not use olive oil as it will overpower the flavor of mustard seed paste.
Now fry the fish over medium flame. This fish is slimy so be careful while frying it as it splutters quite oil. Tip- if you think you may sprinkle some plain flour over it before frying the fish. This may stop spluttering.
Now after you have fried the fish. If there is still some oil left, then its good otherwise add some more oil to the wok/pan or what-ever you are using it at the time of making. Add apporx 2-4 tbs of mustard oil.
Then add about 1 cup of water, 2-3 garlic pods chopped, 3-4 green chilly slit in between, 1 tomato chopped finely.
Bring the mixture to one strong boil and then add fried fish.
Now prepare the mustard seed paste
Mix about 3-4 tsp of mustard seed powder-recipe Here
2-3 heaped tsp of red pepper powder
Salt as per taste
2 -4 tbs of yogurt
2 tbs of mustard oil
Mix well and prepare this thick paste.
After 7-10 mints at low flame, fish will be cooked or become soft.
Carefully take off the wok/pan from the flame. Add the prepared thick mustard seed paste, mix well.
Add some chopped coriander leaves and cover the pan/wok/kadhai with lid. No need to cook further as the mustard seed paste will become bitter.
Serve and enjoy with rice.
This is a very spicy and tangy preparation of Pabda fish; if you think you can’t handle that much of spiciness then reduce the hotness and spice. But trust me unless Shorsh’er bata makes you perspire on your forehead and nose, hammering in head and tears in eyes while eating, you haven’t eaten the real deal here.
You can substitute green chilly with Jalapenos or Serrano peppers.And addition of tomato is not compulsory but it really lifts the tangy , spicy taste of pabda shorshe jhaal.

This post is for Chalks and Chopsticks  being hosted here and a brainchild of Aqua at Served With Love .Send in your entry before Nov 30 and join the fun.

Happy Cooking friends

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Happy Diwali with Microwave-able Sandesh

Wishing all my readers a very happy and prosperous Diwali.

I would have perhaps , gone on hibernation after Durga Puja.As Durga Puja means lots of sweet indulgence which makes me little lethargic. Blame it all over the high calorie foods and sweets I have been making and eating during this festive season. Well, you now know too much of carbohydrates are not good for health.

But when it’s Diwali and Kali Pujo, I do think the extreme reactions (read the dramatic hibernation for clue), from my side was overshadowed by a sweet innocent, query from my daughter-“Ma, what are we suppose to eat during Diwali?”And was I overwhelmed, well I don’t need to add on that.

I did have answers but then just thought perhaps it would be best, if I do it practically and that too, right in front of her. So, made Sandesh and Peda.

For the Peda recipe you may like to visit an old post here-Dodh Peda 

Since I made Sandesh first time in Microwave, so thought of writing it here, otherwise you may want to look into the authentic way then visit here-Sandesh

Microwave-able Sandesh 
(measurements are approx)

Procedure with Ingredients -
Approx 3-4 pints of whole milk – My whole milk bottle says-6 pints whole milk makes roughly about 3408 ml .Now work it your way.OK let me make it easy , about half of 6 pint whole milk bottle. Hope it makes much sense now.
3 lemons- cut and deseeded.
Make paneer/chana
Bring the milk to boil, add fresh squeezed lemons. You may use dahi/yogurt also in place of lemons.
Let the milk curdle. Separate Paneer from the whey.Let it sit for sometime under any heavy weight , may be 1-2 hrs.
Now in a big salad bowl, mix together about 2 -2 ½ cups of paneer and 1-1 ½ cups of granulated sugar.Work according to your preference of sweetness.
Add about 1 tsp of vanilla essence.
2-4 tbs of milk powder.
Mix well and knead well with hands or with spoon.
Now microwave at high for 2 mints in an M/W safe bowl .Take out and stir it well. Repeat at regular intervals of 2 mint cycle and stiring.My M/W took approx 7-8 mints at high power.
When you see, the mixture starts to collect well. Stop microwaving it.
Now let it cool a little bit. Shape up and enjoy.

Wish you all a very Happy Diwali.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Till ke Gajak - Indian Flapjacks with White sesame seeds

Since this is festive time with Diwali coming so near, every home must be gearing up to making home-made sweets and some savory snacks as well. This time a very easy to make sweet at home with white sesame seeds-“Gajak”.I have fond memories of eating this Indian sesame seeds flapjacks while growing up in UP ( a northern part of India ).

This sweet can be stored for 1 week if you are making them in home, provided if it’s still left any. Winter’s are marked by eating “till key laddos” (white or black sesame seeds snowballs) or “gajak” (sesame seeds flapjacks), shelling and eating roasted peanuts in UP .Every corner of the street has these “Bhaiyas” selling roasted peanuts and different varieties of “Gajaks” over small wooden pull-carts with wheels called as “thellas”.They have this interesting way of dry roasting peanuts with some sand over a large hot iron wok. Perhaps that’s why the peanuts come out so crunchy and nutty. And believe me if you get a chance to grab the “ Hari chutney” , I mean a chutney made of green chilies paste/coriander leaves and salt, nothing is comparable in this world. Every evening my “Seju Kaku”/uncle would generally come home with large paper packets (made from old news papers, a great way to recycle paper) fresh roasted peanuts and that delicious “Hari chutney” and also those delicious “Gajak” .We kids would cuddle up in warm cozy blankets/duvets and then with all the family members we would have fresh roasted peanuts and delicious “Gajak”.

Those mobile food-carts/Thellas in UP , reminds me of mobile food-carts in every New York streets selling hot dogs. Just wondering who copied whom.

Street foods can be sometimes very addictive and even if you make them in home, it never matches to the original taste and flavour. Some secrets may be!!

Gajak recipe
(all the measurements are approx)

White Sesame seeds about 1 cup

About 1 cup of granulated sugar

2-3 tbs of butter


Dry roast sesame seeds over low flame for about 10 -12 mints till they turn out little bit golden. Make sure you stir it at regular intervals to avoid burnt out sesame seeds.

If you wish you may coarsely ground sesame seeds after roasting them in a mixer.

Now make sugar syrup with 1 cup of sugar and about quarter cup of water and 2-3 tbs of butter. (Adjust the sweetness according to taste)

Add the roasted sesame seeds to the thick syrup and mix well.

Scoop out the mixture over a greased plate. Smear it out evenly of about half inch thickness with a clean knife.

Cut into squares or diamond shapes and then let it cool.Separate the squares after they have cooled.
Eat and enjoy.
You may use gur/jaggery in place of sugar.Adding bit of cardamom powder enhances the taste.

Happy cooking!!

Wishing all my readers a very Happy Diwali