Thursday, August 30, 2012

Egg Biryani

Dinner time..!!!! I was clueless what to make. My little one wanted something with rice, the man asked for some curry. But I was in mood for some eggs. So combined everything to an one dish meal.
Yes you are right, I made this Egg Biryani for dinner last night. The name 'Biryani' means a long elaborate process to many. But you can always cut it short, and  yes of course without compromising the taste. As I was in hurry I chose eggs as the main ingredient, any meat would take much more time. There are several steps of making biryani but if you plan wisely it will be very easy.

First let's note down the ingredients for biryani;


  • Basmati rice:1cup
  • Eggs:4
  • Potato(peeled and cubed):1medium
  • Onion(thinly sliced):1cup
  • Ginger paste:1tsp
  • Garlic paste:1tsp
  • Yogurt:3tbsp
  • Milk:1/4cup
  • Saffron strands: 1/4tsp
  • Salt
  • Oil
  • Ghee
  • Rose water:1/4tsp
  • Kewra essence:4-5drops
  • Cinnamon:1inch stick
  • Cardamom:2
  • Cloves:4
  • Star anise:1
  • Bay leaf:1
  • Mace: Few blades



Ingredients to make the biryani masala:


  • Cinnamon:1inch stick
  • Cardamom:3
  • Cloves:4-5
  • Shah jeera/black cumin:1tsp
  • Mace:1 floret
  • Nutmeg:1/8tsp
  • Black or white peppercorn:6-7
  • Star anise:1
Steps of making Egg Biryani:
1. As this is egg biryani, first you need boil the egg.


For a nicely done hard boiled egg, take water in a deep pan and add the egg. Put the pan on oven on a medium flame and let the water boil. When the water will rolling boil, switch off the heat and let the egg stand on that hot water for 7-8min. Drain the hot water, and run the hot eggs through cold water for 2-3min. Now crack and shell the eggs. Voila you are done with your hard boiled eggs. Rub a pinch of salt and saffron on the egg and keep them aside for 10-15min. Also soak few strands of saffron in lukewarm milk, cover the milk and keep aside.
2. As the eggs are getting ready, soak the rice. Use any good quality Basmati rice. Soak it for 30min. After soaking the rice for 30min, wash the rice. Be careful when wash the rice, no grains should break. Wash the rice in cold water till the water runs clear. Drain all the water. If needed strain the rice on a strainer.
3. Next is to cook the rice. Take a pot with lid, like a pasta cooker. Take lots of water, add salt and dry spices to the water and let it boil. The dry spices I used, cinnamon, cardamom, cloves, bay leaf, mace, star anise. When the water boils add the washed rice, cook till 3/4 done. Drain water and spread the rice on a tray, this would stop it from getting cooked on its own heat.


4. Now it comes to make the biryani masala. For the masala, I always make it fresh. It is 100% homemade, but to save time whenever you make biryani masala make a little more than required and store it in an air tight container. It stays good for 2-3weeks. But again it takes hardly 15-20min to make the fresh biryani masala. I also sometimes use the extra biryani masala to marinate chicken or sprinkle a little on dum aloo(potato curry).

How I make my Biryani masala is simple. I dry roast cinnamon, cardamom, cloves, mace, nutmeg, shah jeera, black or white peppercorn, star anise, cool them and grind to powder. When dry roasting the spices keep the flame to low or it may burn. It is preferable to roast each spices separately, but I was in a hurry so a little shortcut is allowed.

5. By this time the eggs would have taken a nice yellow color, take a pan, heat some oil and fry the egg till it turns red. I also fried some cubed potatoes. For me biryani without potatoes are not quite complete. The potatoes I used was boiled previously then fried, to reduce the cooking time.



6. Take a pan heat oil and fry the sliced onion till nicely brown. Separate the onion slices before adding to the oil and cook on a medium flame for even browning of the onions. Stir continuously while frying the onions. these fried onions are called Barista. Take out half of the onion for later use. To the rest in the pan add ginger-garlic paste and cook for few minutes. Add the yogurt and mix well. Add salt, fried eggs and 1/2tsp of biryani masala. Cook till oil separates. The eggs should well coated with the spices.


7. Add rose water and kewra essence to the saffron soaked milk and mix well.

8. So everything is done. You need to arrange the biryani. Take a heavy bottom pan, add ghee(clarified butter) to coat the bottom. Make a layer of rice, add two fried potato cubes and two eggs along with some onion-yogurt gravy, fried onions, sprinkle biryani masala, rose-kewra flavored saffron soaked milk,  Again add some rice to make a layer, then again egg, fried onion, biryani masala, rose-kewra flavored saffron soaked milk.You can more layers depending on the amount of biryani you are cooking and the size of the utensil you are using. Just keep one thing in your mind the top and bottom layer will be always rice. Cover the pan with aluminium foil, put the lid on and keep heat to lowest and let it cook for 20min. The aluminium foil is used to prevent the steam to escape, the biryani will be cooked in its own steam. Instead of using aluminium foil you can make a dough of flour and seal the lid, so no steam can escape. After 20min remove the pan from heat and let stand for 10-15min.

Serve hot with some raita or green salad.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Kumro saag-er chochori

Kumro Saag/Pumpkin Leaves
Saag or green leafy veggies are an integral part of Bengali cuisine. There are numerous different varieties of saag. They vary in taste, texture and the way they are cooked.

Saag is an item you start with in a  multiple course bengali meal. It can be a simple Bhaja(fried), or cooked with other vegetables as Chochori(mish mash), and some are used to wrap veggies or fishes or meat to make Paturi(leaf wrapped fried or steamed dish). Not only the leaves but soft stems are also used. I remember my mother used to put the soft stems in the thin curries(Jhol), along with other vegetables.
 
It is been years since I last had a typical Bengali saag preparation. Here is the US, we  usually buy one of the most easily available saag, that is fresh spinach.

But luckily the other day, I found some Kumro saag(pumpkin leaves), one of my favourite, in an Indian store. So, did not waste any time but bought a bunch of them.
 
Pumpkin leaf/kumro saag er pata
Whenever it comes to any authentic Bengali cuisine I always consult my mother-in-law. She is so good at those simple yet delicious dishes. She never uses too much of spices in her cooking.

So this time also after buying those bunch of kumro saag, I called her. She suggested the following recipe. It requires very few spices, very common to any Bengali kitchen. She suggested to use panch foron as the tempering. Panch foron is Bengali five spice mix. It is a combination of black mustard seed, fennel seed, fenugreek seed, nigella seed and cumin. Sometimes another seed named Randhuni(celery seed) is also found in this five spice mix. One can find this five spice mix in any Indian or Bangladeshi store, or can make them mixing all the mentioned seeds in equal amount.


Panch Foron..Bengali Five Spice Mix...
As it is a Bengali dish, I used mustard oil to cook it. That golden yellow oil has a pungent smell but when it is used in cooking it gives a wonderful flavor to the dish. So as my MIL told me I used few vegetables to cook this chochori(mish mash), potato, egg plant, ridge gourd, pointed gourd and radish. You can use any vegetable to make this dish, only pumpkin is a big NO..NO..In Bengali there is saying that you can not cook mother and the offspring together("মা য়ে ছায়ে এক সাথে রাঁধা যায় না").....here the pumpkin leaves being the mother, one can not use the vegetable pumpkin in the mish mash.


Vegetables I used...potato, egg plant, ridge gourd, pointed gourd, radish
I also used some Bori in the mishmash. Bori is a signature Bengali ingredient. It is made from lentil paste. The lentil paste is shaped into small dumplings with a pointed tip and sun dried. These sun dried lentil dumplings are used in dish to give flavor as well as texture.

Bori..Sun-dried lentil dumplings
I started with Kumro saag then Panch foron and now Bori...now it is an overdose of Bengali kitchen speciality....
 
To cut the long story short here is the recipe for Kumro saag er chochori(mish mash with pumpkin leaves).

Ingredients needed:
 
  • Pumpkin leaves along with soft stems
  • Potato: 1cup
  • Egg plant: 1cup
  • Pointed gourd/Potol: 1cup
  • Ridge gourd/Jhinge:1and1/2cup
  • Radish: 1cup
  • Bori(sun-dried lentil dumplings): 1/2 cup
  • Panch foron(bengali five spice mix): 1tsp
  • Green chilies: 4-5
  • Turmeric powder:1/2tsp
  • Cumin powder:1tsp
  • Salt to taste
  • Sugar to taste
  • Mustard oil: 3tbsp

Steps of making the chochori:

  1. Wash all the vegetables well. Cut egg plants into cubes and marinate the pieces with salt and turmeric powder for 20-30min.
  2. Peel potato, radish, ridge gourd and cut into cubes. Scrap the skin of pointed gourd, then alternately peel the skin and cut into cubes.
  3. Wash the pumpkin leaves and stems well. There are some spring-like attachments on the tip of the stems, discard those. Also discard if there is any spoilt leaf. Keep the soft stems with the leaves, keep separate comparatively harder stems. Cut the hard stems into finger size length and finely chop the leaves.
  4. In a kadai or deep pan add mustard oil and fry the Bori till golden brown, keep aside.
  5. Fry potato, pointed gourd and egg plant separately till golden brown on high flame and keep aside.
  6. If needed add more oil, when the oil is hot add Panch foron(bengali five spice mix) and slitted green chilies.
  7. When the spices leave a nice smell add radishes. Sprinkle little salt, cover and cook for 5-6min on a medium flame. Add the ridge gourd and cook for 3min. Add the fired potato, pointed gourd and the hard stems of the pumpkin leaves. Add salt and turmeric powder, mix well. Cook till the vegetables are almost done. But it should not be fully done. Add the chopped leaves and cover and cook for 5min. The leaves will release water.
  8. Uncover and cook till all the water is evaporated. Add cumin powder, fried bori and eggplant. Add 1-2tsp of sugar and mix well. Cover and cook on medium flame for 5min. It will be a little charred at the bottom, and that give a nice flavor. Check the seasoning and adjust accordingly. Serve with steamed rice.
Kumro saag er chochori...Pumkin leaf and vegetable mish mash
 


Saturday, August 25, 2012

Zafrani Tengri Kebab

Zafrani Tengri Kebab...Saffron Marinated Chicken Drumsticks
Kebab is one of the most popular grilled food in the world. A dish that originated in the middle east, now found world wide. Kebabs are quick and easy. The steps are so simple, marinate the meat... grill it... eat it. Sometimes I wonder about those culinary geniuses who invented these simple yet delicious dishes like this.

Meat or fish or vegetables or tofu/paneer...you can make kebabs using any of theese...just marinate and grill them. They are always a show-stopper.

I like to play around with different spices every time I make kebabs, so I get a new flavor each time. Last night I used saffron strands to marinate the chicken drum sticks, to make the tengri kebab. (Tengri means leg piece or drum stick).

The steps are very simple. First wash and pat dry the drumsticks with a paper towel. I used chicken drumsticks without skins. Make some slits on the flesh with a sharp knife, as if I do not mention you are going to use a blunt one...:)

Slits on the flesh
Make the slits in an angle and deep, so that you can touch the bones with your knife. No, you do not need to cut the bones.


First marination: Salt, Black Pepper, Lime juice

Sprinkle salt, black pepper powder and lime juice on the drumsticks. I was working with five drumsticks, so juice from a half lime was good. Rub the chicken pieces well with these three things, and on those slits also. Cover and let the chicken pieces marinate for 15-20min.
While the chickens are marinating, grate some onion and extract the juice. In a bowl mix ginger paste, juice of onion, yogurt, degi mirch powder or paprika powder, cinnamon powder, and saffron. If you like use few drops of yellow food color to it, it will give a nice color to your kebabs.
Rub the chicken pieces with saffron
 See I'm so clever I rubbed few strands of saffron to the chicken pieces to give it a nice color and flavor.

Use Greek yogurt for best result or you can use hung curd. Just keep the curd or yogurt on a cheese cloth resting it on a strainer for 1hr inside the fridge and your hung curd will be ready to use

Marinate the chicken pieces with the yogurt mix. Use your hand to put the marination inside the slits. And of course wash your hand well with soap and water.


Keep the marinated chicken pieces in a closed container inside the refrigerator for 6-8hrs or overnight.
Take out the marinated meat at least 1hr before grilling. I used my kitchen oven to grill the chicken, but you can always use outside BBQ to grill them and enjoy a BBQ party with your friends. For those who does not have an oven, do not worry you can grill it on your cook top also, just remember to open all the windows in your house.
To grill it on the oven, pre-heat the oven to 400F/200C/Gas mark6. Take a baking tray cover it with aluminium foil. Spray it with cooking oil or brush cooking oil on it, now place the chicken pieces on the tray and put it inside the pre-heated oven on the top rack. You can also use a baking rack and rest the chicken pieces on the rack and grill it. Cook for 10min, turn the chicken pieces, baste with melted butter and again cook for 10min. You can put a fork on the slits and check if the meat is cooked or not. If it looks pink then you need to cook more and if it looks white then it is done. Now turn the oven to broil and cook for 5min. You can hear nice splattering sound, and smell a nice charred smell. Switch off the oven. Let the chicken rest inside the oven for 5min. Take it out, careful do not burn yourself, it will be HOT...
In the subcontinent Tandoor is used to cook the meat. Tandoor is a clay oven, where charcoal is used and the temperature is very high. Chicken put in the skewers go inside the tandoor. The flavor of charcoal makes it more delicious. You can achieve that using an outdoor grill.
If you want to cook it on cook top, just grease a non stick tawa or flat pan and place the chicken pieces and keep cooking till it is cooked and takes a nice charred look.
Serve with lime wedges and onion rings.

Zafrani tengri Kebab:

Ingredients:
  • Chicken drumsticks:5
  • Black pepper powder:1/2tsp
  • Lime juice:1tbsp
  • Saffron strands:1/2tsp
  • Ginger paste:2tsp
  • Onion juice:1tbsp
  • Degi mirch powder/paprika:1/2tbsp
  • Cinnamon powder:1tsp
  • Greek yogurt/hung curd:1/3cup
  • Yellow food color(optional):3-4 drops
  • Melted butter for basting
  • Salt to taste

Procedure:
  1. Wash chicken and pat dry. Make some slits on the flesh.
  2. Marinate with salt, black pepper powder and lime juice, for 15-20min.
  3. Mix onion juice, ginger paste, saffron strands, paprika powder, cinnamon powder and yogurt in a bowl. Marinate the chicken with that for 6-8hrs or overnight.
  4. Pre-heat oven at 400F/200C/Gas mark 6.
  5. Keep the chicken pieces on a baking tray or baking rack and cook for 10min on each side. If needed cook little more.
  6. Broil for 5min. Rest the chicken for 5min. Serve with lemon wedges.


Thursday, August 23, 2012

Makhmali machhi - Butter fish..



Being a Bengali, fish is part of our staple diet, a regular for lunch or dinner. But when it comes to make something different than the usual fare with fish, it sometimes becomes difficult. And I'm sure it is not only me, many of us face the same problem. Specially when we invite someone who is strictly a fishetarian. But I'm lucky to have such wonderful foodie friends, who are always there to help me. This time it was Poulami, she shared her Butter Fish recipe with me. I adapted her recipe to prepare this aromatic dish. And after tasting the creamy smooth gravy I can't help but call it Makhmali Machhi (Makhmali=velvety;Machhi=fish).



Ingredients you need to make Makhmali Machhi:


Fish (Rohu/ Bhetki/ Tilapia) scaled and cut into pieces: 4pcs
Onion (grated): 4tbsp
Garlic (paste): 1tsp
Ginger (paste): 1tsp
Green cardamom:2-3
Cinnamon:(1inch stick) 2-3
Cloves: 4-5
Dry red chilies: 6-7
Nutmeg (powder): A pinch
Shah jeera(black cumin):1/4tsp
Bay leaf:2
White pepper powder:1tsp
Coriander powder:1/2tsp
Green cardamom powder:1/4tsp
Yogurt:1/3 cup
Milk:1cup
Cashew nut:5-6
Raisins:10-12
Poppy seeds:1tbsp
Sugar:2tsp
Salt to taste
Butter:3tbsp
Oil:2tbsp

 

Steps of making Makhmali Machhi:


1. Wash the fish and marinate the pieces with salt and little turmeric powder. If you want your dish to white in color do not add the turmeric powder. Let the fish marinate for 30min. I used tilapia fish this time. Any other fishes like Rohu or Bhetki will be a good choice, even large prawns will be also a good option.

2. In the mean time make a smooth paste of poppy seeds, cashew nuts and raisins. I used milk instead of water to make it more creamy. Keep the paste aside. The original recipe suggested Charmagaj, if you have that in your pantry use that instead of poppy seeds.

3. Take the yogurt and 1tsp sugar and mix well. Add little water to the yogurt and bit it well. Keep aside.

4. In a kadai or pan add oil(any vegetable oil) and when the oil is hot lightly fry the fish pieces, Each side for 2min. Keep aside.

5. Add 2tbsp butter to the kadai. As the butter melts add dry red chilies, bay leaves, cinnamon, green cardamom, shah jeera(black cumin), cloves. When the spices leave a nice aroma add the grated onion. Mix well. Cover and cook on a medium flame for 4-5min, keep stirring in between.

6. Add ginger and garlic paste. Mix well. Cook for 2-3min. Add the poppy-cashew-raisin paste. Add white pepper powder, green cardamom powder and coriander powder. Cook for 3-4min.

7. Reduce heat to low, add the bitten yogurt. Mix well. Cook till oil separates from the spices. Add lukewarm milk, sugar and the fried fish. Cover and cook in a medium flame for 8-10min. Check the seasoning, adjust accordingly. Switch off the heat. Sprinkle a pinch of nutmeg powder and a tbsp of butter. Cover the pan and wait for 5min.

8.  Transfer to serving bowl. Serve hot with some pulao.



Monday, August 20, 2012

Ilish maacher tottora..

Ilish maacher matha diye tottora
As I said earlier, no part of Ilish or Hilsa is wasted. The  fish head is used to make many different dishes and relished.

I usually cook the hilsa head with kochur saak or make a chyanchra with vegetables and leafy greens. But this time I really wanted to make something different. And who else but my fish loving friend Trina came to help. She suggested this wonderful finger licking recipe, Ilish maacher tottora.

Things needed to make tottora:

Hilsa head and tail
Egg plant(cubed):2cup
Garlic(minced):2tbsp
Onion(chopped):1/4cup
Green chilies(slitted):7-8
Red chili powder:1tbsp
Turmeric powder:1/2tsp
Salt
Sugar
Mustard oil

The steps of making tottora:

1. Marinate the fish head and tail with salt and turmeric powder.

2.Cut the egg plant into cubes rub little salt and turmeric and keep aside for 15min. The egg plant will release water, pat dry the eggplant pieces with paper towel.

3.Fry the fish head and tail till crispy and brown.

4.In the same oil add garlic and slitted green chilies(4-5). When the garlic releases nice aroma add the chopped onion. Cook till onions are soft.

5. Add the egg plant pieces, cover and cook till the egg plants are soft.

6. Add red chili powder and the fish head and tail. Break the head and tail and mix with the egg plant. Cover and cook on low flame. This is a dry dish so no need to add water, but take care so it does not stuck to the bottom of pan. If needed sprinkle a little water.

7. Add salt and sugar and the left over green chilies. It is a very spicy dish, but you can adjust according to your choice. Serve with steamed rice.


For other Ilish/Hilsa recipe click here: http://colorandspices.blogspot.com/2012/08/ilishthe-hilsa.html

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Orange Chicken


Though not an authentic Chinese dish, but very popular in American restaurants, Orange chicken can be found in every single Chinese restaurant in the US. This Hunan style dish is flavored with orange juice and spiced up with dry red chilies. So it was Orange chicken for my weekend dinner. I adapted it from Rasa Malayasia's orange chicken recipe, and it came out very well.


Ingredients needed to make Orange Chicken:

  • Chicken breast (cut into cubes): 200 gm
  • Dried red chilies:7-8
  • Orange zest(minced):1/2tsp
  • Garlic (minced):1tsp
  • Ginger julienne: few
  • Spring onion (chopped):only the white part:1tbsp
  • Oil for deep frying
Note: When using orange zests, only use the orange part, do not use the white part of the orange peel, that will make your dish bitter.

To marinate the chicken:
  • Orange juice:1tbsp
  • Ginger (grated):1tsp
  • Chinese rice wine:1tsp(can be substituted by dry sherry)
  • White pepper powder:1/8tsp
  • Salt a pinch

For the Orange Sauce:
  • Freshly-squeezed orange juice:1/4cup
  • Dark soy sauce:1tbsp
  • Chinese rice wine or dry sherry:2tsp
  • Sesame oil:1/2tsp
  • Rice vinegar:1tsp
  • Sugar:4-5tsp
  • White pepper powder:1/8tsp(can be substituted by 1/4tsp of black pepper powder)
  • Corn starch:1tsp
  • Salt to taste

For the Batter:
  • Flour:4tbsp
  • Corn starch:2tbsp
  • Baking soda:1/2tsp
  • Egg:1
  • Cooking oil:1tsp(preferably peanut oil)
  • A pinch of salt


How to make Orange Chicken:

1. Wash the chicken pieces and pat dry with a kitchen towel. Cut into bite size cubes. Marinate the chicken with all the ingredients under 'To marinate the chicken'. Cover with a cling film and marinate for 30min.


2. Mix all the ingredients for the 'Orange sauce', cover and keep aside. If the orange is sour then you will need more sugar, where as if the orange is sweeter then use less sugar. Just taste and decide.

3. Mix all the ingredients for the 'Batter'. Heat oil in a pan. Dip the marinated chicken pieces in the batter, shook off excess batter and deep fry till nicely brown and crispy. Keep them on plate lined with paper towel. Keep heat to high and do not over cook the chicken, that will make the chicken hard.

4. In a wok heat 2-3tsp oil. When the oil is hot add garlic and julienned ginger and dry red chili. Cook for 1 min. Add the chopped white part of the spring onion, cook for 1 min. Add the fried chicken and orange zest. Mix well. Keep the heat to highest through out the cooking.

5. Add the orange sauce, cook till the sauce thicken. Transfer to serving plate and garnish with julienned orange zests and green part of spring onion.


Above is the image I clicked more than a year back, when for the first time I cooked orange chicken in my kitchen.



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Saturday, August 18, 2012

Anda palak...Egg with spinach

Anda Palak
Sometimes one gets so confused in the kitchen, standing in front of the fridge, holding the fridge door in one hand and thinking what to make??!! Something that my daughter would have without any fuss...something that is easy to make....

It was Friday and the fridge was almost empty, just few eggs and a bunch of spinach...Help came from Devlina Di...whenever I have tried her recipes it has always been a instant hit...Here is another one from her, Anda palak(egg with spinach).


Things needed to make Anda Palak:

Spinach(chopped):4cups
Eggs(hard boiled):4
Potato:1 medium
Onion(thinly sliced):1/2cup
Tomato:1
Ginger:1tbsp
Garlic:3-4cloves
Fresh Coriander leaves(chopped):1cup
Cumin powder:1tsp
Red chili powder:1tsp
Turmeric powder:1/4tsp
Whole garam masala
Garam masala powder:1/4tsp
Sugar:1tsp
Salt to taste
Oil:2tbsp

How to prepare Anda Palak:

1. Wash the spinach well and chop. Keep them in a colander to drain water.

2.Peel and wash the potato. Cut into large cubes. Heat some oil in a pan and fry the potato till golden brown. Keep aside.

3. Shell the hard boiled egg and fry till the surface turns brown. Keep aside.

4. In a kadai or pan add oil. When the oil is hot add 2 whole cardamoms, 1 inch stick of cinnamon, 2-3 cloves. Add the sliced onions. Cook till brown.

5. Add grated garlic and ginger. Cook for 2-3 min in medium flame. Add the chopped tomatoes. Cover and cook on a medium flame till the tomatoes are mushy.

6. Add cumin powder, turmeric powder, red chili powder. Cook till oil separates from the spices. Add the fried potato and the chopped spinach. Cover and cook for 5min on a medium flame. The spinach will release a lot of water. Now uncover and cook till the potatoes are soft.

7. Prick the fried hard boiled eggs with a fork. Add the eggs to the spinach mixture. Add chopped coriander leaves, sugar and salt. Add garam masala powder. Mix well. Let it rest for 10min. Your anda palak is ready now.

Some like it very dry, for that you have to cook uncover till all the water from spinach dries out, but I personally like to keep the water. That keeps the nutrition of the leafy green as well as gives a nice texture to the gravy.

You can also add some cream to garnish and green chilies to make it more spicy. It depends on your choice.

You can call it Anda-Palak or Palak-Anda...both way it tastes good

Ilish...The Hilsa..

Ilish macher peti/Belly part of the Hilsa fish
Hilsa or Ilish is the most popular fish among the benaglis. This oily fish(the oil is the secret behind its taste) has always been on the top of the popularity charts, and that makes it very expensive too.
Monsoon is the season for Ilish. Ilish is a sea fish but during monsoon(month of June-July) it travels into the river to lay eggs. People consider that the best(read tastiest) Ilish is found in the Padma river in Bangladesh.
There are various different ways you can cook Ilish, from simple fried Ilish to curries or wrapped in banana leaves etc. Even the fried intestine of this fish is a delicacy and is eaten with white steamed rice.As Ilish is a very oily fish it requires very little oil to cook. The oil used to fry the fish gets all its flavor and is served with steamed rice and a hot green chilies. Even the fish head is cooked in so many different ways, and it is considered a delicacy.
Here I can name few common dishes made with Ilish:
  • Ilish mach bhaja/fried Hilsa fish
  • Ilish er morich jhol/Hilsa fish in green chili soup
  • Bhapa ilish/steamed Hilsa in mustard sauce
  • Ilish macher paturi/marinated Hilsa fish wrapped in banana leaf or pumpkin leaf then fried
  • Ilisher matha diye kochur saag/Hilsa head with different leafy vegetables
  • Ilish mache tok/Hilsa fish cooked with tamarind paste
 And there are many more... may be it will cross 100..!!!

Let's discuss the simplest of them all, the fried hilsa fish/Ilish mach bhaja;

Things you need to make Hilsa fry are:

Hilsa fish scaled and cut into pieces
Salt
Turmeric powder
Mustard oil
1.Clean the fish, but do not wash the fish under running water. If you wash it too much then you will loose the taste.

2.Marinate the fish with salt and turmeric powder, let it stand for 30min.


3.Take a kadai or pan add mustard oil. Very little oil is needed to cook Ilish, as it releases oil when you will fry it.

4.When the oil is hot add the fish, and fry till crispy and brown in color.

This ilish mach bhaja(fried Hilsa) is served with hot steamed rice. Take out all the oil left in the pan in a separate bowl. This oil is a delicacy, it is mixed with rice with a pinch of salt and eaten along with green chilies. If the fish has egg(roe), either you can fry it along with the fish or fry it separately. The fried Hilsa fish eggs (roe) is again a delicacy.

The oil in which the fish was fried, served along with the fried fish and steamed rice

Monday, August 13, 2012

Alur dum-bong style


Dum a is cooking technique. It is a slow-cooking method where the main ingredient with other spices are kept in a closed handi(round bottom pan with lid) and cooked on a very slow heat. The vessel is kept closed so no steam can escape.This type of cooking technique was introduces to India by the Mughals, probably during sixteenth century.
But when I am talking about the Bengali style alur dum(alu is potato in Bengali), it only has the name dum in it. The cooking process is quick and short, as the potatoes(alu) are boiled before adding to the spices. Probably to reduce the time of cooking. There are north Indian variety of dum-aloo or kashmiri style dum-aloo where the potatoes are fried and cooked in dum with the spices. I will discuss those recipes some other time in my blog for sure.
For now a pure bengali style alur dum , or you can call it a potato curry, to go with the Sunday morning luchi or kochuri or porota.

Ingredients for alur dum:



  • Potato:10
  • Tomato:1 mediem chopped
  • Ginger paste:1tbsp
  • Cumin seeds
  • Dry red chilies:2-3
  • Green chilies:2-3
  • Cumin powder:1/2tsp
  • Yogurt:2tbsp
  • Coriander leaves:handful
  • Red chili powder:1tsp
  • Turmeric powder:1/4tsp
  • Salt to taste
  • Sugar:1tsp
  • Oil

Procedure to make alur dum:


1.       Boil the potato with skin. I prefer using a pressure cooker, as it reduces the cooking time. Wash the potatoes and prick them with a fork. Put them inside the cooker along with some salt and water, cook for 2 whistles and remove from heat. Wait till the pressure releases.  Try to use small equal-sized potatoes.



2.       As the pressure releases take the yogurt in a bowl and mix with sugar and little water and bit it till smooth. Keep aside.

3.       Let the potatoes cool down. Peel the potatoes.

4.       Take oil in a pan; fry the boiled and peeled potatoes till nice golden brown. Take the fried potatoes out and keep aside.



5.       In the same pan add some cumin seeds, dry red chilies, green chilies. As the cumin seeds changes color to brown add the ginger paste and chopped tomatoes. Sprinkle a pinch of salt that helps to cook the tomato faster. Reduce the heat to medium and cover the pan. Cook till the tomatoes are mushy.

6.       Add cumin powder, turmeric powder, red chili powder and cook for 4-5min.

7.       Lower the heat. Add the bitten yogurt. Cook in low heat till oil separates from the spices.

8.       Add the fried potatoes, salt, and little water. Cover and cook for 15min on a low heat.

9.       Garnish with handful of chopped coriander leaves.

Langcha



Langcha

Langcha is a sweet. It originated in Shaktighar, West Bengal, India. It is made up of solidified milk (khoya/ mawa), home made cottage cheese  (chana), flour(moida). The ingredients are mixed together and fried and dipped in sugar syrup.


The recipe I used today to make these langcha is my friend Pinki's. She is such a sweetheart, every time she tries something new she always shares with us. Thank you Pinki...

Ingredients for making Langcha:

Home made cottage cheese (Chana/chena): 200 gms
Solidified milk (Khoya/Mawa): 100 gms
Flour (Moida): 2 tbsp
Green cardamom (powdered): 4-5
Oil for frying
Ghee: 1 tbsp
Baking powder: 1/4tsp

For the sugar syrup:
Sugar: 2 cups
Water: 4 cups
Green cardamom:6-7

The steps of making langcha:
1.Take a heavy bottom pan, add water and sugar to make the sugar syrup. Keep the heat to medium and stir well. As the sugar dissolves completely and it boils reduce the heat. If you see any scums, discard that. Those are impurities. Break few green cardamoms and add to the syrup.

2. I used store bought khoya, so I first grated that for easy use, as it come as a hard cake. Mash the grated khoya till smooth on a clean dry plate or on the kitchen slab.

3. Similarly mash the chena till it is smooth. To know the steps for making home made chena go to this link http://colorandspices.blogspot.com/2012/08/chena-poda-sweet-dish-from-orissa.html

4. Mix together the khoya, chana, ghee, baking powder, cardamom powder and 2 tbsp flour. Use your palm to mix all these together. Mix till there is no lumps and the mixture does not stick to you finger. The dough will be grease. you will find your hand and the plate or kitchen slab quite greasy.


5. Cover the dough with a kitchen towel and rest it for 10 mins. Make equal size round balls out of the dough. Now shape them into long cylinders, the shape of langcha. Roll the dough with your palms on a plate or kitchen slab to shape them evenly. Make sure that the diameter is even and smooth.

6. Take a kadai or pan, heat oil. When the oil is hot remove the pan from the heat or if you are using a gas oven just turn off the heat, wait for few minutes(1-2min). Add the langcha. Return the pan to heat, keep the heat to lowest possible temperature. Fry the langchas evenly till you get a dark brown color. The langcha will tend to float so keep them dipped in oil  turn for a even cooking. But do not over cook or burn them. As you will fry the langcha they will increase in size so either use a large pan or fry in small batches.

7. Take out the fried langcha on a paper towel lined plate, keep there for 30sec and dip them into hot sugar syrup. The syrup must be hot.
 8. Let it soak for 1hr. You can keep them in the syrup or you can take them out of the syrup and store as dry langcha. But I prefer mine to store in the sugar syrup.

Serve warm and enjoy it with your friends and family. Garnish with grated khoya or chpped dry fruits.