Thursday, May 31, 2018

Phool Kopir Ghonto - Cauliflower, Potatoes & Rice

Phool Kopir Ghonto
The difference between Phool Kopir Ghonto & Phool Kopir Pulao, in my humble opinion, lies in the ratio of cauliflower to rice. In a Ghonto, the ratio of cauliflower to rice is 2:1, and in a Pulao the ratio is 1:2. By adjusting the amount of gravy, it can be served wet or dry. This is a vegan and vegetarian dish that can be served on auspicious occasions.

I first had Phool Kopir Ghonto at my sister's place. She follows a vegetarian diet one day a week and has a amazing repertoire of vegetarian dishes. This dish has stuck in my memory and even though I haven't followed her recipe exactly, it tasted wonderful!

Friday, May 25, 2018

Burmese Chet-Tha Chin Paung - Roselle Leaves with Chicken

Chin Paung Chicken
Chin Paung Ywet or roselle leaves have a lovely tang. When roselle leaves are not available, sorrel can be substituted. Both have a tangy, citrusy flavour that taste great in their uncooked forms in salads and sauces.

Roselle Leaves

Sorrel Leaves
Even though they don't look anything like each other, they taste almost the same and can be cooked with shrimp, chicken or any meat. The greens tend to turn black when heat is applied to them, so I like to mix them with regular chopped spinach to cut back on the tang and to make them look green and vibrant.
Gongura Pickle
A touch of gongura pickle, available in Indian markets, gives this dish a punch of added flavour. Gongura is the South Indian name for roselle leaves.

Wednesday, May 23, 2018

Astho Kalai Dal - Whole Black Lentils

Astho Kalai Dal
Astho Kalai Dal which simply refers to whole black lentils, are richer than lentils that are served daily, because the black lentils have not been hulled and contain much more fiber than the hulled and split lentils. Whole lentils don't break down completely, leaving a watery residue so to make it thick and creamy, channa dal is cooked along with the urad dal. It's a popular dish among truckers who dine at truck stops or 'dhabasall over India. 

The lentils are soaked for half an hour and pressure cooked  with onions, ginger and a variety of spices. In spite of using only half a stick of butter, these lentils were creamy and delicious. They go well with hot, steamed rice or with a variety of Indian breads.

Saturday, May 12, 2018

Laksa Khauk Swe - Coconut Chicken Noodle Soup

Clockwise from top left
Laksa Paste
 Ohno Khauk Swe in the Bowl
 and Garnishes
A member of our Burmese food group on Facebook posted the recipe for Singaporean Laksa and suggested we could use it to make Ohno Khauk Swe. So I tried it today and was pleasantly surprised how well it worked! This Burmese chicken noodle soup is usually a time-consuming process because of the curry paste that's made from scratch and stir-fried and simmered for close to an hour. Laksa paste saved a lot of time because it's already cooked and makes it a great option for entertaining unexpected guests.

Dimer Dhokar Dalna - Steamed Egg Cakes in Tomato & Onion Gravy

Dimer Dhokar Dalna
An interesting variation to Egg Curry, eggs beaten with turmeric powder, salt, minced onions, tomatoes and green chilies are steamed in the microwave oven and cooked in a tomato-based gravy.

Dhoka, which means fake or deceptive in Bengali, refers to the vegetarian substitute for meat served on auspicious occasions. Dhokar Dalna is generally made with lentil cakes in gravy. The lentil cake method is tedious and time-consuming requiring soaking the lentils overnight, blending them the next day and cooking the paste until all liquid evaporates, then cutting the cake in cubes and frying the cubes until browned. In the process, a lot of oil is used and a lot of effort expended. 

Dimer Dhoka is much simpler to make, although it would not be considered a vegetarian dish. It doesn't require as much preparation and uses a lot less oil.

Thursday, May 10, 2018

Thursdate Meatball Stroganoff

Meatball Stroganoff
Thursdays are Grand-boy's day, nicknamed Thursdate in our home. One of our three grandsons is picked up at 4 pm., has dinner and spends the evening with us and gets dropped home at 8 pm. It's our favourite day of the week and the grand-boys enjoy it even more. The dilemma for me is to come up with a kid-friendly dinner such as spaghetti & meatballs, fajitas, taco salad, et al.

This meatball stroganoff was popular when our own boys were growing up and it was delegated to hubby to make the meatballs from scratch. The aroma of garlicky mushrooms and browning meatballs simmering in mushroom soup and sour cream would cause neighbours to drop by for a taste test. But that was many moons ago and became a distant memory until today. 

I hope Grand-Boy #2 likes it as much as I do.

Wednesday, May 09, 2018

Panch Mishali Tarkari - 5 Vegetables in Coconut Cream

Panch Mishali Tarkari
Gather together all the vegetables you can find, including bits and pieces in the fridge, to compose this simple and satisfying stew. I used a sweet potato, an eggplant, pui shaak with data (malabar spinach), chayote squash and potatoes, but any five or more vegetables will do. After all, who's counting?

Coconut milk makes it extra special by imparting a creamy quality to the vegetables.

Friday, May 04, 2018

Toasted Mung Dal with Hilsa Head

Ilish Muro
Maacher muro or fish head adds an enormous amount of flavour, also known as umami, to anything to which it is added. Umami, in my opinion, is that robust taste that is tough to satisfy; it makes the epicure crave more of the same. Hilsa or Ilish heaps on the flavour manyfold. There are a myriad ways to prepare fish head and since I have so many of them in my freezer, I plan to serve them up in all the known ways. 

I have blogged about a few of these ways - Fish Head PilafSquash with Fish Head and Bottle Gourd with Fish Heads. Toasted mung bean lentils serves as a creamy base for fish heads. The whole head is pan-fried to a golden brown crisp before immersing in the lentils to finish cooking.

Served with a steaming bowl of Basmati rice, I need nothing more than some peace and quiet so I can focus on removing the bones which is a huge part of enjoying this dish.

Tuesday, May 01, 2018

Pressure-Cooked Doi Ilish

Doi Ilish
It's not easy to get Ilish Maach, a.k.a hilsa, here unless there is a Bangladeshi market in the neighbourhood or at least within driving distance. I was so happy when Alladin opened up around the corner in a strip mall. First of all, they are my source for Balachaung-in-a box, better balachaung than I can make at home. A couple of days ago, I went there to replenish my stock of balachaung and casually inquired if they had Ilish Maach. I've watched a few videos on pressure cooking ilish that causes the bones to soften sufficiently that scaredy cats can enjoy this lovely fish.

The videos make it look pretty simple - all that's required is a pressure cooker and the ingredients for Doi Maach or fish cooked in yogurt gravy. The store owner was a friendly soul from Chittagong who was happy to clean and cut the ilish I picked out. 

Ilish (the closest to an American fish is Shad) is a fatty fish that's rich in Omega 3 fatty acids. It's taste and aroma when cooked is quite spectacular. I decided to follow the instructions in the video so what we had was Doi Ilish or ilish in yogurt gravy.

Cooking the fish for 1.5 hours under pressure was pretty daunting, but there was no reason to worry because there was plenty of gravy left and it didn't stick to the bottom of the pressure cooker. The secret? To use lots of sliced onions as the first layer and to bring it up to pressure and reduce the heat to its lowest setting then forgetting about it for 1.5 hours. 

The videos recommended simmering off the excess gravy for another half an hour after removing the cooker cover, but there was no need to do that because the amount of gravy was perfect! The dish tasted awesome and the best part of this experiment was to watch the hubster/DH eat a whole piece of fish. The bones really did soften, reminiscent of sardines or salmon in the can.