Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Creamy Kale Pesto Pasta

One week to go before my little one is back to school. So it’s the final week of my laid back schedule in summer vacation. Probably this is the last recipe of the month. Things are going to become hectic in next couple of weeks. We are going to celebrate my son’s 6th birthday with a short trip. Need to finish back-to-school shopping too. Today I will share a pasta recipe, the favorite one of my son. A pasta recipe that you can make either as vegetarian dish or add some pan roasted or grilled chicken to make it non vegetarian. People, who love shrimps more, can use the same instead of chicken.

My son is a huge pasta lover; probably I have mentioned this in my blog several times. Pasta, noodles, soup and pizza is the list of his favorite foods. When it comes to pasta, his first choice is Creamy Alfredo (click here for the recipe) and then Pesto Pasta. Kale or borecole is the vegetable with greens or purple leaves; it has so many varieties, enriched with high nutritional values. Last week we picked some Kale from grocery stores which I usually use Kale only for salads or for some soups. This time I was searching for some new ideas to make a dish with Kale. So for the first time, I used kale to make pesto sauce in the place of basil. Not only it tasted delicious, it made the pasta healthy too. It is great way to add green stuff on your kid's meal.  This is a good alternative for the people, who are not too fond of pasta dishes with tomato or Alfredo sauce.

The recipe is very easy and flexible. You can use Spinach or Swiss chard in the place of Kale. I used Parmesan cheese which can be replaced by goat cheese or any other different cheese or even ricotta. If you have some leftovers, next day you can warm it with a splash of water. The pasta holds up nicely for longer time. The Pesto takes about 15 minutes to be prepared. The recipe is adopted from Food52. 

Recipe of Creamy Kale Pesto Pasta  ( Yield : 3 to 4 Servings)

Ingredients :

Package Pasta : 8 ounce ( 1/2 of a 16 ounce packet ) around 250 g
Black Kale : 2 cups ( roughly chopped )
Garlic - 3 to 4 big cloves
Parmesan Cheese : 1/4 cup
Hazelnuts : 1/4 cup ( substitute almonds )
Black Pepper : 1/2 tsp
Olive Oil : 1/4 cup
Lemon Juice : 2 tsp
Heavy Cream : 1/3 cup
Tomato : a large one (chopped) ( optional )

Method :

1. Take a large pot of lightly salted water and bring to a boil. Get a large bowl of ice water and set it aside. 

2. Add the kale to the boiling water, cook for about 5 to 6 minutes. Remove kale from boiling water and plunge the kale into the ice water. This process is called blanching. 

3. Put the kale on a stack of paper towels. It helps to soak the extra water.

4. Add kale, garlic, Parmesan cheese, hazelnuts and black pepper to a food processor or a blender and process it until well combined.

5. Slowly add the olive oil and lemon juice to the food processor, process until they are well mixed. 

6. Take a pan, boil some water and add salt. Add pasta to it and cook as per package direction. Once it is done, strain the excess water and set it aside.

7. Take a saucepan, add the pesto and cream to it. Cook over medium flame until it starts to bubble. 

8. Add cooked pasta and tomatoes and mix well. Add salt and pepper to taste. Creamy Kale Pesto Pasta is ready! Serve hot.

Note : This is the vegetarian version. You may  add some pan roasted or grilled chicken to make it non vegetarian. People, who love shrimps more, can use the same instead of chicken.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Shorshe Murgi ( Chicken Cooked in Mustard Sauce )

Off late, I'm in a mood to explore Bengali Cuisine, the taste which remains close to our heart and tongue. :) This month I tried this dish couple of times already and it was an instant hit on the dinner table. It’s a classic Bengali flavored chicken curry called “Shorshe Murgi”. 'Murgi' means Chicken and 'Shorshe' is the Bengali term for Mustard seeds and one of the most important spices in any Indian kitchen. Along with mustard seeds, mustard oil always adds extra flavor to Bengali cooking. If you find some Indian looking for mustard oil in grocery store, he/she must be Bengali. :)

I tried many vegetables, fishes or egg with mustard sauce earlier and never thought this combination would come out best. It is quite well-known to many of us and I heard the name before. But honestly speaking,  I had this dish first time and liked the zesty flavor of ground mustard paste, as well as spicy kicks of the hot green chilies. A perfect dish for those, who loves Bengali flavors.

The recipe is pretty easy. It uses both mustard and mustard seeds, so the dish has a strong smell. When you make the mustard paste or cook mustard, you should be little careful, as mustard paste could turn into bitter taste, if you ground it for a long or cook it for long time. Always add a pinch of salt and green chilies, when you ground it. If you can do perfect these two things, Shorshe Murgi is just heavenly with a bowl of steamed white rice. It has several different recipes but I am not sure which one is more authentic. I used the one which I felt easy and comfortable with our taste buds. Coming to the main part of the recipe.

Recipe of Shorshe Murgi : Chicken Cooked in Mustard Sauce : Serves 5 

Ingredients :

Chicken - 2 lbs around 1 kg cut into medium pieces.

Yogurt / Curd - 1/2 cup

Red Onion - 2 big (around 2 and 1/2 cups) ( finely chopped )

Ginger paste - 1 1/2 tbsp

Garlic paste - 2 tbsp 

Kashmiri Red Chili powder - 1 1/2 tbsp

Red Chili powder - as per tolerance or optional 

Cumin Powder - 1 tbsp

Turmeric Powder - 1/2 tsp

Mustard Oil - 2 tbsp + 3 to 4 tbsp ( you can use white oil too in the place of mustard oil )

Salt - 

Sugar - 1 tsp 

Yellow Mustard Seeds - 2 tbsp ( can use the black one or mixture of black and yellow too )

Green Chilies / Hot Green peppers - 1 + 7 to 8 

Method :

1. Wash and pat dry the chicken pieces with kitchen towel.

2. Take a non reactive bowl, add chicken pieces to it, then add chopped onions, ginger paste, garlic paste, yogurt, cumin powder, turmeric powder, kashmiri red chili powder, red chili powder, salt and 2 tbsp of mustard oil.

3. Toss it and mix it nicely. Add 6 to 7 whole green chilies to the chicken. I use whole chilies, that only add flavor, if you want to make your Shorshe Murgi hot, can add slit green chilies too. Mix it well and let it rest for 3 to 4 hrs. I usually do overnight.

4. Add 2 tbsp of mustard seeds, one green chili and a pinch of salt to a blender and add half cup of water to it. Let it soak for 5 to 10 minutes, then make a paste. Do not over run the blender, the mustard could turn into bitter taste. It will take around 5 minutes. Once it is done, set it aside.

5. Take a big pan, add mustard oil. Once oil is hot, add the sugar and let it melt down.

6. Once sugar is caramelised, add the marinated chicken along with the marinade. Give some stirs and let it cook over medium flame. Chicken will release water, and it will be cooked by its own water. Stir occasionally. 

7. Water will dry off within 15 to 20 minutes, and oil starts to separate from the spice mix in the pan.

8. Stir it to prevent sticking and scrape the bottom of the pan, if needed. Add mustard paste to the chicken. Stir everything in and mix well.

9. Add a cup of warm water and cover the pan with lid. Once chicken is well cooked, check the seasoning, add salt if needed. Check the desired consistency and turn off the gas.

10. Drizzle few drops of mustard oil and serve hot with rice or bread. Shorshe Murgi tastes best with steamed white rice.

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Chhanar Dalna ( Indian Cottage Cheese Curry )

Last week I made Chhanar Dalna after a long gap and I must say that it came out so good, I felt like blessed that day! The taste was so pleasing, so delectable, no other non-vegetarian dish could give the same taste. Chhanar Dalna is a Bengali delicacy, very well-known vegetarian dish of Bengali Cuisine. Chhana is Indian Cottage Cheese and Dalna in Bengali cuisine is a gravy dish where the gravy is thicker. It’s not so runny and sometimes you would find small pieces of potato in most of the dalnas. In Chhanar Dalna, home-made cottage cheese is cooked in very light gravy. It is a pure vegetarian dish that means no onion and garlic is used here. So even my Jain friends too can have this dish J. This dish is perfect on the days of Puja or festival, when you are not supposed to have any non-veg food. 

In chhanar dalna, first you have to make fresh home-made cottage cheese and then make some dumplings with the cheese. Fry them first and then make a curry with some pieces of cubed potatoes with minimal spices. Though it’s a very common dish in West Bengal, still almost every household has their own recipe. Today I will follow the version that I have seen in our family for years. Chhanar Dalna could be made with paneer too, the one you generally buy from stores. If you get bored of making Palak Paneer or Matar Panner, try this Dalna.  But Paneer lacks the softness or same taste that homemade chhana has. Let's come to the recipe.

 Recipe of Chhanar Dalna ( Indian Home-made Cottage Cheese Curry ) Serves - 4 

Ingredients :

For Cheese dumplings / Cheese Balls :

Whole / full fat Milk - 2 liters 

Lemon juice of a big lime or vinegar - 2-3 tbsp or as needed

All purpose flour : 1 tbsp

Sugar - 1 tbsp or as per taste 

Salt - as per taste

Golden raisins - 2 tbsp ( optional ) 

Roasted Spice Powder ( bhaja masla ): 1 tbsp ( For Roasted Spice Powder - Take a tablespoon of cumin seeds, and a whole ( or half as per tolerance) dry red chili. First dry roast it till it becomes fragrant, then grind them into a powder.)

Oil - 4-5 tbsp 

For curry :

Oil - 3- 4 tbsp

Bay leaves - 2 

Nigella seeds ( kalo jeera ) - 1/2 tsp

Whole Dry Red Chili - 1/2 or 1 as per taste

Potato - 2 medium to big sized cut into medium cubes 

Kashmiri Red chili powder - 1 tbsp as per tolerance 

Turmeric powder - 1/2 to 1 tsp

Cumin Powder - 1 tsp

Ginger paste - 1 tbsp

Tomato - a small one ( chopped )

Salt -

Sugar -

Green Cardamom - 1 or 2 crushed 


To make Chhana

1. Boil the milk in a pan and stir continuously. Once the milk starts boiling, lower the flame. Pour the lemon juice and stir it again. Once the milk starts curdling, and it changes into chhana(cottage cheese) and greenish water, remove the pan from oven.

2. Leave the chhana in this condition for 5 to 7 minutes.

3. Put it over a soft cotton cloth or a cheese cloth. Let all the water drain away.

4. Now put this cloth along with the chhana under running cold water for 2-3 minutes. This will help to remove the smell of lemon.

5. Hang the chhana along with the cloth on the kitchen tap / faucet for 30 minutes. Please note that the Chhana should not get too dry. 

6. Now in a big bowl, take the chhana out. Add sugar, salt, 1 tbsp all purpose flour, 1 tbsp of oil and the roasted spice powder. Mix it nicely and knead them together with your palm.

7. Once you feel oily on your palm, make 10 to 15 balls out of this kneaded Chhana and put a raisin inside each ball, 

8. Add 3 to 4 tbsp oil to a non-stick pan, once oil is hot and ready, lower the flame and add the
cheese balls, shallow fry it until they get nice brown color on both sides. Take out them from pan and set it aside.

9. Add oil to the same pan, once oil is ready, add bay leaves, nigella seeds and add the whole dry red chili ( cracked). 

10. When it starts to spatter, add the cubed potatoes and stir it. Add salt and keep stirring, until the potatoes are light brown.

11. Take a small bowl, add kashmiri red chili powder, cumin powder, turmeric powder and ginger paste. Add 2 tbsp of water, mix it well and make a paste.

12. Add the paste to the pan, mix it well with the potatoes and keep stirring, until oil starts to come up from the side of pan.

13. Add the tomato, add salt and stir it till tomato becomes soft and cooked.

14. Once spices are well cooked, potatoes get a nice coat of spice mix, add 1 and half cup of water, add salt and cover the pan with lid. Let the curry bring to a boil.

15. Once potatoes are cooked, and the gravy starts thickening, add the cheese balls and again cover the pan with lid. Let it cook for 5 to 7 minutes more.

16. Add sugar ( optional ), check seasoning and add the crushed green cardamom.

17. Channar Dalna ( Indian Cottage Cheese Curry ) is ready! Serve hot with a bowl of steamed rice or  Pulao ( click here for recipe of Pulao ).

Note : You can use store-bought Paneer in the place of Cheese balls.

Monday, August 12, 2013

Egg Devil ( Dim r Chop )

A whiff of some food’s flavors can send you back to your childhood memories when weekend was not synonymous to party or eating out! Rather your mom or grand mom would make something special on Sunday or some traditional “tele-bhaja” will be brought from nearest famous shops. The entire family would be reunited to enjoy the same. Some of these recipes are age-old and handed down through generations. “Dimer Chop” is one of such snacks preparations, which is also called 'Dimer Devil' / Egg Devil ☺

Today I'll share this secret recipe of Egg Devil which is also popular as a street food in Bengal. Egg Devil is actually result of the influence from Mughlai Cuisine, introduced to Bengali Cuisine in the early eighteenth century. It has several different procedures to make. Sometimes it is made with boiled half egg when yolk is taken out. Then mix it with the potato mixture and place back in position. Give it a shape of full egg with the potato mixture and then dip in egg wash. Roll in the bread crumbs and finally deep-fry it.

There is another version of the same dish when you can use either the half of a boiled egg or the full one. Then cover the egg with potato mixture, dip in egg-wash, roll in bread-crumbs and deep-fry it. This version is the most popular and usually found in any restaurant in Calcutta or street-side stalls. Today I will follow the same version. This is very similar to Scotch egg, while Scotch egg consists of a hard-boiled egg wrapped in sausage meat. Only difference is that our Egg Devil is wrapped in potato mixture. You can serve this Crunchy deep-fried Egg Devil either as a snack or an appetizer with your favorite dipping sauce. It goes well with kasundi (zesty mustard sauce) and with some salads. 

Recipe of Dim r Chop ( Egg Devil ) : For 6 pieces

Ingredients : 

For Potato mixture :

  1. Potato - 3 (medium to big sized ) boiled and smashed 
  2. Oil - 3 tbsp
  3. Onion - 1 small ( finely chopped )
  4. Garlic - 1 to 2 tbsp (paste or grated )
  5. Salt - 
  6. Bhaja Masla ( Roasted Spice Powder ) - 1 tbsp 

 Hard Boiled Egg - 6 ( if you want to make it of full egg ) or 3 ( if you want it of half egg )

Egg : 1 for egg wash

Bread Crumbs : 

Oil : for deep frying 

Method : 

For Roasted Spice Powder - Take a tablespoon of cumin seeds, and a whole ( or half as per tolerance) dry red chili. First dry roast it till it becomes fragrant, then grind them into a powder.

1. Take a pan, add oil and heat it up, once oil is ready, add onion. Saute the onion, til it is light brown, add salt to it. 

2. Add the garlic paste and stir it until raw smell goes off.

3. Add the boiled and smashed potato to the pan, add salt, stir it and mix it well.

4. Add 1 tbsp of Roasted Spice Powder ( bhaja masla ) and again give some stirs. Check seasoning  and once potato is enough dry, turn off the gas. The Potato mixture is ready, set it aside and let it cool down at room temperature. 

5. Take the boiled egg, cut into two vertical pieces. If you want to make the devil of full egg, don't need to cut it.

6. Take a piece of egg, cover it with the potato mixture and give it to an oval shape. Repeat the process for the rest of the eggs.

7. Make the egg wash by whisking the egg with 2-3 tbsp of water to have a smooth consistency. Spread the bread crumbs on a flat surface. 

8. First dip the potato mixture coated egg in the egg wash then roll in the bread crumbs.

9. Repeat the same process for all the eggs and make sure they are well coated with bread crumbs. 

10. Heat oil in deep frying pan. Once it's ready, fry them one by one at medium temperature till they get nice brown color on the both sides. Take them out from the pan and place on a paper towel to absorb the excess oil. 

11. Egg Devil aka Dimer Devil is ready!! Serve hot with mustard sauce( kasundi ) or your favorite dipping sauce and with some salad.

Note :  If you want to avoid deep frying method, you can bake it at oven,  for baking method click here, go to the 'Method' and follow 11th and 12th steps.

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Strawberry Cream Cheese Popsicles

Summer vacation is coming to an end! We have only few more days left to enjoy this relaxed, laid-back life and then return back to same old routine life. Before we become too depressed, let’s celebrate last few days of summer with its signature dessert. Ice-creams and summer are synonyms. Perhaps all of us still remember the flavors of the ice-creams we had in our school days and how it used to bring happiness after school hour. Even though they were cheap and not branded, those tastes will be alive in our mind forever.

The recipe that I came up with today is of a Popsicle which is more like an ice-cream, Strawberry Cream Cheese Popsicle. It’s creamy and very delicious one, just perfect for this summer! Though I had made this for my kid but from yesterday I, myself can't stop licking it☺ This Strawberry Cream Cheese Popsicles is a great alternative to Ice Cream who don't have any ice cream maker. Making popsicles is major fun and so easy that even a novice can make it. If you don't have Popsicle mold, no need to worry. You can use paper cup or take some glasses and pour the mixture into the same and then freeze. In terms of flavor, the options are endless. You can change the flavor as per your taste and choice. The cream cheese makes the popsicles so tasty and creates so satisfying consistency that you won’t get much iciness. Rather they are creamy and rich like ice-cream. I had some strawberries and left-over cream cheese at refrigerator from last week and was wondering what to make out of this. Then I started searching in net and liked this ice-cream inspired Popsicle recipe. And I must say it was a worth trying. The recipe is adopted from 'domestic fit'. Coming to the main part of the recipe: 

Recipe of Strawberry Cream Cheese Popscles : For 7 to 8 popsicles

Ingredients :

Cream Cheese - 8 ounces ( softened )

Sour Cream - 1/4 cup

Powdered Sugar - 3/4 cup or as per your taste

Fresh Strawberries ( chopped ) - 8 to 10 ( or you may use frozen ones too - 3/4 cup )

Whole Milk - 1/3 cup

Graham Crackers - 6 ( standard sized )

Butter ( melted ) - 1 tbsp.

Method :

1. In a food processor or in a blender add the graham crackers, process it until it becomes crumbs, add the melted butter into it. Mix it well and set the graham crackers mixture aside.

2. Add the cream cheese, sour cream, powdered sugar and milk in the food processor ( or in a blender ) run it until incorporated.

3. Add the strawberries, and again process it until it is well combined.

4. Pour the mixture into popsicle molds.( if you don't have popsicle molds use paper cups ). Leave the top of the molds empty around 1 inch for the crust.

5. Divide the crust evenly among the popsicles, press down gently. Insert popsicle sticks and freeze them for at least 6 hrs. You can freeze it up to 3 to 4 days. Enjoy your home-made Strawberry Cream Cheese Popsicles!!

Note : You can change the flavor as per your taste, add chocolate or another fruits in the place of strawberry.