Monday, March 17, 2014

Three Nuts Katlis- being nutty for Holi

Today was hectic for me, as I was dropping dear daughter to school in the morning, I also reminded her to wish her friends happy Holi (two of them actually, as they are also from India) which I do hope she must have happily. I had couple of outside jobs that were urgent and needed to be done today only, but then when I came back home it was almost noon. I found out that I hadn’t prepared anything for Holi as such.

Actually I did make Mysore pak in microwave yesterday evening, and as it was done in microwave- I don’t think it matched up to the amount of work/cooking my Ma and Ma-in-law, does during festivals, I felt very disappointed, a sudden guilt , a sense that I didn’t do what was supposed to be coming out from me, perhaps.
But then those Mysore pak turned out nice, like barfi type- oh! Not Ranbir Kapoor seriously- a pointer- I guess most of you are familiar with or must have seen “Gupi-Gayen Bagha Byen”- it had a character, that old magician –“barfi” played by Harindranath Chattopadhyay . So, just compare some of the antics both these characters played in some of the scenes. Such similarity, isn’t!

Oh! Again going tangent here, coming to the topic itself, where was I, “Barfi” – no, Mysore pak yes! It was not melt in mouth type but still very favorable-sweet of course yes. Next time perhaps I will do the long way- over stove-top- stirring and mixing and with exercise of my muscles, and with less sugar and more ghee, so that they turn out just like – melt in mouth..I also happened to pack some of them and sent it along with dear husband to be shared with office friends.

Nimki/namkin, Oats -aloo tikki, gulab jamun, mysore pak and dudh badam shake

Once I was back home, made a cup of tea  for me ,and as I started recalling what exactly I had made last year, and then previous year, I knew I had plenty of recipes to start with. I started with soaking some yellow peas in warm water, as to us Ghughni with keema is must on Holi.And then made some namkins/nimki and other sweets. It’s almost evening now, and I am here now typing this post.
Well, evenings, especially holi evenings, reminded me about those growing up years, when Holi evenings were spent visiting family and relatives and then gorging on the food platters served individually to us. Then, once we came back from our evening get-togethers, we were so full of eating up food-stuff, that on many occasions we didn’t bother to have dinner and would straight retire to bed, tired and sleepy, with tons of memories cherished in our hearts.

But this post is about three-nut katlis, a nutty affair. Almonds, sesame and cashews were slightly toasted, and then dry grinded to a powder type consistency, although sesame seeds are not exactly nuts.Sugar syrup is made and then the three nuts mixture powder was slowly added , mixing well to form katlis.I have kept the almond skin as well, but if you do not wish to include it then , peel off the skin once you blanched them. But let them dry out properly before you dry –grind them. Please be careful if you have nut allergies regarding this sweet recipe preparation.

Now to the recipe ( Measurements are approx)
Three nuts Katlis- Almonds Sesame and Cashews
Almonds, Sesame, Cashews- in the ratio of 2:1:1 – and we will need 3 cups of this nut mixture.
¾ cup of sugar
¼ cup of water
Few saffron strands
2 -3 tbs of ghee

Dry roast almonds, sesame and cashews till the raw smell is gone, say about 4-5 mints at medium flame, stirring frequently. Do not burn them.
Now once they are cooled a little bit, make a dry powder by dry grinding in a heavy-duty mixer. We will require 3 cups of this, three –nuts mixture powder, so use the ingredients accordingly.
Now make the sugar syrup. We require two-thread consistency of the sugar syrup and should be thick. Add in saffron strands and let it simmer slowly till the sugar syrup is bubbling and is thick in consistency.
Add in powdered almonds+sesame+cashews and mix well. Add in ghee so that they start to collect well. Do this mixing and stirring over medium flame.
Now when it all starts to collect well and turn out more like sticky dough, switch off the flame.
Now you have to do the rolling and cutting the mixture hurriedly, otherwise if they cool out, it’s really difficult to roll them up.
Grease a plate with ghee, now take out, three nuts mixture in to the plate, with the help of rolling pins, and roll over with gently hands, once you start to roll over, the mixture becomes smooth and greasy enough, but carefully roll the mixture dough.
Cut into diamond shapes or whatever way you prefer. Enjoy three nuts Katlis and go nutty about it.

Happy Holi ....

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Chicken Curry with home-made spice powder

When you see beautiful daffodils blooming and swaying to the nippy morning breeze near your vicinity, you know for sure that spring has arrived again. Basant as in Hindi and basanto as in Bengali is a beautiful season one can reckon with, colorful flowers in beautiful and well kept gardens or parks are a splendid sight. And not to forget, that corner courtyard mango tree must be all laden up with beautiful mango blossom. What magnificent sight it procures into our eyes and as it says beauty lies in the eyes of  beholder. Well, as the feeling is, what is important, that the feeling of surrounding ourselves with nature’s bounty and the pleasure then it bestows upon us. I would say now that is priceless.

Chicken curry with home-made spice powder

As I was doing some spring cleaning, hope its not that early though, and what better way to start, than to start with the kitchen first. As I was cleaning the kitchen cupboards, I found a half used packet of dried anar dana/pomegranate seeds and a packet of desiccated coconut. Now usually I would have used them separately in our everyday vegetable stir/fry- sabzi/torkari or non-veg or pulses  preparations that we often do, but then there was something at that very moment, was prompting me to try a new spice powder. The idea was to use both the dried anar dana /dried pomegranate seeds and desiccated coconut simultaneously. Not to mention I was even running short of whole coriander seeds which I do, mostly dry roast and then make home-made coriander powder (dhone goron).

Home-made spice powder 

What started as a spring cleaning spree, never realize can lead to a new home-made spice powder, a new flavor and all that more, plus point it’s being home-made, kind of I am telling you a secret.
I hope it’s no more going to be a secret any more, now that it’s out in my blog. But then that’s the peril of keeping a blog, the moment you find something new, any exciting recipe that you make in your own kitchen , you feel like sharing it with your readers.

Chicken curry/Murgi jhal-jhol with mishti pulao

Now to the recipe
Chicken curry with home-made spice powder- Murgir jhal-jhol 
800 Gms of chicken
2-3 medium size onions
5-6 fat cloves of garlic
½ inch ginger root
1 medium size tomato
2 medium size potatoes( optional)
1 tsp of turmeric powder
1 tsp of red pepper powder
1 tsp of salt or as per taste
½ cup of mustard oil
2-3 tbs of Greek-style thick yogurt
2 tej patta
handful of curry patta(optional)
For the spice powder
5-6 tbs of cumin seeds
5-6 tbs of panch phoron
2-3 tbs of dried anardana
3 tbs of coconut powder
½ cup of desiccated coconut
10-12 small dry red chilly hot ones
4 cloves
5 green cardamoms
2-3 strands of mace
Clean chicken pieces, trim off the skin and fat if any. Now marinate this with 3-4 tbs of mustard oil, red pepper powder and salt. Add in 2-3 tbs of yogurt and mix well. Keep it this marinating for about 2-3 hrs.Meanwhile make a smooth paste with onions+ginger+garlic.

Now make the spice powder
Dry roast cumin seeds+panch phoron+cardamom+mace+cloves+dry red chilies for about 1-2 mints, just to heat them up. Now dry grind these spices with dried anar dana/pomegranate, desiccated coconut and powder. You can use fresh coconut instead of dry and desiccated coconut but the shelf life is reduced then and also it is advisable to store them in fridge.Otherwise, use grated “gari” or desiccated coconut what ever is available. The small dry red chilies which are somewhat more hot is used in this spice-mix, which makes it very hot, so be careful while adjusting red pepper powder later on , in the gravy.

Now make the chicken curry
Let a saucepan heat up properly, add in mustard oil. Now add in potatoes and fry well if you are not using them then skip it completely. Take them out and keep aside.
Now add in dry bay leaves or tej patta.Add in a tsp of sugar+ fresh curry patta to this. Add in the masala paste of onion+ginger+garlic.Stir/fry it for about 3-4 mints.
Keep on stir/fry for a while; add in turmeric powder, salt and 3-4 heaped tsp of the home-made spice powder. Add in slit green chilies if you want it even spicier.Sprinkle some water.
Add the marinated chicken pieces with the juices that came out while it was marinating.
Now splash some water and mix well. Keep on stir/fry for 10-15 mints at medium to medium –high flame, hob mark 7 or 8. If required and it’s getting little dried up, splash/sprinkle more water.
Now add in 2 cups of water and finely chopped tomato and fried potatoes if using them , taste and adjust seasoning if required, can add more spice powder mixture at this time.(You can replace plain water with coconut water for a more coco nutty flavor).
Put the flame to low, cover it and let it cook for about 40-45 mints slowly depending on the chicken. Switch off when all is cooked well. Let it sit there for about 2-3 hrs. This resting phase adds up to the flavor.
At the time of serving sprinkle some chopped coriander leaves.I like to name this chicken curry as Murgir Jhal-jhol, as it some where in between those parameters.

Chicken Curry - Murgir Jhal-Jhol with Mishti Pulao 


Use this spice powder as a base masala for preparing any other stir/fry recipes. Even can make zucchini/squash/lauki with this spice powder. Vegetarian can have it with paneer/tofu as well.

Happy Cooking Friends

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Just Another Fish Fry Recipe

There are umpteen ways one can make fish fry and this perhaps is one more addition to the list. I have always found, oats are healthy as much as they are versatile and we are trying to include it in our day-today cooking other than having it with warm milk as breakfast. But then to be honest about it, that is something I am not too fond of. The sogginess of oats in warm milk completely puts me off, even if I do get extra sugar in it, or may be mash up some bananas or add other fruits into it. So, perhaps that’s why I try to cook them in other possible ways. Well, I often grind them finely and store it in air-tight containers, and then use as required – like mix in with whole wheat flour to make rotis or granola bars or granola ladoo or oats carrot and raisin cookies or apple -pear-oats smoothie or yogurt shakes etc and sometimes even coat it over fish fillets/chicken drumsticks for frying purpose.

This fish fry recipe is just like that, a fish fillet is first marinated with Indian spices and then its coated with spiced and grounded oats mixture and then deep fried. If you think frying is lot of calorie generating, then put them in oven and bake it off. But then, that baking method of fish is something I am not that fond of either, unless it calls for spiced gravy accompanied with it or the fish itself is cooked in the spiced gravy in oven/microwave like a “dum pukht” type of preparation .These types of “bhaja” as in Bengali or fry in English, as the name suggest should be done according to what it should be, like dropping them in hot oil and then deep fried. There is no substitute of the flavor and texture of deep fried fish fry that gets generated by following this way. So, as the name goes for it, recipe for sea bass fish fry is written beneath. You can even try this recipe with any firm white fish fillets like Haddock, Pollock or more traditional Cod as well.

Sea Bass fish fry
Recipe requirements
3-4 sea bass fish fillets
1 tsp of red pepper powder
1 tsp of turmeric powder
2 tsp of freshly grounded home –made masala
  Take about 2 heaped tbs of coriander seeds+1 tbs of cumin seeds+few cardamoms+few cloves+ cinnamon sticks+3-4 dry red whole chilli.Grind them to a fine powder to get freshly made home-made rubbing/marinating masala.
2 tsp of lemon juice
Salt as per taste
For the coating of the fish fry
1 cup of tightly packed quick cook oats or porridge oats
10-15 whole black peppercorns
2 tsp of nigella seeds
Salt as per taste
Half cup of cooking oil for frying

Marinate the sea-bass fish fillets or any other fish fillets – like haddock, cod and polluck etc with the home-made freshly grounded masala+red pepper powder+turmeric powder+salt+lemon juice.
Now coarsely ground porridge oats, or quick cook oats. I have often used Scottish porridge oats for the coating and it works out fine. Put this grounded oats in a flat plate.
Grind some 8-10 whole black peppercorn or "gol morich'+1 tsp of nigella seeds or "kalo jeerey" into fine powder.You can even make this powder in bulk, store and use accordingly as the recipe calls for it.
Take about a tsp of this freshly made powder and mix in with the grounded oats. Adjust salt also. You can add whole of the grounded mixture for even more spice
After about half an hour, put the marinated fillet in the above grounded oats mixture. Coat well with the mixture, shake off excess of it and then again coat well, pressing some of it even with clean hands. You can even do egg wash if you wish to coat fish with eggs and then coat them with oats mixture again kind of “double coating method”.
Now put a deep bottom pan/kadai or fry pan over medium high heat, hob mark 6 or 7.
When the pan is heated enough, add in cooking oil, check if the oil is ready for deep frying. Drop some cumin seeds if it sizzles then the oil is ready for deep frying.
Now fry the fish fillets over a medium heat to medium high heat for about 4-5 mints. Take out and then drain off excess oil over kitchen towel.

Serve and enjoy. I had these with cooked cous-cous+green peas and potato stir/fry- “sabzi/torkari” and boiled eggs. A complete meal itself.

Happy cooking friends