Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Spicy Cranberry Sauce

Finally the Thanksgiving weekend is coming closer which I was keenly waiting for. My son’s school is already closed this week and so there is no hurry in the morning. After couple of years, we are in US during this festive season. Generally we visit India around this time but because of my husband’s office work, we cancelled trip this year. So we are planning to celebrate the Thanksgiving Day in our own way. Since my 6 years old son is very keen on following the local traditions which he learns from his friends, I have to prepare something which is cooked on Thanksgiving Day. He has given a list what he needs in Thanksgiving dinner :-)

Honestly speaking, I have been introduced to the term Thanksgiving Day because of its great shopping deals. It was so exciting to go through the newspaper ads in the first year after we came to USA. I can still remember that we stood in a long queue in the early morning of Black Friday and bought a laptop for my father. It’s very hard to resist yourself from these lucrative deals if you are a shop-alcoholic like me.

Anyway Thanks giving day comes upon the last Thursday of November, a national holiday in the USA. It’s a day of giving thanks for the blessing of the harvest and of the preceding year.  Turkey is the main dish of Thanksgiving dinner and that’s why sometimes it’s called Turkey day too. Other than turkey, there are many traditional vegetarian dishes served on this day like smashed potato, wild rice, cranberries in various form, corn bread, followed by some yummy dessert like apple or pumpkin Pie.

Today's recipe is spicy cranberry sauce / cranberry chutney made out of cranberries, goes perfect with Turkey. The recipe is very simple or I should say there is no recipe at all. It’s a kind of mixing and serving but the yummiest! I had this chutney / sauce at one of friend's place and the recipe is borrowed from her. Try this simple recipe and I am sure you would love it.

Recipe of Spicy Cranberry Sauce :

Ingredients :

Cranberry Sauce : 1 can 
Green chilies : few / as per your tolerance (chopped)
Rock Salt : 
Chopped cilantro : a handful

For Roasted Spice Powder ( bhaja Masla ) : 

Whole Cumin : 1 1/2 tbsp
Whole Dry Red Chili : 1 

Method :

1. To make Roasted Spice Powder : Take a pan, add whole cumin seeds and whole red chili. First dry roast them till they are fragrant and then grind into a powder.

2. Take a big bowl, open cranberry can and pour the sauce. 

3. Add the chopped green chilies and rock salt, mix it well. 

4. Then add the chopped cilantro. Again mix and mix. 

5. Let it sit for an hour and finally add the roasted spice powder.

6. Mix again and serve.

It's finger-licking good! 

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Rui Posto : Fish with Poppy Seed Paste

Though Thanksgiving is round the corner and people may be searching for some delicious Turkey dishes, I am sharing a little uncommon Bengali recipe. It's a combination of Bengali's two favorites - fish and Posto ( poppy seeds ). Today's recipe is called Rui Posto, a fish preparation with Rohu ( a sweet water fish ) and posto. Bengalis' love for posto (or poppy seeds) has no boundaries. You will find many yummy names like jhinge posto, alu posto or onion posto in Bengali cuisine.  Generally all these are veg dishes. Different vegetables like potato (aalu posto), ridge ground (Jihnga posto) or onion are cooked with poppy seeds in different ways. As usual, Bengalis slowly started trying different non-veg dishes with combination of Posto and Fish/Egg/chicken. These delicious preparations go well with hot steamed rice. 

We grew up in a house where we used to have fish twice a day, both in lunch and dinner. Probably this is true about most of the Bengali family. Meat was only the weekend treat or for special occasions. When it comes to regular fish dishes, Rahu or Caatla is our first choice. Hilsa is obviously the most loved one, but it’s not available for daily preparations. These are all river fishes, also called sweet water fishes and very much available in Bengal.

We miss these river fishes in USA, though some Indian / Bangladeshi stores keep the frozen ones. Though we do not eat frozen fishes regularly; once in a while we bring this type of fish and make some of our favorite dishes. So last week when my friends came for dinner, we thought of trying an experimental dish and made this Rui Posto. It’s a very easy recipe with some basic ingredients. If you do not get Rahu, try this recipe with any white fish. Typically we cook any Bengali dish with mustard oil which adds more flavors. If you are not used to mustard oil, you can skip it and use white oil.

Recipe of Rui Posto ( Fish with Poppy Seeds Paste ) : Serves 5 

Ingredients :

Rohu Fish : 10 pieces
Turmeric powder : 1/2 tsp + 1/2 tsp
Salt :
Green Chilies : 4 to 5 or as per tolerance 
Nigella seeds ( kalanji / kalo jeera ) : 1/2 tsp 
Onion ( thinly sliced ) : 2 big ( preferably red onion )
Ginger : 1 tbsp ( grated )
Tomato : 1 medium sized ( chopped )
Red chili powder : 1 tsp or as per tolerance 
Poppy seeds : 4 tbsp 
Mustard oil / white oil :  8 to 10 tbsp or as needed 

Method :

1. Clean and wash the fish pieces and pat dry. Sprinkle with salt and turmeric, mix it well and let it rest for 10 to 15 minutes. 

2. Take a blender, add the poppy seeds and 1 or 2 green chilies. Add 1/4 cup of water to it and let it soak for 5 to 10 minutes, then make a paste. Once it is done, set it aside.

3. Take a big pan or a wok, add half of the mustard oil, once oil is smoking hot, lower the flame and fry the fish pieces until they are golden in color on both sides. Once they are done, take it off from oil and set it aside.

4. Add the remaining oil to the wok, let it heat up, once oil is ready add the nigella seeds and slit green chilies.

6. When aroma comes, add the onion and fry it. Add salt and stir it until they are translucent. Add the grated ginger and again give some stirs. 

7. Add turmeric, red chili powder and 2 tbsp of water, stir it and mix it well. When spices are well cooked add the chopped tomato.

8. Add salt, once tomato becomes soft and oil starts to separate from the spice, add the poppy seeds paste.

9. Give some good stirs and add half cup to one cup of warm water and salt. Let it come to a boil, add the fish pieces and cover the pan.

10. Cook for 4 to 6 minutes over medium heat. Take the lid off, check the seasoning and check the desired consistency. Drizzle few drops of mustard oil and add some chopped green chilies. Rui Posto is ready! Serve it with a bowl of steamed rice.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Rasmalai : Milk Based Dessert with Cheese Dumplings

I am not able to find words to describe today’s dessert. There is no adjective which can narrate the joy and happiness in a Bengali’s mind when you serve him this dessert at the end of the meal. I shouldn’t relate this to only Bengali. Indians from all parts are die-hard fan of this Bengali sweet. It’s the most common name after Rasagulla, in the list of sweet dishes in Indian restaurants. Yes, I am referring to Ras Malai (Rasmalai).

Ras Malai, the name consists of two words, Ras means juicy and Malai means Cream. It is milk-based dessert and made with cheese dumplings in cream syrup. The cottage Cheese dumplings are soaked in sweetened, thickened milk and then are delicately flavored with cardamom and garnished with nuts.

Ras Malai is my personal favorite too. When I was a kid, I didn't like to have dessert much. But this one was the exceptional to me. For some time, I had a plan to post the recipe of an Indian dessert, but did not get an excuse to make it. Since we try to avoid eating desserts, we rarely make sweets nowadays. Last weekend we invited some of my friends to dine with us and it gave us a chance to indulge ourselves too.

I learnt to make Ras Malai quite a while ago and I enjoy cooking this mouthwatering dish once in a year on a special occasion! Every time I would try some variant of the same dish. My readers probably can recall that few months back I posted another kind of Rasmalai recipe called Angoori Rasmalai( click here for angoori rasmalai ). This time I came back here with the basic Ras Malai recipe and hope you will enjoy!

Recipe Of Ras Malai : Milk Based Dessert with Cheese Dumplings : Serves : 8 

Ingredients :

For making Rasgulla:

Whole Milk - 1 1/2 liters 
Lemon juice - a big lime and mix it with 2 tsp of water
All purpose flour - 1/2 tbsp
Sugar - 1 tbsp
Sooji (semolina) - 1/2 tsp
Cardamom powder-1/3 tsp

To make Syrup:

Water -  5 cups
Sugar -   2 cups 

For the Malai: 

Whole Milk - 1 1/2 liters 
Sugar - 5 - 6 tbsp (as per your taste)
Pistachios or any choice of your dry fruits - few (chopped)
Few strands of saffron

Method :

1.     Boil the milk in a 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 it over a soft cotton cloth / or a cheese cloth. Let all the water drain away.

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

6.     Hang the chhana along with the cloth on the kitchen tap / faucet for 45 minutes to 1 hr.
7.     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.
8.     Now put the lump of chhana over flat surface. Add 1/2 tsp semolina, 1/2 tsp flour, 1 tsp sugar, cardamom powder into it.
9.     Knead them nicely together. Press the dough with your palm continuously for about 3-4 minutes. Once you feel dough is oily then you are done.
10.  Now from this dough make some round balls, approximately 16 to 18 rasgulla you can make with that dough. Gently press the balls to flatten them.
11.  Take a big pan with lid. Add water and sugar to boil for some time. After 5 minutes, place the cottage-cheese balls into the syrup carefully. Cover it. Turn your stove on to a medium heat and let it cook.

12.  After 25 minutes, open the lid to check. The rasgulla will be about one and half times of their original size and become spongy too.

13.  Turn off the gas. Now remove the rasgulla from the syrup, gently squeeze out and keep aside.

14.  In another pan, boil the one and half liters of milk at low flame, stir occasionally to prevent it from burning at the bottom. Once it becomes half in quantity, add sugar, add the cheese balls to the pan along with cardamom powder.

15.  Let it simmer for couple of minutes, check the sweetness and turn off the gas. Add the saffron strands to the malai.  Rasmalai is ready!! Serve cold with a sprinkling of chopped pistachios.

Note: Rasmalai is very delicate, you can store it maximum 2 to 3 days, preferably in refrigerator.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Chicken Korma : Chicken in a Rich Aromatic Yogurt - Nut Based Sauce

I am not going give you a long introduction of today’s recipe. Because this one is a well-recognized dish in Bengal and other parts of India. I am talking about Chicken Korma, which is generally made with yogurt, nut and seed pastes. It is a type of curry originated in South Asia or Central Asia. Korma is Urdu word, meaning braise. It has its roots in Mughlai cuisine. Korma is defined as a dish where meat or vegetables are braised with water, stock and yogurt or added cream. The technique is versatile and you would find many styles of korma. 

Korma can be mildly spiced or fiery and you can use either chicken/lamb or beef, depending on your preference. If you don’t like non-veg, vegetables are an option too. Some Kormas are Shahi, indicates its status as a prestigious dish, rather than an everyday meal. Like Chicken Tikka Masala and Butter Chicken, Korma is undoubtedly another popular Indian chicken dish that you will find on the menu of any authentic Indian restaurant. It has rich gravy, smooth texture that goes well either with Pulao, or steamed rice or with Indian flat bread.

I learnt this dish in my growing up days in cooking when Facebook was not born yet and Orkut was still the most popular social networking site. I got introduced to Suchismita di, who is not only a great cook but was a good motivator and guide. I learnt this dish from her and my sincere thanks to her for this recipe. First time I tried this recipe was around 8 years back but from then onwards it‘s a staple recipe for cooking Korma in my kitchen. I shared this recipe with some of my friends too and they really enjoyed the preparation. Hope you will have the same experience. 

Recipe Of Chicken Korma ( Chicken in rich aromatic yogurt-nut based Sauce ) : Serves 4

Ingredients :

Chicken : around 2 lbs ( cut into medium sized pieces ) 
Red Onion : 4 medium sized, ( 3 finely chopped and one for paste) 
Garlic : 6-7 cloves (grated or paste ) 
Ginger : 1 inch ( grated or paste )
Yogurt : 1/2 cup
All purpose flour : 1/2 tsp 
Red chili powder - 1 tsp or as per tolerance 
Turmeric powder - 1/2 tsp
Coriander powder - 1 tsp
Poppy seeds : 1 tsp
Cashew nuts : 4-5 
Green cardamoms - 2 
Cinnamon stick - 1 inch
Cloves : 2 
pepper powder : 1/2 tsp
Oil - 4 to 5 tbsp
Tomato - a small one ( chopped ) 
Salt - as per taste
Sugar - 1/2 tsp
Garam Masla  : 1/2 tsp ( coarsely ground green cardamom and cinnamon and cloves )

Method :
1. Wash the chicken pieces and pat dry with kitchen towel.
2. Take a blender, add one onion ( chopped ), 3 to 4 garlic,1/2 inch ginger, add the cashew nuts and poppy seeds. Add 5 to 6 tbsp water to the blender and make a paste.
3. Take a big bowl, add the chicken pieces, add turmeric powder, chili powder, coriander powder, add the yogurt and all purpose flour. Mix it well and then add the paste. Toss well and give a nice coat on the chicken pieces. Let it rest for 1 hour.
4. Take a big heavy bottomed pan or a wok add the oil and heat it up, once oil is ready add the sugar. When the sugar gets brown, add the green cardamoms, cinnamon and cloves.
5. Once they become fragrant, add the chopped onion, saute the onion over medium heat until they are soft and golden color. Add the remaining ginger and garlic ( crushed ). Fry it until raw smell goes off.
6. Add the chopped tomato, stir it and mix it well until tomato becomes soft.
7. Now lower the flame, and add the marinated chicken. Stir it and mix it well add the pepper powder.
8. Now put the lid on and let it cook. Open the lid, give some stirs occasionally.
9. Add salt and stir it. Chicken will release waters, and it will be cooked by its own water. Once water is dried out and oil starts to separate from the spice add 1/3 cup of warm water.
10. Let it boil and cook over medium flame until chicken is tender and soft. Add 1/2 tsp sugar and give some stirs. Again oil starts to come up from the sides of pan, add the garam masala and mix it well.
11. Check the seasoning, check the desired consistency and turn off the gas. Chicken Korma is ready! Serve hot with plain steamed rice, or Pulao or with Indian flat bread.
Note : when you will add the marinated chicken to the pan, you should be careful that pan is not too hot and the chicken is at room temperature, to stop the yogurt from curdling. And do not forget to add half tsp of flour or a pinch of cornflour to the yogurt, it also helps to avoid curdling. 

Friday, November 8, 2013

Tres Leches Cake ( Three Milks Cake )

Today let me start with some Spanish words : Tres and Leches. Tres means three and Leches means milk. We are going to make a cake which is named with these two words - Tres Leches or three milk cake.

It's a sponge or a butter cake soaked in three different kind of milks: evaporated, condensed and heavy cream. Three forms of leeches or milks are poured over a baked cake. Though it is soaked in a mixture of these milks, it doesn't have a soggy consistency. Rather it has extremely dense moist, almost like a custard. 

This cake is very popular in many parts of Central and South America, though origin of the Tres Leches cake is disputed. Nestle claims that they helped to develop the Tres Leches recipe during World War. But the idea of making a cake soaked in liquid is most likely from Europe, just like Tiramisu is from Italy or British Rum Cake from UK.

I have tested this cake at several parties and every time I liked it more. So the plan was there in my mind for long time to give a try. Finally I could make it last weekend and it turned out well. 

Ensure you make the cake, well before you want to serve it. The longer it rests, the better it gets. The recipe is adopted from foodnetwork. It's very simple and super easy. Whoever knows to make butter cake or sponge cake easily can try it. This full cake was made for my son's friend group as a Diwali / Halloween treat. Soon I'ill make the second one! 

Recipe Of Tres Leches Cake for a 13 x 9 x 2 inches pan 


For the Cake:

Self rising Flour : 1 3/4 cups 
Baking powder : 1 tsp
Unsalted butter ( at room temperature ) : 1 stick ( 1/2 cup )
Sugar : 1 cup
Salt : 1/2 tsp
Egg: 5 (large)
Vanilla extract : 2 tsp 

For the Glaze:

Evaporated milk : 1 can (12 oz.)
Condensed milk : 1 can ( 14 oz.)
Half and Half : 1 cup 

For the Topping :

Heavy whipping cream : 2 cup.
Powdered Sugar : 1/4 cup
Vanilla extract : 1 tsp
Maraschino Cherries ( drained well ) : 1 cup 

Method :

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F or 175 degrees C. Lightly grease a 13 x 9 x 2 inches pan and set it aside.

2. Combine the flour, baking powder and salt in a medium sized mixing bowl and keep it aside.

3. Put the butter into a big bowl or into the bowl of a stand mixer with the paddle attachment. Beat on medium speed until it is fluffy. 

4. Decrease the speed to low and slowly add the sugar. Stop the mixer and scrape down the sides if needed. 

5. Add the eggs, one at a time, and mix it well. Add the vanilla and again mix it to combine. 

6. Slowly add the flour mixture to the egg-butter mixture and mix it well. Transfer the batter to the prepared pan and spread it evenly. 

7.  Bake it for 20 to 25 minutes until the cake is slightly golden and a toothpick inserted in the center of the cake, comes out clean.

8. Once it is done, let the cake cool down completely. Turn the cake out on a rimmed platter and poke the top of the all over with a fork or a toothpick. Again allow the cake to cool down. 

9. Take the evaporated milk, sweetened condensed milk, and the half and half in a medium bowl  and whisk together.

10. Once it is well mixed, pour the mixture over the cake. Let it sit for overnight and put it into the fridge. The cake will soak up the glaze.

11. Place the mixing bowl and whisk attachment in the freezer for 15 minutes. Then put the cold whipping cream, vanilla extract and sugar into the bowl and beat until stiff peaks form. 

12. Spread the topping on to the cake, top with cherries and allow it to chill in the refrigerator until ready to serve.

Note : The cake is best when it is baked a day prior to serving and to let the cake soak up overnight in the refrigerator.

Egg-less version of Tres Leches Cake :

Ingredients :

All purpose Flour - 2 cups
Baking powder - 2 tablespoons
Baking Soda - 1 1/2 tsp
Condensed Milk - 1 can 
Butter - 1/2 cup 
Milk - 2 cups
Vanilla Extract - 1 teaspoon

Method :

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F and  Lightly grease a 13 x 9 x 2 inches pan with butter and set it aside. 

2. Take a bowl and mix all purpose flour,baking powder and baking soda.

3. In another bowl Cream the butter,  add condensed milk, milk and vanilla extract and Mix it well.

4. Pour the wet ingredients to the dry flour mixture little by little and Mix them well.

5. Transfer the batter to the prepared pan and spread it evenly.  

6. Bake it for 20 to 25 minutes until the cake is slightly golden and a toothpick inserted in the center of the cake, comes out clean.

7. Once it is done, let the cake cool down completely. Turn the cake out on a rimmed platter and poke the top of the all over with a fork or a toothpick. Again allow the cake to cool down. 

8. Take the evaporated milk, sweetened condensed milk, and the half and half in a medium bowl  and whisk together.

9. Once it is well mixed, pour the mixture over the cake. Let it sit for overnight and put it into the fridge. The cake will soak up the glaze.

10. Place the mixing bowl and whisk attachment in the freezer for 15 minutes. Then put the cold whipping cream, vanilla extract and sugar into the bowl and beat until stiff peaks form. 

11. Spread the topping on to the cake, top with cherries and allow it to chill in the refrigerator until ready to serve.

Note : The cake is best when it is baked a day prior to serving and to let the cake soak up overnight in the refrigerator.