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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Ful Kopir Achar – Cauliflower Pickle

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Grandma’s Secret

Winter has left Kolkata, fans are on all day long. But, there are some left out winter vegetables in the market, being sold at quite a low price. My Didu (maternal grandmother) used to buy a good number of cauliflowers from the market during this time of the year, cut those into small florets, treated with salt and some other spices (which I can’t remember now) and dry them up in the sun.

These cauliflowers remained intact for more than 3-4months, retaining the same color and texture. Those days have gone passed a long time back; you can get any kind of vegetable at any time of the year. Though my mom insists that seasonal vegetables should be had at that particular season, leaving out the good exception of potato, though harvested in winter its eaten all year round. [Potatoes and Bengali cuisine are closely related; there are so many authentic bengali recipes that feature potato that it seems there had been a marriage between these two].

Steal the Pickle (Achar churi)

Remember the jars of pickles lined up on the roof, a little hands approaching to steal a handful? And there came the bigger hand in between the little hand and the jar of tangy pickle. The fear coated adventure of stealing pickle in the summer afternoon is one of the best memories I have of my childhood. Mom never allowed to have pickles and so stealing and having pickles had an extra feeling of happiness, if not I got caught.

Love thy Neighbor

Coming back to cauliflowers, my neighbor knocked the door this morning with a plate full of lovely looking cauliflowers. When asked she said that it’s the cauliflower pickle she made. It looked so lovely and I just couldn’t resist but pick up a small floret and put it straight into my mouth. I have never tasted such an awesome pickle.

I asked for the recipe and she was kind enough to share the recipe of Cauliflower Pickle (Gobi Achar, in Hindi). And, I thought of sharing this bengali pickle recipe with you. Prepare it and let me know how you fared.

Ingredients of Cauliflower Pickle:

  • Cauliflower (Ful kopi): 1 big size, cut into small florets
  • Potato (Alu); 2 medium size, cut into small pieces to complement the cauliflower florets
  • Green peas (Mator shuti): ½ cup
  • Green chili (Kancha lanka): 8-10
  • Raw tamarind pulp (Kancha tetul bata): 2 tablespoon
  • Mustard paste (Sarse bata): ½ cup
  • Mustard oil (Sarser tel): ½ cup
  • Asafoetida (Hing): ½ teaspoon
  • Salt to taste

How to prepare Cauliflower Pickle:

  • Steam the cauliflower florets, potatoes and green peas together, and drain out any excess water
  • Bring the steamed vegetables to normal temperature
  • Mix all the ingredients to the vegetables and pour in the oil
  • Store in glass container and keep under sun for 2-3 days before the first use

The cauliflower pickle tastes good with warm rice.

Hot Tips – Always use a dry spoon to take out pickle from the jar. The cauliflower pickle can be stored for more than a month.

Further Reading – Andhra Style Cauliflower Pickle, Cauliflower Pickle with onion

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Paneer Bhurji for Bachelors

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If you’re a bachelor, chances are that you like spending the minimum amount of time in the kitchen. If that’s the case, this paneer recipe is just for you. [Here’re some more quick Indian recipes – Microwave Fried rice and Breakfast with egg series].

For this preparation, I bought fresh paneer from sweet shop. You can also use the packaged paneer or even try making some paneer (chana, chenna) at home.

Easy way of making Paneer at home

Boil a liter of milk, and pour 4 tablespoons of lime juice in it. Separate the curd from the whey. Put the curd in a soft cloth, preferably muslin and drain out the excess water.

While the cheese is inside the cloth, place it over a perforated metal can or box and place a heavy weight over it so that the cheese gets firmer and any extra water gets drained out. The more you press it, the harder it becomes.

Preparation time: 10min
Cooking time: 10min
Serves: 3-4

How to make Paneer Bhurji (Paneer Jhuri Bhaja)

Ingredients:

  • Indian cheese (paneer): 300gms
  • Potato (Aalu): 2 medium sizes
  • Green peas (Matar, Mator shuti): ½ cup
  • Tomato (Tamatar): 1 small, coarsely chopped
  • Turmeric powder (Haldi Powder, Halud guro): ½ teaspoon
  • Chili powder (Lal Mirch Powder, Lal lankar guro): ¾ teaspoon
  • Green chili (Hari Mirch, Kancha lanka): 2 -3 (optional)
  • Ginger paste (Adrakh paste, Ada bata): 1 tablespoon
  • Sunflower oil (Sada tel): 3 tablespoon
  • Salt to taste

Preparation:

  • Slice the potatoes into thin two inch long pieces, wash and drain out the water
  • Grate the paneer in a grater. Alternately if you are using fresh curd cheese then just press with your palm to make it fluffy
  • Heat oil in a heavy bottom pan, and throw in the potatoes
  • As the potatoes get half cooked, add all the spices, tomato, peas and mix well
  • Cook for 2-3 mins more and pour in the grated paneer
  • Mix and cook for 2-3min more
  • Take out of flame and serve with roti, paratha or rice and dal

How to make Paneer Bhurji in Microwave

You can make the same paneer bhurji in microwave as well. Put in 2 tablespoons of oil and potatoes and cook covered for 4 min in microwave high (100%). Mix all the spices, tomato, peas and cook uncovered in microwave high for 2mins. Add the grated paneer and cook uncovered in microwave high for 3 more minutes.

Further Reading – Bengali Style Matar Paneer, How to make paneer

Personal Note: Kalyan had been doing a lot of cooking these days. Thanks to his cook, who has gone back to his native for a fortnight, or probably a little more. Office, cooking, phone calls from home and time for his girl friend – takes away a lot of time, leaving almost nothing for his own personal leisure. So, I thought of suggesting him a quick and easy recipe for dinner. I could have done it just by getting him a call or personal mail. But, I’m sure there are hundreds of bachelors or even spinsters who frantically search for some quick and easy recipes for beginners.

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Gits KaraiSutir Kachori Mix – Product Review

Let’s face it, people who like cooking usually don’t prefer Ready to Eat packs. I, being a food blogger and all (J) normally try and avoid packaged foods. I like preparing the food I serve from scratch.  But a cook never really grows unless you try out all that’s there to try – ready to cook/eat including.

I tried Gits Karaisutir Kachori mix a couple of weeks back and was pleasantly surprised that I kind of liked it. This post is a product review of the same.

Karaisutir Kachuri

Karaisutir Kachuri

Why Ready to Eat Mix?

First Things First. Why take resort to ready to cook mixes, when there is an absolute pleasure of preparing ingredients from scratch? The answer is simple – either you can spend half a day in the kitchen for just preparing the fillings for karaishutir kochuri or you can do the same thing in just 20 minutes.

Gits Karaisutir Kachuri

The packet says you can get up to 30 kachoris from it, but if you put a generous amount of the filling in the dough, you can make around 20. The end product was excellent.

Gits Karaisutir Kachuri

Gits Karaisutir Kachuri

How to prepare it

While talking about karaishutir kachori, there’s always the problem of rolling the dough into a perfect circle, which is quite a tough job. So, if you find it tough to make the perfect circle, then I think you should own a chapatti/paratha maker to make the kachoris.

I prepared the mix in almost the same way as instructed in the packet.

Emptied the packet in a medium sized bowl, and poured luke-warm water over it little by little. If you pour a whole cup of water, the mix tends to form lumps, which is quite hard to get rid of.

Karaisutir Kachuri Bhaja

Karaisutir Kachuri Bhaja

Mixed it well and kept it for 20 min covered with cling film. Heated 1 teaspoon of oil in a wok and just stirred the mixture for 2-3mins, and took out of flame.

Make the dough as is made while preparing luchi (poori), and divide into 20 small balls. Take one ball dip into little oil and roll a little, put about ¾ tablespoons of just made filling and cover the filling with the dough. Roll again to make 5 inch diameter size circle. Do the same for the rest.

We had the kachori with alu dum, it tasted awesome, even my neighbor liked it.

Downsides

The mix has some amount of asafetida (hing), so if you are averse to the strong sulfurous smell of that, it’s better to avoid the mix.

Karaisutir Kachuri Pur Bhaja

Karaisutir Kachuri Pur Bhaja

How can you get Gits Karaisutir Kachori mix

Gits products can be obtained from supermarkets and grocery stories from 35 different countries including India. The products are also available online and can be bought through Amazon.

Disclosure: This isn’t a paid review, but the ready to eat packs were received from Gits free of cost. I’ve tried to maintain neutrality while evaluating the product. Please let me know if you feel otherwise.

About Gits

Gits started as small company way back in 1963 and have evolved into a household name in the ready to cook and ready to mix Indian food product segment. Their offerings include snacks, desserts, papads, savouries, meals and desserts.

If you like the post, chances are you would like the Gits product too. Try it out.

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Paneer Pulao in Rice Cooker

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There’s nothing as nice. As a new Teddy Bear.
To tickle and cuddle, And take everywhere
To share all your secrets,Your laughter and tears
To keep by your side Through seasons and years.
There’s nothing as nice As a new Teddy Bear…
Except for an old one With memories to share.

~Jeannie Hand-Stuart~

Did any of you get a teddy today? Today is Teddy Day and as promised we are here with the third Valentine’s Week special recipe. There’s Matar paneer on Propose Day and Microwave Chocolate cake on Chocolate Day.

After these two it’s a simple and non-greasy preparation for the menu. You can have it with the spicy Mutton kasha, or the healthy Cauliflower curry.

Paneer Pulao

Serves: 2

Preparation time: 10min

Cooking time: 30min

Ingredients:

  • Long grain or Basmati rice (Chal): 2 cups
  • Farmer cheese (Paneer): 200gms
  • Peas (Matar shuti): ½ cup
  • Cumin (Jeera): 2 tablespoon
  • Onion (Peyaj): ½ cup, finely chopped
  • Water (Jal): 4 cups
  • Sunflower Oil (Sada tel): 5 tablespoon
  • Coriander leaves (Dhane pata) for garnishing
  • Salt to taste

Paneer Pulao

Preparation:

  • Wash the rice and spread them over a clean newspaper so that the water gets drained off
  • Cut the paneer in small square pieces
  • Heat 3 tablespoon of oil in a wok, and fry the paneer pieces till golden brown
  • Plunge them into warm water with little salt, keep aside
  • In the rice cooker pour the extra oil, onions, cumin and salt, mix well, turn on and cook for 2-3min
  • Add the rice and mix well with the sautéed onions, pour in 4 cups of water
  • Cook for about 15 min
  • Add the peas and cook for some more time, check in between whether the rice has been cooked well
  • Add the paneer, and cook for 4-5mins more
  • Serve with chopped coriander garnished

Paneer Pulao

Hot Tips – You can also prepare it over flame. Just follow the steps, but use a little less water and cook over low flame.

Further Reading – Paneer pulao, Zafrani Paneer Pilaf

What’s your Teddy Bear Memory?

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Bengali Style Matar Paneer

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Matar Paneer

Matar Paneer

A woman proposes a man. The man rejects. And then the man is punished for the refusal. Ever heard of such a thing?

Custom dictated if a man is proposed on 8th February, he can deny it only at the risk of punishment, which varied from a kiss to buying a gown or a pair of gloves.

The way to a man’s heart is through his stomach

Well, you know that already. So, Ladies lets get started. In case you are a man, there’s nothing better for a lady to see a nice dinner table decked with her favorite food. You bet.

I love cooking, but there can’t be anything better if I see my man cooking dinner for me. Even if that’s not so good to taste, I would just devour that.

We at Cook Like a Bong are celebrating this week of love. Valentine’s Day is just round the corner. I am sure you all are busy thinking of what best to present to your loved one:). To make that special person feel how much you care, I am sure, you all are ready to do a lot (but not like the Hindi movies “Main tumhare liye jaan bhi de sakta/sakti hoon!” [– “I can sacrifice my life for you!”] – that’s too much:) ).

StepMom Proposal Scene, my favorite

Propose Day

Today is Propose  Day and I thought of preparing something simple yet special. K is not here, but I’m sure he would have loved it. The Matar Paneer is Bong-ofied by yours truly. Bon Apetite!

Serves: 2
Preparation time: 10min
Cooking time: 15min
 

 

 

Ingredients of Matar Paneer

Farmer cheese (Paneer ): 200gm
Potato (Aalu): 2 medium sized
Peas (Matar, ): ½ cup
Tomato: 1 medium sized
Cumin (Jeera): 1 teaspoon
Cumin powder (Jeera guro): 1 tablespoon
Turmeric powder (Halud guro): 1teaspoon
Chili Powder (Lanka guro): 1 teaspoon
Garam masala powder: ½ teaspoon
Clarified butter (Ghee): 1 teaspoon [optional]
Sunflower Oil  (Sada tel): 1 ½ tablespoon, + extra for frying

Fresh Paneer

Fresh Paneer

Preparation for Matar Paneer

  • Cut the paneer and potatoes into small 1 inch size cubes, chop the tomato
  • Simmer about 2 cups of water with little salt
  • Heat oil in a wok and gently fry the paneer cubes till golden brown, drop the fried paneer in the salted water
  • Fry the potatoes till half cooked in the same oil, keep aside
Half Fried Paneer

Half Fried Paneer

  • Drain excess oil keeping just about one-and-half tablespoon of oil for the cooking
  • Add the cumin seeds and wait till they start popping, reduce the flame
  • Add the tomatoes, cook till they soften and the oil starts coming out
  • In the mean time, add all spices in a small bowl and pour in just about half cup of water to make a smooth paste
  • Pour the spice paste in the wok and cook, if it starts getting too dry then pour in some more water
  • Throw in the half cooked potatoes, salt and just as much water to cover the potatoes
  • Cook till the potatoes are almost done
  • Slowly drop the soaked paneer and cook till the gravy thicken
  • Sprinkle the garam masala and pour in the ghee
  • Take out of flame and serve with roti, paratha or vegetable pulao
More Matar Paneer

More Matar Paneer

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Monthly Mingle RoundUp Part #2

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Thank you all for your great response at the first part of Monthly Mingle RoundUp and as promised here comes the second part of roundup. Of the five different categories – soups, bakes, fruits, sides and others, I have posted the former two yesterday and here’s the last three. Which one did you like most?

Fruits

Oz of Kitchen Butterfly is crazy about poached pears, and so is her husband. So no points for guessing this one, she sent a wonderful Simply delicious pear recipes served with creamy rice pudding

When most of us are braving the winter chill (and some even hails), Quinn of Quinn’s Baking Diary is having a hard time in Australia coping with the mercury rising as high as 41̊C. That didn’t turn her down and here she is with a Roasted Corella Pears with Vanilla Bean & Lemon for the event.

Soma of e-Curry has brought the colors of her recent Disney world in her kitchen, if you don’t agree check out Moroccan Carrot & Orange Salad which says it all with those vibrant shades.

My Experiments & Food has a healthy Grape Raita to serve.

Sides

Spinach and Popeye are inseparable indeed. That’s what Shankari of Sacrameto Spice has to share with us – Sauteed Spinach with Raisins & Pine Nuts

Indrani of Appayan has a list of all the veggies that supply you with the nutrients just right for this dry and chilling winter. She puts in all to make this wholesome Bengali Winter Vegetable Medley

Another vegetable medley – Bandhakopi Palang Kablir ghonto from another Bong cook, Jayashree of Spice and Curry

Santhy Sankar of Appetite Treats enjoys the US winter with a Cauliflower Stir Fry

Coaxing her children to eat greens Deeba of Passionate About Baking has some colorful recipe to share with us, it’s a Chargrilled Broccoli with Chilli & Garlic

Herbs are an integral part of the winter market. Nandini of Usha Nandini’s Recipes had this spicy Masala Beans with Fenugreek leaves and Vegetables with Almonds to share

Shama of Easy to Cook Recipes had three recipes in mind – Green Pigeon Peas, Butter beans curry and Mochhai curry/ Field beans curry

Koki of Cooking With Koki has sent a lovely dish for the event – Pachai Mochai kootu as a part of her four day celebration of Pongal.

Kalva of Curry In Kadai started her new year with a lovely Moms Spicy Vegetable Kurma.

Enough of vegan. Lets take a short break and enjoy Chicken Saag, a chicken preparation with seasonal herbs, by Arundhuti of Gourmet Affair.

Others

Solange of Pebble soup had sent a lovely Risotto al Cavolfiori for the event.

Noodles can only mean Chinese. But ask Sudha of Malaysian Delicacies, she has something else in mind, a Noodles in Gravy (Mee Rebus Johor)

Well, you can’t talk about winter in North India without referring to Winter special-makke di roti and sarson da saag. Pari of Foodelicious has rightly contributed this all in one healthy delicacy.

Faiza of Faiza Ali’s Kitchen has prepared a Mexican dip, Guacamole for this occasion. Try it this winter along with chips or quesadillas.

Want to have a real treat? Try this Cauliflower Patties with Coriander from Graziana of Erbe in cucina (Cooking with herbs)

Well, enough heavy recipes here, lets have a cold drink. A Grape juice from the Kanchan of Kitchen Gossip

Which one did you like?

Here’s the photos of all the entries for this event:

Monthly Mingle – Winter Fruits and Vegetables

Ongoing Events

Don’t forget to take part in

Do send in your lovely entries for the events

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Think Spice: Think Turmeric Event Round-Up

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About Think Spice:

Sunita of Sunita’s world started Think Spice in April 2008. She has even allowed several bloggers host this event (here’s the list from Sunita’s site) and I’m lucky to be host this popular event. Many thanks to Sunita.

Why this theme – Turmeric?


While searching for the right theme for the event, I found that turmeric (Holud, Haldi) was not covered by any one till date. Turmeric is one of the most used spices in any kind of cuisine, and when talking about Indian culinary arts, turmeric is just indispensible.

Event Metrics:

There were 56 entries in all, and I divided the entries into five broadly defined categories – vegetarian dishes, non-vegetarian entrée, whole meals, rice preparations and miscellaneous. Muskan of A2Z Vegetarian Cuisine was kind enough to search for some of the wonderful health benefits of turmeric in her post, and here’s the list:

  1. It is a natural antiseptic and antibacterial agent, useful in disinfecting cuts and burns.
  2. When combined with cauliflower, it has shown to prevent prostate cancer and stop the growth of existing prostate cancer.
  3. Is a natural liver detoxifier.
  4. It is a potent natural anti-inflammatory that works as well as many anti-inflammatory drugs but without the side effects.
  5. Has long been used in Chinese medicine as a treatment for depression.
  6. Because of its anti-inflammatory properties, it is a natural treatment for arthritis and rheumatoid arthritis.

For an elaborate list of beneficial effects of turmeric click here.

And here’s the round-up:

Vegetarian dishes:

Non-vegetarian entrée:

Rice preparations:


Non-vegetarian whole meals:


Apart from these four categories there were 14 other entries which included rasam, sambhars, spicy powders, pickles, etc.

Please let me know in case I’ve left out any entry or gave an incorrect URL/blog name. You can email me or post a comment for this, and I’ll correct it.

The Think Spice event for January 2010 hosted by Nandini of Food Food Food. Here’s the complete list of round ups.

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Khandvi: Gujrati Snack

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I have a good news to share with all of you. Palki, the only online Bengali magazine has recently published their 8th edition. Some of the photographs clicked by me and Kalyan, and also a recipe (Titor dal) have been published in this edition.

I had been utterly busy with my assignments and classes. The exams are knocking at the door and loads and loads of syllabus to cover. But, the majority of the day am playing Farmville in FaceBook and may be a little of going through the texts. I have almost forgotten the route to our kitchen. This Khandvi recipe was in drafts for quite a long time now.

Khandvi is one of the typical Gujrati dishes that I just adore. It is a wholesome meal so as to say, with chickpea flour and sour curd and very little oil, Khandvi is just the best idea for those who are on diet and also for those of us who just love food.

Makes: 20 pieces
Cooking Time: 15 -20 minutes + 15 minutes for making into rolls
Preparation Time: 5 minutes

Khandvi

Makes: 20 -25 pieces
Cooking Time: 15 -20 minutes + 15 minutes for making into rolls
Preparation Time: 5 minutes

Ingredients:

Chickpea flour (Besan): 1 cup

Sour yogurt (Tauk doi): 1 cup

Water (Jal): 2 cups

Green chili paste (Kancha lanka bata): 1 teaspoon

Turmeric powder (Halud guro): ¼ teaspoon

Mustard seed (Sarse): ½ teaspoon

Cumin seed (Jeera): ½ teaspoon

Curry leaves (Kari pata): 5-6

Grated coconut (Narkel kora): 2 tablespoons

Chopped coriander (Dhane pata): 2 tablespoons

Vegetable oil (Sada tel): 2 tablespoons

Salt to taste

Preparation:

  • Whisk the yogurt, water and chickpea flour.
  • Add green chili and ginger paste, turmeric powder and salt. Whisk until well blended.
  • Pour in the mixture in a non-stick pan and heat on low flame with constant stirring to prevent formation of lumps
  • Continue till the mixture thickens , approximately for 10-15mins
  • Spread the hot mixture on the back of a steel plate as thinly as possible, with a flat spatula (preferably wooden).
  • When you have finished spreading the batter, allow it to cool a little and settle down.
  • Cut the spread into 2 inch thick long strips, and try rolling these strips length wise
  • Place the cut rolls on a serving dish.
  • Heat oil in a wok
  • Toss in mustard seeds, cumin seeds, wait till they start cracking; add the curry leaves
  • Sprinkle the seasoning over the khandvi and garnish with coriander leaves and coconut.

Khaman Khandvi

Hot tips – You can also spread the chickpea flour mixture over a clean black stone table of your kitchen. Be patient while rolling the khandvis, because they tend to break.

Further ReadingSabjimata’s Khandvi

Sending this tasty snacks to Festive snacks of Navratri & Diwali hosted by Indrani.

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Dahi Vada

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The starting time of the parade is actually determined by the

length of time of the traditional brunch

-Charlie Brotman

Sundays are meant to be fun days. Since, childhood Sundays were the day to visit my grandpa and of course no-study-day. That made the day more special. On Sunday mornings there was an array of cartoons telecasted on TV those days. Alice in Wonderland, Jungle Book was my favorites. Ma used to serve a heavy breakfast on Sundays and that mostly included luchi, tarakari (Bengali for vegetable curry) and sweets.

Visiting grandpa has long stopped, grandpa passed years before. Nobody watches DD National these days, and I presume they don’t telecast cartoons any more these days. But, having a heavy breakfast that can almost be called a brunch is still a custom at home. Today I thought of having a little different from the usual Sunday brunches and so Dahi vada was in the menu today.

Dahi Vada

Makes 10 medium sized vadas

Preparation time: 15min

Cooking time: 15min

Ingredients:

Dahi Vada mix (I used the Gits Dahi Vada mix): 1 packet

Plain yogurt (Tauk doi): 200gms

Ginger paste (Ada bata): 1 teaspoon

Raisins (Kismis): 10-12

Water (Jal): 2 cups

Cumin seeds (Jeera): 1 tablespoon

Tamarind chutney (Tetuler chutney): ½ cup

Coriander leaves chopped (Dhane pata): 2 tablespoon

Bhujiya: 1 small packet

Sunflower/vegetable oil (Sada tel): For frying

Gits Dahi Vada Mix

Preparation:

  • Roast the cumin seeds and grind into powder, keep aside
  • Empty the dahi vada mix in a large bowl and put in the ginger paste, mix well
  • Add the raisins and water to prepare a not-very-runny mixture
  • Keep the batter aside for 10-15 mins
  • Heat oil in a frying pan, and take one lathe of the batter and gently pour it over the oil, fry both sides of the vada till they turn light brown
  • Keep a deep bowl filled with water beside the gas oven, drop the fried vadas into this water and take out after a minute
  • Squeeze the excess water by pressing those with both your palms, and keep aside
  • Place the vada in a plate
  • Stir the yogurt with half-a-cup of water, add a pinch of salt and pour the yogurt over the vada
  • Garnish with cumin powder, chopped coriander leaves, tamarind chutney, and bhujiya .

Dahi Vada

Hot Tips – I have used a ready mix for making the vadas, but you can also prepare it at home. Soak urad dal overnight, and then grind to a fine paste. The other preparation remains the same.

Further Links – Dahi Vada by Sunananda

Please do remember to send in your recipes for the Think Spice: Think Turmeric event ending November 30th, 2009.

Think-Spice

I am sending the Dahi Vada recipe to Monthly Mingle: Brunch hosted by MeetaK of What’s For Lunch Honey.

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Shukto

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There is a saying “Bhojon Rashik Bangali” (“food loving Bengali”). I won’t say it’s absolutely a myth. Bengalis are really fond of eating and feeding others. A usual Bengali lunch starts with a shukto, dal, fries or fritters, a vegetarian curry, and then the non-vegetarian item, most likely to be fish if not a egg, chicken or mutton curry, and ending with a chutney. And of course there are a few guests at home, then there is always a chance to feast on some sweets at the end of the meal. So, it is always a heavy meal in a Bengali household whether you like it or don’t like it. Talking about lunches, there has to be a shukto to start with. Shukto is a typical Bengali dish with minimal spices and all the vegetables that you can find in the kitchen, the refrigerator, or for that matter anywhere in and around the house. But, a statutory warning here, tomatoes, cauliflower, cabbages are not allowed to be a part of this bitter sweet preparation.

Shukto is of various types, depending on the type of spices used or even at times the absence or presence of some particular vegetables. But, in general it is a bitter in taste because of the bitter gourd, which is the most important ingredient of this preparation. Among all the types of shukto the most popular one is the dudh shukto, here milk is used to temper the taste of the whole preparation.

Shukto

My mom is an avid lover of shukto, first because she can use all the vegetables in her stock and secondly because she gets an alibi to feed us bitter gourd. She prepares shukto in different style, and this one is one of her own creations. There another very interesting part about having shukto, it is never served for dinner, but is only had at lunch time. While writing this post, I called up my mom, my aunts and even my father, but they all had the same statement, “shukto raat e khete nei” (You should not have shukto at night), but nobody actually knew why not to have it at night. Baba (my father) tried to solve the mystery saying that with so many vegetables its quite a heavy preparation and so one should avoid having it at night. He also added that may be its because of that bitter gourd, which may create some digestive trouble if had at night. Truly speaking, I am not satisfied with his solution. I would love to hear from any of you if you have any suggestions or solutions to this.

Serves: 4
Preparation time: 20min
Cooking time: 15 -20min

Ingredients:

Aubergine (Begun): 1 medium

French Beans (Bean): 5 -6

Bitter gourd (Karola): 2 medium sized

Pumpkin (Kumro): 100gm

Potato (Alu): 2 medium sized

Ridge gourd (Jhinge): 1

Mustard seed (Sarse): 1 tablespoon

Drumsticks (Sajner data): 2, cut into one inch lengths

Raw rice (Atop chal): 2 tablespoon, coarsely made into paste

Turmeric powder (Halud guro): ½ teaspoon

Ginger paste (Ada bata) 1teaspoon

Mustard paste (Sarse bata): 2 tablespoon

Mustard oil (Sarser tel): 4 tablespoon

Preparation:

  • Dice the vegetables into even size pieces.
  • Heat 3 tablespoon of oil in a wok, throw in the mustard seeds and grinded rice
  • Add all the vegetables as the mustard seeds start popping
  • Mix the oil well with the vegetables and let it cook in low flame under cover
  • Take out the cover when the vegetables are half done, pour in little water (about half cup), ginger and mustard paste, turmeric powder; mix well
  • Cook for about 5 min or till the vegetables are well cooked
  • Pour in the rest of the mustard oil and take out of flame
  • Shukto tastes best with warm white rice

Shukto

Hot Tips – You can add squash or green papaya to this, it enhances the taste. Bodi also tastes good with shukto, so you can just fry some and garnish shukto with the bori.

Further Reading – Dudh shukto, Shukto with bori

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Chal Diye Alu Dum

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Diwali is just round the corner, and we are counting on the days for the D-day. To me Diwali means a lot of crackers, the smell of burnt fireworks around, new clothes and above all a family get together along with a very heavy dinner. I am sure you all have almost the same feeling about this day. Diwali is more of a North Indian festival, celebrated in most parts of the Northern and Western states of the country. Sourthern parts of the country also celebrate this day to mark the empowering of Lord Krishna over the demon Narakasura. Here in Bengal, Diwali is differently termed and Kali Puja is held during this time of the year. Some people also celebrate this day by worshipping Lakshmi and Ganesh. Durga Puja has gone passed a few weeks back, and Kali Puja marks the end of Hindu festivities for the year.

DiyaDiya

Goddess Kali is another incarnation of the goddess Durga. According to Hindu mythology, she is the goddess of war. Kali is associated with corpses and war. The most primitive mention of the goddess dates back to the Rig Veda, the oldest of the four Vedas. She is called as Goddess Ratri (night in Bengali), and the Veda regards Ratri as the supreme force in the universe. The goddess is considered to have been born from the brow of Devi Durga during one of the wars with the demons. As the legend goes, in the battle, Kali was so much involved in the killing spree that she got carried away and began destroying everything in sight. To stop her, Lord Shiva threw himself under her feet. Shocked at this sight, Kali stuck out her tongue in astonishment, and put an end to her homicidal rampage. Hence the common image of Kali shows her in her mêlée mood, standing with one foot on Shiva’s chest, with her enormous tongue stuck out.

Diya

The darkness of the new moon night brings about a different spell to the worshipping of the goddess. Kali Puja is generally held at night and continues till dawn. Above all these worship, to me the home coming of all the family members and enjoying themselves together is what matters most. It is the time of celebration. I had been busy all weekend making diyas to gift to my friends and relatives. Here are some of the samples, more of diya making in the following posts.

Diya

Diya

Today I prepared this alu dum and thought it would just be right choice to put up in our blog for the upcoming festivals. I used baby potatoes for this, you are unable to get those, don’t worry use the large sized potatoes cut into quarters.

Preparation time: 1hr 10min
Cooking time: 20min
Serves: 4
Alu Dum with rice

Ingredients:

Baby Potato (Choto alu): ½ kg
Small grain rice (Gonbindhobhog Chal): 2 tablespoon, soaked for an hour
Cumin powder (Jeera guro): 1 ½ teaspoon
Cumin seeds (Gota jeera): 1 teaspoon
Bay leaf (Tej pata): 1 /2
Sugar (Chini): 1 teaspoon
Red chili powder (Lanka guro): 1 teaspoon
Clarified butter (Ghee): 1 tablespoon
Sunflower or vegetable oil (Sada tel): 3 tablespoon
Cinnamon (Daar chini): 1 one inch size
Cardamom (Elaichi): 2-3
Cloves (Labango): 2-3
Ginger paste (Ada bata): 1 teaspoon
Garam masala: ½ teaspoon

Preparation:

  • Peel off the potatoes and half boil them
  • Grind the soaked rice to a rough paste
  • Heat oil in a wok and fry the boiled potatoes till the upper layer changes color
  • Take the potatoes out of flame and keep aside
  • In the left out oil put in the whole cumin seeds, cinnamon, cardamon, cloves, bay leaf, sugar and sauté
  • Put in the potatoes and mix well with the whole spices
  • In a small bowl assemble cumin powder, chili powder, turmeric powder, ginger paste and add 3-4 tablespoons of water to make a runny paste, add this to the potatoes  along with the grinded rice and stir well to mix the spices well with the potatoes
  • Sprinkle salt and add 11/2 -2 cups of water and cook covered for 8-10 mins, or till the potatoes are cooked entirely
  • Pour the clarified butter and garam masala and take out of flame
  • Serve hot with paratha or roti

Alu Dum

Further Reading – Baby Potato Curry, Bong Mom’s Dum Alu

Hot Tips –  Dum aloo goes best with luchi in a fine Sunday morning.

Sending the recipe To Priya’s event Diwali 2009 Contest and Diwali Dhamaka hosted by Purva in her blog.

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Luchi

Welcoming the Goddess

The Hindu calendar follows the lunar phases and so it’s a little different from our well known English calendar from January to December. As the Gregorian and the Hindu calendars do not tally the timing of Durga Puja also shifts yearly from Late September to late October. This time the Puja starts on 24th September; the day being Shasthi, welcoming the goddess to earth.

Shasthir ghaut

My grand mother used to tell me different stories of the goddess. One such was the welcoming of the goddess. According to the Hindu mythology, Devi Durga is the daughter of the King of Himalayas. Every year on the Shasthi of the Bengali month of Ashwin, she comes down from Kailash, the abode of her husband, Lord Shiva to earth. She stays here for the next four days and goes back to Kailash. The goddess doesn’t come alone; she comes along with her four children, two daughters and two sons, Lakshmi, Saraswati, Ganesh and Karthik.

The Celebration

While listening to these stories, as a kid I used to become spell bound and dreamt about how the goddess with her four children would come down to earth. Years have passed, and there is nobody to tell me stories nowJ. But the feeling of happiness, the planning to go pandal hopping, meeting friends, and above all buying new clothes and eating out – make this time the best month of the year.

From today the ninth day is Shasthi. Kolkata is getting decked up with the minute decorations of this grand festival. The clay idols of the goddess are almost ready except for the last coat of paint. At Cook Like a Bong we decided on celebrating this festival with an event and publishing our first eBook on Shasthi this year. Also, I’ll be posting about the different recipes that you can try out during the four days of celebration; starting today.

Shasthir Dala

Bongs love for luchi

A breakfast with some luchi, alu dum and sandesh will make the day for any Bong. Bengalis cannot get enough of these fluffy fried phulkas. Luchi, luuchi, lucchi, poori, puri, phulka – whatever one can call them, but to any Bong it’s an essence of pure ecstasy. The taste and smell of luchi enhances if fried in ghee. So, while frying the rolled out luchi, you can add half the volume of ghee with sunflower oil. Will tell you the recipe for this curry in my later post.

Luchi Tarkari

Preparation time: 1 hour
Cooking time: 30min
Makes 20 luchis

Ingredients:

All purpose flour (Maida): 2 cups

Carom seeds (Jowan/Ajwain): 1teaspoon

Sunflower oil (Sada tel): For deep frying

Salt: ½ teaspoon

Water: 1 ½ cup

Preparation:

  • Take the flour in a big bowl, carom seeds, salt and 2 tablespoon of oil
  • Mix the ingredients well to form a sandy mixture
  • Pour in half the water and knead the dough to almost dry
  • Then again pour the other half of water and knead well
  • If you feel the dough is not sticking to your palm, then its ready
  • Keep the dough for about 40mins covered with a wet muslin cloth
  • Divide the dough into 20 small balls, dip half the balls in oil for lubrication and roll the balls to 4-5 inch diameter circles
  • Heat oil for frying in a deep wok till smoking hot
  • Reduce the flame and slide in the rolled out poori
  • Press the luchi, while frying with the back of a slotted spatula, this helps in making the luchis fluffy
  • Take out of flame and place in a colander to let the luchis drain out the excess oil
  • Serve with any thick gravy curry (veg or non-veg)

Luchi

Hot Tips: Don’t drop the rolled out pooris into the heated oil, oil may splash out. Luchi even tastes good with granulated sugar or payesh, try it. You can use atta instead of maida but that makes the luchi look darker on color. You can even leave out the carom seeds while preparing luchi.

Further Readings: Bong Mom’s Luchi Preparation, Wiki Puri

Let us know your likings and memories of luchis or pooris, and don’t forget to send in your entries to the blog event ending 22nd September.

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Narkel Nadu

“Mushikavaahana modaka hastha,
Chaamara karna vilambitha sutra,
Vaamana rupa maheshwara putra,
Vighna vinaayaka paada namasthe”

“O Lord Vinayaka! The remover of all obstacles, the son of Lord Shiva, with a form which is very short, with mouse as Thy vehicle, with sweet pudding in hand, with wide ears and long hanging trunk, I prostrate at Thy lotus-like Feet!”

Homecoming

Ganesh Chaturthi is over (here’s my earlier post on Ganesh Chaturthi) and at home I and my sister are still sneaking into mom’s kitchen to get hold of the left over sweets (prasad). It really feels great to come back home after 2 long years and again indulge into those silly things that I left back here in Kolkata. Ganesh Chaturthi is just a reason for celebration. Even a few years back there were no such celebrations at home and no special puja for Ganeshji. The only way to remember this day was to see the calendar or the telecast of Ganesh idol immersion in Mumbai.

Narkel Nadu

Flashback

Quite a few years back, during Durga Bishorjon (durga idol immersion), my sister started howling when the Ganesha deity was about to be thrown into water. She was a little kid then. And that’s when mom’s fascination with the elephant headed deity (no offense intended) started. While coming back home shebrought a small Ganesh idol made of brass. Eventually, collecting Ganesh idols became her hobby  and she now has 60 odd Ganeshas of myriad variety. May be I’ll click some photos sometime later and post it here in our blog.

Narkel Nadu

During Ganesh Chaturthi this year it was my work to prepare the Nariyal Laddu (coconut laddu), better know as narkel naadu (nadu or naru) in Bengali. I just thought of sharing this recipe with you all. I prepared it with sugar, but even the combination of jaggery (here’s how Navita prepared it) tastes good.

Preparation time: 15min

Cooking time: 7-8min

Makes 15 naadu

Ingredients:

Coconut (Narkel): 1

Sugar (Chini): 250gms

Khoya kheer: 100gms

Cardamom powder (Elaichi guro):  ½ teaspoon

Preparation:

  • Grate the coconut mix with sugar and khoya kheer, mix thoroughly with your hand.
  • Take a thick bottom wok and simmer the coconut mixture with constant stirring, add the cardamom powder
  • Take the wok out of the flame as soon as the coconut starts to get sticky
  • Let it cool till you are able to touch it with your hand
  • Make small one inch size balls with this

Hot Tips- Do not let the coconut to get cooled totally, then you will not be able to make the balls as the mixture gets sticky and becomes a single mass.

Further Reading –  Indrani’s style

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Rasogollar Payesh

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“Bengalis are too much fond of sweets, it’s their national weakness”

– Anonymous

Bangalir Khawadawa

After coming back to Kolkata, I bought this book on Bengali cuisine by Shankar; the book is in Bengali and titled “Bangalir Khawadawa” (aka, Food and Feasting of Bengalis). The book has a great deal of information of various dishes, sweets, chops, and restaurants in Kolkata. The book discusses culinary skills in Bengalis of yore in great detail. But the only thing that I missed in the book was a special section on rasgulla. Which is kind of disappointing since rasgulla (or rasogolla, rashogolla) is the most widely consumed sweet among Bengalis. Well, this post isn’t a book review (it would be a later post). Let’s talk about Rasogollar Payesh.

Rasogollar Payesh

Rasogolla in Bengal

Rasgulla was invented by the sweet makers (or moira in Bengali) of Puri, the famous temple town in Orissa. In the mid 19th century Oriya cooks were hired at the rich Bengali households and with them arrived the coveted recipe of rasogolla. In 1868, a Bong sweet maker, Nabin Chandra Das refined the sweet delicacy to have a better shelf life. That was the birth of sponge rasgulla.

All I am saying this is because I got very excited with the book, and also a couple of days back I prepared a derivate of this ecstatic rasogolla and named it rasgollar payesh or rasgulla pudding or you can even call it ras malai with a slight twist. This is such a simple recipe that you can even prepare when your guests are knocking at the door. I had bought a can of rasgulla and just thought of experimenting with those sweet cheesy balls. The preparation was an instant hit and those who had the dish couldn’t stop licking their fingers (well not literally. They used spoons you see. But you get the drift. (Bhavnaon ko Samjho).

Cooking time: 30mins

Makes 16 rasgulla

Ingredients:

Rasgulla (Rasogolla): 1kg can contains 16 (How to make Rasogolla – video)

Whole cream milk (Dudh): 1 ½ ltr

Rasgulla syrup (Rash / Raus): 1 cup, pour in more if you want it very sweet

Custard powder: 2 tablespoon

Raisin (Kismis / Kishmish): 20-25

Preparation:

  • Keep aside half cup of milk and pour in the rest of milk in a thick bottom pan and simmer till the volume reduces to three-fourth
  • Take the custard powder in a small bowl and gradually add the milk that was kept aside to make a smooth batter
  • Pour the custard mix into the simmering milk with constant stirring to avoid lump formation
  • Add one cup of the syrup from the can, I used little less than that as we don’t like too much sweet in desserts
  • Simmer again for about 5 min with constant stirring
  • Now, drop in the rasgullas one after another and take out of flame
  • Garnish with raisins
  • You can keep it in the freezer for sometime or serve it just like that

Rasogollar Payesh

Hot Tips – You can leave out the custard powder. In that case it’s better to simmer the milk for sometime more so that the volume reduces to half the original, and add ½ teaspoon of cardamon powder or one teaspoon of vanilla essence.

Further Readings – Wiki link Rasgulla, How to make Rasogolla – video

Sending this recipe to FIL: Milk hosted by Sanghi of Sanghi’s Food Delights and also to Barbara for supporting a nobel cuase with her event “LiveSTRONG With A Taste Of Yellow 2009“.

FIL Milk small

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