Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Bata maacher jhal

I love fish. And being a Bengali just any kind of fresh water fish is a favorite. Be it the delicate Bhetki, or the chunky Rui, or the small Tyangra, or the crispy fried Topshe or the seasonal Ilish.....fishes have always been delights.I remember as a child when I would sometimes accompany Baba to the fish market and marvel at the glimmering silvery fishes stacked neatly, people haggling over the prices,some of them expertly commenting on the quality of fish by just touching them....Oh! the fish market was such an interesting place(the fishy smell was a tad dampener though!).
This particular fish Bata as we call it.... is a favourite of mine and Baba's.It is very tasty but if you are not comfortable with fish bones, you migh find it a little difficult . Maach bechhe khaoa.. is the traditional way of eating fishes where you use your hand to separate the flesh from the bones...and Baba taught me that loooong back.....
This country never ceases to surprise me and so of course when I discovered this fish at our fish shop... I was elated....

How to make Bata maacher Jhal:

Bata fish-5-6 cleaned and descaled
turmeric-3 tbsp
mustard oil-about 1/3cup
ground mustard-2 tbsp
nigella-1 tsp
tomatoes-1/2 of a large tomato diced
boris(optional)-a handful fired and kept aside
green chillies- 2 slit

Marinate the fishes with salt and turmeric.
Next fry the fishes in mustard oil until both the sides are browned.
Remove the fishes and drain the excess oil.
In the remaining oil sizzle the chillies and the nigella.
Add turmeric and tomato pieces and mustard paste. When the tomato softens add 1 cup of water.
Let the gravy come ot rolling boil.
Add the fishes and season with salt.
Cover and cook for 5-6 minutes in medium heat. let the gravy dry up a bit.
Add the boris and serve with white rice.... Love it..!

Monday, June 29, 2009


I remember , whenever we went out for dinners, baba and me would order soups and I wanted only Chicken Sweetcorn soup! I was totally in love with it and it was such a tasty appetizer......healthy yet incredibly tasty. I loved the boiled chicken pieces, the sweet corns and the egg white....
Since then, soups have been a hot favorite.So when C was craving for a hot and sour soup I decided to give it a try at home.... and it turned out fine...

What you need:

chicken stock:1 cup (I used 1 bullion dissolved in 1cup water)
sweetcorn, baby carrot, broccoli, beans- chopped fine 1 cup
chicken-2 tender breast pieces
chinese egg noodles- half of a packet boiled and kept aside
ginger -1 tsp fine paste
pearl onions-2 diced
thai chilli sauce-4-5 tsp
vinegar-1 tsp
soy sauce-1tsp
white oil -2 tbsp
lime juice-2-5 tsp

Boil the vegetables and keep them aside. Do not overcook them.
Cut out small chicken strips or the way you would like in your soup.
Season with salt and pepper.Fry in medium heat with white oil with the onions and the ginger.
Now in a saucepan , add the chicken stock and 3 more cups of water. Add salt according to taste.
Once the stock comes to a boil add the vegetables and chicken.
Next add the sauces and the vinegar.
Just before removing from heat, add the noodles.
Sprinkle lime juice and serve hot.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Shimai er payesh... or Vermicelli milk pudding

Birthdays always bring back fond memories of home.The nostalgia sets in big time and my mind flies back home. There were no elaborate parties but the food was always there...sumptuous and made with a whole lot of love .
And payesh is one such thing which is definitely my mother's birthday specialties.
Back home we made this traditional Bengali pudding/kheer with rice. But at in-laws place Shimai is preferred instead of rice. And over the last two years I too have grown to love this sweet delicacy.I love to see C's face lighting up when he sees his bowl of payesh.

What you need:

milk (full cream!) -1 lt
gur-1 cup crumbled
chopped cashew-a handful
shimai/vermicelli-1/3 cup
oil/ghee-2 tbsp
sugar-2 tsp

In a saucepan start boiling the milk at low temperature. Careful not to scald the milk at the bottom. This is a long process as the heat is low medium.
Meanwhile add ghee /oil to another pan and lightly fry the shimai until they turn deep brown.
When the milk has reduced to half add the shimai and keep stirring.
When you think it is the desired consistency add the sugar.
Next add the gur/jaggery and let it dissolve into the milk and watch the as the color turns a rich chocolaty brown. Add the gur according to taste... depending on how sweet you want your payesh.And the sugar is added before the gur so that the milk does not curdle even if the gur has some impurities in it.
Remove from heat and add the chopped cashews.
Cool and serve.

So long..... enjoy your payesh... and day dream about home.....!:)

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Lau chingri.....and a rainy afternoon

Well no ... not rainy exactly.... but cloudy certainly and very depressingly gloomy....
I was debating whether to have lunch or just have anything that was in the fridge.I usually refrain from keeping cooked food for more than 2 days.(C does not like it) and so usually you will not find anything very edible stored in the fridge other than milk, sauces, jams and raw vegetables.
So very stealthily I opened the fridge praying to find something and there it was..... no no... to be more precise... there was 'nothing'.. readily eatable.... (Poor me!sob!)...
But by then my hunger pangs had grown severe and I decided to cook something that would take me less than 20 minutes.
I fished out a gourd ( half of which we have had two days back) and found a quarter pound of kucho chingri (small shrimps) in the deep freezer.
So there it was Lau Chingri... a very traditional bengali recipe and very light and healthy.
You can spice this up with coconut shavings and boiled bengal gram lentil.... but without these condiments too this dish is simply delectable.


Bottle gourd: half of a medum sized one peeled , washed and chopped finely
Shrimp: 1/4 lb
Mustard seeds:1/2 tsp
Panch foron:1/2 tsp
light coconut milk:5 tbsp
ginger paste:1 tbsp
dry red chilli:2-3
coriander leaves:a hanful
oil:4 tbsp

Heat 3 tbsp of oil in a pan and lightly saute the shrimp with a pinch of salt.
Set them aside.
Now heat the remaining oil and sizzle the mustard seeds, chiilies and the panch foron.
Add the bottle gourd. Add a pinch of salt and stir.
Now cover the pan ,put the heat on medium and let the gourd cook in its own juices for 7-8 minutes.
When the gourd is soft add the ginger paste and stir again.
Add the shrimps now with the cocnut milk and cover and cook for 2 more minutes.
Now remove the cover and add salt and sugar according to taste.Note that the coconut milk should dry up before you remove form heat.
Add the coriander and serve hot with white rice...YUM!

P.S. Paanch foron is a Bengali spice mix comprising of paanch or 5 spices. This is mainly used for tempering or foron. It comprises of whole
4. Mustard (black)
5. Cumin

Monday, June 8, 2009

Jamai Shoshthi Menu: part 2...ilish bhape/steam ilish

I know I am pathetically late with my recipe and there is no plausible excuse....God ! I am such a lazy slob....
And to make up for that here is my recipe for Ilish bhape that I made for Jamai Shoshthi.
This a traditional bengali recipe originally from East Bengal and no body makes this better than the bengalis. It is a delicately prepared dish and quite hot because of the mustard sauce and mustard oil. But if you like fresh water fish and fish bones do not bother you ...you will love this.
So happy steaming Ilish....

How to steam the Ilish:

ilish -cleaned and cut into pieces (about 8-10)
mustard seeds-1/2 cup
green chillies-2 slit and 2 ground to a paste with the mustard
mustard oil-5 tbsp
yogurt-1 tbsp
coconut-a handful

Rub the fish pieces with turmeric and salt and keep aside for 1-2 hours.
Soak the mustard seeds in water and grind them into a fine paste with a pinch of mustard oil, green chillies and little salt. Now if you dry grind the mustard seeds in a coffee grinder, be careful. This may turn out to be a little bitter.Alternatively you can use ready made mustard powder.
But the authentic taste comes only from freshly ground mustard seeds with little salt, green chillies and turmeric.If you are using yogurt mix it with the mustard paste.
Now lightly brush the inside of an aluminum or steel container with the mustard oil.
Place the fish pieces inside.Lightly fold in the mustard paste.
Drizzle the rest of the mustard oil on the fish pieces. Sprinkle the coconut over the fish with the slit green chillies.
Next comes the steaming part.
If you have a lid to the steel container (which contains the fish) you can put it on or you can leave it open.
Place this container in the pressure cooker and put in water just enough to cover the bottom of the cooker.
Be careful so that when you steam the water does not come inside the fish container (specially if you are using an open container).
Now put on the pressure cooker on medium high and cook until 2-3 whistles.
Put off the gas and let the cooker cool. Take out fish container carefully (it is awfully hot!) and cool it under water(if you are in a hurry!). If you have used an open vessel then just scoop out the fish and the mustard sauce and serve with hot white rice.
Oh....! The GREAT ILISH...!

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Jamai Shoshthi Menu: part 1...Cholaar Dal & Alu posto

I will be writing the recipes in batches .So here I am with the recipe of Cholaar Dal and Alu Posto.
These two are integral parts of traditional bengali cuisine and very healthy too. My mother-in-law makes great posto dishes and after I got married I was really hooked on to them.
Back at home Ma's alu jhinge posto (potato and ridge gourd curry in poppy seed paste) and dim posto (eggs in poppy seed paste) are favourites.
But C is the die hard fan of Alu posto and so Alu posto it was... for Jamai Shoshthi.
And Cholaar Dal was a universal choice .

For the Dal:

split yellow grams-1 and 1/2 cup
coconut -chopped into small square pieces
ginger paste-1 tbsp
tomato-1 medium diced
dry red chilli- 1 dry roasted(optional)
whole garam masala-two cloves, two green cardamom, small cinammon roll dry roasted and crushed coarsely)
whole cumin seeds:1 tbsp
bay leaf -1
turmeric -1 tbsp
oil -3 tsp

Pressure cook the lentils with turmeric and a pinch of oil.
Heat the oil and sizzle the cumin seeds and the bay leaf.
Add the chilli and the dry roasted spice.
Next add the ginger and the toamtoes.
Add the coconut and fry until the spice is done and the coconit pieces are browned.
Add this mix to the lentil and adjust the seasoning and consistency.
Put on simmer for a couple of minutes and its ready to be served.

We like our Dal a little sweet .... so add sugar accordingly.

For the Alu posto:

potatoes- 3 medium diced
poppy seed paste- 5 heaped tbsp
green chillies-4-5 slit
kalajeera or black onion seeds-1/2 tsp
mustard oil :1 tsp
white oil:4 tbsp

Heat the white oil and lightly fry the potato pieces.
Add the onion seeds and the poppy seed paste.
Stir until the potatoes are coated with the posto.
When the posto is fried, add water (around 1/2 cup).
Add salt and the chillies and cover until the potatoes are cooked.The water should also dry up.
Just before taking off the heat add the mustard oil.
Serve hot.