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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Hilsa Fry in Microwave

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I have never gone to any Fish market (macher bajar) other than in Kolkata (in Bangalore I like shopping my kitchen requirements at Spencer’s), and so am not aware of the non-Kolkata Macher Bajar scene. The mud-spattered floors of the fish market,  big chunks of ice being crushed in gunny bags, the fishy smell (which is actually a mix of smells of 20 different fish types) hovering all over and the shouts and calls from all the vendors gives the fish market its distinct feel. Bengalis love fish and to top it, Bongs love buying fish from those dirty fish markets.

I am sure there aren’t any fish markets in any part of India that can compete with the variety of fishes sold in fish stalls in Bengal. Fishes from the nearby ponds, fishes from rivers, fishes from seas – you name it and it will sure be available there. There are different seasons where some fishes are available predominantly; monsoon brings one such fish that you can call the “Queen of fishes”, the quintessential Ilish, or Hilsa. This sea fish comes to the river for laying eggs, their flesh gets sweetened by the fresh water of the river and that’s the best catch. Hilsa from the Ganges and Padma are world famous.

Hilsa costs a fortune so to say, the last time I went to the market a couple of days back it was 500INR per kilogram. But, price doesn’t make the fish lovers stay away from this silver delicacy. The shiny silvery colors with a pinkish tinge on its dorsal side make this fish a discrete item among all other fishes. Other than fish Bengalis have another obsession, its football, and nothing can better the fish football combo. It has almost become a custom for the fans of East Bengal Club (a county football club in Kolkata, for the uninitiated) to celebrate the team’s wins with a platter of Ilish. I’m not sure of the origin of this combo. If you know about the relationship, I request you to comment about the connection between East Bengal’s wins and hilsa.

The softness of its flesh and its awesome taste has made it the queen among all fishes. But, some people who are not so much efficient on taking out bones from fishes like to stay away from hilsa. So, to end this problem Marco Polo, a fine dining restaurant in Kolkata and now nationwide popular restaurant Oh! Calcutta had been hosting festival for Boneless Hilsa, not sure though how it will taste.

Fish is indispensable in any Bengali celebration, and if the festival / celebration is in the monsoons, Hilsa is always present at the dinner table. There are scores of different dishes prepared with Ilish –  Ilish Bhapa, Ilish pulao, Ilish macher  jhol, and many others. But the most quick and easy one is the fried hilsa. A tablespoon of the oil in which the fish was fried with warm rice and a piece of the fried fish – I’m sure any Bengali would give up his tooth and eyes to have such a platter.

I had seen my mom frying fish in the same old wok since the time I used to peek into her kitchen. This time I thought of trying out something new. I fried the hilsa in microwave. It turned out to be a success, the quantity of oil for frying was also less and was hassle free, that’s the best part of microwave cooking, I believe.

What’s your Ilish memory?

Preparation time: 2 min
Cooking time: 8 min
Makes 4 fish fries
 
Ingredients:
  • 4 pieces hilsa/ilish fillets
  • 1/2 teaspoon Turmeric powder
  • 2 tablespoon Mustard Oil
  • Salt to taste

Preparation:

  • Wash the fish pieces and put it in an open microwave safe bowl
  • Coat the hilsa pieces with turmeric powder and salt
  • Add the mustard oil over the fish
  • Put the bowl in microwave oven and microwave high (800watts) for 7 – 8mins
  • Serve hot with warm rice

Hot Tips – You can also cook it in an wok, take a little more oil than mentioned here and heat it in a wok. Gently slide the fish into the wok and fry one side at a time turning it once the side has become brown and cooked.

Further Reading – Bengal-Hilsa, Ilish Curry

Poila Baisakh Special – Tel Koi

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Paila Baisakh, the first day of the Bengali New Year is just a week to go. Its definitely a big day for all Bongs all over the world. It’s a day to celebrate the joy of being a Bengali – food, new clothes and of course Rabindra Sangeet. The way of celebrating may have changed over time, but you just can’t find a Bengali who doesn’t want to celebrate this day. The Chaitra sale in Gariahat market is just something indispensable. If you are in Kolkata at this time of the year, you should definitely make it a point to visit Gariahat – from big shops to the street vendors, everybody has the “SALE” tag hanging.  The essence of Poila baisakh is being a Bengali in heart. You may celebrate it in a club with friends over a peg of JohnnyWalker, but your heart still beats to the rhythm of “esho hain Baisakh esho esho”.

We at Cook Like a Bong wanted to share our joy with you all, and so we have planned to share one recipe everyday till Paila Baisakh. Starting from today, the menu starts with the Bong favourite – fish. Tel koi is an authentic Bengali recipe, and a must have with warm rice for lunch.

Ingredients:

  • 8 koi fish
  • 2 tablespoon cumin seeds
  • 2 teaspoon red chilli powder
  • 2 teaspoon turmeric powder
  • ½ teaspoon garam masala
  • ½ teaspoon clarifies butter
  • 3 tablespoon mustard oil
  • Salt to taste

Preparation:

  • Grind 1 ½ tablespoon cumin seeds, and mix with the chilli and turmeric powder
  • Strain with a chakni, and mix with water
  • Heat the oil in a wok and add the extra cumin seeds
  • Put in the koi fish and the spice mixture
  • Pour in water and cook covered till the fish is soft
  • Sprinkle the garam masala and ghee
  • Serve hot with rice

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Pui Dana Diye Chingri

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

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

Ingredients:

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

Preparation

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

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

Further Reading – Chanchra, Lutiya Shutki

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Dim Posto-Sarse (Egg with poppy-mustard paste )

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“Jai Mata Di”

This is the first post of this New Year at Cook Like a Bong. I wish you had a wonderful weekend. Mine was good too. I went out for a short trip to the Himalayas, specifically to Vaishna Devi. For those who are not aware of this holy Hindu shrine, let me give you a little information. The shrine is one of the holiest temples among Hindus, and one of the few temples where the Goddess is worshipped not in the form of any idol but just a little piece of rock. The shrine is located in the Northern State of Jammu & Kashmir and is a 13km trek from a little hill town called Katra. Vaishno Devi or Mata Rani is a manifestation of the mother goddess. As with all Hindu temples and shrines, the Vaishno Devi temple also has some mythological significance, to know more about those stories here.

Amidst a cloud covered sky we reached Katra. The following morning was our trek to the shrine, but the rains and cold were about to wash out everything. Fighting with all natural hazards we still could make out to our destination with a 6 hour trek – walking and by pony at times. The cloud and fog never let us have a view of the mountains, and we were almost heart broken. The aarti and visit to the shrine was a divine experience. After a long and tiring journey, a visit to the temple really had its charming effect. All done, we were to head back again the next morning. Thanks to the all night rain and little snowfall, the next morning was a wonderful experience. We started our journey when it was still dark, and could see the first rays of sun slowly falling over the snow capped mountain. I have watched this very scene many times at different places, but the first ray of sun turning the snow to gold is always a mesmerizing view. We took a helicopter to come down. It was to save time and also to have a once in a lifetime experience in a helicopter. The trip lasted just 3 days with loads of troubles including cancelled flight, lost items in the flight cargo, rains, cold, wet sweaters, walking bare foot on the ice cold stone steps – these incidents made me feel really bad. But while writing this post, I realized I really enjoyed the trip.

Coming back to food, I just thought of writing about this egg in mustard-poppy paste recipe. I had clicked the photo quite some time back, and was waiting for the right time to post it. The first post for this year, rather this decade seemed to be exactly the right time for it. It is an easy recipe and can be had be one and all.

Serves 4

Preparation time 10min

Cooking time 30min


Ingredients:

Egg (Dim): 4

Potato (Alu): 1, large

Mustard seed (Sarse): 4 tablespoon

Poppy seed (Posto): 4 tablespoon

Onion (Peyaj): 1, medium

Turmeric powder (Hau guro): ½ teaspoon

Chili powder (Lanka guro): 1 teaspoon

Mustard oil (Sarser tel): 10-12 tablespoon

Garam masala: ½ teaspoon

Salt to taste

Preparation:

Preparation:

  • Hard boil the eggs, chop the onions finely, slice the potatoes into long pieces, make a paste of mustard and poppy seeds together
  • Heat the half the amount of oil in and fry the chopped onions, keep aside
  • In the same left over oil fry the eggs, keep aside
  • Pour in left over oil and fry the potatoes till half fried
  • In the mean time, mix the chili and turmeric powder to the mustard-poppy paste
  • As the potatoes get half cooked, pour in the spices and little water, cook till the potatoes are almost done
  • Carefully put in the eggs and cook for 2-3mins more, pour in the garam masala powder,  and take out of flame, garnish with the fried onions
  • Serve hot with warm rice

Hot Tips- If you want to make the gravy spicier then add some more mustard and poppy seeds to the paste.

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Lau Chingri

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November has set in but there is no trace of the wintery wind. Kolkata is still in the midst of the heat. According to reports it says a cyclone named Phyan has its effect for this warm weather in the mid of November. Though it spared the Western coast of the country, it is having quite a good and warm effect over the Eastern coastline. To beat this heat and also because of my diabetic problems bottle gourd is one of the most enlisted vegetables in our to-buy list. Whenever I visit the market these days I get hold of a lau (Bengali for bottle gourd) or lauki. The previous day I prepared lau-chingri, one of my favorite preparations with this not-so-tasty veggie.

Lau Chingri

Bottle gourd is a very beneficial vegetable. It reduces stomach acidity, indigestion and ulcers. The gourd is not only rich in essential minerals, iron, protein and trace elements; it is also rich in fiber. Fiber helps in preventing constipation and other digestive disorders like flatulence and piles. It also helps in urinary disorders, and overcoming jaundice. Cooked bottle gourd is anti-bilious and prevents excessive loss of sodium, quenches thirst and helps in preventing fatigue. With all these beneficial effects to the digestive system bottle gourd is one of the best choices to beat this November heat.

Serves: 4

Preparation time: 10min

Cooking time 20min

Ingredients:

Bottle gourd (Lau/ Lauki): 500gms

Prawns (Chingri): 150gms, deveined and de-shelled

Green chili (Kancha Lanka): 3-4, longitudinally slit

Mustard oil (Sarser tel): 2 tablespoon

Nigella (Kalo jeera): 1 teaspoon

Turmeric powder (Halud guro): ½ teaspoon

Coriander leaves (Dhane pata): For garnishing (optional)

lau chingri preparation

Preparation:

  • Chop the bottle gourd into 2 inch by half-inch size pieces
  • Wash and put it in a pressure cooker with water, just to cover the bottle gourd
  • Allow two whistles in the pressure cooker before putting off the flame. Drain out the excess water
  • Wash the shrimps well, and drain out the excess water
  • Heat the oil in a wok and fry the shrimps gently till they turn a little hard, take out of flame and keep aside
  • Into the same oil add the nigella seeds and wait till they start popping
  • Throw in the half-boiled bottle gourd, green chili, turmeric powder and the fried prawns
  • Put a lid over the wok and cook till the bottle gourd is cooked properly, stir at times
  • Garnish with some chopped coriander leaves
  • Take out of flame and serve with warm white rice

Lau chingri

Hot Tips – Always try to get the green colored bottle gourd, the whitish skinned bottle gourds are a bitter in taste. Those who don’t like to add prawns to this preparation just leave out the prawns, you can also add some fried boris as garnish.

Further Reading – Bong Mom’s Lau-chingri preparation, Indrani’s Lau-chingri

Nutritional Facts –

Calories 9KJ

Total Fat 0.1 g 0%
Saturated Fat 0 g 0%
Cholesterol 0 mg 0%
Sodium 0%
Total Carbs 2 g 1%
Dietary Fiber 0.9 g 4%
Protein 0.3 g 1%

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Jeera Rice/ Cumin flavored Rice

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I hope you all have had a very nice weekend with Diwali and Kali Puja to mark the end of Hindu festivities for this year. I am very sorry for my unannounced break from the blog. I just came down to Bangalore for a couple of days and had been busy since, working and partying.

Diwali pradipDiwali diyaPancha Pradip

The festival season has gone past but still the feel has not passed away. There are still sounds of crackers coming from here and there, and even at odd hours, 6 in the morning or 12 midnight. When it’s the time of festivities, eating out almost all nights, attending parties, visiting friends and relatives, having the oily and spicy food are all synonymous. So the last week ended with spice intake that should have lasted a month. I was almost craving for some non-spicy, less oily food for lunch. Yesterday I was all alone at home in the afternoon, and was very lazy to cook. There was left over rice from the other night and so thought of adding little cumin to it. The jeera rice (my version) was just the thing that I was looking for after a whole week of spices and oils. I had it with a hard-boiled egg.

Tubri

A little search on the web showed that zeera or cumin flavored rice is originally from North India, I am not sure though about the exact period from when it became popular. Any suggestions or information as comments regarding its history is highly welcome. Though I had prepared the jeera rice with left over rice, you can make it with freshly cooked rice also.

Preparation time; 3min
Cooking time: 20 + 5min
Serves: 1

Ingredients:

Cooked rice (Bhaat): 1 cup
Cumin (Jeera/ Zeera): 1 tablespoon
Onion (Peyaj): 1 medium size, diced into small pieces
Sugar (Chini): ½ teaspoon
Curry leaves (Kari pata): 4/5
Green chilies (Kancha Lanka): 2, cut into small rings
Clarified butter (ghee): 1 tablespoon
The ingredients

Preparation:

  • Heat the ghee in a wok, throw in the curry leaves, cumin seeds
  • As the cumin start popping add the diced onions and sauté
  • Let the onions turn soft before adding the rice
  • Add the chilies and sugar
  • Toss for sometime till the ghee is well mixed with the rice
  • Serve hot any side dish of choice or even some raita and green salad.

Jeera Rice

Hot Tips – If you are using fresh rice to prepare this, then you can also do it this way. Do same till the sautéing the onions, put in the soaked rice (uncooked) and add just the double amount of water and let the rice get cooked.

Further Reading – Jeera Rice from Arundhati, Cumin Pilaf

Sending this recipe to a dear friend’s (Radhika) first blog anniversary celebration with the Cook For Yourself event.

cookforyourself

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Patla Ilisher Jhol (Hilsa with Nigella)

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“Aum Mahalakshmi Vidmahe

Vishnu PriyaYe Dhi Mahi

Tanno Lakshmi Prachodayat”

-Lakshmi Slokam

Lakshmi salelakshmi sale

I had prepared this patka Ilish (hilsa) jhol (curry) quite sometime back, and the images had been in my folder since then. I was searching for the right time to publish this recipe, and nothing can be better than today. According, to Bengali customs it is said that no one should have hilsa between Lakshmi Puja and Saraswati Puja. Ilish is one of my most favorite fishes and I never liked this customJ. Sometime back, while searching for hilsa recipes on the web I came across an article named “The Last Hilsa Curry” in the Outlook India. Along with a dinner menu for the Chief Minister of West Bengal at the Prime Minister’s home there was the answer to my long lost question. Why we should not have hilsa between Lakshmi and Sarawati Puja? The scientific reason behind this custom is very simple. The little hilsa fishes swam back from river to the sea and then again came back in the next monsoon to lay eggs. With globalization everywhere, we are almost forgetting our own cultures, as a result of not following this simple custom the world renowned Padmar Ilish is on the verge of extinction. These days you can find hilsa all throughout the year and some weighing even less than 500gms.

Lakshmir potLakshmir nauka

Coming to a lighter note, today is Lakshmi Puja eve and the markets are flooded with people doing their last minute marketing for welcoming the goddess of wealth. Lakshmi Puja is carried out in almost all families, mainly the Bangals (families who came as refugees from East Pakistan). Ghotis households (the actual inhabitants of Bengal) worship the goddess on Kali Puja (Diwali) and they call it as Mahalakshmi Puja. Lakshmi is the goddess of wealth and the daughter of Lord Shiva and Parvati. Lakshmi is also depicted as the mother goddess, sitting or sanding on a lotus, holding a lotus on one hand and a vessel filled with grains on the other. The lotus in her hand symbolizes beauty and purity of woman. Her four hands depicts the four ends of human life – dharma (righteousness), kama (desires), artha (wealth) and mokhsha (liberation from the cycle of birth and death).

chand mala

Tomorrow is Kojagori Purnima and all households are getting ready for the day. Some families worship the goddess not as an idol but as a painting on terracotta discs (Paut in Bengali). The banana stem is modified to a small boat and filled with paddy and lentils signifying gold and silver. A pair of hilsa is offered to the goddess in some households.

Here is a quick and easy recipe with hilsa. I have used raw banana for the preparation, you can also use thin and long egg plants in place of it. Potato doesn’t go along with hilsa, so its better to leave potato out of this curry.

Serves: 4

Preparation time: 10min

Cooking time: 15min

Patla Ilish Jhol

Ingredients:

Hilsa (Ilish): 4 pieces

Raw Banana (Kancha Kala): 1

Mustard oil (Sarser tel): 4 tablespoons

Nigella (Kalo jeera): ½ teaspoon

Green chili (Kancha lanka): 2

Turmeric powder (Halud guro): 1½ teaspoon

Salt to taste

Preparation:

  • Wash the fishes well, put in a bowl and mix well with 1 teaspoon turmeric powder and salt
  • Cut the raw banana longitudinally into half and then into 2 inch long pieces
  • Heat the oil in a wok and half fry the fishes, take out and keep aside
  • Throw in the bananas and toss for a minute, add the nigella seeds
  • Mix turmeric powder in 2 tablespoons of water and keep ready
  • As the nigella seeds start popping pour in the turmeric paste
  • Add the chilies (slit them if you like the curry to be hot), and pour in 1 ½ cup of water
  • Let the water boil and reduce to half
  • Gently add the fried hilsa pieces and cook for 2 minutes
  • Take out of flame and serve with warm rice

Patla Ilish Jhol

Further Reading – Bong Mom’s Hilsa Curry, Hilsa story

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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

Patishapta

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“There is only one difference between a long life and a good dinner: that, in the dinner, the sweets come last.”

– R.L. Stevenson

I discovered a jar of rice flour a couple of days back. I don’t remember since how long it had been there in  my kitchen, but the flour looked good, and the texture was also perfect. So, I thought of preparing some patishapta to have a sweet tooth feast. Patishapta reminds me of those Poush Sankranti days at my grandparents house. There would be a feast for three days and my Dida (my mom’s mom) would prepare those patishapta sitting near the brick stove (she preferred the brick stove over the gas oven) all day long. I have never seen such perfect patishapta after her. Those more so soft and moist and the colour was a perfect tinge of very very light brown. It was almost like a ritual for all the kids at home to steal some of those hot patishapta.

patishapta1

Before going to the recipe details, just a little note about patishapta. Patishapta is the most popular among all pitha (also, pithe) prepared during Sankranti (Sankranthi, in South India). In simple words, patishapta is actually a rice flour crepe with coconut and jaggery fillings. The softness of the crepe and the sweet filling inside makes it the best pitha and most commonly prepared pitha. Though cakes, pastries and various other sweets are in vogue in almost every household, but I would say those who have at least tasted patishapta ones will never say no to it.

Preparation time: 10min

Cooking time: 25mins

Makes 10 patishapta

Ingredients:

For the filling-

  • Grated Coconut (Narkel Kora): 3cups
  • Jaggery (Gur): 1cup
  • Cardamom powder (Elaich): 1/4 teaspoon

For the crepes-

  • Wheat flour (Maida): 1cup
  • Seomlina (Suji): 1/2 cup
  • Rice flour (Chal guro): 1/2cup
  • Milk (Dudh): 1cup
  • Sunflower oil for frying

Preparation:

For the filling-

  • In a wok heat the jaggery, as it start melting add the coconut
  • Put in the cardamom powder and stir till the coconut mixes well with the jaggery
  • Cook till the coconut feels sticky
  • Take out of flame and keep aside

For the crepes-

  • Add all dry ingredients together and mix well
  • Pour the milk with constant stirring to avoid lump formation, the batter should be smooth and freely flowing (add excess milk if required)
  • Heat a frying pan (preferably non-stick) and pour in 1 tablespoon on oil, spread it with a kitchen paper
  • Take a small bowl of batter and spread it evenly on the pan to make a round shape, do it quick before the batter sets
  • Place the filling lengthwise at the center of the crepe
  • Fold the crepe from both sides and wait till it turns light brown
Patishapta

Patishapta

Hot tips – If you don’t have a non-stick pan, don’t worry. Cut the upper part of an egg plant, keeping the stalk intact and spread the oil over the pan using it instead of a  kitchen paper.

Further Reading – Poush Parboner PatishaptaPitheHarvest foodFood During Sankranti

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Prepare Phuchka (Golgappa) at home

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“When people wore hats and gloves, nobody would dream of eating on the street. Then white gloves went out of style and, suddenly, eating just about anything in the street became OK.”

–          Jane Addison, quoted in the Great Food Almanac by Irena Chalmers

Street food in Kolkata epitomizes the pada (neighborhood) culture. Having something at the nearest roadside vendor is not only about eating and fulfilling ones gastronomic urges, but it is also a means of having food with family, friends and sometimes even strangers. Street foods that are in vogue are phuchka, jhal muri, papri chat, muri makha, vegetable chop, and beguni, but phuchka ranks above all. Someone from South Calcutta won’t find it a pain to travel all the way to Bowbazar (for the uninitiated in Calcutta’s geography, Bowbazar is almost an hour drive from South Calcutta) just to confront his friends that the phuchka wala at his pada is better than theirs.

Now, by “street food”, I don’t mean what one can get in the big or even the small restaurants, roadside food is that what you get from the makeshift stalls on the foot path of whole of Bengal. There are also other names for it in the different states of India. Some call it Pani Puri, some golgappa. But if you ask any Calcuttan he/she will say phuchka is definitely different from golgappa or panipuri. The difference may be obscure, probably it’s only the colloquial term that varies, but there is a little difference in one of the ingredients that significantly differentiates phuchka from all its synonyms. The vendors in Bengal use gandhoraj lebu (a typical lemon produced in suburbs of Bengal) to flavor the filling and the tamarind water of phuchka. And this is where all the difference is.

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Kolkata street food is such a rage, that there are places in different part of India and even abroad holding “Calcutta street food festival”. When I started having phuchka, as far as I remember it was 5 for a rupee and the last time I had it back in Kolkata I got three for two rupees. Though here in Bangalore there are places where you get pani puri that almost tastes like those back in Kolkata, but are highly priced. Talking about phuchka, I can’t leave the phuckhwalas, people who sell the phuchka. They are mostly from Bihar/Jharkhand, and you just can’t beat them with their style of the phuchka preparation.

Cooking time: 8-10min

Preparation time: 12min

Makes 20 phuchka

Ingredients:

  • Phuchka balls: 20
  • Potato(Alu): 2 large
  • Whole Bengal gram (Chola): 2 tablespoon, soaked
  • Green chili (Kacha Lanka): 4, chopped finely
  • Cumin (Jeera): 1 teaspoon, roasted and then grinded
  • Lemon juice (Pati lebu ras): 1 teaspoon
  • Cilantro (Dhane pata): Chopped to 2 tablespoon
  • Tamarind pulp (Tetul): 4 tablespoon
  • Salt to taste

Preparation:

  • Boil the potatoes with the skin on, peel off after boiling and mash properly so that no lumps remain
  • Add soaked bengal gram green chili, cumin powder, lemon juice, one tablespoon of cilantro to the mashed potato and mix well
  • Take the tamarind pulp in a big bowl and add 2 cups of water to it with salt and the rest of the cilantro, mix well
  • Add 2 tablespoon of the tamarind water to the mashed potatoes and keep the rest aside
  • Break just the upper part of one phuchka ball and put in one teaspoon of the filling, fill the other balls also similarly
  • Serve with the rest of the tamarind water
Phuchka with tamarind water

Phuchka with tamarind water

Hot Tips – Though not the basic component, you may also like to add some chopped onions to the filling to make it spicier.

Further Reading – Rasta Nasta, Sasta way, Crazy Street Food of Kolkata

Phuchka is the ideal recipe to send for the “Family Recipe” event at The Life and Loves of Grumpy Honey Bunch co-hosted by Laura of The Spiced Life.

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Masur Dal and Alu Posto: A whole lunch

Posto or poppy seeds is always a delicacy in all Bengali household. It is extensively used as a spice in various dishes, be that in potato or chicken curry.It is said that poppy makes you feel cool, I am not sure of this saying though. I mom believes in it and so come summer there has to be some kind of a curry consisting of poppy seeds. The range varies from simple poppy seed paste sauted to poppy seed grind with cashew to make chicken curry.

As with poppy seeds, masur dal also takes up a very important place in Bengali kitchens. whenever I taste masur dal, I go down memory lane. every day when I came back from school for lunch, mom always prepared masur dal, my all time favorite among all lentils.  Even till now, when I go home in my vacations mom always cook masur dal for me.

All this I was telling because I had the best combination of veggie delight last night. It was steamed rice with masur dal and alu posto. If you are a Bengali or if you are not, then ask any Bengali , you’ll come to know that anyone would kill for this platter.

Serves 2

Ingredients:

For Alu Posto:-

Potato (Alu): 3 large size

Nigella seeds (Kalonji): 1 teaspoon

Poppy seeds (Posto): 2 tablespoons

Green Chili (Kacha Lanka): 2

Mustard oil (Sarser tel): 1 teaspoon

For Masur dal:-

Masur dal: 50 gms

Onions (Peyaj): 2 small sizes

Green chili (Kacha lanka): 2

Mustard oil (Sarser tel): 1 teaspoon

Cilantro leaves (Dhaniya pata): 2 tablespoon of chopped leaves (optional)

chopped-coriander

Preparation:

Alu Posto:-

  • Grind the poppy seeds and green chili in a grinder to make a paste
  • Cut the potatoes into small one inch squares
  • Heat oil in a wok, and throw in the nigella seeds as the oil gets heated.
  • Immediately add the potatoes and toss for a while so that the oil gets mixed with the potatoes.
  • Now add turmeric and salt along with a cup of water and let the potatoes get half cooked.
  • Put in the poppy seed paste and stir so that the paste gets mixed with the half cooked potatoes. You can add more water if the curry gets dried up.
  • Cook till the potatoes get cooked properly and the water disappears.
Potato in poppy seed paste

Potato in poppy seed paste

Here is a slide show to show the stages of the cooking:

Masur Dal:-

  • Thoroughly wash the dal and put in a deep pan with salt and water so that the dal remain almost 3 inches under water. Let it boil till the water and dal becomes inseparable.
  • In a separate heat the oil and throw in the onions and green chili. Saute till the onions turn golden brown
  • Add the sauted onions to the boiled dal along with the turmeric powder and cook for two to three minutes more.
  • Garnish with chopped coriander leaves.
Masur Dal

Masur Dal

Masur dal and poppy-potato curry tastes best with steamed rice, but you can also try it with chapatis and rotis. The curry also looks good without turmeric, so you can try out that too. About masur dal, it depends what concentration you want for it, depending on that you can keep the water or make it dry.

the-platter

Sending this to Challenge Event hosted by Veda of Iyengar’s kitchen

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Check for more updates here on this blog, till then Happy Cooking and Happy Eating

Dhokar Dalna

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I hope you all had loved the round up for The Non-Veggie Event. As for me, hosting an event for the first time was of great great pleasure. The recipes I received were so good and I felt pleasure in going through all the recipes. Each was better than the other. Chicken, mutton, eggs- everything was on the menu. I even tried out some of them and they were so yummy.

So after all these meat and flesh and spices all over I thought of choosing something light and vegetarian for my next post.

Dhokar dalna is one of the oldest recipes, which is of absolute Bengali origin. You will never find anything equivalent to this recipe. If any of you have anything which you feel is similar to Dhokar Dalna, then please do write a comment on that. Even better of you please post it on your blog and leave a comment along with the URL of the post.
I found my mother cooking many items and calling them with the same prefix “Dalna”. I took this opportunity to search about what Dalna actually means. My source was noone but my inspiration of cooking , my MOM. After partition many people came from East Bengal, now better known as Bangadesh. In present Bengal (West Bengal, India) they are popularly known as Bangal(as in Bangladesh) and those who were actually from present West Bengal are called Ghoti. As the language changes with every mile, so here also there is no exception. What the Bangal call tarkari (curry) the Ghotis call it Dalna. So, this Dhokar Dalna most probably originated from the people who were the oldest inhabitants of present West Bengal. There are many more stories of this differetiation in every part of Bengal. If I start writing I’ll never ed, so better keep it for future.

Dhoka is a mixture of two types of pulses, and the curry with very little spice is called Dhokar Dalna.

Ingredients:

Yellow split pea (Matar dal): 40gms

Bengal gram (Chana Dal): 160gms

Refined wheat flour (Maida): 1 tablespoon

Potatoes (Aalu): 2 medium sized

Sugar (Chini): 1 teaspoon

Black pepper (Gol morich guro): 1 teaspoon

Asfoetida (Hing): 1 pinch

Fennel seed (Mouri):  ½ teaspoons

Cinnamon powder (Dar chini guro): 1 pinchr

Cardamom powder (Elaichi): 1pinch

Nigella (Kalo jeera): 1 teaspoon full

Cumin Seeds (Jeera): ½ teaspoons

Turmeric powder (Halud guro): 1 ½ teaspoons

Red Chili powder (Sukhno Lankar Guro): 1½ teaspoon

Mustard oil (Sarser tel) for frying

Salt to taste

Preparation:

For the Dhoka:

  • Grind both the pulses together in a powder. Grind it well so that it becomes absolutely powdery.
  • Alternately you can also soak the pulses for about 2 to 3 hours and then make a paste of the soaked pulses.
  • Add salt, ½ teaspoons each of turmeric powder, ½ teaspoons of red chili powder, turmeric powder, black pepper, cumin seeds;  refinedwheat flour, sugar, asafoetida, cinnamon powder, cardamom powder and 1 teaspoon of nigella to the dough.
  • If you have dry grinded the pulses then add water and make thick dough. Keep it for 20 to 30 minutes.
  • Heat ½ teaspoons of oil in an wok. Add the dough and toss for 2 to 3 minutes or till the dough become quite dry.
  • Spread the tossed dough over a plate with almost an inch depth. Cut it into small diamond shapes. The dhoka is now ready to fry.
Dhoka

Dhoka

  • Heat oil in a frying pan and fry the dhokas till they get hard and the inside also gets cooked. You can prick them with a knife. If the knife comes out with sticking, then the inside is also cooked.
Deep Fried Dhoka

Deep Fried Dhoka

For the Dalna:

  • Cut thepotatoes in medium size square pieces.
  • Heat oil in a wok. Fry the potatoes till they are golden brown.
  • Add the cumin seeds to it along with turmeric and chili powder.
  • Pour in water and salt.
  • Now cook till the gravy thickens and the potatoes are cooked well.
  • Carefully drop the dhokas and just boil for 2 minutes in low flame. Do not toss else the dhokas will break.

Take it out of flame and Dhokar Dalna is ready to serve. Dhokar Dalna serves as a wonderful side dish for vegetarian meals. Try it out and send me your comments. Keep in touch and till then HAPPY COOKING AND HAPPY EATING.

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Sending this recipe for Home Grown Gourmet event hosted by Erika

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Chicken Kasha

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Update:

This was the first post I wrote on Cook Like a Bong, the then Here I Cook. Due to the popularity of this post I thought of updating it for my own good, and also for those who come and visit this blog. I used to have an wordpress account at that time and started writing random recipes then. After this one there had been more than 120 posts till today and many more updates in this blog. After an year Kalyan joined and we shifted to our own hosting and domain name. The time when I started this blog I didn’t have a camera, rather a proper camera. So, the picture below was borrowed from Flickr. Days changed, and now I own a Nikon D60, you can have a look at the images in the Flickr account of BengaliCuisine.

Chicken kasha, is a very well known Bengali side-dish almost prepared at every Bengali households. Another one that I prepare quite often  is the chicken keema recipe.

Serves: 4

Ingredients:

  • Chicken -1kg
  • Curd(doi) – 150gm
  • Onions(peyaj) – 4 big ones
  • Garlic(rasun) – 5/6 peeled
  • Ginger(aada) -10/20gm
  • Turmeric powder(halud) – 2tsp
  • Chilli powder(lankar guro) – 3 tsp
  • Vegetable or mustard oil – 2 big tablespoons
  • Salt to taste

Procedure

First of all clean the chicken very well, let it be under running tap water for at least 5mins. Take the chicken in bowl and then add the curd, 1 big tablespoon of ginger garlic paste, 2 tea spoons of chilli powder , 2 tablespoon of onion juice(chop one onion and grind it in a mixer) and salt . Keep it aside for 30mins.

Heat the oil in a kadai, sauté the chopped onions, and garlic till they become golden brown. Keep aside one-fourth of the onions for garnishing later. Put in the rest of garlic – ginger paste into the sautéed onion and ginger, and just fry for a minute or so. Add the marinated chicken to the kadai and pour 2 cups of water. Put a lid and cook for few minutes.

Check after 5/6mins whether the chicken has become got cooked. If it still seems to be stiff , add some more water and cook for sometime more.

A great smell will fill up your kitchen when it’s cooked. Turn off the stove. Put the cooked chicken in a bowl and garnish it with the fried onions.

Enjoy it with rice, chapatti or paratha.

An addendum

Those of you who are still in love with potatoes can add 2/3 big sized potatoes to it. Cut the potatoes into one-fourth size. Fry till it becomes golden (don’t over fry it) and keep it aside. After adding the chicken, wait for 5mins and then add the fried potatoes to it.

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