Thursday, October 8, 2009

Doi Ilish - Begali style Fish Curry in yogurt and mustard gravy

I love fish ….. I would prefer a fish preparation to chicken or any other non-vegetarian preparation any day. Maybe this love for fish is a result of the years spent in the eastern part of the country, where fish is abundantly available and abundantly loved too :) . I have a number of Bengali friends whose mom’s treated me to various fish preparations and hence I am familiar with a number of Bengali and Oriya dishes. I introduced my husband to fish during our courtship period…. he had never tasted fish before that, and it was important for me that he also develops a taste for it . He took some time to get used to the “fishy” smell, but over the years he has also started to enjoy fish.

Now we usually eat the Thai versions of fish or the fish masala or fish curry. But I had not introduced one of my favourite Doi Ilish to him, mainly because of his aversion to anything with the smell of mustard. “Fishy smell + mustard” – might be just too much for him. …and hence I would stop at just mentioning the name of the dish …but never dared to make him try it . This was until one of our Bengali friends married and his sweet wife “A” came to Singapore. Now I had someone to discuss the wonderful Bengali dishes, the fact that she is a very good cook whose food my husband loved…..gave me courage to request her to make doi ilish for us. She sweetly agreed to prepare the same and the next time we went to their place , she served it to us . I waited with bated breath while hubby dear took his first morsel …and I was hugely relieved when he said he loved it ;). I promptly requested “A” to share the recipe so that I can try it. Then one day while we were chatting she told me she was making doi ilish …I got the brilliant idea of asking her to share her recipe on this blog .

Much to my delight she agreed and sent the photograph with the recipe ….. These days she is back in India …enjoying herself I hear J and I hope that she comes back with a lot of lovely recipes to share with me .
Here’s the recipe as described by her –

Ingredients :

  • Hilsa/Ilish ~ 1 Kg
  • Yogurt ~ ¾ cup
  • Mustard Paste (a wet paste of mustard & green chilies) ~ 4 tsp
  • Ginger Paste ~ 1 tsp of fresh ginger paste
  • Green Chillies ~ 4 or more
  • Kalo Jeera/Kalonji/Nigella Seeds (for tempering) ~ ¾ tsp loosely packed
  • Turmeric powder ~ 1/2 tsp
  • Mustard Oil ~ preferred for a fish like Hilsa. , you can use any cooking oil though
  • Salt – as per taste

Method :

Wash the fish well, pat dry and rub the pieces with about ½ tsp of turmeric powder a little salt and keep aside.Heat oil in a Deep Frying Pan/Wok. When the oil is piping hot reduce the heat and slowly slide the fish pieces into the oil. Make sure not to overcrowd the pan, as the fish needs to be fried from the sides also. Fry all the pieces on high heat. Do not fry too much and you can avoid frying as well (though she fried the fish for us, as she said we might not like the smell too much) .
Heat a little oil and put kalonji/ nigella seeds and green chilies and wait for the spices to pop. Add the fresh ginger paste. Lower the heat and put yogurt- mustard sauce. [This can be prepared without yogurt as well] .
Add salt and let it simmer for a couple or minutes and add water (about 1 cup). Add the fish pieces and let the gravy simmer and reduce to desired consistency.
Cook till you get gravy of the right thickness, not watery, add a little mustard oil on top and serve with hot white rice.

One variation is to add longitudinally cut potatoes pieces before adding to mustard paste, fry and let them get semi cooked. Then add the mustard paste and then the fish.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Aloo -Gajar-Matar ki Subzi

It is getting very hot these days, wonder whether it’s a result of the global warming phenomenon … some people say that the Swine flu –pandemic is a result of this global warming. The flu virus is supposed to be able to mutate better and faster in the hot weather. Wonder what the world is coming to …. All the panic that is happening all around us…the news is full of headlines about people being quarantined just because they happen to be of a certain nationality …widespread culling of pigs in spite the fact that there is no scientific proof that the flu is being transmitted through these animals ….it all reminds me of some sad futuristic movie showing a paranoid world in 2050, where people are living the lives of animals and worse. I wonder whether all this “progress” is actually leading us to that stage. I sincerely do hope not, I hope that people come to their senses and start respecting nature and the world around them. I do try to do my bit, by trying to reduce, reuse and recycle. I hope it does make a difference somewhere :-)

Coming back to the heat all around …. This hot weather makes me lose my appetite and as a result we are consuming lots of cold fruits and salads, but then a person needs something more substantial than fruit salad to sustain himself/herself and therein comes these simple dishes which need simple ingredients and less time to cook. They are healthy, nutritious and easy to make.

One of our favorite side dish is Aloo-gajar-matar ki Subzi . Although most of the ingredients in this dish are traditionally associated with winter season in India and that is when it is usually made back home, I have the benefit of getting great frozen /fresh vegetables and hence we have it almost through out the year. Serve it with hot chapattis and cool cool cucumber raita and you are ready to beat the heat :-)

Ingredients: -

Aloo/ potato – 2 medium sized, chopped into squares
Gajar / Carrot – 1 big or 2 medium sized, chopped into half circles or cubes
Matar / peas – ½ cup
Ginger – 1.5 inch piece, chopped finely
Green chili – 1-2 as per taste, chopped finely
Oil – 2 tb sp
Turmeric powder – ½ t sp
Red chili powder – ½ t sp
Garam masala powder – ¼ t sp
Salt- as per taste
Chopped coriander – 2 tb sp for garnishing

Wash, peel and chop the potatoes and carrots, keep aside. In a thick-bottomed pan, heat the oil, once slightly hot add the chopped ginger and chilies. Sauté for a minute, till it becomes fragrant. Then add the potatoes and carrot, stir and add the peas. Add all the seasonings except garam masala powder and turmeric powder. Lower the flame to minimum and cover the pan. Let is cook for 8-10 mins till the vegetables are cooked and soft. Uncover and sauté till all water evaporates and the vegetables become glossy with the oil . Add the garam masala powder (I add this only for the fragrance and flavor hence the small quantity, if you want you can add more). Garnish with coriander leaves and serve as accompaniment with roti/parantha/rice.

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

A reason to celebrate with Blueberry Yogurt Cake and Besan ke Paranthe

I RAN MY FIRST MARATHON !! :) :) and I am so proud of it ....

Many of you who would be regular runners might be thinking what is the big deal .... But it is a BIG Deal for someone who would wait for the next bus rather than run to catch the one leaving. I did it not because of any medical conditions or because I could not ...but just because I did not feel like running. But all that has changed over the last few months.

This year I made only one new year resolution..unlike the previous years wherein my resolution list would run for at least a mile :) .

My resolution was to do all that which I have never done before ,..but would have liked to do and experience. Running a marathon was one such thing . I had a mental block about running , I could never imagine myself running all those regular runners and joggers who would pass by me during my walks . I wanted to experience the "runners high" i kept reading about in various magazines . It helped that one of my colleagues wanted to restart running after having a baby and when she asked me whether I would be interested in joining her for post-office runs , I grabbed the offer with both hands. Initially it was painful and humiliating ....a person who could walk for hours could not run for more than ten minutes ...but we persevered and set up a challenge of completing a 10km run in march . The Suburban Run run was on 15th March'09 and we completed the whole 10Km in spite of the energy sapping heat ...... now I intend to keep running :) and to do something new in the coming months.

Hubby dear was very very supportive of this decision to run and he was more excited and proud about my completing the 10km than me . We celebrated this small achievement with a blueberry yogurt cake and simple besan aur pyaaz ke paranthe . I followed the recipe given by Clotilde of chocolateandzucchini . The cake turned out perfect . I forgot to take picture of the slices :) as we were too busy gorging on those .

The recipe for Besan aur pyaaz ke paranhte ( Indian Gram flour and onion bread) is -

Ingredients :-
Gram flour - 1 cup
Wheat flour - 1 cup
Onion - 1 large sized one , finely chopped
Finely chopped green chili - 2-3 as per taste
Turmeric powder - 1/2 tsp
Red chili powder - 1/2 tsp
Salt - as per taste
Garam masala - 1/2 tsp
Water - as much as required

Mix the gram flour and wheat flour. Add all the spices and mix well . Add about 3 tb sp oil and mix well so that the oil gets well incorporated into the dry ingredients. Now add the chopped onion and green chili . Add water and prepare a stiff dough.

Divide the dough into golf ball sized balls . Make into round balls and roll out each ball separately into circular shape.
Cook over a hot skillet , apply oil on both sides and cook till small brown specks appear .

Serve with butter, yogurt and pickles

This is another popular travel food as it lasts for up to 2-3 days. Hence this is my second entry for SWC-Meals on wheels hosted by LG of tasteofmysore.

Bharwan Karela - Stuffed bittergourd

Bitter - is one of the five basic tastes , the other four being sour, salty, sweet and savory. We love karela or bitter gourd, but the time it takes to prepare it is the main reason for us not having it as often as we would like to. When LG of Tasteofmysore announced SWC-Meals on wheels I knew I had to take out the time and make these . I still have memories of train travels which would last for a couple of days and we would eat the stuffed karela packed by my grandmothers . These do not get spoilt for 3-4 days and thus are perfect as food for travels.
I made these after a long time yesterday and here goes the recipe for them -

Ingredients -
Karela / bitter gourd - 6-7 medium sized ones
Onion - 2 sliced
Nigella seeds / kalaunji - 1 tsp
Fennel seeds / saunf - 1 tsp
Fenugreek /methi - 1 tsp
Coriander powder - 1.5 tsp
Dry mango / Amchur powder - 1 tsp
Turmeric powder/ haldi - 0.5 tsp
Red chili powder/ laal mirch - 0.5 tsp
Salt to taste
2 tbsp mustard oil
2 tbsp tamarind/ imli pulp (soak imli in half a bowl of water and use the residue )
Thread - as much as required

Peel the bitter gourd with a light hand , slit them vertically and take out all the seeds to create a pocket. Rub lots of salt and keep aside for at least 4-5 hours . Apply salt to the outer peel also and keep aside.
After 4-5 hours squeeze out all the fluid from the bitter gourd and the peels and wash with water.
In a pan heat about 1 tbsp of mustard oil, add the nigella seeds and fennel seeds. Heat till they become aromatic, then add the sliced onions . Saute till the onions become translucent. Then add the squeezed out bitter gourd peel and saute for a minute. Then add all the other spices. Saute for 2-3 minutes then add the tamarind pulp with some water . Saute the mixture till oil starts separating from it.
Now with the help of a spoon, stuff this prepared filling into the bitter gourd. Once well stuffed wrap a thread around the bitter gourd to ensure that the filling does not come out. Once all the bitter gourds are filled and wrapped , shallow fry them till well cooked.

Serve with roti/parantha /rice :)
This is my entry for SWC-Meals on wheels and I hope LG accepts it.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Kathal ke kebab - Raw Jackfruit Patties

When LG of tasteofmysore announced that she would be hosting AFAM-Jackfruit, this is the first thing, which came to my mind. But due to unavailability of raw jackfruit and time I could not make it in time to send in an entry. Recently my sister in law “V” told me that they are going to make kathal kebabs, I told her to send in the recipe and the photos so that I can blog these.

The first time I made these kebabs after marriage I had to spin a big story and convince my hubby dear that these are shaami kebabs made with minced mutton. All this because he had never eaten raw jackfruit and was not willing to try it. The day before I was going to make these kebabs I told him that I had bought the keema “minced mutton” and that I would be making kebabs. Raw jackfruit is known for tasting and resembling in texture to non-veg and it is often called as vegetarian mutton in our place. I had pinned my hopes on the fact that these kebabs taste almost like shaami kebabs and that my hubby would not be able to make out the difference. When I served these, he relished them and absolutely loved them, that is when I disclosed to him that these were indeed made from jackfruit and not meat. He did not believe at first , and now whenever we serve these to any guests he loves quiz them about the type of “meat” used in these . Till date none of the guests have been able to guess that these are vegetarian kebabs :)

Ingredients :-
Raw jackfruit / kathal – 500 grams
Dhuli Masoor dal / split red lentils – 100 grams
Onions – 2-3 large ones
Ginger – 1-1.5 inches long piece
Green chili – 4-5 – as per taste
Cloves – 5-6
Black pepper – 5-6
Red chili powder – as per taste
Raw mango powder / amchur powder – 1-2 t sp as per taste
Chat masala – as per taste
Coriander leaves – 4-5-table spoon – chopped finely

Cook the raw jackfruit with the lentils, onions, ginger, cloves and black pepper with a little water in the pressure cooker . Cook till 2 whistles. Take off the flame and let it cool. Once cool grind the whole mix to a thick paste in the grinder. Do not add any water while grinding otherwise the mixture will become too thin to be shaped into kebabs. Add salt, red chili, amchur powder /lime juice and coriander leaves and mix well.

Make small balls of this mixture and flatten them, stuff with chopped onion, green chili and coriander leaves. Shape into small discs or oblong shaped kebabs. You can either deep fry them or shallow fry them. We usually grill them with a little oil smeared on them.

Serve hot with coriander chutney or tomato ketchup or with just a little limejuice sprinkled on it.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009


Wishing all of you a very happy and colorful holi !!! May you all have a blast today !!
As for me I am in office ...working :( ...... earning my daily bread . One of the biggest disadvantages of living away from India is that you miss all the festivals and the associated fun . I miss all the excitement, color, food, fun and laughter associated with this festival of colors , I miss my family today . But I take comfort in the fact that we might have an opportunity to celebrate holi on the weekend :) .
Eat well and play safely ...take care :)

Friday, January 30, 2009

Kulcha chana with a twist

Kulcha - chana is a favorite of my husband . For me it was a new concept becuase I had never lived in Punjab till the time I got married. Apparently it is a very popular way of eating Kabuli Chana or Chola there. Now that I know more about it , I am not surprised that it is a popular combination. The ease of preparing this complete meal alongwith the flexibility of making it as spicy or bland as per individual's preference definitely make it popular with me ;-) .

Kulcha - chana is nothing but a spicy and tangy mix of chole or chickpeas with onions, tomatoes, green chillies stuffed in flat bread known as Kulcha.

As I told you all already, my mother-in-law has been living with us for about 3 months now and so I have been treated to delicious Punjabi dishes all this time . One fine day we decided to have Kulcha chana, the chana part was easy to take care of , but where do we get the Kulchas in a foreign land . That is where the "twist" came in ....we decided to replace the Kulcha with plain buns traditionally used for burgers . Since the buns absorb the juices in the chole we added a little more liquid to it than we would have if we had been using the Kulchas. The result was a filling and satisfying meal which left us wanting for more :-)

Ingredients -
Chickpeas/ chole / kabuli chana - 1 cup ( soaked overnight and then boiled in salted water till soft)
Red onion - 1 large (finely chopped)
Tomato - 1 large (finely chopped)
Green chilli - 2-3 as per taste ( finely chopped)
Lime juice - 2 tsp (as per taste)
Tamarind pulp - 2 tsp
Black salt - as per taste
Salt - as per taste
Coriander leaves - a handful , chopped finely
Red chili powder - as per taste
Buns - 4

Cut the buns halfway through horizontally .
Mix all the ingredients together and keep aside . The fill them into the buns with the help of a spoon. Spoon a little liquid ( which gathers at the bottom of the vessel) over the chola mix and then press the buns to close them.

Serve immediately !! :)

P.S. : The chickpeas with the onions, tomatoes, etc make a lovely salad also which can be served chilled also :-) . In fact in my house , we had been having it as a salad all these years only.

This is my entry fro JFI -Chickpea being hosted by Sometime Foodie . JFI was a brainchild of Indira of Mahanandi blog.

This is also my second entry to Srivalli's My Legume Love Affair-7th helping.My Legume Love Affair was started by Susan of The Well Seasoned Cook.

This also goes to SWC- Salads under 15 minutes being hosted by my dear friend LG of Cooking station

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Paav Bhaji

Paav Bhaji is a favorite in the house , I can make it any time and be rest assured that it would be well received by everyone at home . It is a welcome break from the usual routine of Roti-sabzi for all of us and a break for me from the chore of making rotis ;-) . I made paav bhaji on one of these sundays , and the next day while chatting with my sweet sis-in-law the topic of paav bhaji came up . Usually I use the ready to use paav bhaji masala due to the convenience factor , but when she mentioned that her aunt makes awesome paav bhaji from the scratch I couldnot resist the temptation of inviting her to share the recipe with all of us .

She was sweet enough to send in the recipe very quickly , and without any further delay let me share her tried and tested recipe in her own words :-) ( I didnot click any photo of the paav bhaji I made because I didnot think it was special enough to be blogged ..but I shall publish a photo of paav bhaji made with this authentic recipe soon :-))

Ingredients :-
4 medium potatoes, peeled and cut
1 small cauliflower, cut into florets (about 2-3 cups)
1 green bell pepper cut into small pieces
2 large onions chopped into small pieces
1 medium sized carrot cut into small pieces
1/2 cup peas (fresh or frozen)
2-3 cups tomato puree or 3-4 large sized tomatoes
2 tbsp oil
2-3 green chilies
1.5 tsp ginger paste
1.5 tsp garlic paste
½ tsp turmeric powder
½ tsp amchur powder
1 tsp chili powder or red chili paste
Salt to taste
1.5-2 tbsp Everest paav-bhaji masala/ Home made paav bhaji masala (or more to taste)
1 tbsp butter

Preparation :-
1. Cut all vegetables into small pieces
2. Microwave all the vegetables except onions and potatoes for 10 mins. Other option is boiling them till they are tender.
3. Add boiled potatoes to these vegetables and use a potato masher to mash them slightly in a vessel. Don’t over-mash them
4. Heat oil in a deep saucepan and add green chilies and onions and sauté till light brown
5. Add ginger and garlic paste and sauté for some more time
6. Add turmeric powder, chili powder and salt to taste. Sauté for a few seconds
7. Add tomato puree and mashed vegetables
8. Then add paav-bhaji masala and butter
9. Keep sautéing with the potato masher till you gets a coarse blend. You can add a little water (around 1/2-1 cup) if required
10. Keep a lid and intermittently stir. Simmer for around 20 minutes for the mixture to completely blend
11. Add a pinch of salt and ½ tsp garam masala and ½ tsp amchur powder or paav bhaji masala to get a tangier taste
12. Add 2 tbsp of butter to it
13. Garnish with finely chopped coriander leaves, lemon slices and finely chopped 1 large onion
14. Slit the paavs and fry them on the saucepan with butter
15. Serve the hot bhaji with the paavs
16. Instead of using the Everest paav bhaji masala and other spices, one can prepare a home made mixture

Home made Paav Bhaji Masala -
. 1-2 inch ginger
· 2 tbsp coriander seeds
· 4-5 cloves
· 1 tbsp cumin seeds
· 4 dry red chilies
· 1 tbsp amchur powder
· 1 inch piece of cinnamon
· 1 tsp fennel seeds
· 1 tbsp garam masala powder
· A pinch of asafetida
1. Heat a pan and heat the coriander seeds, cloves, cumin seeds, red chilies, cinnamon, asafetida and fennel seeds on a low flame till slight flames start coming and u get an aroma
2. Grind these with the remaining spices in a mixer
3. The home made paav bhaji masala is ready

LG of tasteofmysore suggested that I can send this as an entry for Think Spice.. Think twice: Mastic Gum or Fennel seeds event being hosted by Ivy of Kopiatse... to Greek Hospitality , the event is a brain child of Sunita of Sunita's world . I hope this entry gets accepted.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Shahi Paneer - Cottage Cheese cubes in rich tomato based Gravy

Time moves so fast …it seems just like yesterday that we were looking forward year 2009, and here we are well into the year with one month almost gone. But as they say “good times fly…” so in a way I am happy that time is flying away :-) . Coming back to our New Year eve’s celebrations this time around we had decided to welcome 2009 in a quiet peaceful way. Unlike the noisy and boisterous New Year countdowns we have every year we stayed at home and waited for 2009 to come. We had a sumptuous home cooked meal, which included shahi paneer, sindhi dal and lacchedaar roti. We welcomed the new year with warm doughnuts and bubbling cold drinks .

The menu for the dinner was decided on the last minute after we came back from office. So I did a quick research for the recipe of shahi paneer and finally decided on a mix of Sanjeev Kapoor’s and Tarla Dalal’s recipes. The paneer turned out soft with the gravy rich and creamy, and it tasted even better the next day. Surprisingly it did not take much time to prepare also. After dinner, I got thumbs up from hubby dear and a quick photo of the remaining dish was taken and I was instructed to blog it as soon as possible : -D

So here is my recipe for Shahi Paneer: -


Cottage cheese / paneer – Approx 250 gms
Tomatoes -3,Large sized, chopped
Onion – 1 medium sized, chopped
Handful of cashew nuts and almonds, ground to fine paste – the original recipe calls only for cashew nuts, but I added some almonds too.
Ginger, garlic, chili paste – 1 ½ t sp
Tomato paste – 1 tb sp
Garam masala powder – ½ tsp
Red chili powder – ½ t sp
Turmeric powder – ½ t sp
Coriander powder – 1 t sp
Salt – as per taste
Oil – 2 tb sp
Kasoori methi / dried fenugreek leaves – 1 tsp
Coriander leaves – chopped finely for garnishing
Fry chopped onions, in oil till soft. Add ginger, garlic and chili paste, fry till its brown. Then add the tomatoes and fry for 6 to 8 minutes till they turn mushy. Cool the sautéed masala and grind to a puree add tomato paste to it along with 1/2-cup water. Now bring it to a boil and simmer on low flame.In the meanwhile cut the cottage cheese / paneer into medium size pieces. Shallow fry the paneer in oil without browning them. Keep it aside.
Now add all the dry masala to the puree .Add the cashew nut – almond paste in the puree. And cook it on low flame till the gravy is thick. Add the paneer pieces and cook till they become heated too.
I added dry roasted and crushed kasoori methi/ dried fenugreek leaves also for more flavor and aroma (this was not mentioned in the original recipes) Before serving garnish with chopped coriander leaves.

Serve hot with chapatti, paranthas or rice and enjoy !! :-)

Monday, January 12, 2009

Punjabi Rajma Masala - Punjabi Kidney beans in gravy

Let me begin by wishing everyone a VERY HAPPY NEW YEAR !! . I have been very very irregular with my blogging offlate , the reason for this is that I am hardly doing any cooking these days :-) . My mother-in-law has been in town for the past couple of months and hence we have been treated to delicious home made food everyday . I make the same things using the same recipe , but somehow it never turns out as tasty as the ones she dishes out everyday . Probably this is a result of the long experience . Over the years she has discovered a lot of time saving tricks which she has been kind enough to pass on to me . Here I am sharing one of those time saving techniques for making the world famous - rajma masala . Usually we all associate Rajma with lots of soaking , boiling and then getting around to make the curry , according to my mother -in-law there's no need for that . Read on to find out her secret a quick and the best tasting rajma that I have ever had :-)

Ingredients –
Kidney beans/Rajma – 250 gms
Medium sized onions – 2
Tomatoes – 2
Garlic – 6-7 cloves
Ginger – 1 inch piece – finely chopped
Turmeric powder – ½ t sp
Red chili powder – 1 t sp (adjust as per taste)
Garam masala powder – 1 t sp
Salt – as per taste
Asafoetida – a pinch
Coriander leaves – chopped for garnishing
Oil – 2 tb sp

Soak the kidney beans overnight with enough water. Make a paste of onions and garlic. Heat oil in a pressure cooker; add the asafoetida powder and then the onion and garlic paste. Sauté for a minute and then add finely chopped ginger. Keep sautéing till the onion becomes a little brown, and then add the red chili powder, turmeric and salt. Then add the tomato paste. Sauté till the oil starts separating from the masala. In the meanwhile drain the kidney beans and keep them separately. Add the pre-soaked kidney beans to the masala and sauté them till all the water evaporates. Then add about 1 –1.5 glass of water and pressure cook Keep the flame high till the first whistle and after that cook on low flame for about 20 minutes. After that let the pressure cooker cool. Once cool check for tenderness, if the beans are soft then add garam masala powder. If the beans are not soft then pressure cook for some more time. Once cooked properly garnish with coriander leaves and serve with hot steaming rice. You can adjust the thickness of the gravy as per your requirement by adding more water or boiling it some more to thicken it.

You can also boil the kidney beans with water and salt separately and then mix the beans and the water in the masala. Then let it boil for 10 minutes till the time the masala gets mixed well and the gravy thickens.

This is my first entry for the Legume love affair of Srivelli , I hope she accepts it . This event is the brain child of Susan of The well seasoned cook.