Monday, April 14, 2008

Mutton Rezzala for RCI Bengal

My last post was ages ago. It is sort of hard to figure out what I should write after an absence of nearly 7-8 months. Lately I have been making very quick and non-glamorous meals. Food blogging made me put on too much weight and I am not very serious about exercising. So there started this round of trying to cut rice from my diet. I realized the store bought rotis were incredibly oily and I was probably better off calorie-wise enjoying my "bhaath" (rice). The started the ritual of making home made rotis. I am getting better at it and have been experimenting quite a bit with rotis and parathas. Of course blogging about it will need to be put off till my rotis improve quite a bit in the shape department. Anyway, I digress...

However, when Sandeepa of Bong Mom's Cookbook announced RCI Bengal, I was determined to break out of this self-imposed hibernation. I thought up a dozen things I would make and post, but alas too much happening in my non-blog world and all I have been able to come up with (that too on the day of the deadline) is Mutton Rezzala. A truly delicious and decadent meat dish which goes well with both rice and rotis.

Once again this is one of Choto Pishi's recipes. I must admit I used half the oil she had suggested, it turned out very well nevertheless. I can only imagine how much better it would be if I had put in as much oil as suggested!

Recipe Coming soon...

Saturday, August 11, 2007

Weeknight Dinner - Egg Roll

On days I plan to make some chicken in he evening, I remove the chicken from the freezer, in the morning before I leave for work. By the time I am back home in the evening, it well thawed and ready for cooking. But lately, in my morning rush to get out of the houseafter getting my daughter ready, dropping her at daycare and still trying to reach office at a respectable time of the morning, I seem to forget to take out the chicken or fish from the freezer. Today was one such morning, so I had to modify my original dinner plans and think of something new (and quick!). Usually whenever I am at a loss of what to make and want something I quick, I fall back on the versatile Egg Roll. Both my daughter and husband love eggs so it doesn't really matter what I put inside the roll, they are happy.


4 Flour Tortillas (ideally rotis or home made parathas, but I am not fast enough to pull that off in less than 30 min and I really want to send this for Mallugirl's Summer Express Cooking event)

Eggs (1 per roll)

chopped onions

chopped tomatos

Some lettuce (or any greens of your choice)

Ketchup (mustard, coriander chutney or any other condiment of your choice)

Vegetable patties (or chicken or any leftover sabzi, or skip this altogether)

Here is the vegetable patty I use. Bought from Costco. I really like it's taste, much better than the usual garden burgers. In fact, the cafeteria at my work is pretty bad, so on days I don't have leftovers from the dinner to take to work for lunch, I throw in one of these patties and have it with bread.


Break eggs and mix in a bowl with salt
Pour some in a frying pan with a little oil and spread it to about the size of your roti/tortilla
When it is half cooked, put the tortilla on the egg.

Turn and cook the other side (one side should be coated with the egg and well cooked)

Remove from heat and add onions, tomatoes, ketchup greens. This is a versatile dinner add whatever you like.

Roll it up and eat!

Back home the Egg Roll serves more as an evening snack, but I turn into a full meal on days I am short on time.

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Tuesday, August 7, 2007

Weeknight Dinner - Nutty Green Beans and Keralite Salmon Curry

I am always on the lookout for quick and easy dinner ideas I can make on weeknights for my family. I try to balanace some vegetable, some carbs and something non-veg - I don;t always manage, but that's the intention. I was really excited when I saw Mallugirl's Summer Express Cooking Event. Now I have a few ideas I could share, but most of all I am waiting to see the round up to get new ideas from all my blog friends.
The menu tonight is nutty green beans and a Keralite Salmon Curry (I don't know if it really is a Keralite recipe, maybe Mallugirl can correct me if it is not).

Advance Preparation:
Chop 1/2 cup peanuts beforehand (I always keep some chopped peanuts and ground cashewnut powder at home, they can be thrown into a number of dishes to jazz them up a bit)
Make a paste of ginger and paste of garlic (I always do this over the weekend to last me through the week)
If you chop the onions in advance you'll save 3-4 minutes later on.

The original recipe for Nutty Green Beans is here. I used very little oil (about 2 tsp and added some water to ensure the beans get fully cooked).

Ingredients for Nutty Green Beans:
A handful of peanuts
2 tsp Kanda Lasun Masala (See original recipe link above for a photo of the masala packet)
1 pound packet of frozen french cut beans

Ingredients for Salmon Curry:
1 pounds Salmon fillets cut into pieces
1/2 large onion
1 tbsp garlic (minced or paste)
1 tbsp ginger paste
1 tsp methi (fenugreek) seeds
10-12 curry leaves
1/2 inch size tamarind. Original recipe used kokum but I didn't have any so used a substitute
1/2 can coconut milk
red chilly powder, salt and turmeric to taste

0-5 minutes:
Chop onions
Wash rice (I used about 1.5 cups) and put it in the microwave for 17 minutes - ok that'show I do, it, You go ahead and make rice any way you like.
Put the onions, garlic and curry leaves to fry on one burner
Put the peanuts to fry on the second burner
Soak the tamarind in warm water

6-15 minutes:
Add ginger and methi seeds to the onion paste and fry a few minutes more.
Make a extract the tamarind paste and keep aside
Add the salmon and fry on high heat for 2-3 minutes. Add salt and turmeric.
The peanuts being fried probably look frothy, that is alright. Add the kanda lasun masala green beans. The kanda lasun malsala is quite spicy so I added it judiciously, you can add alittle more if you like. It also has salt, so add salt later after tasting if it needs any more. Mix this well and cover. I added very little oil, so you might need to add some water.
Now add the red chilly powder, tamarind paste and coconut milk to fish. Add some water to get the consistency you need.

16-25 minutes:
Stir the green beans a bit, check if it needs more water. Cook covered.
By now the salmon should have come to a boil. Cover it and reduce the heat of the burner. I do tend to taste at this point to see if it needs more tamarind or red chilly or salt.
If you have some free time, go ahead and start cleaning up :-)
Your rice should be done.

26-30 minutes:
Remove the green beans and transer to a serving dish.
Check the salmon. Usually fish cooks faster then meat, so it should be done. Adjust the time as you feel is needed. It should have simmered for nearly 10 minutes now and is likely well cooked. Remove and transer to serving dish.

Voila - dinner is ready!

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Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Dhoka'r Dalna and the Deathly Hallows

Cooking has not been on my mind lately. I must admit that all I have been thinking of in the last few weeks is the release of the last Harry Potter book - The Deathly Hallows. My husband does not understand what this series has to captivate me so, he keeps harping on the fact that it's a'Kid's book for crying out loud' but I manage to ignore him compltely at such times :-)

Back to the book, I don't know what it is, maybe it takes me back to my own childhood years, though it was nothing as exciting as Harry's, maybe it is the time-old struggle between good and evil. I don't think JK Rowling's work is a literary masterpiece but indeed it transports me to a whole new world, and keeps me captivated, reading well into the we hours of the morning, regardless of the fact the next morning I have an early morning meeting at work and need to present in that meeting and really should get a good nights sleep. Sadly neither my husband or any my friends (expect D, thank God for her!) has any interest whatsoever in talking about who is expected to die in book 7? Is Snape really good or evil? Is Harry a Horcrux? What is the relation between Harry and Slytherin? And so many more unanswered questions... *I can't wait for to read the book, as I have pre-ordered it, I hope I'll receive it on 21st July*

I expect most non-Harry Potter fans have dozed off before reaching this far, but for anyone interested, here is a pretty good site Just a few minutes back I found out that the last book (to be released on July 21st 2007) had been leaked and key pages have been scanned and posted at Spoiler Alert!

Oh I almost forgot, I need to post the recipe. I made Dhokar Dalna ages ago, and took the photographs, haven't typed out the recipe yet. Here are the photographs, the recipe is coming up real soon! (I promise)

Dhoka'r Dalna is a quintessential Bengali recipe. My mother said that in earlier generations widows would not eat, anything non-vegetarian, onions or garlic, so during special occassions like weddings this was the dish made for them. I have eaten this hardly 2-3 times in my entire life and it was a good amount of work, but tasted really good. In fact we ended up eating most of the dhoka pieces just after frying even before I made the Dalna.

For the Dhoka:

1 cup chana daal soaked overnight

1 tsp ginger paste

1/4 tsp tumeric (or as needed)

1/2 tsp jeera powder

1/2 tsp dhania powder

1/2 tsp kalonji (also called kala jeera or nigella seeds)

3 tbsp oil

Grind the daal without adding any water. Beat it a few times extra to ensure the dhoka's are soft (kind of like what you'd do for making dahi wadas).

Now mix this paste with the other ingredients except oil and kalonji.

Heat oil in a pan, add kalonji and wait for it to start sputtering.

Add the dal mixture and keep stirring till daal mixture starts to solidify and is at almost dough like consistency and be somewhat sticky. By this time the color of the daal should also be much darker than when you started off.

Take out and spread immediately on a flat dish (A pie dish works perfectly), press it to make it flat and smooth on top. After it cools completely and cut into the shape of your choice (I made barfi like diamond shaped pieces)

Deep fry the dhoka pieces and keep aside. In our home, most of the pieces were eaten this way.

Raw Dhoka's made with Daal:

Dhoka after frying:

For the Dalna:

1 medium potato sliced

2 tbsp jeera powder

1 tsp dhania powder

1 - 1.5 tbsp ginger paste

1 tsp red chilly powder

1 medium tomato chopped

1 bay leaf

1 tsp Bengali garam masala (clove-cinnamon-cardamom powder)

1 - 2 tsp sugar (I think sugar in USA is less sweet, so if making in India use less sugar than I did)

2 tbsp oil

1 tbsp ghee - optional but will make it much yummier :-)

salt and turmeric to taste

Heat the oil and put in the bay leaf.

Then add potatoes and tomatoes. Stir for 5 min.

Add jeera and dhania powder, ginger paste, turmeric, red chilly powder and salt. Keep frying till oil separates from the masala (potatoes will likely be half done by then).

Add the sugar and about 1 cup water.

Add the dhoka pieces, garam masala and cook covered till the potatoes are fully cooked.

Add the ghee and mix well.

There should be quite aq lot gravy when you remove from heat/. Botht he potatoes and the dhoka will absorb the gravy with time to give you a thick gravy which covers all the pieces evenly.

The final dish:

I have always felt most traditional Bengali recipes are very non-vegeratian biased. I must admit this recipe proved me wrong. I really thought it was delicious. Do try it, one can vary the dalna to suit their own tastes!

An interesting variation of this dish which I have never had before has the dhoka made of eggs. Check out Dimer Dhoka here.

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Saturday, June 16, 2007

Shad with nigella seeds and green chillies

A family friend of ours goes fishing every summer. The other day, he called my husband as he had an exceptionally large number of catches. We being true to form fish loving Bengalis could not give up the chance to have fresh fish caught the same day. So we went to his house and brought back a couple of Shad fish.

We were told it is a lot like Hilsa, but I was still amazed at how similar it tasted. I made a very light preparation using nigella seeds and green chilles. This dish is called "Kalo-jeere kaancha lonka diye macher jhol" in Bengali. It has very few ingredients and is usually prepared when the fish is very fresh. It used to be a regular dish at my home when I was growing up and I always complained to my mother about how I didn’t like it. Now as an adult I make it quite often myself, loving it each time and feeling that it is indeed one of my comfort foods!


1 shad fish (can use any other very fresh fish, but I'd recommend not using salmon). I am not sure about the wight but had about 8-9 mid sized pieces.

2 medium potatoes cut into finger size pieces

1 large or 2 small tomatoes

1 tbsp nigella seeds (also called Kalonji)

2 green chillies (more if you want)

2-3 sprigs of coriander leaves for garnish

oil for frying

salt to taste

turmeric as needed (maybe about 1 tspn)


Marinate the fish pieces in salt and turmeric for 20-30 min.

Deep fry the fish pieces and keep aside.

Heat about 2-3 tbsp oil and fry the nigella seeds and green chillies for 1 min.

Add the potatoes and fry for a few min. Then add the tomatoes and fry till the tomatos are paste like and the potatoes and about 3/4 cooked.

Add turmeric and salt.

Add the fish pieces and bring to a boil. Simmer with cover for about 7-8 minutes till the potatoes are fully cooked.

Turn off the heat, add coriander leaves and cover till served.

Goes well with rice. I like it with a few drops of fresh lime-juice along with my rice. My husband thinks it sacrilege to add anything to sour to his food. Tastes great either way!


Thursday, May 31, 2007


As a child I hated anything sweet. So much so, that whenever someone would offer me chocolates as a child I would politely thank them and hand it over to my mother or father (they both are major sweet lovers). People often commented on how odd it was, but I would steer clear of anything even slightly sweet. Give me some spicy samosas or chips over sugar anyday.

That was then, not sure if having a baby permanently blew some nerves or what, but since the day my daughter was born two years ago, I crave sweets. Halwas, cakes, gulab jamun, cookies… even a teaspoon of sugar if nothing else is available!

Anyway, I am always on the lookout for simple yet delicious Indian Sweet recipes. The Kalakand from Sandeepa's Bong Mom's Cookbook fit the bill perfectly. This was one of the first recipes I tried from any blog and I make it quite regularly. Only 2 ingredients and takes exactly 18 minutes, don't need to refer to the original recipe more than once - what more can I ask for? I have made this so many times that I almost think of it as my own recipe.


Condensed Milk

Ricotta Cheese

(both ingredients should be of 1:1 ratio, I use 1 can condensed milk and use the same can to measure the ricotta cheese)

1/2 tspn cardamom powder (optional)

Sliced almonds or pistachios sliced for garnishing on top (optional)


Pour the condensed milk and ricotta cheese (and cardamom powder if adding) in a glass container and mix well. (try to make sure the mixture only half fills the container so it does not overflow while heating)

Microwave 5 minutes on high, mix well, Do this 3 times (so you have heated for 15 min)

Then heat for 1 or 2 min and mix well, till you find the mixture has dried siginficantly and has a kalakand-like texture. Make sure there is some mositre left as it gets a little drier on colling down.

Cut into squares, garnish with sliced nuts and enjoy!

I made this hoping it would be my entry for MBP-Sweets hosted by Coffee. But I completely forgot that the deadline was the 20th of the month, so I was way too late for the event. Nevertheless, I loved the excuse it gave me to make this delicious sweet and to eat it too!


Thursday, May 17, 2007

Dimer Devil or Devilled Eggs Bengali style

I have been having trouble with blogger lately. It would just not let me upload any photographs. Not being very blog-savvy, I have been struggling with this for a couple of weeks now. I haven’t figured out what is wrong but do find using firefox instead of IE allows me to at least post to my much-neglected blog.

Bikeler jol-khabar or The Evening Snack on weekends had always been something to look forward to as I was growing up. My mother being a working mom of her generation, would usually cook something yummy for our family snack. Then the adults would sit down for their evening cuppa and the kids would attack the goodies. I hardly remember a weekend when we did not have friends or family over for at least one day. I really miss that here in the US. Everyone always seems so busy, it is very rare that I am surprised with an evening knock on the door from a friend or neighbor without calling in advance. So I thought of making something "jol-khabar"-ish for the family and relive some old happy memories.


4 hard boiled eggs

4 -5 large potatoes boiled and mashed. (Needs to be enough to cover 8 egg halves)

2 red chillies (add more if your taste buds allow)

1 large onion, sliced.

2 cups besan or pakora mix

salt to taste

oil for deep frying


Fry the red chillies and keep aside

Mash the potatoes and red chillies together. Add salt to taste.

Fry the onion slices till they turn brown and mix well with the potato-chillies

Cut the boiled eggs into half lengthwise. (Back in India this is usually prepared using the whole, egg, I decided to reduce our egg-intake for the snack) Cover each egg-half with the potatoes as shown in the photo below.

Add a little water to make a batter with the besan. This should form a thick coating so don’t add too much water.

Dip the egg-potato ovals into the besan paste and coat well.

Deep fry in the pre-heated oil.

Enjoy with some ketchup or in my case home-made tomato-achar.

On a side note: I was surprised to find something called Devilled Eggs here in USA and how different it was from the Bengali version of Devilled Eggs. I love the American version too, but that I'll make some time later.