Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Chayote Diye Cholar Dal- Chayote cooked with Chana dal /Yellow Lentil

Days are getting longer and we now have the liberty of some extra bright hours, so that we can do some other pending activities. There was always a feeling of hurry or rush to go back home, finish doing daily chores as early as it was possible and then curl up inside our comfy warm bed and cover up ourselves with blankets, as it was most of the time during winter season. But here comes spring season , and brings with it ,nice sun-shine intermittently with  little warmer periods and of course long day hours , voila people now have some time to do things which they have been putting up on pending daily chores list.
I don’t know, what makes me happier, seeing the hand-washed clothes drying up on drying lines or their lavender fresh fragrance waft through inside our living room in the back-drop of sun rays streaming through windows. Spring season is perhaps time to say – hey! Come on life is calling on you, go live your life the way you want it to be.

This recipe that I am now going to write is about a kind of "squash" not technically appropriate but it belongs to the same family and is a fruit.I recently started using this fruit in many ways. Chayote/ or Mirliton- Creole/Cajun cuisine or Chow-Chow in Tamil Nadu  / Sayongte- in Thai food  / or Labu Siam- in Indonesian cuisine , etc   is a small wonder fruit, add it in simple stir/fry recipes or in dal and they turn out soft and flavorful. They do really resemble quite like bottle gourd/Lauki/Lao, as they tend to go soft after being cooked.However I am not sure if they can be eaten raw as in salads or not.
Here is a dal-lentil recipe with chayote and cholar dal. Actually made this dal for dinner, but I guess it can very well be paired with warm cooked rice and with any bhaja – like begun bhaja or aloo bhaja.
Now to the recipe
Chayote diye Cholar dal- Chana Dal cooked with Chayote
Recipe requirements
  • About a 1 and half cup of cholar dal/chana dal
  • 1 chayote squash
  • ½ cup of frozen green peas (optional)
  • Seasonings
  • ¾ tsp of turmeric powder
  • 1 tsp of salt
  • 1 tsp of sugar
  • ¼ tsp of red pepper powder
  • 3-4 green chilies
  • 1 tsp of cumin seeds or panch phoron
  • 2 tej patta or bay leaves

  • Wash and clean the lentils in several changes of water.Cut open the chayote into half, take out the stone and then make cube pieces out of it.
  • Now you can pressure cook lentils for 2-3 whistles or cook slowly simmering over a pot. Due to time crunch I always do pressure cook the lentils. Put the lentils in pressure cooker; add enough water to wholly submerge the lentils. Put the lentils on a quick boil at high flame; discard any white forth if formed. Now lock the lid and then put it to pressure cook. After 3- 4 whistles or one whistle at high and then put it to simmer slowly for 15-20 mints. Open the lid when pressure subsides; add about a cup of water if it has turned sticky or mushy.
  • Now prepare the tempering part
  • Heat up a saucepan; add in cooking oil, temper – phoron -it with cumin seeds,tej patta and green chillies. Now add in cubed pieces of Chayote and fry well. Cover it with lid. After 5-7 mints Chayote will cook and will tend to go soft. Now transfer this phoron to the cooked dal.Let it simmers slowly for about 7-10 mints at medium flame or until all is well incorporated.If you wish to add frozen green peas then add in at this time while it’s being slowly simmering.

This recipe is quite similar to Lao diye moong dal – bottle gourd cooked with moong lentils, except this time the dal is cholar dal and is with Chayote- a squash easily available here in abroad.And tell me how you like to make chayote.

Happy Cooking Friends

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Pan Fried Salmon Fish with Indian spices

Past couples of days have been warmer in our neck of the woods and sun is shinning nicely. Spring blossoms are a marvel to watch while we walk down on public paths to do our day-today activities. With this weather, which is really a blessing until a spell of grey weather strikes again, everybody is gearing up to the weekend barbecue, get together etc .Neighborhood parks are getting busy with all sorts of summer activities one can expect to see during this time-kite flying, picnic, sports and of course laying on the green grass, soaking up the sun-shine, endless hours.
And with this weather, one can imagine opting for some fish and chips to entice the taste buds. While I have always liked the fish but the usual fish and chips stuff is loaded with lots of calories as the breaded fish tends to soak more oil while it’s being deep fried. Although I have always liked the usual British fish and chips being served in many cafes and dinners here and have gorged on many times without feeling a slight hint of guilt. But if it’s home-made then it’s even better, then one knows what ingredients goes into making the fish fry and the innumerable methods one can possibly think off. We all know the benefits of Salmon as fish, and when it comes to salmon fish fry; this recipe always gets my thumbs up and so from my family. This recipe is entirely different take on fish fry, not the usual fish and chips types that you can get here in abroad. But then it does remind me of the usual Fish chops or cutlets available in Bengal.A recipe has been shared earlier-Bhetki mach'er chop.

Salmon fish fry that I generally tend to make is with loads of Indian spices. But then this fish has it’s own taste, flavor whatever you want to say in technical term, so a quick rubbing of plain salt+black pepper+lemon juice coated with besan-chick pea flour or self raising flour, seems to work fine as well. Todays recipe is Salmon fish fillet rubbed with Indian spices and then double coated with fine semolina to give it a nice crisp deep fry. Salmon as such is an oily fish, so it tends to cook well but then again one should be careful to fry this fish as it tends to get cooked quickly if not “super-quickly”. The time to deep fry also depends if it’s a thick-cut slice or a heavy steak piece. Many people like it when it’s barbecued or char-grilled, which I think makes them go little semi hardish but certainly not soft. But food is all about one likes to eat, eat what you like and the way you like to make it.
If the following recipe appeals you, then do give a try someday, and let me know how it turned out for you. All suggestions to improve this recipe are welcomed here.

Here is how salmon fish fry is being cooked in our home
Salmon fish fry-Salmon Mach Bhaja
Recipe requirements
  • Salmon fish fillet- 4-5 or steak pieces
  • For the marinade-adjust spice and heat according to the level you can handle it
  •  2 tsp of crushed red chilly flakes
  • 1 tsp of salt
  • ½ tsp of turmeric powder or curry powder
  • 1 tsp of red pepper powder
  • ½ tsp of black pepper powder
  • 1 tsp of coriander powder
  • 1 tsp of garlic powder
  • ¼ tsp of amchur powder or lemon juice
  • For the fry and coating
  • About a cup of fine semolina or Besan -chick pea flour
  • About half cup of cooking oil

  • Wash the fish fillet well in water and then pat them dry. Sometimes scales are removed and sometimes it’s not. I usually don’t take off the scales as when they are deep fried they turn out very crisp while it’s being fried this makes a good covering to cook the fish flesh well without catching up the bottom of the pan. Later while eating, we generally take it off, although salmon skin is as healthy as the flesh, so if one fancies it, then one should go ahead consuming it.
  • Put all the ingredients in the bowl, mix well and then coat well all the fish fillet with this mixture powder. Turmeric powder, red pepper powder, red chilly flakes, salt, coriander powder, amchur powder or lemon juice. Adjust heat if you don’t like too much spicy food, same goes for kids.
  • Keep refrigerated till you wish to make the fish fry. Generally I keep 3-4 hrs in fridge and then deep fry them one at a time.
  • Now take a cup of fine semolina in a flat plate. We will double coat the fish fillet with this. Coat the marinated fish fillet with fine semolina and then shake to take off extra semolina coat. Again press and coat fine semolina very well over the marinated fish fillet.
  • Heat up a fry pan; add about half a cup of oil. Let it heat up. Check if the oil is ready for deep fry. Drop some cumin seeds, if it sizzles then the oil is ready for deep fry.
  • Deep fry about 1 or 2 big chunks of fish maximum, giving them enough space to fry well. Each side takes roughly 5-6 mints at medium-to medium high flame. Salmon is a very oil fish, it will tend to cook soon, so over frying sometimes makes them hardish and the flavor is lost. But at the same time if it’s not properly fried, the raw smell lingers on, making it very de-appetizing. And also the cut of the fish slice decides the time to be it needs to be fried. Thick cut slices will tend to take roughly 8-9 mints each side at medium high flame but that too depends on the surface of the fry pan, how much heat is being transferred etc .Practice the timing to fry the salmon fish fillets or steak pieces.
  • And also many times I do bake them for about 30-35 mints or till they turn little whitish from red. But then that’s another recipe and will talk about some other day.
  • I have prepared cous cous also, and topped it up with a dry stir fry preparation of cauliflower and potato, along side some green leafy salad with sweet cherry tomato.

All this can go very well in your or your kid’s lunch box. Usually kids don’t like couscous as this is my kid’s case, then I replace cooked couscous with a tortilla wrap or vegetarian fajita.
These Salmon fish fry can be great as starters for a pot-luck party or get together.
There is Salmon fish curry for you if you want the gravy to eat with warm cooked rice, here-Salmon Fish Curry.

Happy Cooking Friends

Monday, April 22, 2013

Paneer Methi Sukha Sabzi

When asked couple of days ago what foodie things you would like me to pack into your lunch box,My daughter said anything that you liked Ma, but it should be quick to eat. Now how “quick is really quick” for you or for me that also depends.My quick is 15-20 mints and for some it’s even quick 5 mints.

But even if I struggle at the n=15th mints, which is really quick for me, the ones who are doing things and cooking at n=5th mints are way more quicker  making them super-quick.So my quick is not quick enough to stand beside their super-quick and since super quick ones are doing it way too faster, my quick will now sound a “super lazy”.Uh!! Net net please do things with the pace you like to follow and the pace at which things is easy for you to handle.
Now assuming this sabzi is quick to fix if not “super-quick” for some of you and for me also.Fresh methi leaves are used with paneer and a dry stir fry recipe is ready to be packed into the lunch box.If you wish you can replace fresh methi leaves or Fenugreek leaves with kasoori methi “the dried ones”.
Although this recipe was saved in draft, today I made another variation of methi paneer but this time it was with gravy.But even if you make this dry- stir/fry, I am sure it is as pleasurable to eat as the one with rich and silken gravy and what not gravy you may wish to call………..

Now to the recipe
Paneer methi sukha sabzi
Recipe requirements
  • 200-250 Gms of paneer
  • 1 bunch of methi /fenugreek leaves
  • 2 medium size tomatoes
  • 1 cup of frozen green peas
  • 2 onions
  • 4-5 garlics
  • ½ inch ginger root
  • Seasonings
  • ¾ tsp of turmeric powder
  • 2 tsp of red pepper powder
  • 1 tsp of coriander powder
  • 1 tsp of salt
  • 2 cardamoms
  • 1 inch cinnamon sticks
  • ½ tsp of cumin seeds
  • ½ tsp of methi seeds
  • 3-4 tbs of mustard oil

  • Pick out the methi leaves from the stem, and wash them in water very well.Now chop them roughly.
  • Make cubes out of paneer block. Chop onions very finely.
  • Chop and cut tomatoes. Grate garlic and ginger with the help of mandolin/kaddokus, or you may use garlic and ginger paste available in jar as well.
  • Now heat up a fry-pan, add in oil, and add in cumin and fenugreek seeds.
  • Now add in ginger/garlic and onions. Keep on stir/fry them for about 3-4 mints.
  • Now add in finely chopped tomatoes and methi leaves. Keep on stir-frying them.
  • Add in dry masala powders- turmeric, red pepper, coriander powder and also cinnamon stick and adjust seasoning with salt and little bit of sugar –about ½ tsp of sugar.
  • Add in paneer pieces. Coat well the stir/fried masala all over paneer pieces.
  • Add in about a cup of frozen green peas. Now splash some water – about 3-4 tbs is enough so that the entire content don’t get stuck.
  • Cover the fry-pan and let it slowly cook into its own juices for 10-12 mints or till the paneer is soft and methi leaves are reduced in volume, releasing methi saag water, and cooked well through.
  • Many times I make the blanching of methi leaves ahead so that it’s even quick to do a stir/fry with potato as well.I have done this with small chicken breast pieces as well, just replace paneer with chicken pieces and methi murg sukha sabzi is also ready.And in place of green peas , have used sweet corn as well.You may also add in fresh finely chopped coriander leaves.

Serve and have it with roti or with puri or make a paratha wrap with chopped onions/cucumber, some grated cheese and this paneer methi sukha sabzi.

Happy Cooking Friends

Monday, April 15, 2013

Kul'er Chatni/ Ber Ki Chutney

Finally I can say some relief from the cold weather and the spring has arrived, as days are getting little bit warmer. Kids are now back to school after a long Easter holidays, and now this momma has some time to divert her attention towards other aspects of her life, and that includes food blogging.

This “chatni” in Bengali or more eloquent way of saying “chutney” in English, is one amalgamation of kul, dates, raisins and dried apricots and is a sweet preparation. However when ever my Ma would make kul’er chatni, it was always with topa kul- the fully ripened ones available easily back home. Now I thought even if the dried ones or the ripened ones, are not available here or may be it is, just that I never got hold of it, that should not stop me from making simple home-made chutney with the fresh kul/ber. After many Google searches, I finally came to conclusion that Kul in Bengali or Ber in Hindi is popularly known as Indian Jujube, or Indian plum, if you know any other name then do please add in comment section.
Uploading two pictures of kul- narkoli kul but the these are not dried or fully ripened ones, still fresh and green.And another normal ones.

And since its poila boishak today- the first day of "Baishak" month according to Bengali calender, it will be appropriate to post a sweet chutney recipe made with these kul or ber. I know things could have been different had I stayed back in India, with sweet gift packs coming from our reliable grocery walah or neighborhood modi khana, but this is what I will try to make today –some payesh and chatani. And for the rest of the things will wait till I fly back to home.

Now to the recipe for Kul’er Chatni
Kul’er chatni-Ber ki Chutney-Sweet Chutney preparation of Indian Jujube/Indian Plum
Recipe requirements
About a big bowl of kul/ber/Indian Jujube/Indian plum
5-6 dates/khejur
½ cup of raisins/sultanas
¼ cup of dried apricots
1 cup of sugar
½ tsp of oil
½ tsp of panch phoron or Black mustard seeds-shorshe
2-3 dry red pepper
De –stone the kul/ber.And cut into small pieces.
Heat up a saucepan, add oil, temper it with panch phoron and dry red pepper.
Then add in kul, dates, raisins and dried apricots.
Add in sugar and about 3-4 tbs of water. Lower the flame and, let it simmer slowly for about 10-15 mints or till all the ingredients turn out mushy. This is kul’er chatni and made in easy way.To spice up little more-add in grounded panch phoron powder at the end. Personally I don't prefer adding panch phoron gurun/powder to home-made chatni,but this should not stop you from doing so.
This chatni is great accompaniment with warm cooked khichuri and beguni…

And wish you all Shubho Nababorsho, Baishaki, Rongali-Bihu,Puthandu and Vishu ….

Poila Boishak er onek Preeti and Shubecha.