Sunday, 5 September 2010

Palak Paneer (Cottage cheese in spinach paste)

About the food:

This is an absolutely delicious dish, and a fantastic food for the vegetarians. It is a very healthy and pure dish, and is not so difficult to prepare.

Preparation time: 2hrs
Cooking time: 20 mins


2 litres of full cream milk.
Lemon juice, 1/2 cup (if making the cheese at home)
4 bunches of spinach leaves, washed, and chopped
4 big onions
2 tbsp ginger paste
1/2 tbsp garlic paste
1 tbsp cumin (jeera) powder
1 tbsp coriander ( dhania) powder
2 tomatoes
4-5 green chillies
1/2 tbsp turmeric powder
2 tbsp Garam masala powder (cardamom, cinnamom & cloves)
2 tbsp butter
Vegetable oil


Making the paneer ( Cottage cheese):

For a fresh flavour, you can prepare the paneer at home, following the steps below. Otherwise you can get them at the supermarkets.

a. Pour the milk in a big saucepan. Bring the milk to boil. Squeeze the lemon juices in a small non-metallic bowl. Discard the seeds. Pour this into the milk. The solid part of the milk would separate out, leaving a clear liquid. Until the liquid is clear, you should go on adding the lemon juice.

b. Line a colander with a cotton cloth. Pour the milk solution on it, and gather the solid part. Press the solid part to squeeze the water out. Tie the cloth tightly, and put some heavy bowl etc on top of it, to drain the water away. Keep it for at least 2hrs.

c. Open the cloth, and you get fresh smelling paneer. Take it out from the cloth, and cut it into 1 inch cubes.

2. Cut the onions in quarters and put them in a pan of boiling water. This reduces the heat of the onions, and cooking becomes much easier and takes less time while sauteing. Put the whole tomatoes in the pan, and let the tomatoes and onions boil for 3-4 mins. Drain the water, and take the skin of the tomatoes out, which would have already splited.

3.Wash the spinach in hot water.

4. In a mixie, make a smooth paste of the spinach leaves, onions, tomatoes and the green chillies: all mixed together.

5. Heat a pan and add 3 tbsp oil. Add the ground garam masala, cumin and coriander powder to the oil. Let them crackle. Add the ginger and the garlic paste and saute for a minute. Add a tbsp of sugar. Add the spinach mixture to the pan. Add salt and the turmeric powder.Saute on medium flame, and continue cooking for about 10-12 mins, or until the oil separates out. You can add water to adjust the consistency.

6. When the mixture is cooked and you have got the desired consistency, add the cubed cheese pieces. Mix them well, let them simmer for 5mins and remove on a serving dish. Put the butter on the top and let it melt and mix.

7. Serve hot with Indian Paratha/Roti or Naan, with salad and chutney.

Saturday, 4 September 2010

Steamed Hilsa fish in mustard sauce ( Shorshe Ilish bhape)

About the food:

Hilsa fish, or Ilish, as known in Bengali, is at the pinnacle of delicacy among the fish loving Bengalis. This is a river fish and has a distinctive taste.This dish is a traditional dish, extremely delicious and is very easy to make. But just beware, it uses mustard, which could be little too hot for the inexperienced. Try this dish, and you would never forget the taste. Cook it in mustard oil for best results.

Preparation time: 15 mins
Cooking time: 25 mins


8 -10 cut pieces of Hilsa
6 tbsp mustard oil
2 tbsp black mustard seeds
6 tbsp white mustard seeds
4-5 green chillies, split through the centre
1/2 tbsp turmeric powder


1. Mix the mustard seeds , grind them to make a paste. You can dry grind them and then add water to make a paste. Add salt according to taste, the turmeric powder and cover it in a bowl and set it aside.

2.Clean the scales from the fish pieces and wash them well.Put them in a microwave-able container.
If you are not using a microwave, put it in a metal tin, coat it with oil and place the fish pieces.

2.Pour the mustard seed paste on top of the fish, making sure the fishes are well covered. If needed, add a little water and mix well. Take care not to break the fishes.

3.Pour the mustard oil and the mix the green chilles to the container.

4.Seal the container with a lid or cling film. If using a microwave, cook for 20 mins at 850 C. Keep a watch, as cooking time may vary.

For non-microwave cooking, put water in the pressure cooker, and set the container inside, on the top of an inverted bowl. Steam for about 10mins.

5. Take the container out and check that the fishes are soft and succulent.Serve it hot with plain basmati rice.