Friday, October 30, 2009

Bhaja Mung Dal Ilish Macher Matha Diye (Mung Dal with Hilsha Head)

When I was a child I have seen my Baba go to the market to buy fish and meat. Those days there were very few working mothers and even if the wife had lots of time in hand she never went to the fish market alone. We looked forward to Sundays when Baba would take us with him to the market to buy mutton. And during lunch the aashon (small mats) would be spread out, one next to the other, in a row on the floor of the kitchen verandah and the kansar thala and bati (bell-metal plates and bowls) would be placed in front of every aashon. Baba always sat first in the row and the others took their place one by one. The meal would be served by the cook once everyone sat down. That was how we enjoyed our family meal.

…and now it is chit chat at the dining table. Many landing up later in their life with knee joint pains and many cannot sit crossed leg on the floor.

Coming back to food it is a fishy day with fish head. I have seen many of my friends leave behind the fish head with the fishmonger as they did not like to eat it. Ask any Bangali about macher matha (fish head) and pat they can say, “Koto kichu hote pare macher matha diye (cook so many recipes using fish head). After all Bengalis love fish and many cannot deny they die to have at least macher jhool (fish curry) everyday.

Without wasting time back to my preparation. Ilish mach has its own smell, taste and flavour. I made mung dal with the hilsa fish head without onion or garlic. Very simple and…the taste, your palate can judge.

 Picture of dressed fish head


Hilsa fish head -1 (the gills separated and the rest cut into smaller size as in the picture).
Mung dal (roasted) – 1 cup
Panch phoron – 1½ tsp
Haldi powder
Red chilies - 2
Mustard oil

How I cooked it:

Roast the mung dal till it gets a pink colour ( not a baby pink, a bit stronger)
Wash and pour it into the pressure pan.
Add about 2 ½ to 3 cups of water.
Add haldi, cover with the lid.
Put the pressure cooker on the burning stove and let it cook. Three to four whistles will do.
Switch off the gas.
Rub the head pieces with haldi and salt.
Heat mustard oil in a kadhai and when the smoke starts coming throw the fish head into the oil and fry it till it is crispy.
Take it out and keep it aside.


Heat about 1 tbsp of mustard oil in a kadhai. You can use the oil that was used for frying the head.
When the oil is hot break the red chilies into half and add them to the oil and stir.
When the chili gives out its smell and changes colour add the panch phoron.
Once they start spluttering add the cooked dal to it.
Add salt to taste and sugar as per your taste and once the dal starts boiling break the fried pieces into more smaller bits and add to the dal.
Stir for a couple of minutes. The dal should be neither too thick nor too thin.
It’s ready to be served with hot boiled rice.
This is a dish that tastes good with rice.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Awards ...and happy for it

Thank you Prasu for all the awards. I'm really excited and very happy.

Here are the lovely awards that I have received:

Monday, October 19, 2009

Soup da Quicky

Everyone was in a mood for a bowl of soup. To be very frank, I desired for it too but was in no mood to go to the kitchen. Seeing the father and son duo look at one another and then again at me, I could read their thought…a mom…a wife…could not keep them waiting.

I was in a frame of mind to cheat them and out came my words, “A Soup da Quicky will do”. They shared their looks with one another for few seconds and son said, “Of course something new will do”. And Mom…this bechari me…soon moved into action. Not a military command but one of love that adorn the heart of every wife and mom.

From the kitchen cupboard I brought out the four pack Maggi Vegetable Atta Noodles packet which I had got with this months grocery. Opened the fridge and took out the bowl of Knoor Vegetable Hara Bhara soup…leftover of the previous day.

And soon I got busy…into action…in the kitchen..

To tell you how I did it, simple method.


Two Maggi vegetable Atta Noodles

1 bowl ( medium size) of leftover Knoor Vegetable Hara Bhara soup.


Poured 3½ cups of water in a pan.

Added 2 pouches of the taste maker and gave it a stir and let the water boil.

In the meantime broke the noodles into 1 inch size.

Once the water started boiling added the noodles.

Stirred it from time to time.

As I had added extra water than recommended in the instruction, I had to check the noodles to see they were done.

Then added the soup I had taken out from the fridge and mixed it well.

Let it boil for a couple of minutes and then switched off the gas.

Soup bowls ready to be served within 10 minutes.

My son said, “Ma, yummy for the tummy, love the name too”. It was indeed a lazy effort but the result was…all smiles.

Saturday, October 17, 2009



Palang Sager Chorchori

With the coming winter months vegetable markets will be flooded with bunches of fresh Palang Saag (Palak/Spinach)…the healthy green leafy vegetable…cooked in my kitchen most of the days.

I remember as a child I would shy away from any Saag preparation and always get a shout from Ma, “Eat saag, its good for the eyes and skin”. There used to be different kinds of saag…from Notae to Pui and sometimes Kumro Saag and Lau Saag. Sojne Saag was cooked with kancha muger dal and served with rice, generally during the pox season, while methi saag was cooked with aloo… similarity -- both have a bitter taste.

With age all the fuss has gone and now I present the Mom figure for my children and see they eat the saag I cook at home. Spinach is readily available but for the other varieties have to depend on the CR Park market as this is known as mini Kolkata of the capital city of India.

The other day I cooked palang chorchori as there was nothing else in the fridge and I needed a vegetable dish for lunch. With rice, dal, tomato chutney a simple vegetarian dish would be a complete meal. Without wasting time I set off with my task of cooking.

All that I had:

Palang saag – 1 bunch
Pumpkin: a large left over piece
Potatoes: 2 small ones
Tomato: 1

For temperimg:

Panch phoron: 1 tsp
Whole dry red chilies: 2
Mustard oil: 1tbsp
Salt: to taste
Sugar: 1 tsp

How I did it:

First cut off the roots and discarded the leaves that had gone watery and soft.
Washed (three times) and then chopped the palang saag.
Peeled the sin of the potatoes and cut small dices.
After removing the skin of the pumpkin, cut it into pieces double the size of the potatoes as pumpkin cooks faster than the potatoes.
Cut the tomato into tiny pieces.


Heat oil in a kadhai.
Add the panch phoron and the red chillies breaking each into half and wait till the spices start popping and the red chillies give out the strong smell.
Add the saag, the vegetables and chopped tomatoes, give it a stir and cover with a lid.
Stir from time to time for a couple of minutes.
Add salt and sugar and cover it.
Simmer the flame.
Let it cook under low heat. The saag and salt leaves water which helps the vegetables to be cooked.
Once the potatoes are cooked it is time to increase the flame and let the water evaporate completely.
The saag is ready to be served with rice and dal or even with hot roti or paratha.

You can also use eggplant.
Garnish it with crushed deep fried bodi (vadi) before serving for extra taste (optional).

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Sweet Dish – Chaler Payesh/Rice Kheer/Rice Pudding

Payesh has a special place in our house. Whoever has tasted it cooked by me has always come back with their request…for another payesh treat. Payesh is very special in our house on birthdays. Even on my birthday I cook payesh…why not…I’m the cook of my home.

At home everyone has a sweet tooth and love to have a sweet dish after dinner…payesh is mostly ready in hand…cooked and placed in the refrigerator…eaten whenever the taste buds yearn for it.

I remember there was the time when the milkman came with his milk can, knocking at the door to deliver his daily milk supply for the home. Now milk is available in packets or at the milk booths. The milk that came with the milkman was full of cream. The layer of cream (known as Shaar in Bengali) that spread on the top after the milk was boiled and cooled down was gently removed and collected in a bowl. This creamy layer was collected for about a week. Later the cream was placed in a kadhai and the slow fire did the magic…the aroma of ghee would spread all across the house…moving out from the kitchen to each and every place that gave it a space to enter. In this slow cooking the ghee was released from the cream in the kadhai and collected in a glass bottle. As for the Shaar, it got cooked and took a brown colour later to be relished with a spread of sugar. Many people like Shaar Bhaja…that’s a Bengali treat.

Home-made ghee…can’t think about it now.

Well I’m sharing with you my Chaler Payesh preparation.

For this we need:

Milk - 1 litre

Basmati Rice - just a fistful

Sugar - as per your sweet tooth

Bay leaves - 4

Elaich (cardamom) - 4 pods coarsely crushed

Salt - just a small pinch

How I make:

Soak the rice in water for half or quarter of an hour.

Boil the milk. When the first boil comes add the rice and keep stirring. After having cooked for sometime when the milk starts reducing add the bay leaves. Keep stirring to avoid the rice from sticking to the bottom. Keep on stirring till the rice is cooked. Now add sugar as per your taste and cook for sometime. Add the salt (balances the taste) and keep stirring till the milk takes a pinkish tinge. By now the milk has been reduced to less than half…will look somewhat like rabadi…very creamy. Add the elaich powder after removing from fire.

Serve hot or cold. You can smack your lips after tasting a serving of hot payesh…be careful not to burn your mouth.

Elderly people prefer a thinner payesh…can use little more rice and don’t reduce the milk too much.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Over a Cup of Tea

By now you must have guessed what I want to write about today. The title of this blog will give you the clue. By the way it is late afternoon and I’m sitting with my cup of tea. I like to have my evening tea, if I’m right it will be wrong to say evening for the falling rays of the sun will deny the fact that it’s evening. I will rightly tag this time, late afternoon and early evening. And here again I leave you guessing about noon and evening.

Most Bengalis love the Adda time. Adda has become such a common word, you can find Big B writing his blogs on Addabaji is very common not only among Bengali youths but among the bhadralok and bhadra mahilas also. The adda is most enjoyed over a cup of tea. Here I say tea, as I prefer tea to coffee.

I always feel tea has a cousin in coffee. Why not they both energise the body and mind. The first thing in the morning is a cup of tea. I prefer my tea after my morning nitya karma is over. Nitya karma, in simple words, sometime spent in the bathroom. Why should I hate those who love to drink their tea in bed? Angreziri style ‘Bed Tea’ is their preference without even brushing their teeth. But never heard a dentist speak against it, maybe it does not harm the teeth.

As the lady of the house, I pity me for I have to make my morning cuppa and for others too. I love my travel days when I get my first cup of tea in the morning served by someone else. At times I feel the tea I make is not worth drinking. Why? For that answer I need to do some thinking. Not now, maybe sometime later on.

My sister says my tea tastes too sweet. Even my mother-in-law said the same. After all they prefer 1 tsp of sugar but 2 tsp is fine for me. Aap ruchi khana par ruchi pahanna this saying fits in correctly for my taste. Why not, every person has his/her own taste buds. I use the Brooke Bond Red Label which was used in my Ma’s kitchen and I have stuck to this brand till date. Recently a friend brought Dhruba leaf tea which I have mixed with my usual brand in 50:50 proportions to get the flavour and colour.

My friend once told me to drink my morning tea without milk as this helps prevent tooth problem (cavities). But I don’t like black tea. And the lemon tea a favourite of many has never gone down well with my taste buds.

I am not a tea addict. One cup in the morning and one in the evening is enough for my day. For courtesy sake I drink an extra cup when offered by friends or relatives. In winter I don’t mind an extra cup or two. Something makes me smile at this moment. Children dip biscuits into their mother’s tea cups and eat them. Even I have done so and so also my children.

Having finished my last drop from the cup I think I can also wrap up my words for today.