Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Climbing Perch (Koi Maach) in Fennel Seed Sauce

Mouri Bata Diye Koi Maacher Jhol

This dish was inspired by Ishani Ghosh Majumdar's recipe posted on Kitchen Raagas group in Facebook.

Tilapia Fillets in Fennel Seed Sauce
I have also made this same recipe using tilapia fillets.

Catfish Steaks in Fennel Seed Sauce uses the very same ingredients with just a few differences.  The gravy is much thicker in this dish and I've used climbing perch here instead of catfish.

This fish, also known as Koi Maach in Bengali, is purchased live in India and is well-known for its recuperative qualities. In the U.S. and in Michigan in particular, we have no option but to buy frozen climbing perch which is sometimes available in some Oriental and Indian grocery stores. Although the flavour of the live fish is far superior to the frozen variety, it is still a good alternative to using other species of fish, such as catfish or tilapia.

Fennel seed powder is made by toasting fennel seeds in a dry skillet until their aroma is released, taking care not to brown them. Once cooled, the fennel seeds are ground to a fine powder in a coffee grinder that has been reserved specifically for grinding spices.  

After each use, the spice grinder is whirred with baking powder to clean it and remove all aromas.

1 lb. climbing perch, cleaned and gutted
4 Tbsp. vegetable oil
1 tsp. fennel seeds
2 Roma tomatoes, chopped
1 Tbsp. ginger paste
½ tsp. turmeric
1 Tbsp. Kashmiri mirch or chili powder
2 + 1 Tbsp. fennel seeds, roasted and ground to a fine powder
½ tsp. sugar
salt to taste
4 green chilies, slit
chopped cilantro

1.  Wash fish well and make two slanted slits on each side of each fish between the head and tail. This allows the sauce to penetrate to the center.
2.  Apply salt & turmeric to fish and marinate for half an hour.
3.  Make a paste with 1 tsp. oil, ginger paste, salt, Kashmiri mirch & 2 Tbsp. fennel powder.
4.  Stir remaining 1 Tbsp. fennel powder and sugar with 2 Tbsp. water and set aside.
5.  In a skillet over medium-high heat, fry fish in oil on both sides and set aside.
6.  In the same oil, fry fennel seeds until they sputter, then add the tomatoes.
7.  Cook tomatoes with 1st batch of fennel seed paste until tomatoes break down.
8.  Add a cup of boiling water in 4 batches, stirring well after each addition.
9.  Adjust salt to taste, add fried fish, cover and cook for 5 minutes. 
10. Turn fish over and cook for another 5 minutes.
11. Add 2nd batch of fennel seed paste and stir gravy gently without disturbing the fish.
12. Garnish with cilantro & green chilies and serve with steamed Basmati rice.

Tilapia Fillets in Coleman's Mustard Sauce

Tilapia Maacher Jhal
Fish in mustard sauce is a very popular Bengali dish which is usually made with a paste of black mustard seeds that have to be soaked in water and salt overnight to remove their bitterness. Here is a very quick, easy and delicious alternative using Coleman's Mustard powder.  

This recipe was given to me by my niece, Dipanwita Banerjee, who is an excellent cook!

1 lb. Tilapia fillets, cut in pieces
½ tsp. turmeric

4 Tbsp. vegetable oil
½ tsp. nigella seeds (kalo jeera/kalonji)
1 jalapeno pepper, sliced in four
2 medium onions, sliced
1 Tbsp. tomato paste
1 tsp. Kashmiri mirch or chili powder
2½ heaped tsp. Coleman’s Mustard powder
Salt to taste

4 green chilies, slit
1 Tbsp. chopped cilantro

1. Marinate fish pieces in salt and turmeric for half an hour.
2. Heat oil in a pan, sizzle nigella seeds and fry jalapeno pepper & onions for a minute.
3. Stir in tomato paste & chili powder and cook until oil resurfaces.
4. Place fish pieces over onions, cook one side, turn fish pieces over and cook other side.
5. Give mustard & water a good stir and pour over fish.
6. When gravy comes to a boil, garnish with green chilies and cilantro.
7. Serve on a bed of hot Basmati rice.

Lentils with Sweet Potatoes & Toasted Coconut

Mum used to make this at home when company was expected. It was part of a feast (nimonthonno ranna in Bengali). Fresh coconuts are readily available in India and Mum would break the coconut shell, slice the meat into strips and slice it into flat disks that would be fried in oil to a nutty brown.  They would then be cooked along with the lentils.

Since fresh coconuts are not as easily available in Michigan, a staple in my refrigerator is unsweetened, grated coconut. I use a dry skillet to toast a quarter cup of grated coconut to a golden brown colour with the help of 1/2 a teaspoon of sugar. The toasted coconut is used as a garnish and stirred into the lentils just prior to serving.


1 cup channa dal (any lentils will do)
1 medium sweet potato or 1/4 pumpkin, peeled and cut in bite-size pieces
¼ cup grated unsweetened coconut, toasted to a golden brown
1 Tbsp. tomato paste
4 Tbsp. vegetable oil
½ tsp. shah jeera or cumin seeds
1 tsp. garam masala powder
2 tsp. ginger paste
Salt to taste
1 tsp. ghee or melted butter
2–3 green chilies, left whole


1. Wash and soak sweet potatoes in water to prevent discolouring.

2. Wash lentils until water runs clear and soak in hot water for half an hour.
3. Heat oil in a pan and add cumin seeds & garam masala.
4. When cumin seeds start to sizzle, add tomato and ginger pastes along with sweet potatoes and cook for a few minutes.
5. Add lentils, cover and simmer for about half an hour until lentils are tender.
6. Adjust salt to taste, garnish with ghee, toasted coconut and whole green chilies.
7. Transfer to a serving dish and serve with steamed rice or tortillas.

I shared this recipe on 

Friday, March 15, 2013

Green Beans in White Poppy Seed Sauce

Green Beans & Shrimp Posto
Green beans, peas & shrimp cooked in a white poppy seed sauce

Serves: 6
Prep Time: 15 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. green Beans, sliced width-wise into small circles 
2 tsp. Ginger paste
Salt to taste
1 cup frozen Peas, thawed
10 – 15 medium shrimp, shelled and deveined

1 tsp. Ghee or melted Butter
2 – 3 Thai red chillies, left whole

1. Boil a cup of water in microwave, pour over poppy seeds in a bowl. Set aside to cool and soften.
2. Puree the poppy seeds and water in a blender until it reaches the consistency of a thick sauce. 
3. Heat oil in a pan over medium-high heat and add nigella seeds.
4. When the seeds begin to sputter and sizzle, add vegetables, ginger paste and salt.
5. Lower heat to medium-low and cook for 10 minutes until vegetables are tender.
6. Add peas & shrimp, adjust salt to taste 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 beans.
9. Garnish with ghee & whole chillies and transfer to a serving dish.

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

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Egg Curry

Deem-er Dalna

6 eggs, boiled peeled & cut in half
1 large Russet potato, cut in bite-size pieces
2 cups chicken broth
2 onions, quartered
4 pods garlic
1 tsp. tomato paste (I use Hunt’s)
2 tomatoes, cubed
1 Tbsp. ginger paste
1 tsp. garam masala
4 Tbsp. vegetable oil
1 tsp. cumin seeds
1 bay leaf
1 cinnamon stick
1 star anise
1 tsp. ghee
½ tsp. sugar
1-2 green/red fresh chilies, slit
Chopped cilantro
Salt to taste

1.  Boil eggs for 5 minutes, set aside for 20 minutes, peel and cut in half.
2.  Fry eggs in 1 Tbsp. oil, cut side down, until golden brown and set aside.
3.  Blanch onions & garlic in a cup of boiling water and drain.
4.  Purée blanched items, tomatoes, tomato & ginger pastes & garam masala.
5.  Heat remaining 3 Tbsp. oil in a skillet over medium-high heat.
6.  Sputter cumin seeds, bay leaf, cinnamon stick, and star anise.
7.  Add puréed mixture & salt, cover & simmer on low heat until oil resurfaces.
8.  Heat chicken broth in microwave and pour into skillet.
9.  Add potatoes & eggs, cover and cook until gravy is reduced by half. 
10. Adjust salt & garnish with sugar, ghee, fresh chilies & cilantro.
11. Serve over hot steamed rice or with chapatis.

Tuesday, March 05, 2013

Microwaved Mango Kalakand

Mango & Ricotta Dessert
Serving Suggestions

Cook Time: 16 minutes
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cooling Time: 1 hour
Makes: 25 pieces

1 tub (15 oz.) Sargento Ricotta Cheese or grated Paneer
1 can (14 oz.) Carnation condensed milk
1 pkg. (3.2 oz.) Carnation milk powder
1 cup mango pulp
1 tsp. cardamom powder
½ tsp. saffron
¼ cup chopped cashews


  1. In a microwave-safe dish, mix first four ingredients until all lumps are smoothed out.
  2. Microwave 5 minutes uncovered, take out and mix well, loosening the edges.
  3. Microwave 5 minutes uncovered, take out and mix well, loosening the edges.
  4. Microwave 2 minutes uncovered, take out, add cardamom & mix well, loosening the edges.
  5. Microwave 2 minutes uncovered, take out, add saffron and mix well, loosening the edges.
  6. Microwave 2 minutes uncovered, take out and mix well, loosening the edges.
  7. Press down and flatten the mixture, sprinkle cashews on top and press down firmly.
  8. Cover and refrigerate for an hour before cutting into 25 pieces. 
  9. Serve chilled.

Monday, March 04, 2013

Burmese Stir-Fried Chayote Squash

Chayote squash is also known as choko or Darjeeling squash and may be replaced with zucchini or bottle gourd. Select light green chayote squash which indicate they're still young and sweet. 

Sunday, March 03, 2013

Spinach, Sweet Potatoes & Peas with Coconut

Palang Shaag, Misti Alu, Karaishuti Ar Narkol 
Ingredients : 

2 lbs. frozen chopped spinach
1 sweet potato or 1/4 pumpkin, peeled & cubed
½ lb. frozen peas
1 large onion, sliced finely
1 jalapeno pepper, halved lengthwise & sliced widthwise
2 Tbsp. vegetable oil
1 tsp. Shah jeera or cumin seeds
¼ cup grated unsweetened coconut
1 tsp. roasted cumin powder
salt to taste
1 jalapeno pepper, deseeded & sliced
1 tsp. ghee

  1. Heat a skillet on medium-high heat, toast grated coconut, remove and reserve for later use.
  2. Heat oil in same skillet and sputter jeera.
  3. Add and stir-fry sliced jalapenos, onions & cumin powder until onions turn opaque.
  4. Stir in sweet potatoes & salt to taste, cover and simmer until sweet potatoes are half done.
  5. Add frozen spinach & peas, add more salt, cover and steam until spinach & peas thaw.
  6. Stir well and cook over medium heat until spinach is cooked and liquid evaporates.
  7. Adjust salt, sprinkle with toasted coconut & garnish with sliced peppers and ghee.
Serve with rice or chapatis.

I shared this recipe on