Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Aaloo Gobhi [Potato-Cauliflower] - Ma Jaisa...

My measure of a food well done is whether or not it tastes "Ma jaisa..." .. like my mom's. If it does, I am happy and eat a little more than I would normally.

So, even though "Aaloo - Gobhi" is a simple everyday vegetarian side, there are numerous variations of the same. This one is one of my favorites - my "Ma" used to make it usually for breakfast along with paratha. This is how it is made ...

Aaloo Gobhi

1. Cut and wash 2 Potatoes and 1 medium sized Cauliflower in cube sized dices.
2. Rub a little turmeric and salt to the vegetables
3. In a wok, heat some oil and saute the vegetables lightly
3. Take the vegetables out of oil and keep aside
4. In the same oil, add 3 cardamom, 1" cinnamon, 3-4 cloves and cumin seeds
5. When the spices start to splutter, add 1/2" of ginger julian and chopped onions (1/2 onion)
6. Fry the onions till they turn golden yellow
7. Add 1/2 tspn turmeric powder and 1/2 tspn chilly powder and fry for another 2 minutes
8. Add the saute'd vegetables and stir nicely for another 2 minutes
9. Add chopped tomatoes (1) to the wok and salt according to the taste
10. Fry some more. When the vegetables appear to be nicely mixed and glazed with the spices, add 1/2 glass of water and cover the wok
11. Let the vegetables cook for 5-8 minutes in low flame
12. Just before taking off, add a tspn of ghee and stir lightly

The smell of the food will tell you that it is ready ... eat with parathas for a delicious lunch, dinner or breakfast!

Crunchy Coconut Cookies

Extremely easy and it turns out well, the first time!!!
I will write the ingredients for this recipe.
All-Purpose flour: 1/2 cup
Sugar: 1/2 Cup
Grated[dry] coconut: 3 1/2 cups
Baking Powder: 1/2 tspn
Salt: a pinch
Eggs: 2
Ghee: 2 tspn [optional]
Vanilla Essence: 1 tsp

Let's start the fun - Crunchy Coconut Cookies
1. Heat oven at 350 F
2. Sift the salt, baking powder and all-purpose flour together in a bowl
3. In a blender, mix the sugar and eggs till a paste of thick consistency is formed [you may add the ghee to the blender at this stage]
4. Add the vanilla drops and blend once more
5. Now add the flour mix to the blender and mix well for 1-2 minutes. Use spatula to fold in the mixture
6. Finally add the grated coconut and mix nicely again. Please note, the final mixture will be of thick consistency such that you can roll them into balls in your hand.
7. Spray some oil on an oven safe sheet / tray
8. Pour nuggets of the cookie mixture on the sheet. Remember to keep distance of 1" or so between the cookies. They will expand when heated.
9. Put the tray in oven for 15 to 20 minutes.

It takes about 10 minutes to do the entire preparation. A very easy recipe that turns out very well. I am waiting for Shekhar to come home and surprise him with my cookies

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Fish in Tomato Gravy

Fish is the staple food of us Bengalis. My father would talk about the fish he bought from market with same vigor as a warrior would show off his medals won in a war. And if you did not know,most fathers would definitely ensure that their sons-in-laws knew how to identify a fresh fish. This was the first thing my father did when he had visited us in Pune after Shekhar and I got married. Now, when I go to Pasha's Market in Sunnyvale to get Frozen Rohu with 3-4 years expiry, I just keep wondering, if the past was a dream ! Well, I have developed a taste for bass, trout and cat fish and so prefer going to 99 Ranch and get some fresh fish.

Ok, enough of story telling - let us cook now!

Rich Fish Curry - in Tomato Gravy

Step I - Fry the Fish

1. Wash the fish pieces (5-6) well in running water
2. Rub turmeric and salt to all sides of the fish pieces
3. Heat oil in a wok and fry the fish until golden brown
4. Remove the fish and keep aside [You can keep few pieces as it is and enjoy the fried fish]

Step II - Make the Gravy

4. Grind Onion (1), Ginger (1"), 2-3 Red Chillies and Cumin Seeds (1 tsp) in a grinder with a little water
5. In the same oil used to fry the fish, put the onion-ginger paste
6. Stir well and put few drops of water if the paste sticks to the pan
7. In a small bowl, mix 1/2 tsp of turmeric, 1/2 tsp of red chilly powder and 1 tsp of coriander powder with a little water - the idea is to blend all the dry spices together, a trick my father taught me.
8. Put the spice paste in the wok and stir again. Keep adding few drops of water to not let the mixture stick to the surface of the wok. Add 2-3 green chillies split into halves to the wok now
9. The spices and onion-ginger paste should be nicely mixed and fried in 3-4 minutes
10. Now add puree of one tomato to make a gravy of thick consistency
11. Add some water and cover the wok. Leave it for 3-4 minutes, occasionally stirring the gravy
12. Add the fish pieces and simmer for another minute or two. The fish should be immersed in the gravy.
13. Put some fresh cilantro just before serving the fish

Step III - Serve the Fish
This is important to be put in a step of its own because if you are making fish in large quantity, the chances of fish breaking while you serve are high. So, the fish should be served in specific fashion. There are two ways that you can serve the fish, depending on your convenience:
1. Place all the fish pieces gently in one serving tray and pour the gravy in another. The fish and gravy can be taken separately during the meals.
2. First place all the fish pieces in a tray. Next pour the gravy on top of the fish pieces. Then the gravy and fish can be scooped from the tray. I prefer this.

And now, enjoy your fish with steaming plain rice. I did very much. And by the way, if my mom and dad were around, my dad would definitely take credit of the delicious gravy that my mom cooked, because the fish he bought was fresh and just right. After all, its all about the fish !

Sweet Bread - A quick and rich snack

I was very hungry one evening and did not have energy to make something to eat. The kitchen cabinet did not have anything enticing - and then, as always, Shekhar came to my rescue. In his typical quick and experimental style, he turned some breads into one of the best snacks I had for a long time. Read on to see how he made this.

Definitely, kids are going to love this. I did ... ahem !

Sweet Bread

1. Crumble some breads (5-6 pieces) with your fingers. We had hotdog rolls at home, so used them
2. In a pan put some oil - use ghee for a much richer taste
3. Put the crumbled breads in the ghee and stir vigorously until all the bread is mixed with the ghee. Without burning, the breads should be crisp by now and the room should smell heavenly of ghee :) - little exaggeration, well Shekhar is making it...
4. Now add about 3-4 tbsp of sugar and mix some more
5. You may eat it right away OR
6. Pour half a cup of milk in the mixture and again stir for some time
7. Garnish with some dry fruits (this is my tip)

And you are all set to eat a fast snack - It takes only as much time as to make tea. So, enjoy the Sweet Breads with a cup of tea for snacks.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Stuffed Capsicum - [Baked]

This recipe I created to increase my count of vegetarian side dishes in parties. Usually, when most of the guests are non-vegetarian, they prefer to eat non-veg more and my veggie side always suffers, sulking at the corner. So, dishes like this entertain both side of the food lovers. It is perfect because, I do not need to put in a lot of effort and the dish does not overwhelm my guests. Anyways, without any more ado - let me get started :)

Stuffed Capsicum


1. Take a whole - big green - capsicum. Now, depending on the size of the portion that you want these are the three sections that I recommend:
  • Cut into three vertical sections - If you just want people to get a taste and not be overwhelmed by the size, this is the perfect portion.
  • Cut into two halves, horizontally from the center -this is a good size if you are making it for family lunch etc
  • Just cut and scoop the top cap of the capsicum - this is ideal for an "all vegetarian" menu.
2. Clean the inside of the capsicum cups and smear oil lightly on its outer surface
3. For the fillings, boil 2-3 potatoes. 3 Potatoes is good for 2 large capsicums and 6 portions. Mash the potatoes
4. Chop onions and green chillies and mix with mashed potatoes
5. In a wok, heat some oil
6. Put some cumin seeds. When they start to splutter, add the potato mix, red chilly powder, amchoor powder (dry mango) and salt to taste. Stir the mixture well
7. Take the filling off the gas and let it cool
8. Heat an oven at 350F

Stuff and Bake
1. Fill in each capsicum cups with the potato mixture
2. Put the filled capsicums in an oven safe plate and bake for 15 minutes
3. Garnish with Coriander and serve

Additional Tips

1. You may add dry fruits like almonds or cashews to the potato mix for a richer taste
2. The filling can be made of ground meat or previous day's left over vegetables


Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Chilly Egg - wholesome side

This dish, I usually make when I am bored making the regular egg-curry. It is easy and quick to make. And tastes very good with rice or chapati.

Chilly Egg

1. Boil 4 eggs
2. Cut 1/2 onion, 1/2 capsicum in dice sized pieces
3. Cut 6-7 green chillies in splits, 1 inch ginger julliens and 1 tomato

4. De-shell the eggs and fry them in oil. Remember to fork the eggs with sharp knife before putting the eggs in the oil
3. Take them out and put on a tissue paper to dry off access oil
5. In the same wok, stir the ginger. Add onion and stir fry for a minute or two.
6. Next add Capsicum and stir fry for another minute
7. Put 1/2 tspn of turmeric, 1/2 tspn of chilly powder and stir fry the vegetables.
8. Next add the tomatoes and cover the lid of the wok for a minute or until the vegetable soften.
9. Add 2 tspn of soya sauce and 1 tspn of shreerancha sauce (Thai hot sauce). The later is optional.
10. Mix the eggs with the vegetables and stir for another 2 minutes.

Chilly Eggs is ready - This cannot go wrong - whichever way you make it!

Additional Tips
1. To make the gravy thicker, add to 1/2 a glass of water 2 tspn of corn flour. Mix well and pour on the grave. Simmer for sometime, till the gravy thickens.
2. You can replace the eggs with paneer, cottage cheese, cauliflowers, potatoes, koftas.

Malpua - Amita Style [sweet dumplings in milk sauce]

If you thought, making Malpua was a cumbersome process and needed a lot of preparation. Think again!

I make Malpua so fast and easy that I can quickly fix it if I have 15 minutes for dinner / lunch. Believe me, this is a dessert that people will ask for more ... and always have appetite for. So time for -

Malpua, Amita Style
[For approx 8 malpuas]
Part I - The dumplings

1. Sieve together 2 cups of all purpose flour, one cup of wheat flour and a pinch of Baking Powder
2. In a grinder, mix the dry ingredients above with about 1 cup of milk. The milk should be enough to get a consistency of thin paste. It should easily fall of a spoon - but not be too liquid.
3. Heat oil (for deep fry) in a wok. When hot, drop a table-spoon full of the batter. The batter will spread a bit, before taking a nice circular shape.
4. Allow the Malpuas to fry until it sizzles. Once the sizzling stops, flip it around.
5. Repeat this for rest of the batter

Part II - Sugar Syrup
[You can do this parallel to making the Malpua and save time]

1. Heat 2 small cups of sugar in 1 small cup of water for about 5 minutes. The solution should turn a little sticky.
2. Add the Malpuas in the sugar syrup and coat all sides nicely
3. Roll them over grated coconut (if available)- coconut will stick on the sticky surface of the malpua, giving it a nice look and crunchy taste.

Part III - Milk Sauce

1. Thicken Milk. If using condensed milk, use as it is.
2. Add crushed dry-fruits like cashew and almonds to the milk and stir lightly.
3. Cool the milk.

To Serve
In a deep bowl, put the dumplings and pour generously the milk sauce on top. Scoop a bite - how does it feel ???

After all, every day is special - treat it as such!

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Home Made - Falooda

This is my rendition of Falooda ... Like, I said earlier, use your ingenuity to make what you like - believe me, it will be delicious. These are the things, that I had at home and used them to quickly turn into a delicious dessert.

Home-Made Falooda
1. Boil small quantity of vermicelli (Sewai) and cool it after running through cold water - 2 tsp for one glass of falooda
2. Soak some tapioca (sago / sabudana) for about an hour - use hot water for fast action. The tapioca should be soft and malleable.
3. Thicken milk. You can use condensed milk, instead.

That is all the preparation needed. Now serve the Falooda

In a tall glass (can use wine glass), in the order mentioned below:
1. Pour some milk in the glass
2. Add crushed dry-fruits (almonds, walnuts, pistachio etc)
3. Add 2 spoons full of soft tapioca on top of the dry fruits
4. Add two scoops of vanilla icecream (any other, but chocolate would do)
5. Top it with the cold boiled vermicelli.
6. Give a final touch by adding pomegranates seeds (rose syrup, if at home - I did'nt), some more dry fruits.
7. Stir very lightly, not disturbing the order.

You are all set for a beautiful looking, easy to make at home, dessert. This is something, that can be quickly turned up, if you know how to.

Egg Plant with Fenugreek Leaves [Methi Baigan]

My ma would make a dish, seemingly, very healthy - called "neem begun" - yes, neem leaves and egg plant [Bengali for "Baigan" is "Begun"]. The bitter neem was supposed to clarify the blood and there was no question of avoiding it. In fruitless attempts, however, I would argue, that "begun" [without any 'gun' - quality] would make the dish useless and so why should I eat it. But, who cares for smart arguments when you are kid.

Anyways, I loved "neem begun" and my arguments were just for the hack of it. Today, I am going to write about a slight variation, taking the bitterness away - with "Methi Baigan".

1. Cut chinese egg plants in small cubes. Wash and dry
2. In a wok, saute the egg plants nicely in heated oil
3. Take the egg plant out and let the excess oil drain out
4. In the wok add green chillies, two red-chillies and cumin seeds
5. When cumin seeds splutter, add the methi leaves.
6. Cover the wok with a lid for 2-4 minutes
7. Add the egg-plants and add salt to taste
8. Stir and mix for 2 minutes

Serve with Chapati and Dal.

Additional tips:
1.You can add fried 'vadi' in the dish
2.Instead of fresh methi, you can add kasuri methi (dried fenugreeks) also.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Easiest spiciest chicken from my Kitchen

Sounds like a song-

"easiest, spiciest chicken from my kitchen
hatch hatch, patch patch peppery chicken"

That was Bad, I know. Not my recipe though - I bet!

Ingredients ... do you really need? Lets just start with the steps.
1. Cut the chicken in small pieces (ice cube size)
2. Rub them with crushed black pepper, a pinch of salt and a pinch of turmeric
3. Keep the chicken aside for 30 minutes
4. Meanwhile, chop one onion and 2 cloves of garlic
5. Heat oil and temper with 3-4 cloves
6. Once it starts sputtering, add the chopped onions and garlic
7. When the onion starts turning golden yellow (typical internet recipe color) , add 1 tsp of coriander powder and 1 tspn of chili powder (optional)
8. After frying for 2 minutes, add 1 chopped tomato. Fry it for another 3-4 minutes
9. Mix the chicken pieces and cook on low heat, until the chicken pieces are cooked.
10. You may add little water or cook the chicken in pre-heated oven to 350F for 15 minutes.

Delicious, yummy chicken is ready.

Palak Patra [Spinach Recipe]

What do you do when the only vegetable in your refrigerator is "Palak" - naah you don't make "Palak Patra", instead you make "palak-aaloo", "palak-paratha", "palak-daal" ... but "Palak-Patra" ... no way!

But, I do and I did it just today - first time and very right. So, let me share the recipe, "as I cooked" it.

You will need (besides time and lots of tissue rolls) - for two people:

1. 9 palak leaves [3 leaves will make approximately 4 small patras]

Before you collect the other ingredients, wash the palak leaves and let them soaking in cold water.Now, let us go back to our shelves to search for:

2. 4 tbsp of Besan Flour (Bengal Gram Flour)
3. 2 tbsp of Corn Flour
4. 1 tspn of Pav Bhaji Masala (or chaat masala or spicy mix, as per your taste)
5. 1 tspn Tamarind dissolved in water with a pinch of sugar
[replace with lemon juice, if tamarind is not available]
6. Ginger Paste
7. Green Chillies
8. Salt to taste

For Seasoning
1. Mustard Seeds
2. Cumin
3. Green Chillies
4. Curry leaves (optional)

Finally, the recipe
1. Mix the ingredients [2 to 8] and quickly blend in a mixer. It should be a thick paste. [something like 'ubtan']
Now for the tricky part:
2. Place one cleaned and soaked leaf of palak on a flat surface
3. Coat the leaf with some mix prepared in step 1
4. Place another leaf on top of the already coated leaf. Repeat it till three leaves are used.

Remember not to put the two cone sides of the leaves on top of the other. They should be in opposite direction (use physics, it is easy to role that ways) and also the top leaf will have the coating up.

5. Now, fold the leaves side ways, before rolling into a tight cylinder. Start rolling with the wide base. Again, physics.
6. If you have a steamer, steam cook the rolls for 15 minutes. I put the rolls in a plastic container and placed the container in a larger microwave safe container with water and microwaved it for 15 minutes.

Once steam-cooked, the rolls will be quite tight and hard.

1. Cut the rolls in thin slices (3-4 per roll)
2. Heat oil in a wok and season with mustard seeds, cumin, green chillies, curry leaves, the regular way.
3. Put the patra and stir them for a minute or two.

Finally, time to serve and eat
Put in a plate garnish with chopped coriander and grated coconut - later part, 100% optional!

Potato - Cheese Crispies

Prepare this if:
1. you are in a hurry
2. you want to make a simple, fast snack
3. you want something new for your kid
4. you are watching a movies and tired of popcorns
5. you don't know what to do with life

Potato - Cheese Crispies
1. Heat the oven at 300F
2. Peel two potatoes and wash them
3. Slice the potatoes in thin circles
4. Rub the slices with salt and pepper
5. Baste the baking sheet or tray with some oil
6. Put the potato slices sprayed out in the tray
7. Cover them with shredded parmesian chees
8. Put in (now hot) oven for 5 (to 10) minutes

Crispie Potato Cheese Snack is ready

Friday, November 16, 2007

As I cook ...

This site is a delectable ensemble of food - a symphony of colors, flavors and textures. Yes, mouth-watering, finger licking, appetizing ... food.

As one of the Bengali zealots who believe in their philosophy of "Live to Eat and Not Eat to Live" and "connoisseur of taste" - gourmet, home-made or experimental - I start this blog to write all I have to about food, As I Cook ...

When I actually started cooking for a living (I had to cook to eat), my only goal was to make my husband like the food. Well .. ahem .. yes ! And knowing as much of Shekhar, as I did - that meant putting tonnes of chillies in everything that I made and that meant, eating my portion of the food with equal amount of sugar, added to it later.

After couple of years, growing past the unknown taste buds, exchanging the fine cuisines of Haryana, Bengal and the in-betweens, several bouts of experimental cooking - today I am the Chef of my five start kitchen and enjoy being in charge there!

Besides the few recipe books and learnings from mistakes, I have taken a lot of my lessons from the gazillion recipe sites on the internet. Not to forget, the gift in my veins, being born in a Bengali family.

As I Cook ... is my renditions of recipes, the ones that I cook and like - the amounts, ingredients are usually indicative. Having replaced, one ingredient with another and measuring the portions, often arbitrarily , I often end up making a very delectable dish. So, next time when you try something, I encourage you to take the bold step - your tongue will like it.

The articles to follow will have a lot of sizzle and hotness. Be prepared !