Thursday, May 24, 2012

Avocado Cherry Tomato Sardine Fish Curry

We all are taken pretty surprised about the weather for past couple of days here. And when the sun is out shinning full bloom, there are plenty of reasons to get inspired and cook some alluring food for a change. I know, not that pleasant back home. I know it leaves you feel exhausted and drained feeling really miserable, and if you have to work in kitchen and that too in this full blown summer days, then God save. As for the mild summer weather we have these days, I would say it’s pretty rare here, so it leaves us feeling refreshed after many gloomy patches of rain and even more rain. Parks are busy now, sun glasses and sun block lotions are selling high , picnic mats can be seen everywhere, families going out in parks, barbecue and beer sessions and also sun and sand , not to forget  beaches. And everybody is doing what they suppose or wish to do when the summer really arrives in this part of the world, - basking the glory of summer.

Last time while grocery and vegetable shopping, I came across some fresh sardines, Uho! Fresh means not jumping out and alive calling out loud my name. Remember there was an ad where a Bengali Badhralok was holding a big fish in his hands and saying something ..It's a complete wash-out here , can't recall much about that ad ... My ecstasy was just like that or may be I was just pretending it to be. There was not a single fish competing with a Bengali bhadralok’s fish that day ,which I can get hold of, holding high and showing everybody look  here what a great catch this beauty is. So, while like a mirage I am in, I zeroed upon these. And oh! I stayed home rather going out in park for a change and cooked this fish curry instead of barbecuing or grilling them.And made some raspberry jellies and served with ice-creams. Yum. Well not in picture, some times all you need is to enjoy the food…isn't!
Sardines or small pilchards have similar flavor like what our own hilsa /ilish fish has. This is oily, and full of nutrients. I don’t think I need to add all that gyan for sardine fish nutrients, people here are wise enough, thanks to wiki and many other net articles out floating in net these days. And then there is a fruit which is source of good fats. No, don’t roll eyes, yes avocado provide good fats essential for skin and hair. People have loved guacamole, salsa, paratha and what not, I would say next time try adding them in your fish curry. They gel very well with tomatoes and fish.

Avocado Cherry Tomato Sardine Fish Curry

Recipe requirements ( Serves 3-4)
Sardine fish- 4-5
2 avocado
10-15 cherry tomatoes
1 medium size potato
½ inch ginger grated
½ tsp of turmeric powder+ some more for marinating sardines
1 ½ tsp of hot red pepper powder
2 tsp of dhania/coriander powder
1 tsp of cumin powder
½ tsp of hing asfoetida
Salt as per taste + some more for marinating sardines
2 -3 tbs of cooking oil/mustard oil
 ½ tsp of kalo jerrey/nigella seeds
 2 green chilies
 2tbs of freshly prepared mustard seed paste
Clean them and remove scales by rubbing your fingers or nails over it.Ok I do it the with side of potato peeler.Just run thro slowly from tail working towards head.Clean them well in water.
Smear some turmeric powder and salt over sardines. Let it sit for half an hour.
Now if you wish you may shallow fry them in hot oil, or may add directly to the gravy to be cooked with other vegetables –potato, tomato and of course avocadoes.
Now heat up a saucepan, add cooking oil, and temper this with Kalo jeerey/nigella seeds. Many a times I do forget to temper it with kalo jeerey.If you don’t have it, no need to temper it with nigella seeds. Just ginger and asfoatida will work fine.
Add grated ginger and hing or asfoetida.Fry it for about half a minute.
Now add in cubed potato and cherry tomatoes.
Fry all for 4-5 mints more. Now add the dry seasonings- turmeric, red pepper, and coriander and cumin powder.
Add in cut avocado cubes and sardines. Add in slit green chilies.
Adjust salt. Add about half cup of water, cover it and let it simmer at med-low flame till the entire gravy turns out mushy or the potatoes are cooked and can be mashed easily.
Sprinkle freshly chopped coriander leaves and serve.

Ripened avocado will turn out very mushy in the gravy. So, I would suggest using avocado which are firm but yet edible.
Normal tomato can be used in place of cherry tomatoes. Other vegetables like red bell pepper or baby corn can also be added.
Other fish like- tilapia, haddock or white fish fillet can be replaced with sardines.
And most important, while this time I didn't add mustard paste to it, but I do also add shorshe bata at the end to give a nice and spicy flavour.Just add about 2 heaped tbs of  freshly prepared black mustard seed paste and mix it very well.You may add dijon mustard as well but then about 1 tsp is sufficient.If adding mustard paste then you may avoid adding coriander+cumin powder+hing.These spices over powers mustard paste tangy and spicy flavour.

Wish all of you a nice and relaxing weekend.
Happy Cooking Friends.

Friday, May 18, 2012

Vegetarian Sausages and Chick Pea Curry

How many times have you gone that extra mile…Couple of months ago, we were dining in a restaurant which had separate bar or a working area where they cook the food right in front of you. You pick the vegetables and tell the preference for meat or seafood and chefs will made the food exactly as you would like to your taste bud-salty or sweet or spicy. My DD being a little shy on her part, was feeling little hesitant to tell her preferences about the stir/fry noodle recipe. The chef went out of his way , came right in front of the bar, holding her tender hand, asked her personally pointing to every chopped vegetable plates to pick the vegetables she would like to have in her stir/fry noodles. That small gesture from that unknown person, made me think that there are times we should have gone those extra mile to show we care or love but we shy away from doing it .

That chef was a busy chef on that moment there.There were people waiting in the queue to be served, but he despite that took some extra time to make my DD comfortable and select her preferences. That was surely going that extra mile on his part. Later DD finished her entire serving of the stir/fry noodles. And now it was her turn to reciprocate “walk the extra miles”. It was nearly late and closing time for the restaurant in the afternoon, so everybody was in a bit relaxed mood. Although some of them were still busy cooking, cleaning or preparing for the busy night ahead. She went to the chef to personally thank him for the wonderful treat he gave her, which by the way the restaurant manager did notice. His employer was satisfied to see the work done by him and the satisfaction reflected on his face too. Chef waved to us right from there and thanked us. We left the restaurant with some smiling faces and contented hearts probably.
There are many times we tend to complain only. Complain about things not working the way we want them to be. You know our complains always take the limelight. There are many times we do complain about a particular restaurant or how the food was so bad and not worth it. But there are many times we should have appreciated the efforts of the staff but we generally don’t or it doesn’t come to our mind and we do leave the place assuming oh! They are just doing their job for what we have paid for them.

Life is just like a restaurant, there are many times knowingly or unknowingly we are also served by many people that we take them for granted. Their presence and their efforts don’t make us feel how important they are to us. So, next time when you need to say some appreciative words or do things which may end up crossing those extra miles, never stop or take the next exit. Keep on walking and driving till you cross that extra mile to say or do things which makes your near and dear ones special, loved and pampered.  
And to do that you don’t need any particular day, a month or some flimsy commercialized articles to show you care. Many a times simple words like “thank you”, “love you” “adore you” or a simple tight hug “jadu ki jhappi” do the tricks. So, don’t be afraid to cross that extra mile and reach out to show you do really care.
And it applies to those unknown faces in your life journey as well, just like that restaurant chef above. Applause when someone does really deserve it and even if it needs you to cross that extra mile. Positive Karma brings positive vibes to you too.

Now to the recipe

Vegetarian Sausage Chick Pea Curry

Recipe Requirements
1 can of chick pea/ 2 cups of cooked chick pea
A pack of veg sausage
2 medium size onions
3 garlics
½ inch ginger root
1 large tomato
½ tsp of turmeric powder
2 tsp of hot red pepper powder
2 tsp of dhania/coriander powder
1 tsp of cumin powder
1/2 tsp of garam masala
1 tsp of cumin seeds
Salt as per taste
2 tbs of cooking oil

Cook the sausages according to package direction. I tend to use the veg sausage by Quorn; they are made from soya chunks. However you may use other sausage also.
Chop onion, garlic and ginger finely.
Now discard the water/brine from the can, and then wash chick pea very well in water. Or you may soak the dry Kabuli channa and then pressure cook it for two whistles or about 18-20 mints at med-high flame.
Now heat up a saucepan, add cooking oil, and temper this with cumin seeds.
Add chopped onion, garlic and ginger. Fry them well for 4-5 mints.
Now add the dry seasonings- turmeric, red pepper, and coriander and cumin powder. Adjust salt.Add in garam masala.
Add in chopped tomato and keep on frying this little bit more or the oil comes from the sides about-10 to 15 mints at medium flame.
Now add in a Kabuli channa or chick pea, fry all for 4-5 mints more. Now add in cooked sausages. I like to cut the sausages in bite-size pieces.
Add in about a cup of water, cover it and let it simmer at med-low flame till the entire gravy turns out mushy.
Sprinkle freshly chopped coriander leaves and serve.

You may use any other sausages to make this- chorizo or chicken sausages also goes well for this semi dry curry. Personally I like to use vegetarian sausages.you may use soya nuggets if sausages are not available near your vicinity. And these tastes even better the other day.

Have a nice weekend friends..and happy cooking.

Friday, May 11, 2012

Pina Colada Trifle - Pineapple Coconut Trifle

When it comes to sweet tooth, I like to eat those softest, sweetest, and sensational and what not “sweet indulges” quite often. And I really don’t like to count calories when I am having them, but at least I try to eat them moderately. So, these cute small portions of highly addictive Pineapple Coconut trifle or the Pina colada trifle comes very neat for me. Usually, I like them in small portions and often refrigerate them in batches. Aren’t they looking cute and delicious?

 Trying does work many times and plain submission to weakness without fighting the emotional conflict of to- be- or not- to- be inside us, don’t. I am still walking on the path to be “jeetendriya”, who? Not to be confused with jumping Jack Jitendra the Hindi film actor but “Kya Karen kabhi-kabhi control nahi hota”.
And why call them “sweet indulges”; I think it is mandatory to finish your meal with something sweet or a dessert and who else to validate this point. Ask any Bengali, trust me this is their favorite topic for discussion or brain storming session and by the way, thanks to fish head eating culture we have, we all are so blessed with this. When you see four Bengali together, what they discuss first thing first is food, then politics and then football, ok in recent years, cricket thanks to one eternal dada- Sourav da or amader Sourav Da.
Last time when DH was in India for a short official tour, he got a chance to catch up with one IPL match live in the stadium with roaring crowds. Yeah Boys and cricket go long way, isn’t? Nothing new on that.
He was sitting near to the player’s pavilion, caught up Sourav da closely talking to other team members. And then junior Malya, born with silver spoon, in very a sleeveless T-shirt walking aimlessly in the corners of field. Girls were going kochi-koing around him, one kiss here in this cheek, one kiss there on the other cheek. Well who wouldn’t enjoy such adulation? I wonder perhaps DH really wished to be in his shoes for that period of time or is my wifey- thingy crawling in my head. Girls are always possessive about their man, even in dreams. And sorry, I won’t deviate either.

Well everything was going well, until Chris Gail or is it Gayle, hit a sixer and it ended up hurting terribly a young girl on her nose. That girl was sitting far interior of the podium and where the cricket ball won’t reach out possibly from any angle. One of those rare circumstances when, no matter what ever you plan or take precautions everything will go wrong or perhaps destiny has some other plans for you. DH was feeling very bad for the girl and her family. One nice family outing turned into a nightmare and ended up on a very sad note. For once I felt relieved that I was not there with my DD. Sometimes it’s good to watch sports on TV and in comfy of your couch sitting in your own living room.

Anyways this is not about cricket only, and hey this is a food blog also, I mean primarily is a food blog. (Cut out OK )  Well, it is a food blog.

This pineapple trifle is very easy to assemble, what is the pitch like here...I mean the basic requirements for this trifle. I have made an eggless pineapple upside down cake  some times back. I had some left-over portions from it which formed the base of this dessert.Yeah, it was saved in the draft since then and finally it’s seeing now some daylight.

Now to the recipe

 Pina Colada Trifle or Pineapple Coconut trifle

Recipe requirements
makes 3-4
About 2 cups of crumbled cake or sponge cake fingers
1 cup of whipped cream
1 cup of freshly grated coconut
Some pineapple pieces
2 tbs of Pineapple juice or 2-3 drops of essence for extra flavor
In a clean wine glass, add in crumbled cake. Press gently with small spoon so that the surface even out.
Now sprinkle a layer of coconut shavings or grated coconut. If fresh grated coconut is not available, you can use desiccated coconut. Add some pineapple pieces on next layer.
Whip up the cream with some fresh grated coconut and pineapple juice. Layer it next .Again sprinkle some more coconut shavings or fresh grated coconut. You may again repeat the layers to make double layer or triple layer desert.
Now decorate whatever way you prefer with rest of the pineapple pieces or raisin.
Keep in fridge. Let it set for 3-4 hrs or better overnight to develop the intense flavor. And then serve chilled next day.

Sometimes ask your children to help you to assemble it, kids love to do such cute and easy tasks.
Pina Colada Trifle makes great dessert recipe when you have company.
In place of fresh grated coconut, you can use desiccated coconut.
You may reduce the cream and use some Greek style thick yogurt or plain yogurt to reduce the calorie count. However do adjust sweetness with some sugar.
This recipe is alcohol free, and egg less.If you wish you may make custard and layer it further.

Happy Cooking Friends and have a nice weekend.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Spaghetti pasta recipe - a vegetarian delight

I have no qualms when it comes to pasta recipes. It’s easy to assemble and makes a full meal when I am running out of ideas. This time it’s just another spaghetti recipe with green leaves- baby spinach and curly kale and some chopped mushrooms.

Now curly kale has been a star around the blogging world quite often with the curly kale chips, doing the rounds all while. I have been making curly kale in a very Bengali way of tempering it with panch phoron or with kalo jeerey/nigella seeds and little bit stir/fried with shallots and dry red pepper for quite a while now. If you are familiar with notey shaak or Amaranths in English, then the stir/fried curly kale tastes quite similar to that but not as in whole. There is this recipe  to make the green leaves if you wish not to wait that much. Now most of the times I do forget to take pictures of the final product or many a times my primary concern are to feed three hungry and rumbling tummy. I will share the recipe some other day. For the time being it’s spaghetti with baby spinach and curly kale - green power.

Baby spinach cooks fast as compared to Curly Kale. So, I do add kale green leaves half way through to the simmering pot of pasta. And when the pasta is nearly done, I tend to add baby spinach leaves towards that end. This way all the greens are cooked properly. If you wish you may add them in the sauce itself.
Now to the recipe

Spaghetti  Pasta with greens –baby spinach and curly kale
Recipe requirements
About half packet of spaghetti  pasta or roughly 250 grams ( can use wholemeal spaghetti instead of plain ones)
For the sauce
 2 cups of chopped curly kale
2 cups of chopped mushroom
1 cup of baby spinach
3-4  cloves of garlic
1 medium size white onion
2 tomatoes
2 heaped tbs of pasta sauce jarred
1 tsp of red pepper powder (optional)
1 tsp of dried oregano/ 2tsp of  mixed herb
1 tsp of salt
3-4 tbs of olive oil


Put a big saucepan with enough water on boil. Add pinch of salt and little bit of oil, not much. Now add in the spaghetti pasta. Half way through add in chopped curly kale leaves. Cook the pasta and when it’s nearly done, add in baby spinach it. Keep it covered and drain excess water if it has any. Personally,I like to retain this water as this adds to the texture of  the sauce later on.
Now  prepare the sauce
Heat up a saucepan, add in olive oil in a saucepan, add and fry the chopped garlic to a nice brown. Now add in chopped onions. Fry further 3-4 mints or till they turn translucent.
Now add in all the chopped vegetables- tomato, mushroom.
Now keep on frying further 4-5 mints at med-high flame. Add in jarred pasta sauce. Add about a cup of water. Cover the saucepan and let it simmer till all the vegetables cooked. Personally I don’t like overcooked vegetables with pasta recipes. Vegetables should be crunchy and yet not over cooked as for the correct texture is concerned.
Adjust the seasonings-red pepper powder, add it to give nice kick to the recipe.
Add in salt, and dried oregano. If you wish you may add just a tsp of butter to further make a smooth sauce.And in case you don’t have oregano then can add mixed dried herb.
Add this prepared sauce to the cooked  spaghetti pasta. Mix well. At the time of serving add in crumbled cheese/paneer or the mozzarella cheese.
Sprinkle some red chilly flakes for some more spice.
Serve and enjoy.

Happy Cooking friends

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Just Another Penne Pasta Recipe- Vegetarian This Time

Oh! Yeah it’s Wednesday today, two more days to the next weekend, but why I need to keep saying that, you already know this. Don’t you? You know, it has become almost a habit of me, trying to assess in the mid of the week, how many days are left for the next weekend. Is it just me or you are with me there in the line?
We patiently wait for the weekend almost the entire week. And the moment when we finally arrive, even before it starts, it almost gets finished, gone. Like chocolate pieces, which tends to melt in your mouth in a moment? You put the chocolate pieces in mouth, and it starts to hit the palette, and before you can realize, it’s all gone. Why good thing always come to end in short span of time?

Leave it.Ok then there are days when I, as a legend goes with me and DH, happen to spill tea over anything and everything (There goes my lil secret out in net) my mobile, books, you name it and I have spilled it over everything. Last weekend, while becoming way too much excited, watching and listening to an old song on YouTube, where else? You know kind of “bhule-bisre-geet-types” I spilled the half drunk cup of tea over the laptop early in the morning. And what a great way to start the weekend on that note, isn't? Well hearing me going crazy over it, DH from the other room, who was attending a conference call, asked did you again spilled a cup of tea? And listening to all this commotion, my DD came running leaving aside her important work of sketching and painting and asked “Ma! And you tell me to drink my cup of milk away from the laptop, and now look at you, what have you done?"  DH also joined in with her later on and then my hours in "sat-sang" started, both started giving me instructions on how to or better how not to handle a hot cup of tea especially near the laptop.Hell yeah! It isn't  a rocket science or the escape velocity whatever.But when your own words start to bounce back at you, you know you have finally arrived, nirvana stage! And you don’t even know what to do with, eat it or drink it!! The eternal Bengali Confusion.( PS - The wine glass is not having wine in it , its a red grape juice and yeah this time I stayed away from all mobiles, books and all electronic devices)

Well this penne pasta recipe, is I am sure nothing special or as the title says just another vegetarian penne pasta recipe, but yes if you put the amount of love that goes in making it , am sure it’s going to taste heaven no matter what may come.I have earlier told that most of the time, on weekend I tend to cook many pasta recipes and with many vegetables. I really don’t know if beans or mushroom goes well with penne pasta or any pasta for that matter, but provided if you tend to think innovative ways this works fine. I happen to have some baby spinach, not much which also did go into making this.

Now to the recipe
Just Another Penne Pasta  Recipe - a Vegetarian's Delight
Recipe requirements
About quarter packet of penne pasta or roughly 250 grams
For the sauce
2 tomatoes
4 cups of chopped mushroom
2 cups of chopped green beans
1 cup of baby spinach
3 cloves of garlic
1 medium size onion
2 heaped tbs of pasta sauce jarred
1 tsp of red pepper powder (optional)
1 tsp of dried oregano
1 tsp of salt
3-4 tbs of olive oil
Put a big saucepan with enough water on boil. Add pinch of salt and little bit of oil, not much. Now add in the penne pasta. Cook al dente I mean cooked and firm but not hard. Drain excess water.
Meanwhile the penne pasta is cooking, prepare the sauce
Heat up a saucepan, add in olive oil in a saucepan, and now fry the chopped garlic to a nice brown hue. Now add in chopped onions. Fry further 3-4 mints.
Now add in all the chopped vegetables- tomato, mushroom, green beans and baby spinach. Although, no need to chop baby spinach.Tip-For crispier spinach leaves, leave them covered within cooked penne pasta saucepan.This way leaves cook just enough retaining the green colour which looks so refreshing.
Now keep on frying further 4-5 mints at med-high flame. Add in jarred pasta sauce. Add about a cup of water. Cover the saucepan and let it simmer till all the vegetables are bare minimum cooked. Personally I don’t like overcooked vegetables with pasta recipes. Vegetables should be crunchy and yet not over cooked as for the correct texture is concerned.
Adjust the seasonings-red pepper powder, add it to give nice kick to the recipe, otherwise skip it.
Add in salt, and dried oregano. If you wish you may add just a tsp of butter to further make a smooth sauce.
Add this prepared sauce to the cooked penne pasta. Mix well. At the time of serving add in crumbled cheese or paneer or the mozzarella cheese.Sometimes I do like to sprinkle red chilly flakes and extra dried herbs for even more added flavours.

Updated on 03/05/12  to send this across for Susan's  Black and White Wednesday's, and more details here , guest hosted for this week  by Siri....

Serve and Enjoy.......

Happy Cooking Friends