Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Nolen Gurer Payesh ( Indian Rice Pudding with Jaggery ) / Gur ki Kheer

There is a very popular proverb in our native language “Baro mase tero parbon” meaning we observe thirteen festivals in twelve months. The Bengali community is noted for their fondness for observing festivals. And if festival comes, can food be far behind. Every festival comes with its own signature food. For example, last week it was Makar Sankranti, a major harvest festival celebrated in various parts of India.  In Bengal, this particular festival is closely tied with some special foods – pithe/puli and Payesh. These are all sweet dishes made out of rice. These names bring back the old good memory of our childhood,  when our moms and grandmas used to make different types of “pitha”, with different stuffing inside and we used to finish them at once.

So this year when I started getting Happy Makarsankranti message in facebook, I couldn’t control my temptation to make one of these dishes. Went to check my pantry and didn’t find any ingredients for the first two. But everything I had was sufficient to make Payesh. So today I will share the recipe of Nolen Gurer Payesh.  Payesh is a dessert that goes well any special Bengali occasion like birthday, rice ceremony or house warming. It was equivalent of cutting cake before we were influenced by western methods of celebration.

Payesh can be made in many different ways. This particular variation of Payesh is made with Nolen Gur / khejur gur/Date Jaggery that is used as the sweetener instead of sugar. This Jaggery is available fresh during the winters and many people eagerly wait for fresh Jaggery to come in the market during the winter. The smoky aroma of bowl full of Payesh is something that any Bengali would love to die for.

The dish is pretty easy to make and needs only little patience except three basic ingredients – Gobindo-bhog Chal ( fragrant rice ) Nolen Gur ( Date Palm jaggery ) and milk. The fragrant Rice, traditionally used in making the Bengali Payesh is a special type of rice called Gobindo-bhog. It’s a short grain, white, aromatic and sticky rice. It’s grown mainly in West Bengal, India. There are many traditional Bengali recipes that are intended for this type of rice specifically. It has a sweet buttery flavor and a potent aroma. The close alternative of this rice is Kala jeera Rice, that is available in most of the Indian stores in USA. You can also use Basmati rice if you don't get any of these two.

Recipe of Nolen Gurer Payes / Gur ki Kheer / Indian Rice Pudding : Serves : 4 to 5 

Ingredients :

Rice ( gobindobhog chal / Kala Jeera Rice / or any other fragrant rice ) : 1/3 cup
Ghee : 1 tablespoon 
Whole Milk / Full Cream Milk : 1 and 1/2 liters
Condensed Milk : 1/3 of a can
Nolen Gur / Gur / jaggery / Date Palm jaggery : approximately 3/4 cup or to taste ( I used half of a slab of solid Gur )
Pistachios : 2-3 tablespoons, chopped or any nuts, you like. 

Method :

1.In a thick bottom pan, boil the milk on low-medium heat, stirring continuously. 

2. Wash and soak the rice in water for 10 to 15 minutes. Drain out. 

3. Heat the ghee in a small pan, add the rice and fry for couple of minutes. 

4. Once the milk starts to thicken, add the rice. Stir it constantly on low to medium heat so that the bottom doesn't get burnt. 

5. When rice is cooked, add condensed milk and stir to mix it nicely. Let it boil for couple of minutes. 

6. Put the solid jaggery in Microwave. Cook for 30 seconds to 1 minute it will become soft. Now add this jaggery to the Payesh. Again Boil for 4 to 5 minutes by stirring it continuously.

Sometimes, milk curdles when you add the jaggery to the milk. So add the jaggery only at the end and add a small quantity at a time and check. Otherwise there is a risk of the milk getting spoilt. 

7. Check the sweetness and switch off the gas. Add chopped pistachios and serve warm or cold. 

Note :

You don't need to break or grate the jaggery, just put it in microwave, it will become soft in a minute. 

Sometimes, milk curdles when you add the jaggery to the milk. So add the jaggery only at the end and add a small quantity at a time and check.

Related Posts :

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Macher Korma ( Fish in Creamy Yogurt Sauce )

I am back with another fish recipe within 2 weeks !! This time it is “Macher Korma”. My readers who don’t love fish, please bear with me. My family loves fish so much that I have to prepare different kind of fish dishes every week. So thought of sharing whatever I  have prepared at home. We miss fresh or sweet water fishes a lot in US and accepted local sea fishes as part of our regular menu. But during the Christmas holiday, we were driving through the LA area, known for its huge presence of Indian and Asian shops. So we bought good amount of our favorite sweet water fishes which made our stomach celebrating for few weeks at least J

The korma style of preparation, mainly popular in South Asia, contains meat or vegetables braised in a sauce. The sauce can be made with cream, nuts or yogurt. Like many other popular Asian dishes, Korma has its roots in Mughal days. It got a nice flavor generated from mixture of spices, including cumin and coriander, combined with Yogurt. In some parts of India, a specific type called “Navratan Korma” is very popular among vegetarian people. As the name suggests, it should be made with nine vegetables, but often only Paneer and nuts are used. The Bengali people has customized chicken or lamb korma into Macher (fish) Korma by adding their own ingredients like raisins. Usually I prefer to cook this particular recipe with Rohu or Carp, but Salmon or Halibut is also perfect in this sweet and spicy yogurt sauce.

Recipe of Macher Korma : for 15 to 16 medium sized fish pieces.

Ingredients :

Fish : 3 lb / 15- 16 pieces, medium sized, fresh water fish or sea fish, 
Bay leaves : 2 
Green Cardamom : 3
Cinnamon stick : 1 inch 
Coves : 3 

Onion ; one medium sized, paste 
Ginger paste 1 tablespoon
Garlic paste 1 tablespoon 
Turmeric powder : 2 teaspoon 
Coriander powder : 2 teaspoon
Cumin powder : 1 teaspoon 
Red Chili powder : 1 teaspoon 
Tomato : 2, chopped 

Poppy seeds : 1 tablespoon 
Grated coconut (optional ) : 2 tablespoon 
Cashew nuts : 4, whole 
Golden raisin : 1 tablespoon 

Yogurt : 1/3 cup, whisked 
Gram Masala : 2 teaspoon 
Fresh Cream ( optional ) : 3 tablespoon 

Salt : to taste 
Sugar : to taste 
Oil : (approximately ) 3/4 cup 

Method :

1.  Clean and wash the fish pieces and pat dry. Smear the fish pieces with salt and turmeric powder. Let it stand for 10 - 15 minutes. 

2. Take a blender, and add coconut, poppy seeds, cashew and 3-4 tablespoon water. Make a paste and set it aside. 

3. Take a big frying pan, add oil and heat it up. once oil is smoking hot, lower the flame and fry the fish pieces in two or three batches until they are slight golden in color on both sides. Once they are done, take it off from oil and set it aside. 

4. In the remaining oil, add the raisins. Lightly fry it and keep it aside. 

5. In the same pan, add 1/2 teaspoon sugar, green cardamoms, cinnamon stick, coves and bay leaves. 

6. Once sugar begins to caramelize add the onion paste, and fry it, until it starts to change the color to brown. Add ginger and garlic paste. Keep stirring, until raw smell goes off. 

7. Add turmeric powder, coriander powder, cumin powder and red chili powder to the pan. Add 2-3 tablespoon of water and stir it. 

8. Add the chopped tomatoes and cook it until it becomes soft. 

9. Add coconut- poppy seeds - cashew paste. Stir and cook until oil starts to separate from the spice.

10. Add the whisked yogurt. Stir and mix in everything. Add 1 cup of water, add salt and sugar as per taste. Once the sauce starts to boil, lower the fame and add the raisins, and fried fish pieces. Cover it with lid. 

11. After 4 to 5 minutes open the lid, check seasoning and adjust accordingly. Add garam masala. Add fresh cream and switch off the gas. 

12. Serve hot with plain rice, pulao or Biryani. 

Related Posts :

Rui Posto ( click here for recipe )

Chicken Korma

Methi Machhi

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Banana Zucchini Walnut Muffins

Today I will share the recipe of a breakfast muffins, delicious and perfectly sweet - Banana Zucchini Walnut Muffins. If I ask you that whether you like Zucchini as a vegetable, most of your answers would be no. But have you ever baked Zucchini into desserts and breads? If you haven’t explored it yet, try today’s recipe of bread muffins. I can ensure that you would love it. Though Zucchini doesn't add new flavor in breads or muffins, it does a tremendous job of keeping baked goods nice and moist. 

These muffins are incredibly moist from a multitude of healthy ingredients: zucchini, applesauce, banana.  They are rich in fiber but low in fat and sugar. Banana Zucchini Muffin is a great way to get your kids to eat some fiber since they wouldn’t notice the presence of any vegetable. Initially I used to buy these kind of muffins from the groceries and loved its taste.

Later I started baking at home and wanted to make this zucchini muffins to be as healthy as possible. So I tweaked my recipe a little bit, cutting back on the fats and sugars. At the same time, I added whole wheat flour along with bananas and zucchini to keep the muffins nice, light and tender. The good thing about this kind of muffins is that it literally needs around t 5-10 minutes of preparation effort. Then you just need to patiently wait for baking to complete.

Bake these muffins on the weekend and then have it for breakfasts during the week. It definitely lasts for entire week and with a few seconds in the microwave, it becomes just as light moist and fluffy as on the first day!  If you have a food processor, grate the Zucchini. it’s worth getting it out of the cupboard; otherwise, you can do it by hand. Mix the wet ingredients together in bowl and then add the dry ingredients. Fold in the walnuts, pecans, or chocolate chips whatever you like and Bake. 

Recipe Of Banana Zucchini Walnut Muffins : for 12 muffins


Banana : a large ripe
White Sugar : 3/4 cup
Unsweetened applesauce : 1/4 cup
White Oil : 1/4 cup
Vanilla extract : 1 tsp
Zucchini : 1 cup, grated
All-purpose four : 1 cup
Whole wheat flour : 1/2 cup 
Cinnamon powder : 1/2 teaspoon 
Baking soda : 3/4 teaspoon
salt : 1/4 teaspoon 
Chopped walnuts : 1/2 cup and some extra to sprinkle on top


1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

2. Lightly grease the muffin tin with oil. 

3. In a large mixing bowl, mash the banana with fork. Add sugar, applesauce, oil and vanilla extract to the bowl. Stir to combine with a spatula. 

4. Add zucchini to the bowl and mix in together. 

5. In another bowl, add the two type of flours, salt, baking soda and cinnamon powder. Stir to mix it nicely.

6. Gradually add the dry mixture to wet mixture. Mix it nicely with the rubber spatula.

7. Fold in the walnuts and transfer the batter to the prepared pan. Sprinkle the top of each 
muffin generously with walnuts. Bake the batter until a toothpick inserted into the center of the muffin comes out clean. It will take 20 minutes to 25 minutes depending on your oven.

8. Let it cool in the pan on a rack for 5 minutes. Take it out of the pan when it is completely cool. Serve warm. 

Related Posts :

Banana Bread

Double Chocolate Banana Bread

Apple Strawberry Almond Muffins

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Chilli Fish Manchurian

Wish you a very happy and prosperous new year. Today is my first post of 2015 ! I was thinking to start with a dessert but changed my mind. Because I posted enough of sweet dishes in last few months. Our taste buds need some tangy and spicy stuff now. So how about Indo-Chinese? I have talked a lot about Indo Chinese cuisine in some of my earlier posts. Me and my family both are pretty passionate about this specific category of Indian food.

Some of my readers may be wondering what is this Indo-Chinese cuisine. In my Chilli chicken post,( read here ), I briefly talked about the evolution of Indo-Chinese concept. India has absorbed and adopted flavors and food from every foreign footsteps that left marks in the country. The migration of the Chinese and their cuisine cannot be undermined. We have selectively picked the ingredients and flavors to pair them up with Indian choice of vegetables and meat. There are a lot of Indo Chinese recipes that named with prefix “Chilli” such as  Chili Chicken, Chilli Prawn, Chilli Gobi, Chilli Paneer and Chili fish. Then there are dishes with suffix “Manchurian” that come with meat, Panneer and vegetables like “Gobi”. The process is very similar to authentic Chinese cuisine - briefly marinate, stir fry and coat in a spicy and tangy soy based sauce.

Today I am going to share Chili Fish Manchurian that is very popular dish in many Indian restaurants. In general Fish Manchurian or Chili Fish Manchurian refers to a type of dry fish preparations. There is no standard recipe for it and everyone makes their own version of this dish. There are several variations of this particular recipe. More commonly boneless fish fillet are used. Batter-fried fillet cubes are stir-fried with bell-peppers in a spicy and tangy soy based sauce. This recipe works best as an appetizer, but you can thoroughly enjoy as a side dish too, especially with Chinese (Indo) Fried Rice, or Chinese mixed noodles.

Recipe of Chili Fish Manchurian : Serves : 5

Ingredients :

Boneless white fish fillet : 1 lb around 500 g, cut into bite-sized pieces, wash and pat dry

For Marination :

Vinegar : 1 tablespoon
Ginger paste : 1 teaspoon 
Garlic paste : 1 teaspoon 
Soy sauce : 1 tablespoon 

For Batter : 

Cornstarch / Corn Flour : 4 tablespoon
Plain Four : 1/2 cup 

Oil for deep fry 

For the final cooking :

Oil : 2 tablespoons 
Onion : half of a small onion cut into 1 inch chunk. 
Green Bell pepper : 1 small, chop into 1 inch sized square pieces. 
Red Bell pepper : 1 small, chop into 1 inch sized square pieces. 
Spring onion / green onion / scallion : 1 stalk, finely chopped ( for garnishing ) 

Minced Ginger + Garlic : 1 tablespoon 
Soy sauce : 1 to 2 tablespoons 
Tomato ketchup : 2 tablespoons
Red Chili fakes : 1 teaspoon or as per your tolerance  
Cornstarch / cornflour : 1 teaspoon
Water : 1/2 cup 
Salt : ( if needed ) 
Sugar : 1/2 teaspoon, optional

Method :

1. Take a big bowl and place the fish pieces into it. Add vinegar, ginger paste, garlic paste, soy sauce, to it. Mix it well and let it rest for 10 to 15 minutes. 

2. Take a bowl, add corn flour and plain four. Add water and make a thin batter. The batter should not be runny.

3. Dip the marinated fish pieces in the batter one by one and deep fry fry in hot oil. Fry them until the color changes into golden brown. Once done, set it aside. 

4. In another wok or a pan, add two tablespoons of oil and heat it up. Add onion, stir it for couple of minutes, then add the bell peppers. Give them few stirs. Don't overcook, the bell peppers and onion should remain crunchy. Add minced ginger and garlic. Stir fry for a minute and add red chili flakes. Stir it again. Add the fried fish pieces to the pan. Add tomato ketchup and soy sauce and mix it well. 

5. Take a bowl add 1/2 cup of water and corn flour to it. Stir it to dissolve well. 

6. Gradually add the the mixture to the pan. Stir continuously till it starts boiling. Stir and mix until fish pieces are well coated with sauce.  Check the seasoning and add salt, sugar or sauces if needed. 

Serve hot as an appetizer, or as a side dish too, especially with Chinese (Indo) Fried Rice, or  mixed noodles.

Related Posts :

Chilli Chicken ( recipe here )

Chinese Fried Rice ( recipe here )

Chow Mein ( Chinese Stir-fried Mixed Noodles )  ( recipe here )

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Rich Christmas Fruit Cake with Garam Masala / Kerala Plum Cake

Slowly and eventually we have reached at the end of 2014. it's the time to look back and reflect on our favorite moments, also to look forward with new hope and wishes. As some wise man said, 'Tomorrow, is the first blank page of a 365 page book. Write a good one". It's been a good year for us. We finally visited India after two years of gap, which were being cancelled or postponed for a while. We had fun with our near and dear ones, both at home and abroad. Thanks to my San Diego friends for inviting to many memorable parties and get-togethers.  When it comes to my blog, I received huge appreciations and love from my readers. So my sincere thanks to all of you who made my year so colorful and exciting. 

During the last month I baked several types of Christmas Cake and cookies following different recipes.  Few of them are for our tea time snacks and others were for the parties in our friend's places. Both me and my family love to have these cakes. The Christmas time is a great excuse for preparing and having cakes. Today I will share the recipe of a Christmas Cake that I tried first time this season. What is special about this cake is that I have added garam masala with the traditional method of making a Rich Fruit Cake. The combination makes it more delicious. There was a time at our home on the Christmas day when my mom used to prepare a cake with the small electric cake oven and everybody used to be so delighted when it came out of the kitchen. I can't recall its taste now but can remember the smell which used to make the whole house aromatic. Other than that, Christmas in our childhood was not complete without orange and the Fruit Cake ordered from Park Street's bakery Shops. 

Christmas cake is a tradition that started way back in nineteenth century. Originally people used to eat a type of porridge on Christmas Eve. After a day's of fasting on Christmas Eve, it was the dish to fill their stomachs. Gradually people added dried fruit, spices and honey to the porridge mixture together. Christmas cakes are made in different shapes with frosting, glazing, a dusting of confectioner's sugar or plain. There are different variations with very little difference in the process. Christmas cakes are generally made in advance. Many people make the cake in November and keep it up side down in an airtight container, Then they poke the cake and brush it with sherry or whisky every week until Christmas. Interestingly the method is called "feeding" the cake. 

Recipe of Rich Christmas Fruit Cake with Garam Masala / Kerala Plum Cake ( one 8 inch round cake )

Ingredients :

Unsalted butter : 1 stick and 1/2 stick, at room temperature 
Brown Sugar or white sugar : 1 cup and 1/2 cup 
Eggs : 3
vanilla extract : 1 teaspoon 

All purpose flour : 2 cups
Salt : a pinch
Baking Powder : 1 teaspoon

Mixed dry fruits ( dates, cherries, orange peel, cranberries, tutti fruity ) : 1 cup
Chopped Cashew nuts, black raisins : 1/2 cup
Rum : 1/2 cup ( optional )

Spice mix ( garam masala )

Cinnamon : 1 inch
Cloves : 2
Cardamom : 2 
Grated nutmeg : a pinch

Method :

1. Chop all the dry fruits, raisins add rum to it. Cover and let it soak for a day or two and give stirs a few time during the day.

2. In a dry grinder, take the whole spices and grind it into a powder. Keep it aside.

3. Take a pan, add 1/2 cup of sugar and melt it slowly on medium heat. Keep stirring and let it change color into deep dark brown. Turn off the heat and add 1/4 cup of water. The sugar will harden. Turn on the heat again. Slowly heat it up until the mixture dissolves. It will take 5 to 8 minutes. Once done, set it aside. 

4. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F / 180 degrees C.

5. Sieve the flour, baking powder, salt and powdered spice mix. 

6. Take a mixing bowl, add butter and 1 cup of sugar and beat it until it becomes fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time and beat again. Add vanilla extract and mix it. Gradually add the flour mixture and beat until incorporated. 

7. Add the fruits and nuts, add the caramel and gently fold in. 

8. Pour the batter evenly into the prepared pan and decorate the top with almonds. Bake for about 50 to 60 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean.

9. Remove from the oven and let it cool down on a wire rack. Once it is at room temperature remove from it from the pan and dust with icing sugar.

Note :

Use Rum only if you like your cake to have a boozy flavor,  Otherwise make it alcohol free. You may make the cake a month ahead and keep it up side down in an airtight container, Then poke the cake and brush it with rum / sherry or whisky every week until Christmas. 

You can serve the cake the day it is baked, better it is stored a day or two before serving, it helps to mingle the flavors.

You can cover and store this cake for about one week at room temperature.

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Fried Hand Pies ( sweet and savory )

Very happy Christmas to all of my readers. Hope you have planned a grand celebration of this festive season with your family. These days I have become bit irregular but this time you can't blame my laziness. My laptop had a major technical issue and couldn't do any work until I bought a new one on cyber Monday. Hope I would be more consistent from now on. 

In last couple of weeks, I prepared few recipes in my draft but confused which one to share first. After giving some thought, I chose to share a quiet uncommon snack / dessert recipes that is called Fried Hand pies. 

Fried pies is a common southern specialty. These handmade, crescent-shaped, fruit-filled pastries are very popular in the South and are usually found at church picnics, crossroads country shops. It's a very common scene for the people from south that their moms and grandmas are serving fried pies by the dozens for church suppers and family gatherings. A fried pie is just the perfect size snack, compact and neat. 

The fat and crisp, half-moon shaped chewy dough is filled with spiced and cooked apples. The other traditional fillings is dried peaches. They can be filled with just about anything and fry up in just a few minutes. Try filling them with other fruits or something savory like taco meat, cooked up mushrooms and onions, or cooked sausage. These pies can be made days, weeks, even months ahead of time. 

When I came across to this recipe couple of months back, it was completely new to me. When I decided to make a fried pies, started experimenting with the filling, adding one ingredient or taking away another. I made dough at home and blended with the correct types of apples. Cooked them all together and then put the filling inside the dough. At the end I fried the pies and cooled them down. I served them in a Christmas potluck party with my neighbors and everybody really loved the crispness and taste of the pies.  

Recipe of Fried Hand Pies ( sweet and savory ) for 18 pieces 

Ingredients :

For Dough :

All purpose flour : 2 1/2 cup
Salt : 1/2 teaspoon 
Sugar : 2 teaspoons 
Shortening : 1/4 cup, chilled and cut into pieces
Unsalted Butter : 1 and 1/2 stick, cold and diced  
Ice water : 6 to 7 tablespoons 

For Sweet filing :

Apples : 2, peel, cored and cut into 1/2-inch chunks
Sugar : 1/4 cup or to taste
Cinnamon powder :1/8 teaspoon 
Lemon juice : 1 teaspoon
Butter : 1 teaspoon

For Savory :

Potatoes : 2, peel and cut into 1/2 inch cubes, boiled
Salt : to taste
Ground pepper : to taste
Butter : 1 teaspoon

Oil for frying 

Method :

1. Combine the four, sugar and salt together, you can use food processor or mix it with hand. Add the shortening and butter and mix it until the mixture looks like coarse breadcrumbs. Add the ice water, one tablespoon at a time and mix it nicely until the mixture comes together. Cover the dough with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 1 hour.

2. For the sweet filing : Melt the butter in a large sauce pan over medium high heat. Add the apples to it. Saute the apples, stir it until it become soft. Sprinkle with sugar and cinnamon. Cook it until some of the apple pieces start to break apart. Remove from heat and add the lemon juice and stir in. 

3. For the savory filling, add butter to a pan and heat it up. Add the boiled potato pieces and stir it. Add salt and pepper to taste. Remove from heat and set aside to cool completely. 

4. Take a deep frying pan and add oil. Heat it up to 365 degrees F. Roll the dough 1/8 inch thick. Cut out eighteen circles. Place 1 tablespoon of filling into the center of each circles. Make a half-moon shape and press out and seal the edges by using fork. Repeat the same for remaining dough. 

5. Fry 3 to 4 pies at a time until the both sides become golden brown. Transfer to a paper towel to absorb the excess oil. Sprinkle powered sugar and serve warm.