Guest Post: Oler Kofta Curry

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While you may heard of having chicken kofta or mutton kofta or may be the raw banana kofta, kofta prepared with yam (ol in Bengali) is quite an unique preparation. When Suchismita posted this recipe in Cook Like a Bong Facebook page, I just couldn’t help myself but request her to use it as a guest post here.

Koftas originated from Middle East, it being a variation of the more known meatballs in the Western countries. As the preparation touched the Indian shores, each state started turning this meat preparation into a different. The Bengalis were at pace and you can find a varied version of koftas ranging from potatoes to paneers and from mutton to beef.

Ingredients:

For kofta:

  • 200gms yam or ol
  • ¼ cup gram flour
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon chopped ginger,
  • 1 teaspoon chopped garlic,
  • 1 tablespoon chopped green chilli or red chilli powder,
  • ½ teaspoon cumin seeds
  • ½ teaspoon whole garam masala
  • 1 teaspoon sugar,
  • Salt to taste

For curry:

  • 1 large potato, cut into 1” squares
  • 1 medium onion, sliced
  • 1 teaspoon ginger garlic paste,
  • ½ teaspoon turmeric powder,
  • 1 teaspoon red chilli powder
  • 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
  • 2 Bay leaves
  • 1 tomato, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon sugar,
  • Salt to taste
  • 1 teaspoon ghee,
  • ½ teaspoon garam masala powder

Preparation:

For kofta:

  • Boil the yam in water, mash the boiled yam
  • Add the chopped onion, chopped ginger, chopped garlic, chopped green chilli ba icche hole red chilli powder, sugar, and salt and mix well
  • Roast the cumin and garam masala, and grind to a fine powder
  • Sprinkle the roasted spices to the mashed yam, add the gram flour
  • Make a dough
  • Make small balls of this dough
  • Heat oil in a wok and deep fry the yam balls, take out and drain out the excess oil using a kitchen paper

For curry:

  • Half fry the potatoes and keep aside
  • Throw in the bay leaves and cumin seeds in the same oil, as the seeds start sputtering add the onion, and sauté
  • As the onions turn brown, put in the ginger garlic paste, chopped tomatoes, red chilli powder, turmeric powder, sugar. Fry till the oil separates
  • Add the potatoes
  • Pour in about 2 cups of warm water
  • Season with salt, cook covered
  • As the potatoes get cooked, add the koftas and cook for some more time
  • Sprinkle the garam masala and pour in the ghee
  • Take out of the flame, and serve hot

I’m a little confused with the actual English for ol/wol. If you know please share.

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Posto Paneer Kofta

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Spring is here and so are the thousand colors of nature. Every nook and corner of the street is filled with red, yellow, orange blossoms. Though with the heat rising in Kolkata, there’s not much feel good feeling about this time of the year but still there is a grand festival coming up in just a few days from now. Yes you have guessed it right, its HOLI time. Holi, the National Festival of India is celebrated throughout the states of the sub-continent and West Bengal too is not far behind. The main attraction of holi, or doljatra (as we Bengalis like to say) is the Boshonto Utsav or Spring Festival in Shantiniketan. Thousands gather at the Viswa Bharati grounds on the day from all over the world.

Thinking of colors, the first thing that comes to mind is red, green, blue and yellow.  Remember those days in school, the houses had these names and everybody used to fight with the other houses – Yellow, yellow dirty fellow or the first love letter you wrote – roses are red, violets are blue, sugar is sweet and so are you. Do you have any other such poems or phrases, you used to throw, then share it with us!

Paneer balls prepared in poppy and sesame gravy

Thinking about a colourful preparation I scratched my head but nothing authentically Bengali came to mind. So, thought of mix matching the Western with the Eastern. And, there it is the result – paneer kofta in thick poppy paste with slices of red and yellow bell pepper to spice and color it up.

Ingredients:

For the kofta:

  • 400gms of paneer or cottage cheese, mashed finely
  • 4 teaspoon gram flour or besan
  • 1 tablespoon ginger paste
  • 2 teaspoon chilli powder
  • ½ teaspoon sugar, preferably brown sugar
  • Sunflower oil for frying
  • Salt to taste

For the gravy:

  • 4 tablespoon poppy seeds
  • 1 tablespoon sesame, ground to a fine paste with the poppy
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 2 red and yellow bell pepper diced coarsely
  • 2 tablespoon sunflower oil
  • Few black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon turmeric powder
  • 1 teaspoon garam masala
  • 1 teaspoon clarified butter or ghee (optional)
  • Salt to taste

Preparation:

  • Mix all the ingredients required for kofta excepting the oil and make a soft dough
  • Prepare small balls each having a rough diameter of 3cm
  • Heat oil in a wok and deep fry these balls in batches, keep aside
  • Heat a wok with 2 tablespoons of fresh oil, throw in the cumin seeds, as they start sputtering add the bell pepper and toss for a minute or two
  • Add the turmeric powder and season with salt and black pepper
  • Pour in the poppy and sesame paste and cook till the oil separates
  • Cover the gravy with 2 cups of water and stir well, cook covered for 10-12mins, check the seasoning
  • Put in the fried koftas as the gravy starts boiling, cook for 2-3min more and take out of flame
  • Serve hot with chapattis or rice

Hot Tips – Koftas tend to dry up the gravy, so if you are a gravy person try putting in more water or else, take out the koftas after cooking and serve the gravy and koftas separately.

Further Reading – Bengali Style Matar Paneer, Palak Paneer with a Twist

 

 

 

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Beginners guide to Preparing Rajbhog quickly

Cooking can be stress buster for bachelors. More so if you don’t cook so well but can lay your hands on a book with an easy but mouthwatering recipe. Well, I had Satarupa Banerjee’s The Book of Indian Sweets (affiliate link) for help.

Missed my swimming lesson yesterday and so was desperate to put the evening to good use. I received the book yesterday from Kwench, and not having cooked for a while I decided to start with what a Bong outside Bengal craves for – The Oh-so-Awesome Rosogolla.

The Giant Rasgulla

Satarupa’s book on Indian sweets starts off with the unputdownable (yeah Telegraph, I borrowed your subtitle, but I hope you would take it as flattery) Rasogolla. Since the book looked pretty handy, I thought of starting off sequentially. But then it would have been too Bong for comfort. The next one was Rajbhog and I chose it immediately. Satarupa calls it The Giant Rasogulla, with a little different texture. Followed instructions to the T and ended up with this:

Rajbhog

Rajbhog

You can search the internet for several videos, recipes and prep styles for Rajbhog so would include just the basic style (without the jazz).

What you need (Ingredients of Rajbhog)

Note: I prepared 12 giant balls (no pun intended :P) with these. So, if you want more/less, extrapolate the figures accordingly.

  • 250 gm Paneer (softer the better. If you find Chhana, or Chhena, all the better)
  • 60 gm Khowa (not many stores would give you this amount though)
  • 1 tsp flour (maida), 1tsp semolina (suji), 1 cardamom (you just need the Elach, or Elaichi, seeds)
  • 1 kg sugar (yes, you need that much Chini for the sugar syrup)
  • 750 ml water (hopefully, you have one of those 1 litre mineral water bottles at your house, it would help in the measurement)
  • Edible Yellow color (or, 1 gm saffron, or Kesar, if you have some extra dough. Mind you, not many stores would give you 1gm of this costly stuff, so be prepared to be set back by 150 odd rupees. Else, edible colors work just well. What do you think they give you in the Sweets shops anyways?)
  • 1tsp rose water (if you already have all the other stuff at home, but not this one, don’t worry too much about it)

How to make Rajbhog (preparation steps of Rajbhog)

  • Ensure that the Paneer doesn’t have too much water (yeah I know that sounds a little moronic), and knead the Paneer with your palm well until it becomes smooth.
  • Then mix 1tsp (maida) and 1tsp semolina (suji) with the kneaded Paneer and knead again
  • Make 12 smooth balls, and ensure that there isn’t any crack
    • Tip 1 (For Beginners): at the start you may not know the optimum size of each ball, so don’t worry. Once you start making a few Golas, you would get a hang of how much Paneer to put in each Gola.
    • Tip 2 (for all) : if you want the Rajbhogs to look yellow, while kneading the Paneer, mix some edible yellow color with it
Slightly kneaded paneer

Slightly kneaded paneer

Smoothly kneaded Paneer

Smoothly kneaded Paneer

Paneer balls

Paneer balls

Now, that we have Paneer Golas, we need to make some Khowa/Cardamom balls and put it inside the Paneer Golas. Lets get started.

  • Mix Khowa and Cardamom (Elaichi) seeds and divide into 12 portions (I made 12 balls).
  • Stuff one portion of the Khowa/Cardamom mix into each Paneer Gola, and roll the balls into your palm so that the Paneer covers all the Khowa
    • Tip 3 (For Beginners): if you don’t, while boiling the Golas in sugar syrup, the Khowa would drain out. It happened to 2 of my Golas.
The Khowa balls

The Khowa balls

Preparing sugar syrup

Preparing sugar syrup

Okay, now we need to prepare sugar syrup and then boil the Golas in it. Lets do it.

  • In 750 ml water, put ½ kg sugar and boil it. When the sugar seems dissolved, pour another ½ kg sugar and continue with the heat. A while later (say 5-7 minutes), you have Sugar syrup with you.
  • Put your Golas one by one into the heated sugar syrup and continue with the boil. You’ll see that the Golas increase in size (I mean they will get puffed).
  • Continue for another 7-8 minutes and you might see some crack appearing on the Rajbhog’s surface. Remove them from fire.
  • Add (rather sprinkle) 1tsp rose water
  • You’ll have let the Golas soak in sugar syrup for a few hours (say 3-4 hours) before you can have them.

Tada, your Rajbhog is ready.

Expert Eater Challenge

Try having one Rajbhog in one mouthful J. If you can, send us a photo, we’ll publish it here.

Eating Rasogolla

Eating Rasogolla

Guest Post: Bhapa Pitha

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While the entire world is busy dieting and maintaining a good figure, we Bengalis can’t just get rid of our sweet tooth. Come January and here’s another reason to celebrate the genetically transmitted sweet loving characteristics of Bongs. The reason this time is simple – Sun (Lord Surya) has come to visit the house of his son, Saturn (Lord Shani) – yes, you have guessed it right its Makar Sankranti held each year on 14th January. This day celebrated as Poush Sankranti (sankranti meaning end of a month). There is a whole range of sweets prepared especially for this occasion, named as pitha – these may be steamed, boiled, or even fried; the main ingredients being rice flour (rice grains ground to fine powder), jaggery (the golden harvest of winter in entire Bengal) and coconut.

This day is celebrated throughout India in different ways; it’s the time of harvest. You can search an array of recipes from throughout India in the Harvest the festival of rice event round up part I and part II.

Our guest, Dipanwita Sarkar was good enough to share a recipe of bhapa pitha with us. If you don’t like it that sweet you make it like savory dumplings.


Ingredients:

  • Rice flour 2 cups
  • Grated coconut 2 cups
  • 1 cup jaggery
  • Hot water for kneading the dough

Preparation:

  • Make a dough with the rice flour and boiling water [Boiling water is important otherwise pithe will break]
  • Heat a wok, and mix the grated coconut and the jaggery with continuous stirring till it becomes dry. Keep aside and let the filling cool.
  • Now make very small balls from the dough and press each ball with your finger to make a small bowl shape to put in the filling [The thinner the outer the tastier the pithe but be cautious that it should not break.]
  • Put the filling and close the bowl in whatever shape you like. [You can give a triangular shape with frills at the borders. Be creative give different shapes for different fillings].
  • Steam the pitha in a steamer/rice cooker or simply place the pitha on a sieved bowl and place it over boiling water.
  • It takes almost half an hour to be fully cooked. [So pour water accordingly. Make sure water doesn’t touch the pitha.]
  • Check at intervals. First it feels sticky, but when it feels dry, then it is done.
  • Remove and keep open for 5mins to evaporate touches of moisture on it. Then you can store in a casserole or enjoy steaming hot pitha then and there.
  • Serve pithe with liquid jaggery.

Hot Tips – You can prepare savory pithe similar to this. Just replace the coconut and jaggery filling with vegetables (Dipanwita has used potato and cauliflower) or even minced meat or chicken. If using vegetables cook the vegetables with ginger paste, chili powder and/or tomato puree and coriander leaf. Dry out excess water while preparing the filling. You can also use mashed peas for the filling. Cook the mashed peas with roasted cumin seeds and red chilies. Serve the savory pithe (steamed dumplings) with coriander dip.

 

Further Readings – Patishapta, Chaler Payesh

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Cooking with Seeds – Poppy: Event Round-Up

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Poppy is one of the oldest recorded spices in the world. It’s used in various culinary and medicinal purposes. It is obtained from the poppy opium (Papaver somniferum) plant. As mentioned in the wiki page of poppy seeds, the plant had been grown by the Sumerians. Poppy has also been mentioned in Egyptian papyrus scrolls as early as 1550 B.C.

Poppy was at first used as a sedative and then as a spice. But, this kidney shaped seed with its unmatched taste and aroma has stolen the hearts of thousands of foodies across the world. So, when I got to host the Cooking with Seeds event, the brain child of Priya of Priya’s Easy and Tasty Recipes, I chose poppy.

Poppy is extensively used in Bengali cuisine. Starting from stir fried poppy paste with a little garlic and salt to the famous alu-posto and dim posto sorse. Be it vegetarian or non-vegetarian dish poppy finds its place everywhere in Bengali preparation.

I have categorized the entries into four different classes depending on the type of the dish and without further ado here’s the list. Hope you enjoy it.


Vegetarian:

Nithu Bala of Nithu’s Kitchen
Beetroot Kurma

Priya of Priya’s Easy and Tasty Recipes
Sprouted Kala Channa Kurma,
Bittergourd Masala,
Broad Beans & Potato Stir fry,
Banana Blossom Dumplings Gravy

Roshan of Roshan’s Cucina
Green Pea Kurma

Pavanisrikanth  of FoodLovers
Aloo Kurma

Sangeetha of Sangi’s food world
Potato pakoda kuruma

Preethi Ram of Preethi’s Culinary
Navratna Kurma

Non – Vegetarian:

Roshan of Roshan’s Cucina
(Tomato Pilaf with) Mughlai Chicken

Nandini of Nandini’s Food Page
Fish Kurma
Egg Masala

Desserts:

Sangeetha of Sangi’s food world
Poppy seed Almond Basundi

Priya of Priya’s Easy and Tasty Recipes
Poppy Seeds Kheer

Jaya of Tamalapaku
Pala Poli

Nandini of Nandini’s Food Page
Bottlegourd and Moong Dal Payasam/Kheer

Miscellaneous:

Ayantika Ghosh of Eat Drink n Rock
Jam filled poppy seed cookies

Priya of Priya’s Easy and Tasty Recipes
Poppyseeds & Quinoa Spice Powder

Gayathri of Gayathri’s Cook Spot
Poppy Seeds Dinner Rolls

Tanvi of Sinfully Spicy
Bengali Beet Chops

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Ganesh Chaturthi: Modak

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Devi Durga, the mother Goddess comes home every year during autumn, the Bengali month of Ashwin. As myth says, Durga, the daughter of King Himalaya descends to her paternal house from her husband’s abode in Kailash. With much pomp and grandeur the goddess is welcome to the land.

Ganesh Chaturthi marks the advent of the great home coming of Goddess Durga and her four children – Ganesh, Lakshmi, Saraswati and Karthik. Yesterday was Ganesh Chaturthi and that gives us just 31 days for the start of the 5-day long worship.

Vakratunda mahakaya suryakoti samaprabha
Nirvighne kuru me deva sarva karaye shu sarvada

This is the shloka for Ganesh. Ganesh Chaturthi is a very big festival in the Western part of the Indian sub-continent, especially in Mumbai. At our home, we celebrate this day to mark the countdown of ending our year long wait for the goddess. This time I prepared modak and nadu.

Ingredients:

For the wrap

  • 250gm rice flour
  • 2 cups water
  • 2 tablespoon ghee (clarified butter)

For the filling

  • 1 cup freshly grated coconut
  • 1 cup jiggery (gur) or sugar
  • ½ cup dry fruits (optional)
  • A pinch of camphor (optional)

Preparation:

For the wrap

  • Pour the water and ghee in a thick bottom pan and heat till luke warm
  • Use this water to make a soft dough with the rice flour, keep it covered with a moist cloth so that the dough doesn’t dry out

For the filling

  • Mix the sugar or jiggery with the grated coconut in a thick bottom wok
  • Place over low flame and stir continuously till it forms a sticky mixture
  • Take out of flame and add the dry fruits and camphor if using

Putting them together

  • Take a little part of the dough and make a small ball of about one-inch diameter
  • Press this ball with both your hands to make it flat
  • Place about one teaspoon of the filling at the centre of the flattened ball
  • Cover the filling from all sides with the dough
  • Repeat this till the dough and filling are exhausted
  • Place the modaks in a steamer and steam for about 4 minutes or till tender
  • Serve hot

Hot Tips – If the filling becomes cold it turns very sticky and can’t be removed from the bottom of the wok, you can reheat the wok a little to take out the filling, but these tactic can’t be used if you are using sugar instead of jiggery.

I have steamed the modaks, alternately you can also fry in ghee.

Further Readings – 5 Must see Ganesh Chaturthi Mandals in Mumbai

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Lau Khoshar Chhechki

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When I was young I have seen my mom and grandmother cook every bit and pieces of vegetables, starting from the stems of some plants growing in the back yard to the roots of others. Not to miss the peels of few vegetables, the gourd being in the top of the list.

Chhechki, as this preparation is popularly known in Bengal is a boiled down version of stir fries. Chechki is a very authentic Bengali recipe and is made from different vegetables – from radish to beet and carrots and from stems of plantain plants to pumpkin. This chechki  that I prepared a couple of days ago was with gourd peels with a subtle concoction of spices – whole mustard and poppy to titillate your taste buds. Peels for food may sound a bit weird, but a stir fry of juliened gourd peels miraculously tastes like elixir.

Ingredients:

  • 1 medium size potato
  • Peel of 1 gourd
  • 1 teaspoon mustard seeds
  • 2 tablespoon poppy seeds
  • 2/3 chili
  • ½ teaspoon turmeric powder
  • 2 – 3 tablespoon mustard oil or oil of choice
  • 7 – 8 bori (vodi)
  • ½ teaspoon sugar (optional)
  • Salt to taste

Preparation:

  • Julienne the gourd peels and chop the potato in to thin 1” size pieces
  • Heat little oil in a wok and fry the boris till they turn slightly brownish, keep aside
  • Pour in rest of the oil in the wok, throw in the mustard seeds
  • Add the gourd peels and potato as the mustard seeds start spluttering
  • Add salt, turmeric powder and chili. Cook till the vegetables are half done
  • Put in the poppy seeds and cook till the veggies are fully cooked
  • Take out of flame and garnish with the fried bodis
  • Serve hot with warm rice

Hot Tips – Chhechki is mainly served with warm rice as the first side dish during lunch.

Further Reading – Chanchra, Kacha Kalar Kofta

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Guest Post – Beguni

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Ask any Bengali what adda means, the answer will be unanimously a lazy evening, a large bowl of puffed rice and plate full of beguni. If you have never tested or tasted this pleasure, then you should do this evening. I am sure that the begunis bring out loads of more lost stories from your heart than you really intend to spill :).

When I had posted a little note on the Cook Like a Bong Facebook fanpage requesting for entries as guest posts in our blog, Arundhuti from My Saffron Kitchen was the first to reply. I was more than happy to accept this offer from such a dear friend. Arundhuti is an excellent person and you can dig into her blog to have great ideas for your next meal.

A darling ally and a plate full of begunis, what more can I wish. Here’s the quick and easy recipe of beguni straight from Arundhuti’s kitchen.

Deep fried aubergine fritters

Ingredients:

  • Eggplants (baingan) – 1 large, cut into thin slices
  • Gram flour – 1 cup
  • Refined flour – 1/4 cup
  • Onion seeds – 1 tsp.
  • Red chilli powder – 1/2 tsp.
  • Baking soda – 1/2 tsp.
  • Salt as per taste
  • Enough water to make a thick batter
  • Oil for frying

Preparation:

  • Mix together the gramflour, refined flour, onions seeds, red chilli powder, baking soda, salt and water.
  • Heat oil in a thick bottomed pan. Lower the heat.
  • Dip the eggplant pieces in the batter and then fry in hot oil till they are cooked and golden brown in colour.
  • Drian excess oil and serve hot.

Read more at Arundhuti’s blog.

Further readings – Lotiya Vada, Macher dimer Vada (Roe fritters)

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Kolkata Style Vegan Frankie

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It so happened that I used to wake up late (I still do:P) and then need to rush without grabbing a proper breakfast. But, this had a bad toll on me and my health. I felt that pre-afternoon hunger and sluggishness. So, I made it a point to have a good and wholesome breakfast. You can check some of the quick breakfast recipes.

The four main reasons to skip breakfast, what I have learned from family and friends are:

  1. I don’t have time
  2. I really don’t have time
  3. I seriously don’t have time
  4. I’m skipping breakfast to lose weight

You can either set your alarm just 15min earlier or rush to the office with the hungry tummy aching to have some food. I chose the first option, nothing is better than to have a healthy breakfast and plan for a good day. Now, if your reason to skip breakfast is solely to shed some pounds, then beware skipping breakfast has a reverse effect on your weight loss plan. This is a good read on skip breakfast, get fat.

Serves: 2
Cooking time: 10 min
Preparation time 10min

Ingredients:

For the filling:

  • Potato (Alu): 3 large, boiled, peeled and mashed
  • Onion (Peyaj): 1 medium size, chopped
  • Tomato: 1 medium, chopped
  • Green chili (Kancha Lanka) : 2, chopped
  • Coriander leaves (Dhane Pata): ¼ cup chopped
  • Salt to taste

For the wrap:

  • Wheat Flour (Maida): 2 cup
  • Water

Preparation:

  • Make a dough using the flour and prepare parathas
  • Mash the boiled potatoes, add the other ingredients and mix well
  • Once the parathas are ready put a generous amount of the filling mixture and roll the parathas
  • Cut each roll into two from the middle and serve hot with tomato sauce, lemon juice and salad

Hot Tips – I have used parathas for the wrap you can use chapattis too. You can also use the left over rotis or parathas from last night to prepare the wrap. The filling can also of your own choice of vegan or meat, check the egg roll post for more ideas.

Further ReadingsBreakfast with eggsMumbai Frankie roll

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Bhat Bhaja (Fried Rice)

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As far as I remember, my mom had always told me, breakfast is the main food of the day; you should have your breakfast like a king. At home, of course that was maintained, but when am away I am always out of ideas to what to have for breakfast. Cornflakes and milk then becomes the best option. I am sure this happens to most of you.

On most weekends I wake up late and my breakfast becomes the luncheon. This was an easy and simple breakfasts come lunch I had on last Saturday, I hope you like it too. I had some rice left from last night and added some colorful vegetables to make it a sumptuous meal.

Preparation time: 7min
Cooking time: 10min

Ingredients:

  • Rice (Bhat): 1 bowl
  • Peas (Mator shuti): ½ cup
  • Sweet corn (Bhutta): ½ cup
  • Cauliflower (Ful kopi): 1 few florets cut into very small pieces
  • Potato (Alu): 1 small, cut into small squares
  • Oil (Tel): 2 tablespoons
  • Cumin seeds (Jeera): ½ tablespoon

Optional –

  • Cashew nut (Kaju badam): 5/ 6
  • Raisins (Kismis): 10 /12

Preparation:

  • Wash all the vegetables well. Heat oil in a wok and throw in the cauliflower and potatoes
  • Fry till they are half cooked and put in the peas and sweet corn, continue till the vegetables are cooked
  • Keep aside the vegetables and pour in just a dollop of ghee to the wok
  • Add the cumin seeds, as the seeds start sputtering, add the vegetables and rice
  • Cook over low flame till the vegetables and rice are mixed well
  • Garnish with cashew and raisins (if using) and serve hot

Hot Tips – If you want to add any other seasonal vegetables then go ahead and use it. The more the colorful the food, the more your kids will love it. While mixing the rice and vegetables together take care so that the rice grains do not break. You can have this with some side dish like Dimer malpua, Chal Diye Alu Dum.

Further readingFried rice in microwave, Jeera Rice

Sending this recipe for Scrumptious Delights From Leftovers hosted by PJ.

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Kacha Kumror Tarkari

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Kolkata is raging with heat waves. Not a drop of rain since a little shower last week. The mercury is rising every day, and it has become quite a tough job to keep the body cool. Choosing a meal that would keep the body in good health and also pamper your taste buds is definitely hard.

A healthy diet is very important to keep up with this heat, and to make the food least spicy is another crucial step. Alike winter summers to have its own set of vegetables flooding the markets. I love the small raw pumpkins during this time of the year. The only preparation I have ever tasted with green pumpkin though is this one. The fresh and green taste of the cilantros along with the softness of the green pumpkin makes this simple preparation a good treat. This particular recipe was inherited by mom from her mom.

If you know any other recipes of raw pumpkin please do let us know.


Ingredients:

  • Raw Pumpkin (Kacha Kumro): 1 medium size, 300-400gms approx
  • Potatoes (Alu): 2/3, cut into 2” squares
  • Coriander leaf (Dhane pata):
  • Nigella (Kalo jeera): 1 teaspoon
  • Ginger paste (Ada bata): 1 ½ tablespoon
  • Turmeric powder (Halud guro): ½ teaspoon
  • Green chili (Kancha lanka): 3/ 4
  • Mustard oil (Sarser tel): 2 ½ tablespoon
  • Salt to taste

Preparation:

  • Cut the pumpkin in 2” size square without peeling the coat
  • Heat oil in a wok, and throw in the nigella seeds
  • Add the potatoes and green pumpkin, cook covered without pouring water, add salt
  • Once the pumpkin is half cooked put turmeric powder, ginger paste and the coriander paste
  • Cook uncovered, pour some water if required
  • Take out of flame and serve hot with rice

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Cauliflower Broccoli Gratin – woo the opposite sex

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This post describes how to cook an exotic dish, Cauliflower Broccoli Gratin, in easy steps. A perfect recipe to woo the opposite sex. But before the recipe, I’ll talk about why an amateur cook like me even dared such an elaborate preparation. Skip ahead 3 paras if you’re just interested in the recipe.

Preparing Cauliflower Broccoli gratin

Preparing Cauliflower Broccoli gratin

Newbie trying Exotic dish, and succeeding

Having a domestic help, for almost everything that is non-core to your life, is an amazing experience. Wake up in the morning, and ask – Bhaiya, chai pilao. Aur haan, do ande ubaal do aur ek glass dudh bournvita. [Get me some tea please. And yes, boil two eggs and a glass of milk bournvita]. Ask him/her to prepare Rajma chawal for lunch and kadhi, roti and Gakar ka Halwa for dinner. Heavenly!

My all rounder domestic help left for home (for Holi) 3 weeks ago. Life has never been this dude-you-have-to-cook. So, started with. No, its not Maggi or Chana Daal or Fried Rice. Ladies and Gentlemen, fasten your seat belts. Its Cauliflower Broccoli Gratin. An expert level dish prepared by a nube. Not exactly inspiring. But surprise! It turned out well.

So, have no fear. If I could do it, I’m pretty sure anyone else can too. I’ve also tried Egg Maggi Noodles and Dimer Devil or Deviled Eggs with reasonable success. Amateurs, you can try these too.

Recipe in 10 words

Bake ingredients, crust to form a golden crust at top.

Gratin Ingredients

Gratin Ingredients

About Gratin

Hint: Grate means to scrape.

Gratin is a food preparation technique where you put a layer (of breadcrumbs, grated cheese and butter) above an ingredient mixture (of vegetables e.g. cauliflower, broccoli, potato, tomato, carrot etc), bake it till a golden crust forms at the top. You can try a meat based ingredient mix too.

Read on for how to prepare a vegetable based Gratin in easy steps.

Ingredients of Cauliflower Broccoli Gratin

  • Vegetables – I used Cauliflower, Broccoli, Potato, Tomato, Carrot
  • Cooking Oil (sunflower, Mustard, Olive whatever suits you)
  • Cheese (Cheddar, Parmesan whatever)
  • Milk
  • Maida
  • Bread crumbs
  • Onion
  • Pepper (optional)

Preparation steps

  1. Prepare the ingredients
  2. Prepare cheese sauce
  3. Pour over the ingredients alternating layers of cheese sauce and bread crumbs
  4. Bake it
Preparation for Gratin

Preparation for Gratin

Prepare the Ingredients

  • Separate small florets of cauliflower and wash it
  • Ditto for Broccoli
  • Cauliflower takes longer time to boil than Broccoli. So, first boil the cauliflower florets in water, and add some salt.
  • After 5 minutes, add Broccoli florets. Let them boil for another 7/8 min
  • Drain water and keep aside
  • Cut the other vegetables – tomato, carrot etc (you may grate the carrots if you want)

Prepare cheese sauce

  • Cut the onions into small pieces (doesn’t really matter whether you have arcs or random small pieces)
  • In a bowl, add 2 spoons of Maida
  • Add small quantity of milk and stir. Keep adding milk (total 1 cup) and stirring meanwhile.
  • Grate the cheese
  • Heat some cooking oil in a pan. Add the cut onions
  • Pour the milk maida mixture and add grated cheese
  • Heat and stir the mixture. Stop when it thickens. Keep aside.
  • Heat the oven at high temperature (I did it at 200 degrees C for 10 min)
Buttered Tray

Buttered Tray

Before being Oven-ed

Before being Oven-ed
Preparing before baking

Preparing before baking

Pour over the ingredients alternating layers to cheese sauce and bread crumbs

  • Apply butter on the oven tray
  • Spread the ingredients (vegetables) uniformly over the buttered tray
  • Pour a layer of cheese sauce
  • Add a layer of bread crumbs
  • Repeat the above two steps
  • Grate some cheese atop the mix

Bake it Baby

  • Open the oven door and insert the tray (be careful, the oven is too hot!)
  • Bake it for 20 min at 200 degrees C
Gratin is ready

Gratin is ready

Tada. Your exotic Cauliflower Broccoli Gratin is ready. Devour it with ketchup and Oregano (as a friend says, Everything tastes good with Oregano).

I used it as a Birthday base instead of a Cake. 🙂

Acknowledgements: Sudeshna (help over phone) and google (laptop was open with several links open in the browser while I prepared this dish)

Further Reading: Cook to Bang

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Aamer Dal – Bengali Mango Dal Recipe

 

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ও শিব কবে হবে কাল, নিম দিয়ে ছেচকি আম দিয়ে ডাল

Kolkata has started observing the heat waves for this year. The temperature is going way above the 30°C. To beat the heat and keep the body cool having something bitter or sour is best. By definition though summer is a little away but the markets are flooded with raw mangoes. These sour tasting mangoes are a wonderful ingredient for varieties of Bengali recipes. Starting from the simple dal to chatni and even achar green mangoes are a favorite.

Enlightment

Enlightenment

The green mango dal is a must have in most Bengali families during the summer time. Green mango has some very good health benefits too. The raw mango contains more Vitamin C than the half-ripe or ripe mangoes. It also contains a good amount of Vitamin B1 and B2. To know more about the health benefits of raw mangoes have a look at this article “Eating Mango is Really Beneficial for Health”.

So, Beat the Heat with Raw Mango Daal (Bengali Mango Daal, aamer dal, mango dhal):

Preparation time: 10min

Cooking time: 15min
Serves 4

Aamer Dal - Bengali Mango Daal

Aamer Dal - Bengali Mango Daal

Ingredients:

  • Red Lentil (Masur dal): ½ cup
  • Split Husked Mung Bean (Mung/Moog dal): ½ cup
  • Raw Mango (Kancha aam): 1
  • Turmeric powder (Halud guro): ½ teaspoon
  • Mustard seeds (Sarse dana): 1 tablespoon
  • Mustard oil (Sarser tel): 2 tablespoon
  • Salt to taste

Preparation:

  • Mix the two lentils together and boil with 2 cups of water and salt
  • As the lentils get half cooked add the mango pieces and cook till the lentils are fully cooked
  • Add the turmeric powder and with a wired balloon whisk stir the cooked lentils once or twice
  • Heat the oil in a wok, throw in the mustard seeds and dried chilies
  • As the mustard seeds starts popping pour in the lentils and cook for a minute or two
  • Serve hot with rice for lunch

Further Reading: Chholar Daal, Dal Shukno, Masur Dal – Musurir Daal, Roadside Tadka

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Cholar Dal

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There is almost a 50 page report waiting for me to be completed by tonight and submitted tomorrow morning. So, it seems to be a long night. In all these lab reports – proteins, DNAs, RNAs and whatever molecules you can name of, I just thought of publishing this post tonight. Cholar dal is one of my favorite lentils. Cholar dal or chana dal is prepared in different ways throughout India. This preparation is very specific to Bengal. This authentic Bengali recipe has an affluence of sweet taste in it, and the charming yellow color will drive any foodoholic crazy. Cholar dal is best had with kachuri, luchi or chapattis.

As the wiki link says, Chana dal is produced by removing the outer layer of Kala chana (black chickpeas) and then splitting the kernel. Although machines can do this, it can be done at home by soaking the whole chickpeas and removing the loose skins by placing the chickpeas between two towels and rubbing with a rolling pin.

Preparation time: 10min
Cooking time: 25min
Serves 6

 

Ingredients:

  • Bengal gram (Cholar Dal): 1 cup
  • Coconut (Narkel): ½ cup, cut into very small pieces
  • Ginger paste (Ada bata): 2 tablespoon
  • Turmeric Powder (Halud guro): 1 teaspoon
  • Chili powder (Lal lankar guro): 1 tablespoon
  • Coriander powder (Dhane guro): 1 teaspoon
  • Sugar (Chini): 1 teaspoon
  • Red chili (Lal lanka): 3 /4
  • Mustard oil (Sarser tel) : 3 tablespoon
  • Clarified butter (Ghee): 1 tablespoon
  • Salt to taste

Preparation:

  • Soak the pulses for half-an-hour before preparing
  • Put the soaked pulses along with salt in a pressure cooker with ample water so that the dhal remains 1cm below the water level, cook till three whistles of the pressure cooker
  • Take out of flame, let the pressure cooker cool
  • Open the lid, add ginger paste, cumin, turmeric, coriander, chili powder, sugar – mix well with the cholar dal
  • Heat oil in a heavy bottom wok and fry the coconut pieces till brownish, take out and keep aside
  • In the same heated oil add the chilies and fry till then turn a darker shade of red, pour in the boiled dal, pour in little more water if required
  • Cook till the dal attains the desired consistency, pour in the ghee if using
  • Garnish with the fried coconut pieces, serve warm with puri or luchi

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Natun Alur Niramish Dum – Baby Potato Curry

This is a guest post by Soma Chowdhury. She is pursuing her MS from Louisiana State University. This post talks about a Bengali recipe, albeit with a twist from Soma. We thank her for the contributing here. Today being International Women’s Day, we dedicate today’s post to all our women readers.

Men, your turn will come too. 🙂

Women's Day

Women's Day

In the United States, almost everything is available throughout the year. Very few things are seasonal. I remember my Mom waiting for winter when she had a greater choice of vegetables to cook.

Back in India, winter is so colorful with lots of greens, oranges, reds and many more. The cauliflowers, cabbages, new baby potatoes, carrots, ripe-juicy oranges used to taste extra good during winter. During my childhood all these were only ones available during winter in my small town (though you can find them in the vegetable market anytime of the year now but they don’t taste as fresh as the winter time).

I cooked new baby potatoes as a winter vegetable for the monthly mingle as I love these potatoes. They taste so good, even you can eat them boiled with only salt and pepper sprinkled on them. There are many recipes on dum aloo in India; I think every household has their own recipe.

My Mom cooks several kinds too. In Bengali culture, anything cooked with onion or garlic becomes “non-veg”, so there are a lot of recipes without them and they are considered to be “complete veg” or “niramish”. It might sound a little strange, but that’s how it is.

This is my own recipe, modified from my mom’s recipes. My mother used to cook “niramish alur dom” (vegetarian potato curry) on Saturdays (as we ate veg on every Saturday) or during some religious festivals. Hope you will like the humble yet tasty recipe. The spices are approximate, you can modify them according to your taste.

What you need:

  1. 2 lbs baby potato, boiled and peeled
  2. One big, ripe tomato chopped
  3. One/two tablespoon of yogurt (depending on how sour you want it)
  4. Ginger/cumin/coriander (GCC) paste two tablespoon
  5. Red chili powder (add according to taste)
  6. Salt
  7. Green peas (half a cup)
  8. Few green chilies
  9. Oil
  10. One teaspoon turmeric
  11. One teaspoon whole cumin seeds
  12. A pinch of garam masala (optional)
  13. A handful of cilantro leaves
  14. One cup of water

Natun Alur Dom

Natun Alur Dom

How to cook Natun Alur Dom

  1. Apply salt and turmeric powder to the cooked potatoes. Heat oil in a pan and fry the potatoes until the outside is a little brownish. Don’t overcook them, they will start breaking. Remove them from the oil.
  2. In the remaining oil, add the cumin seeds and let them splutter.
  3. Add the GCC paste, turmeric and chili powder, sauté for few minutes and then add the chopped tomatoes. Sauté until the tomatoes are completely mushy and the spice paste starts coming out of the pan.
  4. Add luke-warm water and salt and boil until the tomato loses its raw taste.
  5. Let the gravy thicken and then add the potatoes. Mix the potato with the gravy. Again, do not mix them vigorously, then might break.
  6. Add the green peas, garam masala and chopped cilantro.
  7. Cover for few minutes and serve hot with puri or chapattis. It tastes better the next day as the potatoes absorb the flavor from the gravy.

Further Reading: Potato recipes at Cook Like a Bong – Chal diye Alur Dom, Alu Posto, Alu Bhindi Bhaja

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