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!

Gatte ke subzi : Vegetarian sausage curry; GF

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IMG_1451Rajasthan in India is a province which has desert like climate. With very little rainfall, there is a scarcity of fresh produce. The local cuisine has evolved around it, relying less on vegetables, but managing the protein etc intake from alternative sources.

IMG_1442“Gatte  ke Subzi” is one such special dish from Rajasthan. Chick pea flour is kneaded with a variesty of spices into these locks, which are then boiled and fried gently.

IMG_1443These are made into a curry, which can be enjoyed either with piping hot rice or handmade rotis or flatbrads.

IMG_1445I must admit I am fairly new to this curry, was introduced to this only in my adult life. Look at the versatility of the use of legume and beans in Indian cooking. Not only are they used to make Dals, or salads, but grind them in powder, make them in “Gatte”, or shape them round to make sun dried :Vadi:, or even roll them paper thin into Papad:. The possibilities are endless.

IMG_1457Recipe: Serves 4 as a side dish.

Ingredients;

For the Gatta (Sausage ),

Besan ( chick pea flour )                                              1cup

Cumin seeds                                                               1/2 tsp

Aniseeds ( saunf )                                                         1/4 tsp

Carom seeds ( ajwain )                                                 1/2 tsp

Coriander ( dhania ) seeds                                            1/4 tsp

Turmeric powder                                                           1/4 tsp

Red chiily powder                                                           1/4 tsp

Salt                                                                                 1 tsp

Ghee                                                                               1 tbsp

Oil                                                                                     1 tbsp

Water                                                                                 2 tbsp

Yoghurt                                                                              3 tbsp

For the gravy;

Cumin seeds                                                                   1 tsp

asafoetida ( heeng )                                                          1/4 tsp

Dried red chilly                                                                  2

Ginger grated                                                                    1 tsp

Tomato                                                                              2, made into puree

Turmeric powder                                                                 1/2 tsp

Coriander powder                                                               11/2 tsp

Red chillly powder                                                              1 tsp

Yoghurt                                                                              2 Tbsp

Kasuri methi ( dried fenugreek leaves )                               1 tbsp

Cilantro                                                                             1 tsp

Method:

For the Gatte,

Coarse grind the seeds. In a bowl take the besan, add the crushed seeds, all the powders as listed, ghee, salt, oil and yoghurt. Mix with greased hands then add water little by little to make it into a nice dough. Let it sit for 10 minutes. Knead a few more times with greased hand and cut in four balls. Shape each one into cylinders, like in the picture above, about 4 inches long.

In a sauce pan bring a litre of water to a rolling boil. Add the locks one by one.  Let it cook for 10-12 minutes. these will rise up and have blisters on its skin. Put the gas off. Collect these, let it cool. Cut them in half inch pieces and fry them in very hot oil for about two minutes. Collect on kitchen towel. Save the boiled water for gravy.

For the gravy,

Take 2 tbsp oil in a pan on high heat. Add the dry chilly, cumin seeds and heeng, saute till the cumin seeds get a light colour. Add the ginger paste, saute for another minute. Add the tomato puree, turmeric, red chilly powder, coriander powder and add about 2 tbsp of the saved boiled water from before. Crank the heat down to medium high and keep stirring until all the water evaporates. Bring the heat down to low now. Add the whisked yoghurt and keep stirring for 3-4 minutes. Add the rest of the saved boiled water , salt and the fried “Gatte”pieces. Cover and cook for 5 minutes. Garnish with Kasuri methi and cilantro.

Serve with rice or roti.

I feel we should be able to freeze the fried Gatte pieces. This will give a head start for the day of, cook the gravy and throw these in and bring it to boil.

 

Sabudana khichri : Tapioca pearls khichri; GF

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Raise your hands if this situation rings a bell to you. It is a festive day, mum is fasting and asks help tp prepare the food  to be had after the fast is broken. Not ready to give her company with fasting but really excited to dream about the food that will be available later. I really hope there are some of you with me on this. I feel so guilty to even think about it now.

Sabudana is actually set in round molds in factories. It is extracted from the root of Tapioca plant. As it is not a grain, it is a recommended food after fasting.

Feast or no feast it is a staple breakfast in many households. Once you start it is hard to stop. It is a carb bomb, so having it as breakfast gives one enough time to burn it out.

Have a happy Navaratri. Pray Mata rani brings peace and happiness to the world.

Recipe: Serves 4 as a snack.

Ingredients;

Sabudana ( Tapioca pearls )                                                    2 cups

Peanuts                                                                                  3/4 cup

Cooking oil                                                                             3 Tbsp

Cumin seeds                                                                          11/2 tsp

Green chilly slices ( optional )                                                   2 tsp

Potatoes cut in small cubes                                                     3/4 cup

Jaggery powder                                                                      11/2 tsp

Lemon juice                                                                             1 tbsp

Cilantro leaves                                                                          1/2 cup

Pomegranate seeds ( optional )                                                 1 tbsp

Salt. to taste

Method;

Wash the Sabudana in a few changes of water, rubbing the pearls with hand. This ensures that the extra starch is gone, making the khichri where the pearls stand alone and are not clumped together. Leave it soaked for about 5 hours. I had these giant sized pearls, I soaked them for 24 hours.

Drain the water off completely, rest them on a kitchen towel. Dry roast the peanuts and keep aside.

Take a non stick wok on medium high heat. Add the oil, wait till it is hot reduce the heat to medium and add the cumin seeds and green chilly slices if using. Stir till the cumins get a bit darker, add the potato pieces, turn the gas low, cover and cook till they are done. Add the Sabudana, peanuts, salt, jaggery and mix nicely. The Sabudana will shine like pearls. Add the lemon juice and put the gas off. Garnish with cilantro and pomegranate seeds.

The khichri is ready. Enjoy!