Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Hilsa in Coconut Milk - Narkel Dudh Diye Ilish

One day one colleague of mine while complimenting me on my skin commented "You have such good skin, because you people eat lot of fishes."....True, Bengali is one such homosapien race who have fishes as an integral part to their diet. Now, of all the fishes, Ilish aka Hilsa is a true blue darling to us. There is hardly any Bengali who doesn’t like fishes and who doesn’t drool over Hilsa. When it comes to Ilish, Bengalis just get starry-eyed. We wait patiently for monsoon to feast on varieties of delicacies prepared with Ilish. I know apart from Bengalis, very few people outside Bengal know that we love hilsa only when it is fished out of the river. Ilish originally grows in sea and so is salty in taste. But we Bengalis don’t have an appetite for salty fishes. We are fond of fishes bred in the sweet water of rivers and ponds. Only when during monsoon Ilish enters the inland rivers to lay eggs, it develops a heavenly taste coming in touch with the sweet river. In Kolkata, a number of culinary festivals are held showcasing Ilish as the main delicacy. A diversified range of preparations are concocted with hilsa in those festivals, each one outdoing the other in taste.
The recipe below is adapted from a book on fishes by Sadhana Mukherjee. I tried this one for the first time and amazingly everyone in my family liked it.
Ingredients:                               Cooking time: 15 minutes
ü  6 pieces of Ilish
ü  1 cup of coconut milk (I used canned coconut milk)
ü  2 tsp cumin seeds (turned into paste)
ü  5-6 green chillies (slit in the middle)
ü  1 tsp turmeric powder
ü  Salt to taste
ü  1 tsp sugar
ü  A pinch of garam masala powder
ü  Mustard oil for cooking
For sauté:
ü  1/2 tsp nigella seeds
ü  2 bay leaves

1) Heat oil in a wok. When oil becomes piping hot, add the ingredients for sauté and allow them to sputter.
2) Then add green chillies and cumin paste. Sauté for 1 minute. Pour the coconut milk.
3) When coconut milk reduces to half and oil floats on the surface, slide in the fish pieces.
4) Add sugar and salt. Cook covered for 5 minutes till the gravy becomes dry.
5) Sprinkle garam masala powder on top.  Serve hot with rice.

Creamy Egg with Kasuri Methi

According to my hubby, he has never tasted any egg curry as tasty as this one. The eggs floating in the gravy made from coconut milk and cream with kasuri methi on top make it a pleasure to have. I personally can vouch for the pure bliss each morsel of rice mixed with this gravy offers.
Ingredients:                                Cooking time: 30 minutes
ü  8 eggs (boiled and peeled)
ü  1 medium sized onion (chopped)
ü  1 tomato (chopped)
ü  1/2 cup of coconut milk (50 gm) (I used canned milk easily available in the market)
ü  2 tbs of whipping cream
ü  Few strands of celery (If celery is not available, use coriander leaves or parsley)
ü  5-6 green chillies
ü  2 tsp of poppy seeds
ü  1 inch cinnamon stick
ü  3-4 cloves
ü  1 tsp ginger paste
ü  1 tsp garlic paste
ü  1 tsp cumin seeds
ü  1 tsp coriander powder
ü  1 tsp turmeric powder
ü  1 tsp chilli powder
ü  1 tsp of dried kasuri methi leaves
ü  Salt to taste
ü  White oil for cooking
1) First in a blender make paste out of green chillies, cinnamon, cloves, celery and poppy seeds.
2) Rub turmeric and salt on eggs.
3) Heat oil in a wok. When smoke comes out from the oil, brown the boiled eggs. Take them off the heat when eggs change color to golden brown.
4) Into the piping hot oil, add cumin seeds and allow it to crackle.
5) Add onion and tomatoes and fry till onions turn golden in color. Add ginger and garlic paste. Stir around for 1 minute. Then add the paste made in a blender. Sauté for 2 minutes.
6) Now add coriander powder, turmeric powder and chilli powder. Sauté again for 1 minute.
7) Pour coconut milk and cream. Add little water for gravy. Bring the gravy to a boil.
8) Slide in the eggs and sprinkle kasuri methi on top. Keep it on heat for 2 minutes.
9) Serve hot with rice.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Oats Aloo Tikki

Sometimes people closely related to you behave and talk so insensibly without realizing that their insensitive insensible words leave a deep wound in your mind taking a long time to heal, but what's worse when they continue behaving as if nothing has ever happened and no harsh words were ever spoken. Sad that your near and dear ones who claim to have known you from your childhood days behave so strangely at feels keeping expectation of any sort leads only to heart burn. The less expectation you keep from people, the more are chances for your heart to remain unhurt.
Talking about heart, aside from keeping your emotions in check, there are certain other mandatory things to be done for the betterment of your heart, like eating oats daily. Now I am sure like me you too might get bored of eating the same recipe of oats with milk and fruits. So variety should be the key word to keep your relationship with oats going strong.
Those of you who have prepared aloo tiki at home will find oats aloo tikki preparation as easy as pie.

Ingredients:                                          Cooking time: 30 minutes
ü  1 cup Oats
ü  1 medium sized potato (peeled, boiled and mashed)
ü  5-6 green chillies (chopped)
ü  2 cloves of garlic (chopped)
ü  1 onion (chopped)
ü  2 tbs of semolina
ü  1 tbs rice flour (You can use gram flour if rice flour is not available)
ü  1/2 tsp chilli powder
ü  1 tsp black pepper powder
ü  Bread crumb as per need
ü  Salt to taste
ü  White oil for frying
1) Boil the oats in 2 cup of water for 5 minutes. It will get cooked. Drain and keep aside.
2) Now mix in potato, onion, green chillies, garlic, chilli powder, black pepper powder, semolina, rice flour and oats. Add water only if required. Please note the mixture should be dry enough to make round balls from it.
3) In a plate spread the breadcrumbs. Coat the balls with breadcrumb and flatten them keeping between your palms.
4) Fry in a non-stick pan. Serve hot with kasundi or any favourite chutney of yours.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Bhapa Ilish - Steamed Hilsa in Microwave

Returned late at night yesterday from our trip to Yercaud. All the muscles of my body are in pain. Throughout the morning today I felt feverish and tossed about my bed in sheer uneasiness. Yesterday afternoon, we climbed around 300 steps down to reach Kilijuri Falls, a must visit tourist point of Yercaud. Not habituated to exercise, my body gave in to the sudden exertion of muscles and by the time we reached the base of the waterfall, my legs were shaking like a leaf. The overwhelming beauty of the falls cascading down in ripples lifted my spirit up and I forgot all about pain for a while. The way back to the car park when again we had to climb the same number of stairs up was pretty strenuous and owing to my high heels, I was huffing and puffing all the way up. I realized one thing through this journey that exercise on daily basis is a must to keep agility and stamina of your body.
In a groggy state tonight I entered the kitchen to cook something for dinner. With mind and body still recovering from fatigue and exhaustion, I was looking for some easy preparation. There was Hilsa in the fridge and without wasting any minute on thought, I set about preparing steamed Hilsa alias Bhapa Ilish in microwave.
The tradition of this dish requires preparing it in a tightly closed tiffin box carefully placed in the middle of a large wok or kadai with water boiling around. But preparing the same in microwave involves very minimal effort with a turn out exactly similar in taste.
Ingredients:                                      Cooking time:15 minutes
ü  6 pieces of Hilsa
ü  2 tbs of yellow mustard seeds
ü  6-7 green chillies
ü  1 tsp turmeric powder
ü  salt to taste
ü  Mustard oil for cooking
(Note:  Mustard oil is crucial to this preparation as the pungent smell of mustards lends the dish an exotic flavour.)
1) Make a paste of mustard seeds and 4 green chillies. In a microwave proof bowl mix in the mustard paste with mustard oil, turmeric powder and salt.
2) Wrap the fish pieces carefully in this mixture. For garnish slit the remaining green chillies and arrange them on top.
3) Now place this bowl in a steamer. I put my idli steamer to work. Pour one glass of water in the steamer and place the bowl safely in it. Put the lid on and cook on micro mode for 10 minutes. Drizzle 1 tbs of oil on top before serving.
4) Serve hot with rice. Yummy!!

Friday, November 25, 2011

Choco Balls

Tomorrow we are going for a trip to Yercaud, 230 kilometres away from Bangalore with a group of friends. Yercaud is a small lovely hill station in Tamilnadu, mostly unexplored. Often referred to as 'the small Ooty" for its idyllic natural beauty, it is fast becoming a popular tourist destination among weekend revellers. With breath-taking view of falls and scenic lakes, it is a pleasant getaway from the maddening rush of Bangalore. Because of the lack of good eateries along the way, it is advisable to carry some snacks and sweets during the journey. As my hubby does the hard work of a driver by concentrating on driving, I busy myself munching all kinds of chips available in the market, thereby happily adding calories to my already bulging body.

This time I thought of packing a box of homemade goodies on our journey instead of finishing off a carton of potato chips. As my hubby is fond of chocolates, I prepared some Choco balls, which are yummy and instant energy boosters :D

Ingredients:                                  Cooking time: 30 minutes
200 gm thin arrowroot biscuits
80 gm butter
100 gm condensed milk
3 tsp cocoa powder
Chocolate chips according to need
Cashew nuts for garnishing

1)  Grind the biscuits into powder. In a bowl, mix in all the ingredients together except cashew nuts and chocolate chips.
2) Mix well with a spatula till no speck of biscuit powder remains in sight. It will look very sticky as shown in the pic below. Grease your palms with a bit of butter and make some round balls from the dough. (I made around 25.)

3) In a plate, scatter the chocolate chips and roll the balls over them till they form a coat around the balls. Garnish with cashew nuts.
4) You can refrigerate the Choco balls for over a month.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Oats Peas Pancake

It's said that if you want to feel the benefits of oats, it should be consumed daily, at least 1 cup. With our regular food habit where the concept of breakfast has been replaced by 'brunch', very few of us hardly think of taking oats with milk and fruits on a religious basis. Nevertheless, I think eating it twice or thrice a week is better than not having it at all.
Ingredients:                                     Cooking time: 30 minutes

ü    1 cup of oats

ü  1/4 cup of urad dal or black gram

ü  1 cup of parboiled peas

ü  1 tsp cumin seeds

ü  1 onion (chopped)
ü  1 tomato (chopped)

ü  5-6 green chillies (chopped)

ü  1 tsp black pepper powder

ü  salt to taste

ü  White oil for cooking

1) Soak urad dal in water for half an hour. Then make a paste of urad dal and oats together in a blender. Set aside. Similarly make a paste of peas separately in a blender.
2) Fold in the peas paste with that of urad dal and oats. Add onion, tomato, green chillies, cumin seeds, black pepper powder and salt and mix properly. Pour 1 cup of water or more as per need to make a batter of pouring consistency. The batter should neither be very watery nor very thick.
3) Heat 1 spoonful of oil in a non-sticky skillet. Pour a ladle full of batter and spread uniformly across the skillet. Brown both sides on medium heat.
4) Serve hot with sauce or pickle of your choice.

Narkel Nadu with Pistachios - Coconut Balls

Narkel Nadu made from coconut, condensed milk and sugar is a traditional sweet prepared in every Bengali home immediately after Durga Puja to entertain guests with a plate full of delectable goodies in celebration of Bijoya Dashami. Not a single puja held at Bengali home goes by without narkel nadus offered to the gods and goddesses in plentiful. The recipe given below varies from traditional narkel nadu with pistachios added to give an extra flavour.

Ingredients:                             Cooking time: 30 minutes approx.

  • 2 cups of grated coconuts 
  • 3/4 cup of sugar
  • 2 tbs of condensed milk (I used Nestle milkmaid) 
  • 1/4 cup of minced pistachios
  • 1 tsp ghee

1) Grind coconuts and sugar to a paste. (Caution : Don’t add water by mistake)

2) Use a non-sticky skillet. Brown the pistachios in ghee for 1 minute. Keep aside.

3) Shallow fry coconuts and sugar paste on medium heat. Stir continuously till coconuts turn a bit brown in color. Add condensed milk.

4) Stir around for 2 minutes till the mixture becomes sticky and dry. Turn off the heat.

5) Mix coconut mixture with fried pistachios.

6) Now taking a spoonful of mixture between your palms, shape it into a round ball. Note that while the mixture is still hot (not burning hot of course!) and sticky, you ought to make the nadus else once it cools down to room temperature, it hardens.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Doi Potol - Pointed Gourd in Curd

It's after almost a year I have cooked potol. The reason behind is in Bangalore, any decent sized potol is hardly available. Whether you buy it from the roadside market in your locality or from any reputed retail chain, potols in large size are nowhere available. As far vegetables are concerned, Kolkata is way better than Bangalore in quality. Kolkata rather West Bengal with all its rivers and humid temperature is naturally congenial for the growth of premium vegetables, and Bangalore flanked by hills has a natural ruggedness not befitting for the same. I didn’t cook potols initially assuming that it was the local market which didn't store good vegetables, but later on, I understood that in Bangalore, I would have to make do with potols not beyond 1 inch in size.

Luckily, this week my husband managed to grab hold of some large size potols, compared to Bangalore standard. The rare 2 inch sized potols encouraged me to cook Doi Potol, a trivial effort to make this a memorable occasion (:p)


ü  500 gm potols or pointed gourd
ü  1 cup of yogurt
ü  1 tsp ginger paste

ü  1 tsp turmeric powder

ü  1 tsp chilli powder

ü  1 tsp cumin powder

ü  1 tsp coriander powder

ü  1 tsp garam masala

ü  2 tsp sugar

ü  Salt to taste

ü  White oil for cooking

For Saute:

2 bay leaves, 2 cardamoms, 2 cloves, 1 inch cinnamon stick


1) Cut the two pointed ends of potol. Scrape the skin off.

2) Rub turmeric and salt on potols. Heat oil in a wok and brown them. Once potols turn brown, take them off the heat and keep aside.

3) Add the ingredients for saute into the same oil and wait for them to crackle.

4) Meanwhile in a separate bowl, with 1 tbs of water combine turmeric powder, chilli powder, coriander powder, cumin powder, garam masala, sugar, salt and ginger paste. Mix them well into a thick paste.

5) Once the ingredients for sauté begin to sputter, add potols and the above spice mixture. Sauté for 6 minutes.

6) Beat the curd well to get a smooth consistency without any lump. Add it to the mixture on oven. Give salt.

7) Cook on low flame for about 10 minutes till potols soften. Drizzle a bit of water if the mixture turns dry.

8) Serve hot with rice, chapati or luchi.