Aloo Achari/ Potatoes Sauteed in Pickle

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Have you ever watched that scene from Dhanni Meye, an old Black and White Bengali movie starring Jaya Bachchan, then Bhaduri. In the middle of the hot and humid afternoon, this young bride with all her zeal to steal pickles climbs up the asbestos roof and picks up her favorite mango pickle from the jar, set in the sun for sterilizing. On seeing this, her mother-in-law shouts at her, but the young girl continues eating the pickle unaware of anything going around her.

This might have been just a scene from some almost forgotten Bengali movie, but I’m sure almost everybody has tried stealing pickle from the jar. Raw mango, lemon, mixed vegetable and the count goes on for the number of pickles you can get in the market. My grandmom always liked preparing her pickle rather than buying from some grocery store. Now, when I am thousands of miles away from home my exposures to pickles are limited to “Mother’s” or the “Homemade” brands.

Pickles had always been a compliment to go along with dal and fries  or even with saag bhaja. Other than enhancing the taste, pickles are nutritionally beneficial as they contain high amounts of Vitamin C (ascorbic acid), a very good antioxidant and are also high in iron, potassium and manganese. It is also considered as a good source of dietary fibers.

Suchismita, our guest for today has sent us a tasty and tangy recipe of achari alu – alu sautéed in achar/ pickle. If you are a potato hater, then you can replace it with paneer/ cottage cheese.

Suchismita, was born and brought up in Kolkata. Now, she has shifted to USA. Her passion for food and photography has made her to take the toll and explore the various combinations of ingredients. If you are in US or UK and searching for that taste in achar, then try out the various pickles in Amazon , they are pretty good or even the nearby Indian store. Check for another guest post (oler kofta) from Suchismita.

Serves 4

Ingredients:

  • 4 large potatoes cut to bite size pieces
  • 1 onion, finely chopped (optional)
  • 1 teaspoon nigella/kalonji/ kalo jeera
  • 2-3 dry chilies
  • 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
  • 3 tablespoons of pickle of your choice
  • 2 tablespoon vinegar
  • ½ teaspoon sugar

 Preparation:

  • Boil the potatoes till half done, peel off and keep aside
  • Heat oil in a frying pan and toss the potatoes till lightly brown. Keep aside
  • Throw in nigella, dry chilies, cumin
  • As the spices start sputtering add the chopped onion and sauté till the onions turn pinkish in color
  • Drop in the potatoes along with pickle
  • Pour in the vinegar as you can smell the aroma of the pickle and spices coming out
  • Add sugar and pour in little water to let the potatoes take in the spices
  • Cook covered till the potatoes get soft

 

Hot Tips – If you are replacing paneer with potatoes then cut the paneer in 1” cubes, slightly fry the pieces and drop them in salted warm water so that the paneer gets soft and the salt gets inside the paneer cubes. You can also try it with baby potatoes.

 

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Tetor Dal

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Bitter gourd or what we call karolla/karela is one of those vegetables which even veggie lovers try to avoid. A somewhat smaller in shape is the ucche which is quite hard to find in Kolkata, leave aside somewhere outside India. These two cousins with their bitter taste, avoided by almost all have a niche in Bengali cuisine. During my childhood, summer lunch always meant a bowl of alu-karolla sedho (boiled potato and bitter gourd) drenched in mustard oil or even the dudh shukto. While most of my friends hated these preparations, I was and am in love with this bitter vegetable.

I was in Spencer’s yesterday, when I got hold of some fresh karolla and there I was holding a couple of bitter gourd thinking of what to prepare with it. The first thought was preparing some fried karola, but then left the idea because of the amount of oil that comes along with it. Shukto is my all-time favorite, but then raw papaya is quite hard to find in Bangalore. Do let me know if you are aware of any place where you get fresh green papaya in Bangalore.

After some thinking and peeping into my refrigerator, I thought of preparing the tetor dal (pulses with bitter gourd). Tetor dal is my mom’s specialty. I have never tasted such mouth-watering dal anywhere. And, after all no restaurant not even Oh! Calcutta or some Bengali specialty restaurant will serve tetor dal, whatsoever. So, here’s a beginner’s guide to preparing the karola, lau and jhinga diye dal (lentils with three different gourds).

Serves 4

Ingredients:

  • 200gms bitter gourd, cut into rings
  • 1 medium size ridge gourd/ jhinga, chopped into rings
  • ½ of a small gourd/ lau, cut to 1” size hemispherical pieces
  • 1 cup yellow lentil/ mung dal
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 2 green chili
  • ½ teaspoon turmeric powder
  • 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
  • ½ teaspoon cumin powder
  • 1 teaspoon ginger paste
  • 3 tablespoon mustard oil
  • Salt to taste

Preparation:

  • Wash the lentils and start boiling with 2 cups of water
  • As the lentils get half cooked, put in the ridge gourd and the gourd
  • Heat 2 tablespoons of mustard oil in a wok and fry the bitter gourd till half done
  • Add the fried karola to the boiling dal
  • Once the vegetables are completely cooked, add the turmeric, and cumin powder
  • Heat the extra oil in a deep bottom pan, throw in the bay leaf and cumin seeds
  • As the seeds start sputtering, pour in the dal and stir once
  • Keep over flame till the dal starts boiling
  • Take out of flame, add a dollop of ghee (optional) and serve hot with warm rice and fries.

Hot Tips – If you are an absolute hater of bitter gourd, then just give it a miss .

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Alu Potoler Tarkari

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Summers in India bring intense heat and incessant sweat, but lots of fruits and some special vegetables too. In fact, there are some vegetables that you won’t quite relate to continental or for that matter any well-known cuisine outside India. One of such special variety is Potol (Patol), Parwal in Hindi and Pointed Gourd in English.

Potol is widely used in Bengali cuisine. Some famous ones are Potol Alur Jhol (Parwal Alu Curry), Potol Korma, some fish items such as Potoler Dorma (Fish stuffed Parwal), Potol diye Macher Jhol (Parwal Fish curry) and Potol diye Singhi Macher Jhol (made infamous by Pyalaram, a character in Tenida series). In fact, there is even a well known sweet prepared with Potol, called Potol Mishti.

Or simply, Potol Bhaja with Bhaat and Dal.

Without further ado, let us have a simple Potol (pointed gourd) recipe – Alu Potoler Tarkari, or Bengali style Pointed Gourd with Potato Curry.

Ingredients for Alu Potoler Tarkari

  • 5-6 pointed gourd (Potol / Parwal)
  • 1 medium size potato
  • 1 medium size onion, finely chopped
  • 1 tablespoon ginger-garlic paste
  • 1 teaspoon turmeric powder
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • 6-8 cloves of garlic
  • ½ teaspoon garam masala

How to Prepare Alu Potoler Tarkari

  • Lightly skin the Potol, and cut laterally into two equal halves. If its too large, then cut into 3 pieces
  • Peel the potato and cut into medium square pieces
  • Heat oil in a wok, and separately fry the Potol and potatoes till lightly brown. Keep aside
  • Remove the mustard oil used for frying and pour in 1 tablespoon of oil in the same wok
  • As the oil gets heated, throw in the onions and garlic cloves. Sauté till the onions turn pinkish
  • Put in the fried vegetables, ginger-garlic paste, and all other spices except the garam masala. Season with salt
  • Toss for sometime till the spices coat the veggies
  • Pour in water and let it cook till the vegetables are tender
  • Sprinkle the garam masala and serve with warm rice and dal.

How do you like your Potol?
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Almond Yogurt Cupcakes with a Mango Surprise Centre

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Sohini, the new lady in the B(log)-town and the proud owner of the catering company Cassia Bark Ltd. in Cambridge, U.K. She is our guest blogger today. Sohini had prepared these wonderful cup-cakes for Father’s Day and we just thought of sharing this yummy recipe with you all.

Makes 12-14 cupcakes

Ingredients:

For the cupcakes:

  • Natural Yogurt – 150 ml
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 175g caster sugar
  • 140g plain or self-rising flour
  • 175g unsalted butter
  • 75g ground almonds
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • Mango Jam – ½  teaspoon for each cupcake (you can replace it with any other jam of your choice)

For the Icing:

I used Betty Crocker readymade Vanilla Butter Cream Icing.

Preparation:

For the Cupcakes:

  • Line a 12-hole muffin tin with paper cases and heat oven to 190C/fan 170C/gas 5.
  • In a jug, mix the yogurt, eggs and vanilla extract. Put the dry ingredients, plus a pinch of salt and mix well.
  • Add the yogurt mix and melted butter, and quickly fold in with a spatula or metal spoon – you don’t have to whisk just fold everything nicely together until mixed well. Spoon and fill 2/3 of the cases. Add ½ a teaspoon of Mango Jam in each one in the center and fill the rest of the case with the cake batter again.  Bake for 18-20 mins or until golden, risen and springy to the touch. Insert a skewer. The cakes are done if it comes out clean.
  • Cool for a few mins, and then lift the cakes onto a wire rack to cool completely.
  • Now scoop the icing into a piping bag and use your favorite nozzle to decorate. Or you can just spoon a little bit of icing on each cake and spread it out evenly with the spoon. Sprinkle with a few chocolate chips. You can also decorate with some cupcake toppers.

Hot Tips – Sohini had used the readymade icing, you can also prepare your own, just follow these simple steps:

Ingredients

  • 140g butter, softened
  • 280g Icing Sugar
  • 1-2 tbsp Milk
  • 1 tsp Vanilla Extract

Preparation:

  • Beat the butter in a large bowl with a hand held electric whisk until soft. Add half of the icing sugar and beat until smooth.
  • Add the remaining icing sugar and one tablespoon of the milk and beat the mixture until creamy and smooth.
  • Beat in the milk, if necessary, to loosen the mixture. Stir in the food coloring until well combined. Add a few drops of the food color of your choice. I used Blue as I made these for Father’s Day.

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Chicken Teriyaki with Mashed Potatoes and Boiled Vegetables

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If you are non-vegetarian, you know what I’m saying- chicken is such a thing that however way you prepare it, it tastes great. Be it home-made Bengali style chicken keema curry or boiled chicken with apples and fresh cream – chicken is always the show stopper.

When am at home, back in Kolkata, I just can’t think of any Sunday lunch without chicken curry and warm white rice. It was in an evening at Boca Grande, Bangalore that I had my first taste of chicken teriyaki, a Japanese way of preparing chicken. The boneless chicken breast cooked in teriyaki sauce, and served with boiled vegetables. It tasted awesome; the softness of the meat with the sweet yet pungent sauce is a treat by itself.


A little googling of chicken teriyaki suggested that Teriyaki is a combination of two Japanese word “teri” means luster, and “yaki” means grill or broil. The sauce brings the lustrous look to the ingredients and the way of cooking generally broiling or grilling leads to its name. Chicken teriyaki can be prepared in different ways using mirin or even honey, sake and many other types of ingredients. Here’s my version specially dedicated to my Baba on father’s day. Happy  Father’s Day, Baba.


Ingredients:

For the chicken teriyaki

  • 2 boneless chicken breast, 200gms each
  • 1 cup dark soya sauce
  • 1 cup chili vinegar
  • 2 tablespoon sugar
  • 2 tablespoon cornstarch/ corn flour

For boiled vegetables

  • 2 cup of cauliflower, carrots, French beans, potatoes – all cut to bite size pieces
  • ½ cup peas
  • Salt to taste

Preparation:

For the chicken teriyaki

  • Preheat the oven 200°C
  • Mix the corn flour with vinegar to a homogenous mixture
  • Add the soya sauce, and sugar and bring to boil with constant stirring
  • Coat the boneless chicken breast evenly with the sauce (keep about ½ cup sauce for later), and place in the middle rack of the preheated oven
  • Keep for 10 mins and then turn the chicken pieces around, coat with the extra sauce and keep for 10 mins more

For boiled vegetables

  • Bring all the vegetables to boil with salt
  • As they turn soft drain out the excess water and keep the veggies under cold water to stop further cooking
  • Separate and mash the potatoes, season with chili flakes
  • Season the other vegetables with salad seasoning or any other seasoning of choice

Assemble the teriyaki chicken, mashed potatoes and vegetables in a plate and serve hot with warm white rice or buttered buns.


Hot Tips – Depending on the size of the chicken the cooking time may vary, so check in between whether your chicken has been cooked. You can shred the prepared chicken and place inside sandwich breads.

Sending this entry to Krithi’s Serve It Grilled event.

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Summer Coolers – Watermelon Mocktail

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The temperature rising high and its becoming tougher by the day to sustain this heat almost throughout India and of course in Texas. The global warming is taking its toll. Though its quite pleasant out here in Bangalore, I’m just worried about my loved ones in Kolkata – almost no rain and the temperature rising above 36 degree celsius almost everyday with the terrifying humidity.

The only way out is to have a loads and loads of fruits – chopped to bite sized pieces or blended to a refreshing juice. Mango and watermelon are the kings of summer. Wherever you go, you’ll definitely get hold of these two at least.

There was a big watermelon lying in my fridge for the last couple of days, and even though the maid chops it into small pieces, am still lazy enough to bite into each piece, separate those hundreds of seeds and savour it. So, thought of a better idea – why not to puree it to a refreshing drink. Here I am gulping on the watermelon juice and writing about it.

Ingredients:

  • 3 cups of chopped watermelon
  • 2 tablespoon sugar (optional)
  • Pinch of salt

Preparation:

  • Puree the watermelon and strain out the seeds
  • Serve with ice cubes in martini or whiskey glasses

Hot Tips- If you are planning to have this on a weekend, I suggest that you mix a little vodka with it and treat yourself with a watermelon martini.

Health Tips – If you worry about your health a little then watermelon is the best fruit to have. The nutritional fact for watermelon says that it consists of more than 90 percent of water and very less in fat. So, enjoy this summer with watermelons.

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Mango Salsa – No cooking recipe

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Saturdays are just great. There is no hurry anything on earth. The morning hour rush for office is still one more to go. Laziness prevails in everything – waking up at 11 in the morning, lunch at 3 in the afternoon, or probably even later and there comes the evening with friends, and of course there’s no rush to go early to bed. I love Saturdays. Even I give my cooking a break on Saturdays.

After watching two movies, 3 episodes of an English series, I was wondering what to do for the evening. The tummy was calling for some food, and so decided to make both my tummy and tongue happy- what better way than to have some ripe orange mangoes during this summer evening. There were some veggies left in the kitchen, so just tossed them together to have a tangy mango salsa for the evening.

Ingredients:

  • 200 gms chopped mangoes (preferably fresh, canned ones will also do)
  • ½ green bell pepper
  • 1 green chili
  • 1 tablespoon of chopped cilantro
  • ¼ red tomatoes, chopped
  • ½ teaspoon chili flakes
  • ½ teaspoon salad seasoning (optional)
  • ½ teaspoon lime juice (optional)

Preparation:

  • Toss all the fruits and vegetables together
  • Season with chili flakes, salad seasoning and a pinch of salt if you like and pour in the lime juice on top

 

Hot Tips – You can put in some onions and green peas if you want

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Butterscotch Mango Sundae

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The temperature rising high and there is nothing you can do about it – the scorching sun and the sweat dripping down your nape. Can you think of any solution?  Of course visiting a cool hill station is one way out, but a cheaper solution may be having a good, cold, long sundae.

A little googling about sundae gave me more than 10 million links to sundae. Google celebrated the 119th birthday of sundaes with a Google doodle, allegedly invented first by someone in Ithaca, N.Y, who also happens to be a pharmacist.

Whether or not it’s someone from USA or from Uruguay, sundaes are everyone’s favorite, and for those who are calorie conscious, why not just indulge in some sin – sundaes on Sunday.

Serves 2
Preparation time 5min

Ingredients:

  • 400gms butterscotch ice cream
  • 1 ripe mango
  • 6 chocolate wafers
  • Cherries for garnishing

Preparation:

  • Crush 4 wafers into small bits
  • Slice the mango into very small pieces
  • Take two wine flutes fill with 2 tablespoons of chocolate wafers and 3 tablespoons of mango slices
  • Put in 1 big scoop of ice-cream
  • Layer similarly till you reach the top of the glass; add one last scoop of ice cream
  • Garnish with cherries and wafers
  • Serve immediately

Hot Tips – If you don’t want to buy the ice-cream, here’s how you can prepare butterscotch ice-cream

Don’t forget to participate in the Father’s Day event happening at Cook Like a Bong. The last date of submission of all your entries is 15th June, 2011. You can send as many entries as you want . Send in your dad’s favorite recipes, your stories about your father, and any gift ideas for the day, or just send a photo of yours with your father – we’ll publish here on Father’s Day.

And, for the Father’s loving child there will be a surprise gift announced for the best entry. So, send your entries quickly and enroll yourself to get a great gift from Cook Like a Bong.

 

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