Saturday, January 31, 2015

Vegetable Chop ( Bengali Style Vegetable Cutlet )

Today I will share a mouthwatering street food of Kolkata called Vegetable Chop. The city of joy is known for its delicious street food like Jhal Muri (puffed rice mixed with other ingredients), Phuchka, Singara/Samosa and different kinds of deep fried cutlets. Vegetable chop belongs to the category of cutlets, a fusion of the British and Indian food styles.  Many of the snacks that you get in cities in Kolkata  like Cutlets and chops – crumbed and fried – are among the Anglo-Indian dishes that are now very much a part of our own cuisine.

Vegetable Chop is nothing but a vegetarian version of cutlet. The filling is a combination of mashed potato and some winter vegetables like, carrot, beetroot and peas.  In Indian cuisine, a cutlet specifically refers to cooked meat or vegetable stuffing that is fried with a batter/covering. At first vegetable itself is cooked with spices and then it’s dipped in an egg mix and then in breadcrumbs and fried in vegetable oil.

The Kolkata street food crossed boundaries and entered into regular party menus, starting from wedding to birthday parties. In our childhood days, we used to see that when there was a small gathering at home, the most common snack that used to be served with tea was vegetable chop. We knew that we would get at least half piece of the same once others are done. Being a non-resident Bengali, I miss these street foods a lot and try to make as regular as possible for different pot-luck parties with our close friends. Some of our family friends are very fond of my vegetable chops and sometimes I have to make some extra for them. Tomorrow we are going to have snacks party for the grand super bowl event in one of our friend’s home and I thought this would be the perfect crowd-pleasing finger food from my side.

Recipe of Vegetable Chop ( Bengali Style Vegetable Cutlet ) for 16 to 18 pieces Chops 

Ingredients :

For Stuffing :

Carrot : 3 medium 
Beetroot : 2 medium 
Potato : 3 large 
Peas (frozen or fresh ) : 1/2 cup 

Onion : 1 medium size, finely chopped 
Ginger : grated , 1 tablespoon 
Cumin powder : 1 teaspoon.
Green chillies : 2 or 3 chopped 
Roasted half peanuts : 2 tablespoon 
Golden Raisins : 2 tablespoons ( optional )
Salt : to taste 

For Roasted Spice powder ( Bhaja Masla ) :

Whole Cumin : 1 and half tablespoon 
Whole Red chili : 1 

For Coating :

Egg : one  

Corn flour : 4 to 5 tablespoon (If you want to avoid egg use corn flour )

Breadcrumbs : 1 cup and more ( if needed ) 

Oil for deep frying 

Method :

1. Peel and cut the potato and beetroot in halves. Peel the carrot too and Wash everything. Cook the vegetables till they are tender. I used pressure cooker. If you are using pressure cooker, add all the vegetables, add one cup of water and salt to the pressure cooker. Cook on medium heat and wait for 3 whistles. Let the pressure cooker cool down, open the lid and drain the water. 

2. Mash the vegetables coarsely, add the peas to it and set it aside. 

3. For roasted spice powder, dry roast the cumin seeds and the red chili. Once nice aroma comes up, turn off the heat. Let it cool down and grind it to a powder. 

4. Take a pan, add 2 tablespoons of oil and heat it up. Add chopped onion and fry it till the color changes to golden brown. Add salt and add grated ginger. Keep stirring for couple of minutes. Add green chillies, add cumin powder and cook. 

5. Add the mashed vegetables. Stir and mix in everything. Add salt and saute the vegetable mixture till the excess water dries up and leaving the sides. If needed add one or two tablespoons of breadcrumbs for binding.

6. Add roasted spice powder, roasted half peanuts and raisins. Mix thoroughly. 

7. When the mixture cools down, divide it into 16 to 18 equal portions. Now give them oblong or oval shape. 

8. Make a thin batter with corn four and water.  ( Or make egg wash. )

9. Dip the chop / croquette in above mix, roll it in breadcrumbs, until it gets a nice coat all over it.

10. Take a dip frying pan, add enough oil for frying. When the oil is smoking hot, lower the flame to medium high and fry them in small batches till they are golden brown on the both sides. Remove with slotted spoon and place it on a paper towel to drain excess oil. 

11. Sprinkle some black salt ( beet nun ) and serve hot with some ketchup and a salad ( sliced cucumber and onion) . 

  • If you want to bake your cutlet instead of deed frying, check the procedure here Baked Cutlet

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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.

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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 )