Monday, May 20, 2013

Spinach Mushroom Onion Baked Frittata- " Nonta Cake"

I find myself often puzzled when I need to make breakfast on early mornings and that too on Sunday. Now usually it’s chirer pulao/poha  or upma-“the nonta suji ” most of the times or many times banana pancake, or some blueberry banana muffins and oh!  How can I forget chocolate muffin, without that the world would crumble like Adele’s sky fall. And then sometimes a frittata is also made out of blue. As we the grown-ups are little averse of eating so many eggs and cheese together, but it’s for our dear daughter who likes these new kinds of recipes a lot. 

Her “nonta cake” as she calls it fondly, has been made couple of times now with obviously her choice of vegetables. Actually this was being one of the reasons I started to make frittata to develop her interest in eating vegetables. She was not into eating spinach and some of the vegetables, so told her about “Popeye” and his spinach eating antics. She said, “Are you joking Ma!!”  I am not going to eat spinach puree-yuck! And who eats that gooey green puree these days, it’s just the cartoon character and the fictional story, seriously? Kids I tell you are way much advanced than we were as kids and the conversation stopped there. Although couple of days ago when I made palak-paneer, it was all gone- two picky eaters that I have in our home, finished their share quickly, helping themselves for second times. And I told dear daughter, “Hey! Hey! I see with my eyes, somebody eating spinach puree just like Popeye does”. To that she told me, “I know but I don’t mind eating spinach puree as long as it has paneer with it, the white paneer, not the fried -panner which you generally tend to add in palak gravy!! Even Popeye can eat palak paneer sometimes for a change, and I think it can be much better option than the canned spinach puree”. Well I can only imagine “Popeye’ eating Palak paneer with kulcha or naan and drinking a glass full of lassi in a famous Punjabi dhaba for the time being, then smile and be happy for it.

Coming back to frittata recipe, well spinach leaves, mostly the baby spinach leaves is what I like to use in this frittata recipe, along with some chopped fresh coriander leaves, mushroom, onions, cherry tomatoes, some times even zucchini. So mix and match of the vegetables is the motto here but the base recipe remains the same. Someday try this “nonta cake” for a change as breakfast or brunch whatever suits your time.
Now to the recipe
 Spinach Mushroom Onion Frittata- 
Recipe requirements
  • 100 Gms of baby spinach leaves or 1bunch of tender spinach leaves
  • About 2 cups of chopped mushroom
  •  1 medium size onion
  • 10-12 sweet cherry tomatoes
  • 1 cup of shredded cabbage 
  • 1/2 cup of chopped spring onions
  • 1/2 cup of chopped coriander leaves
  • 1 cup of mild cheddar cheese preferably grated
  • 1 tsp of red pepper powder
  • 1/2 tsp of crushed red chilly flakes
  • 1 tsp of dried oregano 
  • 1 tsp of salt or as per taste
  • 4-5 free range large eggs
  • ¼ cup of self raising flour
  • ¼ cup of milk
  • ½ cup of cooking oil

  • Preheat an oven at 175 deg C.
  • Chop mushroom, onions,cabbage, coriander leaves,spring onions and tomatoes roughly . Heat up a saucepan, add cooking oil just enough to sauté the vegetables. Stir/fry the vegetables for 4-5 mints .Season them with salt and red pepper powder,crushed red chilly flakes and dried oregano. Add in spinach leaves, now no need to fry them along with other vegetables, they will tend to get cooked with the heat stir/fried vegetables has. Take off the fry pan now.
  • In a large mixing bowl, add in self raising flour, half of the cheese. Now whisk in eggs one by one with a spoon gently. Do not beat them. Many times I also add ricotta cheese when I am short of cheddar cheese or use both in combination.
  • Now fold in the fried vegetables and eggs flour cheese mixture gently. At this time if it becomes sticky, then add milk just enough so that you can mix well all.
  • Now prepare a rectangular baking pan or any deep dish suitable for oven baking, grease some oil over it now transfer the entire contents of vegetable flour eggs cheese mixture to baking pan.
  • Sprinkle generous amount of left-over cheddar cheese or Parmesan cheese what ever cheese you like on top.
  • Bake it for 25-30 mints or till a toothpick comes out clean when inserted in to the middle of this frittata or the frittata is well set.Please check your own oven settings and make of the oven for proper baking.

Usually in spongy and  light frittata recipes, flour is not added but I tend to add flour to it, to make it even more filling and dense. This has been part of our weekend brunch menu for quite a long time; vegetables do keep on changing though, many times only made with onions and potatoes. Many times I don’t saute the vegetables if I am running short of time and patience.
Generally in breakfast other than eggs we don’t eat meat or chicken, but grilled chicken pieces or chicken kebabs or if  people who like meat, then meat pieces can also be added to make it even more filling and delicious. It can be made as part of dinner menu as well or can even be divided into edible portions and served as starters in get-together also. Options to make frittata remain limitless, and this can be a great way of incorporating any left-over recipes as well.
Other Breakfast recipes/ideas  here-

Happy Cooking Friends

Friday, May 17, 2013

Salmon Shorshe - Salmon cooked in mustard sauce

Once I recall, my grandmother was making her eternal famous "bhapa ilish with shorshe bata", so out of sheer curiosity I told her that let me also help you out in making it. Mind you, it was a large family gathering, with all my uncles and aunties and their little kids, altogether a gathering of 15-16 people- most of the grown-ups themselves better cooks. So, she smiled on my childish wish and told my mother,”Bou ma! Meye tumaar ranna ghore ashte chaye”,here she wants to help us.My mother agreed to all that with a strange expression of “why” on her face and then came a strenuous job to be done-making shorshe bata over sheel-nora.Yes with a  bowl of mustard seeds –“black” of course not yellow, green chilies and some cumin seeds, I was made to sit then wet grind it over sheel-nora.That seemed astonishing for many at that time but i was determined to don the cap.Some even teased me that are you preparing yourself for the future endeavors coming your way ,but all that didn't stop me. Here I was working it out my way, over Sheel –Nora making shorshe bata-mustard paste for the gravy of bhapa ilish that was supposed to be served at the lunch time, with a keen and hawk eyed supervisor, my grandmother by my side.

My “hathe-khori “in traditional “Bengali ghoroa ranna”was done like that way. Although I would say, things have changed so much since then, I have latterly stopped using sheel-nora, as I can’t carry sheel-nora everywhere and whenever, I go on changing cities, oh! Countries even-wish I could. I can’t even recall and say “yeah this is our kitchen for the past 4-5 years or so!!”. I have moved, re-located so many times that I have lost count of that. Most of the times things I pack for these voyages, I don’t even care to take them out from suit-case, so leave alone all the props and accessories, electrical gadgets that one can always dream of buying has been put on a pending list of “things to buy”. I won’t say it is a thrilled experience but traveling, discovering new cities, does bring lots of enriching experience and ones perception about many things also change with all these new exposures.And with introduction of many new methods, ingredients , cooking method, as a cook I think I have evolved and still growing . Any how, that bhapa ilish turned nice and my people appreciated the hard labor that I put in for making it. But since I don’t have sheel-nora-shil-batta over here now, so I use mustard powder in place of that- I would say something is better that nothing.And that ilish/hilsa fish being replaced by salmon, a similar oily fish.

                                ( Lunch- Mong'er dal, Chayote  Palang Shak'er bori ghonto,Salmon Shorshe)

This time I have used Coleman’s mustard powder as that is what I had at that time, which is somewhat milder than the black mustard seeds paste or the “real shorshe bata”.If you are interested to know – home made mustard powder then you can have a look here  or if eager to make fresh mustard seed paste then have a look at this old post . However over these past years, I have experienced that the home-made fresh mustard paste made from only black mustard seeds is the most “jhanjhwala”- the ones which makes you tear out and hit the roof of your palate not the commercialized one.However, if you like little bit of colour into your gravy then it comes from the use of turmeric powder and yellow mustard seeds.
Yogurt and garlic powder adds nice tangy-ness and smell to the gravy.Many do add vinegar also, which I haven’t done so far, not sure how sour that may turn out over-powering the “jhanjhwala” mustard seeds paste-actually it is being added to turn off the bitterness of mustard seeds which happens due to the husk of seeds.Yogurt on the other hand is more subtle and compliments more the mustard gravy. If you happen to get Dijon mustard which has vinegar already, you may use this also, in case you make Shorshe Salmon.

Mustard as I would say – every one has their way of making, grinding and using up in fish or non-veg gravy. There is French mustard, English mustard, Bengali mustard and many more variety, these all can be used in any gravy that calls for the use of mustard seed paste, however the strongest flavor comes from Bengali mustard powder and who shouldn't know it more better other than a Bengali herself-I am bound to be biased here.But to be honest a mustard sauce is a mustard sauce and depends on how one spruces it up.
One can even use the sauce that goes into making hot-dogs- the mustard sauce aka- yellow mustard sauce.
If you do not get mustard oil then one can use normal cooking oil –like vegetable oil, corn oil, canola oil etc, but traditional shorshe mach-mustard fish  is made only with mustard oil.

These days even in Kolkata, ready-made mustard seed powder packet is available and I have used that also, and to my surprise that did work well.Although I am unable to recall the brand name, may be it was Sunrise brand not sure, but please check and ask in your local grocer store.

A shorshe salmon recipe is for you all who love good food with less fuss and are traveling abroad for study and work.

Salmon shorshe –Salmon with mustard paste
Recipe requirements
  • 3-4 salmon fish fillet
  • 3-4 tsp of mustard powder-Coleman's or  home-made mustard powder 
  • 2 tsp of red pepper powder
  • 1 tsp of crushed red chilly flakes
  • ½ tsp of turmeric powder+ some more to marinate salmon fillet 
  • ¾ tsp of garlic powder
  • 2-3 green chilies
  • 2 tbs of yogurt
  • 1 tsp of salt
  • 4-5 tbs of mustard oil

  • Marinate salmon fillets with salt and turmeric powder.Keep aside for half an hour.
  • Now heat up a fry pan, add oil, fry the salmon fillets about 3-4 mints both sides.Take out and keep in a bowl.Trick is to fry the fish as such,so that they are not over fried or become too crisp, (just like we do for Hilsa fry-retaining the moisture), we do not fry much unless we tend to eat bhaja mach or fish fry only.
  • In that same fry pan/wok or kadai with the left-over oil if any,add about 1 to 1 and half large teacups of water.Add in half amount of red pepper powder, garlic powder,green chilies, crushed red chilly flakes  and salt.Let it come to boil.
  • Now add in salmon fish fillets, cover it and let it cook slowly about 5-8 mints at medium flame.
  • Meanwhile make a thick paste of mustard powder, yogurt and 1 tbs of mustard oil.Add this mustard paste to the above simmering gravy.Mix well and then cover and let it cook about 7-10 mints.Open the cover and add in one tsp of mustard oil, take it off from the flame and serve with warm cooked rice.
  • Note- this is fiery hot and spicy preparation, reduce the amount of red pepper powder or green chilly for the milder version, but as is famous saying in my paternal family- "Shorshe mach joto khon mathaye chanti mare na , shorshe mach noye" - 

Happy Cooking Friends

Monday, May 13, 2013

Chayote Palang Shak'er Bori ghonto- Chayote Spinach vegetable medley

One of my friends turned Vegan this year which was a total surprise for me, once a meat-lover to the core and suddenly this paradigm shift. She now feels she has to shed those extra calories to fit into her latest trousers and also that a particular, so-called celebrity happens to be a vegan, with inspirations like that near her panorama, people like her always tend to copy and look after those big branded faces, isn't.  Now I know there are many like her who are much more aware and cautious of what they should eat and what they don’t eat, nothing wrong in that, it’s absolutely justified. I think choices what ever people make about their eating habits, is personal but one should always look for the pros and cons before jumping in to be trendy or try to follow a celebrity blindly.

As far as I have understood and thanks to her giving me inputs about ingredients, to be a Vegan, one needs to omit any animal products technically. But if you just see all around you, everything is an animal by-product or partially or wholly extracted from animals, not only the eating habits-honey, milk, butter, ghee etc from your leather bag, shoes and fashion accessories, wool clothes, silk clothes, even the glossy lipstick that we are fond of wearing, whenever we go out for evening parties, is an animal sorry fish product. And if you happen to tell them all these, one becomes a self-centered egoist person who thinks rather bizarre, can say crazy!! What basis one decides on certain principles is up to ones own decision, but just to be called trendy and fashionable; one shouldn't get confused between what is good and what is bad. It’s like twisting things for ones own personal gains and need.
Eating a non-vegetarian diet or a vegetarian diet or for that matter a vegan diet depends on many factors, I would say please don’t let external factors influence you or you shouldn't get carried away about choices you make, just trying to copy a celebrity or following the latest fashion trend. It is wise to follow and consider internal factors, the factors which regulate the requirements of your own body. After all come to think of this health food business, flourishing in every corner of the world and we are pumping in, our hard earned money into it. But seriously when I ask myself, where are we lacking that we have to so depend on additional supplements for which we pay hefty sums? I would say perhaps we should recall how our mothers have been feeding us when we were kids, remember, and perhaps the answer lies some where there and that’s just the way things should be.
If you crave for milk shake, then go for it as milk is essential for nourishing our body– yes one can always choose between whole milk, semi skimmed milk and skimmed milk. Skimmed milk to be the least fatty milk. I have known some people who are lactose-intolerant; soya milk is a great alternative too. Again drinking soya milk doesn’t make you Vegan, it’s the requirement of the body. But then on one hand who tag along branded luxurious leather bag, wear leather shoes, then one goes on calling oneself a Vegan, I really don’t know if this justifies the cause or not.

To be a “Vegan” is a philosophy, a complete package, and way of life and in reality I would assume it’s difficult, very difficult to adhere on to it.
And if somebody thinks one can shed those extra calories just being a vegetarian or for that matter a vegan, seriously they should get a real grip or a vigorous shake of their sleeping brain. There are ways one can shed those extra calories-yoga, Pilates, aerobics, walking, cycling or swimming, but certainly not starving your body of the daily essential food requirements. Excercize and eating well goes together and for that you don't need to starve your body of essential, daily nourishing food requirements.
Well I have failed to make my friend understand that all she needs now is to get out and be active, or reducing the dependency on automobiles ,but who is listening. Are you??

Now the recipe.Today's recipe is palong shak’er bori ghonto with chayote or chow-chow. This ghonto recipe is made with chayote, spinach and bori and beet leaves.Since palang shak and bori ghonto is a very popular recipe, I dont need to add on it anymore.This time I had chayote and beet leaves to tag along well.Then there were brinjal, potato, radish which added some texture to the usual Palang shak'er ghonto.

Palong shak’er bori ghonto with Chayote/chaw-chaw
Recipe requirements
  • 2 bunchs of spinach shak/tender spinach leaves
  • 1 chayote/chaw-chaw
  • 1 medium size potato
  • About half a brinjal/eggplant
  • Half a radish
  • Beet leaves-about 2 cups
  • Seasonings
  • ½ tsp of turmeric powder
  • ½ tsp of red pepper powder
  • 1 tsp of coriander powder
  • ½ tsp of salt or as per taste
  • 1 tsp of panch phoron
  • 2-3 dry red pepper
  • 2 tej patta
  • 2-3 tbs of mustard oil+ more to fry bori/wadi
  •  1 cup of small dried lentil dumplings/wadi/bori

  • Take out tender leaves from spinach. Chop chayote into cube pieces. Chop beet leaves and spinach leaves roughly. If using tender baby spinach leaves, no need to chop them. Cut and chop potatoes, radish and brinjal.
  • Heat up a saucepan, add in mustard oil, and fry the wadi/bori well till it gets browned well.Take out and let it cool.
  • Add in rest of the oil and temper- phoron - it with dry red pepper, tej patta and panch phoron
  • Now add in potatoes, brinjal, and radish and chayote pieces.Fry well for 3-4 mints at med-high flame.
  • Add in turmeric powder, red pepper powder, coriander powder and salt. Just splash some water and mix well, enough to coat well the vegetables with spices.
  • Add in spinach and beet leaves to it. They will release ample water so no need to add water. Cover it and let it cook for 5-6 mints. After this add fried bori/wadi to it and cover again. Let it slowly cook all, about 10-15 mints at medium flame.
  • Open the cover, and let it cook some more time, if the water is not absorbed, occasionally stir/fry it and ixing all the vegetables well.Take care not to break the fried bori while stir/frying the vegetable medley.

At the time of taking it off, add in 1 tsp of ghee,two pinch of sugar and half teaspoon of garam masala.If you don’t like the strong flavors of garam masala then don’t add it.
Serve with warm cooked rice.

Happy Cooking Friends

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Paat Shak'er Porotha and Bora- Mulukhiya-Tender Jute Leaves paratha and fritters

I always look forward to our weekday vegetable grocery shopping outings.This time a bunch of green leaf with tender stems caught my attention.Now when I just glanced through the vegetable aisle of our middle Eastern grocery store here, I thought may be it’s notey-shak- Amaranth leaves but on closer looks and when I hold them in hand, I found them quite similar to Paat shak/tender Jute leaves.Last time when we were in India, my father-in-law got a bunch of paat shak pata from the local vegetable market .I even helped him in to clean up the shak pata and then do a simple stir/fry recipe with it.But somehow this time I couldn't recall the leaf perfectly.When I asked the helper working in that grocery store , who was busy putting up piles of these leaves neatly packed in plastic bags,told me it’s “Molokhiyah”.Well that created doubts  in my mind, but somehow deep down,I felt that it was indeed paat shak leaves.

                                    ( Paat -shak'er porotha/tender jute leaves paratha, sweet boondi, malai mushroom matar)

Actually it’s being a long time that I have seen Paat shak and then made them.It was almost out of my memeory map for sure.For every query there is google.After some google searches , I found out that “Molokhiya/malukhiyah” is actually a soup preparation in many middle eastern countries including Egypt, Lebanon,Jordan etc.Although they usually chop the leaves and then add in the simmering soup which also includes size-able portions of meat/chicken as well.All this chopping and then cooking for long time results in a slimy preparation, usually topped over a bed of cooked rice or toasted pita bread.A detailed recipe can be found here.....

                                                                   (  Tender Jute leaves/paat shak in Bengali )

”Molokhiya/Malukhiya “is the middle eastern name and then Jews mallow is the English name for tender jute leaves(Corchorus sp).I am sure other details can be found here and here.......
Now still after all this “gyan” through google search, my mind was still hooked to our own Bengali paat shak pata.I couldn’t let it dismiss ,to be something else.At this stage,
 I put the paat shak leaf’s picture on blog's FB page ,and asked everybody to recognize the leaves.Many said it was “kalmi shak”, which indeed again made me nostalgic as I don’t get them here in UK .

But then there came a fellow reader Reshmi who told us, this is indeed “Paat shak”.She even obliged us with her way of preparing Paat shak with shorshe bata .I would say go ahead and see what she shared with us to cook.The end result is a very own “Bengali Ghoroa ranna” at it’s best.If you like what you read then like the blog’s FB page , so that you also don’t miss out these tips and recipes.

Meanwhile here is Paat shak’er porotha for you all and oh! With the left-over pat shak leaves I made paat shak’er bora as well.

Paat shak’er porotha/Tender Jute Leaves Paratha

Recipe requirements
  • 1 bunch paat shak/Mulokhiya leaves/tender jute leaves
  • 2 heaped cups of whole wheat flour/atta
  • ½ cup of besan or chick pea flour
  • For seasoning
  • 1 tsp of red pepper powder
  • 3-4 pinchof hing- asfoetida
  • ½ tsp of cumin powder
  • 1 tsp of crushed whole black pepper or 7-8 whole black pepper crushed
  • 1 tsp of coriander powder

  • Trim off tender leaves and tender shoots from the main stem.Blanch them for few mints.Don’t worry even if it turns out slimy, anyhow we will be adding in the dough.If you don’t like the slimy ness of the jute leaves then do not cook them more, cook until they just shrink, about 3-4 mints at medium flame not more than that.
  • Now mix all the dry ingredients – red pepper powder, cumin, coriander powder, hing, crushed black pepper powder and salt.
  • Mix in whole wheat flour and besan/chick pea flour.Add in oil.Add in wilted paat shak /tender jute leaf.Mix in the dry powders with the flour. Now knead it all very well with some water.Divide into 5 -6 portions.
  • Roll and make parathas as required.

Paat shak’er bora/pakoda- Tender jute leaf/Saluyot fritters
Recipe requirements
  • About 2 handfuls of tender jute leaves
  • ¼ cup of besan/chick pea flour
  • Salt as per taste
  • 1 tsp of garlic powder
  • 1 tsp of crushed red chilly flakes
  • ½ tsp of coriander powder
  • ¼ tsp of cumin powder
  • Pinch of hing
  • 2-3 green chilies chopped finely
  • Oil to fry the fritters/pakoda

  • Take out tender leaves. Do not chop them, we will need it whole.
  • Now marinate the leaves with garlic powder, cumin, coriander powder, red chilly flakes, chopped green chilies and salt. Leave it aside for 3-4 mints.
  • Now mix in besan/chick pea flour, coating the leaves very well. Add in water about 1-2 tsp, just enough to bind the leaves with besan well. Or you may pick individual leaves and then dip in besan batter and then fry. Whatever way you prefer it’s up to you.
  • Now heat up a saucepan, add cooking oil. Check if the oil is ready, drop a small lump of this mixture into the hot oil, if it sizzles then the oil is ready to be deep fried.
  • Drop the mixture into the hot oil with a spoon. Fry well each side about 4- 5 mints at med-high flame or till they turn out nice brown and crisp.
  • Serve immediately with a cup of tea or as evening snack. Your “Tele-bhaja” is ready.

Happy Cooking Friends