Tok Jhal Begun Aloo/Tangy & Spicy Aubergine & Potato Curry

Aubergine or Eggplant is the sort of vegetables which I like in any form and perhaps in any of vegetarian curries.  However the story does not exactly hold true for my husband which always prompts me to prepare it in different ways. The current recipe is my latest experiment with aubergine which comes out quite successful and adds flavour to the otherwise hackneyed dishes and to my husbands tongue as well. Hope you all will enjoy it.

Tok Jhal Begun Aloo/Tangy & Spicy Aubergine and Potato Curry

Tok Jhal Begun Aloo/Tangy & Spicy Aubergine and Potato Curry

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Chicken Bharta

Chicken Bharta is perhaps not the most common chicken preparation, you find at random. ‘Bharta‘ means minced or mashed which can be made out of any vegetables and as a matter of fact, of chicken as well. As the name suggests, you did not find a single good piece of chicken which is mashed well and made into a curry. What I like about the recipe is the flavour of kasoori methi. In fact the whole recipe is not entirely different from the usual chicken curry, save the additional use of butter and cream at the end. I heard about this dish quite a few times, but did not find a suitable recipe till I came across the one at you tube. It follows the instructions from the chef of one of the most well known restaurants in Kolkata which I share with you. Have fun.

Chicken Bharta

Chicken Bharta

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Echorer dalna or Green Jackfruit Curry : On the Occasion of 1st Blog Anniversary

On 3rd of March my blog turned 1 year old. Time whisked away so fast that I hardly realised it has been one year since I started. Many a time I thought that I might not revive this blog due to my lack of patience and fickle mindedness. Though I love to cook and experiment by making different dishes, often I run into a low enthusiasm to write about them. You might have noticed this from the irregularity of my posts. But inspite of all my flaws, continuous support and encouragement from my husband, friends and co-bloggers provided me the strength to continue over the last one year. I perhaps could give them nothing but a bunch of sincere thanks and love from the bottom of my heart. I always fancy your supports and blessings. I hope I could continue my journey to reveal most of the Bengali dishes to the world and at the same time enriching myself to learn and share many other cuisines 🙂

First Blog Anniversary

First Blog Anniversary

Today, to celebrate my blog-anniversary I share with you an age old traditional Bengali vegetarian dish, known as “Enchorer dalna”, a Green jackfruit curry. I assume that ripe jackfruit is quite a well known tropical fruit, compared to its predecessor, the green jackfruit. However we Bengalis can make a delicious curry out of the latter which is even regarded as the “vegeterian meat”.

Thanks again for your kind support which I hope to get in the coming days as well. A very happy holi in advance to all of you and your family.

Echorer Dalna or Green Jackfruit Curry

Echorer Dalna or Green Jackfruit Curry

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Chingrir Batichachchori (‘Dam’ cooked Prawn with Potato & Onion)

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Chingrir Batichachchori or Prawn cooked in ‘dam’ with slices of potato and onion, perhaps happens to be the simplest recipe of prawn I ever knew of. I grew up in a joint family of 11 members and thus came across different recipes from my mother, grandmother and aunts as well. This one is one of my favourite dishes cooked by my aunt. She is an excellent cook and leaves mark on her every single recipe. Do try this super easy and delicious prawn dish which can be prepared at the blink of your eye.

Chingrir batichachchori

Chingrir batichachchori

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Bandhakopir Tarkari or Dry Cabbage Curry

While in Europe, I found the usage of cabbage mostly in salad. However in India, as we love to make curry out of any possible vegetables, cabbage curry is a well-known vegetarian dish itself. Cabbage is a seasonal vegetable in the tropics, largely available during winter. Cabbage  known as Bandhakopi in the East, otherwise Pattagobi across the India can be turned into a smashing spicy curry if cooked by experienced hands. Mind that it sometimes can take a hell lot of time to get cooked, so you have to have your share of patience for an Indian cabbage curry.

Bandhakopir Tarkari or Dry Cabbage Curry

Bandhakopir Tarkari or Dry Cabbage Curry

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Mutton Chanb

“Mutton Chanb” is one of the most lucrative Mughlai foods, I have ever came across with. Perhaps I mentioned earlier that Kolkatans are crazy about Mughlai cuisine and one can find a number of traditional mughlai restaurants over the city. Whenever I get into any of these restaurants, the order is not complete without the famous “Mutton Chanb”. This dish is prepared with goat ribs cooked slowly with various spices, however I used lamb ribs here. The essence of Rose and Kewra water adds an exquisite aroma in the food which spreads all over and everyone knows that you are preparing something very special. In fact it is a rich preparation and not a-everyday-dish which you can make once in a while for some special occasion.

Mutton Chanb

Mutton Chanb

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Peyaj Posto or Onion with Poppy seed paste

In one of my earlier posts Biulir dal o Jhinge Aloo posto, I shared with you just one of the many vegetarian dishes made withpoppy seed paste or ‘posto’. This time, I introduce a very simple recipe ofposto with sliced onion known as ‘Peyajposto’. If you do not know already about my eternal adoration for ‘posto’ dishes, please be ready to hit up on by many of them in coming days. Coming back to ‘peyajposto’, you hardly need anything except its two key ingredients, onion andpoppy seed. Whatever effort you put into making thepoppy seed paste is worthy, given the super delicious taste of the final curry. It is a very quick recipe as well. I am so fond of it that I can eat a bowl full of rice just with a pinch of it.

Peyaj Posto/Onion with Poppy seed paste

Peyaj Posto/Onion with Poppy seed paste

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Dudh Dim or Egg in Milky Gravy

My husband has an undying love for egg which propels me to carry out different experiments. Whenever I found an interesting recipe with egg, I pinned it in my ‘to do’ list. “Dudh Dim” is one such dish where fried eggs are immersed in milky gravy. The combination of egg with milk was completely new to me which I found in Andy’s Kitchen of acbistro. Andy has a lovely blog full of tempting foods and wonderful photographs, of which I am a big fan. Coming back to ‘Dudh Dim’, it is a very light preparation and if you do not like the spicy egg curry, it should be your call. As you can see below, the half eggs floating on the gravy looks very nice. Enjoy it preferably with rice.

Dudh Dim or Egg in Milky Gravy

Dudh Dim or Egg in Milky Gravy

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Murgir Jhol – Bengali style Chicken Curry

“Murgir Jhol” is quite a common dish in Bengali households that features often in Sunday lunch menu. This preparation contains light runny gravy or ‘jhol’ in which chicken and potatoes are immersed. Using big pieces of potatoes in meat curries is a signature for Bengalis which is not seen elsewhere. While going through the posts in my blog, I suddenly discover that till date even if I shared various recipes of chicken, missed this simplest one. Since my childhood, I saw my mother to prepare this curry which I follow blindly. So here comes the recipe of Bengali “Murgir Jhol” taken from my mother’s cook book. Enjoy 🙂

Murgir Jhol or Bengali style Chicken curry

Murgir Jhol or Bengali style Chicken curry

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Kadai Mushroom

Mushrooms are not the kind of food that I grew with. I can still remember that years back while I was in school,  once my mother prepared a dish with mushroom. Back then as a student I knew it well that mushrooms hail from fungi family, so couldn’t enjoy the dish wholeheartedly.

After coming to Europe, I found mushrooms are quite common as a food and used in various vegetarian and non-vegeterian items. However, I never bought them as I didn’t know how to cook. Then once I happened to taste it at one of my neighbour’s place. She cooked it so well that I immediately fell into love with it and decided to try it myself. Now mushrooms feature quite often in our diet. Gradually I also came to know the health benefits of this low-calorie and low-fat vegetable.

At the beginning while looking for a good recipe with mushrooms I came across with the one called “Kadai Mushroom”. In fact a number of “Kadai Mushroom” recipes are available in youtube, among which I chose that of Nisha Madhulika.  This onion and garlic less recipe reminded me of the authentic Bengali vegetarian dishes which was the main reason to select this recipe. Nonetheless to mention that the end product was immensely satisfactory. Now I often prepare this dish when vegetarian guests visit our place. So give it a try, I bet you will like it. 🙂

Kadai Mushroom

Kadai Mushroom

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Seem Paturi/Broad beans with coconut

Broad beans or “Seem” (in Bengali) are mostly available in winter and used in various dishes. To be very honest, I am not a big fan of it, so do not use it often. But the recipe I share with you today is a slightly different broad bean preparation which really won my heart. Long back I watched this recipe in my favourite cooking show, “Rannaghar” and added it to my “to do” list but never tried after that. Few days back, while talking with one of my friends, again I got reminded of this recipe. Without further delay, I made it in my kitchen and the outcome was mouthwatering. Just give it a try.

Seem Paturi/Broad beans with coconut

Seem Paturi/Broad beans with coconut

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Lebu Murgir Jhol/Chicken in light lemony gravy

Ideally the chicken curries are prepared with lot of spices and known for its thick gravy. However, deviating from the usual preparations of chicken, here I am sharing with you a simple recipe with lemon juice known as ‘Lebu Murgir Jhol’. The speciality of this dish is the use of lime leaves and juice in the gravy which adds a nice flavour to it. The whole preparation doesn’t require any spice and cooked in little amount of oil. Thus it is perfectly suitable for children and  for those who prefer a light chicken dish.

Generally I am fond of limes and love to have a piece of it on my plate during lunch. Adding few drops of lime in steamed hot rice along with dal/lentils, fish curry (macher jhol) or few veg curries enhances the taste twice for me. But it is quite new even for me to use lime juice and its leaves in the gravy of a chicken dish.

Ideally one should use Gandharaj lime and its leaves for this recipe. As I didn’t find that particular lime, I used Kaffir lime and its leaves. The out come was really light, flavourful and enjoyable. 🙂

Lebu Murgir Jhol/Chicken in light lemony gravy

Lebu Murgir Jhol/Chicken in light lemony gravy

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Kadhi in Punjabi Style

I was introduced to ‘Kadhi’ over an Indian party here in Utrecht. I never heard about it before. However to my surprise I found that it is quite a well known and popular preparation particularly over North and West of India.

Kadhi is a spicy dish with gravy (generally thick) made of gram flour or ‘besan’ and sour yogurt, in which tasty vegetable fritters or “pakoras” are immersed. The gravy consistency varies according to the regional preferences.

I was quite impressed by its taste and  made up my mind to give it a try at my own kitchen. I went through few recipes in youtube and decided to follow one which I am sharing with you. This is a recipe of Kadhi in Punjabi style with lot of spices and thick gravy. Traditionally fenugreek leaf pakoras are used in Punjabi kadhi. As I didn’t find it, I made an alternative one with spinach. Spinach pakoras came out really well and I realised that they can even be served as a very good tea time snacks as well. Without spending more words lets check the recipe.

Kadhi with Spinach pakora

Kadhi with Spinach pakora

Ingredients to serve 4-5 :

For Pakora/Vegetable Fritters :

  1. Chopped spinach – 1 large cup
  2. Gram flour/besan – 3-4 tbspoon (heaped)
  3. Carom seed/ajwain – 1 teaspoon
  4. Chopped onion – 1 (small)
  5. Turmeric powder – ¼ teaspoon
  6. Red chilli powder – ½ teaspoon
  7. Baking soda – 1/8 teaspoon
  8. Salt to taste
  9. Oil for frying

For Kadhi :

  1. Yogurt – 1½ cup (approx. 250 gm.)
  2. Gram flour/besan – 4 tbspoon (heaped)
  3. Lime juice – 1 tbspoon (optional)
  4. Ginger-garlic-green chilli paste – 1 tbspoon (heaped)
  5. Turmeric powder – ¼ teaspoon
  6. Red chilli powder – ½ teaspoon
  7. Salt to taste
  8. Water – 1 litter
  9. Cloves – 5-6
  10. Black peppercorn – 10 – 12
  11. Cumin seeds – 1 teaspoon
  12. Fenugreek seed – ½ teaspoon
  13. Pinch of asafoetida
  14. Chopped garlic – 1 tbspoon
  15. Dried red chilli – 3-4
  16. Sliced onion – 1 (medium)
  17. Potato (cut into small cubes) – 1 (medium)
  18. Oil – 2 tbspoon

Procedure :

For Pakora/Vegetable Fritters :

Mix all the ingredients mentioned for “pakora”, except oil, in a bowl. Add water, if needed, to make a soft mixture, don’t make it a runny one. (I hardly added any water)

Heat sufficient oil in a kadai over medium heat. Drop small portions of the spinach mixture in hot oil and fry till they turn golden brown in colour. Transfer them on paper towel to absorb excess oil and then keep aside.

Spinach pakora/dumpling

Spinach pakora/dumpling

For Kadhi :

Combine the ingredients 1-7 in a large bowl. Add little water, whisk well and make a lump-free batter. Then dilute the batter by adding the remaining water in 2 portions.

Heat oil a deep non-stick pan over medium heat. Add cloves, peppercorns, cumin seeds and fenugreek seeds, saute for a minute.

Then add asafoetida, dry red chilli and chopped ginger and saute for a while.

Then add sliced onion and fry till they get translucent.

Add cubed potato and saute for 5 minutes.

Whisk the yogurt mixture and pour to the pan.

Stir to mix and cook for 16-18 minutes on medium flame, stirring frequently so that no lumps can be formed.

Put the gas off as the potato gets cooked (it should not be mushy) and a silky shine is visible from the homogeneous mixture of yogurt and gram flour.

Kadhi

Kadhi

Place “pakora” in a serving dish and pour the hot “kadhi” on top.

Serve hot with steamed rice or roti.

Note :

  1. The yogurt I got is little sour in taste, so I added lime juice. If you get a sour yogurt then there is no need to add lime juice.
  2. The oil should be moderately hot for the pakora to get cooked through. Don’t fry them in very hot oil.
  3. Feel free to add water to the ‘kadhi’ if it seems very thick while cooking.
  4. Without following my way, you can also add the vegetable fritters/pakoras to the ‘kadhi’ at the end and cook for couple minutes more, then serve with rice or roti.
  5. The ‘kadhi’ should be cooked well, there shouldn’t be any raw flavour of gram flour.
  6. Adding potato cubes is completely optional.
  7. Thickness of ‘kadhi’ depends completely up to your choice.

Fulkopi-Alur dalna/Cauliflower & Potato curry

Cauliflower has always been my favourite winter vegetable. During my childhood I used to wait eagerly for winter to come so that I could enjoy various preparations with it. However these days, one can find cauliflower in the market throughout the year. “Fulkopi-Alur dalna” or Cauliflower and potato curry is a very common dish prepared in Bengali households. The recipe is quite simple and requires few handful ingredients. This curry is equally enjoyable with rice or roti or paratha.

FulKopi Alur Dalna or Cauliflower & Potato curry

FulKopi-Alur Dalna or Cauliflower & Potato curry

Ingredients to serve 4 :

  1. Potato (cut into medium sized cubes) – 2
  2. Cauliflower – 20-24 florets (medium size)
  3. Chopped tomato – 1 (small)
  4. Slit green chillies – 2-3
  5. Ginger paste – 1 teaspoon
  6. Cumin seeds – ½ teaspoon
  7. Whole garam masala (Cinnamon – ½” stick, Clove – 3, Green cardamom – 3)
  8. Bay leaf – 1
  9. Turmeric powder – ½ teaspoon
  10. Red chilli powder – ½ teaspoon
  11. Cumin powder – 1½ tbspoon
  12. Salt & sugar to taste
  13. Cooking oil – 4-5 tbspoon

Procedure :

Rinse the vegetables with water and keep aside.

Heat 3 tbspoon of oil in a frying pan or kadai over medium heat.

Add cauliflower florets to it and fry till they get half-cooked and light brown in colour. Add salt and ¼ teaspoon of turmeric powder while frying it. Keep the fried cauliflower aside.

Now add remaining oil in the pan and let it become hot.

Add whole garam masala, cumin seeds and bay leaf into it. Saute for a while till you get a nice aroma out of them.

Now add potato cubes, salt and remaining turmeric powder. Fry the potatoes till they get half-cooked.

Add chopped tomato, ginger paste and green chillies and cook till tomato turns mushy.

Now add fried cauliflowers, red chilli powder and cumin powder and cook till oil separates from the mixture. You can add little water if the spices seem to burn, but cook the dry spices till their raw flavour disappears.

Now add 1½ large cup of water, sugar and salt as needed. (remember you have already added salt twice before).

As the water starts boiling cover the pan with a lid and let it cook over low-medium flame.

As all the vegetables get cooked and gravy thickens to your desired consistency put the gas off.

Serve with roti, paratha or rice.

Note :

  1. Adjust chilli according to your taste.
  2. If you want your gravy to be more spicy and flavourful then add 1 teaspoon of ghee/clarified butter and ½ teaspoon garam masala powder at the end. Mix them well and give a standing time of 1-2 minutes.

 

Chingrir Chachchori/Dry Prawn Curry

Prawn has always been a favourite of mine and I often prepare different dishes with it. Recently I came to know about the “Chingrir Chachchori” or Dry Prawn curry which I tried a few times and liked quite a lot. Here, onion, tomato and raw prawns are all cooked together right from the beginning along with the spices, thus reducing the cooking time. Since the prawns are not fried here, they remain quite soft and tender which I like. This preparation is immensely enjoyable with steamed rice.

Chingrir Chachchori or Dry Prawn Curry

Chingrir Chachchori or Dry Prawn Curry

Ingredients to serve 3-4 :

  1. Prawn – 250gm.
  2. Onion (finely chopped) – 1 (large)
  3. Tomato (chopped) – 1 (small)
  4. Green chillies (chopped) – 2
  5. Turmeric powder – ¼ teaspoon
  6. Red chilli powder – ½ teaspoon
  7. Cumin powder – ½ tbspoon
  8. Coriander powder – ½ tbspoon
  9. Garlic powder – ½ teaspoon
  10. Dry ginger powder – 1 teaspoon
  11. Coriander leaves (Chopped) – 2-3 tbspoon (heaped)
  12. Pinch of sugar
  13. Salt to taste
  14. Mustard oil – 2½ tbspoon

Procedure :

Remove the shell, head and tail of the prawns, devein them and wash thoroughly. Smear salt and turmeric powder on prawns and keep it aside.

Heat 2 tbspoon of oil in a frying pan or kadai over medium heat.

Add chopped onion and fry till they get translucent.

Then add little water, ingredients from 3-9, prawns, sugar and salt to taste. Put the flame on high and cook for 3-4 minutes.

Again add ½ cup of water, cover the pan and let it cook over low-medium flame.

As the gravy thickens to your desired consistency add ginger powder and chopped coriander leaves.

Cook for another 1-2 minutes till raw flavour of ginger goes away.

Then sprinkle ½ tbspoon of mustard oil, give it a good stir and put the gas off.

Serve with plain rice.

Note :

  1. Adjust chilli according to your taste.

Beeter Jhal/Spicy Beetroot Curry

Till recently the garden in front of my apartment was full of yellow and orange Autumn leaves. Whenever I got time, I used to watch the trees getting bald while shedding the leaves. However, for last 2-3 days it seems that winter is showing its true colour with foggy mornings and chilli winds all around.

It would be a fitting start to welcome winter with a recipe of gorgeous and vibrant red-coloured Beetroot. Generally we prepare beetroot curry in a very simple manner only with potato and green peas. This version is more spicier and made a bit richer by using fresh cream. Again I should thank the Bengali cooking show from where I took this delicious recipe.

I had this beetroot curry with Carrot Paratha. These two dishes are perfectly complementary to each other although you can have it with roti or any kind of parathas. Though it may remind you of beetroot halwa in the looks, this savoury curry is immensely enjoyable.

Beeter Jhal or Spicy Beetroot Curry

Beeter Jhal or Spicy Beetroot Curry

Ingredients to serve 4-5 :

  1. Beetroot – 2 (medium size)
  2. Onion (chopped) – 1 (large)
  3. Ginger (chopped) – 1 tbspoon
  4. Garlic (chopped) – 1-2 cloves
  5. Cumin seeds – 1 teaspoon
  6. Turmeric powder – ¼ teaspoon
  7. Chilli powder – ½  teaspoon
  8. Cumin powder – 1 tbspoon
  9. Coriander powder – ½ tbspoon
  10. Garam masala powder – ½ teaspoon
  11. Plain yogurt – 2 tbspoon
  12. Fresh cream – 2 tbspoon + extra for garnishing (I used single cream)
  13. Almond flakes – 2 tbspoon + extra for garnishing
  14. Salt & sugar to taste
  15. Cooking oil (preferably mustard oil) – 3 tbspoon

Procedure :

Wash and peel the beetroots, cut into two halves and great them using a grater. Take finely grated beet in a pan, add 1 large cup (I used coffee cup) of water and boil till all the water evaporated.

Now take ½ tbspoon cumin powder, coriander powder and garam masala powder in a small microwave proof bowl and dry roast the spice mixture for 1 minute in microwave. Keep this roasted spice mixture aside.

Now heat oil in a frying pan or kadai over medium flame.

Add cumin seeds and let them splutter.

Now add chopped onion and saute for 2 minutes.

Then add chopped garlic & ginger and fry till onion turns translucent. (I always add little salt while frying onion, it helps onion to become soft faster.)

Now add boiled beetroot, mix well and cook for 3-4 minutes.

Then add turmeric powder, red chilli powder, cumin powder, almond flakes and salt, give them a good stir.

Cook for another couple of minutes and then add yogurt. Mix well and add ½ cup of warm water and sugar.

Cover the pan with a lid and let it cook for few more minutes on low-medium flame.

As all the water dries out add fresh cream and roasted spice mixture.

Give them a good stir, again cover the pan and let it stand for 1-2 minutes.

Transfer to a serving bowl and garnish with fresh cream and almond flakes.

Serve with Carrot Paratha/Roti/Plain paratha.

Note :

  1. You can also use pea nuts instead of almond flakes. I had almond flakes in my stock, so I used it.
  2. For roasted spice mix, it would be better if you dry roast the whole spices and them grind them to a fine powder.

Thai Red Chicken Curry with Bamboo Shoots

These days I am in love with the Thai chicken curries just because of their simplicity. They are less spicy and less time consuming too, only you need to gather few ingredients to have the authentic taste. And I simply adore the Thai signature of having coconut flavour with lemon grass and Kaffir lime leaves in the gravy.  Few days back I shared with you the Thai Green Chicken Curry. Now this is a turn for red chicken curry, essentially quite in the same line of its green counterpart. Hope it will add variation to your already stout chicken preparation list.

Red Chicken Curry with Bamboo Shoots

Red Chicken Curry with Bamboo Shoots

Ingredients to serve 2 – 3 :

  1. Boneless chicken breast portion (diced) – 250 gm.
  2. Coconut milk – 500 ml.
  3. Thai fish sauce – 1 tbspoon
  4. Granulated sugar – ½ tbspoon
  5. Canned bamboo shoot (drained, rinsed and sliced) – about 120 gm.
  6. Kaffir lime leaves (torn) – 2-3
  7. Salt and ground black pepper
  8. Chopped fresh red chillies and kaffir lime leaves to garnish

For the red curry paste :

  1. Coriander seeds/powder – ½ teaspoon (I used powder as I didn’t have coriander seeds)
  2. Cumin seeds – ¼ teaspoon
  3. Fresh red chillies (seeded and coarsely chopped) – 6 – 7
  4. Shallots (thinly sliced) – 2
  5. Garlic (chopped) – 1 clove
  6. Fresh ginger (chopped) – ½ tbspoon
  7. Lemon grass stalks (chopped) – 1
  8. Kaffir lime leaves (chopped) – 1-2
  9. Fresh coriander roots – 2 (I didn’t find it, so used coriander stem)
  10. Black peppercorn – 5
  11. Good pinch of ground cinnamon
  12. Turmeric powder – ½ teaspoon
  13. Shrimp paste – ¼ teaspoon
  14. Salt – ½ teaspoon
  15. Vegetable oil – 1 tbspoon
Ingredients

Ingredients

Procedure :

To make curry paste dry roast coriander seeds/powder and cumin seeds for 1-2 minutes, then put in a mortar or food processor with all the remaining ingredients except the oil. Pound or process to a paste. Add the vegetable oil, little at a time, mixing or processing well after each addition. Now your curry paste is ready to use.

Pour half of the coconut milk into a large, heavy pan. Bring to boil over medium heat, stirring constantly until the coconut milk has separated.

Add 1½ tbspoon of the red curry paste and cook the mixture, stirring constantly, for 2-3 minutes until the curry paste is thoroughly incorporated.

Add the diced chicken, fish sauce and sugar to the pan. Stir well, then lower the heat and cook gently for 5-6 minutes, stirring until the chicken changes colour and is cooked through. Take care that the curry does not stick to the base of the pan.

Pour the remaining coconut milk into the pan, then add the sliced bamboo shoots and torn lime leaves. Bring back to the boil over medium heat, add salt and ground black pepper.

As the gravy thickens to your desired consistency put the gas off and spoon the curry into a serving dish, garnish with chopped chilli and lime leaves.

Serve with any Thai rice.

Note :

  • The remaining red curry paste can be kept in a closed jar in the refrigerator for up to 3 months.
  • If you want more red colour in your curry, then use few dry red chilli/Kashmiri red chilli powder in the curry paste.
  • Straw mushrooms can be used instead of, or as well as, bamboo shoots.

Bhapa Ilish or Smoked Hilsa

Ilish or Hilsa is the king of fishes for Bengali. This fish is generally found in sweet river water and possess a distinctive silver like shining body. What sets it apart from all the other fishes is its supreme unbeatable taste which however comes at the cost of innumerable thin bones in the flesh. But as they say, the more bones a fish has, the more tastier it becomes. When the soft Hilsa flesh melts in your mouth, it gives you a feeling nothing other than which should be called absolute ‘divine’.

In my previous post, Salmon macher paturi / Salmon smoked in Banana leaf, I briefly mentioned about Hilsa. We can prepare hilsa in different ways, among which the the most popular and super delicious is “Bhapa Ilish” or smoked Hilsa. The recipe is  quite simple yet lip smacking. And it requires less oil too.

Hilsa is not at all a common fish here in Europe. It is exported from sub-continent and found frozen in Asian stores, if one is very lucky. 🙂 This time our luck favoured and we got it. The image and the text below is telling you the rest of the story. Enjoy 🙂

Bhapa Ilish or Smoked Hilsha

Bhapa Ilish or Smoked Hilsha

Ingredients for 4 pieces :

  1. Hilsha fish – 4 pieces
  2. Green chilli – 4
  3. Mustard seed (black/white) – 1½ – 2 tbspoon
  4. Poppy seeds – ¾ – 1 tbspoon (optional)
  5. Grated coconut – 2 – 3 tbspoon heaped
  6. Turmeric powder – ¼ teaspoon
  7. Salt to taste
  8. Mustard oil – 1-2 tbspoon

Procedure :

Wash the hilsha pieces well and smear with salt and turmeric powder, keep aside.

Hilsha coated with salt & turmeric powder

Ingredients

Now grind mustard and poppy seeds along with 2 green chillies to make a smooth paste. Add little salt while making the paste to get rid of bitterness of mustard. When it is almost done add grated coconut and again grind to blend the coconut with the mustard paste.

Now take a steel bowl with lid (preferably tiffin box) and place the fish pieces into it.

In another small bowl take the paste, mustard oil, pinch of turmeric powder, salt to taste (remember you have earlier added little salt to the paste and fish too) and little water and mix them well.

Now pour this mixture onto the fish and coat them well with it. Slit remaining 2 green chillies and put into the fish mixture, cover the bowl with its lid.

Ready for steaming

Ready for steaming

Now boil water in a large pan or kadhai over medium flam and then place the covered bowl/tiffin box into it. Place a heavy thing at the top so that the bowl/box can’t be displaced while water is boiling.

Steaming process

Steaming process

Let the fish cook over medium flame for 20 minutes, then put the gas off.

Bhapa ilish is ready to be served

Bhapa ilish is ready to be served

Serve with steamed rice.

Note :

  1. Best if you make the mustard paste in flat stone grinder i.e. “Shil nora”. Because it is not very easy to make a paste in blender from such a small quantity of mustard seeds.
  2. Hilsha is a very soft fish, often break while using, so handle with care.

Doi Begun or Aubergine in yogurt gravy

“Doi begun” or aubergine in yogurt gravy is one of my favourite dishes prepared by my mother. She learned this recipe from one of her colleagues and I must be thankful to her to pass on such a lovely recipe. Many of us don’t like to have aubergine including my husband. I bet they will end up licking their fingers once they have it. This recipe is bit different from usual Bengali recipes of aubergine, requires few handful ingredients and easy to make. So just give it a try.

Doi begun or Aubergine in yogurt gravy

Doi begun or Aubergine in yogurt gravy

Ingredients to serve 3 – 4 :

  1. Aubergine (medium size) – 1
  2. Chopped onion (small) – 1
  3. Ginger paste – 1 teaspoon
  4. Chopped tomato (small) – ½
  5. Green chilli (cut into halves, lengthwise) – 2-3
  6. Plain yogurt – 2 tbspoon
  7. Black cumin seed or kalajeera – ½ teaspoon
  8. Red chilli powder – ½ teaspoon
  9. Turmeric powder – ½ teaspoon
  10. Salt and sugar to taste
  11. Cooking oil
  12. Mustard oil – 1 tbspoon

Procedure :

Cut the aubergine into half circular thick slices and smear with salt and ¼ teaspoon of turmeric powder. Keep it aside for 10-15 minutes.

Aubergine slices coated with salt & turmeric powder

Aubergine slices coated with salt & turmeric powder

Now heat 2-3 tbspoon of oil in a frying pan over medium heat and shallow fry both sides of aubergine slices till they turn just soft. Keep them aside.

Shallow fried aubergine slice

Shallow fried aubergine slice

Again heat 1 tbspoon of oil (if there is no remaining oil in the pan) and add black cumin seeds into it, saute for a while.

Then add chopped onion and fry till it becomes translucent, then add ginger paste.

As onion turns light brown add chopped tomato, salt and remaining turmeric powder and cook the mixture well.

As all the tomatoes are stewed and the mixture starts releasing oil add approx. ½ cup of water, sugar and salt (if needed).

Let the mixture boil for 1-2 minutes, then gently slide the fried aubergine slices.

Cover the pan with a lid and let it cook over medium flame.

Meanwhile beat the yogurt with little water.

Pour mustard oil into the serving bowl and spread it through out the bottom surface of the bowl. Place green chillies over it.

As the gravy thickens to your desired consistency add the yogurt and give it a good stir. Put the gas off and transfer it to the prepared serving bowl.

Serve with rice or roti.

Doi begun is ready to be served

Doi begun is ready to be served

Shukto – A traditional Bengali mix veg curry with bitter gourd

Shukto is a quintessential vegetarian Bengali curry, served as a starter with rice mostly in a multi-course menu. The name ‘Shukto’, quite short with just six letters in it, actually needs a long list of vegetables. Perhaps this is the reason why ‘Shukto’ is hardly visible these days on our plate. What discriminates Shukto with other veg curries is the ample usage of bitter gourd that adds a mild bitterness to it. The presence of green banana, eggplant and drumstick strikes a rare combination and enriches the food value unlike any other does. In fact I grew up hearing its super nutritional values which came with great taste as well. These days, when we complain about the lack of variety in veg curries, I think it is the time to start experimenting and get back to the traditional food like Shukto and similar dishes which are on the verge of slipping into oblivion.

Generally Sukto comprises of five to six vegetables, among which bitter gourd, green banana, eggplant and drumstick are must. Rest of the vegetables can be any of your choice. For example I used potato and ridge gourd as they were in my stock. One can use sweet potato instead of potato, green papaya, pumpkin, broad beans or point gourd.

‘Panch phoron’ (five spice mix) and ‘radhuni’ are the main spices used in Sukto. Unfortunately, I didn’t find ‘radhuni’ in Europe, so altered the recipe a little bit, which at the end didn’t make any difference. Enjoy. 🙂

Sukto

Sukto

Ingredients to serve 4 :

  1. Green banana – 1/3
  2. Brinjal/Eggplant – ½
  3. Potato – 2 (medium size)
  4. Bitter gourd – ½
  5. Ridge gourd – ½
  6. Drumstick (sojne danta) – 1-2
  7. Slit green chilli – 2
  8. Bori (Sun dried lentil nuggets) – 6-8
  9. Ginger paste – 1 tbspoon (heaped)
  10. Panch phoron (five spice mix) – 1 teaspoon
  11. Fenugreek seed – ½ teaspoon
  12. Mustard seed – ½ teaspoon
  13. Pinch of turmeric powder
  14. Poppy seed paste – 1 tbspoon
  15. Milk – 2-3 tbspoon
  16. Wheat flour (atta) – 1 teaspoon
  17. Ghee/Clarified butter – 1 tbspoon
  18. Cooking oil – 5-6 tbspoon
  19. Salt & sugar to taste

Procedure :

Cut all the vegetables into long pieces. I also cut the bitter gourd into long pieces, but you can cut it into thin rings, if you wish.

Vegetables used in Sukto

Vegetables used in Sukto

Heat 3 tbspoon of oil in a frying pan over medium flame and fry the lentil nuggets (bori) till they get golden brown. Keep them aside.

Add remaining 2-3 tbspoon of oil in the pan and fry the bitter gourd pieces, followed by adding salt & pinch of turmeric powder, till get crispy. Take them out from the oil and keep aside.

Now add fenugreek seeds and mustard seeds to the remaining oil in the pan, let them splutter. Add potato, green banana and drumstick pieces into it and fry for 3-4 minutes.

Then add eggplant, ridge gourd, green chillies and turmeric powder and fry for another couple of minutes. Now cover the pan with a lid and let it cook over medium-low flame.

After few minutes as the vegetables start releasing water add ginger paste, poppy-seed paste, salt and sugar, mix them well and cook for 2 minutes or until raw flavour of poppy seed goes away.

Mix the wheat flour with milk and add to the vegetable mixture, give it a good stir.

Now add 2½ – 3 cups of water and let it boil.

Through fried bitter gourd into the boiling water.

Again put the lid on and let it cook over low-medium flame.

Meanwhile dry roast the five spice mix i.e ‘panch phoron’ and grind it into a fine powder.

Add fried lentil nuggets (bori) only when vegetables almost get cooked.

As the vegetables get completely cooked and gravy thickens to the desired consistency, put the gas off. Sprinkle over the ghee and panch phoron powder and cover the pan for few more minutes.

Serve only with steamed plain rice. Roti or paratha doesn’t go with ‘Sukto’.

Note :

  1. ‘Panch phoron’ is a mixture of five spices – fenugreek seed, black cumin seed, cumin seed, radhuni and fennel seeds in equal parts. Sometimes black mustard seeds are used instead of radhuni.
  2. One can use ‘panch phoron’ at the beginning instead of adding fenugreek seed & mustard seed. Then use ‘radhuni’ paste at the end instead of roasted ‘panch phoron’ powder.
  3. One can use mustard seed paste instead of poppy seed paste.