Beverages your Bengali taste buds would savor

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Hope you all have made plans for welcoming the New Year, and not to forget a whole new decade. Our journey at Cook Like a Bong started 3 years back. We like to thank all our readers for their wonderful support through out. We hope that we’ll receive more readers and more Bong food lovers and foodies in the years to come. To end with a post for this year, here’s a guest post from Joy Paley.

Joy Paley is a science, technology, and health writer from Berkeley, California. When she’s not reading about the latest medical research, you can find her doing yoga, cooking, or working on a crafty project. She is a guest blogger for My Dog Ate My Blog and writes on online degrees for Guide to Online Schools.

Best of Bengali Beverages

The Bengal region of India offers some seriously delicious smoothies, iced, and hot drinks. These can be a great pick-me-up between meals, or an interesting and sophisticated offering at your next party. The best part? These treats are chock full of nutrients that make them both healthful and tasty.

Papaya Shakes

These are great because their ingredients are so simple: they’re usually just a blend of papaya, mint, and water, with some lemon and honey for flavor. In some places you can find them with a little spice, courtesy of black pepper powder. And, papayas are rich in antioxidants that help fight free radicals, which can cause cancer and make you age faster. Papayas are also full of potassium, fiber, and folate.

Photo Courtesy – Nithya of 4th Sense Cooking

Watermelon Juice

It’s hard to find a good version of this juice in the store, but it’s easy to prepare at home. All you need is a ripe watermelon and a juicer. Make your watermelon juice, add a little mint juice, lemon juice, sugar, and mint leaves for garnish. Wait until it’s ice cold to drink. Watermelon is high in vitamin C and vitamin A, and low in calories.

Jaljeera

This spiced drink is probably something you haven’t tried before, unless you’re familiar with Bengali beverages. It’s made by adding cumin powder, sugar, salt, chat masala, and lemon juice to water, and chilling in the refrigerator. Cumin is a cancer-preventing antioxidant that also helps detoxify the liver.

Photo Courtesy – Sabah in Action

Hot Cocoa

The ingredients here are similar to hot cocoa you may have encountered before, but the preparation is different. Cocoa powder and salt are combined to form a paste, diluted with cold water, and boiled. Then milk and sugar are added. The result is a delicious way to stay warm. Plus, cocoa contains a wide array of polyphenols, a type of antioxidant compound that fights signs of aging in your skin and other organs.

Ginger Tea

You’ve probably got the essential ingredients to make this yummy tea already in your kitchen. It’s made by combining a crushed piece of ginger, aniseed, and tea leaves in boiling water. After boiling for a few minutes, you strain out the spices, and add sugar and milk to taste. Ginger is a great home remedy for joint and muscle pain, nausea, and rheumatoid arthritis.

Photo Courtesy – Thai Dessert

 
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Event Announcement: Tried and Tasted Recipes

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I am very honored to declare that Cook Like a Bong will be hosting this month’s Tried and Tasted event. The event was originally started by Zlamuska and now carried on by Lakshmi of Kitchen Chronicles. All my thanks to Lakshmi for letting me host this event.

For this edition of the event, we have chosen the Quick Indian Cooking blog. The blog is hosted by a very dear lady, Mallika Basu. Mallika started this blog back in September 2006 and had been spreading the spices and charms of Indian cuisine since then. You can choose from a variety of recipes from her blog including vegetarian, fish, chicken, and mutton recipes. She also is the proud author of Miss Masala (you can get the book from Flipkart and Amazon).

The rules are simple:

1. Cook any recipe from Mallika’s Quick Indian Cooking and post about it. Stay as true to the original recipe(s) as possible. Therefore, there is no need for re-posting it, simply link to the original post.
2. There is no time-frame for the original recipe. It can be as old as my grand-mother or new ones.
3.Have you cooked from Blog of the month before? As this event is all about tasting and reflecting on the taste, older posts are also welcome. Simply link to this post and mention T&T event.

4. Link your post to this announcement and to the Lakshmi’s post . Please always link to both sites, so both blogs are given credit and you are avoiding copyright issues. We would love to see the event logo on your post.

5. Send an e-mail to bengalicuisine[at]gmail[dot]com with the following details-

  • Your name
  • Name of your blog
  • Recipe name
  • Your post URL as well as the original URL
  • A picture (300px by height, please).

6. The last date for entries is January 20, 2011 and the round up will be posted within a week.

7. Non-bloggers are more than welcome to participate. Simply e-mail me with your experience of what you cooked and if possible please include a picture.

A special thanks to Ksenia for creating our Logo each and every month.

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Meringue Filled Tartlets for Christmas

Just a couple of days back a friend from school wrote on her Facebook update “My epitaph should read – here lies the drummer boy who grew up to be a lady!” Perhaps half the school remembers M as the drummer boy from the Christmas Carol competitions held every year in school during December. Christmas brings back loads of old memories, especially those days in school. Brought up in a Missionary school (read Carmel Convent) , Christmas meant a lot – Christmas carols, decorating the school with fake snow (Kolkata temperature never gone below 8°C), preparing the model manger and of course getting a share of the Christmas cake on 25th morning.

Clicked by Kalyan - St. Patrick's Church, Bangalore

School’s over and so is the innocent madness. These days Christmas has become synonymous to a partying late night on Christmas eve and perhaps a visit to the church mostly to see the Winter Fashion of the year (chuckles…). But, this time just thought of doing something a little different – planning to have a gala dinner on the 25th night. What’s your plan for the day?

Decided on the dessert for the night – tartlets with meringue filling decorated with red cherries and sprigs of mint just to retain the colors of Christmas – white, red and green. I have used marzipan to make the crust along with maida, but you can omit the almond powder and use only all purpose flour.

Ingredients:

For the crust:

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup almond powder
  • ½ cup castor sugar
  • ¼ teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 ½ tablespoon ghee/butter
  • Water as required

For the filling:

  • 2 egg whites
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla essence
  • 3-4 tablespoon castor sugar
  • Cherries to decorate

Preparation:

For the crust:

  • Add all the dry ingredients together and pour in the butter/ghee
  • Mix these ingredients to make a bread crumb like texture
  • Pour cold water and knead with your hand to make a not-very-moist dough
  • Wrap in cling film and refrigerate for 1 or 2 hours
  • Preheat the oven to 180°C
  • Roll out the dough and line 6 small flan tins. Press the dough into the corners and trim off the excess dough with a sharp knife. Alternatively you can use a single 8” flan tin
  • Prick the dough with a fork and bake for 10-12 min or till the crust turns golden brown
  • Take out and set to cool

For the filling:

  • Beat the egg whites till they form soft peaks
  • Add the castor sugar, vanilla essence and continue beating

Put Together:

  • Pour the filling over the tart crust and bake in a preheated oven at 150°C for 5-6 min on the upper rack till the peaks turn a little brown
  • Serve hot or cold decorated with cherries

Hot Tips – You can create your own filling. Use thick custard or soft cream and seasonal fruits like strawberries, pineapple, raspberries, etc to decorate your tart. Do let us know about your favourite tart fillings.

Further Reading – Irish cream and Strawberry Tartlet, Toblerone tart.

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Pui Dana Diye Chingri

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Bengal had always been the land of invasions. Dutch, Portuguese, Muslims and the British – everybody had ruled over this state at one point of time or the other. These invasions had a great impact in the social and economic arena of the state. The culinary field was not left behind. The indigenous Bengali cuisine had been influenced by these invaders. In spite of these influences there are some recipes which can always be called as authentic Bengali recipe. One such is the pui-er dana diye chingri maach (Malabar spinach seeds with shrimps).

This recipe is a typical Bangal style recipe and is cooked with a concoction of few spices to retain the green and fresh smell of the seeds. I have used fresh shrimps to prepare this recipe, but you can also use chingri shutki (dried shrimps) too. While using the dried shrimps, fry it similarly as when using the fresh shrimps.

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup Malabar spinach (Pui) seeds
  • ½ cup small shrimps
  • ½ cup thinly sliced potatoes
  • ½ cup thinly sliced pumpkin
  • 1 medium sized onion, julienne
  • 1 teaspoon turmeric powder
  • 1 teaspoon chilli powder
  • 1 tablespoon garlic paste
  • 4 tablespoon mustard oil
  • Salt to taste

Preparation

  • De-vein and clean the shrimps
  • Heat 1 ½ tablespoon of mustard oil in a wok, as it turns piping hot, add the shrimps and stir fry till they turn a little hard, keep aside
  • Pour in the extra oil and sauté onions, add the garlic paste
  • Drop in the potatoes and pumpkin as the onions turn translucent, cook for sometime
  • Season with the spices and salt
  • Add the pui seeds and cook till they soften
  • Add the shrimps and cook for 2-3 minutes more
  • Take out of flame and serve hot with warm white rice

Hot Tips – It is very essential to clean the shrimps properly. While frying the shrimps, just don’t let the shrimps turn too hard, else the shrimps will turn chewy.

Further Reading – Chanchra, Lutiya Shutki

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Chilli Chicken

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After The Mainland China Cookbook (read the book review) was delivered last Saturday, I was just trying to find that opportunity to prepare something from it. Though I prepared crackling spinach, but before I could even get a chance to take a snap, it was all finished.

Last night prepared chilli chicken. Chilli chicken is probably the most popular Chinese dish prepared in IndiaJ. According to Mr. Ranjit Banerji, one of our very active users of the Cook Like a Bong Facebook page, chilli chicken and chicken manchurian is the innovation of the famous Nelson Wang, the founder of China Garden restaurant in Mumbai. It seems almost everybody can relate to this juicy and succulent Chinese preparation. From roadside stalls to fine-dining Chinese restaurants, chilli chicken finds it place everywhere. During my school days, I remember our favorite party-time combo was fried rice and chili chicken.

The Mainland China cookbook has the Keong style of chilli chicken documented. I have made a little variation to this dish to add the extra hint of greens in this saucy Chinese dish.

Ingredients:

  • 200gms of Boneless chicken, cut into bite size pieces
  • 1 egg
  • 2 heaped tablespoon of cornflour
  • ½ cup capsicums, cut into 1” triangles
  • ½ cup onions, chopped into 1” squares
  • ½ tablespoon of Ginger-garlic paste
  • 6-7 green chilies, chopped
  • 2 ½ tablespoon dark soya sauce
  • 1 teaspoon of vinegar
  • 3-4 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • ½ cup of spring onions, chopped to 1” sizes
  • Few spring onions finely chopped for garnishing, optional
  • Salt to taste

Preparation:

  • Dissolve half the cornflour with 1 tablespoon of soya sauce and one beaten egg
  • Mix this with the chicken, marinate for ½ hour
  • Stir fry the chicken till the outside turn crispy, remove from the wok and soak the extra oil in a kitchen paper
  • Heat oil in a wok, as the oil turns smoking hot add the capsicum and onions. Stir well till the onions turn translucent. Add the green chilies
  • Dissolve the extra cornflour in the remaining soya sauce, and pour it in the wok, stir
  • Add the fried chicken and spring onions, and adjust the seasoning
  • Cook till the chicken is evenly coated with the sauce
  • Serve hot with noodles garnishes with chopped spring onions

Hot Tips – You can keep the chicken in the marinade for longer hours, but then refrigerate it.

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