Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Spicy Okra - Bhindi Masala

Though, a fan of simple food with minimum spices, sometimes I do enjoy rich versions of food. For example, making Okra in its simplest form does not need more than 2-3 ingredients and 5 minutes of effort. But, Okra can be made very spicy and tastes just as good. I had this Okra Masala at a restaurant in San Francisco [Naan and Curry] and liked it a lot. A little bit of digging and experimenting, got me closer to the taste there. This recipe can be made when you are entertaining people and a simple vegetable as Okra can become a fun side. Try this out!

1. Okra - [about 3/4 pounds]
2. Onions - 2 medium
3. Tomatoes - 2 medium
4. Grated Ginger - 1 tsp
5. Pounded Garlic - 1 tsp
6. Green Chillies - 4 to 5 [or per taste]
7. Turmeric Powder - 1/2 tsp
8. Chilly Powder - 1 tsp
9. Coriander Powder - 1 tsp
10. Garam Masala Powder - 1 tsp
11. Clove Pods - 3-4
12. Cardamom - 1"
13. Bay leaf - 1-2
14. Cumin Seeds - 1 tsp
15. Oil for frying and cooking
16. Salt - per taste
17. Kasoori Methi

1. Wash the okra when whole and pat dry, before cutting. Cut in small horizontal rings
2. Let the okra dry some more, till any wisp of water is dried. Fry the okra pieces in hot oil and keep aside
3. In the same oil, add the clove, cardamom, bay leaf and cumin seeds
4. When the cumin starts to splutter, add ginger-garlic. Stir till they just start turning yellow
5. Add finely cut onions to the oil and stir well, till it is golden brown
6. Add all the ground powder from 7 to 10 and Kasoori Methi. Mix well and stir continously, till the spices are done
7. Add the tomatoes (pureed) and cook for some more time.
8. Add green chillies and the Okra and mix well to the curry
9. Cover and cook for another 5 minutes
10. It will be done, when there is a smooth consistency with okra and curry

This tastes very good with hot Chapatis. Enjoy!

Friday, May 2, 2008

Light Fish Curry [Just Fish -2]

This is in continuation of my previous post. Where as the previous fish had a thick consistency, this one is more liquid. But, both retain the flavor of fish and are made with very little spices. This also is a very typical Bengali preparation.

1. Fish [I used smelts] - 12-14
2. Vegetables [any or more of Potatoes, Parval (see the image), egg plant] - 1/2 bowl
3. Kalonji or Paanch Phoron - 1 tsp
4. Turmeric Powder - 1/2 tsp
5. Coriander Powder - 1 tsp
6. Cummin Powder - 1/2 tsp
7. Red Chilly powder (optional) - 1/2 tsp
8. Green Chillies (slit in half) - 6-8
9. Oil - 2 tbs
10. Salt - to taste

1. Wash and cut the vegetables in long vertical cuts
2. Rub fish with some turmeric and salt and lightly fry them in oil. Take them aside, when done
3. In a wok, pour some more oil, if required. Add the Panch phoron or just Kalonji in hot oil. When they start to splutter, add the green chillies.
4. Mix the spice powders (4, 5, and 6) with very little water and add to the oil. Stir nicely and add few drops of water, if required and to keep the spices from getting burnt.
5. Add the vegetables and mix with the spice. Pour 1/2 cup of water, cover and cook the vegetables.
6. Once, the vegetables are done add the fish, salt and mix well. Pour some more water. The level of water at this point should completely cover the fish. Add few more slit green chillies, for flavor.
7. Cover and cook. After 4-5 minutes, or when the water level has reduced to just about half, the curry is done.

Garnish with coriander. Serve hot with plain steamed rice. I bet, you will not forget this simple and flavorful fish curry. Even after you have have exceeded your appetite, you will not feel heavy, as the fish curry is so light!

Steamed Fish in Mustard Sauce [Just Fish - 1]

There are some fish, specially the fresh ones that taste best with very less spices. This and the next recipe is made in such a way that the flavor of the fish is retained and not lost in several spices.

Both the fish recipes are made in typical Bengali style and one would prefer making (and eating) it this way, when fish is what you eat daily, I mean - almost!

Mustard Paste - 1 tbs
Fish - 4 -6 pieces
Green Chillies - 5-6 [or per taste]
Mustard Oil - 2-3 tspn [any other oil is fine]
Salt - to taste

1. Grind Mustard (use paste, if available) with the green chillies and little water to make a smooth paste. The quantity of green chillies will depend on how hot you can eat.

2. In a bowl take the fish pieces, add the mustard green chillies paste, salt and the mustard oil and mix very nicely. If required, add some more oil and 1/4 cup of water. Let it rest for 15-30 minutes. [I usually am short of time, and cook instantly]

3. If cooking in Microwave:
Take a deep microwave bowl filled 3/4th with water. Tightly cover the other (smaller) bowl with fish mixture in the container filled with water, cover and steam in Microwave for 10 minutes.
4. If cooking in Gas (oven): Place the covered bowl with fish in a steamer, filled with water. Cook for 10 to 12 minutes.

Alternative, the fish can be cooked, with rice pot. Once done, the fish will be soft and succulent and the flavor will be so good, that you can eat the rice just with the flavor! Really :)

There will not be too much gravy - put the piece of fish with mustard sauce, on a plate of rice and serve. Enjoy!!!

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Cantaloupe Strawberry Shake

These days I am eating healthy or let's say, trying to eat healthy. So, today my hands were trying to reach the choco-chips ice-cream in my freezer. But, my conscious took me elsewhere and I, instead, picked strawberries and cantaloupe from my refrigerator. What then turned out was an instant concoction of flavor and color - a cool drink, that is healthy and delicious.
Cantaloupe - 1 cup [Diced]
Strawberry - 1 cup [hulled]
Milk - 1/2 cup
Sugar - 3-4 tsp
Ice, Cream [optional]

1. Blend all the ingredients in a mixer into a fine smoothie
2. In a tall glass, add some ice, pour the shake and top with some cream
[Hulled Strawberry - with a knife make a round cut around the top of the strawberry and pull it up - the green leaves, along with the center white stem will come out. ]
Enjoy this healthy and cool drink on a summer evening!

Saturday, April 5, 2008

Fish Chop [Fish Cutlet]

One of the most interesting recipes of fish is the fish chop or fish cutlet. There are several variations of the same, and they all have their own contribution to the taste. However, I like the fish chop with minimal ingredient so that the flavor of fish does not get lost.

1. Boneless Fish Pieces [4-5 small pieces]
2. Boiled Potatoes - 2 Medium Potatoes
3. Chopped Onion - 1/4 of a large onion
4. Chopped Green Chillies - 8 to 10
5. Chilly Powder - 1/2 tsp
6. Ginger Powder - 1/2 tsp [optional]
7. Garam Masala - 1/2 tsp
8. Egg - 1
9. Corn Flour + Semolina / Bread Crumbs
8. Salt - to taste
1. Boil the fish pieces in salt water, until they are tender
2. Mash the potatoes and the fish
3. Mix the remaining ingredients such that they form one big ball of mix
4. Take small dollops and roll them into smooth cylinders, or any desired shape
5. Roll them into beaten egg and cover with either corn flour / semolina powder mix or bread crumbs
6. Deep fry on low heat for 2-3 minutes and then on high heat
Garnish with onions and fresh coriander leaves and enjoy with spicy chutney. This can be served as a snack or a side with fried rice or pulao. Enjoy!!!

Fish - North Indian style

I am so used to cooking Fish the Bengali style that I find it difficult to experiment much with fish recipes. However, I realize that Bengali style fish tastes best with Rice. Since, Shekhar prefers roti over rice, I often am in dilemma as to how should I cook Fish. This recipe is an attempt to make it such that it would taste very nice even with Roti. It is quite different from the typical Bengali way but, I am very happy with my experimentation and the final result.

Ingredients - Ground Paste
1. Few cloves of Garlic (approximately 7-8 large cloves), peeled
2. 3 inch fresh ginger, peeled
3. Cumin powder - 1 tsp
4. Black pepper - 1/2 tsp
5. Mustard seeds, ground - 1/2 tsp
6. Coriander powder - 1 tbsp
7. Salt, to taste
8. Water - enough to make the paste

Ingredients - Curry
1. Fish Fillet [I used approx 500 gms Cat Fish, carp or any other solid fish is fine]
2. Vegetable oil
3. Fenugreek Seeds - 1/2 tsp
4. Tomatoes, puréed - 2
5. Turmeric Powder - 1 tsp
6. Red chilly powder - 1tsp or to taste
7. Garam Masala - 1/2 tsp
8. Fresh coriander stalks and leaves, roughly chopped
9. Water for the gravy

Simple :)
1. Make a paste with all ingredients specified for the ground paste. Keep aside
2. Shallow fry the fish pieces, coated lightly with turmeric and salt [optional, I like the fish light fried in the curry]. Keep aside
3. In a wok, heat some oil. Add the Fenugreek (methi) seeds
4. When they start to leave an aroma, and start turning brown, add the ground paste
5. Stir till the paste leaves oil [approximately 3 minutes]. Add a little water, if required
6. Add the Tomatoes, turmeric powder, chilly powder and garam masala and salt
7. Stir well till the tomatoes are soft and mix well with the spices
8. Add the fish pieces and cover them with the spices - let the spices immerse in the fish pieces
9. Add water to make a gravy of desired consistency, cover and simmer the fish in low heat for about 5 minutes.
10. That's It!!!
The curry leaves a very nice aroma and for those who do not quite like the smell of fish, while it is cooked or later, will find this recipe perfect. Enjoy with Rice or Roti - it tastes equally well with both!

Sunday, February 10, 2008

1 -2 -3 Chikki [Peanut Candies]

I have sweet tooth and often get the urge to eat something sweet. Whenever, I do not have anything available, I resort to my culinary skills. This chikki recepie is an example.

1. Peanuts [coarsely crushed] 2 cups
2. Jaggery [crushed] - 3/4 cup
3. Ghee [clarified butter] - 4 tsp

1. Dry roast the peanuts
2. Melt jaggery in a thick bottomed pan, till just about brittle. To test, pour a drop of jaggery on a bowl - it should be brittle when cold within few seconds.
3. When melted, turn off the heat and mix the peanuts
4. Immediately transfer the mix on a greased tray and make a 1/2 inch flat layer
5. While still hot, mark square shapes with a sharp knife
6. After about 5 minutes, break into square pieces.
7. Store in closed jar.
Enjoy :)

Thursday, February 7, 2008

Mustard Fish

This is one of the easiest and very refreshing recipe of Fish. This is also a typical Bengali way of making the fish.

1. Fish [Carp] - 4/5 cleaned and cut pieces
2. Mustard Seeds - 1 tbs
3. Green Chillies - 7/8
4. Turmeric Powder - 1 tsp
5. Red Chilly Powder [optional] - 1/2 tsp
6. Salt to taste
7. Oil to cook

1. Rub the fish pieces with some turmeric and salt
2. Shallow fry the fish in oil and keep aside
3. Meanwhile, in a grinder make a paste of mustard seed, 5 green chillies and salt
[I keep off the counter mustard powder / paste as well]
4. In a wok, heat some more oil
5. Mix the turmeric and red chilly powder with few drops of water. Add this to hot oil and stir vigorously
6. Add the Mustard paste diluted with 1 cup of water
7. When the gravy starts to boil, add the fish fishes and split green chillies
8. Let it simmer on low heat and under cover for 3-4 minutes
And the Mustard Fish is ready! Eat hot with steamed rice... The taste lingers in your mind for long after you are done eating :)

Aaloo Tamaatar - the all time favorite!

One of my all time favorite vegetables is the "Aaloo tamatar ki rase waali sabzee" i.e. Potato and Tomato curry. I remember, as a child, I used to go to my neighbor's house just to have puri and this sabzee. I have not had the aloo-tamatar as tasteful ever!

I relentlessly keep trying and I have come pretty close. May be, one day my "Aloo tamatar will be as good as how "Amma Ji" used to make :)

1. Boiled and hand mashed Potatoes - 3/4 Medium Size
2. Chopped Tomatoes - 2
3. Chopped Onions - 1
4. Green Chillies - 2
5. Red Chillies - 2
6. Garlic and Ginger mince - 1 tsp
7. Red Chilly powder - 1/2 tsp
8. Turmeric - 1/2 tsp
9. Coriander Powder - 1/2 tsp
10. Cumin Powder - 1/2 tsp
11. Cumin - 1/2 tsp
12. Mustard Seeds - 1/2 tsp
13. Salt to taste

1. In a wok, heat some oil
2. Add the cumin, mustard seeds and red chillies
3. As mustard starts to splutter, add the garlic and ginger and saute some more
4. Add onions and fry till golden yellow
5. Add the spices from 7 to 10 and salt. Mix well
6. Next add in the chopped tomatoes and let the mixture simmer in low heat, under cover for 2-3 minutes
7. Add the Potatoes and mix well. Cook on low heat for another 2 minute, before adding 1 cup of water
8. Let the vegetable simmer for 4-5 minutes and cook on low heat, until desired consistency is reached.
Garnish with Coriander and Green Chillies. Heat hot with Chapatis... I will!

Karela Bharta [Experiment with Bitter Gourd]

Another experimental recipe from me. Like, Baigan Bharta, this recipe is made with Karela (Bitter Gourd)

1. Bitter Gourds [Karela] - 2 or 3
2. Green Chillies - 10/12
3. Tamarind Pulp - 1 tbs
4. Salt to taste

5. Oil - 1 tbs
6. Mustard seeds - 1 tsp
7. Red Cilly - 2/3

1. In a food processor, grind gourd pieces, tamarind, green chillies, and salt into a fine paste
2. In a wok, put some oil and add Red Chillies and Mustard seeds
3. When mustard seeds start to splutter, add the ground paste
4. Simmer the mixture, until it become of thick consistency and starts leaving the surface of the wok.

1. You can char the gourds on oven before grinding
2. You may want to leave the gourd in salt water for a day before preparing
Eat with chapati, by itself or as a chutney. This is also good for Diabetic patients who have bitter gourd regularly in their diet. Like my Dad ...

Cheese and Chilly Spread

Food industry lost one great player when Shekhar decided to become a techie!

Having said that, let me share an interesting spread that Shekhar made in 5 minutes...

You will need
1. Grated Mozzarella / Monteray / Mixed cheese - 1 small bowl
2. Green Chillies - 10/12 [depending on your taste]
3. Garlic - 5-6 cloves
4. Crackers
5. Bread

How to Make
1. Coarsely ground the chillies and the garlic
2. Mix nicely the grated cheese, ground chillies and garlic and salt
3. Microwave for 1-2 minutes, right before serving

You are done!
To eat, you can spread the mix on a cracker and cover it with another. Microwave the cracker pairs for 30 second. The cheese will stick the crackers together! Enjoy your snack :)

You can also spread the mix on toasted bread and top with onions / tomatoes for a hot and spicy breakfast / brunch that melts in your mouth!

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

No food?

Whatever is the matter with me... am I not cooking much lately? hmmm may be not :)

I better turn to my kitchen ... if not for anything else, but for the sake of this blog :)))

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Chicken Biryani

Chicken Biryani is an elaborate recipe of Chicken. After watching the movie "Cheeni Kum" I am really tempted to learn the basics and varities of chicken biryani. However, for now, I share an easy, yet delicious way to make the Chicken Biryani - my style. This takes me about 20 minutes of preparation and 40 minutes of total cooking time. So, in one hour, you can prepare a dinner that is sumptuous and tasteful as well.

I am listing the ingredients as they would be used.

Part I - Vegetables
1. Onion
2. Garlic
3. Ginger
4. Green Chillies
5. Tomatoes
6. Mint Leaves

Part II - Spices
1. Turmeric - 1/2 tsp
2. Chilly Powder - 1/2 tsp
3. Coriander Powder - 2 tsp
4. Garam Masala Powder - 1/2 tsp
5. Biryani Masala Powder - 2 tbs

Part - III
Whole Garam Masala
[Cardamom, Cinnamon, Cloves, Star Anise, Black Pepper, Bay leaves] -1/4 spoon of each
Part - IV
Rice - 3 cups
Chicken - 3/4 Kg [12-14 medium pieces]
Milk - 1/2 cup
Safron - 1/2 tsp
Salt - to taste
Oil - to cook
Ghee / Butter - to garnish

STEP I - Making of the gravy

1. Wash and keep the rice soaked, while you are preparing the chicken
2. Wash and cut the chicken into bite sized pieces
3. Slice and chop all the vegetables in Part I [long and thin slices of onions and ginger/garlic/green chilly juliennes]
4. I use dry and crushed mint leaves. If you are using fresh mint, chop and lightly suate them and keep aside
5. In a deep cooking pan, heat oil [Fry 1/4 of the onions and keep aside for later use]
6. Saute all the vegetables other than tomatoes in Part I. The onions should turn golden yellow
7. Next add all the Spices in Part II and fry some more.
8. Now add tomatoes and cook some more, till the tomatoes start to loosen up
9. Take this mixture off the heat, let it cool, add the mint. Grind this mixture into a fine paste (add some water, if needed)

STEP II - Preparing the Chicken
Pre-heat the oven at 250 F. Meanwhile, do the following:
1. In a v.deep oven safe cooking pan, heat some oil
2. Add the whole garam masala in Part III
3. When they start to splutter and you get a nice aroma, add the ground paste (made above)
4. Add the chicken pieces and stir nicely and smoothly
5. Add salt (and a little water, if needed). Let it simmer on low heat till the chicken is little tender (not cooked)
6. Meanwhile, half cook the rice with water, safron strands , milk and 1-2 cardamom grains. [I microwave for 4 minutes on a low power]
7. Layer the semi-cooked rice with the Chicken and gravy, add a layer of fried onions (if you have kept some aside). The layer should be - Chicken -> Rice -> Chicken -> Rice -> Onions -> Rice
8. Put some dollops of Ghee / Butter on the top.
9. Cover and cook in the oven for 30 minutes.

Garnish with fresh coriander, onion slices and slices of boiled eggs. Mirchi ka salan is good accompaniment for Biryani. You can find the recipe here. But, you can very well serve the biryani with yogurt. I usually beat the yogurt with some cumin and chilly powder and salt.
I hope you like it! Enjoy :))

Monday, January 14, 2008

For Makar Sankranti - A bengali sweet (Pati Shapt)

Sankranti reminds me of two things - "patishapt" and "Til laddu". "Patishapt" is a sweet crepe filled with coconut stuffing. My initial take was that one had to be really a specialist to make good patishapt, something that I definitely was not. And then, I got married and then I came seven seas across and then, I yearned for this and many such traditional dish and then my mom stopped making them back at home, because none of us siblings were with her. And it was then that I decided, I need to try! And I tried.

To my utter dis-belief and my mom's immense pleasure, I can make very decent patishapt. Not like ma, but close :)

Below, I am listing the ingredients and the method. Remember, I usually eyeball the measures. So, keep caution.

For the crepe
1. All Purpose Flour - 4 cups
2. Semolina (Sooji) - 1 cup
3. Milk - 1 Cup
4. Sugar - 2 tsp

For the filling
1. Grated Coconut - 1 cup
2. Milk - 2 cups
3. Sugar - 1/2 cup
4. Crushed Cardamom - 1/4 tsp
5. Raisins
6. Can also use Khoya for richer taste (1/2 cup)

1. Make the batter for the crepe by mixing all the ingredients together. You may like to let it sit for about an hour (i make instant)
2. Make the filling by heating on low heat all the ingredients. Keep stirring and it is done, when all the milk has been absorbed by the coconut and a thick consistency is formed.
3. In a flat pan, grease some oil (or ghee)
4. On low heat, with a deep ladle, pour a dollop of the mix and spread it into a medium circular shape
5. Flip upside down, when lightly brown.
6. Turn back once again and put the filling mixture in one straight line in the center of the crepe.
7. Slowly roll the crepe (like an omellette) and remove from the heat
8. Repeat this for the remaining - till the batter gets over or the filling :)
This is simply delicious ... it looks like a time consuming and a difficult process. But, I made it in less than 30 minutes.*

This one, for the traditions!
* My camera was not ready, so I borrowed this image from a website, which looked very much like the ones that I made.

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

Spicy Lemon Chicken

Chicken is my favorite and I like all kinds of chicken recipe. Today, to avoid making an elaborate meal, I just took few chicken pieces of my freezer and made this spicy treat for myself. This can be a very good appetizer, easy to make and a delight to taste buds.

1. Chicken Pieces [8-10]
2. Lemon Juice [2 tbs]
3. Cayenne Pepper (Red Chilly) [1 tsp]
4. Seasoning Salt [1 tsp]
5. Garlic [6-8 cloves]
6. Parsley [1 tsp]
7. Butter/Oil [1 tsp]

1. Mix the chicken pieces with the ingredients from 2 to 6
2. Put the chicken in a greased baking pan and bake in a pre-heated oven for 20 minutes at 350F.
3. Remove from the oven, baste the chicken with some more butter and turn the pieces. Put in the oven for another 5 minutes
Serve hot with some onion rings and sauce.

Jelly Rolls

I had a family visiting with their kids. And I wanted to make something that would be sweet and fun for them. I browsed through the ingredients in my refrigerator and the idea to make this jelly rolls clicked instantly. This is how, I made it ...

1. Any Jam in the refrigerator (I used Stawberry Jam)
2. Shredded Coconut
3. Sugar
4. Spring roll Sheets

1. In a bowl, mix well ingredients from 1 to 3
2. Spread the jelly mix on the spring roll sheets
3. Roll into tight cylinders
4. Arrange in a baking sheet and bake in a pre-heat oven for 10-15 minutes at 350 F
Store in a tight fitted jar. Kids will freak out on this home made jelly rolls.

Methi Paneer

I tried this paneer recipe, quite as an experiment and to avoid shedding tears ...errr cutting onions. Made with minimum ingredients and very few spices, this delicious recipe takes 5 minutes of preparation.

1. Paneer [250 gms]
2. Tomato Puree [1/2 cup]
3. Butter [2 tbs]
4. Fenugreek leaves (fried kasuri methi) [1 tbs]
5. Red chilli powder [1/2 tsp]
6. Green Chillies [3-4]
7. Garam masala powder [1/2 tsp]
8. Yogurt [1/2 cup]
9. Salt as per taste

1. In a pan, melt the butter and add the ingredients from 1 to 6 above
2. Let it simmer for 4-5 minutes
3. Mix the yogurt with the garam masala powder and add to the pan
4. Cook further for 2-3 minutes
5. Finally, add the paneer pieces and cook for a minute
Enjoy the paneer with hot rotis !

Sweet Bread Sticks

This is a very interesting snack that you can be added to the party platter. Especially, kids can make this treat themselves ...

White Breads [8-10 slices]
Thickened (condensed) Milk [1 cup]
Sugar [1 tbs]
Grated Coconut [1 cup]

1. Cut the dark sides of the breads
2. Cut the bread slices in long vertical strips
3. Dip each stick into the sweetened milk
4. Dress them with the grated coconut
5. Arrange them in a lightly greased baking pan
6. Bake in a pre-heated oven at 350 F for 10 minutes, or until the breads turn slightly brown
This is a sweet and crunchy finger food, extremely easy to make and can be enjoyed at any time.

Plum Cake

I recently made this, very easy to make, plum cakes - a mixed bag of sweet and tangy flavor...

All purpose flour [2 cups]
Sugar [2 cups]
Butter / Oil [1 cup]
Eggs [3]
Baking Soda [1/2 tsp]
Baking Powder [1/2 tsp]
Ginger Powder [1 tsp]
Chopped nuts [1/4 cup]
Salt [1/2 tsp]
Chopped Plums [1/2 cup3]
Raisins (optional)


Sift flour, with baking powder, baking soda and salt. Blend together oil, sugar and eggs with the flour mix. Beat until blended. Add the plums and mix well. Mix in the nuts. Put in greased baking pan and bake at 300 degrees for about 1 hour
Optionally, top the cake with some whipped cream and Enjoy