Thursday, March 27, 2014

Stir-Fried Rapini with Eggplant, Onions & Garlic

Shorshe Saak e Begun
Watching Italian chefs on TV prepare broccoli rabe or rapini with dried red peppers, onions and garlic made me very curious about this vegetable. I came across these greens in the vegetable section of the grocery store and they felt crisp and very fresh. The smell of the fresh greens reminded me of mustard greens, but the leaves and stalks of the latter are much longer and bigger. Rapini is a lot shorter and has small little clusters of broccoli nestled in the greens. The aroma of the dish as it was cooking was heavenly and it tasted even better.

Stir-Fried Catfish Fillets and Potatoes

Magur Maach Alu Makha Makha
I had a few pieces of catfish fillet in the freezer so decided to add half a russet potato and rustle up a quick stir-fried dish. This goes well with both rice or Indian bread.

Dry Egg Curry with Potatoes

Alu Pyaj Deem Bhaja
All credit for this dish goes to Pritha Sen who shared it on Kitchen Raagas in Facebook. For the benefit of those who cannot access the recipe on Facebook, I am detailing how I made this. 

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Mayz' Taco Salad

Mayz spent the evening with us last week and on the way home I asked him, 'What is the most interesting thing you ate since we last saw you?' and he thought about it for a while and replied, 'Taco Salad!' With a vigorous nod of his head he said, 'It was very good!' He had it at home, his Mama made it and he gave me a list of everything in it. What he liked best about the Taco Salad were the Nachos that were crushed and mixed in with everything else.

This recipe is dedicated to Mayz, who is GrandBoy #2, age 6.

Friday, March 21, 2014

Burmese Nga Hpet Thoke - Fish Cake Salad

Fish Cake Salad
A quick & easy salad using fish cakes that are available in most Asian grocery stores. There is no mention of salt because the fish cakes are already seasoned and cooked and the fish sauce is salty. This salad is salty, tangy, crunchy and very tasty.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Fuji Apple Salad or Raita

A recipe for green apple raita on the Internet caught my attention because all of the ingredients are always available in our home. Flavorful Fuji apples, I decided, would work really well here and that turned out to be true. We try to avoid sugar in our household, so that was replaced with agave nectar. The garnish was another of my adaptations to the original recipe.

Raita is a common part of an Indian meal and is identifiable by its white yogurt dressing. This salad is usually made with cooked vegetables (e.g. boiled potatoes & fried okra) and uncooked vegetables (e.g. diced cucumber & grated carrots). Raita is served chilled and cools the palate during a spicy meal. Rather than serving it as a first course, it is eaten in between and after more spicy items and helps digest the meal.

I’ve used Greek yogurt which is much higher in protein than regular yogurt and is what I had in the fridge. Vanilla flavored yogurt (Danon Lite & Fit) also makes a good dressing for raita, in which case the sweetener should be omitted.

Monday, March 17, 2014

Magur Maacher Jhol

Catfish Curry
In West Bengal, India, catfish comes to the fish market live, just like koi (climbing perch) and tangra. All of these fish are believed to have recuperative qualities. They are prepared in very light gravies for invalids and when consumed in hot weather. This is a particularly easy preparation because all the ingredients are mixed together and simmered until the oil resurfaces.

Tangra Maacher Begun Jhol

Tangra is of the catfish family
Any small whole fish can be used
In West Bengal, India, tangra comes to the fish market live, just like koi (climbing perch) and magur maach (catfish). All of these fish are believed to have recuperative qualities. They are prepared in very light gravies when consumed in hot weather. This is a particularly easy preparation because all the ingredients are mixed together and simmered until the oil resurfaces.

Stir-Fried Bitter Melon, Eggplant & Daikon Radish

Karola Begun Mulo Bhaja
Bengalis generally begin their midday meal with bitter melon which can be prepared in many different ways. I usually combine 3, 5 or 7 vegetables. Today the bitter melon is stir-fried along with oriental eggplant and daikon radish. It's a simple dish, seasoned only with salt and a splash of mustard oil.

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Bachu's Tuna Fish Fried Rice

Bachu is my youngest brother and the youngest sibling in our family.  I was speaking to him over the telephone recently and he was in the process of fixing dinner for his two teenagers. He sent me a picture of this fried rice and described each step while he was making it. Hope I got it right. It's always easier to cook fried rice with day-old rice, so any time we go to a Chinese restaurant, we bring home the rice and freeze it until I'm ready to make a fried rice. I prefer to mix all the sauce ingredients into the rice, breaking up the lumps at the same time. This ensures that each grain of rice is coated with the sauce and means less stirring later which could turn the rice into mush. Notice there is no mention of salt anywhere in this recipe. That's because the tuna fish, soya sauce and fish sauce are salty enough.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Rice & Lentil Stew with Flaked Fish

This is the beginning of March with no end of winter in sight! It’s the perfect weather for this rice & lentil stew.

Khichuri, a Bengali one-pot-meal once considered comfort food for the poor, is now a delicacy served during the monsoon or rainy season when the weather turns considerably cooler. Core ingredients are rice and lentils but vegetables, eggs, poultry or meat are added according to taste. I decided to experiment by adding fish to the mix. It tastes wonderful!

Tilapia is commonly available in supermarkets around here and even though I prefer them cut into steaks, filleted tilapia generally makes it to the table because hubby prefers to eat fish without having to be bothered with the bones. Fillets are fine, except that the stomach half of a fillet is a useless waste of space in a gravy or curry. That end of the fish generally disintegrates completely because it's not firm enough to withstand simmering or stewing. So this part of the fish fillet can be blanched, flaked and used the same way packaged tuna is used. In this case, I have added it to this rice and lentil stew, which is just perfect for a winter's day.

Tilapia & Spinach in Ginger Sauce

Bengali Fish Florentine
This should be called Bengali Fish Florentine and is adapted from a recipe on Facebook. Mustard oil has become a staple in my kitchen only recently and now I cannot cook meat or fish without it. It is the preferred cooking medium in the state of Bengal in India. The flavour of mustard is further enhanced with the use of Coleman’s mustard powder, added at the end of the cooking process.

Burmese Stir-Fried Chayote Squash with Anchovies


This uses the same recipe as KHAYUN THEE NGA CHAUK CHET but replaced eggplant with bottle gourd or gurkha thee (chayote squash). 

Monday, March 10, 2014

Chicken Cooked in Coconut Milk and Flavoured with Curry Leaves

Chicken Keema in Coconut Milk
I’m trying to encourage my curry leaf tree to grow, so I was determined this week to use a couple of stems. Ground chicken was on the menu and it occurred to me that it would taste sensational cooked in coconut milk with a generous helping of curry leaves. I added the curry leaves in 3 stages – first of all, while tempering the mustard seeds, then while frying the onions, garlic and ginger and finally at the end as a garnish. And I followed my friend’s advice to shred the curry leaves added while cooking to extract as much flavour from them as possible. It’s amazing how good the combination of coconut milk and curry leaves tastes! This chicken curry is cooked until dry but still moist, which makes it perfect to eat with chapatis or tortillas, but also tastes good with rice.

Burmese Stir-Fried Spinach with Shrimp

Hin Nu Ywet 
This is another Burmese dish that reminds me of my mother and our childhood. Mum would garnish it with roasted sesame seeds which I didn't have, so I used sesame oil. The shrimp can be omitted altogether because the shrimp paste gives this dish a lot of flavour. Any kind of greens can be used, of which water spinach is my favourite.