Slow Cooker Dal Makhani – Buttery Mixed Lentils

Slow Cooker Dal Makhani  The slow cooker is not for everything in an Indian kitchen, if fact, it is my second favorite tool. Yes, it loses out to the pressure cooker in my world, however, when it comes to beans, lentils and slow simmered stews the slow cooker rocks!

Dal Makhani, is another one of those dishes popularized and killed by some Indian restaurants and some do it just right. It is certainly a dish with a decent amount of butter and cream, but it is mostly about slow simmering. In this slow cooker rendition, I have cut down a significant amount of the fat and made the work rather simple by letting the slow cooker do its slow cooking.

Finish it off with some butter and if you are really feeling indulgent by all means throw a little cream on the top, but truly that is very optional. I personally love the contrasting colors the cream adds to the equation rather than the creaminess (ok, I like the creaminess, too!)

This dish is one of my daughter’s favorite dishes and it has been nourishing us through this rather long and snowy winter that just does not seem to want to go away. Thank goodness we like legumes and grains in this household, because by the look of things, this years garden will have a very late start.

Slow Cooker Dal Makhani – Buttery Mixed Lentils

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Cook Time: 4 hours

Total Time: 4 hours, 10 minutes

A simple slow cooker rendition of creamy Indian lentils or dal makhani.

Ingredients

  • 1 red onion, very finely chopped
  • 1 tablespoon freshly grated ginger
  • 3 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1/2 cup tomato puree
  • 3/4 cup whole urad lentils (black lentils)
  • 1/3 cup red kidney beans (rajmah)
  • 11/2 teaspoons sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt or to taste
  • 1 teaspoon red cayenne pepper
  • 21/2 cups of water
  • 1 tablespoon crushed fenugreek leaves
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • To garnish and finish
  • 11/2 tablespoons oil
  • 1 tablespoon cumin seeds
  • Sliced red onions
  • Fresh Cream

Instructions

  1. Place the onion, ginger, garlic, tomato puree, black lentils, kidney beans, sugar, salt and red cayenne pepper with the water in a slow cooker.
  2. Set the slow cooker on high for 4 hours and let the lentils cook undisturbed (yes, I know that is what a slow cooker is there for, I just have a hard time sometimes leaving it alone)
  3. After 31/2 hours add the fenugreek leaves and butter and let the lentils simmer for the remaining half and hour uncovered.
  4. Heat the oil and add in the cumin seeds and let them cook for about 30 seconds, until they sizzle, pour the oil over the lentils and mix well.
  5. Let the lentils rest for 15 minutes, check the seasonings and serve with sliced onions and fresh cream.

Notes

Note, this recipe is mostly cooked up in a slow cooker and does not need any attention while cooking except at the very end.

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Flourless Rum and Chocolate Cake

FCC_medLast evening, I realized that I was getting behind on a bunch of stuff, including sharing some of the fun stuff that I have been cooking the past few weeks. I shall not belabor the rest of the list here, because chances are that will probably eat up this entire post and then, of course, I will not be able to share this flour less chocolate that I am so excited about.

However, the summarized version of the list, or rather the punchline was, that I had listed,

  • Blog about cake
  • Sleep on time

as the last two items.

The reason really is that I like to share my thoughts in an unhurried manner, at my pace. I do not and have never subscribed to the concept of scheduling posts, ensuring that something is done by a certain date, yes, I am warning you will get what I cooked at Valentine’s weekend through this week. Here is a good news, all the recipes were really good. The other part of things, that have kept us busy is that my daughter’s team participated in the FLL championships and made it to the qualifying regional rounds. Against a lot of odds…

We were surprised with the unexpected results. The problem with this is we are now in very busy gear, because, this very unexpected success has made the girls eligible for a very stiff competition.  A lot of us are concerned that if the girls do very badly, it will be very disheartening. So, we have all been very busy. I have pulled all the stops out, and sent the husband to the programming runs, while I have taken over the baking. This recipe however, was indeed a recipe that I had made for my chocolate loving husband and of course as he will have you know, I enjoyed some rum and coconut water while cobbling it together. I think a little tippler for the cook is always a good thing.

Flourless Rum and Chocolate Cake

Prep Time: 20 minutes

Cook Time: 50 minutes

Total Time: 1 hour, 10 minutes

A flour less almond, rum and dark chocolate cake that is perfect for anytime snacking.

Ingredients

  • 1 stick of butter softened
  • 1 cup of ground almonds
  • 3/4 cup of sugar (more if you like it sweeter)
  • 1 medium sized potato, boiled, peeled and mashed
  • 3 eggs, separated
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/3 cup dark rum
  • 2/3 cup (about 6 oz) grated dark chocolate (at least 70% cacao)
  • 1/3 cup of sliced almonds
  • 1/3 cup of maple syrup

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 335 degrees, grease a 9 inch round cake tin.
  2. In a large mixing bowl, add in the butter, ground almond,sugar and the potato and beat until well mixed. Add in the egg yolks and mix well.
  3. In a separate bowl, beat the eggs until softly peaked.
  4. Add the vanilla and the rum, with the chocolate into the butter and sugar mixture, fold in the egg whites and pour the mixture into the cake tin. Place the cake in the center of the oven and bake for about 40 minutes or so until almost set.
  5. Mix the sliced almonds with the maple syrup and pour over the cake and bake for another 6 to 8 minutes, until the almonds are just a little darker.
  6. Serve the cake warm or cooled.
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Easy Bengali Tomato Mustard Fish (Tomato Shorshe Maach)

Winter LandscapeWriting sometimes is a morning exercise for me, something I do in my corner of the train. We all have our designated work corners and mine often is the corner seat on a commuter train. I like corners, in the evenings especially these cold winter evenings, I can be found huddled in the corner on our bed, comforter pulled up, working through my never ending pile of pictures. Today’s recipe on hand, is a simple and somewhat whacky rendition of shorshe maach or Bengali mustard fish, that had emerged in my kitchen by way of an experiment.  So, this one is a Bengali mustard fish with tomatoes, that I was planning to serve with a side of complaints about the weather, except the stunning views from the window seduced and charmed me leaving me powerless against its beauty. Nature is often beautiful in its harshness, seductive when it imposes. This winter in New York, has breathtakingly beautiful and persistently unrelenting. We are actually expecting snow three times this week, and in progressively increasing amounts.

Tomato Shorshe Maach

When winter begins, we welcome the soup bowl with enthusiasm. However, there comes a time when, one has officially reached a point, where we are done with the soups and stews and are not so hot about seductive mac and cheese dishes and are just plain ready to throw in the towel. Add to all of this, the slip sliding sidewalks, shoveling and messy commutes, I am ready to say, welcome Spring. Of course, it really is all a matter of perspective! My children are pleased with their snow days! Totally unrelated, this year they have roped me in to make them lunch and they are excited about the possibilities and they are using their snow days to make a list of food choices for me. OK. I confess, that I am excited about their lunch ideas too, it gives me a new dimension of cooking to focus on.

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Now, back to family mealtimes, Good or bad weather, if you are a Bengali like me, chances are a medley of fish with well seasoned mustard will make you happy!

This recipe is adapted from my cookbook. It is inspired by something that my mother had created very skeptically in the early days in my kitchen. It is made with commercial stone ground mustard and my mom’s skepticism was about the vinegar in the mix. While we use fresh stone ground mustard for a more traditional recipe of shorshe maach, that mixture is all about mustard seeds, green chilies and a hint of salt. However, the commercial blend overall gets muted with the right amount of green chilies. I have thrown in some tomatoes for good measure and it all works out well.

Easy Bengali Tomato Mustard Fish (Tomato Shorshe Maach)

Prep Time: 5 minutes

Cook Time: 25 minutes

Total Time: 30 minutes

An inspired Bengali style fish curry with prepared mustard and tomatoes. Easy to make and great for a cold evening.

Ingredients

  • 2 pounds of firm fleshed white fish fillets (I used hake for this exercise)
  • 3/4 teaspoon turmeric
  • 1/2 teaspoon red cayenne pepper
  • Salt to taste
  • 4 tablespoons mustard oil
  • 1 teaspoon panchphoron (Bengali 5 Spice)
  • 1 medium sized red onion, very finely diced
  • 2 teaspoons freshly grated ginger
  • 2 tablespoons commercial mustard (preferably a stone ground variety)
  • 6-8 green chilies, slit
  • 1/2 teaspoon sugar
  • 2 medium tomatoes, chopped

Instructions

  1. Cut the fish into 2 inch sized pieces, smear with the turmeric, red cayenne pepper and 1 tablespoon of oil. Sprinkle with a little salt.
  2. Place the fish on a baking tray and broil the fish on low for a few minutes, until lightly browned.
  3. Heat the remaining oil in a large wide bottomed pot and add in the panchphoron or Bengali Five Spice and cook until the spices crackle.
  4. Add in the onion and cook on low heat for about 5 to 6 minutes until the onions soften and begin to turn gently golden, and mix in the ginger and stir well.
  5. Add in the green chilies, sugar and the tomatoes and cook until the tomatoes are soft and well mixed. Add in about 1/2 cup of water and simmer for 15 minutes.
  6. Add in the fish and cook the mixture for 3 to 4 minutes.
  7. Serve with some steamed white rice.
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Linguine with Clams in a Light Red Sauce

Linguine with ClamsI tend to hit my fish and seafood store on Friday evenings, and I am not the only one as it is fairly busy. Last evening, however was different, a quite store and I actually paused to chat with the fish department head honcho. He seemed to be in a chatty mood, and told me about how stressful his job was. It had been a rather long week of sorts, so I told him with some empathy, mine too, on some days just a different kind of stress.

The fun part of the fish store shopping, especially on a quieter evening is to chat with the sellers and pick up something different that I can have fun with. Last evening, it was these littleneck clams, providing the inspiration for creating linguine with clams.

The clams were very fresh and wild caught, they were cooked as soon as I got home, tossed up in a light saucy, white wine sauce. The flavors were simple and delicate.

The magic in the recipe was actually finishing off the pasta in the clam flavored sauce, adding a very different dimension to the pasta. This recipe is inspired by something I had at lunch one of these days actually the first time I had somewhat skeptically tried linguine with clams. That experience was memorable, the sauce for that variation was delicious, but very creamy and rich. So, while one can never go wrong with adding butter and cream to a sauce, I did not want to overwhelm the delicate natural flavors of the fresh clams, so the sauce was mostly about the clams, with some tomatoes and just a touch of coconut milk to stabilize it. You can add heavy cream if you wish, I happened to have some coconut milk handy and so that is what I used. Cooking this dish, made me realize the magic of adding shellfish to pasta, something that has not quite made intuitive sense to me until now.

I shall be making another variation of this recipe or some cousin thereof as my husband now wants to check this out with mussels. Well, it definitely is a very comforting dish, so considering the fact that the groundhog has committed us to six more weeks of winter, lets bring on the comfort food.

Linguine with Clams in a Light Red Sauce

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Cook Time: 25 minutes

Total Time: 35 minutes

A well seasoned light and flavorful rendition of linguine with clams, perfect for any time of the week and great for easy company fare.

Ingredients

  • 1/3 cup olive oil
  • 3 shallots, finely chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 cup of diced red tomatoes (about 2 fresh tomatoes, chopped)
  • 1 large stick of cinnamon
  • 1 cup of fruity white wine
  • 2 cups of vegetable broth (I liked the lighter taste)
  • 2 minced jalapenos
  • 6 ounces of dried linguine
  • Water and salt for the pasta
  • 1/3 cup cream or coconut milk
  • 2 pounds of littleneck clams (wild caught), cleaned throughly
  • Chopped cilantro or parsley to garnish

Instructions

  1. Heat the oil on medium heat for about a minute and add in the shallots and the garlic and cook on medium heat stirring frequently for about 5 minutes, until the air is nice and fragrant and the shallots are turning pale golden.
  2. Add in the cinnamon stick and the tomatoes and cook until the tomatoes are well mixed and beginning to bubble and mix into the onion mixture. This will take about 3 minutes, gradually add in the white wine and bring to a brisk simmer and stir well, loosening the tomato shallot mixture and simmer for 6 minutes until the mixture is fairly thick.
  3. Add in the broth and the jalapenos and simmer for 15 minutes, until the mixture is smooth and the consistency of a thick soup.
  4. While the base is cooking, bring 4 cups of water to a boil and cook the linguine for about 3 minutes and drain and set aside.
  5. Stir in the coconut milk to seal the broth and add in the clams and cover and cook for 3 minutes until the clams are all open.
  6. Carefully remove the clams and place in a large bowl and cover.
  7. Add in the linguine and cook for another 3 minutes, until the linguine is cooked through but not too soft. Remove the cinnamon stick.
  8. Gently add in the clams and garnish with cilantro or parsley and serve.
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Well Spiced Papaya and Pommegranate Salsa

Tropical Salsa_blogMost people do not believe me, when I tell them that a lot of my cooking falls into a category of haphazard meanderings in the kitchen mostly built around what I have around.  This is complemented by my love for traditional Indian regional recipes, mostly Bengali and North Indian varieties. These tend to be recipes from my childhood, or those that I have inherited from my husband’s family and meandering within these are South Indian (mostly tiffin) recipes that my family loves. Now, back to the haphazard, playful recipes, much like this Papaya and Pommegranate recipe that I am going to share with you today, these recipes come together often on weeknights, when I cook in spontaneous hurry without much thought for ceremony with little or less concern about taking pictures. These recipes are for me about the sheer fun of mixing and matching ingredients, and when they work out, I have the happiness not unlike opening a surprise gift, spontaneous, unexpected and simple.

A spiced salad such as this, falls into the loose clasification of a kachumber in Indian cooking, and then again, a kachumber typically does not have fruit. This being said, while we make and name many salsas fruit salsas, purists often frown at these classifications. Well, what ever we choose to call it, I had created this condiment as an accompaniment to some simple grilled fish that I was cobbling together for a weeknight. The light and absorbant flesh of the papaya mingled with the spicy notes of the black salt and chili, creating a flavors that were magical together. They sparked up our simple dinner, the only problem was that the kids found it a little too spicy. So, I have been told to tone down the green chilies for the next iteration. Looks like, this weekend I will be making two versions of this salsa.

Well Spiced Papaya and Pommegranate Salsa

Prep Time: 45 minutes

Yield: 1 cup

A colorful and well seasoned salsa guaranteed to add color and pep to your table. Perfect with your favorite whole grain chips as well.

Ingredients

  • 2 cups of fresh papaya, diced
  • 1/3 cup fresh pomegranate seeds
  • 2 tablespoons diced red onions
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly grated ginger
  • 1 meyer lemon, halved and seeded
  • 1/2 teaspoon black salt
  • 1 green chili, minced
  • 2 tablespoons chopped cilantro

Instructions

  1. Place the papaya and pomegranate seeds in a mixing bowl and mix together.
  2. Stir in the diced onions and the freshly grated ginger and mix well.
  3. Squeeze in the lemon juice and add in the black salt and the minced chili and mix well.
  4. Stir in the cilantro. Chill the salsa for about 30 minutes or longer and enjoy with any dish that needs a spark of color and flavor.
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Super Simple Slow Cooker Channa Masala Chili

CMC_SqblogThis recipe is inspired by you and yours! I mean truly…

One of the most popular recipes on this site, is this slow cooker choley or Channa Masala recipe, today. Unrelated to the channa recipe,  I was going to try and make ghoogni or my Bengali chili and then I realized that I did not have the right kind of beans as ghoogney is made with whole dried peas, not garbanzo beans. Chickpeas on the other hand, are always around in my house, in all their glory. So, I decided to mix it up with brown and regular chickpeas. If you want you can add black beans or red kidney beans if you do not have the brown chickpeas handy. The rest of the dish just cooks itself, that is what the slow cooker is around for.

It worked well for Sunday dinner, where I dressed it up with all the typical chili fixings, I mean what does not taste good with sour cream, and grated cheese thrown in. OK, for some levity and good measure, I added in some grated carrots and chopped cilantro. This week on my never ending quest to get off the couch after I come back home, I signed up for pool membership. Actually, nudged on by my son. Aadi, somehow has been slow in getting to learn swimming. This week he agreed to do some private lessons, if I joined him. Gosh, I have been out of my swimming more since maybe forever, but, what can I say… It is difficult to refuse the young man and so I am getting out a couple of days to refresh myself so that I can join him for his lessons and this chili has been an amazing help! In fact, I liked it so much, I had to try out a vegan version, for my newly converted vegan brother Anju (yes, this is my adopted brother who, my real life brother grudgingly accepts).

Super Simple Slow Cooker Channa Masala Chili

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Cook Time: 6 hours

Total Time: 6 hours, 10 minutes

This is a great one-dish meal with lots of flavor and gets done in a slow cooker. The dish other than being a great one dish meal, also freezes well.

Ingredients

  • 3/4 cups dried regular chickpeas
  • 1/2 cup brown chickpeas or red kidney beans
  • 3 cups water
  • 11/2 teaspoons salt or to taste
  • 1 teaspoon red cayenne pepper
  • 1 cup crushed tomatoes or 4 fresh tomatoes
  • 2 green Serrano chilies
  • 1 large 11/2 inch piece peeled ginger
  • 4 pods garlic
  • 11/2 teaspoons cumin powder
  • 1 large (about 2 inch stick cinnamon)
  • 2 pods cardamom
  • 3/4 pounds ground lamb
  • 1 tablespoon chopped thyme
  • 1/2 cup chopped cilantro
  • For the garnishes:
  • sour cream
  • grated cheddar cheese
  • chopped scallions
  • Chopped jalapenos

Instructions

  1. Place the two chickpeas or the chickpeas and beans in a slow cooker with the water and the salt and set to cook for 6 hours.
  2. After 4 hours of cooking, place the tomatoes, chilies, ginger and garlic with the cumin powder in a blender and process until smooth.
  3. Place the tomato mixture, with the cinnamon, cardamom, ground lamb and thyme into the slow cooker and cover and cook for the remaining 2 hours.
  4. Stir in the cilantro and check the seasonings.
  5. Serve with garnishes of your choice.

Notes

The chickpeas do not need to be soaked, but if you like them very soft, by all means soak them.

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Haleem – My way!

view_1Snow and cold weather are meant to be enjoyed with warm comforting foods, steaming cups of tea and well spiced food. Back in the day, I remember returning from classes to Rosy’s kitchen, to savor the comforts of her cooking, often featuring traditional dishes like Haleem, Nihari or what she called a simple Birayani. These foods were nourishing and warmed the body and soul. It never occurred to me that I should save a recipe or even think of replicating her cooking, any more than I had done with my grandmother’s or mother’s cooking. Well, the last one, I am trying before it is too late, before all the favorites are lost forever…

Now, how do I really know what a Haleem is, anymore than what I really know what a Birayani is, the latter I will get to later… but a Haleem by some standards is a classic dish, one my born vegetarian husband swears by, but, it is not something, that I grew up eating.  The magic of Indian cooking is just this, there is no end to the knowledge of classic dishes. Yes, folks! this is why it is possible for someone such as I to have a doctoral degree in business, but still be unsure of something that is a classic Indian dish! At the end of the day, Indian cuisine is about, tastes, traditions and nostalgia and these are ALL important!

view_2 I would love tolerate the cold weather, if all I could do was to stay indoors and cook! However, life does not work that way. Not my life at least… I certainly do not enjoy slushy roads. Clearly, neither do the birds. I took this gull picture in a parking lot. Never seen these creatures before.

Slushy roads scare me! My children find this strange, especially since it is not a moisture thing! I LOVE the rain! I think it is all about conditioning. Wet roads do not scare me in the rain, however in winter, the slick, almost white roads, circled and garnished by these leafless trees are strange and just plain weird. All this starkness, makes me want to pull up the comforter over my head and hide, just hide until the leaves all turn bright and green and the sun is really, truly warm.

The fur kid in my household has not been happy about being grounded, hehas been mournfully staring out of the window, and crying. The children have been very saddened and are counting down to Friday, where we might get warm enough to let Benji out.

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Well, I tried today, except that he was back 30 minutes later, mewing loudly, suggesting that I might have created this frosty, formidable weather!!!

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Since, clearly, I have been unable to stay under the comforter, forever, the next best thing for me has been to spend all my time in the kitchen. This week, I decided to create Haleem, my way. Haleem, in case you are wondering, is a melange of meat, lentils, wheat and barley. Usually, I have seen complex, husked lentils being used, in this variation, which I have christened my way, I have used red lentils, and swapped the barley with steel-cut oatmeal.

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This is really, pretty darn good! It really is like a chili on steroids! So, if you are looking to wow people for your super bowl party, you just might want to give this are try. If you know me, by now you know, that super bowl for me is all about the food.

Haleem – My way!

A remix or remake of a friend's recipe than nourishes us when its cold, cold, cold.

Ingredients

    For the haleem chili
  • 1 tablespoons cumin seeds
  • 2 teaspoons coriander seeds
  • 1 teaspoons black peppercorn
  • 1/2 teaspoon fenugreek seeks
  • 2 dried red chilies or 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1 large or 2 medium sized red onions diced ( 1 cup)
  • 4 tablespoons of oil
  • 1 large tablespoons (6 cloves) garlic, minced
  • 1 tablespoon, freshly grated ginger
  • 3/4 pounds of ground lamb
  • 1 cup red lentils (aka dhuli masuur dal)
  • 1/2 cup steel cut oatmeal
  • 1/2 cup wheat or farro
  • 1/2 cup cup coarse bulgur
  • Salt to taste or 11/2 teaspoons
  • 11/2 cups diced tomatoes jarred or 4 fresh tomatoes
  • 3 black cardamoms
  • 1 large (2-inch stick) cinnamon
  • 4 cloves
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 4 cups of water
  • for the garnishes
  • chopped red onions soaked in cider vinegar for 15 minutes
  • 2 tablespoons chopped cilantro
  • chopped green chilies

Instructions

  1. Place the cumin, coriander, black peppercorn and red chillies or cayenne in a spice grinder and grind to a powder and set aside.
  2. Heat the oil in a large heavy pan for about a minute or two on medium heat and add in the red onions and saute stirring occasionally for 6 minute or so, until the onions soften, wilt and begin to turn gently golden.
  3. Stir in the ginger and the garlic and stir for another 3 minutes until the mixture is very fragrant and then add in the lamb and cook for 4 minutes or so.
  4. Add in the lentils, oatmeal, wheat or farro, bulgur and the tomatoes and stir well, and mix in the cardamoms, cinnamon, cloves and bay leaves.
  5. Add in the water and bring to a simmer and cover and cook on low heat for 2 hours. If desired this can be pressure cooked for 20 minutes or slow cooked for 3 hours.
  6. Turn off the heat and let it rest for 15 minutes and stir well.
  7. Stir well and add in the cilantro and serve the remaining garnishes as desired.
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Turnips with Green Peas and Kashmiri Seasonings

Turnips with Green PeasVarieties of turnips such as the purple top and the waxed turnip or rutabaga all show up in my house in the dead of winter.  While I get extremely excited about the tiny turnips that ring in spring for us, I am fairly ambivalent about these other varieties.

However, today I have a dish that I am truly excited about. In fact, I made it right in the middle of the week and did not have much time to photograph it, so I had to make it again to take some pictures.

This has been quite a busy weekend, and it looks like it shall be quite an action packed year at the rate we are heading. Deepta has found quite her niche with the technogirls program of the local girls scouts league. It takes her away every Sunday and now, with the competition approaching, it seems like she is out almost all her free time.

I have done a lot of good cooking and actually, even have some interesting news that I promise to share with you later this week. I have generally resisted the urge to spend more time online on the blog or on social media, I have felt that overall, it tends to take away from creative thinking. That and well, I have kind of been busy at work. All the glow the vacation is fading away, almost too soon.

Blog_2The first time I had tried a dish with turnips that had caught my attention and taste buds was at my friends Priti’s house. Her husband Mayan is from the Himachal highlands of India and turnips are used a lot in their cooking. His variation of this dish was with more sauce, and included a lot of dried mint and a nice dollop of yogurt to create a delicate soupy gravy.

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Playing with some of those ideas and meandering further up to Kashmir I have composed today’s dish. This has gently touch of fennel and asafetida, both being signature ingredients in Kashmiri spicing, I have made a drier saucy creation and laced it with a generous handful of sweet peas that are readily available in my freezer all times of the year.

Turnips with Green Peas and Kashmiri Seasonings

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Cook Time: 30 minutes

Total Time: 40 minutes

A lively dish of turnips and green peas inspired by the highlands of India.

Ingredients

  • 1/2 teaspoon fennel seeds
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper corns
  • 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
  • 1 dried red chili
  • 2 tablespoons oil (preferably mustard oil)
  • 1 tablespoons freshly grated ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon asafetida
  • 1/2 teaspoon turmeric
  • 1 teaspoon Kashmiri red chili powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon red cayenne pepper
  • 6 to 8 medium sized purple top turnips, peeled and halved and cut into 1/2 cm pieces
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup whole milk or soy yogurt
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried mint (optional)
  • 3/4 cup of frozen green peas
  • 2 tablespoons chopped cilantro

Instructions

  1. Lightly dry roast the fennel, black peppercorns and cumin seeds for a couple of minutes and grind to a smooth powder and set aside.
  2. Heat the oil and add in the ginger and saute lightly for a minute.
  3. Add in the asafetida, turmeric, kashmiri red chili powder, and the cayenne pepper and mix well.
  4. Stir in the turnips with the powdered spices and cook for 2 minutes until the turnips are well coated.
  5. Stir in the salt and the yogurt and mix well.
  6. Cover the pot and cook the turnips on very low heat for 15 minutes.
  7. Remove the cover and stir the mixture, the turnips should be very tender at this point.
  8. Stir in the mint is using and the frozen peas and cook for 2 additional minutes.
  9. Garnish with the chopped cilantro and serve hot.
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Chicken Curry with Tomatoes and Green Chilies

Chicken Curry This chicken curry should really be renamed Lara’s Chicken Curry, as I last made it at my daughter’s friend Lara’s request and looks like it has become quite a hit. I have had at least three kids over since then, who have heard about this chicken curry and want some of it. In fact, much to my daughter’s concern that their quota of pasta and cheese which is the usual play date staple might be seeing it’s demise.

There is nothing very unusual about this recipe, it is definitely easy, certainly flavorful enough to appeal to a diversity of people in your world. And hey, what’s not to love about a stewed and spiced chicken dish while the weather is still cold and chilly.

I seem to have beaten my own record for sleeping, but, I am enjoying my slumbers while I can. I have certainly been waking up nicely refreshed. I would say this is sign of growing old, except that most people tend to have reverse problems with their sleep as they get older. LOL!

The problem with all this sleep is that I never have enough time for anything, especially since my cooking competes with my love for reading and this in turn competes with my love for sleeping.

Direct Delivery

All of this feeling rushed makes me nostalgic for India, just imagine getting this kind of produce delivered at home everyday. Yes, this is a picture of my mother’s favorite vegetable man. She was not happy about the picture taking as she felt that this diminished her bargaining power for the day!

Well, down to this chicken curry, it falls in the genre of basic chicken curries, such as this one, or even this one from Soma’s blog. This is a simple and comforting dish that will work well anytime of the week.

Chicken Curry with Tomatoes and Green Chilies

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Cook Time: 40 minutes

Total Time: 50 minutes

A simple and flavorful chicken curry that is perfect for all occasions.

Ingredients

  • 3 tablespoons oil
  • 1 medium sized red onion, finely chopped
  • 1 tablespoon freshly grated ginger
  • 2 teaspoons minced garlic
  • 2 pounds of boneless, skinless chicken thighs cut into smaller pieces
  • 1 teaspoon turmeric
  • 1 teaspoon salt or to taste
  • 1/2 teaspoon sugar
  • 2-3 cloves
  • 3 green cardamoms
  • 1 large stick of cinnamon (about 2 inches, broken)
  • 1 tablespoon cumin-coriander powder
  • 2 tomatoes chopped
  • 3 green chilies, minced
  • 4 tablespoons sour cream
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped cilantro

Instructions

  1. Heat the oil on medium heat for about a minute.
  2. Add in the onion and cook the onion stirring well for about 4 minutes, until the onion wilts and begins to turn gently golden.
  3. Add in the ginger and the garlic and cook for another minute.
  4. Add in the chicken and mix well.
  5. Turn the heat on medium high and cook the chicken for about 3 minutes until well mixed.
  6. add in the turmeric, salt, sugar, cloves, cinnamon, cumin coriander powder and cook for 2 minutes.
  7. Add in the tomatoes and cook for about 6 to 7 minutes, until the tomatoes are well mixed and the juices being to run clear with the oil leaching through the sidea.
  8. Add in the green chilies and the sour cream and mix well.
  9. Turn the heat onto low and simmer for at least 15 to 20 minutes.
  10. Turn off the heat and let the mixture rest for 5 minutes, garnish with the cilantro and serve.

Notes

This recipe is a great dish to make ahead as the flavors improve overnigh.

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6 Ballygunge Place in Kolkata, India

6 Ballygunge PlaceThe world changes and in time, we need to learn to change with it or we are left behind.

The first year that I visited Kolkata and had found out about the upcoming wave of Bengali restaurants, I was rather bemused and unsure about what I thought about them. To me even a decade ago, this was a rather alien concept, although I had ventured to Aheli at Peerless, Inn at my husbands’ (as we know he is not a Bengali and pre-fatherhood he was as adventurous about trying things as me). This even more than ten years ago closer to twelve, and the thought of a Bengali restaurant seemed strange. However, it is fairly mainstream today, and the good thing is that most of these places are reasonably true to the traditional flavors.

The restaurant that does get my vote for home style Bengali cuisine is however not Oh! Calcutta, but 6 Ballygunge Place. I did enjoy my visit to Oh! Calcutta, it was a visit with mom to 6 Ballygunge Place that sealed the deal for me so to say. Interestingly enough, they are even located in what I would consider a rather residential neighborhood rather than a commercial thoroughfare. They do have other branches all over the city.

Unlike other restaurants of its ilk, this spot has extremely deftly, decided to give the end user, what they really want a complete Bengali meal, done in the home style manner. The Bengali kitchen and table is much like the southern table, to put together the trappings of what might be considered a full fledged meal, there are a cornucopia of small dishes that while individually simple do add up collectively in terms of time.

It is not something that the average household can indulge in everyday anymore.  My mother is getting along in years and after the passing of Dad, I have also increasingly realized that there is more that I would like to do with her rather than just spend time doing other things with her. So, this folks has become more than an annual ritual. First off, like other restaurants in Kolkata, they always have seasonal garb, after all, what is Kolkata, without its festivals. Even my husband was amused and startled to see the Christmas spirit in Kolkata, this year.

Durga Mural

Look at the introductory plate here, they actually have alu-korola makha. This simple medley of mashed potato and bitter melon is something I never expect to find outside home. There everyday lunch buffet that is still at approximately under $10 per person, is quite the deal.  Pic_3 Simple homey dishes such as Begun Bhaja, Fried Eggplant, the mentioned alu-korola makha (mashed spiced potato and bitter melon), shag bhaja (sautéed mixed greens) and alur dom (slow cooked Bengali potatoes). Hopefully all of this now has you running over to some Bengali sites, here, here and there or better yet, reaching out for my book. For a fun and lighthearted view with some Bengali gems like kasha mango, here is Malika’s site, for a chockload of anything Indian and a world of resources here is Zoe’ site and for some amazing visuals with food history here is Spices and Pisces. Well, I digress, all of this food recounting is making me hungry. LuchisBut as you can see, that which we call starters is no small affair. All of this comes beautifully served with hot airy luchis. I love the way they serve it. Truth be told folks once you have indulged in the joys of a freshly made luchi, you will reconsider the naan. Of course, the trick is to have someone make it right.

Pic_4

On the non-vegetarian side of the universe they tend to have a chicken, fish and goat meat offering. The fish is usually a home style parshe (mullet) or even tangra done in mustard sauce. Usually, am surprised they do not have another fish in lieu of two mean dishes. Maybe an indication of the changing tastes. They finish of course with dessert, usually something like Misti Doi. My only wish, its about time they introduced a branch in New York.

The Co-Ordinates

6 Ballygunge Place

Kolkata, India

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