Who doesn't love to devour hot, crunchy and crispy snacks when it's raining outside. yes, India is having its Monsoon season in full swing. It's pouring heavily or drizzling all day and night. And at home your tongue tells your mind that, "bring something crunchy-munchy". And when it's raining, we, Indians first think of some batter fried veggies or Pakora. North Indians 'Pakoras' are synonymous to Bengali's 'Chop'.

         Today I'll share a famous Bengali appetizer/snack recipe, which is an integral part of Bengali's appetizer menu, rainy day's craving and also a part of any special ocassion. I'm talking about The very famous Macher Chop or Fish croquettes. It is deep fried croquette made with fish. The fish (without bone) is first cooked with spices, then a patty like shape is given. Those patties are then egg washed and rolled over breadcrumbs and then deep fried in oil. These fish croquettes are made in many shapes, like round like a ball or round-flat patty shaped or cylindrical. Shape doesn't matter for this deep fried delicacy, taste is just out-of-this-world in any shape you make it. Generally, Bhetki(Sea-bass), Rohu, Katla(carp) are used for this, but Tilapia or Basa can work too. But I love to prepare them with any sweetwater fish. If you are a non-veg. eater, then you must try this fish croquettes at least once.
    But I usually tweak this traditional way of making Fish chop or croquette, instead of deep frying I usually bake them in oven and the outcome is very close to the fried one. At least I don't feel guilty of consuming oil and have the satisfaction of having my favorite fish chop without compromising on taste and look.


So let's see how you can make this at home, the process is very simple and easy to make.

You Need : [2 medium size fish pieces make 7-8 medium sized fish croquettes]

For the croquette ::
Fish : 2 medium size piece
Potato : 2, medium, boiled until just done
Onion : 2, small, chopped
Ginger-garlic paste : 1 tsp.
Green chilli : 2, finely chopped
Tomato : 1, small, chopped
Turmeric Powder : 1 tsp.
Red Chilli Powder : 2 tsp. or as per taste
Roasted Cumin seed powder(bhaja jeera powder) : 2 tsp.
Salt to taste
Oil : 1 tblsp.
Fresh coriander leaves for garnishing
To coat :
Egg, whole : 1
Bread crumbs : 1/2 cup or as needed
Little oil to brush
Green chilli sauce/Tomato chilli sauce/Bengali Kasundi(mustard sauce) to serve with



How To : 
  • To cook the fish :: Generally, raw fish pieces are cooked in a pan of water, cooled and then mashed and later again cooked with spices. But my kids and hubby don't like the smell of raw fishes, so I marinate the fish pieces with a pinch of salt and turmeric powder and then lightly fry with fish pieces them. Let them cook, then debone them very carefully making sure there is no bones left. Then mash them well.
  • To make the croquettes : Take the mashed fish in a bowl, then add the mashed potato. Mix them well. Keep aside. In a pan, heat  tblsp. oil, add finely chopped onions and green chillies, when onions are fried, add ginger-garlic paste and chopped tomato. Cook till tomatoes are mixed well with the onions, then add the mashed fish and potato mixture. Mix well with the onion-tomato mixture, add turmeric powder, red chilli powder and roasted cumin seed powder. Mix well together, adding a little water. Add sugar and salt to taste. Cook for another 2-3 minutes. Lastly add chopped coriander leaves and it's ready. 
  • Cool the cooked fish mixture to make the croquettes. Once it has cooled down, give any shape you want, You can make round like balls, round and flat, cylindrical, rectangular any shape you want. I made them into round and flat. Make all your croquettes ready to bake.  
  • Coating the croquettes : Take a well-beaten egg in a bowl, in another bowl take bread crumb, take one croquette, dip first in egg wash, then roll in bread crumbs, keep aside. Do the same for other croquettes. Dip each patty again in egg wash and roll in bread crumbs too and give them a definite shape this time. Keep aside and do the same for other croquettes.
  • To bake the croquettes : heat just 1 tsp. oil in a flat frying pan, place each croquettes in the frying pan and in medium flame, keep them for 2-3 minutes or they are lightly brown for each side. If needed, add 1 more tsp of oil. Now preheat your oven to 200 degree C. Grease a oven roof dish with very little butter/oil. Place the lightly fried patties on the oven-proof dish. Bake for 7 minutes on each side or until the patties turn into lightly brown shade. 
  • Fish croquettes or Maacher Chops are ready to be served. Serve with tomato ketchup, green chilli sauce or Bengali's Kasundi(mustard sauce).  

Recommendation : : Enjoy this Bengali delicacy with a hot cup of tea. This can be a great starter/appetizer for any party. Kids will also love them. 
Dhokla is a popular Gujrati snack rich in protein. It is easily digestible and has an irresistible taste and flavour, is usually served as a snack at teatime. It is made with a fermented batter derived from rice and chickpea splits. Authentically, chana dal (split Bengal gram) is soaked, ground with spices and fermented. The fermented batter is then steamed, cut into bite sized pieces and garnished with tempered mustard+sesame seeds, coconut and fresh coriander leaves. But using Chick pea flour(besan) is kind of instant/handy version. It gets a sour taste from citric acid/lime juice used in there. It is served with green chutney, i.e., green chilli and coriander leaves combo


 This is a foolproof recipe, tried and tasted many times in my kitchen. If this recipe can be followed from top to bottom, you'll get fluffy, soft pillowy dhokla. Don't get overwhelmed with long list of ingredients and procedure.

You Need :

For batter :
Bengal Gram flour / Besan - 250 gms (1 & 1/2 cup)
Curd/dahi/Yoghurt - 1/2 cup (not very sour)
Water - 1/2 cup
Cooking Soda - 1/2 tsp

For seasoning to be mixed to the batter (to be added just before cooking)
Oil - 1 tbsp
Turmeric - a pinch
Green Chili paste - 1 - 2 long (as per taste)
Sugar - 1 tsp
Citric acid - quarter tsp

Eno - 1 packet (green colour fruit lime) + sprinkle or dust few bits on the plate

Little water + Oil to be topped on dhoklas

For tempering on the dhoklas
Sesame seeds
Mustard Seeds
Curry leaves
Grated coconut

White Sesame seeds
Coriander leaves




How To :

  • Mix first 1/2 cup curd with 1/2 cup of water. To this add the besan and mix well to get a lump less batter, the consistency should be of idli batter, more of dropping not pouring consistency. Slowly add more water if needed else, add the soda. Keep it aside to rise for 1 hour.
  • If you are using a pressure cooker, fill the pan with water, place a plate over which you will have to use a plate for steaming the dhoklas. 
  • To the batter mix in the citric acid, oil, salt, sugar, green chili paste and turmeric powder. Mix well. This has to be done just before pouring to the plate.
  • Meanwhile have the pan on stove, and let the water start boiling. When the water reaches the rolling stage, you can mix the eno to the batter (Save little of eno for dusting on the plate), mix gently, you will see bubbles coming out.
  • Dust or sprinkle the plate with eno. Then immediately pour the batter to the plate. Place the plate carefully inside the pressure pan and cover with lid. You need not use the whistle. After covering you will find steam coming out of the outlet, simmer and don't disturb for almost 5 -7 minutes.
  • After 5 -7 minutes, remove the lid and proof it using toothpick or knife. If the knife comes out clean and does not have any batter sticking, then its done. Cover back and let it remain on flame for 1 min and switch off the gas and allow it for 5 minutes.
  • In a bowl, mix 3 tsp of water along with a tsp of oil.Remove the plate from the pan, pour the water and oil mix over the top.
  • For seasoning, heat a pan with oil, add curry leaves, sesame seeds, mustard seeds and finely chopped green chilies. When mustard starts popping, remove and pour over the dhokla


 Ingredients for green chutney & Method :
Green chilli - 4-5 no
coconut - 4- 5 pieces
coriander - bunch
few mint leaves
Cumin seeds - 1/2 tsp
Lime -1 big
Salt to taste
Method : Take all the ingredients except coriander in a food processor. Grind to a smooth paste. Then add the coriander and again grind. Remove to a bowl, add the remaining lime and serve with Dhoklas.


I am a die hard fan of Chinese Cuisine.  Whenever we eat out I always crave for Chinese food and my hubby is not so fan of Chinese food, so sometimes I compromise and sometimes he does. Even at home, I cook Chinese food more often than any other cuisine, off course after Indian Cuisine. One day, when hubby was out for dinner with his friends, I planned to prepare Chinese meal for me and my daughter. Made Veg hakka noodles and Chilli chicken combo, the two must-have dishes when the flavour is Chinese. And oh my, my taste bud got satisfied.
     Hakka cuisine is originated mainly from the southeastern Chinese province of Hakka. While original hakka cuisine is unknown to most of the World, this is the Indo-Chinese version of Hakka cuisine popularised by those Chinese people who got settled in India and running the Chinese Cuisine. Veg hakka noodles is very easy-to-make and most popular dish from hakka cuisine. When it is served with a gravy dish like Chilli chicken/paneer or Chicken/veg manchurian, it can be a perfect meal in itself. Here, cooked noodles are tossed with garlic and certain vegetables along with some specific sauces like soy sauce, green chilli and tomato sauce on high heat.

Veg Hakka Noodles ..............................



    The hakka noodles available in market gives the best result for making the Hakka noodles. The noodles must be cooked very carefully to get the non-sticky texture of this dish. You can add choice of your vegetables,but mostly carrot, cabbage, green beans, capsicum, mushrooms are added to this dish. I added carrot, green beans and capsicum this time.

You Need :
Hakka noodles : 1 packet
Carrots : 1, sliced thinly and lengthwise
Green beans : 1/3 cup, chopped lengthwise
Capsicum : 1, sliced thinly and lengthwise
Ginger : 1" piece, chopped finely
Garlic : 2 fat cloves, chopped finely
Spring onion(green part) : 1/3 cup, chopped, if available
Soy sauce : 1 tsp. [Do not use excess soy sauce, it can turn the dish bitter]
Green chilli sauce : 1 tblsp. or more, depending on how spicy you like
Red Chilli sauce/tomato sauce : 1 tblsp.
Salt and black pepper to season
Oil : 2 tblsp.

How To :
  • Cook the noodles in enough water with a pinch of salt. Cook just for 2-3 minutes or until noodles has just started to soften. Drain in a colander and rinse with cold water. Keep aside. 
  • Heat 1 tblsp. oil in a pan, cook the vegetables until they are just cooked but not overcooked. Keep aside. In the same pan, add 1 tblsp. oil, add minced ginger, garlic and spring onions. Then add soy sauce, green chilli and red chilli sauce/tomato sauce, mix well in medium heat. 
  • Immediately, add cooked vegetables and noodles. On high heat toss everything together, season with salt and black pepper. Keep on heat for approx. 2 minutes, then remove from heat and serve. 
  • Sprinkle some extra chopped spring onion on top and enjoy.


Spicy Chilli Chicken...........................
Chilli chicken is one of the most popular and a must Indo-Chinese chicken side dish that is served in Chinese restaurants across the globe. Boneless chicken (fillets or cubes) pieces are marinated in soya sauce, chili sauce and pepper. Marinated chickens are then dipped in a corn starch-white flour batter and deep fried and then seasoned again in sauces to get the best Chinese style chilli chicken. The deep fried chicken pieces are served as an appetizer alone. This spicy chilli chicken goes well with fried rice or Veg Hakka noodles/Egg Hakka Noodles.

You Need :
Chicken breasts, chopped into bite size pieces
For marinade--------
Ginger-garlic paste : 1 tblsp.
Soy sauce : 1 tsp.
Vinegar : 1 tblsp.
Salt : 1 tsp.
Egg : 1, beaten
For cooking --------------
Cornstarch : 1 tblsp. + 1 tblps.
Flour(maida) : 2 tblsp.
Red Chilli powder : 1/2 tsp.
Onions : 1, cut into big chunks and then separate the layers
Capsicum : 1, cut into cubes
Green chillies : 2-3, slit lengthwise
Garlic : 3 cloves, chopped finely
Soy Sauce : 1 tsp.
Red Chilli sauce : 1 tblsp.
Salt and black pepper to taste
Oil : 1 tsp. + enough oil for deep frying




How To :
  • Marinate the chicken pieces with the ingredients listed under 'For marinade'. Keep aside for at least 3-4 hours for best results. Chicken will become tender and tastier.
  • Heat oil in a deep pan for deep frying. Make a semi-thick batter of cornstarch and flour with a little salt and red chilli powder/black pepper. Deep each chicken pieces in the above batter and add in the already heated oil. Do not overcrowd the oil. Fry chicken pieces in batches till they are golden brown. Drain on paper towel. 
  • Heat 1 tsp. oil in a pan/wok, add onions and capsicum, in full flame stir fry them for 2-3 minutes, but do not let them change their color. Then add minced garlic and slitted green chillies, then lower the flame and add soy sauce, red chilli sauce, mix them well and immediately add about 1/2 cup of water. Add fried chicken pieces in there. Carefully season with salt and black pepper. [I say carefully because, as we added sauces, they already contain salt, so add after checking.]
  • In a bowl, mix together 1 tblsp. cornstarch and water. Add this mixture in the gravy to thicken it. Remove from heat when you have your desired consistency of gravy. 
  • Serve hot. 





      The monsoon season has already started in India and that means its about time when we have to bid goodbye to our most favorite fruit, mango for a whole one year. And it's really hard for me as I love this fruit a lot. So, for time-being, when we're still getting many varieties of mangoes in the market, I'm making most of it.
      On one facebook foodie group, I saw someone made Mango Semolina cake and I had to try this immediately. If you remember, I've posted few months back the Eggless Semolina Cake, which I make quiet often at home. It was just that you have to add mango puree in the same batter and you'll get Mango flavoured semolina cake, the taste was heaven for a mango lover like me. 

You Need :
Semolina/Suji : 1 and 1/2 cup
Mango Puree : 1/2 cup
Sugar : 2/3 cup, powdered
Plain yogurt/dahi : 1/2 cup
Milk : 1/3 cup or as needed
Vegetable oil : 1/2 cup
Baking Soda : 1 tblsp.
Vanilla essence : 1 tblsp.
Assorted nuts : 1/2 cup chopped (walnuts, cashews or almonds) [optional]


How To :
  • In a bowl, take sugar and yogurt. Stir to mix them so that sugar dissolves fully. Then add suji/semonlina, mango puree, oil and all the other ingredients one at a time and mix properly. Do not overmix. Add more or less milk depending on the consistency of your batter. Note :: There should not be any extra fluid in the batter, just all the ingredients should be properly mixed.
  • Then set aside the bowl for at least an hour so that semolina can soak up all the moisture before baking.
  • Pre-heat your oven to 180 degree C. Grease your baking pan with butter or oil and then pour the semolina mixture into the pan. Bake for 40-45 minutes or until a wooden skewer inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean. 
  • Let it cool for half an hour before you de-mould it from the baking pan. Then cool the cake in room temperature and slice it afterwards.
  • It is a great accompaniment with evening tea/coffee.






     This is the 401 st post on this blog and it has to be a special dish. This fish recipe I'm sharing today, I  tried it for the first time. This recipe doesn't belong to my native Bengali Cuisine, but it belongs to Oriya Cuisine which is quite similar to Bengali Cuisine. So, one day while I was searching for some different fish recipe on the web, found this recipe, which I was aware of but never tried. After reading that recipe, I found that it's quite similar the way we, bengalis cook our fish, only differs by one ingredient, garlic. We never use garlic while cooking fish in a mustard paste gravy. While I had a little dilemma if I should try out that recipe, I found the same fish recipe in a cookbook by my dear blogger friend Sandeepa's cookbook, Bong Mom's Cookbook and I always trust her recipe without thinking twice. Then I went ahead with her recipe which was little different from what I found earlier. I have no idea about the authenticity of this recipe, but the result was so amazing, that I promised myself to cook my fish this way whenever I'm cooking with mustard paste from now on. I was amazed how garlic got blended with mustard paste. If you find "Bong Mom's Cookbook" in your nearby bookstore, don't miss it, you'll find amazing recipes and will get her humorous anecdotes as a bonus with it. I strongly recommend this book all Bengali food lover to try.  


Here goes the recipe
***************************

You Need :
Fish ( Rohu or any freshwater fish) : 4 pieces
Potato : 1, sliced lengthwise
Yoghurt/Curd : 1/4 cup
Green chillies : 3, slitted
Garlic : 3-4 regular cloves
Black Mustard Seed : 2 tblsp.
Poppy seed : 1/2 tblsp.
Panch Phoron : 1 tsp. [ a mixture of five spices, mix mustard seed, cumin seed, fenugreek seed, black cumin(nigella) seed and fennel seed in equal quantity and use as panch phoron]
Turmeric powder : 2 tsp.

Salt to taste
Mustard oil : 2 tblsp.(for cooking) + enough oil for frying the fish pieces
Fresh coriander leaves for garnishing

How To :
  • Wash the fish well, drain excess water and smear the fish pieces with little salt and a pinch of turmeric powder. Keep aside for 20-30 minutes.
  • Soak the mustard and poppy seeds in water for 1/2 an hour, then grind to a smooth paste with a pinch of salt, adding very less water.[You can avoid adding poppy seeds if not available, I added as it helps to balance the somewhat bitter taste of mustard seed] 
  • Make a thick paste of 2 green chillies and all garlic cloves. Add yoghurt and turmeric powder in the paste and mix well to make a smooth paste. Keep aside.
  • Heat enough oil in a heavy bottomed pan/kadai to fry the fish pieces in it. Fry the fish pieces to golden brown from both sides, remove from oil and keep aside. Fry the potato slices in the same oil to golden brown and keep aside.
  • In another pan, heat 1-2 tblsp. oil, add panch phoron, wait they have changed the color to a golden brown shade and aroma comes out, then add one slitted green chill in there. Lower the heat at this point, add yoghurt-green chilli-garlic paste(while adding yoghurt in a curry, remember to lower the heat or remove the pan from heat totally to avoid yoghurt curdling) and mustard paste. In medium heat let this cook for 2-3 minutes.
  • Now add about 1 cup of warm water, add the fried potato slices and fried fish pieces in the curry. Cover with a lid and let it cook. Add little salt in the curry. When gravy thickens and potato slices are cooked through, check the seasoning and remove from heat.
  • Garnish with fresh coriander leaves and serve hot with rice.   





         I'm posting a quick beverage/drink recipe which I make quite often in this summer season and when mangoes are around. It's called Mango Lemonade, it's an awesome thirst quencher in summer and a fruity alternative to the traditional lemonade or mango drink. 



You Need :
Mango Pulp of 1 big mango
Sugar : 3-4 tblsp or as needed
Lemon juice : 2 tblsp., use as per your liking
Crushed ice

How To:
  • In a blender, take mango pulp, lemon juice, sugar and 1 cup of water/cold water. Blend until everything blends well. 
  • Pour into serving glasses, adjust the taste according to your liking. 
  • Finally serve each glass with some ice in it.


So, try this out before the mangoes are out of market. Hurry up ..................





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