Thursday, March 6, 2014

Banana Bread

This is the first time I tried making banana bread and for sure it will not be the last :-).Microwaving the bananas enhances the banana flavor.The dark brown sugar gives a nice color and a tad bit of stickiness to the bread.
I recently re-read Little Men by L.M Alcott and from here I learnt that sour cream and baking soda reacts to make the batter fluffy with light airy holes.Who knew" Little Men"would be adding to my baking skills.

Ripe Bananas -3
All Purpose flour-1 and ½ cups
Sugar-1 cup (1/4th dark brown +3/4th granulated)
Unsalted butter-1/2 cup (1 stick softened at room temperature) 
Eggs-2 large
Baking soda-1 teaspoon
Salt-1 teaspoon
Sour Cream-1/2 cup
Vanilla essence-1 teaspoon
Chopped walnuts/pecans-1 cup
Peel bananas and put in microwave safe bowl. Wrap with bowl with a plastic wrap. Poke holes on the wrap and microwave for 5 mins.If banana has given out a lot of liquid, separate the liquid and reduce to about 2 tablespoons on stove top. Now add the liquid back to the microwaved banana and mash nicely with fork/masher.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter a 9-by-5-by-3-inch loaf pan; set aside.
In a bowl whisk butter and sugar till light and fluffy. Add eggs one by one and whisk in with butter and sugar. Add vanilla and whisk in this mixture.
In a separate bowl mix all the dry ingredients flour, baking soda and salt and whisk well.
Add the dry ingredients to the butter mixture and mix well. Now add the mashed bananas. Add the sour cream and pecans/walnuts into the cake batter and incorporate.
Pour batter in the prepared pan and bake for 1 hour. Let the pan rest for 15 mins then turn the banana cake out.

Friday, October 18, 2013

Chicken Rezala......sweet under note to a rich fragrant chicken curry.

I took a lot of pictures while I was making Chicken Rezala,so I decided to put them in a collage form to give an idea of all the things that happen to create this luxuriously delicious chicken dish that can be found in almost all restaurant menus in Kolkata.
Step 1
Marinate a pound of whole chicken cut into curry pieces in
2 tbsp of plain yogurt
1 tbsp of ground peppercorn
1 tbsp garlic paste
1 tbsp ginger paste
2 fresh green chilies chopped fine
Leave chicken to marinate for 20 mins.
Step 2
Boil to mid size onions or 1 big onion and make a paste of the boiled onions.
Step 3
Heat 1/4th cup ghee in a pan and add whole spices
1 Bay Leaf
2 cinnamon sticks
4-5 green cardamom
4-5 cloves
8-10 whole peppercorn
Step 4
Add the boiled onion paste to the pan when the whole spices emits a nice smell.....about 30 secs later.Cook onions for about 6-7 mins,onion will get a tinted pink color and the water will dry up.
Step 5
Add the marinated chicken and cook till chicken gets a little color and the water dries and masala emits a nice fragrance.
Step 6
Whisk 2 tbsp of sugar with 1 cup of thick yogurt.Add the sweetened yogurt to the chicken and stir
Step 7
Make a paste of soaked cashew. 1/2 cup whole cashew will become about 1/4th cup of paste and 2 tablespoons poppy seeds.Soaking the poppy seeds overnight will make a smoother paste.
Step 8
Add the cashew and poppy paste to the chicken and stir in.
Step 9
In a frying pan heat 1/4th cup of oil/ghee and lightly fry
1 cup onion rings
2 dry red chili
Step 10
Add the fried onion rings along with the oil and chili to the chicken.
Step 11
If needed add a cup of water and cover the chicken till the chicken is done and oil floats to the top.
Step 12
Add 2-3 drops of Kewra essence or rose water.

Chicken Rezala is ready to be served.

Friday, October 11, 2013

Kanch kolar kofta curry.......deep fried plantain balls in a curry.

This is again one of those special dishes that is made to compensate for the NO Non-Veg days in my house.I made this for a pot luck and it was very well received by everyone.The proportions make about 10-12 koftas.
For the Koftas
Plaintain-1 big or 2 small
Potaotes-1 medium sized
Garam masala-1 teaspoon
Green chilies-2 teaspoons(very finely sliced)
Red onions-2 tablespoons(finely chopped)
Green coriander-2 teaspoons(fine chopped)
Salt-to taste
Cornflour/All purpose flour-3 tablespoons
Oil-for frying the koftas

First cut the plantain into 2 inch pieces along with the skin, so that it can be boiled conveniently in the pressure cooker.Quarter your potatoes and boil them along with the plantain.It will take at the most 2 whistles for the plantains and potatoes to be soft for mashing up.Once they cool ,skin the potatoes and peel the plantains.Put the peeled and boiled plantains in a big bowl for mixing.Put in the skinned boiled potatoes and mash them together.Now add the garam masala,green chilies, onions,coriander and  salt. Mix well and divide equally into 10-12 portions to roll them to make balls.In a plate put the cornflour and roll the balls on the cornflour so that they are nicely coated all around.Now fry the koftas in batches in hot oil and keep aside to put them in a curry.
For the curry
Oil-4 tablespoons
Onions-1 small onion chopped up fine
Garlic-1 teaspoon grated/paste
Tomato-1 mid-sized chopped
Cumin powder-1 tablespoon
Red chili powder-1/2 teaspoon to 1 teaspoon
Garam masala-1 teaspoon
Sugar-1 teaspoon
Water -1 cup
Ghee-1 teaspoon
Salt to taste

Reduce the oil that you used for frying the koftas to about 4 tablespoons.The oil will have cornflour from the koftas and will give the gravy a nice consistency.In hot oil fry the onions till golden brown.Now add garlic and fry a couple of mins more.Add the tomatoes and put in some sugar and salt to help the tomatoes soften.Once tomatoes have melted down add the cumin powder and the chili powder.Fry till oil separates then add garam masala.Give the garam masala a min then add the water tomake the gravy.Let the gravy come to a boil.Now turn off the heat and add in the fried koftas. Add the ghee on top and cover the kofta curry for 10-15 mins.You can add more water for more gravy.
The kofta curry goes great with all kinds of Indian breads-rotis,parathas.You can serve it with plian rice or pilaf too.

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Super soft Idlis.......finally success!!!!

As kids, whenever I had to choose between between dosas or idlis,it would always be dosas for me.I simply could not relate to idlis,I found them extremely dry and I would end up gulping huge amounts of water to suppress the hiccups ready to surface any moment.Then finally I discovered softer idlis in Bangalore where it became my breakfast stable with 2 big bowls of sambar and chutney.My husband showed me how to eat ,sorry devour Idlis the South Indian way.To my dismay, I saw him break the Idlis into pieces on his plate and then empty his bowl of sambar followed by chutney on to the idlis. After such display of crudeness he took out his fork and spoon and spooned up the idli pieces with utmost refinement.Needless to say I followed suit and this is the way I enjoy my idlis.....tangy sambar and creamy coconut chutney on super moist idlis. 
I have made idlis quite a few times now trying out various permutations combinations suggestions to get that soft ....almost like a cloud idli. Bought the rice powder especially for making idlis,kept changing the rice and lentil proportions...but still the batter did not give soft idlis. Now I have hit on to the right recipe and am super excited.
This will make about 24 Idlis
Urad dal/White lentil-1 cup
Rice-2 cups
Cooked rice-1 cup
Fenugreek seeds-1 tabespoon
Salt-1 tablespoon

Soak the dal , rice and fenugreek seeds overnight in separate containers.Take a mixer/grinder and first grind the lentils.Add the soaked fenugreek seeds and grind it along with the lentils to  a smooth paste.Add just enough water so that the lentils grind smoothly between 1/4 to 1/2 a cup.
Take out the lentil paste and pour it into the bowl in which you would like your batter to ferment.
Now in your grinder add the soaked rice and the cooked rice and make it into a smooth paste.Pour the rice paste into the bowl in which you had previously put the lentil paste.Now add the tablespoon of salt to the batter.With clean hands mix the batter well,the rice and lentil paste should be well mixed.
Now you can cover the bowl and leave it to ferment....generally 8-12 hrs depending upon the atmospheric conditions.
I need some help from the oven because of the cold dry conditions here.After mixing the Idli batter with hand I put the bowl of batter into a 200 F pre-heated oven.You don't need to bake,once oven gets to 200 F you can switch off the oven.The batter will ferment and rise in the heat.You can repeat the oven process again if need be...idea is to create conditions conducive for batter to ferment.
Once the batter has risen you are good to make Idis.
Oil your Idli maker.Pour in the batter.Steam your Idlis for 12-15 mins in the pressure cooker without putting the weight.You Idlis are ready to be served with sambar and chutney.


Friday, August 30, 2013

Kancha peper beson diye tarkari.......Raw green papaya with gram flour sabzi

This "sabzi" is the reason I started eating raw papaya.It is not a bengali way of cooking,it's what a "marwari" friend of mine used to bring for lunch.This sabzi is super awesome...try it.
Raw papaya -2 cups (peeled,seeded and cubed)
Ghee-1 tablespoon
Asafotida-2 squirts
Cumin powder-1 teaspoon
Green chilies-2 chopped
Turmeric -1/2 teaspoon
Dry Mango powder/Amchur-1 teaspoon
Gram flour/Besan-1/2 cup
Oil-2 tablespoons
Salt-to taste

First pressure cook the raw papaya for 1 whistle with about 1/2 cup water. It should be just al dente,a little raw is fine but definitely not overcooked.Now on medium heat put a pan and add the ghee.Put 2 squirts of asafotida and the green chilies.Fry the green chilies for about 30 secs or so. Now add the boiled papayas.Add the turmeric and cumin powder and season with some salt.Now let the water in the papaya dry out a bit.Once the water has evaporated add the gram flour and let the gram flour cover the papaya pieces and let the gram flour roast and fry.Now add the 2 tablespoons of oil to help the frying of the gram flour.It will take about 4-5 mins.Now add the amchur powder and mix in well.Season according to your taste and serve hot with parathas or rotis. Delicious!!!
The snap is from my cell camera so it's not that great but this recipe is!!!Enjoy.

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Shukto.....slightly bitter medley of vegetables.

You cannot make "shukto" without the bitter gourd. Shukto is the "teto",the bitter needed to cleanse and prepare the palate for the rest of the delicious courses to follow.I used to hate "shukto" and all these "teto" palate cleansers as a kid.......which kid doesn't!!!I discovered my love for "shukto" and "neem begun" much much later ........when my mother had almost given up hope that I would ever be able to acquire a taste for them.
My mother in law makes wonderful shukto. She happens to be a "teto" lover and meals under her governance will always have some form of bitter ...thanks to the big neem tree in the of bitter leaves is always an arm length away.
This is my mother in laws way of cooking "shukto" ....delicious, mildly bitter(for my sake) and very creamy.
The recipe requires "randhuni" but since we don't get "randhuni" here I have to make do with mustard seeds.
My mother-in-law fries all the vegetables like the plantain, eggplant, potatoes separately before putting it in the milk based gravy of the "shukto". I skip the separately frying,I put all the vegetables in the oil together and simmer on low heat till all veggies are soft.For my everyday cooking I prefer this low calorie version.

Vegetables:Usually potatoes,eggplant,ridge gourd,plantain and bitter gourd go into the making of shukto.
A cup of each vegetable sliced similar so that they take equal time to cook.
Randhuni/Mustard seeds-1 teaspoon
Bay leaf-1 big
Green chili-1 slit into 2
Turmeric powder-1/2 teaspoon
Sugar-1 teaspoon
Poppy seed paste-1 tablespoon
Mustard seed paste-1 tablespoon
Fresh ginger paste-1 tablespoon
Salt-to taste
Milk-1 cup
Ghee-1 tablespoon
Vegetable oil-4 tablespoons
Urad dal bori-8-10 (optional)

If you are going to add boris to your shukto,fry them in really hot oil till reddish brown and keep it aside.If the oil is not hot the boris will soak up all the oil.
Now in the remaining oil,add the randhuni/mustard seeds and the bay leaf.Let is splutter.Now add all the vegetables one by one.The plantains,the eggplant,the potatoes,the bitter gourd the ridge gourd...the order in which they take time to cook.Now add the turmeric,the sugar and some salt and cook the vegetables on low heat with a lid.The lid helps to retain the moisture of the vegetables while cooking...without the lid the veggies will become dry and you will have to add more water or more oil to continue the cooking without the veggies burning.
Once all the vegetables are soft add the mustard paste and the poppy seed paste.I, at times make "shukto" without the poppy seed paste and the mustard seed make my life simpler.The "shukto" still tastes good.The mustard paste and the poppy paste add some richness and a tang to the "shukto".....added dimensions to the taste.In a couple of minutes the pastes will be cooked,now add the ginger and after a minute add the milk.Let the milk come to a boil add the fried boris and the ghee. Shukto is best served with plain white rice.


Friday, July 19, 2013

Kalai daaler bori...............sun dried lentil kisses.

The weather's been really hot for some time and I have been craving for "Shukto".But there is no fun in making "Shukto" if you don't have "kalai daaler bori".The Indian grocer here limits his bori varieties to the Punjabi masala vadi and the moong daal vadi. I was lucky to find cholar daaler bori also but never kalai daaler bori. I decided to take advantage of this heat wave and try something which I had seen my mother doing during our summer vacations........a balcony full of bori's drying in the hot sun.Well my mother also used to make potato chips and sabudana papads......lets save those for some other day.
I am a big fan of keeping things this bori has just 4 ingredients
Urad daal/Kalai daal-1 cup (soaked 2-3 hrs)
Salt-1 teaspoon
Asefotida/Hing-2 squirts
Red chili powder-1/2 teaspoon
Grind the lentils after draining all the water in which the lentils were soaked.I had to add about 3 tablespoons more during the grinding process to make my grinder stop making the angry noises.It takes some time to grind it into a smooth'll get there with constant scraping of the sides...eventually.Once the lentil is a smooth paste you can take the paste out in a bowl in which you can easily whip some air into the paste, by hand.I took out the blade from my grinder bowl and whipped the air in my blender bowl itself.Add in the salt,chili and asefotida/hing at this stage and whip.Trust your hand to tell you when this whipping is done.Mine said done........ in 5 mins.

Now pipe it out on a baking tray with some oil spayed on the surface.I tried to make the" bori" shapes like Hershey's kisses with my hands but gave up after 3 tries.I then took out the biggest decorating tip that I had a Wilton 1M and piped it out in rows....much better.

I baked the "boris" first at 200 F pre-heated oven for an hour and then decided that it would be a shame not to take advantage of the outside sun.So for the next 3 days the boris dried in sun.If the weather had changed i would have continued the drying in the oven.
I fried 2 of the boris before packing them in an airtight container.....tasty crispy airy fluffy and that is when I decided it was a successful attempt which deserves a post.