Thursday, October 29, 2015

Palang Alu Posto Bhaja - Stir-Fried Spinach & Potatoes with White Poppy Seeds

Palang Alu Posto Bhaja
I usually use frozen spinach because it's so convenient, but nowadays one pound packages of pre-washed baby spinach are available in supermarkets and membership stores. They can be used right out of the container because they have been triple-washed and are very fresh. 

Sprinkling white poppy seeds or posto over vegetables as they cook is a common stir-fry technique used in the Bengali kitchen. Stir-frying the poppy seeds before adding vegetables leaves them toasted and crunchy in pleasant contrast to the softness of the cooked spinach and potatoes.

This spinach dish is seasoned very simply with sliced onions and ginger paste. More flavour is imparted by tempering dried red peppers at the start of the cooking process. Leaving them whole imparts flavour from the dried peppers without releasing a lot of heat.

Stir-fried spinach can be served as a side dish over steamed long-grain rice or with any kind of Indian bread. 

Saturday, October 24, 2015

Oats Utthappam - Savoury Oat Pancakes

Oats Utthappam

Using oatmeal instead of flour for pancakes and making them savoury is a great alternative for those of us who, for medical reasons, are forced to watch our carbohydrate intake. Utthappam, a South Indian breakfast delicacy, are savoury pancakes made with fermented rice and urad dal or lentils. 

This took less than 15 minutes to set up. Oatmeal is ground to a fine flour and then combined with yogurt, salt and the other ingredients to a pancake consistency. I used omelette ingredients comprising onions, tomatoes, green chilies & cilantro, all of which were diced and mixed in with the oatmeal mixture and then cooked in a cast iron omelette pan with very little oil.

Plain Greek yogurt is a staple in our refrigerator, but regular plain yogurt would work just as well, if not better, because of its water content. We had these for lunch today and could have only two each because they were so filling.

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Stir-Fried Chicken & Riced Cauliflower

Chicken with Riced Cauliflower
Recently, social media has been inundated with healthier, carb-free alternatives to fried rice. Using cauliflower is particularly successful as the texture of processed cauliflower imitates cooked rice very well. Too lazy to get out the food processor, I simple shaved off slices of the head of cauliflower and chopped them into tiny morsels. It cooks very quickly and tastes delicious when paired with diced boneless chicken thighs. The chicken can be replaced with beef, pork, shrimp or seafood.

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Chaal Diye Muror Ghonto - Fish Pilaf

Chaal Diye Muror Ghonto
In Bengali, muro means fish head and ghonto is a melange of different ingredients. Adding rice and potatoes is one way to cook fish heads in the Bengali style. Muror Ghonto can also be made with a variety of vegetables such as cauliflower, cabbage or bottle squash. It can also be combined with mung dal and served as a lentil course. 

Most Bengalis love fish. Filleted fish is only used to make breaded fried fish. In most Bengali households, the entire fish, bone-in and including the head and tail, is consumed. In fact, fish head is considered to be the tastiest part of the fish. In my experience, the heads of rui or katla (both of which belong in the carp family) are the tastiest. I've tried using salmon head and love its flavour, but the bones are very sharp and takes expertise to remove in order to avoid injury to the throat. Today I was in the Asian market and picked up a package of grouper head. Unfortunately, rui & katla are not as readily available.

Hubby won't touch fish head because of a fear of its bones, but enjoys the rest of this pulao. For him, I included a few pieces of fish, devoid of bones. Make sure to marinate the fish head in a lot of garlic paste to get rid of the fishy odour. Even though it's getting very cold outside, the doors and windows were opened wide while this was cooking. 

A combination of mustard and olive oil has been used to cook this dish, but any vegetable oil will do. 

Saturday, October 17, 2015

Spanish Rice with Chicken Sausage

When the GrandBoys (8 & 9 year-olds) have dinner with us once a week, it's a challenge to come up with tempting, yet nutritious meals. I was a little hesitant to try rice on them and was taken by surprise when they loved it and ask for more. Here the Spanish rice is served with chicken sausage with asiago cheese and spinach.

I made the rice the same way I make pulao/pilaf. The rice is washed until the water runs clear and left to drain in a sieve until it's needed. In order to avoid detection, the onions, peppers, carrots and tomatoes are diced into minute pieces. 

The Spanish flavour is achieved through the use of dry fiesta ranch dip mix.