Saturday, September 27, 2014

Alu Diye Chingri Maacher Jhol - Shrimp & Potatoes in Gravy

Alu Diye Chingri Maacher Jhol
Coconut milk is what gives this shrimp dish its rich flavour. The old-fashioned way of grating a fresh coconut and extracting the juice is still the best choice. It's a tedious job and convenient only if help is available (as it is in India). To see a photograph of the traditional coconut scraper used in some Indian households and details visit Traditional Kitchen Equipments blog.

Indian markets in North America stock frozen, scaped coconut which can be soaked in hot water to extract the milk. This probably comes a close second to using a fresh coconut. Coconut milk powder is also available which can be dissolved in water or added directly to whatever it is you're cooking.

Canned coconut milk is a real time saver and that's what was used in making this dish. The coconut cream which collects at the top of the can was removed and used in the first part of the cooking process and the rest of the coconut milk was added later to make the gravy. 

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Chingri Maacher Malai Curry - Shrimp in Coconut Cream Sauce

Chingri Maacher Malai Curry
Shrimp in Coconut Cream Sauce
A popular & festive main course in Bengali homes, this shrimp dish is usually prepared with the heads intact. I had a package of wild caught shrimp from the Gulf of Mexico that were beheaded (no pun intended) so that's what I used. The heads of shrimp contain flavorful oils full of omega-3, so if you can find 'heads-on' shrimp, they are definitely recommended.

Canned thick coconut milk, if opened without shaking first, has a thick layer of cream on top. Using a spoon, remove this cream and use it to make the sauce for this dish. The rest of the coconut milk can be saved in the refrigerator for another use.

Monday, September 22, 2014

Tortilla Omelette Stuffed with Vegetables - Anda Paratha

Bengali Dimer Paratha
For a quick and nutritious lunch, reach for an egg, a tortilla and a cast iron skillet. Kati rolls as they are called in Kolkata, formerly Calcutta, India are a favourite 'grab-and-go' sandwich cooked on demand in small food stalls on the street. These egg rolls are generally filled with mutton, beef or chicken.

I had only me to please today, so I decided to make a kati roll stuffed with minced onions, tomatoes, green chillies and cilantro. We have several sizes of cast iron skillets in our kitchen and there's one in particular which we use for making omelettes and it was the perfect size to accommodate a flour tortilla.

Here's how I made it.

Friday, September 19, 2014

Quick & Easy Burmese Ohno Khauk Swe - Coconut Chicken Noodle Soup

Ohno Khauk Swe in the Bowl
Boiled Egg Noodles
Chicken in Coconut Soup
This Burmese meal is a popular street food that is brought to your doorstep by hawkers on foot in Yangon, Myanmar. It is a breakfast meal which we can now have any time of the day because it's prepared at home.

Ohno Khauk Swe in the Bowl
The one-pot meal comprises a bowl of noodles topped with chicken in a coconut soup and garnished with a number of fresh and deep-fried condiments. Gather friends and family together to share in this heartwarming meal that is ideal for a rainy or snowy day.

Boiled Egg Noodles
Fresh egg noodles are readily available in North America at Asian markets. These are easy to prepare by simply soaking in boiling water for less than 5 minutes. Dried egg noodles take between 10-12 minutes to cook through. Either way, the noodles should be cooked just prior to serving and should be drained and rinsed in cold water to prevent clumping.

2-3 limes, cut in wedges
Cilantro, chopped
6 hard-boiled eggs, peeled & diced
Deep-fried garlic
1 large or 2 medium white onion, sliced
1 bunch green onions, diced
Deep-fried diced onions
2 Tbsp. chickpea flour, toasted in a dry skillet until golden brown

Chicken in Coconut Soup
This soup could be quite tedious to prepare as outlined in a previous post. I've been toying with this quick and easy method for preparing this dish which usually requires that the chicken be browned and onion made into a paste in the blender. 

The shortcuts used to make this soup included the use of a pressure cooker to cook a whole chicken in a red lentil soup base that was flavoured with diced onions, garlic, lemon grass powder and paprika. The cooked red lentils served to thicken the soup and flavour it.

An alternative method to cooking this in a pressure cooker is to use a slow cooker or crock pot. Follow steps 1 through 7 on low setting for 6 hours or on high for 4 hours. Shred the chicken as in step 7 and add back to the crock pot along with the coconut milk and cook for another half an hour.

1 whole chicken, cut in 8 pieces & marinated in 1/2 salt & 1/4 tsp. turmeric.
1 cup red lentils or masoor dal, washed and drained
4 cups chicken broth or water
1 large onion, peeled & minced
8-10 cloves garlic, peeled & minced
1 tsp. Kashmiri mirch/paprika/cayenne pepper
1 tsp. lemon grass powder
1 tsp. shrimp powder
1 tsp. shrimp paste
1 (14 oz.) can coconut milk (cream settles on top of can)

  1. Combine all ingredients, except coconut milk, in a pressure cooker.
  2. Bring to a boil and adjust salt to taste.
  3. Cover, bring to full pressure and lower heat to medium.
  4. Simmer for 20 minutes, remove from heat and allow pressure to dissipate.
  5. Remove cover from pressure cooker and carefully take out chicken pieces.
  6. Separate chicken from bones & discard skin and bones.
  7. Chop chicken into bite-size pieces and return to pressure cooker.
  8. Add coconut milk plus cream and simmer over low heat for 5 minutes.
Allow guests to serve themselves with noodles, soup and garnishes.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Stir-Fried Green Beans, Potatoes and Salad Shrimp

Farashi Bean, Alu aar Choto Chingrir Chochori
When there are just of handful of green beans available, a russet potato always comes to the rescue to add a soft and silky contrast to the crunch of the beans. Tiny salad shrimp pump up the flavour and when all of it is stir-fried and simmered over low heat, this dish cooks in its own juices without any added water. Adding salt when the green beans are added to the skillet and cooking this without a cover ensure that the green beans retain their vibrant green colour and crunch.

Serve this as a side dish to any Indian meal with steamed Basmati or other long-grain rice or chapatis.

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Bengali Egg Curry - Dimer Dalna

Dimer Dalna
The eggs in this Egg Curry are sometimes halved before simmering in the tomato gravy. It is, however, more conventional to leave them whole when cooking them in the Bengali way. After hard-boiling and peeling, the eggs are slit vertically five to six times around the circumference, so that the gravy penetrates through to the core.

Friday, September 12, 2014

Shrimp Steamed in Mustard Coconut Sauce

Chingri Sorshe Narkol Bhape
The microwave oven has simplified life in more ways than one. No longer do I just heat left-overs or use it for defrosting frozen meat. We made this dish in a stainless steel bowl in a pressure cooker before the days of the microwave oven and it took 10-15 minutes along with another 10 minutes for the pressure to dissipate. In the microwave oven, it took exactly 4 minutes from oven to table!

Mustard oil may be a new cooking medium for some people, but the people in the state of Bengal in India almost exclusively use it for all their everyday cooking. It is available in most Indian markets and it is advisable to consult the store owner for the most pungent flavored mustard oil available in the store.

Extremely easy to assemble, the most difficult part is probably blending the mustard seeds into the finest possible paste. To remove some of the bitterness from the mustard seeds, it is necessary to cover them with salt and soak in tap water for 2 hours or so. Then drain and rinse the seeds in a tea strainer in several changes of water to remove the excess salt. I prefer to mix in the coconut milk powder (also available in Indian/Asian markets) after the mustard seeds have been blended to get the maximum flavor of coconut which also helps to tone down the pungency of the mustard seeds. The coconut milk powder makes the sauce thick and creamy.

Monday, September 08, 2014

Vegan 3 Ingredient Rum and Raisin Ice Cream

Vegan Rum & Raisin Ice Cream
Here's another banana-based ice cream and it's Rum & Raisin this time. To make this vegan dessert that requires no cream, sugar or ice cream maker, I used a teaspoon of rum and some raisins I'd pre-soaked to soften and plump them up. Today I brought out my immersion blender which is what I'll stick with from here on because it worked the best for making this type of ice cream. It cleans up the easiest, compared to a blender or food processor.

For a non-alcoholic dessert use rum extract instead of dark rum.

Microwaved Yellow Potatoes in 4-1/2 minutes

Yellow Tharkari
These amazing potatoes are so easy and quick to make in the microwave oven. Left-over Burger King french fries which taste terrible the next day, were diced and cooked in the microwave oven in exactly 4-1/2 minutes. They're already salted, so there's no need to add any more. Frozen Ore-Ida hash brown potatoes also work to cut down the preparation time which makes this a "jhatpat" (instant or quick) potato recipe.

These potatoes taste great with chapatis/tortillas or with steamed Basmati or other long grain rice.

Saturday, September 06, 2014

Lau Chingri II - Squash Cooked with Ginger and Shrimp

Lau Chingri
This is a Bengali recipe that traditionally uses bottle gourd, which I often replace with chayote squash because it's more readily available. Zucchini also works well in this recipe.

Fish in a Light Onion And Tomato Sauce - Halka Maacher Jhol

Halka Maacher Jhol
Any fish, whole or filleted, tastes good dressed in this sauce. The light sauce requires some oil and just a few other ingredients. So if time is in short supply and dinner is due on the table in less than 30 minutes, this is the go-to recipe for fish.

Stir-Fried Russet and Sweet Potatoes Sprinkled with White Poppy Seeds

Alu Misti Alu Posto Bhaja
White poppy seeds (a.k.a. "posto" in the Bengali language) in its pasted form is commonly used with potatoes as in Alu Posto and many other vegetables (with or without shrimp). It's an expensive ingredient and tastes just as good when stir-fried vegetables are sprinkled with white poppy seeds. 

Here russet and sweet potatoes have been stir-fried and sprinkled with white poppy seeds. They add a crunch to the smooth texture of these potatoes. I've deliberately kept it simple so that the taste of the vegetables dominate this dish.

This stir-fry is light and delicious when accompanied by toasted tortillas or chapatis for lunch or served with steamed Basmati rice as a side dish at dinner.

Wednesday, September 03, 2014

Vegan 3 Ingredient Maple Walnut Ice Cream

3 Ingredient Ice Cream
Bananas are the secret ingredient in this vegan dessert that requires no cream, sugar or ice cream maker. I didn't think the Coffee Almond Crunch ice cream could be improved upon, but was feeling guilty to have avoided the circuitous route outlined by the originators of this delectable dessert. 

So the blender with the small container was retrieved and I blended the heck out of the frozen banana slices until it liquified, froze it again, stirred the walnuts into it and froze it until it was served. I was expecting it to be creamier because all that air had been blended into it, but to be honest, I think the blender step was redundant.