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!!!