Wednesday, July 29, 2009

A lovely little treat----- Chococlate cream cheese filled mini tarts

One of my favorite passions have always been baking. I have always loved baked goodies and if they are sweet .... ooh!! Lovely!
The cakes and pastries in this country are a little different from what we have back home. I hardly see any layered pastries (and by pastries I mean the sweet creamy small cakes which are sold by piece at shops like Monginis or Cookie Jar or Flury's).Here I find either the cakes are fruity ( that I get at Starbucks) or the scones and muffins which are not really what I crave for.
These mini tarts are not too sweet and and i just baked them last afternoon when I suddenly remembered the most delicious boat-shaped pastries that Baba would buy us from Flury's.It has a boat shaped bottom which is the crust and it is just like biscuit and tastes kind of crumbly and the filling is the most divine chocolate and mocha cream.....
Any ways my mini tarts are just a crude version of those pastries but they taste just as good! Just give them a try!
I used a filling of chocolate and cream cheese.... if you are not in a mood for chocolate just use any of your favorite jams or jellies or any other filling that you have in mind.

What you need:

For the mini tarts:
Flour-1 and 1/2 cup
butter (cold)-2 sticks
ice cold water
salt-a pinch
sugar-4 tbsp

For the filling:
chocolate chips or any bar of -one small packet
cream cheese-1/2 cup softened at room temperature

Take a fork and mix together the salt , sugar and the flour.
Now take the cold butter and with the fork just fold it in so that the mixture is crumbly. it should not form a dough. Wrap it in a plastic wrap and chill in refrigerator for 45 minutes.
Next take ice cold water and bring the flour mixture to a soft dough.
Take the dough on a floured surface and roll it out flat with a rolling pin.Do not roll out too thin.
Next take a pastry cutter or any round object with sharp edges and cut out small round sections.
Place them on greased pastry liners and fit them inside your muffin pan.
Chill them again for 15 minutes.
Meanwhile in a pan soften the chocolate chips and the cream cheese.
Do not make the filling too runny.
Bring the filling to room temperature.
Take out the small tarts and spoon in the filling. Chill again for 15 minutes.
Next bake in the oven for 30-40 minutes until the crust turns golden brown and crunchy.
Serve hot with a dollop of cold vanilla ice cream!

Monday, July 27, 2009

A ruby red jam and a hearty breakfast

Breakfasts are the first meals of the day and when it is weekend , they have to be hearty and delicious.
I am not a big egg fan... I cannot just cook 5 eggs in the morning and serve them... we both find them too heavy ..... they are better off for the later part of the day.....
So how to make the breakfasts special?.... No poached eggs, no scrambled eggs, C is not very fond of pancakes either...
And then I decided ....Why not give home made jam a try? That would be special..!
C always likes long lazy breakfasts especially on Sunday mornings when he can wake up late and sit at the table with his morning tea for hours and talk to me and twiddle with the his laptop at the same time. So I decided on a simple strawberry jam and warm baguette for breakfast....
The recipes I followed are here and here.
I combined the two for a yummy jam.....

What you need:
fresh strawberries-1 lb
sugar-17-20 tbsp
lemon zest-2 tsp
lemon juice-6 tbsp
orange juice-2 tbsp

Wash the strawberries and hull them .
I quartered all the big berries and halved the smaller ones.
Now in a deep heavy bottomed saucepan,add the lemon juice and the zest.
Put the flame on medium low.
When the juice starts boiling add the strawberries.
Cook for 4-5 minutes until the strawberries soften and start releasing their juices.
Add the sugar slowly stirring each time.
Add the orange juice.
Now let the mix cook for 25- 30 minutes at low medium heat.
Skim off any foam that forms on top.
Pour in a glass bowl and let it cool.
When it has cooled, cover and store in refrigerator for 1-2 weeks.
We enjoyed ours on warm oven roasted baguette..:)

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Kacha aamer chutney or raw mango chutney

My mother loves this.She calls it Kacha aam er jhol or just a very light sweet and sour concoction with raw mango and sugar.Chutney is the thicker counterpart..... just reducing the juice over low heat....
Anyways this a summer favorite back at my place and every day a bowl of chutney is prepared and devoured straight from the refrigerator. It is cool, sweet and really really refreshing!
Over here surprisingly in our Indian grocery store we always find a basket full of wonderfully fragrant green raw mangoes. I eye them and I think ...Gosh! How badly I miss the aamer chutney from home!My mother makes great chutney..... if there is family dinner or lunch she makes sure that her chutney is perfect...
Now chutney at our place is not like the conventional pickle kind of thing that is available in jars. Rather for bengalis chutney is a sweet and tangy savory concoction that is served at the end of a heavy meal to freshen the taste buds. It is not really dessert .... well something in between the main course and dessert can say!

How to make Aamer chutney:

raw mango-1 diced and the central seed removed (if you want you can add the pit too) Do not peel the mangoes.
salt-2 pinches
sugar-5-7 tbsp (depending on how sour the mangoes are)
panch foron-a pinch
white oil-1 tbsp
water- 2 cups

Heat oil in a pan and sizzle the panch foron.
Next add the mangoes and the salt.
Cook in medium heat , covered, for a minute or two.
Next add the water and cook covered until the mango pieces soften and the juice starts coming out.
If you want a thicker chutney , just simmer uncovered on low heat until you get the desired consistency.
Add the sugar when you think the mangoes are already soft and done.
Stir and remove from heat.
Pour in a porcelain or glass serving bowl.(avoid steel)
Chill in the refrigerator and serve just after lunch on the same plate and SLURP!!

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Kosha mangsho or Bengali Goat curry....

As I am writing this post... I am thinking how soon I can coax C to get the fresh goat again (not a live goat.. silly! just the meat)... umm... C does not need much coaxing though.....
We get fresh goat meat from the nearby Indian store.... and who can resist the lure of kochi patha r jhol on a leisurely Sunday mornings!:)
I decided on this particular recipe...since I was not in the mood for jhol.... Kosha Mangsho is a slightly richer version but hey! I love to indulge once in a while!
The way I chose to cook this meat was the slow cooking process.... it is long and painstaking but totally worth it!

I have had this dish a million times both at home and outside... but still I cannot seem to get enough of it! Baba would get the freshest and tenderest goat meat and Ma would cook this with all the personal touches and the air would be filled with the aroma of the spices and the stew....Oh! those sunday lunches would be such a treat! Just hot steaming rice and mutton .... and nothing in this whole wide world can match that!

What you need:

fresh mutton- ~ 1 lb
red onions- 1 small made into a paste and 3 large chopped fine
ginger-2 tbsp
garlic paste-2 tbsp
potatoes-3 large quartered
yogurt-3 tbsp
2 red chillies+2 green cardamom+4cloves+1 stick cinnamon+1 black cardamom+1/2 tbsp cumin- dry roasted and coarsely ground
tomatoes-2 medium sized diced
coriander powder-1 tsp
cumin seeds-1 tsp
mustard oil-around 1/4 cup
turmeric-2 tsp
bay leaf- 1
green chillies- 2-3 slit
coriander leaves-a handful

Clean the mutton pieces and marinate with 1 tsp ginger paste, 1 tsp garlic paste ,the onion paste and turmeric for at least 2-3 hours.
Heat oil in a pressure cooker and lightly fry the potatoes. Set them aside.
Now in the remaining oil sizzle the cumin seeds, green chillies and the bay leaf.
Next add the onions and the remaining ginger garlic paste with a pinch of sugar.
Put the heat on medium and fry the onions until they just start caramelizing. This will take around 10-15 minutes depending on the strength of your gas flame.
Start adding the mutton pieces one by one making sure to coat them evenly with the onions.
After all the pieces have been added , add the dry spice powder , give them a quick stir, add some salt and cover with the lid.( just cover with any lid do not pressure cook).Put the heat on low medium.All the juices from the onion will come out and the mutton will cook in that. DO NOT ADD ANY WATER.
Let the mutton cook on low heat.
Keep an eye on the pot. Stir every 4-5 minutes.After around 20 minutes add the tomatoes.The tomatoes will further release water. Cover and continue cooking.
After 10-15 minutes when all the water from the gravy starts drying up, mix the coriander powder in the yogurt and add to the cooker. Stir , cover and cook for another 15-20 minutes.
After around 55-60 minutes you will notice that all the onions and tomatoes have melted into a gravy and the mutton is around 2/3 cooked.
If you find there is enough water from the tomatoes and yogurt already in the cooker do not add water .But if it is too dry, just sprinkle enough water, add the potatoes and pressure cook for 3 quick cities.
Put off the gas, let the cooker sit for another 10 minutes and then open.
Add the coriander and get ready for the yummiest lunch /dinner ever!

P.S. You can replace mustard oil with white/canola oil but the heat from the mustard oil gives the real kick to the curry.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Of Parfaits and summers!

Now that summer is here.... and with the heat and sun and long afternoons ,I decided to whip up a cool treat for C. It had to be healthy and tasty and of course cold. And so I decided on a fruit parfait... well mine was slightly different since I was not using granola. I had some very colorful fruits and some vanilla yogurt... and so parfait it was!

It was so scrumptious and cold and full of flavors !

What you need:

ripe papaya-1/4 cup diced
banana-1/2 of ripe one sliced
apples-1/4 cup diced
grapes-halved and de seeded
cashews- 1/2 cup chopped
vanilla yogurt- 1 and 1/2 cup (depending on the size of serving cups)
sugar-1/2 tsp
lime juice-2 tbsp
whipped cream can

Dice the fruits into small bite size pieces and toss them with the lime juice and sugar.
Alternatively you can also use honey.
Whip the yogurt smooth and add the chopped cashews.
Take the serving glass and start layering alternating the fruits and yogurt.
Top it off with whipped cream...ooohhhh lala!LOVELY!

Monday, July 6, 2009

Topshe Maach bhaja...or crunchy Topshe Fry

This is a personal favorite and every time I am home I make sure Bhalomashi (my maternal aunt) cooks this for us. A simple fish dish and really easy to make... that is if the fish is available.
Topshe is a typical sweet water fish with a central bone . The flesh is chunky and cooks very easily. There is not much kaanta or bones and so quite easy to manage.
And Topshe maach bhaja is a traditional Bengali way of preparing this fish. I have had this fish only this way.... deep fried and served hot and crispy..

Prepararion of the fish:

topshe fish- 5-6 cleaned and descaled
turmeric-3-4 tbsp
onion-ginger paste-4 tbsp
chickpea flour batter-5tbsp dissolved in water without any lumps (note that the batter should not be watery)
oil to deep fry

Rub the fishes with turmeric, onion-ginger paste and salt and keep them aside for an hour before serving.
Make the batter and keep it aside.
Heat oil in a pan .
When the oil is smoking, dip the fishes in the batter, coat evenly and fry to a golden brown on both sides.
Serve piping hot and.... Enjoy!

Friday, July 3, 2009

Bora r jhal or Lentil Dumpling curry

the dumplings cooking in gravy
Borar Jhal and pea rice
These days I am so much into vegetarian food. I am amazed just how delicious the veggies are without any onion paste or garlic or any other masala paste...Lovely.... isn't it? And healthy too...
The first real taste of authentic vegetarian food ... ie., without any onion or garlic was from Dimma 's (grandmother) kitchen.She was an amazingly talented woman. She sewed the prettiest of table cloths and pillow cases, made the most adorable dolls, embroidered the lovliest designs on bedcovers and knitted the best fitting sweaters during winters. And ...when she cooked..... oh! I have never quite tasted vegetarian food ..the kind she simple yet the best tasting ever.... it was her Hather gun.....I guess....the amazing paturis, cutlets, chochhoris, chenchkis... they just tasted so delicious when she cooked them...
So this humble blog post of is my way of remembering her....

How to make Borar Jhal:

For the dumplings:
matar dal (split pea lentil)- soaked overnight and made into a fine paste ~ 1 cup (the paste must not be runny)
cumin seeds - 1/2 tsp
oil for frying

For the gravy:
potato- 2 medium sized ones diced
tomato- one large roughly chopped
ginger paste-1 tbsp
cumin seeds-1 tsp
bay leaf-1
garam masala powder-1 tsp
coriander leaves-a handful
green chillies- 3-4 slit
ghee-1/2 tsp

Grind the lentil to a fine paste with salt .Add the cumin seeds. Now heat oil in a fry pan and add one tbsp of the lentil paste to the smoking oil. Fry to golden brown. (Be careful not to make the paste too watery.) Continue frying the dumplings.
Remove and drain the extra oil.
In the remaining oil add the potatoes and lightly fry them.Remove and drain the oil.
Next add the chillies, sugar(a pinch ),cumin seeds and the bay leaf and let them sizzle.
Add the ginger and tomatoes and turmeric. Lower the heat , add a little salt and let the tomatoes soften.
Now add a cup of water, cover and cook until the potaotes are done.
Carefully spoon in the elntil dumplings in the simmering gravy so that they are soaked.
Season with salt and add garam masala. Add the coriander.
Let the dumplings cook in the gravy for a minute or two.
Just before removing from heat stir in a the ghee.
Note that the lentil dumplings soak up all the gravy. So add more water if you want a little jhol(gravy).

Serve hot with pea rice or just white rice or just take it in a bowl and enjoy...just like that!:)