Wednesday 29 February 2012

Sweet Tooth

Mesho sent six coconuts from his garden for Lalmana. The coconuts travelled first class from Jhargram to Delhi & delighted both the giver as well as the recipient. Lalmana(pyar se, Lalo)with a loyal group of friends, knew she would make Narkol Nadu, nariyal ke laddoo, with the coconuts. Before she could voice it, Supi, her closest aide, sat with the grater & grated all six coconuts in forty minutes flat! 

If you have such friends, you don't need much else in life. If you don't, investing in a grater may not be a bad idea.

We need:
1. 1 coconut- grated[will make 25-26 laddoos]
2. 2 cups sugar[if grated coconut is 1cup]
3. 1/2tsp cardamom powder
4. A friend who will do it for you[optional]

How to:
1. Grate the coconut & grind it for a smooth texture.

2. Mix the coconut, sugar & cardamom powder over medium flame till sugar melts & mixture leaves the kadai.

3. Remove from flame & make equal sized balls while mixture is still hot.

Tip: Put water on the palms for smooth laddoos & to prevent blisters!

Use half sugar & half jaggery if you wish. The brownish colour[pic] is because of the jaggery.

Laddoos will harden when cold.

Having made the nadus with the six  coconuts that Supi had grated, Lalo & she went to the market. By the time they returned, the laddoos would have solidified & be ready for distribution. When she came back home after an hour, there were only five or six laddoos left! Lalo has two teenage sons. Roop & his elder brother...

Break ke Baad

Fifty recipes in the Food Stall in twenty nine days called for a celebration. So off we went to Snowdonia in Wales. Join me in my yatra by the end of this week for a picturesque tour of Llandudno. The beauty of the place takes your breath away & one comes back more than rejuvenated after the break.

Meanwhile, mom's kitchen ran with clockwise precision. It saw delicacies being churned out with the speed of the inferno. Chilli Fish was made in Bhaitu & Mou's honour. The scientists are back from Vienna & are settling in in their Bangalore residence. Foodies of the highest order, they relish their grub with the love of the afficionado. It is always a pleasure hosting people who enjoy your cooking.

An easy to make fish dish, folks. If you enjoy Chilli Chicken, very possibly, you will like Chilli Fish too. 

The Marinade:
1. Cornflour- 2tbsp
2. Tomato Sauce - 1 tbsp
3. Chilli sauce - 3/4 tbsp

Chilli Fish:
1. Boneless Fish(like bhetki)- small pieces
2. 1 large onion- cubed 
3. 1 large capsicum- cubed
4. Grated/chopped ginger- 1/2 tsp
5. Chopped Garlic- 1/2tsp
6. Deseeded & Chopped Green Chillies- as preferred
7. Sugar- 1/2 tsp
8. Tomato Sauce - 1 tbsp
9. Chilli sauce - 3/4 tbsp
10. Soya Sauce- 1/2tbsp
11. Water - 1 1/2 cup(if gravy preferred)
12. Ajinomoto- 1/2 tsp
13. Salt- to taste
14. White Oil- to cook

1. Marinade the fish & keep aside for 10 mins.

2. Cut the vegetables & keep them ready.

3. Deep fry the marinaded fish in hot oil & keep aside.

     Do not use the leftover marinade for cooking.

4. Saute onion, capsicum, ginger & garlic on medium flame for 7-8 mins till onion is translucent & capsicum, slightly soft.
Retain the colour & crunch of capsicum. Do not brown.

5. Add 1 1/2 cup water in the onion mix & bring to boil. Add the fried fish pieces, salt, sugar & sauces & let simmer on high flame for 5-6 minutes.  

Add ajinomoto & remove from flame when the gravy is reduced
as per your preference.                    

Chilli Fish goes best with plain/Chinese fried rice or noodles.

Any getaways you are planning over the weekend, guys? Share your plans with me please. One trip makes me itch for the next ;)

Friday 24 February 2012

Oh Fish!

Fish out of a water is a scary feeling. Fish in water is a happier thought. Fish in mustard sauce is as close to divinity as a fish-lover can get. Machcher Jhaal is a hot favourite not just among Bengalis but all their non-Bong friends who have tasted it in their house. 
This is for the Bhai who ditched me. He had promised he'd call me on Saturday for the Kashmiri Chicken recipe. And the next thing I know is he has taken a train home! Leaving me to freeze in the English cold. The saga does not end in betrayal, though. He came back from home & joined the Food Stall. And is not leaving in a hurry. I hope! Don't allow me to let you believe that all HR personnel are like this. As an employee, this gent is the best resource you could ask for. Smart working, reliant, punctual. Nothing fishy about him.

Make Machcher Jhaal bhai, you'll love it. Shankar will wipe the plate so clean, it may not need a wash. And Sunny may want to oust the cook if  you guys have not already done it! You had one, right?

 You need:
1. 6 pieces of fish(any)
2. Ground Mustard & Posto(khus khus)paste- 1 1/2 tbsp
[soak mustard seeds & khus khus in water & grind them together with 1-2 green chillies]
3. Chopped onion- 1/2 cup
4. Kala Zeera(kalonji)- 1/5tsp
5. Water - 1 1/2 cup 
6. Salt- to taste
7. Mustard oil- to cook

How to:
1. Marinate the raw fish in 1tsp turmeric & 1tsp salt & keep aside for 10 minutes. 
The turmeric neutralizes the fishy odour, the salt makes the fish tender.

 Note: For this recipe, we are using turmeric only for marination, not cooking. 

2. Wash the fish pieces after the marination.
    Heat mustard oil, add 1/2tsp salt & shallow fry the fish.
                                                                                                                                                         Do not make it hard & brown.                                                     
                                                                                                                                                 3. Keep the fried fish aside. In the same oil, splutter kalonji & saute the chopped onion on medium heat till translucent.          
4. Add the mustard posto paste, mix well, add more salt according to 
taste, add 1 1/2 cup of water(if you want more gravy) & bring to boil.                                                                                                      
5. Drop the fried fish into the gravy & let simmer for 7-8 minutes on medium heat.
                                                                                                                                                          Remove from flame. Enjoy it hot with plain rice.


Mother's Tip: Grind the mustard. Add 1/4 cup water to the paste. Strain this to get mustard water, without the blackish peel.
Grind posto & chilli together. Bring the strained mustard water & the ground posto to boil before cooking the fried fish in it.
This gives the Machcher Jhal a smooth texture.

Hey guys, anyone looking for a dynamic HR person? Contact bhai. He'll not only be a boon to the organization, he'll also cook fish for the team! What more does one ask for :)   


Thursday 23 February 2012

The K Factor

Winters invariably meant Motorshutir Kochudi. Matar ki Kachodi. Peas were in season, they were green, fresh & tasty. Notun aloo, new potatoes, went as the accompaniment. Notun aloor dom, (dum aloo) & motorshutir kochudi was a delicacy that saw many takers in our house.

Then times changed. You started getting everything throughout the year. There was nothing seasonal. You got matar, gobi, gajar in summer & mangoes in winters. Modernization took another leap. In came supermarkets & frozen food. Gone were the days of haggling over prices with the local vegetable vendor & asking about his well- being. You went to the frozen food section, picked up green peas, cut vegetables, chicken breasts & what not, queued at the till with a plastic face & plastic money, acknowledged the unfeeling hello of the salesperson & having signed on the credit card receipt, walked out like a robot.

The change is here to stay. We are trying hard to hold on to the vestiges of tradition while embracing modernity. Pizza outings & kosha mangsho(fried mutton) go hand in hand. As does ice-cream with notun guder sondesh. As we rave about the benefits of canned food, there is the unheard cry of hamare ghar mein ye bachpan mein banta tha. Go nostalgic guys. Go back to your roots.

We need:
The Cover
1. Maida- 1 cup
2. Water- 1/2 cup
3. Salt- 1/8tsp
4. Oil- 1tsp
The Stuffing
1. Green Peas- 2cups
2. Chopped Ginger- 1tsp
3. Green Chillies- as preferred
4. Asafoetida- 1/4tsp
5. Bhuna Zeera(Roasted cumin powder)- 1/2tsp
6. Salt - to taste
7. Refined oil- to deep fry kachodi

1. Grind the green peas, ginger & green chillies in the mixie.

2. Heat oil. Add asafoetida & salt & fry the peas paste till water dries up. Add bhuna zeera in the last one min, mix it well & remove from flame.

    Keep the stuffing aside.

 3. Knead the maida with water & a pinch of salt. Add a tsp of oil to the dough at the end.

Tip: Do not use oil in the maida while kneading, the kachodi will become too khasta, rich, for your liking.

4. Make equal sized balls of the maida dough, fill in the stuffing(see pic) & roll with a rolling pin like you do pooris.

5. Deep fry till both sides are done. 
     Do not make kachodis too brown. Let the green pea effect come through. 

Serve hot with dum aloo. 

And the next time you crave for a snack, reach out for the rolling pin instead of the can.

Wednesday 22 February 2012

Aloo Posto

Sounds like a selfish thing to do but most boarders missed home for the food. 
Some Chosen Ones had their local guardians, some had God Parents & some super lucky ones had both. I belonged to the last category. I would go to my LGs every weekend. Dadu Dida loved me & I reciprocated. That was before I grew my wings & became nonchalant.

Then I met my God parents. Kakima & Sir. Dr.Sircar was the most revered faculty in the department. He exemplified everything an admired teacher stands for. Knowledge, restraint, dignity. He stood tall. In a world of sycophants, here was a man who was upright & looked up to by the HOD himself. While the student body thought nothing of bunking other classes, Sir's classes went houseful. He did not merely teach. He taught us to be. 
I gained admittance to Sir's class as a student & left the university as his daughter. Could not have happened without Kakima's role in it. She was his wife, his beloved, mother to him & their only son. A marriage ahead of its time, Sir had married a teacher from the school his mother headed. Kakima, five years his senior, was the centre of his existence. He had no friends, no hobbies. He only had her. 

Kakima welcomed his students to their home with the warmth of a mother. She hosted endless lunches for us & took our side in debates against him. The love between them was so palpable that it made a regular luncheon an affair to remember. We would often tell him to give our guys(when we had them!) a crash course on love. How devoted was the couple to each other. How immortal can love really be in the practical world. Not just teaching poetry to groups of youngsters but believing in it. Living it. We sure grew up with the right example.                                                                                                                                                                                                                             
Aloo Posto was an unmissable part of Kakima's menu. She knew we loved it & would make it without fail, apart from the other sumptuous dishes she excelled in. A popular Bengali dish, Aloo Posto(Potato in Khus Khus) is a must-have in most households. If you are a Bong, don't read any further. If you are not, read on to be intoxicated by these poppy seeds!   
Ingredients:[serves 3-4]
 1. 2-3 large potatoes- cut into small cubes
 2. 1-2 large onion- cut into small cubes
 3. 1/2 cup ground khus khus[soak in water & grind to paste]
 4. 2 green chillies - ground with the khus khus
 5. 1/2 tsp paanch phoron
 5.  Salt- to taste
 6.  1tbsp oil- to cook

1. Allow panch phoron to splutter in hot oil. 

2. Add salt & saute the onion & potato for 7-8 mins.

3. Cover the wok & let potatoes cook on low flame for 8-10mins.

4. When the potatoes are done, add the ground posto, mix well & take off flame when dry.

For those of you who like gravy, add 1 cup water @step 3. 
Different households make it differently.  

Aloo Posto is ideal with plain rice & ghee. You may like to have daal, bhaat, aloo posto too.
If you have a Kakima in your life, ignore this recipe. If not, learn the ropes.                                   
RIP Kakima. Sir is looking after himself.



Da One

Shahrukh tempted me into this. I need not have taken the bait. I could have waited for his ammi to make it & then shared it with you guys. But call it heightened awareness, that I spotted the Seviyan packet the first thing in the store! An Indian shopper, buying a seviyan pack made in Pakistan, being sold in an English supermarket. Couldn't get more global, could it ?

SRK & I were together in our training program in his phurst job. A large hearted person, Shahrukh Khalid is famous for feeding his team with his mom's famous biryani & gosht. Very thoughtfully, he got phirni for me once knowing I could not eat the non vegetarian fare. 

Seeing the Mohan Thal recipe when he asked me if I had tried my hand at Sweet Seviyan,the inception worked. I decided to make seviyan like I've eaten in Mujib Bhaiya's house. Bengalis generally cook vermicelli in milk. This time I decided to make it differently. 

1. Seviyan- 200gms
2. Sugar- 1/2 cup
3. Water- 1 1/2  cup
4. Ghee - 2 tbsp (dry roast for a healthier option if you wish!)
5. Saffron- 1/2 tsp
6. Dry Fruits- as desired
7. Ground cardamom- one pinch(1/8 tsp)


1. Boil water & sugar to make syrup. Add the saffron to it & let syrup sit.

2. Heat the ghee & fry vermicelli until golden brown.

3. You may add the dry fruit & roast it with the vermicelli or leave it for garnish later.

4. Add the saffron sugar syrup to the roasted vermicelli & cook on low/medium flame till vermicelli softens.
Serve hot or cold. Depending on how hungry your family is! Seviyan & spicy papad is a popular combination for Eid. Sindhis have seviyan & masaledar aloo as breakfast.

Suit your palate! Go global!                                

Thank you Shahrukh! This happened because of you. Somebody in my house is a happy man :)


Kuch Meetha Ho Jaye is a well- thought out punchline. Whether it is the sweet that the brand endorses or any other, sweets bind people. The love for sweets is infectious. If you hang around with friends who have a sweet tooth, sooner or later you will develop it too. You will even want to make some for them for the sheer joy of seeing the surprise on their faces. One can't say that for cigarettes.

The Mohan Thal was so well-liked by people that they wrote in to share similar stories of mouth-watering delicacies that one can make at home. Gurpreet  sent in the recipe for the Kadha Prashad that is offered in Gurudwaras the world over. With the rejoinder that while you may not get the prashad taste because that comes with God's Grace, you can, with the right ingredients, make a delicious Aate ka Halwa. Here is the offering. I leave it to Him to Grace it.

What all:

1. Aata(wheat flour)- 1cup
2. Sugar- 1 cup
3. Water-2 cups
4. Ghee- 1 cup(make it 3/4th if you are counting calories!)
5. Dry Fruits- optional
6. Cardamom(or powder)- optional                                                

How to:

 1. Boil the sugar in water & make a one-string syrup. 

     Keep it aside.

2. Heat ghee & fry the aata on medium flame till it changes colour &
 leaves a roasted aroma.
    If you are using whole cardamom & dry fruits, you may roast it with the aata or leave it for garnish. Your choice.

 3. Add the sugar syrup & keep stirring till it is fully soaked up.
 4. See that halwa gets a smooth texture & no lumps are formed. 
     Add cardamom powder now, if you are using it.
5. Remove from flame when halwa leaves the kadai.


Offer it to your God & pray for Grace. Serve when halwa becomes prashad.

Thank you for the inspiration, Gurpreet.