Bori diye Palong Shak: Spinach with lentil dumplings

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‘Bar bar dhow’, my Ma would remind me, the spinach roots would always have some dirt still clinging on them. With no supermarket around we got our produce directly from the farmers. A little more work but freshness was guaranteed.

Traditionally greens are always the first course in a vegetarian Bengali meal. With tons of health benefits Spinach is a superfood. Although I used spinach in the recipe any greens can be substituted in place of spinach.

Times have changed. There are plenty of Supermarkets around now but no time. I have resorted to the easier option, bought the pre cut and frozen packet. This saves a lot of time.

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Today being the Indian Independence day I did a fancy plating. The yellow lentils with gourd recipe can be found  here. The lentil dumpling on the rice is a fancy version, will do a post soon.

I leave you with the following text that I found on the net.

‘Freedom in mind, Faith in words, Pride in our heart,

Memories in our souls, Let us salute the Nation, this Independence Day”.

Recipe: Serves 6

Ingredients:

Frozen spinach                                                  one medium packet

Potatoes                                                           2 medium.

Eggplant                                                           1 cup cut in small cubes

Bori { Dried lentil dumpllings)                              1 tablespoon full

Canola/Mustard oil                                              1 Tbsp plus some to fry Boris

Dried red chillies                                                  2

Garlic cloves                                                      2, thinly slices, optional

Panchphoron                                                     1 tsp

Salt to taste

Method;

Heat about 2 tbsp oil in a wok on high heat. Throw in the boris, saute till light change in colour. It happens fast so do not leave the wok.  Collect them on paper towel.

In the oil add the dried red chillies and panchphoron, on medium heat, wait for a half minute or till the spices start to sputter. Add the garlic slices if using, let them change colour ever so slightly. Add the potatoes and cover and cook till they are soft, throw in the eggplants. Add some salt and the frozen spinach. Crank the heat to high now. Mix everything together nicely from time to time. As soon as the majority of the spinach have thawed, put the gas off. Let it sit on the gas for sometime. The remaining spinach will be thawed.. Collect in a serving bowl.

Crush the fried boris in a mortar and pestle to coarse pieces. Garnish on top.

Enjoy with rice or roti.

Notes:

Bori /vadi is available in Indian grocery store.

 

Strawberries and Kulfi Pannacotta

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Summer is incomplete without kulfi back home and strawberries here in North America.

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……The “U pick berries” sounds novel to me. Armed with an ice cream pail, it is you and the rows and rows of strawberry bushes. A split second to decide based on the size, colour of the fruit and in it goes in the pail. These variety are tiny but oh so sweet!

….. The very hot temperatures back home melted the kulfis so fast, I clearly remember  sometimes an obligatory lick on the elbow to do justice to the precious liquid seemed mandatory.

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……I tried to blend both the worlds in this recipe. using agar agar instead of gelatine, makes this a vegetarian dessert.

Here is the recipe for you….

Recipe; Serves 4

Ingredients,

“Gits’ kulfi mix                         1 pkt

Full cream milk                       1.5 cups

Strawberry puree                     1 cup

Sugar                                    2Tbsp or more.

Agar Agar                               2/3 tsp and 2/3 tsp

Water                                     2 Tbsps

Whole Strawberries and cashews to garnish

Method:

Empty the “Kulfi’ mix in a bowl, add milk and mix together. Take one Tbsp water and add 2/3 tsp of agar agar in a sauce pan on low heat. As soon as it mixes together add the milk mixture. Simmer for 10 minutes until it thickens. Take it out of the gas and keep aside.

Clean the strawberries and make a puree. In another bowl take one tbsp of water and add 2/3 tsp of agar agar on low heat. As it blends together, add the strawberry puree and sugar. Cook on low heat for around 10 minutes until the mixture starts to thicken. Put the gas off.

In a tall glass carefully layer 2 ladles of the strawberry mixture and let it cool. I put them in the fridge for 15 minutes. When set carefully pour the milk mixture on top of each of previously filled strawberry mixture.

Put the glasses in the fridge for about half hour. Garnish with whole berries and nuts of your choice and enjoy!

Notes:

Heavy cream with a flavouring agent and sweetener of your choice can be substituted if “Kulfi” mixture is not at hand.

 

Jawl Bhawra Shawndesh : Syrup filled cheese fudge

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It was around circa1810, the daughter of the erstwhile Zamindar of Mankundu of Bengal just got married. The son-in-laws usually enjoyed a celebrity status then and were spoilt rotten by the bride’s family. So when the newly married couple were visiting the Zaminder a few days later, the family members wanted to get back to the son-in-law. The famous sweet maker of the area Surjya Kumar Modak was instructed to come up with a new sweet recipe. The ladies of the house offered this sweet to the new son-in-law. One bite into it, the jaggery syrup filling spilled all over his crisp top. The new son-in-law’s embarrassment was enjoyed to the hilt by the bride’s family!

Traditionally this is made from home made cheese or Chhena, and filled with date palm jaggery. This is cheat’s recipe. I have improvised it using ricotta cheese and Canadian maple syrup.

Shawndesh molds are available to give different shapes to the Shawndesh. This one takes the shape from Palmyra palm fruit.

Sweets are an integral part of any festivity. Here is the recipe if you would like to have a go and surprise your friends and family.

Recipe: Made 14 pieces.

Ingredients:

Ricotta cheese                                       2 cups

Milk powder                                           1 cup

Sugar                                                    1 cup

Ghee                                                     3 tbsps

Cardamom powder                              1/2 tsp

Raisins                                                about 15

Pistachio pieces                                  one Tbsp

Method;

On a non stick pan take the ghee on medium heat. Once this melts add the cheese, sugar and milk powder. Keep stirring now and then so that it does not stick to the bottom of the pan. Add the cardamom powder. Slowly the mixture thickens about 40 minutes and forms a dough. Collect it on a plate. Put the gas off.

Take the molds, grease the inside with ghee,  Place one raisin and bit of the pistachio sliver on the inside of the mold. Put a tablespoon of this mixture, press it gently so it confirms to the shape of the mold. Take the other half of the mold and press genlty. With your pinky make a hole at the back of this Shawndesh. Pour a tea spoonful of maple syrup in it. Take about half teaspoon of the mixture to close this hole. Unmold very gently.

If molds are not available, it could be formed into a ball, a hole made in it, filled with syrup and the hole plugged with a bit of the dough.

It does take a bit of patience and time, but the joy when done is as great too.

Happy thanksgiving friends!

Sweet Pilaf : Mishti Pulao

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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!

Chochori: Sauteed vegetables

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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…..

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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.

Chhena poda: Roast cheese cake

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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.

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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.

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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.

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

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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.

Whole green lentil fritters: Huri moong dal ke Pakode

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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.

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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.

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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!