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Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Kalo Jaam / Kala Jamun




Kala Jamuns are black-colored sweet dumplings very similar to gulab jamuns or Bengali Pantua, made from Chenna, khoya and flour. Like Gulab Jamuns, Kalo Jam or Kala Jamuns are deep-fried, cardamom flavored, soaked in sugar syrup and tasted heavenly in the mouth. 

Kalo Jam is a traditional as well as very popular sweet in India and other parts of the subcontinent.




I made these sweets during last year's Diwali. Generally, whenever I have spare time, I love to try new recipes, click the photos and save it in the draft. But feels lazy whenever it comes to write about the recipe. One of my resolutions for this New year, is to try to finish up all the recipes that were in my draft. :-) 



Recipe of Kalo Jam / Kala Jamun :

Ingredients:

For Khoya

Milk Powder: 1 cup
Heavy Cream: 1/2 cup

For Chhana

Milk: 2 liters
Lime juice: of a big lime and mix it with 1 tbsp water. ( you can use vinegar in the place of lime juice ) 

Sugar Syrup

Sugar - 2 cups
Water - 4 cups
Cardamom - 4-5 ( crushed)

For the dough

Channa: 2 cups
Khoya: 1 cup
Baking powder - 1 pinch
All purpose flour - 2 tablespoons
Cardamom powder - 1/4 teaspoon
Ghee/ Clarified butter - 1 tablespoon

Oil - for deep- frying

Method

First Step - Making the Khoya

( You can skip the first step if you use ready-made khoya )

1. Add 1 cup of milk powder and 1/2 cup of heavy cream to a small bowl. Mix it well. Then micro-cook the mixture for 3 minutes.

2. In each 30 seconds, stir it and check it to prevent burning at the bottom. Increase or decrease the cooking time to get the desired consistency. Home-made Khoya would be ready in a few minutes.

Second Step - Making the Chhana or Cottage Cheese at home

1. Boil the milk in a big pan, stir continuously. Once the milk starts boiling, lower the flame.

2. Pour the lemon juice. Stir the milk. Once the milk starts curdling and changes into chhana (cottage cheese) and greenish water, remove the pan from heat.

3. Leave the chhana / cottage cheese in this condition for 5-7 minutes.

4. Put the chenna iover a soft cotton cloth / or a cheese cloth. Let all the water drain away. Now put this cloth along with the chhana under cold running water for 2-3 minutes.

5. This will help to remove the smell of lemon.  Hang the chhana along with the cloth on the kitchen faucet for about 45 minutes.

6. Now once again, squeeze the cloth if there is any extra water. Try to get rid of as much water as possible but note that the chhana (cottage cheese) should not get too dry.

Third Step: Making the Sugar Syrup

1. Mix the sugar and water and heat up till it comes to boiling state.
2. Add the crushed cardamoms, lower the gas.

Final step:

1. Mash the Khoya on a flat surface until it becomes smooth. Mash the Chhana same way once it becomes very smooth and oily.

2. Add the baking powder, flour, cardamom powder and ghee (clarified butter) in the chhana and again knead it.

3. Add the khoya to the chhana, mix it together.  Knead it well with your palm till there would be no lump in it.

4. Let the dough rest for 10 minutes. Now make 20 equal sized balls out of the dough and give them a smooth shape.

5. Heat the oil, once it is ready, turn off the gas for 1 minute. Turn on again and keep the flame on its lowest settings. 

6. Place the Kala Jamuns in the frying pan. Remember Kala jamuns will expand in about one and half the size, so give them enough space to expand, and don’t overcrowd them.

7. Fry them in very low temperature till they get dark brown in color. But don't over fry them. Once they are done take it out from the oil and let it cool completely. 

8. Turn on the gas. Fry the balls again on high temperature for 1 to 2 minutes ( but not more than 2 minutes )  till they will turn into the black in color. But you should remember that do not fry those Jamuns for a long time on high temperature. It will be burned, and the outer part will be hard and they will not soak the syrup. 

9. Take them out from oil and put it in the hot syrup. The kala jamuns should sit in the hot syrup for at least 30 to 40 minutes prior to serving. Serve hot. 









Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Linzer Cookies







Happy New Year folks! hope you had a wonderful holiday season with your family. After a long gap of two months, I am here to share a new recipe. The last couple of months I was busy as my parents came to visit us for the first time. We spent quality time together and created lots of nice memories that will bring smiles for a long while. As my culinary journey started from US, I never got an opportunity to cook for them in my own kitchen. This time I fulfilled my long-cherished wish to serve my father, who is a big time foodie and he always appreciates whatever I cook for him. Anyway, once they have returned back to India, slowly I am getting back to the blog.  Like every year, during Christmas time, I made some cookies and Fruit Cakes. This year we baked Linzer cookies for Santa, who came on time, ate and left the gift for my 9-years old :-) Good to see that he still believes in Santa.


Christmas Baking 2016 

I got attracted to these beautiful looking cookies as soon as I saw their pictures on a social media site. Not only I am happy with how they came out but loved the photography part too, as they are very photogenic. I did not need to spend much time to get some decent photos. In Linzer cookies, two almond flavored cookies are sandwiched together with a layer of jam. The top cookie is dusted with a thin white coating of powdered sugar. 


The name of Linzer cookies seems to have come from the city of Linz, Austria. Any flavor of jam or preserves can be used to sandwich the cookies together, though traditionally black currant preserves were used as a filling.  Here I used raspberry jam, bought from the store. The baked cookies are quite crisp, but once they are filled with the jam they start to soften. If you want to keep the cookies crisp, fill them with the jam only on the day of serving. So turn on your oven and make some cookies. Whether it’s Christmas or not, winter is the best time for baking, a lovely way to make your home warm. 






Linzer Cookies

Ingredients:

Almond Flour: 1 cup 
All Purpose Flour: 2 cup 
Ground Cinnamon: 1/2 teaspoon 
Unsalted Butter: 2 sticks, at room temperature 
Granulated white sugar: 3/4 cup
Egg yolks: 2 large 
Vanilla extract: 1 teaspoon 
Salt: a pinch 

Toppings:

Icing sugar: 
Raspberry jam: 1/2 cup 

Method:

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F or 180 degrees C. 

2. whisk all-purpose flour, cinnamon, and salt. Set it aside. 

3. In the bowl of the electric mixture or with a hand mixture beat the butter and sugar, until it is light and fluffy. Add vanilla extract and egg yolks. Beat it well. Beat in the ground almond and finally add the flour mixture. 

4. Make a dough. Divide the dough in half, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate it until it is chill.  

5. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper. Remove one of half dough from the refrigerator and roll out on a lightly floured surface to the thickness of 1/4 inch. Cut out desired shapes using a lightly floured 3-inch cookie cutter. Place the cookies 1 inch apart on the prepared baking sheet. Use a smaller cookie cutter and cut out the centers of the half of the cookies. If you want, you can buy a Linzer cookie cutter set. I have used those. 

6. Chill, reroll the scraps and cut out the cookies until you are done. Repeat it with the second half of dough. The dough will make 24 to 26 3-inch cookies. If it makes 24 cookies, you have to make 12 full cookies and 12 cutout cookies. 

7. Put the unbaked cookies in the refrigerator for 15 minutes to chill it. Bake cookies for about 10 minutes to 12 minutes or until the edges are brown. Remove from the oven and let cookies cool. 

8. Lightly dust the tops of the cutout cookies with powdered sugar. Spread a teaspoon of jam on the bottom surface of the full cookie. Now place the cut-out cookie on top and gently sandwich them together, 







Monday, October 31, 2016

Phulkopi r Singara ( Samosa filled with Cauliflower Mixture )




Probably you have already guessed from my video (posted in my FB account) what next I am going to share in my blog. Yes, I will tell you today about how we can make India’s most favorite snacks called Samosa. What is known as Samosa in rest of the India, called Singara in Bengal. Singara, chai and Muri are still the menu in many houses in the evenings, especially during rainy days. Even in abroad, Samosa is very well-known Indian dish among non-Indians. While I was searching about the origin of Samosa in India, got surprised to know that it came from middle east through the traders from this region. That’s why similar dish with different stuffing is available in middle eastern countries.  



Bengali Singara is little different from samosa. It uses potatoes, peas and cauliflower, sometimes peanuts for a little crunch. I think Singaras are easy to make, but some of my friends may not agree. To them the most difficult part is the folding of singara. That’s why I wanted to help you by posting the video online. What differentiates Singara from its siblings is flaky textures of the outer cover. It takes long hours of practice to get the perfect texture of Singara. After repeated attempts I have now started getting the texture as flaky as Kolkata's Singara.



Though there are different kinds of Singaras, the most common one is Fulkopir (cauliflower) Singara. Since Bengalis can never keep anything vegetarian, they made Singara also non-veg by putting chicken as stuffing. Surprisingly there is no fish Singara. In Kolkata's sweetshops, you also find a sweeter version, filled with khoya and dipped in sugar syrup.


I will share today the recipe of Fulkopir singara.  So friends, please try my version and let me know if you like it. 




Recipe of Aloo Phulkopi r Singara ( Samosa filled with Potato and Cauliflower Mixture ), makes around 10 Samosas

Ingredients :

For the filling :

Cauliflower florets : 3 cups 
Potatoes : 1 and 1 /2 cups, peeled and cubed 
Green peas : 1/2 cup
Roasted peanuts : 1/4 cup 
Vegetable oil : 2 tablespoons
Cumin seeds : 1/2 teaspoon 
Red whole chili : 1 
Grated ginger : 1 tablespoon 
Turmeric powder : 1/2 teaspoon 
Cumin powder : 1 teaspoon 
Salt : to taste 
Bhaja Masala : 2 teaspoon ( dry roast one whole red chili, 1 tablespoon of  the whole cumin seeds and 1/2 tablespoon of coriander seeds and grind them into a powder ) 

for the Samosa Shells 
Maida ( all purpose flour ) : 3 cups 
Ghee : 6 tablespoons 
Salt : 1 teaspoon 
Sugar : 1 teaspoon 
Cold water : 

Vegetable oil : for deep frying 

Method :

1. To make the filling, first , boil some water in a saucepan. Add the cauliflower florets and potatoes and peas to it. Cook them for 3 to 4 minutes. 

2. Heat 2 tablespoons oil in a pan, once oil is hot add cumin seeds and the whole red chili. When it starts to splutter, add the cauliflower florets , potato cubes, and peas. Add the roasted peanuts and stir it well. Add grated ginger, turmeric powder, cumin powder . Keep Stirring. Add salt. Once vegetables are well cooked, add the bhaja masla. Mix it well. Turn off the heat. 

3. Take a big mixing bowl, add the flour to it. Add ghee to flour and mix it nicely with your hand. Add salt and sugar and mix it again. Add cold water to the flour mixture, add little at a time and knead it into a stiff dough. Cover the dough with a damp kitchen towel and keep it in the refrigerator for an hour. 

4. Take the dough and knead it again for 2 to 3 minutes. Divide the dough into 12 to 15 big lemon sized balls. Apply oil on your clean kitchen counter top and start rolling it into an oblong shape.  

5. Cut each oval into two halves. 

6. ( the 6th step and the 7th step are how to fold the samosa , I have made a video of it , you can follow it)  Take half part of the oval and make it a cone. Seal the edges with water. 

7. Take a tablespoon stuffing and fill the cone. Seal all the edges by pressing it gently with your fingertips. The shape will look like a triangle. Repeat the process with the rest. 

this is the video link  https://www.instagram.com/p/BL1VFteDTGM/ 

8. Heat oil in a deep-frying pan, once oil is hot, turn off the heat and let it cool down. When oil is not too hot. Carefully add 3 to 4 samosas and fry it on low temperature until they become golden brown on both sides. ( Don't fry them on high heat, the crust will not be crispy ) 
Make sure the temperature of the oil is low enough when you add the next batches of samosas. 

9. Drain Samosas on a kitchen towel to absorb the excess oil. Serve hot with a cup of tea. 

( If you want, you can make it ahead of time. Keep them in the refrigerator in an airtight box. Bake it in the oven at 425 degrees F for 10 to 15 minutes when you want to serve it.)







Thursday, October 6, 2016

kheer Kadam





Even though we can’t see pandals in every one mile and big banners with advertisements of saree shops, can’t hear the sound of drums from the morning, we can still feel the smell that Durga Puja is around the corner. It may not be as grand as Kolkata, but we are also preparing to celebrate Durga puja. We started chatting with our friends about which saree we would wear. Kids have started practicing their roles in the drama. Some have started making narus as per the order from the main priest. Looking forward to two days of fun with lots of photos and good food. Hope you also have a wonderful festive time with your loved ones and post lots of beautiful selfies with your new attire.



Last week I asked my Facebook followers that as Durga puja is approaching, which traditional sweet recipe they would like to see on my blog. The majority voted for Kheer Kadom. So today I will share the recipe of kheer kadom with you. it’s a very popular dessert in West Bengal as well as in other parts of India. Making Kheer kadam is not a big deal, if you know how to make rasgullas. Because rasgullas are used as the inner layer in this dessert.  But the texture of rasgulla used in Kheer Kadom is different. It won’t be spongy, rather little bit hard compared to the normal Rasgullas. First chenna balls are cooked in thicker sugar syrup to make rasgullas. Once rasgullas are made, then they will get a coating of mawa and sugar mixture. When one layer of Bengali sweet itself can make mouth water, imagine how this two-layered dessert will make your family delighted.





So friends, the recipe of Kheer Kadam is here and if you really love this sweet, try it out in this Durga puja for your friends and family. Will come back soon with another puja-special recipe, till then enjoy the festival.





Recipe of Kheer Kadam, makes 15 pieces 

Ingredients :

To make Chhenna :

Whole milk / full-fat milk : 2 liters 
Lime juice : 3 tablespoons or as needed

To make the dough for Rasgullas :

Sugar : 1 teaspoon 
All purpose flour : 1 tablespoon
Semolina : 1 teaspoon 
Saffron or yellow food color : 

For Sugar Syrup :

Sugar : 2 cups 
Water : 3 cups
Crushed cardamoms : half tablespoons 

For the cover :

Mawa / milk solid : grated 3 cups 
Powdered sugar : 3 tablespoons 
Milk : 2 to 3 tablespoons 

Milk powder or grated Mawa mixed with powdered sugar 



Method :

1. Heat the milk in a heavy-bottomed pan over medium heat, stir occasionally. Once the milk starts boiling, lower the flame. Pour the lemon juice and stir in. Milk will start cuddling and change into chenna ( cottage cheese ) and greenish water. Remove the pan from heat and leave the chenna in this condition for 3 to 5 minutes. Pour the chenna and water mixture over a cheese cloth or a soft cotton cloth and let the water drain away. 

2. Put this cloth with the chenna under cold running water for 2 to 3 minutes to remove the lemony smell. Then hang the chenna along with cloth on the kitchen faucet for around 30 to 35 minutes. 

3. Now once again squeeze the cloth, if there is any extra water. But note that the chenna should not get too dry. Put the lump of chenna over a flat surface and knead it. Start kneading with the heel of your palm for about 4 to 5 minutes, until you get a smooth dough. 

4. Add sooji, flour, sugar and saffron or 3 to 4 drops of yellow food color to it and knead it. Press the dough with your palm continuously for about 3 to 4 minutes until you feel your palm is oily. 

7. Divide the dough into 15  to 16 equal portions and make some smooth surfaced round balls. 

8. Take a big deep- bottomed pan with the lid.  Add water and sugar, once it starts to boil add the crushed green cardamom. After 5 minutes, gently add the chhena balls into the syrup. Cover the pan with the lid and turn down the heat to medium high.  Let it cook. 

9. After 25 minutes, open the lid to check. Turn off the gas. Leave the pan as it is for 10 to 15 minutes. 

10. Drain the rasgullas in the strainer and keep it aside for 20 to 25 minutes. 

11. Now take a bowl, add grated mawa, powdered sugar and milk and make a smooth dough.




12. Now make some balls out of the mawa dough. Flatten one ball using your palms and place the rasgulla at the center of it. Seal the edges with help of your fingertips. Roll into a smooth surfaced ball. Repeat the process until all are done. 

13. Take a plate, add half cup of milk powder or 1/2 cup of grated mawa mixed with 1/2 tablespoons powdered sugar. Carefully roll the Kheer Kadam in the milk powder or mawa mixture. Kheer Kadam is ready to serve. 







Tuesday, September 20, 2016

No Bake Oreo Cake Pop




Next week I am planning to try out two new recipes on the eve of Durga Puja. One of them would be a sweet dish and the other one would be most likely a savory. So please eagerly wait for them. For the moment, let me share a fun food dessert. I made this for my son’s 9th birthday party and all the kids loved it. Oreo cookies and cake pops both are kid’s favorite and so I thought they would be delighted if they get both at the same time. I started looking for recipes of cake pops made out of Oreo cookies. When I finished making it, was wondering why I didn’t prepare this treat before. The procedure was so easy and went very smoothly.







The Cake pop is a form of cake that looks more like a lollipop. It’s very nice idea to get a makeover of leftover cake by making these delicious pops. The first step of the recipe is to mix cake crumbs with icing and form small balls. Then put a layer of coating, probably of chocolate or any other decoration that you like. Adding chocolate on top makes it look more beautiful and attractive to the Kids.






The recipe that I am sharing today for Cake pops will take much lesser time from you compared to others. Mainly because it is a no-bake cake pop. Since you don’t need to bake a cake, it cuts the preparation time drastically. That’s why when I found this recipe, I just jumped out of excitement and gave it a try. Hope you and your kids will love this yummy tasty and delicious Cake pops.  






The recipe of No-bake Oreo Cake Pops  makes 20 Cake pops 

Ingredients :

Oreo Cookies : 24 pieces 
Cream Cheese : 3/4 of the package, around 5 oz. 
Lollipop sticks : 20 


Ghirardelli Semi-sweet chocolate chips : 2 and 1/2 cups.
Shortening / Butter : 1 tablespoon 
Ghirardelli Classic White baking chips : 2/3 cup  


Method :

1. Use a food processor or a blender to crumble the cookies. You can put the cookies in a large ziplock bag and use a hard object to crush the cookies as finely as possible. 

2. Take a bowl, add Oreo crumbles and cream cheese. Mix it well and make a dough. 

3. Chill the dough in the refrigerator for about 30 minutes.

4. Roll the dough into 1.5 inch balls. Make about 20 balls. 

5. In a small microwave-safe bowl, add 1/4 cup of the semisweet chocolate chips and a half teaspoon of the shortening. Cook it in the microwave for one minute. Remove and stir until smooth. Dip one end of each lollipop stick into the melted chocolate and poke sticks into the Oreo balls. Keep them in the refrigerator for about 30 minutes.

6. Now take a microwave-safe cup , add remaining semi-sweet chocolate chips and the shortening. Microwave for about 2 minutes. Check the bowl and stir. If chocolate is not melted, again cook it in the microwave. Check every 30 seconds to avoid burning. Stir until smooth. 

7. Dip the balls into melted chocolate. Turning the stick to ensure even coverage. Allow the excess to drip off. Use a block of styrofoam as a holder to stick the cake pops in while they are drying. 

8. In a small microwave-safe bowl, heat the Ghirardelli white chocolate chips for one minute. Stir until smooth. 

9. Once the cake pops are just set, drizzle with melted white chocolate. Let's stand for 30 minutes or it is set. Transfer them to an airtight container and refrigerate for up to one week. 









Sunday, September 11, 2016

Bengali Kochur Loti style Asparagus with Shrimp





As we all are aware of, many of the modern popular Bengali dishes came from the eastern part of the Bengal or today’s Bangladesh. Several of them use Taro Stolons as a main ingredient, called Kochur Shak or Kochur Loti in BengaliOnce they are cooked simply in a home-style manner, they become really delish. You can consider to make them more frequently and surprise your family. Your hubby will stop referring to the Hilsha dish that his mom used to make with Kochur Shak.




As my family is all from West Bengal side, I rarely had Kochur Shak before coming to US . I can still recall that one of our neighbor aunts introduced us to Kochur loti with Hilsha head when she heard that none of my family members knew how to cook this veggie. 

Later when I came to  USA,  got to know Asparagus, the vegetable which is very close to Taro Stolons. Bengalis in USA generally cook Asparagus the same way the kachur loti is
used to cook in Bengal.  Whenever I go to farmers market, I always feel like buying this beautiful vegetable, especially during summer because it looks so fresh. Initially, I made the grilled version of this vegetable in American way, which didn’t become popular at our home. Then I started wondering how it can be made in Indian way and will go well with rice. So I experimented it with shrimp and mustard paste.  My husband and I both like it, except my son who is not a big veggie lover. 



Like Taro Stolons, you can cook Asparagus in several different ways . The vegetarian way  is simply with coconut and mustard paste.  You can make the non-veg version with fish head or Shrimp, though my favorite is shrimp.  Today I will share the recipe about how to cook Asparagus with shrimp, the style influenced by Bengali Kachur loti. The recipe itself is very fast and easy, requires very few pantry staples.





Recipe of Asparagus with Shrimp

Ingredients:

Asparagus : 1 bundle ( 1 lb ) 
Shrimp : 1 cup small 
Onion : a small one, thinly sliced 
Mustard oil : 6 tablespoon 
Kala jeera / Nigella seeds : half teaspoon 
Green chilis : 4 - 5 or to taste 
Turmeric powder : a pinch 
Red chili powder : 1/2 teaspoon ( optional ) 
Mustard paste : 2 teaspoons 
Grated coconut : two tablespoons ( optional ) 
Salt : to taste 

Method:

1. Cut the asparagus into 2 inches long pieces and discard the hard end part. 

2. Clean and wash the shrimps thoroughly and salt and turmeric and mix it well  and set it aside for 10 minutes. 

3. Heat oil in a pan. Once the oil is hot, fry the shrimp until they are pink. Take it off from the pan and keep it aside. 

4. In the remaining oil add kalo jeere and green chilis. Once it sizzles add sliced onion and saute for 3 to 4 minutes. 

5. Now add the chopped asparagus to the pan. Stir it and add salt and turmeric. Cover and cook it for 8 to 10 minutes over low heat until they are soft. 

6. Add mustard paste , add more green chilies if you need. Keep stirring for 2 to 3 minutes. 

7. Now add fried prawns and mix it well. Check the seasoning. Add grated coconut ( optional ) and add few drops of mustard oil. Stir and cook for another couple of minutes. Switch off the flame and serve hot with steamed rice.