Search This Blog

Monday, 19 December 2011

Spiced Banana Pecan Loaf

It doesn't feel like Christmas in this part of the country yet thanks to the horrible weather! It's raining cats and dogs everyday and the temperature is not bothering to drop any further than 2-3 degrees. We got all excited the day it started snowing for the first time but unfortunately it lasted only for a couple of hours. Little T was very disappointed with Father Christmas' miserliness and decided to write him a strict letter. That's what we've been doing for the past few days. And we finally managed to put up the Christmas decorations too! And no I still havn't managed to unpack all my bags :(

 To lighten up T's mood and to fulfill my friends' demands for a Christmas cake I have been going through all kind of cake and pudding recipes but all in vain! Finally I thought of baking a banana pecan cake and spice it up a little and Voila! What's better than a spiced cake to celebrate the start of festivities! Little T already has a palette for spiced cakes and she loves this simple yet delicious Spiced Banana Pecan Loaf Cake. The recipe is adapted from the BBC Goof Food website with a few changes of mine. For the original recipe click here.




Spiced Banana and Pecan Loaf


Ingredients :

175 gm softened butter and a little extra for greasing
175 gm golden caster sugar
140 gm Whole Wheat Flour
100 gm ground almonds
3 eggs
100 ml milk
1/2 tsp baking powder
2 very ripe bananas, mashed
50 gm pecans, chopped
30 gm walnuts, chopped
A handful of muesli
A generous pinch of cinnamon powder 
A few sweet banana chips to garnish


Method :

Heat oven to 160C/140C fan/gas 3. 
Grease and line a 2lb loaf tin. 
Beat the butter and sugar with an electric whisk until light and fluffy. Add the mashed bananas.
Beat the eggs, flour, almonds, cinnamon, baking powder and milk separately until smooth. 
Gradually fold in both the mixes together. Stir in the pecans and the walnuts.
Pour the batter into the tin. Sprinkle the muesli evenly on top.
Bake for 45-50 minutes until golden, risen and a skewer poked in comes out clean. 
Cool in the tin, then lift out. 
Garnish with the banana chips on top.










Sunday, 18 December 2011

Amar chhotobelar shohor Kolkata







I've just come back from a long holiday. And yes I'm jet lagged, holiday hungover and exhausted but yet I've decided to write this post even before I've finished unpacking so that I can sum up my emotions in this write up before my memories slowly start to fade out like an used yellowed paper. All the Bengalis I know call Kolkata or Calcutta fondly as his/her City of Joy so what's new in my post? Well then you havn't read the title properly. It doesn't say ''Amar khushir shohor(my city of joy)'' or even just ''Amar shohor(my own city)''. It says ''Amar chhotobelar shohor Kolkata (The city of my childhood-Kolkata)''. Yes I don't like how rapidly Kolkata is changing these days, I don't like the rise in the number of expensive shopping malls, I don't like the huge arrogant SUVs on the narrow roads, I don't like the fancy fine dining eateries at every nook and corner of the city and I don't even like ''Nolen gurer Ice-Cream''! For me Kolkata will always be a city of jhalmuri, phuchka, tikka rolls, Nalen gurer sandesh, Gariahat, New Market and lots and lots of sweet memories. Memories of my first day at school, memories of my favourite teacher, memories of my holidays with nose dug deep into Anandamela, memories of the frequent tiff and making up with my brother, memories of my parents discussing and planning a yearly holiday to one of the hill stations and the most precious memories of all...memories of the wonderful time spent with my childhood friends. Memories that never scar you...they just leave a sweet but deep pain within. Memories that make you suddenly stop on your track and smile. Memories that make you long for those childhood days again and again.....








Last two times when I visited Kolkata I tried to revisit my yester years. I did all those things that I don't get to do anymore but the child inside my 31yr old body screams and asks me to do everyday! I went for motor bike rides, I watched a romantic flick with my equally crazy childhood friends and shouted and behaved like a love stricken teen-ager, I walked from Chowranghee to Bhawanipur (and fell sick the next day), bought cheap jewelleries and bargained and quarrelled with the shop-keepers(even called one of them ''Kaku''-Uncle), ate countless phuchkas and rolls and spent endless hours of giggling and gossipping with my two best friends of 25 years! For me Kolkata will always be a city where I can get what I've left last time...pieces that I can pick up and put together to make another complete picture. Kolkata for me will always be a city of yellow taxis, colourful wooden buses and horse carriages in front of Victoria Memorial. 




I know this is not the first time that I've written a post on Kolkata and it definitely not the last time. Every time I come back from my city I get this feeling of an immense void...a loneliness that only time can fill.

Growing up is not that bad when you have same sort of crazy people to grow up with. And for that I will always be ever so grateful to Kolkata for giving me such an innocent and unadulterated childhood that only she could give...and for that she will always be The City of My Childhood. I love you Kolkata!  


Find more photos here.

Tuesday, 6 September 2011

Kashmiri Yakhni for Eid

....and My First Work of Fiction :)....




''I want to have Yakhni tonight'',  spat Balwant. He sounded miserable and angry. He was being unbelievably selfish when he knew that there wasn't even a grain of rice at home to cook. Radhika sat and wept silently. She wished she could make at least something to feed her 5 year old boy who has cried himself to sleep. She wished she could run away from the constant nagging of her husband who has been redundant lately and was always at home. She wished there wasn't so much violence in her homeland, that once used to be known as the Heaven on Earth. 


She started cleaning the already cleaned house in order to forget about the hunger pangs. The old ancestral house is falling apart due to lack of repair and maintenance. The pantry has started stinking as if a rodent has died inside and rotten. So Radhika decided to investigate and clean the empty pantry at the same time. Taking a candle light inside she took out the empty jars and bottles one by one, scrutinizing with squinted eyes in the hope of finding something edible in them. She dipped the piece of cloth in a bucket of warm water and started wiping the shelves one by one. 


Slowly she emptied and wiped all the bottom shelves till her arms started aching and she felt light headed. But she did not give up. Finally she reached the top shelf. With great effort she stood erect with her petite frame's weight solely on her toes. She bit her lips to stop herself from screaming as she feared she might wake up her son who would start the monotonous sobbing again. She kept on going till her fingers reached the end of the shelf and they touched something soft. She shrieked and recoiled thinking it to be a spider or something equally deadly like that. After a few breaths she decided to try again, this time with a little bit more confidence. She dragged an old rickety iron bucket to the shelf and stood on it to get a better view. She was surprised to see a brown special delivery envelope instead of a dead rodent or a hairy creepy crawly!


With great anticipation she got off the bucket and sat on it. Wiping her sweaty hands on the sides of her saree she opened the envelope, praying to God for a miracle, a map to some hidden treasure, a few currency notes...anything! She wasn't prepared for what came out of the envelope. She didn't understand whether she should laugh or cry of the disappointment she felt because inside the envelope there wasn't money or a map. Out came an old, aged and browned photograph. 


Radhika hid the photograph under the drape of her saree and came out into the light. She sneaked inside the kitchen and stood next to the window and looked at the photograph once again. She looked at the little girl, the smiling lady and the young boy in the photo, each one looking as happy as the other. As she kept on looking at the photograph her mind and soul flew back to that day when the photo was taken. The boy in the photo was Balwant, the little girl his sister who was killed by one of the blasts while buying vegetables one day and the lady his mother who has lost the will to live ever since. They are all sitting in the kitchen while his mother-in-law had something cooking on the tandoor (stove). Looking at the glint in her husband's eyes Radhika could say that the things that was cooking was none other that ''Yakhni'', Balwant and Kusum's favourite dish. His smile made her wistful as she suddenly realised it's been ages since Balwant had smiled at her like that. 


Her eyes moistened as she remembered how beautiful Balwant had looked on the day of their wedding. And how ill and weak he looked now with dark circles around his eyes and the constant coughing. Slowly she took out the ragged velvet jewellery pouch she hides inside the jar of rice. She counts the few last coins she has kept for Balwant's medicine, the one that soothes his throat for a few hours at night when he sleeps. The money is enough to buy her some sheep meat and yogurt. She will borrow some spices from the neighbour. She hurries out of the door to reach the market before it closes for the day. Today she will see the smile on Balwant's face again. 












Yahni or Yakhni (Urdu: يخن, Hindi: यख़नी) is a class of foods found from Greece to the Indian subcontinent. In South Asian cuisine, it is a kind of soup or stock, often served over pilaf (Pulao). In Greek (γιαχνί), Turkish, and Persian cuisine, it is a stew of meat, fish or vegetables in a browned-onion base with tomatoes and olive oil. -Wiki




Ingredients : 


Sheep/Goat/Lamb Meat - 1 kg
Yogurt (Greek style or Hung) - 400 gms
Fennel - 1tsp
Cinnamon - 1 inch stick
Cloves - 4-5
Large Black Cardamoms - 3-4
Bay Leaves - 2
Saffron - a generous pinch
Turmeric Powder - 1/2 tsp
Kashmiri Chilli Powder - 1/2 tsp
Corriander Powder - 1tsp
Salt to taste
Sugar - 1/2 tsp
Mustard Oil - 2 tbsp
Milk - 2tbsp
Fresh Mint Leaves (optional) - a few leaves


Method : 


1. Put the meat along with 2-3 cups of water, bay leaves, cloves, cardamoms and salt in a pressure cooker and cook till the meat is tender(follow your pressure cooker manufacturer's guidebook). Take out the meat pieces and reserve the stock.


2. Dry roast the fennel and half of the cinnamon. Grind them to a fine powder. Soak the saffron in warm milk. 


3. Mix the yogurt with the meat stock with a whisk. Add the Fennel-Cinnamon powder, corriander powder, turmeric powder, chilli powder and sugar to it. Taste and season with salt if needed. 


4. Heat mustard oil in a pan/wok. Add rest of the cinnamon and cloves and fry for a few seconds. Add the meat pieces and cook on a high flame till they start browning. Remove from heat and slowly pour in the yogurt-stock mix(it tends to curdle on heat so make sure you remove the pan from heat before doing so).


5. Put the wok back on flame and cook on high. Bring it to boil. Add the saffron soaked milk. Lower the flame and simmer the soup for 5-10 minutes. Traditionally mint leaves are added at this point. Serve hot with freshly steamed/boiled rice.








This recipe is my Sister-In-Law's. She is married to a Kashmiri man and hence we all got introduced to this lovely dish. You can even use the stock to make a lovely warming drink for your kids during those wintry days. Just season with pepper and ground cinnamon! 


A belated Happy Eid and Ganesh Chaturthi to all my readers :).



Monday, 5 September 2011

kNacha Aamer Chutney - Green Mango Chutney




One of the few things I craved all my pregnancy was raw mangoes and especially the by products like Bengali style kNacha Aamer Chutney and Aam Panna. Unfortunately, being miles away from London finding mangoes/green mangoes even in the Asian stores was bit of a challenge. But now that we've moved down south, mangoes are in abundance everywhere. I'm not a mango eater but I am also not a freak to not like raw mango! I mean who doesn't like Amshi(Dried pickled mangoes) or Aamer Achar(Mango Pickle with Jaggery) or Aam Panna(Raw Mango Drink)....and the list goes on!  And I simply love the frozen packs of ready to use mango pieces as they make my life so much easier! 


And I love the expression of my daughter's face when she eats raw mangoes. With squinted eyes and a little shiver up her spine and goosebumps she is a sight! She will not give up though. I guess this proves that you can take the girl out of Kolkata but you cannot take Kolkata out of a girl! :)





kNacha Aamer Chutney

Ingredients:

Lots of cubed, diced or sliced Raw Mangoes - the more the merrier!
Mustard Seeds - 1/2 tsp
Dried red chillies - 1-2 broken in 3 pieces each
Salt - 1/2tsp
Sugar - depending on your taste, amount of mangoes that have gone in and their sourness (I used roughly 1 small cup of sugar for 2 cups of Mangoes)
pNach Phoran (Bengali five spice) ,dry roasted and ground - 1tsp
Mustard Oil - 1tbsp






Method : 

1. Heat oil in a wok. Add the mustard seeds and chillies till they splutter. Add the mangoes and fry well. Add salt.

2. 4 cups of hot water(for 2 cups of mangoes) and bring to boil. Lower the heat cover and cook for 5 minutes till the mangoes are tender. Add the sugar and boil till the sugar is dissolved. 

3. Check the sweetness. It should not be too sweet neither it should be too sour. Enjoy it with any meal anytime of the day. 









Sunday, 4 September 2011

Chicken Biryani for the Soul

My house has become empty today. With all the people gone, toys been put back in the toy boxes, wardrobes emptied, the tranquility is back with a vengeance. It was heart breaking to see Little T so sad and plead ''Please don't go'' to her cousin brothers while seeing them off. I know she will be fine in a few hours and it's going to be back to school days soon. I know this as we have all been there done that isn't it? Summer vacation somehow always  means ''Mamarbari''(maternal uncle's house) and fun with cousins. All the afternoon play times in the scorching heat, mango pickles, Aari-Bhab(tiny tiffs and making ups) and the sudden end of all the fun. The promise of another vacation under the same roof. And the bye byes. The places have changed, people have changed, buses and taxis have been replaced by airplanes and fancy cars but the emotion, love and pain have remained the same.


DH wanted to cook something nice for his sister before she left. Since we have all binged on food and alcohol during their stay here he wanted to made something light but tasty and came up with this lighter and healthier version of Chicken Biryani. And it was his way of saying Adieu to his days of summer with his sister too. 




This is one of the easiest and quickest Biryani recipes I've come across and it tastes simply awesome! This recipe again goes to people who want easy and quick recipes for a lovely meal. :)


Ingredients:

Basmati Rice - 2 small cups (will make enough for 3-4 persons)
2 medium boneless chicken breast - cubed
Onions - 2 large
Ginger Paste - 1tsp
Garlic Paste - 2tsp
Greek Yogurt or Natural Hung Yogurt - 150 gm
Turmeric Powder - 1/2 tsp
Kashmiri Chilli Powder - 1/2 tsp
Chicken Biryani Masala (We use Shaan) - 2tbsp (more if you want to make it a bit more spicy)
Salt to taste
Saffron - a pinch
Kewra Water - 3-4 tsp (you can use Rose Water instead)
Sunflower Oil - 4 tbsp






Method : 


1. Slice the onions. Heat oil in a wok and fry the onions till they are soft and translucent. Add the ginger and garlic paste and fry for 5 more minutes till oil separates. Strain the excess oil out in a strainer. Let it cool. 

2. Blend the fried onion, ginger and garlic with the yogurt in a blender to make a fine paste. Marinate the boneless chicken pieces with this paste for 1-2 hours. 

3. Soak the rice in warm salty water for 1 hr. Soak the saffron in 2tbsp of warm milk.

4. Heat half of the strained oil in the wok and fry the chicken pieces along with the marinade. Cook on high heat for the first 3-4minutes and then lower the heat. Add salt, turmeric, chilli powder and the Biryani Masala and cook well till the chicken pieces are cooked thoroughly. Dry up any excess liquid, if any.While cooking the chicken boil the rice with a tbsp of salt till they are just about cooked (make sure they are not over cooked). Strain and fluff the grains with a fork.

4. Take a deep bottomed pot. Add a layer of rice. Scatter 3tbsp of chicken evenly. Add another layer of rice and chicken. Add a tsp of Kewra water/Rose water and saffron milk each. Now repeat till all the rice and chicken are used up while adding Kewra water and Saffron after every 2nd layer. It should make upto 5 layers. 

6. Cover and put it on low flame for 2-3 minutes. Mix the layers roughly before serving. Serve with salad and raita. 











Tuesday, 30 August 2011

Creamy Chicken Stroganoff







I must say this recipe is a bliss for people who do not want to spend much time in the kitchen. It's also perfect for those young men who want to impress their partners with something nice and home made. It's super easy to make yet looks quite exotic because of the things that go in it! It goes with anything your heart wants....pennes, spaghettis, rice or just a plain bun to dunk in the awesome gravy!



This photo goes to Susan's Black and White Wednesday




Ingredients:


1lb/450gm skinless chicken breat fillets
4tbsp dry sherry (optional)
15gm pack of dried porcini mushrooms
300gm chestnut mushrooms
1 large onion, peeled and sliced
1 tsp freshly chopped thyme/1/2 tsp of dried thyme
125ml  Chicken stock
150ml Crème fraîche
1tbsp Paprika
Salt to taste
Coarsely ground pepper to taste
2tbsp Sunflower Oil
25gm unsalted Butter






To Serve:


Crème fraîche
Freshly cooked Rice/Pasta


Method:


1. Cut the chicken into finger length strips. Gently warm the sherry in a small saucepan and keep aside. Wash the Porcini mushrooms in hot water (this is important as some of them contain soil) and soak in the warm sherry. If you are not using the sherry then just soak the mushrooms in hot water with a little vinegar in it.


2. Heat half of the oil in a wok. Add the chicken strips and stir-fry over high heat for a few minutes. Add salt and pepper. Keep aside.


3. Heat the remaining oil and butter and cook the onion slices till they turn translucent. Add the chestnut mushrooms and fry for another 5 minutes or until soft. Add the paprika and cook for another minute.


4. Add the Porcini mushrooms along with the soaking liquid(sherry/water), stir in the stock and the chicken pieces. Cook for 2 minutes till the chicken is cooked.


5. Stir in the Crème fraîche and bring the sauce to boil. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve immediately with a spoonfull of Crème fraîche and rice or pasta.







I forgot to take pictures of the porcini mushrooms Next time will click them and add them here. :)


*Trivia* : One portabella mushroom has more potassium than a banana! 

Thursday, 25 August 2011

Rasmalai, The Ultimate Pleasure for my Sweet Tooth...what's yours?







Okay I am not ashamed to say that I took another holiday. Actually it's more of a family fun time than a real holiday. What's the difference? The difference is you have fun with your family and cousins but you still end up spending hours in the kitchen or shouting at the children asking them to behave. While, on a holiday, you don't care even if your house is burnt down by a handful of toddlers!!! But we are having an absolutely gorgeous time with my Sister-In-Law's family and Little T is loving every minute of it as her cousin brother is only 4 months younger to her. 

So you can imagine the state of my home right now which is packed with two adrenaline rushed toddlers, a super bored Nintendo playing adolescent, a fat lazy cat and 4 adults all trying to do ''stuff' in the kitchen! In one word - Mayhem!!! So what made me decide to add another mayhem of making Rasmalais to this already existing utter chaos? I made it coz I was on a high after cooking day and night to feed 8 mouths 3 times a day.  And this time I did not forget to take the pictures of all the steps as I wanted to do this tutorial since the day I made Rosogollas for the very first time. There are a thousand websites and blogs offering almost the same recipe and I'm no different. But hopefully the step by step pictorial recipe will guide you better :).

Ras Malai/Rosho Malai (Originated in Orissa but got her true identity in Kolkata) 
Soft Cheese Dumplings in Sweetened Milk 


Ingredients 

For the Gollas/Dumplings: 

Full Fat Cow's Milk - 2lt (will make about 24 Rosogollas)
Juice of 2 limes
Muslin Cloth/Fine strainer




For the Sugar Syrup:

Water - 5 cups
Granulated Sugar - 3-4 cups...or more(depending on whether u have a sweet tooth or not!)
Rose water - 2 tsp
Saffron - 1 small pinch

For the Sweetened Milk:

Full Fat/Whole Milk - 1 lt
Cardamom Powder - 1 tsp
Chopped Pistacchios - 3tsp
Saffron Strands - a pinch

Method

For the Gollas:

1. Heat the milk in a deep bottomed sauce pan and bring to boil.Add the lemon juice slowly to curdle the milk. 

2. Once the milk is fully curdled and the green whey has been released, place the muslin cloth on a strainer and slowly drain the whey out. 

3. Keep the paneer(cheese) under cool running water for a few seconds (this will remove any smell of lime). 

4. Tie the ends of the cloth and hang for an hour.In a large bowl or plate start kneading the paneer. Knead for about 5-10 mins or more till the dough is soft and smooth. This is the main part of the recipe as it will decide your and your Roshogolla's fate! The more you knead the better and softer treats you get...as simple as that! 




5. Divide into equall sized round smooth balls(flattened balls for Ras Malai). Keep an eye on the size of the balls as they will get bigger-about double the original size!!. Make sure the balls are crack free. 



For the Syrup and the Rosogollas:

6. Heat water and sugar in a wide mouth stock pot. Add the rose water.

7. Lower the heat and add the balls one at a time. Cover the pot and cook on lowest flame for about 40-45 mins. 




8. Remove lid and add the saffron strands (If you want to make only Roshogollas)  Take the pan off heat and let it sit for 5 mins. Garnish with roughly chooped pistachios and serve warm. (Can be refridgerated upto 5 days in an airtight container. )




For the Sweetened Milk : 

9. Boil the milk kept for dunking the dumplings. Add the saffron strands and cardamom powder and simmer for 10-15 minutes stirring continuously until the Milk is reduced to half.

10. Add 5-6 tbsp of the sugar syrup, one spoon at a time, and mix well. Keep on tasting for the sweetness. Add more if needed (DONOT make it too sweet as the Roshogollas/Dumplings will be sweet already).

11. Once the milk is done add the Roshogollas to the milk and dunk well. Take off heat and let it stand for 10 minutes. Remove the Roshogollas carefully with a serving spoon as they tend to break easily. Place them in a shallow bottomed wide serving dish in order to avoid overlapping. Pour the milk on top. Add pistacchios and serve warm. 





















Wednesday, 17 August 2011

Deemer Devil (Devilled Eggs with a Bong twist)

My family can be called an Egg Family because we all love eggs. Little T, DH, our cat Tom and myself are all ardent devotees of this versatile form of protein! DH claims that he used to eat 12 eggs at one go on his little motor racing trips to small village railway stations on the outskirts of Kolkata. I have personally seen him devouring 4-6 at one go. I cannot be that brave and can only risk 2 at one single time. But never the less we both love eggs and fight over it every time I cook a curry or a quorma or even any types of omlettes. 

DH has his typical habit of suddenly calling me on his way back from work and demanding a ''special'' kind of snacks. Normally he would say ''make something quick and easy'' and then on the contrary, upon asked what he would like. he would name something quite difficult and exotic! Sticking true to his nature he demanded ''Deemer Devil'' the other day, out of no where! So I searched for the recipe on the internet as I've never made them before, though ate them a thousand times. Wikipedia came up with the definition of Devilled Eggs : ''Deviled eggs or eggs mimosa are hard-boiled eggs cut in half and filled with the hard-boiled egg's yolk mixed usually with mayonnaise and mustard. Deviled eggs are usually served cold. They are served as a side dish, appetizer or a main course, and are a common holiday or party food.''

Hmmm....but unfortunately we Bengalis do not know simple food like the Wikipedia's version of Devilled Eggs. Our Deemer Devils are deep fried balls of delight with half an egg inside stuffed with spicy yolk mixture. So I went through a few recipes and came up with a version of my own. I was surprised at how quickly this can be made, provided you have all the ingredients handy. 




Deemer Devil - Devilled Eggs with a Bong Twist

Ingredients : 

Hard boiled Eggs - 3 halved (this will make 6 devils...use more if you are feeding a herd)
Boiled and peeled potatoes - 2 medium
Onions - 1 large thinly sliced
Garlic Paste - 1/2 tsp
Green Chillies - 2 chopped (optional)
Corriander Leaves - 2 tbsp chopped
Cumin Powder - 1/2 tsp
Red Chilli Powder - 1/2 tsp
Salt - to taste
Oil for deep frying
Breadcrumbs

For the Coating : 

Whisk one egg, 2 tbsp plain flour and a pinch of salt. 

Method : 

Separate the egg yolks from the hard boiled egg whites. Mash them in a large bowl along with the potatoes. Heat little oil in a pan and fry the onions and the green chillies. Add them to the mashed potato-yolk mixture. 

Add all the spices and the salt to the stuffing and mix well. Now make 6 equal balls out of the stuffing mixture and add them to the egg halves in a way that they look like full eggs. Another method is to cover a whole halved egg with the mixture(that way it will be easier to coat the ball evenly with the batter). 



Now dip each devil in the egg-flour batter and roll them on a plate of bread crumbs. Make sure the devils are covered evenly on all sides. At this point you can freeze a batch for future use or refrigerate if making a day in advance.



Heat oil in a wok and deep fry the devils. Soak excess oil on kitchen towels. Serve hot with tomato ketchup and thinly sliced cucumber and onion salad. 





Will be off blogging for a week now as sis-in-law and her family is coming to visit. Happy times again for us and especially Little T as she will get to play with her cousin brothers. See you all after a week and happy blogging :). xxx



Tuesday, 16 August 2011

Robibarer Mangshor Jhol (Sunday special Bong style Mutton curry)





One of my favourite childhood memories include my mother, sunday lunches with my cousin brothers and sisters, old bengali film records played on the gramophone and the smell of bengali garam masala(a special spice blend) in every nook and corner of the house. Sundays when I was a kid used to be grand affairs at home. A huge sumptuous lunch of Uchchey Bhaja(fried bitter gourds), Dal, Alu Posto(potato in poppy seed paste), Mutton Curry and Chutney(mostly tomato) followed by a forceful afternoon siesta by the elders and the eager anticipation for the old bengali Uttam Kumar-Suchitra Sen films shown on Doordarshan.


Anyway, going back to the mutton curry now, the best part was the eagerness we had to be the first taster and often we had to fight among ourselves to be the privileged one. The worst part being chosen as the little helper by my mother to peel the onions when the maid did not turn up or ''forgot'' to do it before leaving which happened frequently! But at the end the pain and hard work did pay off in the form of half a fried potato kept aside for the curry. The kitchen used to be a mess with vegetable peels kept in piles, freshly ground spices kept in bowls , large bowls full of sliced onions and tomatoes and amidst all this mess stood my Ma in her sweat damped saree which I loved to dig my face into.


Finally the clock struck 2pm and by God's grace if everybody managed to shower, be presentable at the table and some of us still did not faint after smelling the heavenly fragrance all morning, we got what we waited to eagerly all morning...my mom's mutton curry! And no Michelin Star restaurant or even Golbari (famous for the named curry) can ever come close to that heavenly taste! One of my biggest regrets in life is I never got a chance to learn cooking from my mother. Through many experiments I've finally managed to get a flavour and taste like her curry in mine. Though when I made it for my Chhotomama(mom's youngest brother) he complained ''Chhordi-r moton hoini kintu khub bhalo hoyechhey''(not like my sister's curry but still very good). I guess I'll have to live with that. :)








Sunday Treat - PNathar Jhol (Mutton Curry)

Ingredients : 

Goat Meat - 1 kg
White Potatoes - 2-3 large halved
Onion Paste - Made of 3 large onions or 4 medium ones
Ginger Paste - 2 tsp
Garlic Paste - 2 tsp
Skinned plum tomatoes - 2 medium (I use the canned ones)
Yogurt - 3-4tbsp
Mustard Oil - 1tsp
Vegetable/Sunflower Oil accordinly
Bay Leaves - 2

Make a paste with the following ingredients : 

Tamarind Paste - 1/2 tsp
Cumin Powder - 2tsp
MDH Meat Masala (Optional) - 2tsp
Turmeric Powder - 1/2 tsp
Chilli Powder - 1tsp
Salt to taste
Sugar - 1tsp
2-3 tsp water

Dry roast and grind the following to make the perfect Bengali Garam Masala :

3-4 Green Cardamoms
1 inch Cinnamon Stick
5-6 Cloves






Method : 

Marinate the meat with the yogurt and mustard oil and keep refrigerated for a few hours, preferably overnight.

Heat cooking oil in a heavy bottomed pan (I use pressure cooker). Fry the potatoes and keep aside. Add the bay leaves and saute for a few seconds. Add the onion paste and fry well till golden in colour. Add the ginger and garlic pastes and mix well. Cook on moderately high flame till the masala is cooked well and the raw smell is gone. 

At this point add the tomatoes and cook till they are soft. In the meantime boil some water separately and make the wet masala paste. 

Once the tomatoes are cooked well and oil separates add the masala paste and cook on medium flame for sometime. Add splashes of hot water so that it doesn't burn. Now add the marinated meat to the masala and cover the meat pieces with the masala. 

Now comes the tedious but main task of mixing and cooking on moderately high flame. This procedure is called ''Koshano''(that's where the name Kosha Mangsho is derived from). You have to do this thing for atleast 30 minutes to get rid of the raw smell of meat and the flavours of the spices in. 

Add hot water (this has to be done since this is a ''Jhol''-spicy stew). If you are cooking in a pan/kadhai then add the potatoes near to the time when the meat is almost done. If you are cooking in a pressure cooker then put everything in and cook till 6-7 whistles (or according to your pressure cooker's guidelines).

Once the meat is tender sprinkle 1/2 tsp of the dry Garam Masala powder. Serve it with plain white rice and onions, lime and green chillies on the side. It also goes well with Luchi/Puri (deep fried puffed Indian bread).