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Saturday, July 27, 2013

Chili pork with Bamboo shoots

Pork bhorta is a very popular dish from where I hail from. The indigenous people of Tripura have visibly influenced the kitchen of the Bengali population residing there. Bamboo shoots is another such influence. My in-laws love the Thai Red Curry I make, maybe because I love to eat it myself.  The bamboo shoots enthuse a delightful flavor in the gravy, accompanied with shrimp or chicken and vegetables of your choice - it can well be your ticket to all round nutrition in one dish.

In US, I have used only canned bamboo so far. They are less hassle- already softened in brine. This time, I am going to experiment with frozen bamboo, and if this goes well I'll graduate to fresh bamboo (available in most Asian grocery stores). Tip: You have to boil fresh bamboo with salt and water.

Preparation :
  1. Boil pork in a pressure cooker with salt. Drain the water. Cool and cut into strips
  2. Microwave or boil the bamboo shoots if using fresh bamboo. Dice them to bite sized pieces. Drain the brine and wash the excess salt if you are using canned ones.
  3. Ground coriander seeds and Chinese peppercorn in a coffee grinder. (You may use spices of your choice)
  4. Thinly slice white onions, green onions. Mince garlic and Thai chilies.
  1. In a wok, heat oil over medium-heat. Add the onions, minced garlic and Thai chilies.
  2. Add the coriander-peppercorn powder.  Saute well.
  3. You may use soy sauce and chili bean paste if you like the fermented  flavor.
  4. Add the pork/meat of your choice and the bamboo.
  5. Cook till the oil separates, add the green onions.
You may also like Braised bamboo with pork

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Ilish Paturi (Hilsha fish steamed in plantain leaves)

Ilish paturi

I found some frozen plantain/Banana leaves at Ranch 99, my go-to place for fresh fish. This encouraged me to try fish paturi. I saw a video on YouTube (Pancha Byanjan) where the chef used sliced onions, coconut flakes and mustard seed paste- both white and black for the paturi. I made it the following way.
  1. Since the Ilish we get in the West Coast of US  is not as fresh  (read: frozen) as we get in the East Coast of India, I decided to shallow fry the fish  first with Nigella seeds, sliced onions, salt, turmeric and slit green chilies in mustard oil. (You can skip this and just steam the ingredients together if you have access to fresh Ilish.)
  2. Make a paste with black mustard. Add water in small portions if the paste is too thick to move inside the food processor.
  3. Then, I wrapped the fish in plantain leaves and steamed the in a steamer with lid on until done you can use kitchen twine or toothpick to seal the leaves). I noted the color of the leaves, when they turned pale, I switched off the flame. The steam continued cooking the fish.
Tip: The frozen leaves can be more brittle than usual, you may wash them under running cold water and microwave them for 30 secs to soften them. You may use Aluminium foil too, but the leaves impart a distinct flavor.

You can also use cauliflower , whitebait, pomfret, prawns or fish of your choice for the paturi . There is a similar Kerala Delicacy called Meen Pollichathu. 

Friday, July 19, 2013

Dhokar Dalna (lentil cake in gravy)

I followed MIL's recipe here. Even took a quick dictation over the phone and made some notes. This recipe requires time owing to several steps. You can consume the lenntil cakes like daaler bora.

For the lentil cakes
  1. Wash well and soak Chana dal (Bengalis use Motor dal/  Yellow Split peas)
  2. Grind green chilies, ginger, salt, sugar, a clove or two of garlic (for the smell of dal), pinch of hing (asafoetida) and the soaked dal.
  3. In a non-stick pan, add a little oil and cumin seeds then stir in the dal paste in low flame. When the dal paste rolls up in the heat, spread it on an oiled plate. Pat into a convenient thickness.
  4. Cut into desired shapes. Fry them and drain on paper towels.

For the gravy
  1. Dice onions, garlic, ginger, tomatoes. Fry them in oil. Add yogurt.
  2. Dice potatoes into small sized bits, add to the mix. 
  3. When the potatoes are about done, add water.
  4. Add the lentil cakes. The cakes soak in water pretty quickly. Be careful not to overcook them
  5. Add ghee and garam masala.
A variation can be made with posto-shorshe (poppy and mustard seeds ). Bengali vegetarian version skips the onion and garlic, and uses cumin- bay leaves for the gravy. Ruma Joshi suggested a variation with besan (chickpea flour). Shreya said you can buy the dal mix at Indian groceries. Modify the recipe to suit your convenience.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Lau Moong

Sabji recipe

  1. Roast moong dal in a dutch oven on medium low heat while stirring frequently. Don't brown them. When it gives out a nutty aroma, wash it under running water until the water runs clear. Keep it aside
  2. In the same vessel, add oil, cumin seeds, broken red chillies, bay leaves and julienned lau (bottle gourd). Best if you microwave the lau for 3 minutes. You can save cooking time.
  3. Add matchstick ginger, salt and turmeric. Some people add sugar to this dish.  This needs no extra water to cook.
  4. Add the roasted moong. It will cook through with the lau. You may add vadi here.
  5. When the cooking is almost done add chopped cilantro and ghee (depending on your tolerance)
Non vegetarian alternative: Lau Chingri (Bottle gourd with shrimp)

Dal recipe

  1. For this, you need to cut the lau differently- dice them instead of julienning them.
  2. Roast and wash the moong in  a pressure cooker and boil  with water, turmeric and salt  for a few minutes until the cooker starts giving off steam. 
  3. In  a different pan (for tempering), add cumin seeds, broken red chillies and the lau for a few minutes (you may boil the lau with the moong dal for a healthier option). Add to the boiled dal and cook with the lid off for a few minutes on low heat while stirring in between to avoid lumps. Check for consistency and salt etc.
  4. Freshly chopped cilantro is a common garnish for this recipe.

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Grilled Paneer Sandwich

For Ruma
  1. I used leftover matar-paneer in this recipe. You can use fresh paneer too. Toss paneer (cut into cubes) in olive oil with diced onions, salt and cumin seeds. Then use a food processor to grate the mix.
  2. You can add mayo/ketchup, cracked pepper and stuff the bread grilled in a panini maker.

Squash blossom fritters (kumro phool bhaja)

  1. Cut the stem of the flowers. Wash and drain. (Dad says it is best to clean them with a wet cloth. I am finicky. I wash my mushrooms too. Mom suggested inserting one flower inside another before dipping in batter to make fritters of a convenient thickness.)
  2. Make a batter with 1/2 cup besan (chickpea flour), 1/4 cup rice powder (I ground some rice in a coffee grinder- the 3 secs' worth of effort is for extra crispiness), salt, turmeric, kalo jeere (nigella seeds), sugar (optional).
  3. Coat the flowers and fry in cooking oil. Some like it deep-fried, some use a non-stick with only a little oil and fry them on both sides. (You can also stuff them with ricotta and then bake them).
  4. Remember to drain extra oil in paper towel. Serve as fritters with chaat masala or with masoor daal and rice as starters to a meal. I also made lau-moong and fish for Sunday lunch.

I got a tip from Sampa Di that these taste good with ground masoor (red lentil) batter too.

Sunday, July 7, 2013

Arugula lettuce salad with pork chop in tarragon butter

For the salad :
Get arugula and lettuce mix , add halved cherry tomatoes and dressing of your choice.

For the pork chop :
  1. Marinate pork chops in vinegar overnight. [ Tip: When you are confused with what to marinate your meat, remembering the following components will help- Salt (I use soy sauce or garlic salt for steaks); acid(I use freshly squeezed lime juice or  white vinegar); aromatics (like ginger, garlic, herbs, and ground spices) and oil (depending on the cuisine).]
  2. Mince garlic and green chilis. Crush peppercorns.  Mince tarragon. Rub the ingredients and salt to taste and a bit of butter in the center of a square  Aluminium foil. seal in tight so that no juices escape.  Use as many foils as many chops you will be cooking. (You can choose to drain /wash the vinegar off. Then  you will need to dab the meat with paper towels to remove any water)
  3. Heat a conventional oven to 350 F and slip in  the foil packets for 20 mins. Switch off the heat and let it stay for 5 mins. Enjoy with the salad.

Friday, July 5, 2013

Baby potatoes with herbs and spices

  1. Wash the potatoes well. No need to take skin off. Microwave about 3 mins in water. Drain.
  2.  Heat olive oil in a wok. Add cumin seeds and 2-3 broken red chillies. Add the potatoes, salt, turmeric, some ground spices like peppercorn, cardamom, cloves. 
  3.  Add diced tomatoes, asafoetida (hing). Add a cup of hot water. Cover and cook on low heat. 
  4.  Add sour cream, kasuri methi and stir. The potatoes should be cooked through.