Wednesday, February 12, 2020

Dak Bungalow Mutton Curry

Dak Bungalow Mutton Curry
This is a two-in-one meal of meat and egg curry. When the meat is demolished, the eggs remain and the dish keeps on giving! 

Dak bungalows are guest houses that served as mail distribution centers during the British Raj. They came equipped with all the comforts of a 'home away from home' for visiting officials. These comforts included cleaning and cooking staff who served up Indian food adapted to western tastes.

From the recipes I found on the internet, it seemed that this dish is a regular meat curry that includes two hard-boiled eggs. I used my trusted meat curry recipe and enjoyed the eggs at the end when all that remained were potatoes and gravy.

Wednesday, January 29, 2020

Stir-Fried Eggs and Potatoes

Alu Pyaj Deem Bhaja
The internet, and Facebook in particular, are an endless source of inspiration. This recipe, taken from a food group in Facebook, is one of a myriad of egg curry recipes and is also the easiest. The eggs and potatoes are boiled for 20 minutes, cooled, peeled and cut, then stir-fried with onions. By boiling the potatoes first, they taste wonderfully soft after cooking.

We had this with steamed rice, but it can be served with any Indian bread and tastes really good rolled up in a tortilla. 

Monday, January 27, 2020

Beet and Sweet Potato Chops

Garnished Chops
Sweet Potato Cakes sounded so tempting! The small number of ingredients made it look easy, so I went about collecting my supplies. In addition to the two sweet potatoes in the vegetable, there were 3 small beets. This was my first deviation from the original recipe.

I've recently replaced plain breadcrumbs with Japanese Panko Breadcrumbs but, for the life of me, could not find the box. Since it was being used as a binding agent, I reached for the jar of tapioca-rice starch instead, which turned out to be a 'happy accident' or serendipitous. The texture it produced was soft, yet 'bouncy', similar to turnip cakes. And this was the second deviation from the original recipe, although I eventually did find and add Panko breadcrumbs.

Serve with your choice of dip such as ketchup. I served it with kasundi, the Bengali substitute for French's mustard.

Monday, January 13, 2020

Green Peppers in Peanut Sauce

Green Peppers in Peanut Sauce

Any and all varieties of bell peppers taste good cooked in this tangy peanut sauce. Add as much chili powder and dried red peppers as you can handle. I kept them to a minimum to suit my family.

Sunday, January 12, 2020

Saffron Cauliflower

Saffron Cauliflower
Saffron is one of those spices that should be discarded after a year because it loses its aroma and flavour. I often use saffron as a substitute for turmeric powder. In this case, cauliflower and potatoes were cooked with white poppy seed paste and saffron, which imparts a beautiful golden hue. Serve as a side dish with steamed rice, chapatis or tortillas.

Choto Mach'er Chorchori - Stir-Fried Smelt

Smelt Chorchori
When I first left India, it took me a long time to get over the disappointment of seeing only filleted fish in the supermarkets. Then I came across packages of lake smelt, already cleaned and left whole. Beli Mashi, my aunt, was visiting us in Los Angeles at the time, and she showed me how to choose the larger sizes of smelt to prepare with shorshe bata or mustard paste.

Stir-frying the smaller variety of smelt in mustard oil with potatoes, tomatoes and green onions makes a lovely bati chorchori. Similar to canned sardines, they can be enjoyed without the fuss of removing the bones.

Best served with hot, steamed rice, this main dish can be accompanied by lentils and a vegetable side dish for a complete Bengali meal.

Thursday, January 09, 2020

Bread Pudding

Bread Pudding

In the Bowl

Inspired by a Banglar Rannaghar video, (my favourite videos to watch), this bread pudding reminds me of my caramel custard or flan recipe with bread added to it. I used coconut sugar in place of granulated sugar and evaporated milk instead of cream.

Monday, December 23, 2019

Asian Caramelized Fish Curry

An Asian variation of fish in coconut milk. Caramelizing the sugar and adding fish sauce to the gravy gives it a unique flavor. Serve as a main dish with steamed rice.

Deem Begun Bhaja - Fried Eggplant Omelette

Deem Begun Bhaja
The texture and size of purple globe eggplant are best suited to this recipe. Begun bhaja or fried eggplant slices round out any Bengali meal and here's another preparation to add to my repertoire. Add ground meat to the omelette ingredients and it could make a main dish.It reminds me of a California sunrise in which a circle is cut out of the center of a piece of toast, filled with a cracked egg and fried. 

Saturday, November 02, 2019

Chicken Keema Biryani

Chicken Keema Biryani
Biryani is a rich and wholesome dish that takes center stage at any festive meal. It consists of layers of fluffy, aromatic Basmati rice, a rich meaty base and loads of fried onions, herbs and aromatic spices that are steamed in a saucepan with a tight-fitting lid. 

This chicken keema biryani uses ground chicken that is cooked first, separately from the rice. I've cut down on the processing time by using a ready-made spice mix called Shan Pilao Biryani mix whose strong and spicy flavours works its magic on the ground chicken which serves as a base layer for the biryani. Basmati rice is soaked for 20 minutes, drained and air-dried before being spread evenly over the chicken base and topped with cilantro, mint and deep fried onions. Heated chicken broth is poured carefully around the edges of the saucepan and this one-pot dish is simmered over low heat for 25 minutes until all the liquids are absorbed by the rice.

This main dish is best accompanied by a cool and soothing Raita along with vegetable sides such as Green Beans Posto and Tomato Chutney.

Friday, November 01, 2019

Panch Mishali Shukto - 5-Vegetable Stew

Panch Mishali Shukto

Shukto (shook-tho) is a classic Bengali dish and is the traditional beginning or starter to both festive and ordinary meals at the Bengali table. It's a melange of colourful vegetables (purple eggplants, orange carrots, white radish, white potatoes and green bitter melons) and textures (crunchy bitter melons, carrots and radish and soft melt-in-the-mouth potatoes). If available, do add shojne data/drumsticks and kanch kola/green bananas

Bitter melon is the main ingredient in shukto, revered for its bitter flavour and so good for balancing blood sugar levels. Because Hubby abhors bitter melon, I've made shukto sans bitter melon for him, hence the two pictures above.

Using very little oil and hardly any spices, this dish gets it zesty flavour from ginger and black mustard paste or shorshe bata that is blended with salt and a green chili. The eggplant pieces are fried first and set aside, the crunchy vegetables and potatoes are then stir-fried in ginger paste, eggplant returned to the skillet and then all of it simmered in mustard sauce.

This side dish which is both vegetarian and vegan, is best eaten with freshly steamed Basmati rice.

Tomato and Onion Raita

Tomato and Onion Raita
Raita is an Indian salad that is tossed with a yogurt dressing. It cools the palate which makes it the ideal accompaniment to a spicy meal. It goes well with rich biryanis and pulaos or with a simple naan or any Indian bread.

Sunday, October 13, 2019

Tomato Dal

Tur & Masur Tomato Dal

Bhapa Sandesh - Steamed Ricotta Cheese Dessert

Bhapa Sandesh
Sandesh is a beloved sweet or misti in West Bengal, India, and Bangladesh. Bhapa (steamed) Sandesh can be made in a pressure cooker or microwave oven. I find it simpler to use the microwave method because it's faster and can be made in the same Pyrex dish in which it can be served so there are no dishes to wash.

Whole milk ricotta cheese works well in this recipe, the alternative being to make cottage cheese or chana at home. The latter involves an elaborate and complex process which is not my cuppa tea.

Sandesh was my son's favourite misti and had to be included in his tiffin or bento box every day. The soft and satiny texture of sandesh varies with the ratio of cheese to sugar. The more cheese in the sandesh, the softer and more velvety it is.

Bijoya Potluck 2019

Bijoya Potluck 2019
L-R from Top Left

Asha's Corn Salad

Masur-Channa-Chola Dal

Dak Bungalow Mutton Curry

2 Kinds or Pulao and Basmati Rice (not shown)


Sunday, October 06, 2019

Kankra'r Jhal - Crab in Mustard Sauce

Kankra'r Jhal
Those live crabs in the Asian supermarkets have been piquing my interest for a while. Yesterday, my defenses finally crumbled and I bravely selected six of the most active and had them cleaned in the store. Dinner last night was the most enjoyable meal for me but it would have been better if I could have shared it with someone else. The last time I had crab cooked the Bengali way was before I left India in 1977. 

Fish & Seafood Duo
Hubby cringes at the sight of crab, so I prepared Tilapia fillets for him in the same way as the crab. 

Tuesday, September 24, 2019

Sweet & Sour Eggplant

Tok-Misti Begun
One of our favourite dishes to order in an Indo-Chinese restaurant is this sweet and sour eggplant. The recipe was inspired by one that was posted on Facebook. It's quick to make, light and delicious!

Thursday, September 19, 2019

Minced Meat & Cabbage in Coconut Sauce

This dish combines a few of my favorite ingredients. It turned out to be more delicious than expected. The minced meat was first cooked with all the seasonings and coconut milk in a pressure cooker, combined with shredded cabbage and then cooked until dry. It's perfect served on a bed of rice, but would go well with chapatis, as well.

Kanda Poha - Flattened Rice Pilaf

Flattened Rice Pilaf
Cheera (Bengali) or Poha (Hindi) or Flattened Rice (English) is parboiled rice that has been flattened and dried. It's available in packages at Indian markets all over India and North America and is considered a 'good' food for diabetics.

I was under the misconception that Kanda Poha refers to the potatoes in this poha dish, but during a phone conversation, my sister said it refers to the onions in the dish. Onions are considered to be non-vegetarian in certain parts of India so it's important to name it appropriately.

It's a hearty and filling meal which, if had for lunch, curbs hunger pangs that usually occur in the late afternoon.

Roasted Cauliflower

The stove top was being used to capacity, so this cauliflower dish was baked in the oven. It tasted great and was so easy to assemble. It goes well with rice or chapatis.

Sunday, August 11, 2019

Egg Curry & Eggplant-Zucchini Posto

Clockwise from top:
Simple Salad
Diced cucumbers, tomatoes, onions, green chilies, salt and lime juice.

Begun-Zucchini Posto

Eggplant-Zucchini Posto

Our neighbour across the street shared his bumper crop of Japanese eggplants and zucchini with us. The eggplants were young, seedless, tender and tasted so much better than what's available in the stores around here. 

Posto are white poppy seeds (sometimes combine with mustard seeds), green chilies and salt to make a creamy sauce that goes with most vegetables, fish or chicken. It serves to thicken gravy and has a soporific effect, ideal for lunch, eaten before taking a nap.

Leaving the skin on the zucchinis prevents them from dissolving into mush while cooking and gives this dish a better colour.

Friday, August 09, 2019

Shahi Tukda - Royal Bread Pudding

Shahi Tukda
Shahi Tukda or Bread Pudding fit for a king, is a popular and festive dessert in Mughlai cuisine. Toast points, fried in butter or ghee until golden brown, are soaked in simple syrup, dipped in thickened milk (rabri) that is flavoured with cardamom and saffron and garnished with sliced almonds.

To simplify life and to cut down on sugar consumption, the step to soak the pieces of bread in simple syrup is eliminated. Also, making rabri is a very tedious process and to simplify that step, evaporated milk is mixed with Gits Kulfi mix which is already flavoured with cardamom and saffron.

Made with just five ingredients in less than 15 minutes, this dessert is delicious!

Monday, August 05, 2019

Begun diye Maach'er Jhol - Eggplant & Fish Curry

Begun diye Maach'er Jhol
True fish lovers insist that bone-in fish taste much better than filleted fish. I prefer bone-in fish, but hubby prefers filleted fish, so both are cooked any time curry or jhol is on the menu. In this case, Shol Maach and Tilapia Maach were made in the same way, so everyone's happy.

Shol Maach'er Jhol

Shol maach is a species of catfish that is now available in SE Asian markets in the U.S. It looked interesting, but was tough to identify on the internet. It tasted sweet, was meaty and very good prepared in this way.

Tilapia Maach'er Jhol
Tilapia fillets are commonly found in the North American supermarkets and are hubby's favourite fish. 

Eggplant & Fish Curry

Thursday, August 01, 2019

Mum's Green Beans

Mum's Green Beans
Mum made this for us when we were growing up. Blanch the green beans, if necessary, but when they're in season, the beans are very fresh and tender and cook easily without blanching. No water is added during cooking because the onions and tomatoes release sufficient moisture when cooked over medium heat. Adding black pepper right at the end, pumps up the flavour, so make sure to have ground black pepper on hand.