Pan-seared Salmon, Fennel & Baby Potatoes with Orange Cheese Sauce

Dear Didi and Daibi,

Firstly I wish Happy New Year to you all and our readers. May 2014 be a fruitful and joyful year for each one of you. How are things that side? All well this side…a lot has happened since I last wrote to you two and yes, a lot of time has elapsed too since our last post….the reason simply being, all three of us got tied up…so tied up that we abandoned our blog…”Sorry dear blog that we left you again..will not give any lame excuse, but simply say sorry”.

2013 was a year of few, but very meaningful achievements for me…I have spent last year baking some really awesome cakes, launching my side-business of bespoke cakes called Cake-A-Two; visited a UNESCO World Heritage site in Tasmania that included the Cradle Mountain and Gordon River Wilderness; touched the edge of Southern Ocean in a 12.5 mtr speed boat (seeing water waves higher than the boat!); learning swimming & then snorkeling in the middle of the big blue Pacific Ocean; visiting India and spending some quality time with Ma and Baba; and then bringing my in-laws here with me to Melbourne. The snorkeling however was the best experience of 2013 for me!! You guys know about my water-phobia but the swimming classes and the Great Barrier Reef made me forget everything!! What a symphony of colors awaited us there….its truly unimaginable…we saw clown fish in the anemones, held some hard live corals in hand, did eeeeeeeee after touching sea cucumbers and swam with a green sea turtle! Aaah…I wish to go again 🙂 Niloy Dutta, are you listening? 😀

In terms of Food, I tried some new things last year…like Kangaroo, Crocodile, Emu, Quail and Blood Pudding ….but the Croc meat was the most surprising…you would think it would be chewy and rubbery considering its HARD SKIN…but no, quite the opposite…its a very tender white meat!!! Today I am writing this year’s first post with a fish recipe in keeping with the Bengali tradition to start good things with pheesh! I am hoping that this year brings happier moments for the blog and for each one of us. I used Florence fennel which has a mild fennel flavour as an accompaniment to the fish. You might not get it in Indian markets, so you can just flavour some green beans or broccoli with fennel seeds too or just do away with the fennel part of it.

Pan-fried Salmon, caramelised Fennel & Onion, butter-tossed Baby Potatoes with a Orange Cheese Sauce

Pan-seared Salmon, caramelised Fennel & Onion, butter-tossed Baby Potatoes with a Orange Cheese Sauce

Here is how I made it:

Continue reading

Advertisements

Basa Fish Rolls stuffed with Mushrooms in a White Wine Sauce

Dear Cousins!

How are you guys doing? I want to share a news with you! Hehehhee…no no..don’t guess, coz I am sure you guys don’t know (and trust me it not anything usual!).  Well actually I bought a Guitar!! yipppppeeeee!! Since I was in school where we had those music classes, I wanted to learn Guitar. But I was too shy to go up to the teacher and ask her to help learn this instrument…Sandra Banerjee, our western music teacher at Mater Dei Convent was truly one of the best music teacher I have ever had.  She was good with everything..the piano, the guitar, the drums!! Oh and her voice..I loved her powerful voice which would would remind many of Whoopi Goldberg in Sister Act…..be it a hymn or a popular song, she was the best!! Every event, small or big ended with her singing the popular rock number of 90s What’s Up” by 4 Non Blondes.

I still remember her running heartily from one end of the hall to the stage, coolly picking up the Guitar, and striking those familiar chords which would make the whole crowd roar and clap in appreciation….with her guitar and her voice she would wake up the likes of me who would be sleeping during an inter-school debating competition!! 😀 All I did at that time was clap loudly and imagine myself singing like her one day….that never happened though coz you know how life is….I got caught up in the race to achieve goals….studies, exams, career…but now I have some time and thought, why not use it to fulfill my childhood dreams. Hence the GUITAR came into my life. Possibly I would never play like our teacher, but nevertheless her love for music would always inspire me!! My friends who have learned guitar themselves tell me that I need a lot of patience….so I just hope I don’t loose patience!! Wish me luck and then one fine day while you guys eat a lovely meal (like the one below), I will play the guitar for you!

Till then, I will continue with my recipes and today’s is one of them which would go very well with the music of the guitar in the background (I think). Its a recipe I saw in an old English style  book from 1980. With a few additional ingredients, I present to you a plateful of soft fish fillets stuffed with mushroom in a white wine sauce!

Fish Rolls stuffed with Mushrooms in a White Wine Sauce

Basa Fish Rolls stuffed with Mushrooms in a White Wine Sauce

Continue reading

Feta & Spinach Cannelloni in White beans and Veggie Sauce

Dear Cousins!!

How have you been?? I know you both are busy doing things like preparing for a “school final exams” or celebrating Home Alone with Old Monk Rum, Whiskey and Friends!! Didi, you must be working very hard with Rizimon coz according to you, he doesn’t know anything or rather he is totally unprepared for his exams, right? At times like these, I keep wondering why many parents (even ours were no better) think that only their own child is the biggest ‘phankibaaj’ (someone who willingly avoids regular work) in the world and all the other children are all-rounders!! To this you would say, ‘Ruk, tere bachche honey dey (wait till you get your kids)!!” And I would reply, “Abhi toh nahi hai, toh gyan baantne do 😛 (I don’t have any now, so lemme impart some wise lines)!!” hehehheehee! Anyways Didi, jokes apart, how are Rizimon’s exams going on?

Daibi, you were here with me for a month….we talked and ate so much and even had our fights! Together we watched in awe Serena Williams decimating Maria Kirilenko and Milos Raonic giving a tough time to God of Tennis, Roger Federer but loosing at the end! We visited an Australian farm where we spent hours scouring a 100 acres property to find Kangaroos and ate some awesome Australian style farm food!! We learnt about walnut and chestnut trees and watched a 72+ man doing hard labour for 15 hrs in the heat (gosh that heat…I will complain about it in my next letter)!! What an inspiration Phillip was for us! In India, most people mentally retire when they retire from work at 60.  They spend their time after that worrying about their children, dreaming of grandchildren and slowly become rusty.  Whereas here people seem to be young even at 85! I tell you, its all in the head and heart! Anyways, so what I wanted to say was that I had a great time with you and now that you are gone, I miss you…..I don’t feel like cooking so much either..hence today am writing about a recipe that I cooked for you – the Feta and Spinach Cannelloni in my version of the sauce!

Spinach and Feta Cannelloni in Lima beans and Veggie Sauce

Spinach and Feta Cannelloni in White beans and Veggie Sauce

Continue reading

Homemade Eggless Mushroom and Cheese Jumbo Ravioli with a herbed Butternut-Walnut Sauce

Hello Cousins!!

Finally we begin to stir!!  Daibi would be back in action in a few days..they just returned from an awesome Delhi By Foot Photography and Bird-Watching trip from Bharatpur!! Its such a delight to see the pictures that they have brought back…makes me long for a teleporting vehicle to transport me there!! I too wanna witness this annual migration of thousands of spectacular looking birds who travel primarily from Sakha Republic (Yakutia) and western Siberia in Russia…aaah! some day I will!! But Daibi, don’t you wanna visit the Okhla Bird Sanctuary as well?? I mean that’s one of the things you must do being in Delhi during the winters!!

No no…I will not get carried away with my melodramtic yearning for Delhi winters…STOP Dakhina Mitra!! And I am back 😀  Didi, kudos to you and my dearest Rizimon for making those amazing uttapams….I learned to make them when I was 21 and he is only 9!! I agree with our Blogger friend Rashmi about the fact that most Indian boys/men don’t know how to cook! But being in a household where grandmommy, mommy, mommy’s sister, daddy and mommy’s brother are avid cooks/food lovers, I think we haven’t left Rizimon with any other choice, but to cook ;). That doesn’t mean he is not a foodie himself….I still remember a 4-5 year old Rizimon ordering a All-American Banana Split icecream at Nirulas, Delhi for himself. There was only a quarter plate left-over for you and me who were eagerly waiting for him to leave most of it!!

Homemade Mushroom and Cheese Ravioli in a herbed Butternut-Walnut sauce

Homemade Mushroom and Cheese Ravioli in a herbed Butternut-Walnut sauce

Today I will write about an Italian pasta dish which I think Rizimon can try with a little help from you.  A few weeks back you had sent me a pic where he was frying potatoes by himself, so I think he can manage doing this too..I am also pasting a link on quick pasta meals for him coz I know how easy it is to make a pasta dish!

Continue reading

Tomato and Basil Garden Bake

Dear cousins!

Its been quite long that we all have written letters to each other through this blog…but that doesn’t mean we haven’t been in touch with each other. My recent visit to India and the numerous messages exchanged via chat portals filled the time between my last post and this.  So someone will ask us now, why continue the silsila of letters again?? To that I would happily answer, I MISS MY FOOD TALK!!! Its not that we have stopped cooking, eating or travelling in the last 1.5 month; we just couldn’t catch up with our food blog.  Now I feel that I must apologise to our food and travel Blog for abandoning it like an orphan…Niloy has been making me feel guilty for quite some time now about this, but when last night I received a mail from Facebook saying, ‘You haven’t visited your Curry Cousins Page for some time’ the guilt reached another level…(I actually freaked out considering how much these sites and search engines know about us!! It reminded me of a discussion that I used to have with my friends like Chandni, Smaran, Ali and Mubbashira that in today’s world, someone is always watching….).

Anyways, coming back to my topic, let me start the writing again with a delicious yet very simple garden bake. One cold evening, when Niloy was away for an office party,  I suddenly had a craving for cheese…I ended up making this with whatever was left in the fridge!!!

Tomato and Basil Garden Bake

Tomato and Basil Garden Bake

Continue reading

Ilish Maacher Mudo’r Tok (Hilsa fish’s head in a Tamarind gravy) and Bengali Women

Dear Cousins,

Hope you both are doing well. I have been a bit out of action lately as I was attending a conference here in Melbourne on India and Australia Relations.  I didn’t get much time to cook at home during these days, but I can happily tell you this that I was part of a 2 member team catering for almost 40 people’s dinner!!! My contribution in this amazing food spread were making 2 dips for crackers that were served with drinks (mushroom pate and a yoghurt+garlic+mint+ ricotta dip).  I plated them so well that Mary, the head chef of the day was totally in awe with the results!! The second thing I made was Red Peppers stuffed with Spiced Chickpea and Lentils.  I must proudly inform you both that many guests (Indians and Australians) came and personally congratulated me for all the three!!! One gentleman said, “The aroma of the peppers was so intoxicating that I couldn’t wait till the vegetarians had had their share!! I quietly took one :).” The appreciation was heartening!

Considering that the conference left me intellectually bombarded with so many esteemed researchers and activists giving speeches, I have been thinking about a few things myself as well…and while cooking too such thoughts don’t leave me…like the other day I was making Ilish macher matha (Hilsa fish’s head) and a question popped up in my mind. As you guys know, the head of the fish is considered very auspicious and very healthy (they say if you eat fish’s head you would have a sharp brain).  Both men and women therefore must consume it.  So I asked Niloy how would he like me to cook it. He said, “I don’t eat this piece.”  Now this was expected. In many Bengali households it is eaten normally by the women because eating it can be time consuming as well as difficult. There are large bones in it which make it cumbersome. I have heard from many Bengali women that because of this reason they end up eating it as no one else wants to eat that piece.  I guess this trend is also a result of the old Indian tradition when women ate after everyone had eaten (mind you, in many parts of India, it still happens and that includes the urban cities as well).  So lets say there is a big pot of fish and first the men eat, then the children and then the women.  Since fish head and tail are two cumbersome pieces, they would sit in the pot till the end and invariably the women would eat it.  To avoid this, I think Bengali mothers and grandmothers invented the recipes like Mudi Ghonto (Rice and fish head mix), Macher matha diye muung daal (Fish head with Moong daal), and many others that mix fish head with some vegetable or rice and make it tasty so that everyone eats it.  Is it because Bengali women are more progressive? Any comments?

I too learned a recipe like this from Ma’s late aunty – my grandmother (Mami Dida).  I think grandmothers are a repository of awesome tips & recipes; and so was she, an accomplished cook who could even make a simple dish like daal, tasty!!  Her prawn curry (Chingdir Jhol) was totally out of this world!! I wasn’t lucky enough to taste much of her cooking as my trips to Chandernagore (her home) weren’t too often.  But whatever little I have eaten from her kitty, has left an indelible mark on my memory….so here is the recipe..

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Ilish Maacher Mudo’r Tok (Hilsa Fish’s head in a Tamarind gravy)

2 Hilsa fish head, cleaned and cut into halves

2 medium sized Onions

2 tsp Panchphoron dry roasted and powdered                                                                             (Bengali five spices – mix 1 tsp each of cumin seeds, nigella seeds, fenugreek seeds, mustard seeds, fennel seeds)

1 tsp Turmeric

A table-tennis ball sized Tamarind ball soaked in water

5 tbsp Mustard oil

Salt, sugar and red chilli powder to taste

Fresh Coriander leaves to garnish

Wash the heads well and sprinkle 1/2 tsp of salt and turmeric on it. Mix well and leave for 2-3 hours.  Then heat the mustard oil well in a deep pan and fry the heads (its best to deep fry them, but I didn’t do so as I don’t have a kadhai or wok). Don’t forget to cover the pan or else hot oil would splatter all over.  Fry till both sides are golden brown.  The Hilsa flavored oil left in the pan tastes wonderful with hot rice and bit of salt, but only a true blue Bengali can understand that taste and swoon over it 😛 So I set aside some of the oil for rice and in the rest I fried 2 onions that I had finely sliced.  When they were complete caramelised, I poured in the tamarind pulp, turmeric, sugar, salt and chilli powder.  Check the seasoning (I like it sweet, very sour and pretty hot!!).  Then add the fish heads and 1 tsp of the roasted and powdered panchphoron.  Simmer for 5-7 minutes on medium fire and then add another tsp of the spice powder.  Take off from the fire, garnish with freshly chopped coriander and serve with hot rice!!

Any other fish can be made the same way, but I think that the taste of Ilish Maacher Mudo’r Tok cannot be replicated!! What say?

Sending loads of love,

Dakhina

Juicy Honey-Sesame Chicken Drummettes, Fried Eggs with Tamarind Relish & Fish Tikkis

Woooooooow Daibi!!! What a walk!!! I sure miss Delhi on such days….when I visit next time, please, oh please take me there again..coz I see new things that I never tasted…me and Niloy together drooled over your Iftaar foods post and the other pictures on your DelhiByFoot Facebook page and took a pledge..WE HAVE TO GO TO DELHI 6 ON OUR NEXT VISIT!!

Didi, I too wish I was at one of Rizi’s B’day parties…managing kids or helping you clean afterwards would have been a cake-walk if I would have had the chance to fill myself with all the goodies you make for these parties…I still remember the pictures of the self-made burgers that you made last year…yuummmm!! But lemme not stray with old memories of food again (is there something about food & memories, good or bad, they tend to linger on, don’t they?)… So getting back to your last post, like you, some of my friends too have been asking me about a few starters that I keep making regularly..so here are some of my favorite recipes..please note that in this post the ingredients of the recipes are in italics.

Juicy Honey-Sesame Drummets with Grilled Butternut, Grilled Tomato and Avocado Salad

There are four amazing starters on this plate.  Grilled Butternut, which is basically half-inch slices of this buttery-textured pumpkin arranged on a grill pan and then sprinkled with olive oil, salt and freshly ground black pepper.  Just when the butternut slices are cooked (you can poke a knife in it to check) and slightly browned, sprinkle some shredded cheddar cheese on top.

Second is that beautiful Grilled Tomato where I cut the tomato in to half, cleaned the innards (Beauty Tip: don’t throw them..the juice and seeds mixed with one tsp of olive or almond oil and 1 tbsp whole wheat flour or black chickpea flour makes an awesome face pack or body scrub to reduce dark spots), stuffed it with lots of cheddar cheese and chives and then grilled it for 10 mins.

The third is an Avocado Salad or dip which as you know is called a guacamole.

The fourth is the very Juicy Honey-Sesame Chicken Drummettes! It is a bit different from the normal recipes coz I add a few extra flavors in it.  For the two of us, I take 8-10 drummettes with skin (A whole chicken wing has three joints – one is the wingette which sort of rectangular in shape with the two skinny bones & meat in between. The drumette is the section that is attached to the body of the chicken and resembles a drumstick. The wing tip isn’t eaten normally). If someone doesn’t like the skin, they can peel it off by soaking the pieces in hot water.  Then I marinate these drummettes in 1tbsp sesame oil, 1 tbsp oyster sauce, 2 tbsp soy sauce, 1 tbsp tomato ketchup, 1 tbsp honey, 1/2 tsp hot chilli powder, 2 tbsp lime juice, 1 tsp ginger and 1 tsp garlic.  I also add grated lime rind and finely chopped coriander root in this (according to my Thai friend Paruedee to get the maximum flavor of coriander leaves, one must use the part close to the roots.  She washes them thoroughly and adds the green parts to her curry pastes or simply throws them in a boiling soup).  After marinating for 5-6 hours, I pan fry them with very little oil on mostly high heat till they are partially charred and yummily cooked 🙂 In this way, all the juices remain intact and you have these flavorsome soft and amaazing drummettes….gosh I am drooling!!!!

Fried Eggs with a Tamarind Relish

Fried Eggs with a Tamarind Relish

This is again a recipe from Paruedee and she used to produce this simple but totally delicious starter/main dish from thin air in what the Germans say, an augenblick (a moment).  So you pan fry boiled eggs and set aside.  Make a table tennis sized ball of tamarind and soak it in hot water.  In a pan fry some chopped red chillis (depending on how hot you want it) and then add the tamarind water, sugar and salt according to taste and boil. I like it hot, sweet and very sour..but you can tweak accordingly.  Then slice the eggs into halves and plate them.  Pour the tamarind sauce liberally all over them, sprinkle chopped coriander, mint and basil, and throw in a generous dash of fried shallots on top (here you get them prepackaged in the market, but you can fry some onions till they are crispy brown).  I drizzle some more sauce to add an extra kick 🙂 And you can serve these with drinks or as a party snack for kiddies or if you have made a lot of sauce, you can serve it with rice too!!

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Fish Tikkis

I made these fish tikkis or kebabs for Niloy’s b’day party.  It was again very simple…I made some 35 tikkis by mashing 1kg boiled Basa fish fillets (any boneless fish would do), 4 medium sized boiled potatoes, 2 medium sized onions and 4 cloves of garlic chopped finely, 2 handfuls of mint leaves & coriander leaves, 5-6 chopped green chillis, 1 cup breadcrumbs, 2 tsp homemade garam masala, 4 tbsp lemon juice and salt to taste.   You can do the maths if you want small amounts 🙂 With a clean hand roll out table tennis sized balls and flatten them into a shape of a tikki.  Pan fry these with few drops of oil.  The sheer exhilaration of producing 35 tikkis made me forget my blog and I didn’t take any pictures!! 😛

Let me know if you guys try these..sending lots of love,

Dakhina

——————————————————————-

Hey Rinks,

I still remember those half-spheres of eggs and were they addictive or what…the sauce was to-die-for. Actually I always thought that the eggs were simply boiled, now I know that u did saute them a bit…

This is really simple, i am making this very very sooooon 🙂

cheers & take care

Ramit.