Thursday, April 25, 2013

Enchor...Jackfruit curry



Jackfruit is a popular summer fruit in Indian sub-continent and South-East Asian countries. This huge green fruit does not look too appealing for a first timer, but the inside golden yellow sweet fruits will easily win anyone's heart. As the ripe fruit has its popularity, the unripe jackfruit has its own as a vegetable.

In Bengali the unripe jackfruit is called 'Enchor' (এঁচর or ইঁচর ). It has a subtle flavor and meat-like texture, because of that Bengalis call it 'Gach PaNtha' (fake or faux meat). Curries, chops, koftas are prepared from unripe jackfruit. Peeling and cutting this huge vegetable is a time consuming task. Moreover the sticky sap of jackfruit makes it more tedious and difficult. Here in the US we get canned unripe jackfruit, those are peeled and cubed, so no trouble on that part. Though the brine solution to preserve the vegetable makes it taste a bit sour. And of course a fresh vegetable will taste much better than a canned one. I used canned unripe jackfruit to make the curry, a typical Bengali enchorer torkari , following my mom-in-law's recipe.

Things needed to make Enchorer Torkari/ Jackfruit Curry:



  • Unripe jackfruit: 1 can
  • Potato (cubed): 1 medium size
  • Onion (finely chopped): 1/2 cup
  • Garlic (minced): 1 tbsp
  • Ginger paste: 1/2 tsbp
  • Tomato: 1 small
  • Cumin powder: 1 tsp
  • Red chili powder: 1-2 tsp
  • Turmeric powder: 1/2 tsp
  • Garam masala powder: 1/2 tsp
  • Cinnamon stick: 1
  • Green cardamom: 3
  • Cloves: 3
  • Bay leaves: 1
  • Green chilies: 3-4
  • Mustard oil to cook
  • Salt to taste
  • Sugar: 1 tsp + to taste
  • Ghee: 1-2 tsp

Steps of making Enchorer Torkari/ Jackfruit Curry:


1. If you are using canned jackfruit, then drain all the brine water and put the jackfruit pieces in a bowl full of water. After 20-30 min take out the jackfruit and again put them in some fresh water. Do this at least 3 times. Take a large pan or pressure cooker boil enough water to cover all the jackfruit pieces. As the water boils add the jackfruits. Cover and boil for 5-6 min. If using a pressure cooker, put the lid and wait till the pressure cooker makes a hissing sound, switch off heat and wait till the pressure releases. Drain all the water. These steps will make sure the canned jackfruit does not taste sour. 

2. If you are using a fresh jackfruit, then first peel the vegetable and cut into desired shape. Make sure to put plenty of oil to the knife and in your hand, jackfruit is very sticky. In a large bowl take water and add turmeric powder in it, dip the jackfruit pieces in it. This will help to get rid of the sticky sap. Pressure cook or boil the jackfruit pieces to half done, drain water.

3. Peel and wash potatoes, pat dry. Heat mustard oil (it compulsory to use mustard oil to get the original taste and flavor) in a deep pan. When the oil is smoking hot, fry the potato cubes till golden brown. Take out the potato pieces with a slotted spoon. Fry the jackfruit pieces the same way and keep aside.


4. In the same oil add bay leaves, cinnamon stick, cardamom, cloves. Cook for 1 min. Add the minced garlic, cook over medium heat for 1 min or till the garlic starts to change color. Add a teaspoon of sugar, mix well. Add onion, cover and cook for 3-4 min. Uncover and cook till the onions take a nice red-brown color. Add ginger paste (preferably freshly made). Cook for 1-2 min or till the raw smell of ginger is gone. Add chopped tomatoes. Sprinkle little salt, cover and cook till the tomatoes are done.

5. Add cumin powder, turmeric powder, red chili powder, green chilies (chopped or whole), add a little water, mix well. As the mixture starts to release oil, add the fried potato and jackfruit, mix well. Add enough hot water to cover the vegetables, let the water boil, add salt, cover and cook till the vegetables are done. This dish will have a thick gravy.

6. Add sugar, ghee and garam masala powder, mix well. Switch off heat, cover the pan and let it rest for sometime, serve hot with steamed rice.



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Sunday, April 21, 2013

Roganjosh...



Kashimiri cuisine has evolved over hundreds of years.  Over the years the cuisine has been influenced by its rulers and migrant workers from Persia, Afghanistan, Central Asia, North India and others. The influence of Mughals is especially evident on the meat dishes and pulao. Spices and condiments play a key role in Kashmiri cuisine. Kashmir being  situated on the ancient 'Silk Route', the spices traders from all over the world passed through this valley and stayed here as visitors and thus use of spices like cardamom, cinnamon, cloves, fennel, star anise, saffron etc are abundant in Kashmiri cuisine. Staple diet in Kashmir is rice along with chicken, meat and fish. Vegetables like lotus root, turnips, spinach are also  a specialty of this region.
Kashmiri cuisine is broadly divided into Pandit style and Muslim style preparations. The Kashmiri Pandit style cooking involves loads of spices, where as the Muslim style cooking includes onion, garlic and shallots in their preparations. In Kashmiri Pandit kitchen one can find use of Hing (asafoetida) instead of onion and garlic.

Today I made Roganjosh, a classic meat dish from Kashmir. This dish has its origin from Persia. In Persian Rogan means oil and Josh means heat or passion. Thus "Roganjosh" is meat cooked in oil at high intense heat. A second explanation of the name Roganjosh is Rogan means red, this may explain the bright red color of the dish. Roganjosh is mostly made with lamb. I used goat meat. Beef can also be used in place of lamb or goat meat.

For last few months I was looking for an authentic Roganjosh, following Kashmiri Pandit cuisine. My search ended at Anshie's blog Spiceroots. I followed her recipe and made a delicious bowl of Roganjosh. Here is the original recipe link, Roganjosh by Spiceroots.

I did make the Kashmiri garam masala at home and used whole dry Kashmiri red chilies to bring the bright red color in the Roganjosh. Here is how I did it.


Things needed to make Roganjosh:

  • Goat meat (with bone): 2 lb (1 kg)
  • Yogurt: 1/2 cup
  • Cloves: 4-5
  • Green cardamom: 3-4
  • Cinnamon stick: 1
  • Kashmiri red chili: 3-4 tbsp
  • Dry ginger powder: 1/2 tsp
  • Fennel powder: 5 tsp
  • Kashmiri garam masala: 1 tsp
  • Salt to taste
  • Water: 2 cups
  • Mustard oil: 1/4 cup


For Kashmiri Garam Masala:
  • Shah jeera/ black cumin: 1 tsp
  • Bay leaf: 1 small
  • Green cardamom: 1/2 tsp
  • Black peppercorn: 1 tsp
  • Cloves: 1/8 tsp
  • Fennel: 1/4 tsp
  • Mace: 1/8 tsp
  • Cinnamon: 1/2 stick
  • Nutmeg: a pinch

Steps of making Roganjosh:


1. For the Kashmiri garam masala dry roast all the ingredients, cool down and ground to powder. Store in an air tight container.

2. For the Kashmiri red chili powder I dry roast the whole Kashmiri red chilies and ground them to powder.

3. Clean and wash the goat meat pieces. Pat dry with kitchen towel. Beat yogurt with little water, keep aside.

4. In a heavy bottom large pan heat mustard oil. When the oil is smoking hot reduce heat to medium and add cardamom, cinnamon and cloves. Cook for 1 min. Add the meat pieces. Cook the meat till it takes brown color.

5. Add the beaten yogurt, keep cooking till the yogurt dries up. Keep stirring.



6. Mix the ground kashmiri red chili powder with 1/4 cup of water. Add the red chili to the meat, mix well to coat all the pieces with the red chili powder.


7. Cook till oil separates, add all other spices, mix well.


8. Add 1.5 cups of hot water and let the water boil. Add salt, mix.


9. Cover the pan and cook till the meat is well done. Make sure there is enough water to cook the meat. Stir in between. Serve hot with rice or roti.




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Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Rosogolla...



Does Rosogolla or Rasgulla need any introduction? I don't think so. It is a signature Bengali confectionery. Whenever you talk about Bengali sweets, Rosogolla is the first thing that comes to your mind.

Rosogolla are homemade cheese balls cooked and soaked in sugar syrup. Rosogolla originated in Orissa,  a state/province of  the erstwhile Bengal and was called Khira Mohona. It was introduced to Bengal by a sweet seller. Eventually a confectioner from Kolkata named Nabinchandra Das adapted and modified it to the  modern rosogolla recipe as we know it. Rosogolla  gradually gained its popularity through out India. K.C. Das, son of Nabinchandra Das made it available world wide by first  making them available in cans.

Several other famous sweets of Bengal have  been derived from rosogolla, like rosomalai (cheese balls in fragrant milk), komolabhog (orange flavored rosogolla), baked rosogolla etc.

Today being the first day of Bengali new year, I made some Rosogolla at home.  Though you need very few ingredients to make rosogolla, one need to be very precise while making them. The steps involved are simple but you need to practice few times before you  can achieve that perfect texture and taste.


Things needed to make rosogolla:

  • Whole milk: 1/2 gallon(1.89 ltr)
  • Lime juice: of a whole large lime
  • Semolina/sooji: 1 tbsp
  • Sugar: 2 cups + 2 tsp
  • Nakuldana: 20 (optional) (see pic for reference)
  • Water: 6 cups
  • Green cardamom(lightly crushed): 7-8

Steps of making rosogolla:


1. Boil the milk in a large pan, keep stirring so the milk does not scorch to bottom.


2. As the milk rolls to boil, remove from heat and gradually add the lime juice and keep stirring. The milk will start to curdle, the whey will separate.


3. Strain the curdled milk with the help of cheese cloth.


4. Collect the cheese in the cheese cloth and run under clod water. This will ensure to wash out any smell of lime juice in the cheese as well as cooling down the cheese and making it softer.


5. Tie up the cheese cloth and squeeze out excess water, hang the cheese cloth bag to drain out excess water. 

6. Take the cheese in a flat plate, add sooji (semolina), 2 teaspoon sugar and mix well for 2 min or till smooth.



7. Knead the dough with your back of your hand for 4-5 min or till no lumps.


8. Divide the dough into four balls.


9. From each ball make 5 balls. Put one nakuldada (sugar ball) in each ball. Make a perfect round ball. Nokuldanas(Sweet makhana) are small sugar candies commonly used as an offering during Pujas. You can get them easily in any Indian store.


Nokuldana



10. Repeat the step for other cheese balls, so at the end you will finish with 20 cheese balls.


11. In a wide mouthed and dip pan (with cover) add 6 cups of water and 2 cups of sugar, boil the syrup. Add crushed green cardamom.



12. Add the cheese balls, cover the pan. Keep an eye so the syrup does not spill. Cook for 40-45 min.


13. In between add little warm water to the syrup, because as the syrup is boiling for long it may thicken and make the rosogolla hard, to keep the consistency of the syrup same, add little hot water. I did add hot water twice (a ladle full) while cooking the rosogolla.


14. As the cheese balls are cooking  turn the cheese balls very gently. The cheese balls will puff and will be double the size, make sure you are using a large enough pan to accommodate all the cheese balls. After 40-45 min switch off the heat, remove pan from heat and let it cool down to room temperature. As the rosogollas will cool down they will shrink in size. Rosogolla will taste best the next day. You can cool it inside a refrigerator and serve cold or at room temperature.





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Friday, April 12, 2013

100th post...and misti doi



Today is my 100th post. ONE HUNDRED!!!!! 

When I started the blog back in June last year, never even dreamed of this day. The love for food and passion for cooking  and photography made me start the blog. And it is the love and support  from you all that has helped me to keep going. I can never thank my readers enough for their encouragement. A simple sentence from you saying 'love your recipe' or 'I tried it today and liked it so much'  has helped me to reach here. A BIG BIG THANKS TO YOU ALL.

Today's post is a humble one to acknowledge you all and all the other foodies, cooks, cook book writers, chefs, bloggers, who have inspired me through this time and will do the same in future, it is a signature Bengali sweet dish, Misti Doi (sweet yogurt).

Misti doi (sweet yogurt) can be prepared several different ways. The basic is same, you need reduced or evaporated milk, sugar and yogurt. I followed a recipe by BongMomCookBook, click here for her Bhapa Doi recipe. The recipe I followed today is a quick one, where I used condensed milk and heavy cream along with milk, so I didn't need to reduce the milk by myself. Reducing the milk takes a long time. Here is how I did it.


Things needed to make Misti Doi/ Sweet bengali yogurt:

(adapted from BongMomCookBook)

  • Milk: 1/4 cup
  • Condensed milk: 1/4 cup
  • Heavy cream: 1/4 cup
  • Greek yogurt/ hung curd: 1/4 cup


Steps of making Misti doi/ Sweet bengali yogurt:


1. Beat the yogurt till smooth and keep aside. It will be easier to use greek yogurt. But if do not get greek yogurt and you are using normal yogurt, take a cheese cloth put the yogurt and rest it on a strainer, let the whey to drain out for 20-30 min. 

2. Measure the milk, condensed milk, cream, add them in a microwave safe bowl. Mix them well. Heat the milk mixture for 40-45 seconds in high power in the microwave. You can do the same in the stove top. Just heat the milk mixture till warm. Test on your skin, it should not feel hot, but warm. If the milk mixture is too hot let it cool down a bit. Pour the milk and yogurt mix to a non-reactive (glass or ceramic) oven safe bowl.

3. Add yogurt to the milk mixture, mix well.

4. Pre-heat oven to 200F.

5. Boil 1.5 ltr water. Take a large baking tray pour the hot water in a large baking tray.  Put the bowl in the water filled tray, water should be half the level of the bowl. Put it inside the pre-heated oven. Wait for 30 min. Take out the bowl and let it cool down at room temperature. Put it in refrigerator and serve cold.


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Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Strawberry cake... birthday special


It was again that special day of the year, 'her' birthday. My little bundle of joy was turning 6 this year. I'm  amazed how time flies. I still remember the day I held her for the first time. Over the last 6 years, it has been an amazing journey for me as a woman, as a mother. Discovering and learning new things as I also grew up as my little one did.

So, to celebrate this special day, I decided to make a special cake for her. Though I  have baked cakes quite a few times, but never tried my hand on icing. This time I wanted to take the plunge and decided to make a Strawberry gateau.

Gateau is a French word for fancy, rich and iced cake. It is much more delicate than usual layer cakes. The basic cake is a soft sponge cake very similar to Genoise. Then the cake is layered with whipped cream and fresh fruits. I must thank my friend Vanessa for handing over me the basic sponge cake recipe. I blindly followed the recipe she gave me and the result was yum.


Things needed to make Strawberry gateau:


For the sponge cake:
(Measurements are as per standard US cup measurement)
  • Eggs: 5
  • Flour: 1 cup ( I used plain flour from Indian store)
  • Sugar: 1 cup ( I used granulated sugar)
  • Baking powder: 1.5 tsp
  • Salt: 1 tsp
  • Milk: 1/3 cup
  • Vanilla extract: 1.5 tsp


For strawberry syrup:

  • Fresh strawberries
  • Water
  • Sugar to taste
  • Lime juice: 1/2 tsp


For filling and icing:

  • Heavy whipping cream/ double cream: 600 ml
  • Sugar: 3 tbsp
  • Vanilla extract: 1 tsp



Other:

  • Fresh strawberries to garnish
  • Butter to grease


Steps of making Strawberry Gateau:


1. Pre-heat oven to 350 F. Grease a 9 inch pan, line the pan with parchment paper.


2. Separate the eggs to yolks and whites. Add 1/4 cup sugar to the egg white and mix well with a spatula. With a hand blender beat the egg white till soft peaks are formed or till 4-5 min. Always beat the egg whites first.


3. Mix milk, yolks and rest of the sugar with a spatula. Beat the yolk mixture till the yolks turn to pale yellow color. Add vanilla extract and mix well.




4. Sieve flour, salt and baking powder, gradually add the flour mix to yolk mix. Fold flour very gently to the yolk mix. Mix till all the flour is well incorporated.


5. Add egg white and fold gently. Pour the batter to prepared cake pan. Put the cake pan on the middle rack of the pre-heated oven. Bake for 35-40 min. To know whether the cake is done or not, insert a toothpick at the center, if the toothpick comes clean then it is done. Press gently the top of the cake, a perfectly done cake will spring back. And the sides will start to come out from the cake pan. Take out the cake and immediately transfer to a cooling rack.


6. Let the cake cool down completely. While the cake is cooling down, prepare the strawberry syrup. Cut fresh strawberries into small cubes, about 1 cup. Boil 1.5 cup water, add the cubed strawberries and sugar, mix well. Taste to check the sweetness, if needed add more. Let it boil for 5-6min. Add lime juice, switch off heat and let strain the syrup. do not throw the strawberry cubes, I used them for the filling of the cake.


7. For the filling and icing beat 600 ml heavy whipping cream with 3 tbsp sugar and vanilla extract, till soft peaks are formed.

8. Cut the cake into two halves. Drizzle strawberry syrup on both the halves.


9. Layer fresh strawberries, and whipped cream at the center. Put the other half of the cake on top, do icing as you like, and garnish as per your choice.



I used sliced fresh strawberries and whipped cream to decorate the cake.



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