Murir Moa : Puffed rice balls : GF

Image

IMG_2027

Back in the day when we did not have a variety of ready made snacks available for the kids, mothers and grandmothers used to spend many afternoons painstakingly prepare an assortment of snacks at home.

I specially remember our summer holidays , when we used to visit our grandparents.Our uncles landed with their families as well. For that one month the house used to be super busy with grandkids ranging from preteens to infant. Those were days before cell phones and television. We were busy playing with our cousins during the day. My grand dad was an excellent story teller. He had no problem mesmerizing us grand kids of different ages with his story telling. The youngest one would be on his lap, some sitting on the armrest of his ‘plantation style’ armchair. Few others around his feet. The one thing that was common was we were all wide eyed in rapt attention, trying to follow the ups and downs of the story.

IMG_2024

My grandmother on the other hand, used to be busy in the kitchen. With limited resources she never failed to surprise us with homemade snacks. Walking for days together, with only a few of her belongings to this land from the former “East Pakistan’, as a refugee, hard work came to her naturally. Savoury or sweet she could whip up either in no time.The “Moa” was always there. One by one she moulded the round shape on the palm of her hand, which used to be angry red from the heat.

Many years later, when I had my own family did I realize how much effort it takes, to come up with a big batch of these. “Love” was the main sweetener, no matter how much jaggery we add.

Recipe: Made 15

Ingredients;

Murmura ( Puffed rice )                            3 cups

Ghee                                                        1 Tbsp

Jaggery                                                     1 cup

Method,

Dry roast the Murmura on medium flame for a few minutes only to make it crunchier.

In another pan take the ghee and jaggery on slow flame. I have used powdered jaggery. Let it melt and be frothy, about 11 minutes. Take a drop of this in a bowl of water. If this sets right away, then the jaggery is ready.

Put the gas off. Pour the murmura in the molten jaggery. Mix it nicely such that the murmura is evenly coated.

Wait for this mixture to cool down a bit, so that it can be handled on the palm. I used a pair of silicone gloves, that definitely helped. Take a handful, press on all sides to give a round shape.

Store in an airtight container and enjoy for a couple of weeks.

 

Chochori: Sauteed vegetables

Image

IMG_1649I remember my teenage daughter ask me one time, what does “Chochori”, mean? Now as we know it is a very homey, dish of sauteed vegetables. Remember the day you clean the fridge? You find the leftover beans, half cauliflower, the eggplant threatening to dry up if not used that day, that is when you start making Chochori.

That is all true. But that still doesn’t account for the name. Well such is the nature of Chochori that it welcomes all kinds of veggies. The firm ones like potatoes, carrots, the medium ones like beans, cauliflowers, soft ones like squashes, eggplants. There are a few must haves though like the stems of the cauliflower, I include celery sticks if I happen to have them. I strongly believe this is where the name comes from, Think about the noise it makes when you chew on these stems…..

IMG_1652

On a serious note, Chochori has a secured a soft spot in the Bengali heart. It is an excellent way of getting the required  quota of vegetable for the day. Be generous with the mustard oil though. After all, the success of Chochori depends heavily on ‘the runny nose” feeling from the  strong  smell of  ‘First pressed” mustard oil.

Recipe: Serves 6 as a side.

Try to have a medley of the firm, softer and very soft veggies.

Potato cut in thick julienne                                   1 cup

Carrots cut similarly                                             1 cup

Cauliflower florets                                                 1 cup

Eggplants cut in julienne                                       1 cup

Squash cut as above                                            1 cup

Cauliflower stem, celery stick cut similar                  1 cup

Mustard oil                                                            4 tbsp

Mustard powder                                                   1 tbsp

Salt to taste

Jaggery                                                               1 tbsp

Five spice                                                             1 tsp

Dry red chilly                                                           1

Turmeric powder                                                     1/2 tsp

Method,

In a microwave safe bowl put the stems and celery and cook for 5 minutes.

In a wok add 2 tbsp mustard oil on high heat. Add the five spice and chilly, saute till it changes colour. Add the firm veggies like potato and carrot, saute for few minutes. Next add the cauliflower florets and stems and beans, cook for few minutes, finally add the eggplant and squash. Add salt, jaggery, turmeric powder, cover and cook till the veggies are done. No water is added, careful that the veggies do not burn, a few sprinkle of water if needed .

When the veggies are all cooked add the mustard powder. Mix everything together. Finish off by adding the 2 tbsp of mustard oil.

Tweak to your taste. This dish gives a lot of leeway, to adjust to your taste.

Goes well with plain white rice.

Note: Five spice a very typical Bengali mixture of equal amounts of Nigella seeds, Cumin seeds, Fenugreek seeds, Mustard and Fennel seeds.

Mango tart with Cardamom flavour : Vegan option

Image

IMG_1854

When you are done making Aam panna, Aam ras, Aam Chutney, Aam Shondesh, ( mango drink, puree, chutney, fudge) or even popping the king of fruit in your mouth and wondering what else can be done? Enter Mango tart.

IMG_1852

Fusion recipe? You bet! I have retained some Indian flavours by using cardamom and Parle G base. For the unfamiliars, Parle G is a very popular cookie back home that we all grew up with. You can’t have the morning cup of tea without a couple of these ‘Biscuits’ as we referred them in India. I have been told that this cookie company is closing doors after 100 years. Now that makes it even more special, wouldn’t you agree?

IMG_1856

If you want to show off a bit, this is for you. Very little effort and jaw dropping looks. Feel free to decorate your way. These are the fruits I had at hand, and made use of them.

Recipe;

Cashew butter can replace the unsalted butter, biscuit can be substituted with nut powder to make it vegan friendly.

Ingredients;

Base:

Parle G biscuits                                            3 Packets

Mejdool dates, pitted                                      5

Unsalted butter                                              1/3 cup

Salt ( skip if using salted butter )                       a pinch

Filling

Mango pieces                                                2 cups

Cashew                                                          2 cups

Cardamom powder                                         1/8 tsp

Maple syrup                                                  2 tbsp ( or to taste )

Corn Starch                                                  1 Tbsp

Raspberries, Cape gooseberries,  pomegranate, nuts to garnish

Method;

Soak the cashews the night before, rinse them and grind them to powder. Collect the powder in a bowl.

Preheat the oven to 330 degrees F.

In a food processor put in the cookies and grind them to a powder. Add the dates, salt, butter and blend again until a sticky dough forms. Press this mixture firmly into a greased  7 inch ( I measured mine )  tart pan with removable bottom. Poke some holes with a fork into the crust, bake in the oven for 10-12 minutes. Remove it from the oven and let it cool completely.

Blend the mangoes into a puree.

Blend the cashews into a paste.

In a bowl mix the mango puree, cashew paste and all other ingredients listed under filling. Transfer this mixture over the tart  base. Tape to eliminate any air bubbles.

Throw this inside the freezer overnight.

Remove the tart from the freezer about half hour before serving, decorate with whatever fresh fruits you have in hand.

Serve and enjoy.

 

 

 

Kolar bora: Sweet Banana fritters

Image

IMG_1909

 

There are some foods which take you directly to the “bygone” days. For those of you that are born in circa “Post cell phone”, wont be able to relate to the story.

You see, in those times, evenings were meant to go outside and play games with ‘real’ friends. No video games, netflix, mobile, meant you had to play games involving real physical activities. When the street light went on, it was time to stop whatever you were doing and head home.

IMG_1890

Rain was the only time you were allowed to stay indoors with friends. Rain also meant there would be some fried food at home. There is this connection between rain and fried food, that only people from Bengal would agree. These fritters remind me of evenings such as those, sitting down with friends, giggling for no reason at all and popping these in mouth.

Try it out friends. Friendly warning, it is really hard to stop after a couple. Please factor this in while planning.

Recipe: Enough for 8 people

I have adapted the recipe from “A homemaker’s diary”, with minor changes.  Check her wonderful blog,

Ingredients;

Overripe bananas                                         6

Semolina                                                     1 cup

All purpose flour                                            11/2 cup

Rice flour                                                       2/3 cup

Aniseeds coarsely grounded                           2 tbsps

Sugar                                                            1 cup

Baking soda                                                   2/3 tsp

Salt                                                                 2/3 tsp

Canola oil for frying.

Method;

Dry roast the semolina till lightly coloured.  Put the gas off. Add 2 cups water , stir and let it sit for 15 minutes. Add the APF, rice flour, sugar, aniseeds, salt. Mix some water to make a batter, The consistency should be that of a cake batter. Add the baking powder just before frying.

Heat oil, about 2 inces deep in a pan on medium heat. Drop a tablespoon of batter in the oil, fry till both sides are dark brown.

Collect them on kitchen towel. On cooling, sprinkle some icing sugar on top.

Enjoy!

 

Chhena poda: Roast cheese cake

Image

IMG_1347

Would you be surprised if I tell you that I have never tasted this dessert before. True. The fact that it comes from the province of Orissa, famous for the temple of Lord Jagannath, have always made me curious. I checked a few recipes and gave it a try.

IMG_1594-2

 

Traditionally milk is curdled to make the cheese ( chhena), which is then used to make the sweet. I tried it out with Ricotta cheese which is very close to chhena ( chena), in its consistency.

IMG_1595-2

The fact that the cheese is already available ready made makes this dessert very easy in terms of the time needed. Just assemble all the ingredients and throw it in the oven.

IMG_1698

The result is nothing less than spectacular. Give it a try friends, you may be hooked!

IMG_1709

Recipe: Followed recipe from Saltspicemore.com with some changes

Ingredients;

Ricotta cheese                                           2 cups

Sugar                                                         1 cup

Semolina                                                    4 Tbsp

Ghee                                                         2  Tbsp

Baking powder                                          1/2 tsp

Cardamom powder                                      1/4 tsp

Raisins                                                       1 tbsp

Pistachio slivers                                        1 tbsp

Almond slices                                           1 tbsp

Cashew pieces                                        1 tbsp

Water                                                       2 Tbsp

Method;

Pre heat oven to 350 degrees F

In a bowl mix the Cheese, Semolina, Sugar, baking powder, raisins, nuts, ghee nicely. Add a few tbps water bring it to a cake batter consistency. Let it rest for 15 minutes.

Grease the inside of a cake pan and line with a parchment paper. Pour the batter. Bake at 350 degree F preheated oven for 50 minutes, crank up the temperature to 360 degrees for the last twenty minutes..
A tooth pick inserted should come out clean.

Put the oven off.

Take the cake out of the oven then out of the pan. Divide in pieces and enjoy.

Narkel Pakon Pitha ; Coconut and milk cake

Image

IMG_9439

Pithas can be grouped under a dessert category which uses the newly harvested rice or the date palm jaggery. Winter end is the time when these ingredients are available. The ladies of the house usually remain busy whipping up a variety of desserts.

IMG_9435

Small wooden molds are available designed in folk tradition, like flower, conch shell, fish etc items that are abundant in nature. This takes ‘making Pithas’ to a folk art I’d say. In the absence of these delicate molds one can improvise use the back of a glass, cookie cutter or any other design at hand.

IMG_1517

I have used a flower motif here.

IMG_1618

This dessert can be made into a crispy version by adding the sugar into the ingredient before frying or a syrup dunked one by making a sugar syrup and dip them in it for a bit. Some like it crispy others prefer the melt in the mouth version. Take your pick.

IMG_1612

Recipe; Made 18 using 1 tbsp portion each

Ingredients:

Rice flour                                           1 cup

Ground coconut                                1 cup

Milk                                                   1 cup

Cardamom powder                            1/4 tsp

Sugar                                                 1 cup

Water                                                 2 cups

Method;

Make a sugar syrup with the above measurement. The sugar should just melt completely in the water. It doesn’t have to be thick.

Take a saucepan on high heat, add the milk. As soon as it is hot add the coconut powder, cover and cook till it comes to a boil. Crank the heat down. Add the rice flour and give it a nice mix. Throw in the cardamom powder, put the gas off and let it sit that way for 5 minutes.

Transfer the mixture to a plate. Knead it into a smooth dough when it still is hot but can be handled. Divide into 18 small portion. Use a mold if you have or shape it as you want and fry them in medium heat till both sides have a light brown colour.

If you are going for the crispy version add about half cup sugar in the dough before frying.

The melt in the mouth version would require these to be dipped in the syrup for 15 minutes. Take them out of the syrup and collect them on a serving plate.

 

Whole green lentil fritters: Huri moong dal ke Pakode

Image

IMG_1143Friends not sure about you but the lockdown is making my cloths shrink! True storey. There is a limit of doing laundry, arranging the pantry, cleaning the house.

I am on a overdrive of cooking and trying new recipes or perfecting an old one.

IMG_1134

Although deep fried but the main ingredient in these pakodas are whole green lentil. I am almost considering it a healthy food under the circumstances. I mean I need to be sane too while home bound for two weeks now. The future seems to be uncertain too.

IMG_1139

With netflix on a cup of hot tea these are just the snack you need. Crispy on the outside and soft inside. You can thank me later.

I had ground lentil powder at home, that I used. It can also be done by soaking yellow moong dal for and hour, drain the water then grind it. Keep a Tbsp of soaked unground dal separately to be added to the batter.

Recipe:

Ingredients;

Ground green lentil powder                                         11/2 cup

Skinless moong dal                                                    1 Tbsp

Chopped  green onion                                                 3/4 cup

Rice flour                                                                     2 Tbsps

Cilantro                                                                        4 Tbsps

Green chillies                                                                4 ( optional )

Coriander seeds                                                            2 Tbsps

Red chilli powder                                                            1/2 tsp

Baking powder                                                                1/2 tsp

Salt to taste

Oil for frying

Method;

Soak the skinless moong dal for an hour.

Take all the ingredient except the oil for frying in a bowl. Add water little by little to form a thick batter. Rest for 10 minutes.

Take a wok and fill it with cooking oil about one and half inch deep on high heat. When the oil is hot crank the temperature down to medium. Take a teaspoon of mixture and carefully put in the oil. Wait for a few minutes and then turn them. Cook till they are light brown in colour. Collect them on kitchen towel.

Enjoy with your choice of dip, I had tomato ketchup at home, which is what I served them with.

Enjoy!