Monday, 22 June 2015

Daab Chingri (Prawn cooked in green coconut)


About the food:


Bengalis are crazy about foods, and more so about fish or sea food preparations. Daab-Chingri is a traditional Bengali dish, where prawn is marinated in mustard sauce and cooked and steamed inside a green coconut. One of the main ingredient of this dish is mustard seeds, in addition to the green coconut pulp. For a  longtime I had been thinking of preparing this dish at home, and when last week I chanced to find a green coconut, I grabbed it at once. With a brave-heart, when I searched in the internet to check how I can cut it, I found the following video very helpful: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3t67Pm8-kPg

For best results,  a meat cleaver should be used to cut the green coconut, but since I did not have any, I reached for my biggest knife, and though I took some time to do the job, eventually I did, and which made me glee with pride!

Except for the cutting of the green coconut, which you can master after a couple of times, this dish is very easy to cook. Traditionally, this would have been cooked in a clay oven with charcoal fire, but I have tuned that to our modern life by cooking in a microwave. Alternatively, you can also cook this in an oven or steam it in a pressure cooker. Try this dish, and amaze your friends and family with one of the most richest, delicious, succulent and aromatic dish ever.


Preparation time: 30 mins
Cooking time: 15 mins
Serves 4

Ingredients:

1 green coconut
1 bowl of prawns (15-20 pieces)
2 medium onions
1 tbsp ginger paste
1/2 tbsp garlic paste
3 tbsp black mustard seeds, dry grind to a powder.
1 tbsp tomato puree
1/2 tbsp turmeric powder
1/3 cup mustard oil
2-4 green chillies
1/3 tbsp of Bengali five spices (Panch Phoron) (a mix of equal parts of nigella seeds, cumin seeds, black mustard seeds, fenugreek seeds and fennel seeds)
salt to taste

Method:

1. Cut the green coconut, following the video above. Pour out the water and preserve. Preserve the lid as well. Using a butter knife, scrape off the tender pulp from the inside of the coconut shell and mash it roughly inside the shell. Shape the base so that the green coconut can seat.

2. Clean the prawns and marinate them with salt and turmeric powder for 10 minutes.

3.Add 2-3 tbsp of coconut water to the mustard powder to make a paste. Add a pinch of salt and keep it aside for 10 minutes.

4. Make a paste of the onion and 1-2 green chillies.

5.Heat 3-4 tbsp of mustard oil in the pan. You can use vegetable oil, but for the best flavour,  mustard oil is recommended.

6. Put the panch phoron in the pan and let it crackle. Put the onion, garlic and ginger paste and saute in medium flame for 5-6 minutes. Add the tomato puree, turmeric powder and salt and saute until the oil separates.

7. Meanwhile, cook the prawn in the microwave for about 2 minutes.

8. Mix the mustard paste to the pan, followed by the prawn. Mix well and cook on a low flame for about 2-3 minutes. Add 1/3 cup of coconut water to make a gravy.

9. Stuff the prawn gravy into the green coconut and put the lid on. Seal the top with a cling film so the steam cannot escape.

10. Microwave the green coconut for about 10-12 minutes at 800 KWatt power.

11. Garnish with green chillies and serve hot with steaming basmati rice and enjoy!

Monday, 13 January 2014

Stuffed sardine butterfly (Sarde alla beccafico)






 About the food:

This New Year, one of my main agenda for myself and my family is to eat healthy, and to eat more fish, which I neglected at large. With our resolution of eating more fishes, I have chanced upon sardine fish, which my husband got last week. I never had sardines before, and a little research pleasantly surprised me. Sardine, which is an oily fish, is considered one of the most nutritious fishes in the world, being a  rich source of omega-3, various vitamins including vitamin D and B-12, and packed with proteins. So, happy I was, and ventured around for some interesting recipe. This recipe follows an Italian recipe, called 'sarde alla beccafico': so called since the plump butterflied fishes, with their tails sticking out, resembles the little birds called beccafico, found in Italy.


Sardines are very soft, and cook very quickly. For this dish, preparing the fish fillet can be a little messy, unless you are lucky enough to get a fishmonger done it for you. For preparing the fillet, you need a very sharp knife, and a delicate pairs of hands, and a brave-heart to deal with the mess. To begin with, chop the fish heads off, and then with a sharp knife, carefully slit the body, from neck to the tail. Carefully remove the gut from the fish, and slowly run your finger through the body of the fish to open it up. Pull the back bone out, it would not be very difficult. To take out all the other bones, which you might still find, use your fingers, or better still, you can use a twiser. Wash the fish fillets in a bowl of water carefully. when ready, they should look as below.






I really liked this dish, and this would make a fantastic snacks for tea or in a cocktail party. It would also be a great main dish, served with salads and bread.


Preparation time: 40 mins
Cooking time: 30 mins
Makes 4

Ingredients:

8 medium sized sardines
Juices from 1 big lemons
2 tablespoon of black pepper powder
2 tablespoon of olive oil
1/3 cup vegetable oil for frying
1 1/2 cup of bread crumbs
1 cup of medium cheddar cheese, grated
1 cup of chopped fresh parsley leaves
1/4 cup finely chopped garlic
2 eggs, beaten
1 cup of plain flour
 salt, according to taste


Method:
1. Prepare the fish fillets, as per instructions given above. Marinate the fish fillets with the lemon juice, salt and pepper for about 15 minutes.


2. Meanwhile, mix the breadcrumbs, cheese, 2 tablespoon of olive oil, black pepper, salt and parsley leaves together. Blend then in a food processor or a mixer to form a fine mixture. Mix the chopped garlic with the mixture by hand. Blend the mixture in a bowl with the eggs, until it becomes a bit sticky ( and not very runny).

4. Make small roll of the mixture, about the length of the fish fillets, and pat it on a fish fillet, and put another on top. Cover each outer side of the fish lightly with flour.

5. Heat the oil in a non-stick flat bottom pan. Carefully put each of the prepared fishes on the pan for shallow frying. Turn the fish on the over side after 5 minutes or when the fish is brown and crispy.

6. Serve them warm on a bed of green salads and enjoy!

Friday, 3 January 2014

Mediterranean style lemon and garlic chicken

About the food:

This is a dish in which I have mixed and improvised a couple of recipes which I found interesting. And to my delight, this have come out to be a gorgeously delicious dish! Any chicken lover is ought to love this dish. The speciality of this dish is that it is very lightly spiced ,and yet full of flavour. The blending of the delicate aroma of the herbs, citrus flavour of lemons, pungency of garlic, crunchiness of bell peppers and crisp yet smooth texture of the chicken lifts it to a divine state. It is very easy to prepare, I am sure this is a dish to win your heart!

Preparation time: 10 mins
Cooking time: 30 mins
Serves 4

Ingredients:
400 gm of boneless, skinless chicken breast pieces, diced in small squares
1/3 cup of lemon juice ( juice from about 2 medium sized lemons)
2 medium onions, finely chopped
1 red bell pepper, finely chopped, lengthwise
4-5 garlic pods
1 bunch of fresh parsley, finely chopped
1 small bunch of thyme, finely chopped
Rinds from 1 lemon, peeled and reserved in long strands
Grated lemon jest, from 1 lemon
olive oil
black pepper powder
salt to taste


Method:

1.Heat 4 tablespoon of olive oil in a non-stick flat bottomed pan. Add the onion and cook for about 5 minutes, until it is translucent. Add the garlic and cook for another minute. Add the diced chicken, and continue to stir over medium flame, for about 15 minutes.

2. Add the bell pepper, salt and pepper. After about 5 minutes, add the lemon juice and the lemon jest and mix thoroughly. Cover the pan, and let the chicken cook for about 10 minutes over low flame. Take care it does not stick to the pan.

3. When the chicken has become cooked, add the lemon rind, parsley and thyme and cover for 2-3 minutes.

4. Best served hot with crusty bread. Enjoy!

Tuesday, 31 December 2013

Shorshe dim (egg curry in a mustard sauce)

About the food:

 A Long time ago, I was adventurous to try a new recipe of chicken curry with mustard sauce. The result was devastating. But not without a cause. During that time,I was a new bride, trying to impress my in-laws with my passion and expertise in cooking. Passionate I was about cooking, but that could not overcome my naivete. The measurement of the white and black mustard seeds went horribly wrong ( during that time there was no access to internet to seek advice), and the effect of heat from the dish found my guests either in tears or hiccuping or panting or rushing to the washroom. Since that shock, I stayed far away from the mustard sauce. But the other day, when I was absolutely bored with the mundane daily cooking, I thought of trying this recipe, but was extremely cautious about the proportions of mustard seeds. And to my delight, it turned out to be absolutely delicious, and definitely it would be in the table for my next round of guests.

Preparation time: 10 mins
Cooking time: 30 mins
Serves 4

Ingredients:
4-6 medium or large eggs.
1 small bowl onion paste
1 tablespoon ginger paste
1/2 tablespoon garlic paste
3-4 green chillies, slitted in half from the middle (if you like it hot)
1 pinch of turmeric powder
vegetable oil
5 tablespoon white mustard seed
3 tablespoon of black mustard seed ( you can vary the proportions of black and white mustard seeds, depending on how much heat you want. Remember, the black mustard seeds are much hotter that the white ones)
1/2 cup double cream
salt to taste


Method:

1. Hard boil the eggs and take the shells off. Heat 2-3 tablespoon of oil in a pan, and fry the eggs, until lightly golden. It would take about 2-3 minutes. Put them aside.

2. Mix the mustard seeds, mix a little water to it and grind them to a thick paste. You can also dry grind them to a powder, and mix water, little at a time, to make the paste. put a pinch of salt, and set it aside for about 10minutes. 

3. In the same pan, add 2 more tablespoon of oils, and once the oil is hot, add the green chillies, and the onion paste, and keep on cooking on a medium flame. Stir often, as the onion might stick to the pan. This part takes long, about 12 minutes or more, until the onions are brown and the oil separates out. You might add some more oil if the the onion become very dry. Add the ginger and garlic pastes after 5 minutes of adding the onion paste. Add turmeric powder and salt.

4. Once the paste separates out, add the mustard paste. Add 1 cup of water, mix and  gently bring it to simmer. The sauce should be a little thick. Add the double cream and mix well. Add the eggs to the pan, simmer for 1 minute, and pour in serving bowl.

4. Best served with hot plain rice.

Stuffed mushroom

About the food:

This food is a  part of continental cuisine, and is a versatile and excellent starter for a variety of occasions: be it a tea party, coctail party, light snacks for an evening or a sumptuous food for the vegetarians. I made this first time under the instructions of a foodie friend, as part of our christmas dinner. This dish is very easy to make, and with the crispiness of mushroom, flavour of parsley, aroma of garlic and smoothness of cheese, it is truly divine in taste. I simply loved this dish.

Preparation time: 20 mins
Cooking time: 30 mins
Serves 4

Ingredients:
1 big bowl of medium size cup mushrooms ( about 14-16 pieces)
2 tablespoon of black pepper powder
1/4 cup of olive oil
1 1/2 of bread crumbs
1 cup of medium cheddar cheese, grated
1 cup of chopped fresh parsley leaves
1/4 cup finely chopped garlic
 salt, according to taste


Method:
1. Wash the mushrooms carefully in a bowl of hot water.

2. Cut out the mushroom sticks to give them a shape of small bowls. Reserve the sticks. In a bowl mix the olive oil, salt and black pepper, and rub them in the mushrooms.

3. Mix the breadcrumbs,cheese, the mushroom sticks, 2 tablespoon of olive oil, black pepper, salt and parsley leaves together. Blend then in a food processor or a mixer to form a fine mixture. Mix the chopped garlic with the mixture by hand.

4. Make small balls of the mixture and fill in the mushroom bowls, making them as smooth as possible by using  fingers.


5.Preheat an oven for 15 mins at 190 F. Arrange the mushrooms in a oven proof plate and bake it for about 20 minutes at 190F. Lots of water would come out the mushroom and they will shrink in size, and the crust would brown and become crispy.

6. Serve hot with tea or cocktails and enjoy!

Monday, 30 December 2013

Dal Tarka with egg

About the food:

This is a traditional North Indian dish, and is extremely popular. In any North Indian dhaba, you would be sure to find varieties of tarka served with roti or paratha (varieties of Indian style flat breads). A typical tarka is very hot and spicy, sprinkled with generous amount of chopped chillies and chopped coriander leaves. The marvel of this dish is that you can regulate the spices and make it milder or stronger according to your taste. You can also prepare it without eggs if you like.

Preparation time: 15 mins
Cooking time: 35 mins
Serves 6

Ingredients:
2 medium cups of green moong dal
2 medium onions, finely chopped
1 tablespoon ginger paste
1/2 tablespoon garlic paste
3-4 tablespoon vegetable oil
5/6 green chillies,chopped
3 medium eggs, beaten
1/2 tablespoon whole jeera (cumin) seeds
1 tablespoon jeera (cumin) powder
1 tablespoon dhania (coriander) powder
1 tablespoon garam masala powder ( a blend of cloves, cinnamon and cardamon)
1 tablespoon red chilli powder
1/2 tablespoon turmeric powder
1/2 bowl fresh coriander leaves chopped
1 tablespoon dried and crushed methi leaves
1-2 tomatoes, chopped
2 tablespoons butter (optional)

salt, according to taste


Method:

1. Wash the moong dal 2-3 times with plain water and soak it in  hot water for about 2 hours. If you can plan ahead, soak it overnight.

2. Put double the amount of water to the dal, salt to taste and turmeric powder, and pressure cook for about 20 minutes. A pressure cooker is highly recommended, however, if you are not using a pressure cooker, then let the dal simmer in a pot over a low flame for about 45 minutes. Take care the dal does not stick to the base of the pot or burn. Add water if necessary. The dal when cooked would be very soft and could be mashed easily.

3. Heat a pan. Add the oil, and once it is heated, add the whole cumin. Let it crackle. Then add the onion and continue cooking until it is translucent. Add the ginger paste, and garlic paste and saute a little.Then add the chopped tomato, cook until a soft paste is formed. Add the cumin and coriander powder, red chilli powder,if using.

4. when the oil separates out from the pan, slowly add the boiled dal to the pan. Mix well. Season with salt. Pour the beaten eggs to the dal mix over a low flame, and mix well. It will thicken the dal. Add the methi leaves and garam masasla powder to the dal and mix well. 

5. Sprinkle chopped green chillies and mix well. Pour the dal in the serving bowl, put 2 tablespoon of butter and garnish with fresh coriander leaves. Serve it hot with roti or paratha.


Wednesday, 10 July 2013

Muri Ghonto







About the food: 

Bengalis are crazy about fishes, specially sweet river fishes, and can not tolerate any part of a fish being wasted. Fish heads are often very difficult to eat, being very bony and dry, so the Bengalis had to invent some way to relish them. That gave birth to this delicious and novel dish, loved to bits by any fish lovers. Though being a Bengali, I am not a true fan of fishes, which is a shame even to admit. And living outside India for about a decade now, I have access to river fishes in frozen form only. Usually I would ask  the fishmongers to take the fish head off, and would secretly feel guilty about wasting it. Last month, when I had my in-laws from India visiting us, I thought of trying this dish, as I knew they would love it. Preparing this dish is a little messy, and you could smell very  fishy. After cooking this dish you might want to take a good shower. Muri ghonto is best with the head of a Rohu fish. This was my first try, and believe me or not, it had come up truly delicious.  

Preparation time: 15mins

Cooking time: 30 mins. 

Ingredients: (serves 4) 

1 head of a Rohu fish, broken in several pieces.
1 big onion, chopped.
2 tablespoon ginger paste
1 tablespoon garlic paste
4-5 green chillies, slit through the middle (or according to taste)
Mustard oil for shallow frying. (this gives the best taste, but sunflower/vegetable oil could                                     also be used)
seeds of 3-4 cardamom pods
4 cloves
2 inches cinnamon stick
1 bayleaf
1/2 tablespoon cumin power
1/2 tablespoon coriander power
1/2 tablespoon turmeric powder
1/2 tablespoon garam masala powder(mix of cloves, cinammon and cardamon)
2-3 potatoes, chopped in small cubes
1 tomato, chopped.
1/2 cup of basmati rice, washed and drained.
1 cup of water 
salt to taste

Method

1. Deep fry the chopped potatoes until golden and put it aside.

 2.Sprinkle salt and turmeric powder on the broken fish head and shallow fry in batches until golden brown. Make sure to turn the pieces on all sides.Remove from the pan.

3.Filter out the oil, and clean the pan. Heat the pan and add 2 tablespoon of the same oil. Add the whole cardamom, cinnamon, cloves and bayleafs. Let them crackle and add the chopped onions and stir for 2-3 minutes. Add the green chillies, tomatoes,  ginger paste,  garlic paste, cumin powder, coriander powder, turmeric powder and salt to taste and mix well, stirring for about 2 mins. 

4. Break the fried fish heads with a fork, does not matter it becomes mushy.  Add them to the pan and mix well.

5. Add the the rice, and the water. The water has to be just the double of the rice, and this measure is very important. Lower the flame, cover the pan, and cook for about 12mins. Take care that the food does not stick to the pan or get burned. Sprinkle some water in needed.

6. when the water has dried up and the rice is cooked, remove in a serving dish. Sprinkle the garam masala powder and serve it warm.