Thursday, March 25, 2010

Piyaj koli aar Aloo bhaja – Potato and Onion green Stir Fry

Her name is Kakoli, but her in-laws use the short form of her name and call her Koli. She , Koli, reminds me of the piyaj koli which makes some preparations so interesting and tasty, but the greater side of this stalk-like green is, it can be cooked so simply. Stepping into the kitchen for the first time, a girl, a woman, a bachelor or someone trying out his/her efforts for the first time in a kitchen, can easily cook this Bhaja (stir fry) quick and with ease.

The kolis have their own sweetness, and give out the mild aroma of onion when the cooking time is on...tick tick tick tick as the clock goes on.

No more words, off to work. In these two expressions – Word and Work – just the two ending alphabets‘d’ and ‘k’, see the sea of difference in their meaning. Now you must be getting impatient to know how I cooked the dish.

A bunch of piyaj koli (greens of the onion)

See the Kolis here:

Two medium size potatoes washed, peeled and cut lengthwise.

Cut the piyaj kolis into 1 ½ inch in length, wash and drain the water.

Haldi powder ½ tsp

Salt to taste

Cooking oil (I’ve used mustard oil for its strong flavour) 2 tbsp

Once you’ve kept all the ingredients near at hand, place a wok on the burning stove.

Pour in the oil and once its hot tip in the potatoes.

Stir and cover, simmer the flame and cook for 2-3 minutes, stirring it from time to time.

Now add the piyaj koli (the greens) and mix it up properly. Another minute or two, then add the haldi powder and salt. Cook for a minute on high flame and then simmer it. Cover and let it cook in the juice the piyaj koli and the salt releases, stirring in between from time to time. During this time the sweet soft aroma of the onions will be entering your nostrils...haah!!! such a nice and sweet smell...aaahaah!

Cook for another 5-7 minutes, don’t forget to remove the cover and stir it from time to time. Now it is ready to be served.

Serve with hot rice and dal but don’t forget if you prefer rotis it goes very well with it, and even with paratha if you’re happy with extra oil or ghee.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Cucumber and Onion Salad – My Summer Frequent

There isn’t much to say about Salads. Each one has his/her own way of presenting salad. My cucumber and onion salad is very simple. I give it a sharp touch with lime juice and balance this sourness with some sugar. The green chillies add a spicy tang.

This salad finds a place in my home more in the summer days, and I call it My Summer Frequent. This is how I make my khatta meetha cucumber onion salad.

Cucumber: 1 wash, peel off the skin and cut into thin long narrow pieces.

Green chillies: 2-3 finely chopped

Onion: 1 cut into ring shape.

Mix cucumber, chillies and onion in a bowl. Mix it properly.

Now add salt (to taste) and squeeze the juice of a lemon into this mixture. To this add some sugar to balance the tangy taste. Mix it carefully so that all the ingredients blend properly. Keep it aside till the salt, sugar and lemon juice blend.

Ready to serve and taste.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Drumsticks Cooked in Roasted Mung Dal

It is not always we can find drumsticks in the market. And there in our house how the drumsticks would be dangling from the branches and when they grew in size, were broken down from the branches with long bamboo sticks and then cooked...fresh from the garden. The branches are so fragile they broke when at times the monkeys came in groups and were busy in their tandav. They jumped from branch to branch...the father monkey, the mother monkey, the children, the aunts, the uncles...hey they came, the monkey lot,  devastating most of the trees and fruits in the backyard garden. They ate the vegetables and fruits and also wasted some...maybe not their taste-worthy.

When spring came the leaves of this tree, was cooked with dal. It has a bitter taste and it was believed to be a good preventive for chicken pox. Whatever it was cooked, most of us siblings, never let Thakur (our cook) serve this. If Baba was present there was no way to make a fuss. The flowers were made into Boras...equally bitter but Ma said it was healthy.

With years of experience in my kitchen, I am happy to cook drumsticks in roasted mung dal. This dal and drumstick combination was something I tried out and it was tasty indeed. Here it is:

1 cup moong dal, dry roast till it takes a pinkish tinge. Once it cools down, wash and place the dal in the pressure cooker with 2 ½ cups of water. Add ½ tsp haldi and cook till the cooker gives out 4 whistles.

Take 4-5 drumsticks. Size them to 2 inch in length. Wash and keep them. Put to boil the drumsticks in a pan with 1½ cup water and a pinch of salt. Cover and cook till the sticks are cooked. If there is water remaining don’t drain it out.

Pour 1½ tsp mustard oil in a wok. You can use any cooking oil. Once the oil is hot add 2 tsp panch phoron and tip in 3 green chillies broken into half. Once the seeds start crackling in the hot oil pour the cooked dal into the wok. As it starts boiling add the drumsticks along with the remaining water. Add salt and sugar. Cook for another 2-3 minutes. Pour some desi ghee on top.

Serve with hot rice and even tastes good with hot rotis straight from the tawa.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Robibarer Porota aar Aloo Tarkarir Jalkhabar – Sunday Breakfast with Paratha and Potato Curry

Sunday, is it really a day of rest? No not at all, I’m speaking on behalf of this Wee Self. Saturday goes into thinking of pushing all the work for Sunday. Saturday, watch a movie on a DVD till late into the night. And then the very Sunday comes, late breakfast...cook, serve and also savour...laundry, shopping for fruits and vegetables, if there’s a programme visit friends and relatives and vice versa. The afternoon lunch has to be very appetising after the late jolkhabar and served not on time for that’s how my Sunday is all about. The plan for a lunch or dinner at some favourite place, can happen, maybe have to drop the plan for some other important reason. Some may think this is all Abol Tabol, no no not the Abol Tabol of Sukumar Ray. Now now now...

...enough of Sunday, come the murmurs. No more Sunday gossip back to work.

The whole preparation of jolkhabar for 4, took about 30-40 minutes.

For the Porota:

2 cups atta. To that add ½ tsp salt and 1tbsp groundnut refined oil. Mix it well. Then add water and make into dough. Keep it aside.


For the potato curry -

Peel 4 mediun size potatoes. Cut into very small cubes. Wash and keep it. In the meantime heat 1 ½ tsp mustard oil in a wok. Once the smoke rises, throw in 1 ½ tsp of panch phoron and 3 green chillies slit in the middle. The crackle of the panch phoron starts and time to tip in the potatoes and cook for a couple of minutes. Now add ½ tsp haldi powder and ½ tsp red chilli powder and salt (to taste). Stir to mix all the ingredients with the potatoes. Add 2 ½  cups of water and the sugar. Cover and cook till the potatoes are soft to eat with running gravy.

When the potatoes are being cooked, roll out the parathas and fry them. I use groundnut refined oil for frying my parathas.

Serve for everyone and enjoy the breakfast while watching the TV or sitting at the dining table, chit chatting to heart’s content. After all there’s so much to talk to one another...maybe Naram maybe Garam...

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Nalen Gurer Payesh

When winter comes, Bengalis are in the lookout for Nalen Gur. Nalen Gur aka Patali Gur alias Khejur Gur. With so many names you can well imagine its importance...where? the world of Sweets.

A little about Nalen Gur. You can go on and on talking about it, the Kheju gacher rosh (date palm liquid) collected in small earthen pots that are hung to the slits made near the top portion of the palm trees, which is collected for use. This Khejurer rosh (liquid) can be consumed in its liquid form, which many like to drink. When this liquid is cooked it turns to khejur liquid and solid form.

I got my quota of Patali Gur when the fresh stocks reached the market. Eat it with rotis and parathas, tastes great. Best used in my home in Payesh. Sweet shops sell nalen gurer rosogolla, and the gurer sandesh which come in two forms - kancha gola and kara paag - tastes heavenly.

I like my nalen gurer payesh very simple as I love to relish the smell and taste of it.

For my Nalen Gurer Payesh:

Milk (full cream) 1 ½ ltrs.

Gobindo Bhog Rice ½ cup

Sugar ½ cup

Nalen Gur about 1 cup after breaking the hard gur into small granules

You can adjust the sweetness to you taste.

Put the milk to boil. By then wash the rice and keep it. Let the milk boil for about 3-4 minutes. Then add the rice to the boiling milk. Keep stirring the boiling milk from time to time. After 5 minutes simmer the flame and let the rice cook in the milk. Another 15 minutes the rice is cooked and the milk reduced to less than half. Now add the sugar and cook for another 2-3 minutes. Time to add the gur and make sure all the solids chunks get dissolved.

The payesh is now ready to be served. Eat it hot or cold and get the taste and smell of the gur. A simple payesh, easy for learners too.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Onion and Capsicum Pakoras

Looking in the kitchen cupboard, I found the half-used besan (chick pea flour) packet lying there. The thought of having pakoras for evening snacks struck my mind.

At times I wonder why foods from different kitchens vary in their taste. Why my macher jhol tastes different from that of my mother’s jhol? My sister cooks such a yummy aloo matar paneer...much better than me. Why everyone likes the taste of the Payesh from my kitchen?

So every kitchen has its own smell and taste. That’s how I feel. But don’t forget the person who brings out the taste from his/her cooking to let you find the dividing line of the different kitchens.

I was in my kitchen getting all the ingredients to make the pakora batter which I’m sharing with you.

2 onions thinly sliced.

1 capsicum cut into small pieces.

3 green chillies finely chopped

2 cups of besan

Pour the besan into a bowl. Add the onion, capsicum and green chillies.

Add 1 ½ tsp of baking powder, salt to taste, ½ tsp haldi powder (for colour), ½ tsp red chilli powder into the bowl with the other ingredients. Give it a thorough mix and then slowly add water to make a batter. The consistency of the batter is very important for the pakoras... not a very thin or a very thick batter.

When the batter is ready, time to heat oil in a wok for deep frying.

Drop the batter into the hot oil...the hand does the work to give the uneven shape and size to the pakoras which are deep fried and later placed on the kitchen tissue to drain the excess oil. Fry in batches.

Serve with sweet tamarind chutney or green chutney or tomato sauce and chilli sauce if someone wants it more hot and spicy.

Don’t forget to serve hot tea with the pakoras.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Bata Mach Sorse Diye – Fish in mustard gravy

Not that we can visit the fish market on a daily basis. Gone are the days when Baba went to get fresh fish early morning. With the macher jhola (the home stitched cotton bag) in hand he would walk down a short distance to buy fish.

He met his friends there, got time to exchange words and keep contact with them. Now people hardly have time for one’s own self. Everyone is so busy. Fresh hauls came to the daily fish market from the early morning fishing in the rivers and local lakes and ponds. Different varieties of fishes came in the bags and we enjoyed the taste when our Thakur (not God but our cook who we called Thakur) with Ma’s instruction cooked tasty dishes.

The bata mach (fish) is the kind we find in lakes and ponds. It is tasty small fish variety, no this is not very small like the Punti or Maurala, but bigger. Look at some fried ones here.

In mustard sauce this fish tastes very good. Let me tell you how I cooked it.

Bata Mach: 6 whole cleaned, washed and fried lightly after a rub with salt and haldi powder.

Mustard seeds: 2 tbsps

Green chillies: 3 I used 3 as these chillies were quite hot and spicy

Tomatoes: 4 finely chopped

Haldi powder: ½ tsp

Salt: to taste

Sugar: the quantity that suits your taste buds.

Mustard oil for frying the fish and cooking the gravy.

In my kitchen:

I washed the fish that had come dressed from the market.

Heated mustard oil in a wok (kadhai) and fried the fish and kept them aside.

Put the mustard seeds, green chillies and a pinch of salt in the grinding jar and made a paste.

With very little oil, about 2tsp in the same kadhai threw in the tomatoes. Cooked over low heat till the juices came out breaking down the flesh completely.

Once done added the mustard paste and added more water enough to boil and reduce to semi-thick gravy.

Then added salt and sugar and let the gravy cook over high flame.

Once it started to thicken, dropped in the fried fishes and cooked for a minute before switching off the flame.

Served it with rice and dal (which is a must with bhaat in our home).

My Ma’s tip for sores bata. While grinding sores on the seel nora (grinding stone) or in the mixie, add a pinch of salt which keeps away the bitterness of the sosrse (mustard seeds). She also adds green chillies as red chillies can cause stomach problems. I’ve been sticking to her advice.