Monday, 19 November 2012

Alu-Gobi curry, punjabi style

About the food: 

Alu-gobi or potato-cauliflower curry is a very popular dish in India, and there a hundreds of varieties of recipes to cook them.This particular recipe I picked up from a TV food show by Madhur Jaffrey, while she was cooking indian dishes for the British. This is a punjabi style curry, and it tastes absolutely different from Bengali-style alu-gobi curry.  I was extremely apprehensive before cooking this dish, as it uses onion and garlic in a cauliflower curry, which no Bengalis would use. But, after cooking this, I somehow fell in love with it, and of-late this is my favourite vegetable curry.  Best part of this curry is the crunchiness of the green leaves, which adds a different level to this dish.

Preparation time: 30 mins.

Cooking time: 1 hour.

Ingredients: (serves 5)

1 big cauliflower
Green leaves of the cauliflower, chopped in small pieces
2-3 medium sized potatoes, quartered
1-2 tomatoes, finely chopped
1/2 tspn whole dhania (cumin seeds)
3-4 gren chillies, finely chopped
2 tbsp ginger paste
1 tbsp garlic paste
2-3 medium onions, finely chopped
1 bunch of fresh coriander leaves, finely chopped
1/2 tbsp garam masala ( cumin, cardamon, clove) powder
pinch of turmeric powder
salt to taste


1. Cut the cauliflower, starting from its base, so that the florets retain their shapes. The florets should be of chunky sizes, but slit near the base so that they cook quickly. Retain the green leaves, and chop them into small sizes.

2. Heat a deep bottomed pan, and pour oil generously for deep frying. Deep fry the florets lightly, just to slightly brown them. Drain the oil, and remove them in a dish.

3. Deep fry the potato quarters, for a little longer over a medium flame, until they are deep golden brown brown and almost cooked. Drain the oil and remove them in another dish.

4.Pour off the oil from the pan, leaving about 4 tbsp in it. Add whole cumin seeds and let them crackle. Add the onions and saute until they are translucent and soft. Add the chopped tomatoes and continue cooking over a medium flame. After ginger and garlic paste, chopped chillies, turmeric powder and salt. continue cooking until the oil separates from the sauce.

5. Add the potatoes to the pan, and mix them well. Add the cauliflower and the green leaves. Mix them well, but taking care that the florets does not break.After 5 mins, add the garam masala powder, chopped coriander, and 2 cups of water. Cover the pan and let it simmer on a low flame for 15-20 minutes.

6. Check that potatoes and cauliflowers are thoroughly cooked, and serve it warm with roti/paratha or basmati rice.

Sunday, 28 August 2011

Crispy chilli baby corn

About the food:

This is a Chinese recipe, perfect to be a starter. This is really easy to make, and is absolutely delicious.

Preparation time: 10 mins.

Cooking time: 30 mins.

Ingredients: (serves 4)
1 bowl baby corn, sliced through the middle, and then in half
1 bowl mushroom, sliced
1 medium onion, diced
4-5 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 cup corn flour
3 tbsp red/white wine
2 tbsp soya sauce
1 tbsp black pepper powder
2 green chillies, chopped

1. Put oil in a pan. Fry the garlic until light golden.Take it out of the oil and reserve.

2. Part boil the baby corn and the mushroom separately for about 5 mins. This makes them soft and tender.

3.Coat the baby corn and the mushrooms with corn flour and deep fry until golden in colour. For best results, fry them separately. Remove them from the oil.

4. Heat a fresh pan and add some oil. Add the onion and green chillies and saute for 3 mins. Add the baby corn and mushroom. Add garlic, soya sauce, wine, a pinch of salt and black pepper. Mix them well.

5. Remove from flame and serve it hot.

Best served as a party starter. Goes well with baked garlic breads.

Tuesday, 16 August 2011

Misti Doi (Sweet yogurt-pudding)

About the food:

Ask any Bengali, and s/he would crave for this dish. Bengalis are renowned for their sweet teeth, and this dish is at the pinnacle of their desires. Any Bengali meal would finish with a generous helping of Misti-doi with soft and squeezy rossogollas: with many bengalis, they are part of even the regular home meals: my family-in-laws have them usually for instance. Living abroad, and being away from home, I craved for misti-doi: I could not get it in the market, and this made me even more home-sick. I learnt this recipe from a dear friend of mine, and guess what? She is a Bengali. I am extremely grateful to her for sharing this recipe, and I could not believe how easy it is to prepare. Try it, you would be amazed by the grandeur of the Bengali cuisine.

Preparation time: 1 hour.

Cooking time: 30 mins.

Ingredients: (serves 6)
Greek style Yogurt: 500 ml.
Condensed milk: 400 ml.
Evaporated milk: 200 ml.
Dry fruits (cashew, pistachio) (optional): finely chopped.


Hung the yogurt in a fine cloth for about 1 hour to let the water drain. Greek yogurt is best for this recipe as it has less water content, which makes the doi really smooth and thick.

2. mix the drained yogurt, condensed and the evaporated milk and mix well until smooth. Add the dry fruits. Pour it in a heat-proof serving bowl. Cover it with a cling film so that water cannot enter. You can also use a tight lid if you don't have the cling film handy, but opening the lid later becomes a toil: pour cold water over the lid to cool it, before trying to open.

3. Put water in a steamer/ pressure cooker and steam it for about 20-25 mins.

4. Take the bowl out and chill it in a refrigerator for 2-3 hrs. serve at the end of a meal, or eat it straight away!

Wednesday, 20 July 2011

Bengali style cottage cheese curry (Chanar Dalna)

About the food:

This food is reflective of a typical Bengali Cuisine, and is most commonly found as an vegetarian option in almost all occasions. I learnt this recipe from our dedicated cook, who had been catering my in-laws' family for 3 generations: from the marriages of my grand-parent-in-laws, of my parent-in-laws, my marriage, and also my son's birthday. And guess what, all these occasions had this Chanar Dalna, served in the same old unaltered fashion. This is a superb and delicious dish, and never has this dish failed me and had become a hit whenever I served.

For the cottage cheese, you can prefer to buy it from market, mostly all the Indian sweet shops sell them. I make them at home, as then it is fresh and it saves the pain of going around the market searching for it.

Preparation time: 30 mins.

Cooking time: 30 mins.

Ingredients: (serves 4)

For the Cottage Cheese:
If buying from market: 500gms
If making at home:
Full cream milk: 2 litres
Lemon juice: 1/4 cup, from about 3-4 lemons.
For the curry:
Vegetable oil for deep frying
White flour: 1/3 cup
Sugar: 1 tbsp
Ginger paste: 1 tbsp
Tomato puree: 2 tbsp
Haldi powder:1 tsp
Cumin (Jeera) seeds: 1/2 tbsp
Cumin powder: 1 tbsp
Coriander powder: 1 tbsp
Cashew nuts: dry ground, 1/2 cup
Water-melon / sunflower seeds: dry ground 1/2 cup
Slit green chillies:3-4
Red chilli powder: optional
Baking powder: 1/2 tbsp

Spices for dry grind: 1/2 nutmeg fruit
Jayitri whole: 3-4 florets
10 cloves
7-8 cardamon pods
2 inches cinnamon


1. Dry roast the spices and grind them to a powder in a grinder. Store it in an air-tight container.

2.Bring the milk to boil. Add the lemon juice, slowly, through a sieve. The solid part of the milk would separate out. Keep on adding the juice until the water from the milk is clear light blue. Pour the mixture into a cotton linen, and squeeze the liquid out. Squeeze it hard so that you get a solid chunk of the cheese.Let it cool a little.

3.In a mixing bowl put the cheese, flour, a pinch of salt, baking powder and the ground spices. Mix them well and knead it into a soft dough. Sprinkle some oil on the base of a deep tray or pan, press the cheese to form an 1/2 inch high level and press it hard and uniformly. Cut them in 2 inches squares and deep fry them over high heat until golden brown.
Tips:Drop the fried cheese-cakes in cold water, directly from the pan: it keeps them soft. Take them out after 2-3 mins.

4.Heat 2-3 tbsp of oil in a pan. Add 2-3 cardamon, 1/2 inch cinnamon and 3-4 cloves. Add sugar, the chopped green chillies, ginger paste, tomato puree, cumin and corinader powder, red chilli powder and saute for 2-3 mins. Mix the cashew and the seed powder with 1 cup of water to make a paste. Add it to the pan. Add haldi and salt, and let it simmer.

5. Place the cheese-cakes on the serving bowl. Pour the gravy from the pan on top it, and serve.

Best served with hot plain rice.

Monday, 8 November 2010

Cheese and chocolate layered dessert with egg meringue

About the food:

This is a fusion between cheese & cream truffles and the classic french dessert oeufs a la neige au chocolat (eggs on top of the chocolate mountain), and it is absolutely heavenly and as sinful as any food could be!

Different tastes are revealed at each layers: The topmost layer chocolaty, decorated with egg meringue (poached egg whites in milk) followed by the lemony and creamy cheese layer.

It uses Italian ameretti biscuit in the last layer, which are hard and brittle with a bitter-sweet taste. It is the last one to be tasted. The last spoonful would be a bit strong in taste, with the bitter-sweet biscuity flavour. This needs an acquired taste, but once you have gathered it, you would love it, and which is like heaven!

Cooking time: 1 hrs.

Ingredients: (serves 5)
6-7 Italian Amerreti biscuits, roughly crushed in a mortar. (If you cannot get them, any chocolate wafers, like Kitkat could be used).
1/3 tbsp coffee
2 tbsp cointreau or brandy
2 egg whites
100 gms caster sugar

Chocolate custard:

400ml milk
1 tsp vanilla essence
4 tbsp caster sugar
3 egg yolks
2 tbsp cocoa powder

Cream Cheese Filling:

1/2 tsp gelatine
2 tbsp water
125 gm cream cheese, at room temperature
75 gm caster sugar
1 tbsp lemon juice
150ml cream


1.Line up 5 tall glasses, and divide the biscuit mixtures among them. Pour 1/2 tbsp brandy in each. Mix 1/2 tbsp coffee in 1/4 cup of hot water, let it cool. Pour 1/2 tbsp coffee mixture in each of the glasses.

Cream cheese filling:
2. In a heat proof bowl, mix the gelatine and water. Place it on top of a pan of boiling water: the water should not touch the bowl. Mix it well by whisking it. Take it off from the pan and let it cool.
3.Put the cheese, sugar and lemon juice in a whisking bowl and whisk until well mixed and fluffy. Fold in the cream and whisk again. Mix the gelatine.
4.Pour the filling into each of the glasses, filling the glasses half through.Refrigerate for 15 mins.

Chocolate custard & egg meringue:

5.Add 2 tbsp of sugar to the egg whites.Whisk until white peaks are formed. Add the remaining sugar (from 100gms) and whisk until smooth.

6.Mix and boil the milk, vanilla and 3 tbsp of sugar. Poach the above meringue mixture in the milk, by dropping spoonfuls of them and cooking them for 4-5 mins, and gently turning them. Take them out on a kitchen paper when they are firm. Continue with all the mixture.

7. Take a heat proof mixing bowl and mix the above milk, cocoa powder and the egg yolks. Whisk them until smooth. Simmer them by putting in on top of a pan of boiling water: continue cooking until thick, and continuously stirring the mixture. Cool the mixture for 10 mins.

8. Pour the custard to fill the rest of the glasses, and top them up with the egg meringue.

9. Chill for 2 hrs; sprinkle with cocoa powder before serving.

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.

Fish Paturi

About the food: 

Fish Paturi is a traditional delicacy among the Bengalis, in which fishes marinated in mustard and coconut paste are parceled in banana leaf and steamed.  The most favourite fish for this dish is river fish Bhetki, because of its fleshiness and being mostly boneless. The next favourite is  Hilsa, for those who can overcome its numerous tiny bones. I can remember an incident over my selection of hilsa over bhetki for the fish-paturi dish, in my son's mega-scale birthday party cum family get together in India. Fish-paturi is one of my favourite dish, and in overenthusiam, I entirely missed that hilsa-fish paturi is supposed to be on bones, and not boneless; and I felt like weeping with my heart out as I struggled with the bones.

 The main ingrediant of this dish is mustard paste, whose beauty is in its strong pungent flavour. However the mix of the black (which has a strong flavour) and yellow ( which has a milder flavour)  mustard seeds could be altered to match the taste bud. I made this dish with white frozen fillets, which tastes wonderful. Try this dish, to have a flavour and taste of Bengal.

Preparation time: 30 mins.

Cooking time: 30 mins.

Ingredients: (serves 5)
500gm of Bhetki/white fish fillet, cut in 3 inches x 3 inches square.
3 tbsp balck mustard seeds ( you can take less of black seeds and more of yellow seeds for milder flavour)
4 tbsp yellow mustard seeds
2 tbsp poppy seeds or 3 tbsp watermelon seeds (magaj-dana)
1/2 cup mustard oil
400 gm freshly grated coconut/ frozen coconut paste
3-4 green chillies

pinch of turmeric powder
salt to taste
Banana leaves to wrap + cocktail sticks to pin the leaves/ 1 foil roll


1. Make a smooth paste of the mustard seeds and the poppy/watermelon seeds and green chillies. You can dry grind them and add water to make a paste.

2. Mix the grated coconut, oil, salt and turmeric powder to the paste and mix thoroughly.

3. Marinate the fishes in this paste for 2-3 hours, in the fridge.

4. Cut the banana leaves/ foil papers in big squares. Put one piece of the fish and a heapful of the paste in the centre of the leaf/foil, and cover it entirely so that juices cannot leak. Secure the banana leaf with the cocktail sticks.

5. Steam the wrapped fishes in a pressure cooker/ steamer in low flame for about 20 mins after the steams starts to come out.

6. Remove from the cooker/steamer, and serve with basmati rice. The wrap has to be taken off to have the delicious steamy fish.