Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Bahari Potol

"শুভ নববর্ষের আন্তরিক শুভেচ্ছা সকল বন্ধুদের " 
Wish you all a very bright and happy Bengali New Year!
"Poila Boisakh" is a very special day to me, as there are loads memory attached with this day since I was a child. Like any other Bengali business-background family, we always celebrated this occasion as a new start ..with "notun khata" (to start a new financial year). Puja -good food-new dresses etc.
Being away from my home, I miss those things. Now it's only cooking some good food and talking with family over phone or Skype and greeting friends on social medias! Time changes!
I made something lovely and easy with our favourite vegetable "Potol" (pointed gourd). I never cooked pointed gourd like this before. Sharing the recipe Here.

Yield 4 servings
Ingredients for "Bahari Potol":
  1. Potol (pointed gourd) 8-10 
  2. Black mustard seed 1 and half table spoon
  3. Poppy seed 1 and half table spoon
  4. Freshly grated coconut 4 table spoon
  5. Green chilli 3-4 (according to your taste)
  6. Nigella seed 2 pinch
  7. Turmeric powder
  8. Salt as needed
  9. Sugar 1/2 teaspoon
  10. Mustard oil (use any other vegetable oil if mustard oil is not available)
How to prepare "Bahari Potol":
  • Soak mustard seed and poppy seed together for an hour. Grind to a smooth paste with green chillies and a large pinch of salt.
  • Add grated coconut to food processor and give it few quick pulse to make it smoother.
  • Now wash and scrap the shiny skin of pointed gourds with a knife..give it a matty not peel. Cut the both end and half them lengthwise.
  • Smear pointed gourds with little salt and turmeric powder. Keep it for 10-15 minutes.
  • Heat oil in a pan. Fry potol-halves over low heat and cover until they are cooked but try to keep them golden. Take them out from oil.
  • Mix mustard seed-poppy seed paste and coconut paste together with few table spoon water, salt, few pinch turmeric powder and half tea spoon sugar.
  • Change the oil if it is black in color or reduce the oil to 1 table spoon. Temper it with nigella seeds.
  • Add spice paste to it. Stir it and add little water if needed. Bring it to shimmer.
  • Add fried Potol. Shimmer covered for 3-4 minutes over low heat. Spices should coat potol nicely. Check seasoning and add little raw mustard oil before you turn off the heat. 
  • Mustard oil and mustard seed gives it awesome XXXtra zing !! Serve with some daal and steaming hot rice!
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Monday, March 31, 2014

Ghee-Kesar Cake ~ A cake with "desi" touch!

Hi friends!
It's been quite a long time since my last post! Well, It's not that I was sick or out of town but was little occupied with other stuffs. And then something really interesting came to my way! Few days back my friend Pinkii told me that she is experimenting with simple sponge-cake with 'desi' flavours. With one of my most favourite spice & flavour 'kesar' (saffron) and 'ghee'. Though I never heard of it but I have complete trust on her experiments..I decided to make that as soon possible. Huge thanks to Pinkii for this brilliant idea.
She told me to follow any basic sponge-cake recipe and to flavour it with Kesar. Also to reduce some butter and using ghee instead. She suggested to use buttermilk and ground almond and crushed cashew nuts, almond and pistachio. I didn't have almond or pistachio at home. So I used only cashew nuts. And I didn't use ground almond. Apart from that I followed my usual basic cake recipe.
However it came out very different and exceptionally delicious! Here I am sharing the way I made it.

Idea taken from Pinkii Sarkar
Ingredients for "Ghee-Kesar Cake":
  1. All purpose flour 2 cups and more for dusting baking pan
  2. Sugar 1 cup (you can add little more if you like)
  3. Butter 3/4 cup and more 1 table spoon for greasing baking pan (preferably unsalted, but I used salted one, it hardly makes any difference for this cake)
  4. Ghee 2 table spoon
  5. Salt 1/4 tea spoon (add it only if you are using unsalted butter)
  6. Baking powder 1 tea spoon and 2 more pinches 
  7. Saffron strands 10-12 or few more (soaked in 1/4 cup warm milk)
  8. Cinnamon powder 1/4 tea spoon
  9. Cardamom powder 1/4 tea spoon
  10. Egg 2 large
  11. Buttermilk 1/2 cup
  12. Cashew nut 1 cup and some extra (broken/ can add pistachio and almond if you have in hand.)
How to prepare "Ghee-Kesar Cake":
  • Grease your baking pan with butter (I used my loaf pan) and dust with flour.
  • Preheat your oven to 180°C
  • Sieve and shift all purpose flour, salt (if using), cinnamon powder, cardamom powder, and baking powder to a bowl.
  • Take a mixing bowl. Mix Butter, ghee and sugar to light and fluffy with help of a hand mixer.
  • Add eggs to butter-ghee-sugar mix, one at a time. Mix it to smooth. 
  • Add buttermilk and mix nicely. 
  • Now add flour mix to the batter. Whisk it to smooth.
  • I added saffron-milk at this point and mixed it until smooth and nice.
  • Finally fold in crushed cashew nuts.
  • Pour the cake batter into greased baking pan. Garnish with remaining cashew nuts.
  • Put into oven and bake for 55 minutes at 160°C or until firm . It might take 5-7 minutes more or less depending on oven. Prick a skewer to check if it is done.
  • Shift to wire rack and let it cool down before you slice it.
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Tuesday, February 18, 2014

"Chicken ChaNp" with the recipe of Tanaya's mamma

I cooked "Chicken ChaNp" for the first time on Valentine's day this year!
Well!! I must confess one thing that, I am not much a believer of such "special days" and hardly matters to me. But any reason for receiving gifts and good food must be celebrated!!! ;)
Donno why, but never tried this very common Mughal-influenced preparation of Kolkata at home ever in my life. May be because, I thought it will be a very rich and time taking preparation with too many ingredients. However, I just felt like trying it immediately when I got this recipe from Tanaya . And didn't even wait for the perfectly cut chicken pieces for this recipe. Tried with whatever I had in my fridge.
Tanaya got this recipe from her mamma ("jethima"/ aunt) and she told me that, it's their family favorite. And now, it's our favorite too. Must say, that it is one of those best recipes I learned from my friends. Can't thank her enough for sharing this beautiful recipe.
Though most of the "ChaaNp/ Chaap" recipes ask to add onion paste (raw or boiled), but this recipe is without onion. Trust me, you will not have to compromise with the taste.

Recipe adapted from Tanaya Mukherjee Dasgupta's Mamma (aunt):
Yield 4 servings
Ingredients for "Chicken ChaNp":

  1. Whole/large chicken legs 4 pieces (I used whatever I had in my hand)
  2. Ginger 2 inches
  3. Garlic 7-8 fat cloves 
  4. Green chilli 5-6 (or according to your taste)
  5. Hung curd 1 cup
  6. Turmeric powder as required
  7. Salt & sugar according to your taste
  8. Poppy seed 1 and 1/2 table spoon
  9. Melon seed (preferably "charmagaj") 2 table spoon
  10. Cashew nuts a hand ful
  11. Garam masala powder 1/2 tea spoon (cinnamon,cardamom and cloves)
  12. Nutmeg & mace powder 1/2 tea spoon
  13. Whole garam masala  (cinnamon,cardamom,cloves and bay leaf )
  14. Kewra water 1 tea spoon
  15. Meeta itr 1 drop
  16. Refined oil 5-6 table spoon
  17. Ghee 1 generous table spoon (you can use more ghee and less oil if you wish)
How to prepare "Chicken ChaNp":
  • Make a paste of ginger, garlic and chilli. 
  • Make another paste with poppy seed, melon seed and cashew nuts.
  • Wash and pat dry chicken pieces. 
  • Marinate with hung curd, ginger-garlic-chilli paste and little of the poppy seed-melon seed-cashew nut paste. Also add turmeric powder, garam masala powder and half tea spoon kewra water in marination. I marinated overnight. 
  • Heat oil and ghee in a flat and heavy bottomed pan. Add whole spices. Add remaining poppy seed-melon seed- cashew nut paste once the whole spices are fragrant. Stir and cook for about 1-2 minutes over low heat and add the chicken with marination. Cook for another 2-3 minutes over medium heat and lower the heat. Put a lid. Stir and scrape the bottom and sides occasionally.
  • Add very little water if needed. Add salt and sugar.
  •  Cook until chicken is soft and oil is separated from the spices. Rich golden color gravy coats the chicken pieces and oil is separated. 
  • Add remaining kewra water, a drop of  meetha itr and nutmeg-mace powder. Cover it and cook for another minute or two. Turn off the heat and Chicken ChaNp is ready to serve.
  • I served with plain naan. But best served with rumali roti. 
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Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Purna di r Ilisher Tok-Jhal (Purna di's Sour & Spicy Hilsa)

I got this recipe from Purna di. The other day, I saw a picture of this beautiful hilsa preparation on Facebook and can't help but drooling over it! Decided to try it as soon possible. 
This is the second time I tried Purna di's recipe with grand success. This is really an easy and awesome recipe. What I loved the most about this dish is, it's  tongue-tickling sour and spicy taste with the zing of mustard. Coming to the recipe..I didn't changed or modified anything from the original recipe. Thanks to didi for sharing this very "different" recipe with us.
Adapted from Purna Chowdhury 
Ingredients for "Purna di r Ilisher Tok-Jhal": 
  1. Hilsa steaks 5-6 big pieces
  2. Black mustard seed 4 table spoon
  3. Cumin seeds: 1 tea spoon
  4.  Ginger less than 1/2 inch (optional...I used)
  5.  Tamarind pulp 1 tea spoon or to taste
  6. Green chillies 6-7
  7. Salt according to your taste
  8. Turmeric as needed
  9.  Mustard oil 3 table spoon + 1 tea spoon

How to prepare "Purna di r Ilisher Tok-Jhal":
  •  Soak the mustard seed & cumin seed for at least an hour. Strain and grind with fresh water, salt, and 2-3 green chillies, and ginger into a creamy paste. Mix the paste with 2-3 table spoon water and keep aside.
  •  Smear the fish in turmeric and salt and about 1 tsp of raw mustard oil and keep it aside for some times.
  •  Heat oil in a pan and add the steaks sauté on both not fry too much.Just few seconds for each side. 
  • Add the spices-mix and little more water if needed. Turn down the heat. Let the steaks simmer till the gravy turns bright golden and the fish is cooked. Turn down the heat to minimum and add the tamarind pulp diluted in 2 tsp of water if it is too thick.
  • Let the gravy cook for some more time till the gravy becomes a rich golden color.
  • Add some fresh chilies and a tea spoon of raw mustard oil.
  • Serve with steaming hot rice :)
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Monday, January 13, 2014

Ranga Alur Pithe (Sweet potato dumpling)

Wish all my readers a very happy Makar Sankranti.
Makar Sankranti is celebrated almost each part of India in many other Poush Sankranti- Magh Bihu- Uttarayan- Pongal- Lohri etc. We Bengali people celebrate this auspicious hervest festival as "Poush Sankranti". Making "pithe-puli" (sweet dumplings) is a part of ritual in eastern parts of India. So this is also known as "Pithe Parbon" (festival of dumplings) in West Bengal. Freshly harvested paddy and nolen gur/notun gur ( date palm jaggery) are the two most significant gift of this season! Ma used to make different kind of "pithe" for the rest of winter, starting from the Sankranti day. My sister is the biggest "pithe"-lover at our home. But my most favourites are "ranga alur pithe", "bhapa pithe" and "patishapta". I never botherd to know, how ma is making them until I got married! Now I really miss those. However, Ma is really expert in making these fact, I remember one supplies (as gift) "pithe-puli" to our neighbours every year. One year she was not at home that time and our neighbours ( jethimas and boudis) told Ma how much they waited for Ma's "Pithe puli"!! I really wanted to make it this year. So , I called Ma for the recipe and made it. Well, I know I can't match Ma's excellence ,but to be honest it was really satisfiying. Sharing my Ma's recipe here.
Recipe adapted from my Ma:
Ingredients for "Ranga Alur Pithe":
Yield 22-25 medium size Pithe
For coating:
  1. Ranga alu/ Sweet potato 300 gm
  2. Mung daal /yellow lentil a fistfull (be generous)
  3. Rice flour 1 1/2 table spoon
  4. Atta as needed (for making a dough)
  5. Date plam jaggery 1 1/2 table spoon
  6. Ghee/ clarified butter 1 table spoon
  7. White oil/ ghee for frying
For stuffing:
  1. Grated coconut 2 cups
  2. Sugar/ date palm jaggery/gur according to your taste (I added little less than 1 cup sugar)
  3. Green cardamom 1 (powdered)
For syrup:
  1. Sugar/date palm jaggery/gur 1 cup (you can use half and half also)
  2. Water 1 1/3 cup
  3. Green cardamom 2 (crushed)
How to prepare "Ranga Alur Pithe":
  • Take a pan and mix grated coconut with sugar or gur. Turn on the heat and start cooking on low. Cook till it's sticky and leaving the edges of pan. Turn off the heat. Mix with cardamom powder if using sugar. I do not use cardamom if using gur, as I want to retain the flavour of gur.
  • Now take a sauce pan and combine sugar/ gur (whatever you are using) and water together. I used half gur and half sugar. Add cardamom. Start heating to make the syrup. It will take somewhere 10 minutes or so. Syrup-consistency should not be too thick or thin.
  • Dry roast mung daal until nicely fragerant. Wash few times under running water. Now boil sweet potato and mung daal together until soft. Be careful while adding water. Everything should get cooked and there sould not be any excess water.
  • Peel potatoes and smash together with gur, rice flour and a table spoon of ghee. Make it as smooth as possible. Now mix with atta. Little by little, as needed. The dough sould not be too much sticky but really soft.
  • Make the dumplings (pithe/puli) next. Take very little amount of the dough (a marble size) and make it smooth with your both plams. Now flatten it like a small "puri". Put some stuffing and fold it like half moon. Press the edges nicely, so the stuffing doesn't come out. Keep it in a covered bowl until all the dumplings are ready.
  • Now heat enough oil for deep frying. Keep the flame high. Fry max 4 at one batch. Let it get light shade of brown and reduce the heat. Keep stirring the oil gently with a laddle. Now turn the dumplings nicely. Fry dumplings until the are reddish brown in colour. Do not make them blackish. Take out from oil to tissue pepper to absorb excess oil. Do the same with rest of the "pithe"s. 
  • You can eat them like this without dipping into syrup or just put them into warm syrup and let them rest for couple of hours before you serve.

  • They taste best the day after. 

Friday, December 20, 2013

Rich Fruit Cake or Christmas Cake

This is almost Christmas. A warm festive mood all around the world. Christmas-special decorations at shopping malls, marketplaces, parks and at shops, buying gifts and baked goodies everywhere. Everything looks so colourful and cheerful. Only it's not winter here. I mean, there is basically no winter in Malaysia. It's a pleasant weather for the whole year (only it's rainy season and less rain season)! But to be honest, I miss those winter-Christmases of my childhood.
I never celebrated a white-christmas back at my home. But it's winter. We used to welcome Christmas with foggy chilled mornings...the warmth of quilt, hand-knitted sweaters and scarves ... with the smell of Amul butter and vanilla from my Ma's kitchen and specially with those dark-moist "Rich fruit Cakes" my Baba used to bring from his friend's bakery. Me and my sister eagerly waited for Baba to arrive home with that round, red-green painted tin-box in hand. I miss those days a LOT!
   I was looking for a nice recipe of those rich fruit cakes and then I got it last year. My friend Jhum di suggested me "Joy of  Baking"s recipe for that rich fruit cake. And I tried. It came out nice. But this time I modified it a bit at places. So sharing the recipe with all the changes I made.
This cake takes really loads of time (I mean alcohol brushing & soaking) . So it's better if you start at least couple of weeks prior to Christmas. I started mine four weeks in prior, including fruit soaking. This cake contains loads of fruits, nuts and alcohol (usually rum or brandy).

Rich Fruit Cake:
Adapted from "Joy of Baking"
Yield 10-14 servings:

Soaking Fruits:
Ingredients List 1:
  1. Assorted dried fruits and candied peels 680 gm (I used dried appricots, plums, prunes, figs, candied ginger peels, orange peels)
  2. Assorted raisins, sultanas, cranberry or cherry 340 gm
  3. Brandy 1 cup

First step for making this cake is, soaking fruits in alcohol. Transfer all the fruits in a large bottle. Pour brandy into it. Lid the bottle tightly and mix it well. Now keep it untouched. Do not refrigerate. I soaked fruits for 2 days.

Ingredients List 2
  1. All purpose flour 260 gm
  2. Unsalted butter 227 gm (room temperature)
  3. Light brown sugar 125 gm
  4. Molasses sugar 110 gm
  5. Large egg 3 (room temperature)
  6. Brandy 3 table spoon
  7. Orange 1 (juice & zest of one orange)
  8. Lemon 1 (zest)
  9. Baking powder 1 tea spoon
  10. Salt 1/4 tea spoon
  11. Ground almond 65 gm
  12. Walnuts 100 gm (chopped)

How to prepare "Rich Fruit Cake":
  • Line an 8" springfrom pan with baking paper. Line the sides of the pan also with baking paper that extends 2" above the pan.
  • Preheat your oven to 160'C.
  • Cream butter and 2 types of sugar using an electric/hand mixer until light and fluffy . Add at a time. Beat well after each addition and scrape down the sides of the bowl as needed. Add brandy, orange juice, lemon and orange zest.
  • Fold in ground almonds, chopped nuts and soaked dried fruits & candied peels.
  • Shift & mix dry ingredients (flour, salt & baking powder) in a separate mixing bowl and fold in wet batter.
  • Scrape the batter into the prepared cake pan.
  • Reduce the oven temperature to 150'C. And bake the cake on the middle rack for 1 hour and 45 minutes or until a skewer inserted in the centre comes out clean. It may take 5-10 minutes more or less depending on oven.
  • Cool it down completely on a wire rack.
  • Poke few holes with a skewer on the top surface of the cake and brush some brandy. 
  • Wrap the cake thoroughly with cling film and then with aluminium foil. Store it in refrigerator. 
  • Brush it with brandy once or twice a week until Christmas. 

Wish you all a Merry Christmas. Enjoy with your family and loved ones!!

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Tuesday, December 17, 2013

"Masala"-talks over a cup of "Masala Chai"

Let me admit that, I am very much a coffee-lover rather than tea. I am not addicted to tea or never was. But I am in love with tea-time-"adda"s (chats)! Wanna know what made those chats so special? Well, suppose it starts with the "tea you are having" and ends up with a fight about "ruler party and opposition" or may be "supporting different football clubs" or even "different favourite actors"! To be honest, you will not be able to remember where you started! Those aggressive stupid-chats used to give (still it does) us pure sense of "pleasure".
   Officially I started drinking tea after I got married. As "he" needs tea at least 2 times a day if not more. Initially I started drinking to give him company and eventually started liking it. My favourite "everyday morning-tea" is lemon-tea ("lebu cha")with black pepper and black salt. And "adrakwali chai" for evenings! "Masala chai"  for special evenings!! This is "his" favourite sort of tea. Won't deny that I have secretly started having a soft-corner for this too. Still coffee is my first love!
I must say that, I never thought to write a post on tea. It's my friend Shruti , who insisted :)
 Here is our favourite "masala chai".

Ingredients for "Masala Chai":
Yield 2 cups tea

  1. Full cream milk 1 and 1/2 cups
  2. Water 3/4 cup
  3. Tea leaf 2 table spoon (I use "Tata tea")
  4. Ginger 1" piece (crushed)
  5. Cinnamon stick 1" stick (crushed)
  6. Green cardamom 4 pieces (crushed)
  7. Cloves 4 pieces (crushed)
  8. Saffron very few strands (4-5 strands)
  9. Sweetener of your choice and according to your taste (normally I  use white sugar or light brown sugar) 

How to prepare "Masala Chai":
  • Heat milk and water together in a tea-pan. Bring it to shimmer. Mix with crushed spices (except saffron) and tea leaf. Stir it nicely.
  • Shimmer over low heat for 4 minutes. Add sweetener and shimmer for another 1 minute.
  • Mix with saffron strands. Turn off the heat. Cover it with a lid for 30 seconds and strain to your favourite cups. Serve immediately.

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