Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Bong Connection.....Shingara


I am feeling blessed at the moment for the food I am consuming at home and outside (the street food I mean…yummy, mouthwatering, nerve tickling, unhygienic but equally can’t-ignore type of stuff). Being in West Bengal brings joyful memories of evening tea outside my house, milk is boiling over and over with CTC (cut- turn- cut)tea in almost never-washed pot, people gathered around the jhupri stall taking a sip from small earthen pot, lovingly called “Matir Bhar”. And the stall for frittatas (Chop stall/ or stall for Bengali fast food) is one of favorite hangout spot for me, where I relish every kind of frittatas available with puffed rice, green chillies and black salt. This is the place you will hear all the town gossips, while you munch on the tasty bites. Once in a while I indulge in healthy drink like fresh coconut water and if I am lucky, I will get tender, sweet, and milky kernel of coconut, melting in my mouth.

But this time I am staying in a different place rather than my ever-known planned town Kalyani, which has abandoned the idea of plastic and trying to be a model town in India. This place where I am living now or you can say choking my breath is a bustling and overly inhabited with human species , part of North Calcutta with lots of markets and street foods. The daily fish market near the house is busy from the dawn – Bengalis are serious creature on the subject of fish, and proud to show their knowledge on fresh catch of the day. I am enjoying the seasonal vegetable market too; veggies here are not as big or beautiful as available in USA but taste great. Varieties are the name of the game & this place offers different shape and size of goodies. Most of the time I wander around this city with narrow roads and buildings are too close to each other, drains are open and children are playing cricket, people are speaking my language and all of this makes me feel at home. This place is not as comfortable or planned as my current home in USA, but coming to Calcutta has a strange feeling and I love that when the flight touches Shubhash Chandra Bose International Airport.

Today you will have quintessential Bengali snack….Shingara (Famous cousin is Samosa/ Stuffed savory snack). This is vegetarian version, but you can fill it with anything you like to eat. This versatile snack is number one seller in the sweet shops around West Bengal and one of the favorite evening snacks with hot tea. Traditionally made with potatoes and peas but I have tried the recipe from a famous Bengali Magazine, though altered few things according to the availability in my pantry. So why wait, grab your plate and let’s have some Shingara.

Channa er Shingara (Cottage cheese stuffed Indian Pastry)

Ingredients:

For Stuffing: Channa (cottage cheese) 1 cup
Boiled potato 1 cup
Salt & sugar as per taste
Cumin seeds a pinch
Turmeric powder ½ teaspoon
Ginger 1 teaspoon (finely chopped)
Green chillies 1teaspoon
Garam masala 1 teaspoon
Bay leave 1

For wrap: Maida/ All purpose flour 4 cup
Salt as per taste
Baking powder –pinch
Vegetable oil 1 cup

Method:
1. Make fine paste of cottage cheese and add salt, chopped ginger& turmeric. Mix well. Add mashed potato and mix again.

2. Heat 1tablespoon of oil in a kadai or frying pan, temper with bay leave & cumin seeds. When the spices starts to release aroma add chopped green chilles, potato & cottage cheese mix.

3. Fry for few mins and add garam masala and fry for 1 more min. Keep aside and let it come to room temperature.

For Shingara Wrapper:
1. Mix flour with salt, oil and baking powder together. Add warm water in the mixture and kneed well for 5-6 mins or kneed until the dough is smooth and tight. Cover the dough with a damp cloth and then with a lid and leave it for 15-30 mins.

2. After 15 mins of resting, knead the dough for 1-2 mins again. Divide the dough in 6 equal parts and make small ball of each. Roll the ball in circle of 4 inches of diameter and cut from the middle with sharp knife. Make funnel using each half circle. Stuff the funnel with potato-cottage cheese stuffing, and cover the open side of funnel using little amount of water/ oil.

3. Fry the shingara in hot oil. Don not fry in high heat, which makes the outer portion brown and inner is not cooked well.

4. Serve hot with tomato sauce or homemade chutney. Enjoy with evening tea.


Saturday, March 21, 2009

Achari Gosht (Pickling Mutton/Lamb with Green Chillies)


Achari Gosht

Ingredients:
Mutton/ Lamb small pieces with bone 1 ½ lb
Green chillies (whole) 5-6
Ginger paste 1 tablespoon
Garlic 1 teaspoon
Red chilli powder ½ teaspoon
Yogurt 1 ½ cups
Onion 1 large (finely chopped)
Lime/ Vinegar 2 tablespoon
Panchphoron (fenugreek, fennel, cumin, kalonji, mustard seeds) 1 tablespoon
Amchur powder ½ teaspoon
Shaan achari gosht masala 1/ 2 packet (Use less if you prefer mild flavor)
Mustard Oil for frying 5/6 tablespoon (approx)



Method:

1. Make slit lengthwise of green chillies. Mix Shaan Achaar Gosht masala, lime, amchur powder and fill the chillies with this mix.

2. Marinade the meat with lime juices, little amount of salt & red chilli powder.


3. Roast panchphoron spice/ fenugreek, fennel, cumin, kalonji & mustard seeds and grind coarsely.

4. Heat oil in a heavy bottom pan and add red chilli and garlic. When the garlic starts to change color, add chopped onion, meat, Shaan masala, yogurt, ginger paste. Cook on low flame with lid closed. Stir occasionally
and add little amount of water as needed.

5. When the meat is tender after cooking 1 ½ hrs- 2 hrs depending upon the type of meat, add green chillies filled with spices, roasted panchphoron spice. Cook for few more minutes. The oil will separate from the meat.

6. For preservation add vinegar instead of lime and can be eaten for 7 days if stored in airtight container in refrigerator.



I am sending this entry for Think Spices event hosted by Divya of Dil Se....


Thursday, March 12, 2009

Street Photography-Phase1





















I am posting few photographs of interesting people I captured on the street of greater Calcutta (Particularly Sodepur). Hope you will enjoy them.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Visiting India...and some Garlic Paratha


I was craving for crisp, fluffy paratha on these winter days of February when the sky was cloudy, and the snow was piling up in front of my house and my lousy but cute husband of tropical nature bragging about cleaning up the car and how he hates snow and would love to curl up in bed and sleep all day and night. Born in a Bengali household never helped me making stuffed paratha which my north Indian cousin would make with obvious flair. So I avoided kneading flour and was anxious about the right measurement of water & flour, which are the main ingredients for making soft but crisp from the outside paratha (Indian Flat bread) or roti. But gradually as I have tried making them it only got improved with practice and surely the force behind this success story was need. Being alone in USA made me realize that I just can’t ignore my gastronomical soul forever, thus I have started making parathas regularly and now my husband loves them as I do.

My longing for garlic paratha came on a chili night and surely the result was heavenly with warm soft paratha on my mouth, robust smell of garlic lingering in my senses, hot chillies kicking my head and crisp layer of paratha breaking between my tounge and teeth. My work is done …..now you run to your kitchen for this paratha to celebrate last few days of winter and warm up.

Garlic Paratha

Ingredients:
For Filling: Garlic 5-6 cloves (chopped)
Green Chilles 4-5 (chopped)
Coriander leaves (¼ cup chopped)
Amchur powder/ Mango powder ½ teaspoon (available from any Indian grocery)
Salt & lime as per taste

For dough: Maida/ Refined flour 2 cups (you can substitute with Atta or whole wheat flour)
Oil ½ teaspoon
Yogurt 1 teaspoon
Salt & warm water as required
Oil/ Ghee for frying.

Method:
Mix all ingredients for filling and set aside. Use very little amount of lime as we don’t want the filling to be soggy.

Mix flour with salt, oil and yogurt together. Add warm water in the mixture and kneed well for 5-6 mins or kneed until the dough is smooth and little soft. Cover the dough with a damp cloth and then with a lid and leave it for 15-30 mins. This process makes the most excellent paratha, soft, fluffy and yummy to eat.

After 15 mins of resting, knead the dough for 1-2 mins again. Divide the dough in 6 equal parts and make small ball of each. Make a circle or small cup out of the dough and take small porting of the filling inside the dough ball. Close the circle/ cup around the filling like an envelope. Between your palms rotate the dough again to make a ball.


Start rolling the dough ball using little amount of oil (if you are avoiding oil use flour for easy rolling). Start rolling from center to the edges and try not pressing too hard so that filling stays inside the paratha. Roll the dough into 6-7” circle.


Heat the tawa or flat griddle and place the paratha/ flat bread. Turn the paratha once it starts to change color and gets small blister from heat. Do the same with other side. Press the paratha lightly to make it fluffy and crisp on the outside but soft inside. At the end use little amount of ghee for extra taste or oil on the paratha and flip both side.

Set aside in a closed container until you consume or serve hot with vegetable and yogurt, salad, pickle.



P.S: Dear Readers, Take my apologies for not posting anything for few days. Well, I am visiting India at the moment and this journey came suddenly. As you might understand (at least people from my country), it is not easy getting Internet connection everywhere in India and even if you have one, it takes long time to upload any pictures or writing. But I am determined not to miss the fun of blogging so I am posting one of few pictures that I have taken just before I left USA. I am really thankful to your encouragement and the way you are supporting this blog from the very first day. So please visit my blog as many times as you wish and leave a message, it means lot for me.
The photos are taken by my hubby SG and me.

Friday, February 27, 2009

Orange-Lime Granita



I think everyone has their favorite dessert recipe and mine is associated with citrus fruit. I used to spend lots of hours watching Food Network program on TV and my list of beloved chefs grew day by day. The inspiration of making my own punch for the cocktail parties came from one of this show. It was long time back that I developed this citrus fruit punch with slight kick of soda made me realized that this Valentine’s Day I would made granita from this extraordinary flavorful punch recipe. I love to watch the American-Italian chef Giada in Food Network show and vaguely remembered her making sorbet or granita. So I started without delay hoping that if it’s not successful as a dessert I will drink it up as punch.




It took me a while to decide which type of oranges to choose and in what quantity, but finely I committed to tangerines, naval oranges, grape fruit and some limes. I was little skeptical of the idea of spending too much time working around this recipe as it needs frequent scraping and lots of attention. As you have probably noticed, I am not a very measuring or time spending cook by nature, rather I will improvise my recipe. So it was indeed a challenge for me to make orange granita.




Granita(pronounced as grah-NEE-tah) is a close cousin of sorbet & Italian ice, though available in coarser form all over Italy. Mainly its semi frozen dessert made of fruits predominantly citrus and sugar syrup. This is can be prepared in Gelato machine or by scraping the frozen mixture manually time to time.


Orange-Lime Granita

Tangerines- 2
Naval oranges -2
Grape fruit - 1
Limes -2
Sugar – 1 ½ cups
Water – 1 cup
Limoncello liquor 1/ 4 cups



How to Make:

Combine water and sugar and bring to boil. Stir the mix constantly as long as the sugar doesn’t dissolve. Cool the simple syrup to room temperature.


Extract juice from oranges, grapefruit and limes. Combine them all together with limoncello liquor and simple syrup.



For extra texture I have used ½ of tangerine, chopped into smaller pieces and seeds removed. Try to remove the white membrane as much as possible. This is optional and can be omitted if you want to have smoother texture. Though at the end of the freezing, the small chunk of orange pieces taste like sweet hard candy into my granita.

Pour the mixture with the small chunks of oranges into a shallow or deep dish/pan and place inside the freezer.



Stir the mixture every 30-45 mins for at least 4 hrs. Depending on the scraping it will form the less or more coarser. Break up any large lumps and freeze until it is completely frozen.

Enjoy.


Hope I am not too late for the lovely FIC-Orange event hosted by Aparna of "My diverse Kitchen" blog.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

...another Prawn Malaikari


I am big enthusiast of Chingri Malaikari aka Prawn Curry in coconut milk, and who is not in Bengal? This majestic dish appears in all the special occasions, be it wedding ceremony, birthday, simple Bengali party… Bengali loves prawn to death.

In West Bengal, the morning in a nearby bazaar starts with lots of noises and freshly picked vegetables and fish from different corner of the state. We love to get our fish fresh everyday and cook and consumed them too at the same day. Using day old prawn was not an option in my household. Due to the high price in those days to buy large tiger prawn, we were rarely blessed with this tasty creature. But it always brings heavenly smell of coconut milk, mustard oil and prawn into my senses whenever I remember Sunday lunch with my family. Smoking hot white Rice with Dal (lentil soup), Begun bhaja(fried eggplant), Shukto (another Bengali delicacy), Potol er dalna( Pointed gourd curry) and Prawn Malaikari on hot summer days cooked lovingly by Mom was most enjoyable meal in my life.

I tried my mother’s Chingri Malaikari in USA with limited success because of the prawn I get here mostly. I use raw, deveined, shell removed, frozen middle sized prawn which is no match for Galda/ Bagda Chingri aka fresh tiger prawn from rivers& sea banks of Bengal . Though I can’t complain about the canned coconut milk we get here. It would take half of my day to grate the coconut, extract the milk from it and then use for this recipe. For authentic flavor I would recommend using fresh prawn with head & tail intact and coconut milk extracted from the coconut.




Chingri Macher Malaikari / Prawn Curry delicately flavored with Coconut Milk

Main Ingredient:
Prawn – 1 lb raw, de-veined, medium-large size

Spices:
Bay leaves/ Tejpata – 2
Red chilli pepper – 2 whole
Garam Masala for tempering – ½ teaspoon (coarsely grounded cinnamon, cardamom, cloves, black pepper)
Turmeric – 1 teaspoon
Red chilli powder – 1 teaspoon
Salt & sugar as per taste

Side Ingredients:
Onion – 1 medium (chopped finely)
Garlic – 1 teaspoon finely chopped
Green chillies – 4/5 slit lengthwise
Poppy seeds paste – 2 table spoon (make the paste with little water)
Mustard paste – 1 ½ table spoon( Make the paste with salt & green chilli to get rid of its bitter taste, if still tastes bitter use a small sieve to strain the liquid)
Coconut milk – 2 table spoon
Yogurt – 1 tablespoon
Mustard oil – 2 tablespoon (this is highly recommended as the taste will totally change without mustard oil, but in case you don’t have access to mustard oil use vegetable oil)


Method:
If you are using freshly caught whole prawn then de-vein and wash thoroughly. I have used raw prewashed and deveined medium size prawn for this dish. Feel free to use whatever is available or favorite for you. For me I still like the fresh Galda chingri(type of prawn in Bengal) bought from farmer’s market/ bazaar, still moving their claws.



Marinade the prawn with pinch of turmeric, salt and sugar. Sometimes I add little amount of lime juice.

Heat oil in kadai/ deep frying pan and add whole red chillies, bay leaves and lightly grounded garam masala. Add chopped garlic. When the garlic starts to change its color to golden brown add chopped onion. Add turmeric and red chilli powder.




When the onion starts to get translucent add marinade prawn to the heat. Prawn is very sensitive ingredient and overdoing it leads to gummy like taste. So when it turns to orange yellowish color add poppy seeds & mustard paste.

The prawn gets cooked within 5 mins and turn to orange yellowish color.



Add salt and sugar to the curry and coconut milk. If needed add little amount of water. This recipe is neither very dry nor soupy consistency. Cook for 5 more mins. Beat the yogurt and add to the curry.



For rustic flavor add green chillies at the end which gives a nice aroma. Enjoy with white rice preferably Basmati rice.


Saturday, February 14, 2009

Valentines day love for my Mom


Praying to God for your speedy recovery and sending love from Our hearts.
SB & SG