Monday, December 28, 2015

Tofu Eggs Akuri - Indian-Style Scrambled Eggs with Tofu



Tofu Eggs Akuri
Eggs Akuri is a common Parsi breakfast dish that is served all over India. 


The Ingredients
Beaten eggs are combined with diced onions, tomatoes, green chilies and cilantro for a very tasty accompaniment to buttered toast. In Bengali households this style of scrambled eggs are given a bright golden colour with the addition of turmeric powder.

Extra-Firm Tofu
I figured tofu would taste great with the scrambled eggs because of its firm and silky texture. To give it an Indo-Chinese twist, the diced cubes of tofu were tossed in chicken bouillon powder to give the tasteless tofu some punch. After allowing them to sit for 10 minutes, the cubes of tofu were soaked in beaten eggs before scrambling. No salt was added because the bouillon powder was salty enough.
Chicken Bouillon Powder
These scrambled eggs taste great with buttered toast or hot chapatis or even steamed long-grain rice. I can imagine them stuffed inside egg parathas or bread pakoras...the possibilities are endless!


Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Ghoogni - Curried Chickpeas


Ghoogni
Diced Garnishes
Mixed Together with Lime












Ghoogni or curried chickpeas are a popular street food found all over Kolkata (formerly known as Calcutta). In Bengali households it is a snack that is served between lunch and dinner, right around 4 p.m., with a cup of steaming, hot tea sweetened with sugar and lightened with milk.

My most vivid memory of this tea-time snack brings to mind the young master of the house across the courtyard from our flat/apartment in Jodhpur Park. I say 'young' because in the joint-family that lived there, his father was the patriarch of the family. Either my eyesight at that time was at its peak or the courtyard was not very big, because tea-time snacks or jol khabar in that household were served on their spacious wrap-around balcony and I could observe what was served when the young master returned from work in the evening.  Ghoogni & luchi, or curried chickpeas & puffed bread, must have been one of their favourite meals with hot tea. He and his father would be served in style while he sat across from his father with his mother and wife hovering over them to make sure every one of their needs were met. Preparing this dish took quite a bit of effort because the dry beans had to be soaked overnight and pressure cooked before the curry could be prepared.


Fast forward 45 years across the ocean from Kolkata where packaged, pre-cooked chickpeas are available year-round in the supermarkets. This makes it simpler and faster to bring ghoogni to the table. Luchi is not a staple in our home because they are deep-fried. Instead, we have ghoogni with chapatis or tortillas for lunch.


If dried chickpeas are the only option, soak them overnight in plenty of water, drain them the next day and pressure cook in enough water for 20 minutes before adding them to the gravy. Curried chickpeas are vegetarian and vegan, packed with protein, among other valuable nutrients, and are both hearty and delicious!



Sunday, December 20, 2015

Maach Alur Tomato Jhol - Fish & Potatoes in Tomato Gravy

Maach Alur Tomato Jhol
A typical Bengali fish preparation, this dish is light and perfect for a midday meal. It's usually served with a starter such as begun bhaja or pan-fried eggplant and a lentil dish with steamed long-grain rice.

Any kind of fish, filleted or cut in steaks, can be used in this method of cooking the gravy. The distinguishing features of this sauce are the use of mustard oil, nigella seeds and green chilies, used for tempering. The tomatoes are cooked until they break down completely to provide a slightly sweet and tart flavour to the gravy.


Monday, December 14, 2015

Kumro Bati Chorchori - Simple Stir-Fried Pumpkin/Butternut Squash

Kumro Bati Chorchori
Kumro (pumpkin) Bati (dish/one-dish) Chorchori (stir-fried curry) is a delectable Bengali preparation with pumpkin or butternut squash. In North America, the latter is far more readily available and makes a good substitute for pumpkin.
Types of Pumpkin
A cross-section of each type of pumpkin makes it recognizable in the supermarket. Butternut squash is a hard winter vegetable which I generally avoid because it is so difficult to peel and chop. 
Chopped Butternut Squash
Imagine my surprise and delight when I came across this 3 lb. bag of chopped butternut squash at our membership supermarket. It takes away all the intimidation presented by this hard vegetable and makes it more of a staple in my kitchen.
Frozen Cubes 
After heating and tempering the oil, these frozen cubes of butternut squash were taken straight from the freezer into the frying pan. Once they thawed, they cooked in a jiffy with minimal spices.
Stir-Fried Butternut Squash
The dish was ready in less than 20 minutes! Makes a colourful and lovely side dish, served with hot, steamed Basmati rice or any Indian bread.


Thursday, December 10, 2015

Stained Glass Kyauk Kyaw/Jello

Stained Glass Kyauk Kyaw
Kyauk Kyaw, a popular dessert in Burmese cuisine, is a form of jello made with agar-agar instead of gelatin. Agar agar is a vegetable gelling agent extracted from red algae suitable for vegetarian and vegan diets. I've used the Telephone brand of agar agar powder in this dessert.

Stained Glass Jello Cubes
There are several Stained Glass Jello recipes on the worldwide web made with gelatin and I've been wanting to try it for a while. A potluck for Christmas was the ideal event for this festive dessert. I adapted a traditional recipe to my Burmese tastes by incorporating coconut milk into the recipe. It was a huge success! The neat thing about this dessert is that it can be changed to suit any holiday, simply by switching the colors of jello to suit the occasion. I used green (lime), red (strawberry) and yellow (lemon) packets of jello to represent the Christmas season. The white portion of the jello is the portion that is composed of coconut milk, condensed milk, water and agar agar. This is the kyauk kyaw part of the recipe.

To make this a semi-diabetic-friendly dessert, I used sugar-free Jello gelatin packets to reduce the sugar content which took nothing away from this dessert because the condensed milk is loaded with sugar and overly sweet.


Saturday, December 05, 2015

Pork Lo Mein

Pork Lo Mein
Watching Sandra Lee's Semi Homemade show on TV taught me to simplify some of my cooking by using store-bought foods instead of making everything from scratch. 

Frozen Vegetable Chow Mein
Ajinomoto makes a frozen Vegetable Chow Mein that is always available at the membership club store I frequent. It's fully cooked with an assortment of Chinese vegetables so all I have to do is take it up a few notches with the addition of baby spinach or baby kale leaves along with meat or seafood. I take one package of chow mein out of the freezer an hour before cooking and allow it to thaw on the kitchen counter at room temperature. The box contains 6 packages, each of which easily feeds two people. To make your own noodles from scratch, I found this recipe on the world wide web that looks delicious!


For Thanksgiving this year I made a sausage stuffing with onions, carrots and celery, so I saved a portion of each of these ingredients for this lo mein. I used sweet Italian sausage meat and also added a 16 oz. package of baby kale leaves. The sausage meat had enough flavour and fat that required no more oil or sauces to be added to the pork lo mein.