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Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Macher Paturi (Fish in Mustard paste cooked in Banana leaf parcel)



Macher Paturi is one of the favorite fish preparations to any Bengali. Unfortunately it’s neither commonly available in restaurants nor made at home regularly. So you won’t get many chances to enjoy this dish. For me, the most memorable one is to have Ilish macher Paturi on the menu of my wedding day. Things might have changed in Bengal now, lots of high-end restaurants have come up with all traditional Bengali food. Some of them may be offering Paturi on their menu. The word Paturi came from the Bengali word 'Pata' that means leaves. Macher Paturi / Fish Paturi is a preparation where marinated fish is wrapped by banana leaves and then cooked with low flame.




For last few days, I was so craving for Paturi and so was looking for banana leaves. But here in the USA, finding tender banana leaves is not easy. Though a couple of Indian/Asian stores keep it, but most of the time the leaves are not fresh. Sometimes I get those banana leaves spending several dollars but had to throw them in the trash because of their poor quality. Last week I got some fresh tender banana leaves from one my friend's backyard garden.



In Bengal, generally Hilsha, Bhetki and Chingri (shrimp) are used to cook Paturi. Here I use Swai fillet because the taste of this fish is very close to Bhetki. The fish chunks are first marinated in mustard, coconut paste and drizzled with mustard oil. Then it is wrapped like a parcel in banana leaves and later the fish parcels are cooked in slow flame. Though Paturi is made with fish, but you can try the same recipe with Chicken, that I had posted a couple years back. Even vegetarian people can try the same recipe with vegetables and paneer.






Recipe of Macher Paturi(Fish in Mustard paste cooked in Banana leaf parcel) for 10 pieces

Ingredients:

Fish(I have used Swai, you can use any white fish or fish fillets): 5 fillets, cut into two halves
Lemon juice : 2 tablespoons
Salt:
Turmeric powder: 1 teaspoon
Mustard paste: half cup, you can use mustard powder paste too.
Grated coconut paste: 5 tablespoons
Mustard oil: 5 to 6 tablespoons 
Green chilies: 5 to 6 or as per your tolerance 
Banana leaves: cut into 8-inch by 8-inch, 10 pieces for 10 pieces fish fillets 
kitchen twine / cotton thread: as required or you can use toothpicks also. 

Method:

1. Wash the fish pieces and gently pat it dry with paper towels. Add lemon juice and salt to the fish and rub it. Leave it for 15 minutes. 

2. If you are using mustard seeds make a thick paste with 2 green chilies. Or if you are using mustard powder make it a thick paste following package direction. 

3. Make the grated coconut paste ready. Take a bowl, add mustard - green chilies paste, coconut paste, turmeric powder. Whisk it together. 

4. Now add the paste to to the marinated fish pieces. Rub it well. Add the mustard oil and mix it nicely. Keep the marinated fish into refrigerator and let it rest for 4 to 5 hours. 

5. Take out the fish from refrigerator. Heat a pan.Take one banana leaf, brush little oil on the glossy side. Put it on the pan and slightly roast the leaf. The leaf will become soft and it will help the leaf from cracking.

6. Place a marinated fish piece in the middle of the leaf, add one teaspoon of marinade and half of a slit green chili on the top. Wrap the banana leaves from all sides and make a parcel as you are seeing in the above picture. Tie it properly with the thread. Toothpicks also work to tie it. Follow the same process for the rest of fish pieces. Let it sit for about 15 minutes. 

7. Now add few drops of mustard oil on the pan and heat it up. Place the fish parcels and cover the pan with the lid. 

8. Cook it on medium heat for about 10 minutes each side. Serve hot Fish Paturi with hot steamed rice. Discard the banana leaves and enjoy Paturi. 

You can cook Paturi in the oven too. If you want to do it in the oven. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Place the fish parcels on a baking sheet and bake it for 25 to 30 minutes or until it is cooked. 



Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Skillet Brownie





Earlier I stopped using my cast iron skillet because of rusty smell but recently I learned from a post on Facebook about how to clean and take care of iron skillet. Two main things you have to remember when you are using cast iron skillet that you have to avoid soaking the pan and don’t leave the pan in the sink. Then just after cleaning make it dry, take a teaspoon of cooking oil and rub it well. It worked like magic, after very minimal effort there is no rust on my pan !! I love making brownies in skillets for another reason too. You don’t need to wait for the brownie to cool down before cutting.  A skillet brownie is made for digging in right away. Please serve warm brownies with a thin stream of hot fudge sauce and topped with a scoop of vanilla ice cream. It's delicious! If you don't have cast iron pan, the same recipe will work with your baking pan too. 





Recipe of Fudgy Chocolaty Brownie:


  • Ingredients:

  • Unsalted butter: 1/2 cup (1 stick) 
  • Semi-sweet chocolate chips: 4 ounces plus 1/2 cup  divided 
  • Unsweetened chocolate: 1 and 1/2 ounces, chopped
  • Eggs: 2 large
  • Pure vanilla extract: 1 and 1/2 teaspoons
  • Granulated sugar: 1/2 cup
  • All-purpose flour: 1/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon, divided 
  • Baking powder: 1 teaspoon 
  • Salt: a pinch 
Method:

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Grease the skillet or a square baking pan. 

2. Take a large bowl add water to it. Simmer the water. Now take a medium bowl add butter, 4-ounce chocolate chips, and unsweetened chocolate to it. Place the bowl in the hot water bowl until smooth. Set it aside and let cool for about 10 to 15 minutes. 

3. Take a large bowl, add the eggs, vanilla extract and sugar to it. Stir it well. Add the chocolate mixture to the egg mixture until it is well combined. 

4. In another bowl, add flour, salt, and baking powder. Mix it well. Add flour mixture to the egg-chocolate mixture. Stir it until combined. 

5. Now take the half cup of chocolate chips and one tablespoon of flour to a bowl. Toss it together. Add the chocolate chips to the brownie batter. Fold them in. 

6. Pour the mixture into a prepared skillet and bake for 25 to 30 minutes until it done. Serve it warm with a scoop of vanilla ice cream and a drizzle of hot fudge sauce. 

( The recipe is adapted from http://www.mybakingaddiction.com/skillet-brownies/ )








Macher Muro Die Bhaja Muger Daal ( Dry Roasted Yellow Lentil With Fish Head )



  • There are some dishes that are so popular that their recipes can be posted without any good presentation. Even if the picture is not so great, assuming it won’t matter to the followers. Today's dish belongs to this category. Sometimes back I planned to post this recipe but that day I didn't get enough time to take pictures as I had to serve this before it lost its warmness. After a few months today again, I cooked the same dish and luckily able to get some decent photos of that. In our overseas life it’s not a regular kind of dish, rather once in a year, we become fortunate to prepare it and taste this delicious dish.




  • Bengalis are well known for eating fish in all its forms and not leaving any of the parts, including the coveted head. Fish heads (Bengalis call them “macher muro/matha” with love) are very auspicious for us. We are introduced to this fish head at our very tender age during “rice ceremony” occasion when a baby is introduced to real food. The baby is not allowed to eat the fish-head,  but it is considered auspicious and supposed to bring good luck to his/her life. The same is followed when we welcome a new groom or bride to our family. In day-to-day life, the fish head is served to the head of the family or to the kid who is most loved by everybody. In my childhood, me and my dad used to enjoy this privilege.

    Probably you already could guess that my today’s recipe is something to do with the fish head. Yes, I am going to share today the recipe of “Mugger daal with Maacher Muro ”.  It’s a special kind of lentil preparation where a big fish head (usually Rohu or Katla) is cooked with yellow mung dal. Though Daal is a regular kind of dish to any Bengali household but this dish is for a special occasion. When there is a grand event, a large sized fish will come from the market. The fish pieces would be used in some type of fish curry but the head would go to the Mug Dal. You just need a long leisurely afternoon to eat and relish “Macher Matha diye Muger Daal” with a bowl of steamed rice and crispy fried potatoes and off course a short nap after the lunch.




Recipe of Macher Muro Die Bhaja Muger Daal ( Dry Roasted Yellow Lentil With Fish Head):

Ingredients:

Mung Daal or yellow lentil: 1 cup 
Fish Head: 1 of a medium sized fish
Salt: 
Turmeric powder: 1/2 teaspoon + 1/2 teaspoon + 1/2 teaspoon 
Oil: 4 tablespoons 
Whole Red Chili: 1 
Bay leaf: 1
Whole Cumin seeds: 1/2 teaspoon 
Onion: a small, finely chopped 
Ginger paste: 1 teaspoon
Garlic paste: 1 tablespoon
Tomato: a small, chopped  
Cumin powder: 1/2 teaspoon
Coriander powder: 1/2 teaspoon
Chili powder: 1/2 teaspoon 
Gram masala: 1/2 teaspoon 

Method:


1. Smear salt and turmeric to the cleaned and halved fish heads. Set it aside. 

2. Dry roast the mung dal on low flame. Don't make it brown. Once the dal starts to change the color and aroma comes up turn off the gas and wash the dal thoroughly. Now take a pan or a pressure cooker, add the washed dal and 3 cups of water. Add salt and turmeric to it. Cover the lid. Let it cook until Dal is cooked. Make sure the Dal is not over cooked. It should be soft but not mushy. What I do, cover the pressure cooker and cook it on high flame for one whistle. Immediately remove it from the heat and let the steam release on its own. It comes out perfect. 

3. Heat oil in a big pan. Fry the fish head till it is golden brown. Take it out from the pan and set it aside.

4. Add bay leaf, whole red chili, cumin seeds to the remaining oil. Once cumin starts to splutter add the chopped onions. Fry it until it is soft and golden brown. Add ginger and garlic paste. Stir it and let it cook until raw smell goes off. Add tomato and salt. Stir it well. 

5. Once tomato becomes soft and mushy add cumin powder, coriander powder, turmeric powder and red chili powder. Cook it until oil comes out from the sides of the pan. 

6. Add the fried fish head cook it with the masala for a couple of minutes. Break the fish head into big chunks. Now add the cooked dal. Mix it well. Let it simmer for 5 minutes. Check the seasoning. Adjust the consistency. It should not be too thick or too runny. 

7. Add garam masala and turn off the gas. Serve hot with steamed rice. 







Monday, February 27, 2017

Chocolate Dipped Strawberries





As soon as the new year’s celebration gets over, the blogger’s world starts sharing the recipes for Valentine’s day. Facebook and Instagram feeds are flooded with chocolate desserts or heart-shaped cookies and cake. This year I had no plan but after seeing these nice posts, I too started thinking about what I can make for Valentine’s day. My goal was not to give much effort but still, my family can enjoy it. None of the boys in the family is a big fan of desserts. The little one eats dessert only if it is made of chocolate or got the same flavor. So thought it would be nice if I can make some chocolate-Dipped Strawberries for them.


Though this delicious dessert is very popular as valentine’s day treat, you can make it for your anniversary or any other candle-night romantic celebrations. Not only it’s wonderful to eat, it looks very beautiful too.





If you want to serve this awesome dessert for your next party, get ready with big juicy strawberries and chocolate of good quality. Then melt the chocolate and dip your strawberries in melted chocolate. If you want to add some variety there are so many delicious possibilities. For example, you can dip them in candy sprinkles, chocolate chips or chocolate cookie crumbles. Be creative as you can, serve them with champagne or your favorite red wine.




Recipe of Chocolate Dipped Strawberries:

Ingredients:

Semi-sweet or dark Chocolate or chocolate chips: one 12 oz packet
Strawberries: 1 and 1/2 lbs, big sized, washed and dried completely 
Canola Oil: 3 tablespoons 

For Decoration:

White chocolate: 4oz
1 cup chopped nuts ( pecans or almonds ) 

Method:

1. Pat dry the berries with a paper towel. Lina a baking sheet with parchment paper. 

2. Melt the chocolate. Take a saucepan, add 1 inch of water and simmer it. Then take a heatproof bowl add chocolate to it. Place the bowl in the water. Chocolate will start melting in a couple of minutes. You can use the microwave to melt it. Once Chocolate is soft add the oil and stir well to mix.

3. Hold the stem and dip the strawberries one by one into the chocolate until 1/2 or 3/4 of the strawberry is coated with chocolate. 

4. Gently drop off the excess. Place the dipped strawberries on the parchment paper and immediately roll in toppings or sprinkle them on if you want to decorate it. 

5. Refrigerate the strawberries for about 30 minutes till the chocolate sets. Serve the chocolate Strawberries chilled or at room temperature. 




Sunday, February 19, 2017

Luchi - Sada Alur Tarkari ( Aloo Charchari )



After eating milk with cereals, Granola or Yogurt from Monday to Friday, when the weekend comes, Bengali hearts yearn for some Luchi with plain Aaloo Tarkari aka alu charchari. Without any doubt, this is an ideal breakfast for all Bengali on any weekend. Though it’s mainly popular as breakfast, you can serve this combo during any time of the day. This delicious duo never fails to win any Bengali's heart. 



Luchi which is commonly known as Poori in other parts of India than Bengal, is a deep-fried and flat bread, made of refined wheat flour, also known as Maida flour. To make Luchis, at first a dough is prepared by using all-purpose flour, ghee or oil and water. Then it’s divided into some small balls. The balls are flattened using a rolling-pin and then deep-fried in oil or ghee. There is a slight difference between Luchi and Poori. Atta or wheat flour is used in Poori instead of all-purpose flour.



Luchis are always served with curries. Most of the time it’s enjoyed with Alu-r Dom, Chola-r Daal, Begun Bhaja or plain Alu-r Tarkari. Most people will agree that Luchi goes best with Alu-r Tarkari or Aalu Charchari. Sada Alur Tarkari is simple Potato Curry flavored with Nigella seeds and green chilies. Today I am here to share with you how to make Luchi and Alu charchari. 


Recipe of Luchi, serves 2 to 3 people

Ingredients :

All-purpose flour ( Maida ): 2 cups 
Cooking Oil / White Oil: 2 tablespoons 
Salt: a pinch 
Water: as needed 
White Oil / Cooking Oil: for deep frying 

Method:

1. Mix maida and salt together. Add oil to the maida. Mix it well with your fingertips. Add water to make the dough. Add water little at a time and knead it. The dough should be soft and smooth. Once it is done cover it with a damped kitchen towel and let it rest for half an hour. 

2. Make small balls out of the dough. Roll it between your palms and make it smooth balls. 
Grease your cleaned kitchen counter top with a little bit of oil. Now flatten the balls with a rolling pin to make even circles. 

3. Take a deep-frying pan, add oil and heat it up. The heating of the oil plays a very important role in frying luchi. Oil should not be very hot or cold. If it is cold luchi will not puff up. If it is too hot the color of Luchi will be brown. Most of the people love to eat whitish Luchi. So keep the flame on medium-high. When you will see the little smoke coming out of the oil that means oil is hot. Fry luchis one by one. Gently press the edges of luchi down in the oil. It will help to puff up. Once one side is puffed up turn it. Using a slotted spoon drain it out from the oil. Repeat the process until all are done. 


Recipe of Sada Alur Tarkari ( Simple Potato Curry flavored with Nigella seeds ) 

Ingredients:

Potato: 3 big, peel, washed and cut into small cubes 
Oil: 2 -3 tablespoons 
Nigella Seeds: 1/2 teaspoon 
Green chilies: 2-3 ( slitted ) or as needed  
Tomato: One, chopped 
Salt: as needed 
Cilantro / Coriander: chopped, a handful ( optional ) 

Methods:

1. Take a pan, add oil and heat it up. Add green chilies and nigella seeds. Once aroma comes out and it will start spluttering add the potatoes. Fry it on medium heat. Add salt and cover it. 

2. Stir it again, once the potatoes are half- cooked add the tomato. Stir and let it cook until tomato is soft and mushy. 

3. Now add water as per your desired consistency, if you want it runny curry add little more water. And potato will absorb water after cooking also. Cover it and let it cook until potato is well cooked and mushy. Check seasoning and add chopped cilantro ( if you are using ). Serve hot with puffed luchis. 😊😊






Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Gajar Ka Halwa ( Carrot Pudding )



Gajar ka halwa which is also known as gajrela is a popular dessert in most regions of India during winter months when the juicy red colored carrots are fresh in the market.  This is believed to have originated from Punjab. 

Halwa is an Arabic word meaning sweet/pudding and Gajar in Hindi means Carrot. So Gajar ka Halwa is simply a sweet dish made out of Carrot. In India, several types of halwa are made with a variety of vegetables depending on their availability. 




In Carrot Halwa, shredded carrots, milk and sugar are slow-cooked until they turn into fudge like consistency. In India, there are two types of carrots are available. We generally use the red carrot to make carrot halwa as they are tender, sweeter and juicier. But you can use the regular carrot too if you don't get that red one. But make sure they are not fibrous. 




Recipe of Gajar Ka Halwa ( Carrot Pudding ) 

Ingredients:

Shredded Carrots: 2 cups
Whole Milk: 2 cups 
Ghee:4 tablespoon 
Sugar: 1/4 cup or to taste 
Cardamom powder: a pinch 
Roasted cashew nuts: 2 tablespoons, chopped 

Method:

1. Take a frying pan, add ghee. Melt the ghee on medium heat. 

2. Add shredded Carrots and stir-fry it. Once the carrots become tender and the color changes, add the milk. Stir and cook until the milk dries up. 

3. Add the sugar and cardamom powder. Cook another three to four minutes until halwa turns into fudge-like consistency and it starts to leave the side of the pan. 

4. Garnish with roasted cashew nuts or slivered almonds or chopped pistachios. Serve warm. 




Monday, January 30, 2017

Orange and Olive Oil Cake



As we all know, pleasant weather in California helps to produce huge of sweet oranges. It’s a very common sight that every house has a tree with full of oranges. Last week one of my friends got a bag of oranges for us. After eating some fresh as snack, I was wondering what could I do with the rest of the oranges before they get rotten. A few weeks back we had an olive oil cake in a restaurant.  It was really moist and delicious with just a little hint of olive oil flavor. The cake has been in my mind for some time, so decided to make an orange cake, baked with olive oil.



Olive oil is used to bake cakes, tortes and brownies to add wonderful fruity flavor. It also makes the baked food extra moist. Also baking with olive oil instead of butter is a nice way to reduce intake of saturated fat. 




This Cake is very moist, a bit similar to a pound cake but lighter and fluffier. You can serve this cake with a sprinkle of powdered sugar or a scoop of vanilla ice cream. This orange and olive oil cake is equally wonderful for dessert, or for a snack or even for a fun breakfast treat with a cup of tea.




The Recipe of Orange and Olive Oil Cake: ( for a-9 inch round cake ) 

Ingredients :

Large Eggs: 2 
Sugar: 1 cup
Light Olive Oil: 2/3 cup 
Fresh Orange Juice: 2/3 cup
Orange zest: 1tablespoons 
All-purpose flour: 1 1/2 cups
Baking powder:1 teaspoon 
Baking soda: 1/4 teaspoon 
Salt: a pinch 

Method:

1.Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F or 180 degrees C. Lightly grease a 9-inch baking pan. 

2. Whisk all-purpose flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Set it aside. 

3. In the bowl of the electric mixture or with a hand mixture beat the olive oil and sugar. Add eggs and beat it well. Add orange juice and orange zest. Mix it well until well combined. 

4. Add the flour mixture. Mix it again until the batter is smooth and combined. 

5. Pour the batter into the prepared pan, and bake it until toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. It will take about 35 minutes. 

5. Remove the pan from oven. Place on a wire rack to cool down and remove it from the pan. You can add toasted sliced almonds over the top and sprinkle some powdered sugar on it. Cut it into pieces and serve.