Saturday, October 27, 2012

Asparagus & Shrimp in Mustard Gravy

Shrimp and mustard gravy go well with a lot of vegetables such as eggplants, potatoes, pumpkin, summer squash or sweet potatoes.  Asparagus provides a crisp note when combined with shrimp and ground mustard.

Clockwise from top left to right -
Bagaara Baingan, Tomato Date Chutney,
Asparagus & Shrimp in Mustard Gravy and
Green Beans with Black Pepper

1 bundle asparagus, trimmed and cut in 1" pieces
1/2 lb. frozen salad shrimp, defrosted
1 tsp. ginger paste
2 Tbsp. vegetable oil
1/4 tsp. nigella seeds (kalo jeera/kalonji)
4-5 green chillies
1/2 cup black mustard seeds, soaked overnight in salted water
2 Tbsp. white poppy seeds, soaked along with mustard seeds
Juice of 1 lime

  1. Blanch asparagus pieces and shock in cold water.
  2. Grind drained mustard and poppy seeds in a blender, strain and mix with lime juice.
  3. Heat oil, fry green chillies until skins turn white, remove and set aside.
  4. Add nigella seeds and wait until they sputter.
  5. Add asparagus pieces along with ginger paste and fry for a few minutes.
  6. Add shrimp and fried green chillies, then pour in ground mustard.
  7. Bring to a boil and remove from heat source.
  8. Serve hot over cooked basmati rice.

Bagaara Baingan

This dish is usually made with small, whole eggplants, but works just as well with oriental eggplants.  The original recipe is on a Facebook group page called Kitchen Raagas.  I've reproduced the recipe the way I made it here for people who are not on Facebook.
Bagaara Baingan


5 large oriental eggplants, cut in bite-size pieces
3 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
1 onion, chopped
6 cloves garlic, minced into a fine paste
1 tsp. ginger paste
1 large tomato
1 handful peanuts, shelled and skinned
1 handful Bengal gram dal (chana dal)
1 Tbsp. sesame seeds
2 Tbsp. grated/dessicated coconut
1 Tbsp. tamarind paste
1 tsp. ghee
6-7 curry leaves


1. Dry roast separately, chana dal, peanuts, and sesame seed.  Mix together and set aside.
2. Heat olive oil in a sauce pan over medium heat.  Fry eggplants till golden and set aside.
3. Make a paste of onion, garlic, ginger and tomato.
4. Heat olive oil and fry paste until oil resurfaces.
5. Add roasted powder, eggplants, coconut, tamarind paste and curry leaves to the saucepan and stir well.
6. Allow to simmer for 10-15 minutes.
7. Garnish with ghee and serve.

Tomato Date Chutney

Festive Bengali meals end on a sweet note, usually a chutney of which Tomato Date Chutney is the most common.


6 large tomatoes
8 dates, deseeded and chopped
1/4 cup golden raisins
2 Tbsp. fresh ginger root, cut in julienne strips
1/4 cup dark brown sugar, or to taste
1 small lump jaggery (gur)
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar (or white)
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. panch phoron *
1 cinnamon stick
1 star anise
1 Tbsp. vegetable oil

  1. Cut a shallow + on the base of each tomato and submerge in boiling water until skin peels at +.  
  2. Allow tomatoes to cool, peel, chop and set aside.
  3. Heat oil, temper panch phoron, cinnamon stick and star anise until seeds begin to sputter.
  4. Add remaining ingredients and cook for about an hour on medium heat until liquid evaporates.
  5. Serve warm or chilled at the end of the meal.
* Panch phoron is a Bengali 5-spice mixture which comprises the following seeds in equal proportions:
  • Fennel 
  • Nigella  (Kalo Jeera/Kalonji)
  • Cumin  
  • Mustard 
  • Fenugreek (Methi)
This recipe was shared on

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Bhapa Doi

Bhapa (steamed) Doi (yogurt) is a baked yogurt dessert that tastes a lot like cheesecake.  It is also very similar to Laal Doi (red yogurt) that is available in the Kolkata sweet shops (misti dokan).


1 (14 oz.) can condensed milk

1 (16.oz.) can evaporated milk
1 (6 oz.) tub plain yogurt


  1. Preheat oven to 350F.
  2. Blend all ingredients.
  3. Pour into a glass baking pan and bake at 350*F for 30 minutes.
  4. Lower oven temperature to 275*F and bake for another 30 minutes.
  5. Refrigerate overnight.

Tuesday, October 09, 2012

Beet & Vegetable Chops

Vegetable Chops - Beets, Carrots and Sweet Potato are boiled,
mashed and formed into patties, using besan (chickpea flour)
as a binding agent.

3 medium beets
4 carrots
1 sweet potato
1 medium onion, chopped
1 cup chickpea flour (besan)
2 tsp. plain yogurt or sour cream
1 tsp. salt
Cilantro, chopped
Green onions, chopped
3 Tbsp. vegetable oil

  1. Cut root vegetables into chunks and boil in salted water for 15-20 minutes.
  2. Drain vegetables and mash with a fork or potato masher until it resembles chunky mashed potatoes.
  3. Add chopped onions, flour, yogurt or sour cream & salt and mix through.
  4. Heat vegetable oil in a frying pan over medium-high heat.
  5. Using a tablespoon to measure, drop vegetable mixture into hot oil and flatten to form a patty.
  6. Shallow fry for 2-3 minutes on each side.
  7. Drain patties on a plate lined with a paper towel.
  8. Alternatively, chops may be baked on a cookie sheet (foil lined and greased) at 400F for 20 minutes.
  9. Serve patties with lime and tamarind chutney. 
This recipe was shared on:

Wednesday, October 03, 2012

Lentils with Sweet Potatoes

Urad Dal with Sweet Potatoes

Serves: 6
Prep Time: 2 minutes
Cooking Time: 30 minutes

1 cup kalai dal (urad dal)*
1 sweet potato or 1/4 pumpkin, peeled, diced and soaked in water
6-8 plum tomatoes, cut in half
2 Tbsp. extra light olive oil
½ tsp. shah jeera or cumin seeds
1 cinnamon stick
1 star anise
2 tsp. ginger paste
Salt to taste
1 tsp. ghee or melted butter
2–3 green chilies, left whole

  1. Wash lentils until water runs clear.
  2. Heat oil in a pan and add cumin seeds, cinnamon stick and star anise.
  3. When cumin starts to sizzle, add sweet potatoes and tomatoes and stir.
  4. Add lentils and ginger paste and cook until lentils are tender.
  5. Blend with an immersion blender and adjust salt to taste.
  6. Garnish with ghee and whole green chilies.
  7. Transfer to a serving dish and serve with steamed rice or tortillas.
* The urad dal may be replaced with channa or toor dal.

Fried Cabbage with Shrimp

Bandha Kopi Chingri Mach

Serves: 6
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cooking Time: 45 minutes


1 cabbage, shredded
18-20 large shrimp, shelled and deveined
6-8 baby potatoes, cut in eighths
3 Tbsp. extra light olive oil
½ tsp. shah jeera or cumin seeds
1 cinnamon stick
1 star anise
1 tsp. Kashmiri mirch or chili powder
2 tsp. ginger paste
1 tsp. garlic paste
2 medium onions, sliced
6-8 plum tomatoes, cut in half
Salt to taste
1 tsp. Ghee or melted Butter
½ tsp. Bengali garam masala (ground cinnamon, cardamom and cloves)
2 – 3 green chilies, left whole


  1. Heat oil in a pan over medium-high heat and fry shrimp until pink.
  2. Remove shrimp and set aside.
  3. Heat oil in same pan and add cumin seeds, cinnamon stick & star anise.
  4. When cumin starts to sizzle, brown the sliced onions.
  5. Add cabbage, potatoes, tomatoes, ginger & garlic pastes, chili powder and salt.
  6. Stir well, cover & cook cabbage over medium heat until it turns golden brown, stirring every 10 minutes.
  7. Adjust salt to taste and return fried shrimp to pan.
  8. Cook for 5 more minutes, garnish with ghee, garam masala and whole green chilies.
  9. Transfer to a serving dish and serve with steamed rice or tortillas.

Minty Ground Chicken Curry

Minty Chicken Keema Curry


Servings: 6
Preparation time: 15 minutes
  Cooking time: 20 minutes

1 lb. ground chicken
1 cup frozen green peas
1 cup plain Greek yogurt
3 Tbsp. mint-cilantro chutney (used for pani poori)
2 + 2 Tbsp. cooking oil
8-10 curry leaves
1 tsp. garam masala powder (see note below)
Salt to taste
2 Tbsp. crisply fried onions
2 heaped tsp. garlic paste
1½ tsp. ginger paste
¼ tsp. black mustard seeds
1 star anise
1 stick cinnamon
4 green chilies, sliced

  1. Marinate chicken for 30 minutes in salt, yogurt, mint-cilantro chutney, crushed fried onions, garlic and ginger pastes and 2 Tbsp. oil.
  2. Heat remaining 2 Tbsp. oil in a pan and add mustard seeds, chilies, star anise, cinnamon and curry leaves.
  3. As soon as mustard seeds sizzle, add chicken along with marinade and stir thoroughly.
  4. Lower heat, cover and simmer for 20 minutes or until chicken is cooked.
  5. Add peas, cook 2 minutes, sprinkle with garam masala & transfer to serving dish.
Serve with steamed rice, roti or paratha.

  • Mint-cilantro chutney (a.k.a. pudina chutney) may be prepared at home or purchased from an Indian grocery store.
  • Garam masala in Bengali households comprises 1 cinnamon stick, 3 cardamoms and 3 cloves that are roasted and ground to a fine powder.

Baby Potatoes in Poppy Seed Sauce

Alu Posto

Serves: 6
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cooking Time: 20 minutes


4 Tbsp. white poppy seeds (posto)
1 cup water
3 Tbsp. extra light olive oil
½ tsp. nigella seeds (kalo jeera/kalonji)
1 lb. baby potatoes, cut in half
2 tsp. ginger paste
Salt to taste
1 tsp.ghee or melted butter
2-3 green chilies, left whole


1.   Boil potatoes for 15 minutes, drain, peel and quarter each half segment.
2.   Boil a cup of water in microwave, pour over poppy seeds in a bowl. Set aside to cool and soften.
3.   Puree the poppy seeds, water, some salt and a green chili until it reaches the consistency of a thick     sauce.
4.   Heat oil in a pan over medium-high heat and add nigella seeds.
5.   When the seeds begin to sizzle, add potatoes, ginger paste and salt.
6.   Lower heat to medium-low and cook for 5 minutes.
7.   Add pureed poppy seeds and stir until well combined.
8.   Cook for 5 minutes until the sauce reduces and just coats the potatoes.
9.   Garnish with ghee & whole green chilies and transfer to a serving dish.


  • The potatoes can be replaced with several other vegetables, such as eggplant, cauliflower, potatoes, zucchini, ridge gourd (jhinge), sweet potatoes, or pumpkin, etc.

Monday, October 01, 2012

Eggplant in a Creamy Yogurt Sauce

Doi Begun


1 cup plain yogurt
4 Tbsp. water
1/2 tsp. sugar
1/4 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. roasted cumin powder
1 tsp. Bengali roasted five-spice powder (panch phoron)

4 large oriental eggplants, cut into bite-sized pieces
1/2 tsp. turmeric
Salt to taste
3 Tbsp. extra light olive oil

1 Tbsp. extra light olive oil
1/2 tsp. shah jeera or cumin seeds 

2 sliced onions
5-6 plum tomatoes, quartered
2 russet potatoes, cut into 12 pieces each
1/4 cup golden raisins

1 tsp. ghee or melted butter
1 Tbsp. chopped cilantro
2 – 3 hot green chillies, left whole


  1. Mix yogurt with the next 5 ingredients and allow it to come to room temperature
  2. Coat eggplants and potatoes with turmeric and salt, then fry in 3 Tbsp. oil until golden brown. 
  3. Heat 1 Tbsp. oil in a pan over medium-high heat and add cumin seeds.
  4. When the seeds begin to sputter and sizzle, add sliced onions and saute until translucent.
  5. Add tomatoes, potatoes and raisins, lower heat to medium-low and cook until potatoes are tender.
  6. Add fried eggplant, adjust salt to taste and cook for 3 minutes.
  7. Remove pan from heat source and add yogurt mixture, one tablespoon at a time, until the yogurt is thoroughly incorporated into the vegetables.
  8. Garnish with ghee, chopped cilantro & whole chilies and transfer to a serving dish.


The yogurt is added a Tbsp. at a time so that it does not separate. 
Be very gentle when adding the yogurt so that the eggplants do not disintegrate.

Salmon in Mustard Gravy

Salmon Macher Jhal


1 large Salmon fillet, cut in pieces

3 Tbsp. vegetable oil
½ tsp. nigella seeds (kalo jeera)

2 Tbsp. posto (white poppy seeds)
4 Tbsp. black mustard seeds

1 large onion, sliced
¼ tsp. turmeric powder
2 Tbsp. tomato paste
Salt to taste
Pinch of sugar
5-6 plum tomatoes
1½ cups hot water 

Garnish with:
1 Tbsp. chopped coriander leaves (cilantro)
3 green chilies
1 tsp. ghee

  1. Soak mustard seeds and 1 Tbsp. salt in tepid water overnight. 
  2. Soak posto in hot water for 15 minutes. 
  3. Strain the mustard and blend with posto.
  4. Marinate the fish slices for 10 minutes in turmeric & salt. 
  5. Fry fish lightly on both sides and set aside.
  6. Add 3 Tbsp. oil to pan over high heat and add nigella seeds.
  7. When seeds begin to sputter, fry the onions and tomato paste until oil resurfaces.
  8. Add blended posto and mustard to the pan.
  9. Sauté for 3 minutes, add the hot water, plum tomatoes and fish pieces.
  10. Place lid on pan and cook over low heat for 10 minutes.
  11. Adjust salt to taste and add sugar. 
  12. Garnish with coriander leaves, green chilies and ghee.

Fish in Mustard Gravy

Tilapia Macher Jhal

I find that making this dish on the spur of the moment is not  possible because mustard seeds need to be soaked overnight in salt and water to get rid of its bitterness.  Using Coleman’s  Mustard saves a lot of time.  The other time-saver is to add the fish directly to the gravy instead of frying it beforehand.  This steams the fish, keeping it moist and tender.  

Inspiration for this recipe is attributed to Dipanwita Banerjee who is a wonderful cook!


1 lb. Salmon, Tilapia or Catfish fillets or steaks

Soak next two ingredients for 15 minutes and grind into paste:
3 Tbsp. white poppy seeds (posto)
¾ cup boiling water

Stir into paste and set aside for 10 minutes:
1 Tbsp. Coleman’s English Mustard superfine powder

3 Tbsp. oil
½ tsp. nigella seeds (kalo jeera/kalonji)
2 green chilies, sliced

3 Tbsp. vegetable oil
1 medium onion, sliced
4 Tbsp. Hunt’s tomato sauce (not ketchup) or 2 medium tomatoes, diced

1/2 cup hot water
 Salt to taste

Garnish with:
1 Tbsp. chopped cilantro

  1.    Soak poppy seeds in boiling water for 15 minutes & blend both until smooth.
  2.    Stir in Coleman’s Mustard and set aside for 10 minutes.
  3.    Cut fish fillets in half.  If using fish steaks, leave whole.
  4.    Heat oil in saucepan; add nigella seeds & chilies.
  5.    When seeds begin to sputter, fry onions until translucent.
  6.    Add tomato sauce or chopped tomatoes, lower heat & simmer until oil resurfaces.
  7.    Stir in poppy seed paste & simmer for 5 minutes.
  8.    Add ½ cup hot water, bring to a boil and add fish pieces.  
  9.    Cook over low heat for 5 more minutes.
  10.    Adjust salt to taste, garnish with cilantro and serve.