Sweet Pilaf : Mishti Pulao

Image

IMG_2705

Rice is intertwined with human life as a thread in a fabric. Any important event in ones life is celebrated with either cooked rice or uncooked grains.

Take for example ” Annaprashan”, an event to celebrate a child’s first solid food eating event. This is as big an event as a wedding. Rice is the main course along with other supporting dishes. A new bride is welcomed in her  husband’s family with a potful of rice grain, signifying prosperity for the whole family. “Serving rice” to the extended family is the first ‘token’ chore for a new bride. Blessings from the elders involve a few grains of rice. Puffed paddy grains are sometimes offered to mourner’s during a man’s last journey to the crematorium.

Pilaf or Pulao recipe changes with every geographic location. We in Bengal love it on the sweeter note. This dish goes very well with any main dish. It is a bit heavy on the oil and butter, but celebrations don’t happen every day, does it?

Here is the recipe.

Recipe: Serves 6.

Ingredients;

Basmati Rice                                         3 cups

Cashews                                              1/3 cup

Raisins                                                 1/3 cup

Butter                                                   1/2 stick ( 1/4 cup )

Canola oil                                              1/3 cup

Bay leaves                                            4-5

Cumin seeds                                        1 tsp

Saffron                                                  big pinch

Milk                                                      1/3 cup

Cardamoms                                          5-6 pods

Cloves                                                  6-7

Cinnamon                                             2, 2 inch pieces

Ginger paste                                           2 tbsps

Salt to taste

Sugar                                                    2 Tbsps

Method;

Preheat gas to 400 degrees F.

Soak the saffron in warmed milk. Make a paste from the fresh ginger.

Wash the rice in two changes of water. Take a big saucepan with boiling water. Put the rice in, as soon as it is half done, take it out drain the water.

In another pan take the canola oil on medium heat. When the oil is hot add the bay leaf, cardamom pods, cloves, cinnamon sticks and cumin seeds. Saute gently, as soon as the cumin seeds get a bit of colour add the raisins, wait till they get plump. Add the cashews next, fry till lightly coloured. Add the ginger paste and fry a few minutes. Make sure the spices do not burn, a sprinkle of water can be added now and then. Put the gas off when the raw smell of ginger is gone.

Take an ovenproof casserole. Pour the rice and the above spice mix, spread evenly. Sprinkle the butter on this mixture, add the salt and sugar, cover and put it in the oven for 30 minutes.

Take the casserole out, add the milk with saffron. We want some grains to remain white. Gently fluff it with a fork. Keep covered in the oven again for another 30 minutes with the gas off.

Give another mix and serve.

The rice grains should be separate. Check the salt and sugar to your liking. Enjoy!

Skinless moong beans with bottle gourd: Moong dal with lauki

Image

IMG_1269In a matter of weeks, the world has turned upside down. Who would have thought that we would witness this pandemic first hand. Countries are in lockdown, social distancing is the key word of late.

We are all mindful of the food we cook for our family. Something that can be put together easily without pinching the pocket, that will be healthy and will mostly use pantry staples.

IMG_1276

Dal aka lentils or beans are a must in any Indian pantry. These are rich in proteins, the skin on ones are extra high in fibre, not mega pricey, making them a staple food for the masses.

There are innumerable ways to cook Dal. It could be spicy or bland, sweetish or sweet and sour. Throw in some seasonal vegetables, it can be an almost one pot meal with a side of either rice or bread.

IMG_1271 Today”s recipe is one that uses minimum spices, the bottle gourd adds extra nutrients, elevating this homey dish to a five star one.

When goings are tough don’t we all look for something like this?

Recipe; Serves 4 as side.

Ingredients;

Skinless moong dal                                                  one cup

Bottle gourd                                                             one medium

Cooking oil                                                               1 Tbsp

Ghee                                                                         11/2 Tbsp

Grated ginger                                                            1 Tbsp

Turmeric powder                                                        1 tsp

Cumin seeds                                                               1 tsp

Salt to taste

Dried red chillies                                                            2

Green chillies                                                                 2 sliced ( optional )

Jaggery                                                                           1 tsp

Method;

Dry roast the moong dal on medium heat till very lightly coloured, add the oil and fry for another minute. Add a cup of water, cook till half done. Add water as needed, the dish is neither runny nor solid.

Wash the bottle gourd and cut in thin slices ( about half a cm ). Throw in these to the half cooked dal, also add the turmeric powder, jaggery and grated ginger, salt, green chillies and continue cooking till the gourd and dal are cooked, not mushy. Both the dal and gourd should hold shape. Put the gas off.

In a separate pan, heat the ghee, when hot throw in the dried red chillies, cumin seeds, wait till it gets light brown in colour, add this on to the dal.

Adjust salt to taste and enjoy with rice.

 

Sauteed Amaranth leaves: Notey shaag

Image

IMG_9850

There are foods, and then there are superfoods. With a storehouse of phytonutrients, vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and fibres, Amaranth leaves belong to the superfood family.

IMG_9854

Cooked in salads, soups, stews there are so many ways of enjoying these leaves. In Bengali cooking gentle sauteing  the Notey shaag with minimum spices is common. Served as a first course, it is enjoyed with a side of warm rice.

Here is the recipe of these humble Amaranth leaves.

How do you cook these leaves? Would love to hear from you. Leave a comment for me below. Thank you.

Recipe: Serves 4

Ingredients

Amaranth leaves                           500 gms

Mustard oil                                  3 tbsps

Nigella seeds                             1 tsp

Dried red chillies                          2

Fresh green chiliies                      2

Garlic pods (Sliced)                      3

Salt                                            to taste

Method ;

Wash the leaves thoroughly and chop them fine. Take the mustard oil in a deep bottomed pan on high heat. Add the nigella seeds, dried red chillies, saute for a few seconds and then add the green chillies and slices of garlic. saute again for a few seconds, making sure not to burn the garlic slices.Throw the leaves in, cover and cook for about 7 to 8 minutes till done. Sprinkle salt, give it a nice mix.

Enjoy with hot rice and a side of mustard sauce aka kasundi.