Some new posts and a big hello!!

Hi Didi and Daibi,

This last one year we haven’t posted anything on our Blog. But obviously that doesn’t mean we haven’t cooked or enjoyed experimenting new foods or recipes! We all have just been a bit lazy…ok very lazy and have been posting things directly on Facebook instead of writing here. As we are getting busier by the day in our lives, none of us had the time to cook or do elaborate things. So many of our recent recipes are simple to cook dishes with hacks to simplify complicated processes.

I am consolidating all those posts from Facebook, here to continue the tryst we made with this blog.

  1. Chicken and Cheese Quiche – click here 
  2. Burgundy Lamb Cutlets with a Wine Reduction Sauce, Creamy Pea Mash and Grilled Sweet Potatoes – click here 
  3. Raw Mango, Peanut and Mint Chutney; Quick Raw Mango Pickle; Sweet and Tangy Pickle with Raw Mango & Raisins – click here 
  4. 5 Spice Poached Chicken and Rice Noodles in a Spicy Broth garnished with a Tangy Wombok Salad – click here 
  5. Beetroot and Vodka cured Salmon with Avocado and Spring Onion Salad – click here 
  6. Dates, Figs and Nuts Log – click here 
  7. Mirin and Sake Chicken Balls in a Red Miso broth made with Shitake mushrooms and Kombu, served with Pickled Carrots and Nori Strips – click here 
  8. Blue Cheese and Mushroom Pasta with Roasted Cauliflower – click here 
  9. Bangladeshi Dum Illish (Slow-cooked Hilsa Fish) – click here 

Now that’s called a recap of the lovely dishes we made in the last months 🙂

Enjoy and let’s start again!!

Lots of love to you two,

Dakhina

 

A Bengali lunch with Moong Dal, Vegetable Charchari,Chicken Curry & Pineapple Chutney

Dear Dakhina,

Now that you live so far away and rarely get the typical Bengali summer vegetables like potol (butter gourd)or jhinge (ridge gourd), do you crave our traditional dishes? If I were in your position I know I would. World cuisine is great but when it comes to comfort food, nothing beats the kind of food our mums make. There was a time right after I got married, when I didn’t know even the basics of Bengali cooking. I knew how to cook non Indian food, while ma had always been in charge of the traditional stuff. Hence, after marriage, most days, come cooking time, I could be found calling up ma long distance, asking for help! It took me years to learn how to make traditional dishes. Meanwhile, Prasanta had to endure watery, tasteless, sometimes burnt, and many times simply inedible food. Innumerable times I have put the rice pan on to boil and simply forgot all about it, till the whole house reeking of charred rice acted a s a rude reminder!
I think I have come a long way since then, although I still burn food quite regularly. That is, I guess my Achilles heel 🙂
Today I wish to share with you a typical regular Bengali lunch menu, which usually starts with a bitter dish called Shukto, lentil dish (dal), a vegetable dish and a non vegetarian dish, which could be fish, meat or eggs in curry form. There are usually accompaniments like fried aubergines. But as we were expecting guests I didn’t make bitter or deep-fried stuff, because it isn’t to everyone’s taste. And to finish the meal we serve a sweet-sour chutney, I made pineapple chutney, which acts as a palate cleanser before the sweet dish without which no Bengali meal is complete. (Today the sweet dish was store bought so it doesn’t feature in this post).

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Exotic Indian Chutneys

1.  Hot and Spicy Shrimp Chutney

Shrimp                      100 gm, cleaned

Garlic                         2-3 pods(tweak according to taste)

Green Chili               2-3

Onion                         1

Cumin Seed              1/4 tsp

Lemon Juice and Salt to taste

Oil                                1 tsp

Method 

heat the oil,add the shrimps and fry on low heat till crisp and red. Grind together with all other ingredients adding just a few drops of water.It should be thick and smooth in texture. Add salt and lemon juice.

2.  Groundnut ( Peanut) Chutney

Groundnuts                                   100gm

Dry Red Chilli                               1-2

Garlic                                                1-2

Lemon juice and Salt to taste

Method

Grind the peanuts with garlic and chilies , adding very little water. Add lemon juice and salt.

3.  Coconut Chutney

Fresh coconut grated/small pieces                100gm

Dry-Roasted Chick Pea                                         a small fistful

Yogurt                                                                          3 tbsp

Ginger                                                                            1- 1 inch piece

Green chili                                                                    1

Black mustard seeds                                               1 tsp

Asafoetida                                                                    pinch

Curry leaves                                                                few

Dry red chili                                                                 1

Sesame oil/ white oil                                               1 tsp

Salt to taste

Method

Grind the coconut, ginger, chick pea, with the yogurt to fine paste. Do not add water. Take out into the serving bowl, add salt to taste.

To prepare the temper,In a small pan heat the oil, once it is smoking hot take off the heat and add the black mustard seeds, asafoetida, dry red chili and curry leaves. Once the mustard starts spluttering pour over the chutney.

4. Tangy Indian Salad Dressing (1/2 cup)

Lemon Juice                                                         2 tbsp (for an extra tang, add more)

Olive oil                                                                  5 tbsp

Mustard paste (homemade or ready made) 1-2 tbsp depending on the pungency

Ginger                                                                     1tbsp grated

Garlic                                                                       1 pod grated

Coriander Powder                                             1 tsp (optional)

Sugar                                                                       1 tsp

Yoghurt                                                                  2 tbsp

Salt and Pepper to taste

Method

Mix all in a quarter size bowl and beat well with a fork for 5 mins. Let is stand for 10 mins as it would allow the flavors to infuse well. This can be stored in the fridge for a week.

 

5.   Bengali Style Sweet Tomato Chutney

Tomatoes (blanched, peeled & chopped)              6-8

Sugar                                                                                     1-2 tbsp

Raisins                                                                                  a few

Dates                                                                                    a few (deseeded and chopped)

Ginger                                                                                  1 inch square, julienned

Black Mustard Seeds                                                      ½ tsp

Whole dry red chili                                                          1

Chili powder                                                                       pinch

Oil (vegetable)                                                                  2 tsp

Salt to taste

Method

In a wok/pan heat oil, add the mustard. Once it splutters, add the whole dry red chili and ginger. Fry for half a minute, add the chopped tomatoes, sugar, chili powder and salt to taste. Cover with a lid; simmer on low heat till the tomatoes are pulpy. Now add the raisins and dates. Simmer for a few more minutes and remove from heat. Serve hot or cold. This chutney should be a little syrupy.

6. Roasted Brinjal (Aubergine) Chutney

Brinjal (aubergine)                                                          1-2

Onion finely diced                                                           1

Garlic                                                                                     2-3 pods per brinjal

Coriander leaves (cilantro)                                           1 bunch finely chopped

Green chili                                                                          2(deseeded and finely chopped)

Ginger                                                                                  1/2 inch piece finely grated

Mustard Oil                                                                        1 tsp

Salt to taste

 

Method

Make gashes in the aubergine and insert the garlic pods. Coat with a little oil and roast on naked flame or in oven. Take out, remove the skin and grind to paste along with ginger. Add the finely diced onions, chopped coriander, oil, chili and salt. Serve with hot steamed rice. You may substitute Olive oil in place of Mustard oil.

 

 7. Quick Aam Kasundi (Raw Mango and Mustard Chutney)

Raw Mangoes                                                                   2-3, peeled, pitted and chopped

Black/White Mustard Seeds                                        2 tbsp

Mustard Oil                                                                        2 tbsp

Salt to taste

Method

Blend the mangoes to a paste, do not add water. Separately grind the mustard seeds to a thick paste. In a wok heat the oil, add the mango pulp, cook for a few minutes. Add the mustard paste, salt and simmer till thickened. Serve cooled.

Alternative Recipe

Ingredients same, except oil is increased to 1 cup and mustard seeds are dry ground.

Mix the blended mango paste and mustard paste. Add the oil and salt. Pour into a sterilized glass jar and keep in sun for a few weeks. Keeps well for a long time.

 

 8. Sweet and Sour Tamarind Chutney

Tamarind paste (Imli)                                                     3 tbsp

Sugar/ Jaggery (gur)                                                       2 tbsp

Red Chili Powder                                                              1 tsp

Dry Ginger Powder (Saunth)                                       1 tsp

Water                                                                                   ½ cup

Salt to taste

Method

To make tamarind paste, soak a large fistful of dry tamarind in a cup of hot water. Let it sit for ten minutes, Using your fingers squeeze it into a pulp. Strain.

Thin the Tamarind paste with the water, add the sugar or jagerry, red chili powder, dry ginger powder, salt. Boil till it becomes syrupy. The taste should be tangy, sweet and sour. The sourness depends a lot on the quality of tamarind, so adjust the sugar accordingly.

 

Hot and spicy Mint chutney

Mint 1 large bunch( the leaves picked from the stems)

1 Raw mango, stoned and cubed ( in case raw fresh mango is unavailable, you can use lemon juice/tamarind pulp/raw mango powder)

2-3 green chilies

salt to taste

Method

blend all the ingredients together to a fine paste, adding the minimum amount of water.

Store in a lidded container in the fridge. Stays for two to three days.

use with all Indian savory snacks

 

Basic Chutneys and Sauces

Pizza sauce

You can always use the sauce out of a bottle, no crime in that, believe me I understand the woes of a busy mother or a weekend cook. But if by a miraculous stroke of luck the planets have aligned to give you the leisure and time and most importantly the energy to make your own sauce…I promise you by all that is holy, that it is WORTH making from scratch. And its not difficult either. ( plus… a definite plus…i will let you cheat)

Ingredients

Tomatoes, red, ripe and firm!          1 kg (chopped)

Garlic                                                          1 whole pod ( minced)

Olive oil                                                      1 tbsp ( or any white oil)

Oregano                                                      1 tsp

sugar and salt to taste ( can also add red chilli powder to adapt it to our taste)

The proper way would be to blanch the tomatoes in hot water, skin and de-seed them. (But I usually cheat)

Add olive oil to a heavy bottom pan, once the oil is warm add the chopped garlic and fry till golden brown, remove the fried garlic and keep. Add the oregano and the chopped tomatoes, sugar salt, chilli powder. Cook till softened. Now I use my hand blender and blitz the tomatoes! ( the cheating bit i told you about), then I add back the fried garlic and cook till the sauce coats the back of a spoon. There is your yummy, fragrantly fresh sauce ready.

White Sauce (1-2 Cups)

Flour                                           1.5 tbsp

Butter                                          2 tbsp

Milk                                             1-2 cups (depending on how thick you want it)

Salt and pepper

In a heavy bottom pan, melt the butter and fry the flour in it.  When the flour is nice and sticky, lower the heat and add milk slowly while stirring continuously.  Let it simmer till the lumps melt away and season with salt and pepper for a smooth white sauce.

Tips: At times the lumps don’t wanna go..so whisk it with a blender for few seconds and you would get a fine and shiny sauce.  For variations in the sauce, herbs or cheese or garlic or nutmeg powder can be added.  But I must confess I love the nutmeg and cheese combo in my white sauce..it can turn any boiled vegetable into a divine dish!!

Hot-spicy Green Coriander/Mint Chutney (1 cup)

Coriander Leaves/Mint                       1 Bunch

Garlic                                                          1-2 pods (depending on how strong you want the flavor of garlic

Green chillis                                            2-3 (to taste)

Sugar                                                         Optional to taste

Lemon Juice and Salt                        To taste

Grind to paste everything together.  Add few drops of water if you face difficulty in grinding.  Season well. For coriander chutney, 1 tbsp of coriander powder as well.

Sweet-Tangy Tamarind Chutney

1/2 cup Tamarind Pulp

1  cup sugar

1 cup water

chilli powder 1/2 tsp

ginger powder 1/2 tsp

roasted cumin powder 1/2 tsp

salt pinch

mix sugar, water, tamarind pulp. boil till it coats the back of spoon. add the ground spices. Serve with Indian snacks.

Mushroom Pâté/Dip/Sauce

Fresh Button Mushrooms               100gms

Garlic                                                       1-2 pods (depending on how strong you want the flavor of garlic

Onion                                                       1

Butter                                                      2 tbsp

Chives, Salt and Pepper to taste

Coarsely chop the onion, garlic and mushroom.  In a pan, melt the butter and add the garlic.  After 1 min, add the rest and fry/cook till tender and the excess water has evaporated.  Put the mix in a blender/grinder and blend/grind till paste.  Garnish with chives  and serve with crispy pan-fried bread or at breakfast with warm toasts and eggs.  You could also add some cream and make it more like a sauce and serve as a dip/sauce with tortilla chips, potato fries, oven baked potatoes or veggies and fritters. Some nuts liek walnut or cashew could be added for more flavor.