Thursday, January 20, 2011
Nalen Gur/ Khejur Gur/ Notun Gur, these words carry the same meaning but carries some special thoughts for a Bangali...both mind and palate...
Come winter and Bengalis prepare to buy their quota of Nalen gur/ Khejur gur/ Date molasses. All this interest for the gur is to prepare special sweets.
Khejurer rosh (sap), the sap from the date palm is collected in earthen pots and brought down from the tree-top where it is hung whole night for the sap to collect. Some people like to drink this fresh sap. But the magic of this liquid is when the sun starts rising high up in the sky, this liquid gets fermented. In villages people drink this as cheap liquor and a favourite among villagers and tribals. I have seen Ma make special preparations from this sap. She, a Bangal (from East Bengal, now Bangladesh), knew varied preparations from the khejurer rosh.
You can see your neighbourhood Kakababu or Meshomoshai carrying an earthen pot filled with jhola gur. In Bengali the liquid form of this gur is known as jhola gur. Gur has to be cooked for hours to turn out in its various forms...some sold as jhola gur, which is the preliminary form of the gur. If this is cooked for some more time grains are formed...this is the semi-liquid form. Can relish this gur as a last helping with rotis. And if you like Dhoodh roti (home-made wheat bread torn into small pieces and placed in a bowl with some milk being poured over it), sweeten this doodh-roti with the semi-liquid gur and the flavour of the gur spills in your mouth. Also those who like doodh-bhat can enjoy the gur with it.
But the most wanted form of Patali/Nalen gur is in its solid form. This gur can be stored for months...use it anytime and get the taste.
Poush Sankranri reminds the Bengali of their Pithes. And how can one not think or cook Doodh Puli or Patishpta for this special occasion. Milk, cocoanut, rice flour, jiggery are the most important ingredients in the making of these individual dishes. And the Nalen Gurer Payesh...no way I can omit this name.
I made some Nalen Gurer Sandesh. Thought I can share this with my friends.
How to make cheese:
First have to make cheese as this is the basic requirement. For this need milk about 1 ½ litres. Fresh (cows) milk preferable. If you make cheese regularly at home you can use the water stored from the previous day cheese you have made.
Put the milk to boil. If you don’t have the stored cheese water, squeeze a lemon and add 2-3 tsp of water to it. Now add this lime water to the boiling milk. The solid and the liquid separates, in other wards the milk curdles. Keep this boiling on fire for 2-3 minutes. Now strain ina muslin cloth where the cheese has collected, tie the loose ends of cloth and let the cheese hang for a couple of hours. Once the water has drained out completely, take the cheese and place it on a flat plate. Can get about 250 gms of cheese from one litre of milk.
The ingredients for Sondesh:
Cheese (home-made): 250 gms
Sugar: 2 tbsp
Nalen Gur: about ¼ cup after mashing it
Knead the cheese with the palm or with the help of a small bowl which can be held in your palm, start rubbing the cheese on the flat surface. Knead till the cheese becomes soft and smooth. To this add the sugar. Powder the sugar before adding. Knead for some more time till the sugar mixes well with the cheese. Time to mix the nalen gur with the cheese. Knead for another couple of minutes. Now the cheese is ready to be cooked.
Place a thick bottom kadhai/wok on the gas stove. Put in the cheese, sugar and gur mix and start rubbing the contents against the sides of the kadhai with a ladle. Cook over medium heat and don’t stop working with it continuously. Once the fat starts releasing it is time to taste and see if the sondesh is ready to be given shape in the moulds. If the dough is soft you’ll get the Kancha Gola, the softer version which will not stay for many days. If you want the sondesh to be stored for few days, then let the dough get harder, to get the Kora Paker Sondesh, but not hard for they will not take the shape of the moulds.
Speaking of moulds, they come in many varieties...some made of wood, other come as plastic moulds and of course the very greens ones, the terracotta moulds.
Shape the Sondesh and serve...enjoy and relish...take pleasure in eating and also let others get the pleasure of its taste.
Tuesday, January 18, 2011
Usually on Sunday’s love to cook Fried Rice...and what more my favourite Kosha Mangsho (see here) tastes so good. As I was going through my food album, saw this picture of Vegetable fried Rice and thought, “why not post this recipe for today”.
I had some carrots, french beans and capsicum. Thought that could make for the day’s dish. When I had cooked this dish there were no external tears for onion...hope you understand what I mean...
Now onions make us cry...soaring prices and for its scarcity in the market. That’s what politicians in our country want from us...cry for some reason or the other...
Think of politics and politicians and the food tastes bland. So I’m on my move to write down about my Fried Rice.
Basmati rice: 2 cups
French beans: 6-7
Onions: 3-4 (medium size)
Cooking oil: 3-4 tbsp. I’ve used refined groundnut oil.
Salt: to taste
Sugar: 1 ½ tsp
Cook the rice and drain the water. Be careful the rice is not over cooked. For this be careful ... the pinch of the grain between the two fingers can feel the minute hardness in the middle... when the water has to be drained and the rice spread out on a open plate.
Next chop the vegetables into small pieces.
Slice the onions into thin long pieces.
Now heat about 1 tsp oil and toss fry the carrots for a minute and take it out. Do the same with the chopped capsicum and french beans.
Next add the rest of the oil and fry the onion till it becomes translucent. To this add the rice and mix it up. Add salt and sugar and mix well for a couple of minutes over low flame. Soon add the vegetables and give a good mix.
Tuesday, January 11, 2011
New Year and Winter and my First Recipe of 2011
When winter is harsh, people cry and pour words against the cold and the chill. When summer comes and the scorch of the sun bites, then hot words are spelled from the mouth. When the rains go on pouring for days together, soreness is exhibited in thoughts, words and deeds. But for sure January brings with it the cold of the season to its full.
And in this year I write out my first recipe of 2011...Dimer Kari/Dalna or you can say the very Egg Curry/Anda Curry...the Anda bringing out its funda in the curry.
Eggs are very useful, can cook so many items. No question of the first coming of the chicken or the egg at any juncture when the egg reaches the kitchen. And in my kitchen as I cook this curry, I am more concerned of finishing it up and serve it...as everyone is hungry at home.
To cook egg curry:
Onion: 2 medium size
Tomatoes: 2 medium size
Garlic: 5-6 flakes. If you want that garlic-y extra aroma a couple of extra flakes will do no harm.
Ginger: 1 inch piece
Haldi powder: ½ tsp
Red chilli powder: ½ tsp. Can add more if you want it hot and spicy, your choice, take it.
Bay leaves: 2-3
Salt: of course to taste
Sugar: a pinch or two to balance the taste
Cooking oil: mustard oil 2 tbsp. Choose your oil for use, again left to you.
First stage preparation:
Boil the eggs in water, cool and then remove the shell.
Make a smooth paste of onion, ginger and garlic.
Wash the tomatoes and chop it into tiny pieces.
Heat oil in a kadhai/wok/any cooking vessel.
Put in the boiled eggs and fry them lightly. Take them out and keep aside.
To this oil add the bay leaves once the oil is hot.
About 10-20 seconds and then put in the onion, garlic and ginger paste and cook for 2-3 minutes.
Tip in the chopped tomatoes and stir fry for another 2-3 minutes.
Now add haldi and red chilli powder, salt and sugar and cook the masala till the oil separates.
Add 2 cups of water and allow it cook over high flame. As the gravy thickens put in the eggs and let it cook in the gravy for a couple of minutes.
Now ready to be served.
Rice, rotis or parathas can be served with this egg curry.