Sunday, February 28, 2016

Chicken & Broccoli Lo Mein

Chicken & Broccoli Lo Mein
Any noodle dish, whether in the form of a soup or stir-fried is so comforting, especially during these cold winters. Today we had a lo mein with chicken & broccoli that was drenched in a garlic-soy sauce which was poured over and tossed with a package of Ajinomoto Vegetable Chow Mein. Delicious!

If you're making your own there's no need to add sauce to your noodles. Use this sauce instead.

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Tuna, Chickpeas & Potato Salad

Tuna, Chickpeas & Potato Salad
Tuna salad, potato salad and chickpeas/garbanzo beans individually are among my favourite foods. Here, all three were combined with red and orange rainbow peppers to produce a refreshing salad when it's chilled and served for lunch. The dressing is composed of yogurt, mixed with ranch dressing and the salad is garnished with green onions.

Sunday, February 14, 2016

Maach er Malai Curry - Fish Cooked in Coconut Milk

Use any white fish steaks or pieces in this delicious coconut milk gravy which tastes best served on a bed of steamed Basmati rice. I've used catfish, rock cod and telapia fish, all with excellent results. 

Freshly grated coconut tied in muslin cloth and squeezed to extract the milk works the best, but in the Western hemisphere, canned coconut milk is most readily available and makes a good substitute for fresh coconut. If coconut milk is not available, unsweetened evaporated (not condensed) milk can be used as a substitute.

This same process can also be used with chicken legs and thighs for another variation of malai curry, which is also true for shrimp, which is especially delectable. 

The fish I used today came from a membership supermarket (Costco/Sam's Club) in a 3 lb. fresh pack. I sliced them up, divided them between 3 Ziploc bags, seasoned them with turmeric powder and salt and froze them for later use. Thawed in the sink, it makes life much easier when it comes time to cook. 

Saturday, February 06, 2016

Tomato Pulao or Tomato Fried Rice

Tomato Pulao
A pulao is usually made with uncooked rice, but I had a whole 2 cups of it sitting in the fridge so I used that instead. It came together very quickly and goes well as a side dish with Begun Bhaja and/or Fuji Apple Raita.

The curry leaves in this pulao give it a South Indian flair.

Crockpot Begun Bhartha - Slow-Cooked Eggplant

Slow-Cooked Begun Bhartha
I was first introduced to Baingan/Begun Bhartha while living in Defence Colony, a suburb of New Delhi in India. Around the corner from where we lived was a dhaba or roadside restaurant which are most often found on highways and the outskirts of cities, towns and villages. Dhabas serve Punjabi food and are frequented by truckers because the food is generally simple, rustic and cheap. My favourite dishes to order from our neghbourhood dhaba were Baingan Bhartha, Keema Mattar and Naan. 

Begun or baingan is eggplant and bhartha refers to any vegetable that is roasted and mashed. Begun bhartha is the most common dish prepared in this way. The big and round eggplants are usually roasted over an unoon or charcoal stove. The charred skin is then removed, the pulp mashed and cooked with tomatoes, onions along with other ingredients on the stovetop. It's a rustic dish that requires a labour-intensive and time-consuming process.

This is where the crockpot, once again, comes to the rescue. I like Japaness eggplant which is diced along with all the other vegetables, dumped into the crockpot and allowed to cook on low without manual intervention for 3-4 hours. The resulting bhartha comes out looking like baba-ghanoush and tasting delicious!

Friday, February 05, 2016

Parshey Maach-er Jhaal or Mullet in Mustard Gravy

Parshey Maach-er Jhaal

Fish is a staple in Bengali households. For those who can afford it, a Bengali has four meals a day: breakfast, lunch, tea & snacks and dinner. Lunch and dinner comprise at least 3 dishes consisting of vegetables, lentils and meat, poultry, fish, shrimp or seafood, accompanied by rice or rootis/chapatis. 

White mullet or parshey maach is a sweet and delicious fish that requires a light touch because it breaks apart easily. This preparation, therefore, is ideal because it doesn't require too much stirring. In fact, it is even easier if the fish is combined with the rest of the ingredients (except for the mustard oil and cilantro used for garnishing) and simply slid into hot oil which has been sputtered with nigella seeds, covered and simmered over medium-low heat for 10-15 minutes.

To add more heat to this fish dish, reserve a few slit green chilies to garnish before serving.

Tuesday, February 02, 2016

Crockpot Rogan Josh - Slow-Cooked Lamb Curry

Crockpot Rogan Josh
The crockpot is probably the most under-utilized appliance in my kitchen. It's ideal for these wintry days when temperatures plummet to single digits which makes it bone-chilling to open doors and windows so the house can be aired out. Today I dusted off the crockpot and boldly plugged it in. 

I've never used the crockpot (or slow-cooker as it's sometimes called) to cook Indian meat curries. My sister has, but I think she did a lot of the prep on the stovetop and then put it all in the crockpot to cook slowly. I decided to take the shortest shortcut possible, combined everything in the crockpot and allowed it to do its thing. The result was totally amazing. 

My Beli Mashi (Mum's sister) spent a few months with us when I was living in California and she taught me to make Kashmiri Rogan Josh. I marinated the meat with the rest of the ingredients for a couple of hours, then dumped all of it into the crockpot with sliced onions and set it on high for 2 hours. After giving everything a good mix, the crockpot was set to low, potatoes were added and cooked for 5 hours.

The meat just fell off the bones and the potatoes were cooked to perfection. I doubt meat curries in my house will ever be cooked on the stovetop again. Without the botheration of stirring and making sure it doesn't stick to the bottom of the pan, it was completely stress-free cooking!