Thursday, August 28, 2014

Hilsa Feast : Hilsa fish fry, fish oil fry, Pui saag matha diye(malabar spinach with hilsa fish head) and Sorshe Ilish(Hilsa fish in mustard gravy)

            Posting a fish recipe after a long time here. Hilsa fish has a special place in every Bengali's life. That is not just special, I would say, we are very much emotionally attached to this fish. To get hold of this fish, they can go to every extent, can give any price. Monsoon season is equivalent to Hilsa season in Bengal. We get the best quality Hilsa only in Monsoon. The price of this fish, ranges from 700-2000 per Kg., the most expensive fish of all. It gets cheaper by the end of the season, it will go down to 400-500 rs. for small ones and 700-800 rs, for medium ones and 1000 rs. for a big 1 kg. fish. Every year, the price is getting higher and higher and nowadays buying this fish has become a status symbol for bengalis. People will stare at you if you're taking an one Kg Hilsa fish from market. Truly speaking, I've bought only 2-3 times this monsoon season. Last weekend, when it was down pouring very heavily, I could not resist my craving for this fish and bought a medium one and used all the parts of that fish and satisfied my Hilsa-craved soul :)). Definitely, it's all worth the price, the taste of this fish is priceless, you have to taste it to believe me.
            So, I prepared Hilsa fish fry, Fish oil fry, Malabar Spinach with Hilsa fish head(Pui saager charchari macher matha diye-truly delicious) and Hilsa fish in mustard gravy(Sorshe Ilish). I'll give you all the recipes in this post.

Hilsa Feast : (Clockwise from right) Malabar Spinach with Hilsa fish head, Hilsa Fish fry, Fish oil, Hilsa fish in mustard gravy(in white plate)

Preperation :
Clean all hilsa fish pieces properly. Seperate the fish oil and keep aside. Marinate fish pieces and fish oil both seperately with few pinches of turmeric powder and few pinches of salt. Rub on all the fish pieces and set aside for at least 1/2 an hour.

Hilsa fish Fry(Ilish mach bhaja) :
Heat a big vessel with mustard oil to deep fry the fish pieces. Heat the oil till it smokes, then lower the flame and fry the fish pieces till light brown from both sides. Hilsa fish should not be fried for long, it'll loose its original taste. Fry very lightly in medium flame.

Fish oil Fry(Ilish amcher tel) :
After you fried all the fish pieces, fry the fish oil in very low flame till its rawness disappears.

Malabar Spinach with Hilsa fish head(Pui Saager Charchari macher matha diye)
A vegetable mishmash with malabar spinach or Pui saag, fried Hilsa fish head is added in there and mixed. A truly bengali delicacy, loved by all

You Need :
Pui Saag(Malabar Spinach) : 2 sticks
Potato : 1, cubed
Pumpkin : cut into cubes
Green chillies ; 1, chopped
Turmeric Powder : 1 tsp.
Red Chilli Powder : 1-2 tsp.
Dry Red Chilli : 1, broken into 2
Panch phoron: 1 tsp. (mixture of fennel seed, fenugreek seed, cumin seed, balck cumin seed and     mustard seed in equal quantity)
Fried Hilsa Fish head
Oil : 1 tblsp.
Salt to taste

How To :
  • Fry the fish head till brown like you fry the fish pieces. Keep aside. When cool, break it into medium size pieces.
  • Heat oil in a pan, temper with broken dry red chilli and panch phoron. Wait till panch phoron turns dark brown, you get the aroma of seeds, immediately add vegetables and saag. Add some salt and stir till water evaporates from saag. Then add turmeric and red chilli powder. Add chopped green chillies now. 
  • Mix and stir for 2 minutes. Then add 1 cup of water to cook the vegetables. Cover and let them cook in medium heat. When vegetables are half done, add broken fish head pieces in the curry. Cover again and cook till all water evaporates. Check the seasoning. Add if needed. 
  • It's a dry dish, so all water should evaporate and vegetables should be fully cooked. When done, remove from heat. Enjoy with hot white rice.

Sorshe Ilish( Hilsa in Mustard gravy) 
You need :
Hilsa fish : few pieces
Black Mustard seed(for paste) : 3/4 heaped tblsp.
Yellow Mustard seed(for paste)
Poppy seed (for paste) : 1 tsp.
Green chilli : 2(one for paste and one for temper)
Black cumin seed(to temper) : 1/2 tsp.
Turmeric Powder : 1 tsp.
Mustard oil : 1 tblsp.
Salt to taste
Fresh Coriander leaves for garnishing

How To :
  • Fry the fish pieces in oil till light brown from both sides.As I told before, do not fry for long, it'll loose its original taste.
  • Make a paste of both mustard seeds, poppy seeds, 1 green chilli with a little water. Make a very fine paste, set aside.
  • Now heat 1 tblsp. oil in a pan, temper with black cumin seeds and 1 green chilli. When seeds start to crackle, add the paste and turmeric powder. Saute in medium heat till oil seperates. Add about 1 cup of water, add the fish pieces and season with salt. Cover and allow to thicken the gravy. 
  • Remove from heat when you have your desired amount of gravy. Add some fresh coriander leaves in the gravy and cover. Open before serving. I like this with a thin consistency of gravy to enjoy with hot rice. 
  • Enjoy...the taste is pure divine.

So, here ends today's post...hope you've enjoed this fest virtually as much as I loved them real :))
Get hold of a Hilsa fish and enjoy these delicacies.................................................

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Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Baked Chicken Shammi Kabab

  I bought some chicken keema(minced chicken) from market, but this time I didn't want to make the usual keema curry with this. Then I remembered, I wanted to make this Shammi kababs at home for long time, after I tasted this kababs in a restaurant, I just loved this. So decided to give it a try.
  Shami Kebabs are a delicious combination of mince meat, gram lentil and spices. It is very popular in India and Pakistan. Shammi kababs are traditionally made with minced lamb meat, but one can substitute it with chicken. It is perfect to serve as side dish, appetizer or evening snack or you can also use these kebabs to make burger. Usually, shammi kababs are shallow fried on pan but I decided to make it more healthy, so baked them with almost no-oil. I skipped the lentil, as I decided at the very last minute, but without the lentil also I tasted totally yummy. For this kabab, you need no preperation but within very less time you can serve some mouth-watering and very addictive appetizer or side dish.

You Need :
Minced Chicken(keema) : 300 gm.
Onion : 1, finely chopped
Ginger paste : 1 tblsp.
Garlic paste : 1 tblsp.
Green chillies : 2, finely chopped
Fresh coriander leaves : 1/2 cup
Cumin powder : 2 tsp.
Coriander powder : 2 tsp.
Red chilli powder : 2 tsp.
Garam masala Powder : 2 tsp.
Salt to taste
Oil : 1 tblsp.
Breadcrumbs : 1/4 cup(as much needed to bind)

How To :
  • Ina bowl, take the minced meat first, in there add all the other ingredients one by one except breadcrumbs. then give a good mix with your hand. After mixing, if the mix feels and looks little watery, add little breadcrumbs to the mix and mix again till all the water are absorbed and you can make a round ball out of the mixture. Then flatten the round ball into round shaped patty/disc.
  • Pre-heat your oven to 180 degreeC or 375 degreeF. Line your baking tray with some parchment paper or aluminium foil. Brush a little oil on the foil and place the kababs on the foil leaving little space in between kababs. When one side turns brown, revert to teh other side, brush little oil on top. Bake them for 20-25 minutes on each side.

 Enjoy hot as a side dish with your main menu or as an appetizer with green chutney or ketchup

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Sunday, August 17, 2014

Janmashtami with Bengal's favorite Tal-er Bora/Asian Palm sweet Fritters

       Today marks another important festival in Indian calender, i.e., Janmashtami, is an annual celebration of the birth of the Hindu deity Lord Krishna. Thisfestival is celebrated throughout India in various manners. Janmaashtami or Gokulashtami, popularly known in Mumbai and Pune as Dahi Handi, is an event which involves making a human pyramid and breaking an earthen pot (handi) filled with buttermilk (dahi), which is tied at a convenient height. The topmost person of teh human pyramid tries to break the handi by hitting it with a heavy object. When the handi breaks, the buttermilk is spilled over the entire group. This event is based on the legend of the child-god Krishna stealing butter. A participant in this festival is called a govinda or govinda pathak. in my state, West Bengal and other states, devotees celebrate Janmashtami by fasting and staying up until midnight, the time when Krishna is believed to have been born. Images of Krishna's infancy are placed in swings and cradles in temples and homes. The next day is called "Nanda Utsav" or the joyous celebration of Krishna's foster parents Nanda and Yashoda. On this day, people break their fast and offer various cooked sweets to Lord Krishna during the early hours, as he was very fond of sweets.

      The most important sweet without which Janmashtami is not complete in Bengal is "Tal-er bora", where tal is Asian Palm and Bora menas fritters. This Asian Palm fritters are made from fresh ripe and juicy palm fruit, which are abundant and best in taste during this month of August and September. It is believed to be said that this fritters were very favorite to Lord Krishna. That's why this fritters are amde and offered to Lord Krishna first in every home of Bengal on this auspicious day and then devoured by everyone.

    The process of making this fritters are not very easy. It is quite time consuming but the end products are something, that you cannot have enough of it once you tasted. I can guarantee that. Sugar Palm is very fibrous fruit. the process of collecting the pulp is quite tricky.

You need :
Asian Palm fruit/Tal : 1(makes about 2 cups of pulp)
Grated coconut(fresh) : 1 cup
Flour or whole wheat flour : 1 cup(approx.)
Suji/Semolina : 1/2 cup
Sugar : 3/4 cup
Vegetable oil/any white oil for deep frying the fritters

How To :
Process of taking out the pulp ::
At first, you take out the outer skin, then you can see two to three fibrous palm kernels inside it. On a hand grater, rub the kernels until all the pulp has come out. Collect it in a bowl. Follow the pics to better understand the process.

The remaining process :
  • When the pulp is collected, mixed all the other ingredients except flour, i.e., suji, coconut and sugar and mix well. Lastly, add flour as much as needed to thicken the batter. the batter should be neither too thick nor runny. See the pic for the batter consistency
  • Heat enough oil in a pan, take 1 tblsp. batter and drop slowly into the oil. Do not over crowd the oil. once you drop the batter, lower the flame and fry the fritters in medium heat, so that fritters are cooked from inside. This way, fritters will be cooked from inside and crispy from the outside.
  • When fritters are golden brown in colour, remove them on a kitchen tissue. Then serve them in room temperature. You can store them in air-tight container and keep them for few days.

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Thursday, August 14, 2014

Quick and easy Pear Streusel Cake

I bought some juicy, ripe pears that day from market, but kids refused to eat them totally. Then it was lying on the table for 3-4 days and I was thinking and thinking what to do with them before they start to rotten. I wanted to make something that they won't realize they are eating pears. After lot of research, I decided to try out this recipe which can be made in very less time and also needs very less ingredients. I tried kind of similar recipe with apple once, Apple Crumble Pie. This recipe is little bit different and easier than Apple crumble Pie. To my surprise, kids loved the cake.

What is Streusel? 
   In baking and pastry making, Streusel is a crumbly topping made of flour, butter, and sugar that is baked on top of muffins, breads, pies, and cakes (e.g. Streuselkuchen). Some modern recipes add spices and chopped nuts, too. the origin of streusel cake is German. You can make this streusel topping on any kind of cake. The fruits can also be replaced with pineapple, apple, peach, apricots, strawberry etc. The possibilities are endless.
   The pears are used in this cake should not be too ripe nor too green or unripe. Peel and then core the middle part properly, use only the flesh. Then dice them into bite size pieces. To make this cake more healthy, I used brown sugar instead of regular sugar. Brown sugar combines with pears, cinnamon and nutmeg very well.

You need :
For the cake ::
All purpose Flour : 1 1/4 cup
Pears : 2, peeled, cored and chopped
Eggs : 2
Butter/margarine : 3 tblsp. [in room temperature]
Milk : 1/2 cup
Brown Sugar : 1 cup, powdered
Baking Powder : 1 tsp.
Salt : a pinch
Cinnamon powder : 1 tsp.
Nutmeg powder : 1 tsp.
For the crumb(streusel topping) ::
Flour : 1/2 cup
Sugar(regular white ones) : 1/3 cup
Butter : 2 tblsp.
Cinnamon powder : 1/2 tsp.(optional)

                                                                  The ingredients
How To :
  • Prepare the pears as I mentioned above. Preheat oven to 180 degreeC or 375 degreeF.
  • In a bowl, mix all dry ingredients e.g. flour, baking powder, powdered sugar and salt. Mix well together and keep aside.
  • In another bowl, mix eggs, butter and milk. This is your wet ingredients. Beat with an electric beater till smooth. Then add the dry ingredients slowly into the wet ingredients bowl and mix till smooth. When done with all dry ingredients, mix the chopped pears and add cinnamon powder into the bowl. Give it a mix and your batter is ready.
  • Now prepare the crumb : take all the ingredients into a bowl, just mix with your fingers until crumbs form. Keep aside.
                                                                        The crumb
  • Grease your baking pan with little butter, then pour the batter into the pan, then sprinkle the crumb allover the batter uniformly. 
  • Bake for 40-45 minutes or until the topping gets a nice brown color and dries up. Insert a toothpick in the center, that should also come clean. Then your cake is ready.
  • Cool on wire rack and then cut into squares.

Enjoy with a hot cup of tea or coffee, my kids had them on their breakfast, wholesome and healthy


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Saturday, August 9, 2014

Pasta in Roasted Tomato, Onion & Garlic Sauce

Pasta meal is very regular at my home. My daughter, who is an exceptional pasta lover, for her I need to make pastas at least 3-4 times a day and every time she pokes me to try out something new. She says like this," Mom, you try out some new recipe today and post on your blog". Kids nowadays are so smart. So few weeks back, I tried this recipe which was on my to-try list for long time but couldn't get any time to experiment that.

  Tomato, onion and garlic, the three main ingredients slowly roasted in oven with Italian herbs and olive oil dressing and then pureed and cooked along with pastas. Doesn't it sound so yummy? It is absolute yummy at taste, off course it consume some time but all worth it after you taste the sweet at the same time tangy sauce. Once your sauce is ready, just mix it with cooked pasta and you are all set to devour.

You need ::
vegetables of your choice(optional)
Chicken(cooked) : optional [I used chicken sausages]
Oil : 1 tblsp.
Salt to taste
For roasting------
Tomato : 5-6, quartered
Onion : 2, quartered
Garlic : 10-12 cloves(big)
Fresh Thyme/oregano/Basil : a handful, finely chopped
Olive oil : 1-2 tblsp.
Salt and black pepper to taste

How To :
Preparing the roasted sauce :
  • In a big oven-proof dish, arrange cut tomatoes, onions and garlic cubes in single layer for even roasting. Do not overload the dish. Drizzle olive oil evenly over them, sprinkle finely chopped herbs(basil/oregano/thyme), season with salt and black pepper. Stir a little to mix everything well.
  • Preheat your oven to 200 degreeC/400 degreeF and roast for 60-75 minutes or until the edges of tomatoes, onions and garlics have begun to char and all the liquids have dried off. Remove from oven, cool a little and then puree the sauce in a blender.

Cooking Pasta : 
  • Cook the pasta in a large pot of water. Drain and set aside when done. Heat 1tblsp. oil in a pan, stir fry the vegetables if you are adding anything, I added some bell peppers and chicken sausages. Add cooked pasta and finally add pureed sauce. Mix everything well. Season with salt and black pepper if necessary. 
  • Serve hot.

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