Basanti Pulao – Yellow Rice Pilaf

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Spring is the time of colors. As the dry winter blows off, the dried out trees start to come back to life. The once bare branches start bearing tiny light green leaves, and some burst in blooms. Back in India, spring was almost similar to the advent of summer. As the winter faded off, the temperature rises abruptly, the blankets and warm woolen clothes are replaced by the pastel colored cotton dresses. While here in the US, spring has its own place. As, the snow melts, the squirrels come out of their hiding, and the trees burst with blooms of all colors.

Indian cuisine as opposed to the food from the Western world lack in the vibrancy of colors. Its probably because most of the dishes are curry based, and the blend of different ground spices turn everything to almost the same colors. Though, this is my opinion. What do you feel? So, I was thinking of some dish which brings our the vibrant colors of spring, and this basanti pulao came to mind.

Basanti, literally means a shade of yellow, it is the color of spring. The basanti pulao is slightly sweet in taste because of the use of sugar in it and so it goes well with very hot and spicy curries. Choose from chicken kasha or mutton kasha or a vegetarian alu dum as a side, and you’ll love this pulao.

Basanti Pulao

Basanti Pulao

Dinner, Indian, Basanti pulao, Spring recipes, Rice pilaf, Yellow pilaf, Sweet pilaf, Bengali pulao recipe
Cooks in    Serves 4
Ingredients
  • 2 cups long grain basmati rice
  • 1 tablespoon saffron strands
  • 1/2 cup warm milk
  • 2 tablespoon cumin powder
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 2 tablespoon ginger paste
  • Pinch of salt
  • 6-7 small cardamom
  • 6-7 cloves
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1/2 cup chopped cashews and raisins
  • 4-5 cups warm water
Directions
  • Wash the rice, and drain out excess water. Mix ginger paste, cumin powder, salt to the rice and coat it evenly. Leave out on kitchen towel for 30 minutes to soak out the excess water.
  • In the meantime soak the saffron strands in the warm milk
  • Bring 4 cups of water to boil, add the spice coated rice and saffron milk. Cook till the rice is done
  • Add little water at a time to the rice, if it dries out before getting fully cooked, don\'t put too much water, the rice will turn soggy then.

Hot Tips – To bring out the yellow color you can used edible food color (sunset yellow), but use in very small amount.  You can also mix about 1 teaspoon of turmeric powder to 1 cup of rice and marinate for 30 minutes to get the color.

Basanti Pulao

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Litti Chokha for Holi

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As my folks are getting ready for Holi tomorrow back in India, I’m all with memories of Holi, listening to Holi songs from Hindi movies on Youtube. During my college days, Holi started a day early for me. Playing Holi after college in the college grounds, and then walking back home (we were banned to board any bus/taxi after all those colors in our clothes). And, then there was the D-day – playing with colors started right after breakfast and continued almost till late evening. There was gulal and of course the “badure rang”, which stayed on the skin for at least the next 7 days.

Litti Chokha

After I shifted to the United States, Holi has been constricted to just a couple of hours on a weekend before or after the actual Holi date. Here, its just the colored powders. This time we went to celebrate Holi at UT Austin organized by HSA. It was a great few hours spent, with an awesome DJ playing all Hindi songs (it was an welcome break from the English songs playing DJs in the pubs). The air was filled with colors, and it felt great playing with thousands of people, of whom I only new a few.

Holi

(Some of the Holi photos are taken from Gagan Singh’s Holi album. Thanks, Gagan)

Festivals and food go hand in hand. Holi is the time for some awesome snacks and sweets. As the Holi in Bihar is an epic event, I thought of preparing some Bihari snacks for Holi. Litti is a very common Bihari recipe. It is made with sattu, and is very similar to the Rajasthai bati of dal-bati churma.

Litti Chokha

Snack, Indian, Litti chokha, Bihari cuisine, Holi recipe
Cooks in    Serves 4
Ingredients
  • For the cover -
  • 1 cup whole wheat flour
  • A pinch of salt
  • 1 cup warm water
  • For the filling -
  • ½ cup sattu
  • 1 tablespoon carom seeds
  • 1 teaspoon aamchur powder
  • 1 teaspoon nigella
  • ½ teaspoon chili powder
  • 2-3 green chilies, coarsely chopped
  • 1-2 sprigs coriander, coarsely chopped
  • Salt to taste
Directions
  • Mix the flour and salt together and pour about half cup of warm water to make a dough, add extras water if needed. Make 10-12 one inch size balls from the dough. Keep aside
  • Mix all the ingredients together for the filling, add about 2 tablespoon water and mix together to form a crumbly sand like texture. Add extra water if needed
  • Roll out each flour flour, put in about 1 tablespoon of the filling and then wrap the filling with the dough. Roll the dough under your palm to form the balls. Repeat till all the dough balls are filled with the sattu filling.
  • Preheat the oven to 450F. Place the sattu filled balls on a oven safe tray and cover it with aluminum foil. Bake for 50-60 minutes, or till the balls harden and have a charred look.
  • Serve hot with a dollop of ghee

Litti tastes best with alu chokha and baingan bharta.

Hot Tips – Do not pour excess water to the filling, else it will become like a paste and wont taste good. Altenatively, the litti can be roasted in a barbecue grill or on a stove top using a tawa.

Litti Chokha

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Holi – The Festival of Colors Event RoundUp

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Holi is one of largest and probably the most exhilarating festivals in India. Though a Hindu religious festival, Holi is played by almost all communities and it is the festival of colors. It is to celebrate the arrival of spring and also for the good harvest. People throw colored powder and water at each other, the entire country gets immersed in colors of joy.

It is the festival of colors. This year, Holi will be celebrated on March 27, 2013. So, to be a part of this colorful festival we ta Cook Like a Bong hosted Holi – The Festival of Colors event. The event was sponsored by CupoNation, and two lucky winners will get Flipkart gift vouchers worth 1000 and 500 INR.

Giveaway Gallery

How can an Indian festival go by without mentioning food. So, that here’s how I came up with the idea to host an event for food for Holi. The event theme was to prepare a dish inspired by the Holi festival and to portray the different colors in the plate. We received loads of recipes from many bloggers and non-bloggers from all over the world. You can see the entries below. Scroll down further to know who the lucky winners.

Click on each of the images to navigate to the recipe pages.

[catablog_gallery id=”3814″  template=”gallery”]

The post from non-blogger, Anu are here:

Bread Gulab Jamun

Bread Gulab Jamun Recipe
Dessert, Indian
  
Ingredients
  • *Bread-6 slices(brown part removed)
  • *milk-5 or 6 tablsp
  • *cardamom-5
  • *sugar-half cup
  • *water-1 cup
  • *almonds/cashews(optional)
  • *oil
Directions
  • >Mix bread and milk to a consistency so that u can roll balls from it...If U want U can make bread to small crumbs 1st.dough should not be soggy
  • >make small balls,fry them in oil or ghee
  • >Boil water,sugar and crushed cardamom till it become syrup(dont make it too thick,once it cools it will get more thicker)
  • >remove syrup from heat,allow to cool,then add bread balls
  • >atleast keep it for 1hr,or refrigerate,garnish with thinly sliced almonds

Choco Cup Icecream

Choco Cup Icecream Recipe
Dessert, Indian
  
Ingredients
  • Disposable glass
  • *chocolate
  • *ice cream or whipping cream
  • *nuts,biscut crumbs,fruits or wafers...
Directions
  • Melt chocolate by double boiling or in oven
  • Pour to glass and spread evenly with a brush or spoon
  • Keep in freezer for at least 1 hr and make sure it is hardened enough before you take it out
  • With a knife,carefully separate glass and chocolate,again keep in fridge
  • By this time you can prepare filling, either ice cream or whipping cream
  • Fill your cup with anything of UR choice(nuts or biscuit) and finally top it up with ice cream

And, here are the winners for the Flipkart vouchers sponsored by  CupoNation.

1. Vijaylakshmi of Virunthu unna vaanga

2. Saraniya of Sara’s tasty buds

Both of you please send me an email to bengalicuisne[at]gmail[dot]com so that I can send you the vouchers.

 Thanks to all those who shared your wonderful recipes for this event.

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Methi Parota – Fenugreek Stuffed Paratha

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Fenugreek is one of the mostly grown herbs in India. The seeds are widely used as spices in whole or grounded in different North Indian dishes. But the fresh leaves with its distinctive taste and aroma is used in meat preparations like methi chicken. Another use of these fresh leaves is to make the well known methi paratha.

Methi Parantha_2

As the plants grow in winter, methi paratha is a common breakfast or dinner option for many. I love the bitter sweet taste of the leaves. The parathas taste great with just some mango pickle and curd. This is one of the easiest ways of preparing stuffed parota, and is less completed that the actually stiffed parathas like aloo paratha or gobi paratha. All you have to do is add the leaves to the flour and roll out into parathas.

When I first started making chapatis and parathas, I never got the perfect circular rotis, but don’t worry if your paratha looks like some country map, it will taste the same :).

Methi Paratha

Dinner, Indian, Methi paratha, Stuffed indian bread, Fenugreek recipe
Cooks in    Serves 2
Ingredients
  • 1 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1 cup fenugreek leaves
  • 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
  • ½ teaspoon red chili powder
  • ½ teaspoon turmeric powder
  • Salt to taste
  • 1 cup warm water
  • 4-5 tablespoon canola oil for frying
Directions
  • Wash and pat dry the fenugreek leaves, and chop coarsely
  • Mix the leaves with the flour, add the spices and season with salt. Add warm water and knead to a dough. Divide the dough into 8 one inch size balls
  • Lightly dust a rolling board with flour and roll each dough separately to make the paratha
  • Heat a frying pan or tawa on high, gently place one paratha, as tiny bubbles start appearing on the paratha flip and roast the other side. Now add about 1 tablespoon of oil to the paratha and fry for 1-2 minutes on both sides. Repeat this process for all the parathas.
  • Serve hot with pickle and yogurt

Methi Paratha_1

Hot Tips – If you partially cook the paratha before adding the oil, it takes less oil to make the paratha. If you want the parathas to be oily, just add oil first and then directly fry the parathas in it.

Don’t forget to send in your entries to Holi event and Giveaway and get a chance to win vouchers from Flipkart sponsored by CupoNation.

Holi - The Festival of Colors Event Logo

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Bata Mach Sarse Diye- Fish in Rich Mustard Gravy

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How long do you think a Bong can be without fish? Not long. With tens of rivers crisscrossing the state and the huge Bay of Bengal in South Bongs have a special knack for fish. Fish is not only a part of the Bengali cuisine, but it’s a part of Bengali rituals, customs; a part of the Bengali life.

Fish is considered as a good omen and so in every Bengali wedding a big whole rui or rohu is sent to the bride’s house from the groom’s as a token of bonding between the two families. Offering ilish (hilsa) to goddess Saraswati has been an age old custom.

There are hundreds of different types of fish that you’ll get in the markets, and more are the varieties of the way these fishes are cooked. To broadly classify the way of cooking fish is a hard task. First, to mention is the daily cooked patla macher jhol. This is the style of cooking preferably the fresh catch, with very little spices and green chilies, garnished with cilantro. Next comes the more rich and spicier version – the jhal jhol and kaliya. Seasoned with onions, garlic and ginger, kaliya are mainly meant for the occasional treats. A slight diversion from the spicy fish preparation is fish cooked in mustard gravy. While preparing hilsa this is the most well known technique, but there are smaller fishes like bata, parshe, fyasha and pabda which taste divine is a thick mustard gravy.

Bata Maach _2

There are numerous other ways of cooking fish that are prevalent among Bongs. And, when talking about fish and its way of preparation the simple fish fry is a class apart. I remember back in my school days, Sunday was my fish fry day. My mom used to save a piece of deep fried fish for me to gorge on to while watching Alice in Wonderland on Doordarshan.

Bata (Labeo bata ) fish is one of the most common small fishes growing in ponds and rivers of Bengal, its is of the same genus as the much more famous rohu (Labeo rohita), and so its tastes quite similar. You can prepare it in a non spicy gravy with just nigella and green chilies, seasoned with turmeric, cumin and salt or make this richer version in mustard gravy.

Bata Mach Sarse Diye

Indian, Side, Bengali fish recipe, Authentic bengali recipe, Fish recipe, Fish in mustard sauce
Cooks in    Serves 4
Ingredients
  • 8 whole Bata fish
  • 3 tablespoon mustard paste
  • 1 teaspoon nigella
  • 2 teaspoon turmeric powder
  • ½ teaspoon red chili powder
  • 4-5 green chilies, slit lengthwise
  • Few sprigs of coriander for garnish (optional)
  • 2 tablespoon mustard oil, extra for frying
  • Salt to taste
Directions
  • Clean the fish very carefully, coat generously with 1½ teaspoon turmeric powder and salt.
  • Heat about 3-4 tablespoon oil in a wok and fry the fishes in batches till they harden a little, dont over fry the fishes
  • In a small bowl add turmeric, chili powder and salt; mix and add the mustard paste
  • Throw away the excess oil from frying, clean the wok and heat about 1 tablespoon of oil in the wok. Add the nigella, as they start sputtering pour in the spices paste. As the spices start to dry out add about a cup of water, and the green chilies. Cook for 5-7 minutes till the gravy thickens
  • Carefully place the fried fishes in the gravy and cook for another 23 minutes, the fish will become tender
  • Take out of the heat, garnish with coriander if using and serve with warm white rice.

Bata Maach _1

How to make mustard paste?

Most of you who are away from Bengal will probably have a hard time preparing mustard paste. The traditional mustard paste in sheel nora has almost become a folk lore now. Here’s how I do it. You can get mustard seeds in Amazon or your nearby Indian grocery store. All you need to have is a coffee grinder, which you’ll get in Amazon or other big retailers for $14-20. Take about 3-4 tablespoon of mustard seeds or till the spice level and grind to fine powder. Mix this mustard powder with water, turmeric and salt and your mustard paste will be ready in less than a minute.

Hot Tips – Heat the oil to smoking hot before frying the fish, low heated oil makes the fish skin to come out. If you are still unsure, then add a little flour to the fish before frying. And, the trick to have a perfect fish fry is not disturb the fish until one side is fully done. Once the fish is fully fried on one side, it will itself leave the bottom of the wok, and you can easily turn it around.

Some people suffer from indigestion after having mustard, the best way to avoid that is avoid the black mustard.

Don’t forget to send in your entries to Holi event and Giveaway and get a chance to win vouchers from Flipkart sponsored by CupoNation.

Holi - The Festival of Colors Event Logo

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Curried Potatoes and Capsicum

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Winter is almost over, and so are the winter vegetables. Even though you get all vegetables all year through but to have one during its original time of harvest means a lot to me. Capsicum is one of them. I love capsicum. The subtle taste of chili in capsicum and of course its smell drives me crazy.

alu capsicum 1

Potato with capsicum is a very North Indian dish. But, it feels great to have this rich and spicy curry in a cold winter evening. You can pair it with chapatis or parathas, or just have it with warm white rice and dal.

Alu Capsicum Tarkari

Indian, Side, Winter recipe, Capsicum curry, Potato curry, North indian side dish, Vegetarian recipe
Cooks in    Serves 2
Ingredients
  • 1 large potato
  • 1 capsicum
  • ½ of medium size onion
  • 1 tablespoon cumin seeds
  • ½ teaspoon turmeric powder
  • ½ teaspoon chili powder
  • 1 tablespoon mustard oil
  • Salt to taste
Directions
  • Chop the potato and capsicum to one inch size pieces.
  • Heat oil in a wok, add the cumin seeds, as the seeds start sputtering throw onions and fry till they turn translucent, 1-2mins.
  • Add the potatoes and toss to coat the oil
  • Add the turmeric and chili powder, season with salt. Fry for 1-2 minutes till the spices turn a shade darker
  • Pour in water and cook covered till the potatoes are half done. Add the capsicum now and cook till the vegetables are cooked.

alu capsicum 2

Don’t forget to send in your entries to Holi event and Giveaway and get a chance to win vouchers from Flipkart sponsored by CupoNation.

Holi - The Festival of Colors Event Logo

 If you like this post, please consider linking to it or sharing it with others. I’ll love to hear your comments too.You can also Subscribe to BengaliCuisine by Email, or Subscribe in a reader

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