Monday, December 23, 2019

Asian Caramelized Fish Curry

An Asian variation of fish in coconut milk. Caramelizing the sugar and adding fish sauce to the gravy gives it a unique flavor. Serve as a main dish with steamed rice.

Deem Begun Bhaja - Fried Eggplant Omelette

Deem Begun Bhaja
The texture and size of purple globe eggplant are best suited to this recipe. Begun bhaja or fried eggplant slices round out any Bengali meal and here's another preparation to add to my repertoire. Add ground meat to the omelette ingredients and it could make a main dish.It reminds me of a California sunrise in which a circle is cut out of the center of a piece of toast, filled with a cracked egg and fried. 

Saturday, November 02, 2019

Chicken Keema Biryani

Chicken Keema Biryani
Biryani is a rich and wholesome dish that takes center stage at any festive meal. It consists of layers of fluffy, aromatic Basmati rice, a rich meaty base and loads of fried onions, herbs and aromatic spices that are steamed in a saucepan with a tight-fitting lid. 

This chicken keema biryani uses ground chicken that is cooked first, separately from the rice. I've cut down on the processing time by using a ready-made spice mix called Shan Pilao Biryani mix whose strong and spicy flavours works its magic on the ground chicken which serves as a base layer for the biryani. Basmati rice is soaked for 20 minutes, drained and air-dried before being spread evenly over the chicken base and topped with cilantro, mint and deep fried onions. Heated chicken broth is poured carefully around the edges of the saucepan and this one-pot dish is simmered over low heat for 25 minutes until all the liquids are absorbed by the rice.

This main dish is best accompanied by a cool and soothing Raita along with vegetable sides such as Green Beans Posto and Tomato Chutney.

Friday, November 01, 2019

Panch Mishali Shukto - 5-Vegetable Stew

Panch Mishali Shukto

Shukto (shook-tho) is a classic Bengali dish and is the traditional beginning or starter to both festive and ordinary meals at the Bengali table. It's a melange of colourful vegetables (purple eggplants, orange carrots, white radish, white potatoes and green bitter melons) and textures (crunchy bitter melons, carrots and radish and soft melt-in-the-mouth potatoes). If available, do add shojne data/drumsticks and kanch kola/green bananas

Bitter melon is the main ingredient in shukto, revered for its bitter flavour and so good for balancing blood sugar levels. Because Hubby abhors bitter melon, I've made shukto sans bitter melon for him, hence the two pictures above.

Using very little oil and hardly any spices, this dish gets it zesty flavour from ginger and black mustard paste or shorshe bata that is blended with salt and a green chili. The eggplant pieces are fried first and set aside, the crunchy vegetables and potatoes are then stir-fried in ginger paste, eggplant returned to the skillet and then all of it simmered in mustard sauce.

This side dish which is both vegetarian and vegan, is best eaten with freshly steamed Basmati rice.

Tomato and Onion Raita

Tomato and Onion Raita
Raita is an Indian salad that is tossed with a yogurt dressing. It cools the palate which makes it the ideal accompaniment to a spicy meal. It goes well with rich biryanis and pulaos or with a simple naan or any Indian bread.

Sunday, October 13, 2019

Tomato Dal

Tur & Masur Tomato Dal

Bhapa Sandesh - Steamed Ricotta Cheese Dessert

Bhapa Sandesh
Sandesh is a beloved sweet or misti in West Bengal, India, and Bangladesh. Bhapa (steamed) Sandesh can be made in a pressure cooker or microwave oven. I find it simpler to use the microwave method because it's faster and can be made in the same Pyrex dish in which it can be served so there are no dishes to wash.

Whole milk ricotta cheese works well in this recipe, the alternative being to make cottage cheese or chana at home. The latter involves an elaborate and complex process which is not my cuppa tea.

Sandesh was my son's favourite misti and had to be included in his tiffin or bento box every day. The soft and satiny texture of sandesh varies with the ratio of cheese to sugar. The more cheese in the sandesh, the softer and more velvety it is.

Bijoya Potluck 2019

Bijoya Potluck 2019
L-R from Top Left

Asha's Corn Salad

Masur-Channa-Chola Dal

Dak Bungalow Mutton Curry

2 Kinds or Pulao and Basmati Rice (not shown)


Sunday, October 06, 2019

Kankra'r Jhal - Crab in Mustard Sauce

Kankra'r Jhal
Those live crabs in the Asian supermarkets have been piquing my interest for a while. Yesterday, my defenses finally crumbled and I bravely selected six of the most active and had them cleaned in the store. Dinner last night was the most enjoyable meal for me but it would have been better if I could have shared it with someone else. The last time I had crab cooked the Bengali way was before I left India in 1977. 

Fish & Seafood Duo
Hubby cringes at the sight of crab, so I prepared Tilapia fillets for him in the same way as the crab. 

Tuesday, September 24, 2019

Sweet & Sour Eggplant

Tok-Misti Begun
One of our favourite dishes to order in an Indo-Chinese restaurant is this sweet and sour eggplant. The recipe was inspired by one that was posted on Facebook. It's quick to make, light and delicious!

Thursday, September 19, 2019

Minced Meat & Cabbage in Coconut Sauce

This dish combines a few of my favorite ingredients. It turned out to be more delicious than expected. The minced meat was first cooked with all the seasonings and coconut milk in a pressure cooker, combined with shredded cabbage and then cooked until dry. It's perfect served on a bed of rice, but would go well with chapatis, as well.

Kanda Poha - Flattened Rice Pilaf

Flattened Rice Pilaf
Cheera (Bengali) or Poha (Hindi) or Flattened Rice (English) is parboiled rice that has been flattened and dried. It's available in packages at Indian markets all over India and North America and is considered a 'good' food for diabetics.

I was under the misconception that Kanda Poha refers to the potatoes in this poha dish, but during a phone conversation, my sister said it refers to the onions in the dish. Onions are considered to be non-vegetarian in certain parts of India so it's important to name it appropriately.

It's a hearty and filling meal which, if had for lunch, curbs hunger pangs that usually occur in the late afternoon.

Roasted Cauliflower

The stove top was being used to capacity, so this cauliflower dish was baked in the oven. It tasted great and was so easy to assemble. It goes well with rice or chapatis.

Sunday, August 11, 2019

Egg Curry & Eggplant-Zucchini Posto

Clockwise from top:
Simple Salad
Diced cucumbers, tomatoes, onions, green chilies, salt and lime juice.

Begun-Zucchini Posto

Eggplant-Zucchini Posto

Our neighbour across the street shared his bumper crop of Japanese eggplants and zucchini with us. The eggplants were young, seedless, tender and tasted so much better than what's available in the stores around here. 

Posto are white poppy seeds (sometimes combine with mustard seeds), green chilies and salt to make a creamy sauce that goes with most vegetables, fish or chicken. It serves to thicken gravy and has a soporific effect, ideal for lunch, eaten before taking a nap.

Leaving the skin on the zucchinis prevents them from dissolving into mush while cooking and gives this dish a better colour.

Friday, August 09, 2019

Shahi Tukda - Royal Bread Pudding

Shahi Tukda
Shahi Tukda or Bread Pudding fit for a king, is a popular and festive dessert in Mughlai cuisine. Toast points, fried in butter or ghee until golden brown, are soaked in simple syrup, dipped in thickened milk (rabri) that is flavoured with cardamom and saffron and garnished with sliced almonds.

To simplify life and to cut down on sugar consumption, the step to soak the pieces of bread in simple syrup is eliminated. Also, making rabri is a very tedious process and to simplify that step, evaporated milk is mixed with Gits Kulfi mix which is already flavoured with cardamom and saffron.

Made with just five ingredients in less than 15 minutes, this dessert is delicious!

Monday, August 05, 2019

Begun diye Maach'er Jhol - Eggplant & Fish Curry

Begun diye Maach'er Jhol
True fish lovers insist that bone-in fish taste much better than filleted fish. I prefer bone-in fish, but hubby prefers filleted fish, so both are cooked any time curry or jhol is on the menu. In this case, Shol Maach and Tilapia Maach were made in the same way, so everyone's happy.

Shol Maach'er Jhol

Shol maach is a species of catfish that is now available in SE Asian markets in the U.S. It looked interesting, but was tough to identify on the internet. It tasted sweet, was meaty and very good prepared in this way.

Tilapia Maach'er Jhol
Tilapia fillets are commonly found in the North American supermarkets and are hubby's favourite fish. 

Eggplant & Fish Curry

Thursday, August 01, 2019

Mum's Green Beans

Mum's Green Beans
Mum made this for us when we were growing up. Blanch the green beans, if necessary, but when they're in season, the beans are very fresh and tender and cook easily without blanching. No water is added during cooking because the onions and tomatoes release sufficient moisture when cooked over medium heat. Adding black pepper right at the end, pumps up the flavour, so make sure to have ground black pepper on hand.

Sunday, July 28, 2019

Stir-Fried Peas, Potatoes and Spinach

Karaishuti, Alu r Shaak Bhaja

I’ve noticed that if spinach is cooked uncovered, it retains its bright green color.
As a shortcut, I used deep-fried onions and garlic today instead of fresh. Vegans may omit ghee from the list of ingredients.

Catfish in Coconut Gravy

Magur Maach'er Malai Curry

Malai (cream) Curry usually refers to chicken, fish or shrimp cooked in coconut milk.  This fish curry is perfect for a hot and humid day or if someone in the family is feeling unwell.  It's light and delicious and goes well with steamed rice.

Friday, July 12, 2019

No-Cook Frozen Srawberry 'Cheesecake'

Frozen Strawberry 'Cheesecake'
This dessert was inspired by a recipe I found on the Taste of Home website. I used sweetened strawberries and omitted the sugar from the original recipe. Also, instead of making a blueberry sauce, I served it with the juices from frozen strawberries. It's one way to satisfy a craving for cheesecake without having to heat up the whole house by baking in the oven for 2 hours. Transfer the frozen dessert from freezer to fridge a couple of hours before serving and slice with a serrated knife.

Peach Jello Blancmange

Peach Jello Blancmange
This recipe was inspired by one on the Taste of Home websiteBlancmange (blah-manjh) is a French dessert that is made with milk and gelatin, akin to Italian panna cotta. This is made with Cool Whip instead and orange jello. It's very quick and easy to assemble, tastes divine, transports well and is a cool, velvety dessert for these dog days of summer.

Saturday, July 06, 2019

Chicken Feet and Fish Ball Laksa

Chicken Feet and Fish Ball Laksa
For a speedy lunch yesterday, a package of instant laksa noodle soup was simmered with laksa sauce and coconut powder (both included in the package of noodle soup), 2 chicken's feet, 2 bulbs of baby bok choy and 6 fried-frozen fish balls. A heartwarming and delicious lunch was ready in 5 minutes!

All the ingredients were picked up at our local 168 Asian Mart, a top quality supermarket in which to spend an afternoon. The chicken's feet were cleaned and pre-cooked with green chili peppers and red chili sauce. There are lots of other exotic cooked goodies in that section!

Thursday, July 04, 2019

Mum's Peppery Cabbage

Morich'er Bandha Kopi

All of Mum's recipes that I have posted on this food blog reflect her nurturing. In spite of her busy schedule during the week, she devoted her weekends to bonding with the lot of us through the meals she prepared. Neighbours would drop by, tempted by the aromas emanating from her kitchen, and were always welcome to share our meals.

Cabbage is such a bland vegetable, but no one could work miracles with it like Mum did. I've made this from memory with some adaptations. For example, Mum would have used black pepper powder in place of white and would have garnished this dish with ghee, rather than coconut oil. I wanted to keep the coconut theme going and wanted the colour to remain white, which is why I used white pepper powder. The cabbage is cooked just until done, but still crisp, with loads of garlic and white pepper powder. Served as a side dish, it goes well with rice or chapatis.

Wednesday, July 03, 2019

Oven-Baked Begun Bhaja

Oven-Baked Eggplant
Frying eggplant on the stove top consumes a lot of oil. The eggplant acts like a sponge and soaks up the oil almost on contact. I prefer to bake the eggplant until it turns golden brown. I learned the scoring method from a 'foodie' on Facebook which ensures thick slices of eggplant bake evenly all the way through. I've cut Indian eggplants in half which work well in this recipe.

Tuesday, July 02, 2019

Chicken in Cashew, Mustard and White Poppy Seed Sauce

Kaju Shorshe Posto Murgi
This dish was inspired by a Facebook post for Shrimp cooked in cashew and white poppy seed sauce. After a number of adaptations, this is what I arrived at. It was made with chicken instead of shrimp with the addition of lime juice and mustard paste which completely changed the flavour and aroma of the original recipe.

Monday, June 03, 2019

Mohinga - Burmese Fish and Rice Noodle Soup


A couple of friends joined us for lunch the other day, to enjoy a Burmese meal. 

Of course, the question was 'What is the difference between Mohinga and Ohno Khaukswe?' Mohinga is made with de-boned fish in a light broth served over rice noodles and Ohno Khawkswe is made with chicken in a coconut broth served over egg noodles. Both are generally served at breakfast in Burma, but we have them for lunch or dinner.
Setting the Table
Both noodle soups are served in soup bowls and eaten with the boat shaped soup spoons that are visible at the center of the table. Make sure to have lots of napkins to sop up the dribbles!
The Noodles and Soup
An essential ingredient in Mohinga is sliced heart of banana trees, which is not easily available in North America unless you grow your own, so I substituted with water chestnuts for their crunch. Whole pearl onions make the soup more flavorful.

Noodle Soup and Eggs
I love the texture of hard-boiled eggs in my Mohinga. It's one of the many garnishes used to dress up this fish soup.

Noodle Soup and Garnishes
A fully dressed bowl of Mohinga. 

Laphet Thoke

The Mohinga was served with a side of Laphet Thoke or Pickled Green Tea Leaves Salad.

Kyauk Kyaw

And Kyauk Kyaw for dessert.

Tuesday, May 14, 2019

Bhel - Chickpeas and Potatoes Salad


Chickpeas and diced, boiled potatoes tossed with tomatoes, onions, green chillies, cilantro and bhel puri masala made a refreshing salad for lunch. The bhel puri masala kit, which I keep on hand,  is available in Indian markets. I've served this as an appetizer with mini pita pockets for friends at dinner.  

Wednesday, May 08, 2019

Chicken Curry

Chicken Curry
A simple no-frills chicken curry that requires minimal supervision is what we had for dinner last night.

Saturday, April 27, 2019

Alu Phulkopi'r Ghonto - Potato and Cauliflower with Rice

Alu Phulkopi'r 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!

Monday, April 22, 2019

Fish Curry with Eggplant and Lentil Dumplings

Begun Bori Diye Macher Jhol
I've made variations of this dish and blogged about them in the past. Today I combined eggplants with dried lentil dumplings or bori in this Maacher Jhol. There was an abundance of eggplants in the fridge, of the Japanese variety, which are my favourite. Bori are little nuggets of "deliciousness" which add another dimension to anything they're added to. They are salted so make sure not to add salt without first tasting the gravy.

Saturday, April 13, 2019

Burmese Chin Baung Kyaw

Stir-Fried Roselle Leaves
Chin baung ywet or roselle leaves are a sour spinach that are similar to sorrel. Although they don't look anything like each other, they taste almost the same and can be cooked with shrimp, chicken or other 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.

Burmese Fish Balls Sipyan

Fish Balls Sipyan
Fish balls remind me of the time a group of co-workers and I went to lunch at a Chinese restaurant and I ordered fish ball and watercress soup. A Chinese lady and I were the only ones who had ever heard of fish balls, so it was the source of much amusement and glee for our meat-and-potatoes comrades. 

Fish balls can be made at home, but are readily available in Asian markets here in North America. When made from scratch, all the tastes that make them uniquely Burmese can be added to the fish mixture so that the flavors permeate from the inside out. Using generic fish balls from the market requires that they be simmered long and slow and, for this, the sipyan method works best. 'Sipyan' translates to 'oil returns' which requires a simmering process on medium-low heat that evaporates the liquid until all the oil rises to the surface.

Tuesday, April 09, 2019

Sour Cream Banana Nut Bread

Sour Cream Banana Nut Bread
There are few foods more comforting and satisfying than banana bread. My earliest recipe was inspired by the one on the Crisco Oil website. That recipe uses Crisco oil, but over the years and many adaptations later, I've managed to come up with one that is diabetic-friendly. 'Is bedder wid budder!' my nephew would say which is true in this case, so that was a major shift. White sugar was replaced with coconut sugar which has a much lower GI (Glycemic Index). 

The Glycemic Index (GI) is a relative ranking of carbohydrate in foods according to how they affect blood glucose levels. GI of white sugar is 68 (medium) compared to 35 for coconut sugar (low) making the latter diabetic-friendly.

Disappearing Fast

Sunday, April 07, 2019

Zucchini Karaishuti'r Bhortha - Zucchini and Peas Mash

Zucchini and Peas Bhortha
If you love Baingan Bhartha, like I do, you'll like this too. DH brought home so many fresh zucchinis last week that I was able to make a zucchini bread and this bhortha. Our Ninja Chopper, a cherished gift from our daughter-in-law, made short work of rough-chopping the zucchinis. 

Wednesday, April 03, 2019

Fish in Mustard & Poppy Seed Sauce

Shorshe Posto Bata Maach
I find that making this dish on the spur of the moment is not possible because mustard seeds need to be soaked overnight in salt and water to get rid of its bitterness.  Pre-grinding mustard and poppy seeds to a powder saves a lot of time.  The other time-saver is to add the fish directly to the gravy instead of frying it beforehand.  This steams the fish, keeping it moist and tender.  

Sunday, March 24, 2019

Cheera'r Palau or Flattened Rice Pilaf

Kanda Poha
Cheera (Bengali) or Poha (Hindi) or Flattened Rice (English) is parboiled rice that has been flattened and dried. It's available in packages at Indian markets all over India and North America and is considered a 'good' food for diabetics.

Uncooked Cheera or Poha
Thick poha is preferable to using thin poha in this recipe so that the appearance and texture is preserved after cooking. I made the mistake of purchasing thin poha so, as you can see, the individual grains are barely noticeable.

I was under the misconception that Kanda Poha refers to the potatoes in this poha dish, but during a phone conversation, my sister said it refers to the onions in the dish. Onions are considered to be non-vegetarian in certain parts of India so it's important to name it appropriately.

It's a hearty and filling meal which, if had for lunch, curbs hunger pangs that usually occur in the late afternoon.