Sunday, December 18, 2016

Chickpea Lentils Cooked in Coconut Milk - Narkol Diye Cholar Dal

Narkol Dudh diye Channa'r Dal
Split chickpea lentils cooked this way evokes memories of Mum who loved to entertain. These were not everyday lentils because back in the day in Darjeeling, it was not easy to separate the fresh coconut meat from the shell. The coconut meat had to be painstakingly sliced and browned before putting them in the lentils. That's how Mum prepared lentils flavoured with coconut on festive occasions or when friends were invited to dine with us. 

This recipe uses coconut milk which makes a very creamy lentil dish especially delicious because of the chauk/phoron/tarka at the very end, of black cardamom seeds, star anise, cinnamon sticks, cumin seeds and bay leaves. A final garnish of ghee, slit greet chilies and cilantro makes this dish outstanding!

Friday, December 09, 2016

Veggie Pizza

Veggie Pizza
Our quilt guild has a luncheon twice a year in December and June. Usually members are expected to contribute their favourite dish as part of a potluck. Wow! What a spread there was to pick from. 

I'd come across a recipe on the Internet and thank heavens I experimented with it at home well before the day of the potluck. The base was made with Pillsbury Crescent Rolls, the spread from cream cheese combined with sour cream and ranch dressing mix with a topping of cucumber, grated carrots and slivered rainbow peppers. I found it to be too salty, so decided to tone things down by replacing the sour cream and ranch dressing mix with a tub of vanilla yogurt. This tasted so much better! You can substitute any flavour of yogurt or use plain yogurt flavoured as you please.

Top the 'pizza' with vegetables or protein of your choice. This is the ideal thing to take to a potluck because it can be made in a disposable baking pan, refrigerated until ready to be served and served cold or at room temperature.

Sunday, December 04, 2016

Jhal Moori - Kolkata Street Food

Kolkata Jhal Moori
Jhal Moori is a snack that is most commonly found on the streets of Calcutta or Kolkata as it is now known. It consists of a mishmash of crispy puffed rice or muri and sev (thin, skinny strands of fried besan/chickpea flour), boiled and diced potatoes and a few other ingredients. 

I guess what makes this a Bengali snack is that it's dressed with mustard oil. There are similar street food in other parts of India that are called Bhel or Bhel Puri.

Diced potatoes give a nice texture to this snack. A can of diced new potatoes lends a helping hand in saving time from boiling, peeling and dicing a russet potato.

Tamarind Chutney imparts a sweet and sour taste to Jhal Moori. Or you can make your own by mixing tamarind paste, chili powder, brown sugar and salt.


There are no substitutes for Sev which is a popular Indian snack that look like crunchy noodles. Sev, made from chickpea flour paste and seasoned with salt, turmeric and cayenne pepper, are deep fried in vegetable oil. Sev can be purchased at Indian markets. 

Moori or Puffed Rice

Moori can also be purchased at Indian markets. 

Grilled Eggplant - Begun Bhaja

George Foreman Grill-ed Eggplant
A favourite side dish on the Bengali table, Begun Bhaja (Eggplant Fried) gets a new twist and healthy makeover with the use of a George Foreman Grill (GFG).

The eggplant slices are cut, making sure they are of even thickness, and smeared with olive oil, salt and turmeric powder. 

They are then grilled for 2 minutes on each side and voila! you have Begun Bhaja for lunch!

Begun Bhaja is generally made by tossing them with salt and turmeric, pan-frying on the stovetop and draining on paper towels. Grilling them requires very little oil and the eggplant slices could even be sprayed with something like Pam spray. In fact, spraying the GF Grill with Pam makes it easier to clean. 

Contrary to common belief, the GFG is really easy to clean by wetting a paper towel, placing it on the grill, closing the cover and turning the grill on for a few minute. The steam that is released cleans the debris and a quick swipe removes the rest.