Wednesday, May 26, 2010

12 O’clock Break with Thanda Sherbat

This is all about the break I’m enjoying just at the strike of noon. Break for what? Absolutely nothing special.

Why is the temperature climbing with every new sunrise? The Met department finds it hard to answer. Everyday Met chart reads something new...from hot, to hotter, to days are scrambling by.

Repeating the word ‘Hot’ reminds of one of the hot ladies of Bollywood, the hot and sexy Mallika Sherawat. I don’t have any fascination for this madam, but news about her is always Hot. From Holly to Bolly, I don’t think she’ll like the word Wood going all alone...not for the sake of sanyas...

How can you side-line Rakhi Sawant, another Hot Prodigy and wave maker of the small screen. She will feel hurt if she is ticked as Limited to the television, for she has advanced her step to the movie world...her Swayamvar falling apart...

It’s the heat that’s making all this noise in my life. The temperature is crossing limits...from 42 to 43, then one step further and then another. And yesterday it reached 45 degrees. The hot breeze that’s blowing across Delhi and whole of North India is making life so difficult. A glass of something thanda (cool) is the need of the hour.

Though the AC is running non-stop, a step into the kitchen is more like moving into a blast furnace.

How I wish someone could make a glass of nimbu pani for me. ‘Self help is the best help’ I tell me wee self. I look at the clock and the 2 hands are stuck at 12 at the moment. In a jiffy I think...a drinks break...I can enjoy.

I take all that I require and come back to my cool room. If I go on ranting about how to make a glass of fresh lime juice you may make fun of me. ‘Simple yaar, don’t bore us’. No descriptions but only writing my feelings as I complete my task.


Of course. The task of making my glass of cold drink.

No more rants...

As I squeeze the juice of half the lime into the glass of water, yes cold water, I can find the seeds going down...drown, drowning and completely drowned. That makes my task easier. I take the spoon and carefully pull them out and keep them in an empty saucer. I had measured my sugar and salt, so it is easy to pour both into the glass and stir till they vanished. Checked for the balance in taste. 'Absolutely fabulous', said my tastebuds.

Now what else, added 3 ice cubes and a sip. The ice-cubes swimming draped in their transparent dress. I sip and let the Cool go down slowly, and I feel, ‘What a relief’. I go on sipping and the ice cubes start getting smaller and smaller. By the time I finish with the last drop the ice has melted completely.

Benefit of my afternoon break, made me feel fresh and cool for sometime...till my lunch hour came knocking at my door.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Aamer ambol, simply the Bengali way - Green mango chutney, little sour little sweet

I was in no mood to go to the kitchen late and cook the ambol. I was in a cleaning the fridge. What did I find? A green mango lying under the weight of the Begoons (egg plants) and the cucumbers. When I brought out the heavy weights...eggplants and cucumbers...the single green mango seemed to speak out frankly. I could hear its cry... “Please take me out and do whatever you want with me. Peel, cut, cook, do it soon or I’ll rot here and will be of no use to you”.

You may ask, “Did it really speak”.

And I in my grave tone tell you, “Sometimes by looking can read the mango language”.

“Silly, fooling us?”

“Why should I? You are my strength. You know why? For all the lovely comments I get to read from you all”.

Back to my fridge cleaning account...took care to look into all the containers to see what’s left over...small plastic and steel containers with little of ‘this’ and little of ‘that’. I’ll have to finish the ‘This and That” soon as they are eating up a lot of space.

I also took out the empty Rosgolla tin that was there...not empty...eaten up the rosgolles and kept the syrup to use later on. So ‘Mango Dear, you’ve got a friend to go with you after sometime'.

After putting everything into place, back to my kitchen with the mango and syrup tin. With the heat beating down, temperature crossing the 44 degree Celsius mark, something quick and easy was in my mind. Having finished with the rest of the cooking for the day, the thought of Ambol brought me back to the kitchen.

Peeled and cut the green mango into small pieces, washed and kept it aside.

Measured ½ tsp oil into the small kadhai, next the dry red chilli broken into half went in. And soon 1 tsp mustard seeds went in and then came the spluttering noise.

Time for the mango pieces to go in, added ½ tsp haldi powder and salt. Mind you be careful of the flame...low flame...stir to mix the yellow of the haldi with the mango pieces. A minute or two and there goes the sugar syrup from the rosgolla tin. Added little more water. After the first boil came up, tasted the sweetness (as to my taste buds), felt I could add 1 tbsp sugar to it. Covered the vessel and let it cook till the mango was soft and fully cooked. I love the thin watery gravy of the ambol. Before switching off the gas, added ¼ tsp red chilli powder to it. Whenever I add the chilli powder to the ambol, I sing to me this small Bengali Rhyme I learnt as a child, “Sukhtunite jhal diyechi, Ambolete ghee, Che che che Rani randhte sekheni”.

And then the ambol goes into the serving bowl.

I love to add the sweet and sour gravy to my dal and drink it up like a soup.

Today I made Aloo-r Chop which I’ll be putting up later. With that I have a special tip...If you don’t have bread crumbs then another easy way to get the crispiness is...

Wait till I come back.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Green Papaya Curry - Pep-er Tarkari in Bengali

Mrs. P asked me the other day how I cook green papaya at home. She had never tasted this dish before. There are many who have never cooked green papaya. The green papaya is good for health.

Green Papaya

There were many papaya trees in our house. Baba liked green papaya to be peeled and sliced in big sizes, boiled and served with rice during lunch time. The boiled papaya was mashed and served by adding few drops of mustard oil and salt. Boiled green papaya’s are good to get rid of constipation. With so many papaya trees, many were left to ripen but the naughty crows pecked the ripe papayas and made holes in them. So the work of the servant of the house was to let the bamboo ladder rest against the papaya tree, climb few rungs, reach up to the ones that were about to mature, cover with a piece of sack and tie it around it to keep it away from the wicked eyes of the crows.

I have planted some papaya trees in my home, the raw and the ripe ones my tenant is enjoying. Here in Delhi it’s really difficult to get good green papayas. But I do cook it at least once a month.

Coming back to my recipe, let me share it with all.

1 Green papaya. Peel, cut into half, discard the seeds and make small cubes. Wash and keep it.

3 medium potatoes. Peel, cut into cubes, wash and keep it

Jeera powder: ¾ tsp

Dhania powder: ¼ tsp

Haldi powder: ½ tsp

Red chili powder: ¼ tsp

Cooking oil: 1 ½ tbsp



Cooking process:

Heat oil in a kadhai. Put in the potato cubes and stir fry for 2-3 minutes. Add the papaya cubes and cook for some time. Once the vegetables start getting the pink coating, add the spices – jeera, dhania, red chili and haldi powder. Now add little water so that the spices don’t get burnt. Add salt and sugar and cook till the oil seperates. Add very little water, sufficient to cook the potatoes and the papaya. Cook over low flame till the vegetables are cooked and the water water has completely dried. Serve with plain rice and dal. Those who prefer rotis and parathas, take a helping and enjoy the taste of the Pep-er tarkari as said in Bengali.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Aloo Karaishuti-r Tarkari – Green Peas and Potato curry

At times I wonder why we have the hot summer days. I don’t know if I’m right or wrong when I say my childhood summers were much better than today. Summer and lots of mangoes and children relishing to their hearts content. I remember the Desi Aam, the small juisy ones, the juice sucked straight from where the stem broke, was bought in counts. Women came with basketful of these small, sweet and juicy mangoes and Ma bought lots of them. These women sold in counts of 20 and they were cheap. Hey, the market price of mangoes has gone up now. But there’s no way to ignore the King of Fruits during summer.

Don’t get puzzled with my mango story. Today I’m sharing my Aloo Karaishuti-r (potato and green peas) curry. This recipe was getting irritated as it did not get a place in my spot. What can I do? only yesterday I found the pictures in my folder and thought why not do justice to this and post it for public view.

This is a preparation with no onion and garlic. Those who love onion in their everyday rasoi can also cook this for a change.

a) Vegetables for this simple curry:

Fresh green peas 500gms. Take the pain to break open the pods and put the peas in a bowl... don’t eat them up raw. Wash the peas.

3 Potatoes peeled, washed and diced.

1 big Tomato chopped.

b) Spices for taste:

Jeera powder 1 tsp, dhania powder ½ tsp, red chilli powder ½ tsp and haldi powder ¾ tsp. Soak all the powdered spices in some water to get a thin paste.

c) Other ingredients:

Cooking oil 2 tbsp, salt and sugar

Heat oil in a kadhai, then add the cubed potatoes to the hot oil. Fry the potatoes till it gets the pinkish touch. Now add the green peas and tomatoes and stir. Cook for 2-3 minutes. By now the tomatoes will give out its juice. Then add the masala paste and sauté. Once the masala is being cooked add salt and sugar. Cook over medium flame till the oil separates from the masala. Add water sufficient for the gravy. Cover and cook till the potatoes are soft to be served.

Serve with some chopped green coriander on top for garnishing. Didn’t have dhania, so did without it.

Eat with plain white rice and dal, or relish with garma garam roti, paratha or puris.

Friday, May 7, 2010

Aam Bata – Green mango paste with spicy flavour

Those were the days when the mixer-grinder was not a household kitchen appliance. It was the everyday morning duty of Thakur (our cook) to sit on the Pee(n)Dee (a very low wooden sitting stool), with the Sheel Nora (traditional grinding stone to grind spices) and grind the spices. It was always the Holood (haldi) that came first. Then came the Jeera (cumin seeds) followed by Dhone (coriander seeds) and last the Lal Lonka (dry red chillies). He made sure he had a bowl of water by his side to make the grinding easy. After finishing with each and every individual grinding, he poured little water on the grinding stone and drained the water into that spice bowl.

Posto (poppey seeds) and Sorshe (mustard seeds) were also done on the grinding stone. These were not the everyday spices. Freshly made paste gave out its distinctive flavour when they were used in cooking.

Aam Bata (green mango paste) was also done on the Sheel-Nora. With advancement, the mixie has come handy in the kitchen. What a relief to the person who is there cooking for everyone in the home.

Summer time and with lots of green mangoes in the market this is an easy-to-make item with a cool effect.

For the Aam Bata we need:

1 big green mango. Wash, peel and cut in tiny pieces. Throw away the hard seed.

2-3 green chillies. Depends on the heat of the chilly. If you want it hot and spicy, can add more.

4-5 cloves of garlic (optional). At times I use garlic but not always. Garlic gives out its distinctive flavour.

Salt to taste.

Sugar, again this will be to your taste. I like it with a balanced sweet-sour taste.

Put all the ingredients in the mixie jar and grind it without using water. Let the mango remain a bit rough.

I serve it during lunchtime with rice, dal and curry in place of mango chutney. Serve it the way you like. Relish the distinctive taste and flavour of green chillies, garlic and of course the raw mango.