Friday, January 29, 2016

Navratan Korma ( Mixed Vegetable Korma )

After presenting couple of Bengali traditional dessert dishes, let me post something of a different cuisine like a Mughlai Dish. This rich, creamy and flavorful dish is called Navaratan Korma in Hindi, that means nine gems (Nava-Ratan). This name has been coined because nine different vegetables, fruit and nuts are used in this dish. “Korma” is usually made out of meat like goat or beef, but this one is vegetable version of the same. During Mughal era in India in the imperial kitchens, this preparation used to be served to kings, queens and other royals.

This dish is highly nutritious due to presence of a  rainbow of fruits and vegetables. You can serve with Fried Rice, hot Naans or Paratha. It's a wonderful vegetable dish with mildly spiced and probably on the little sweeter side, that will satisfy our Indian taste buds. You can add some hot peppers if you don't want to make it mild.

This dish is not for everyday meals. You should make it on special occasions, like when guests come over to your place for lunch or dinner. Making Navaratna Korma is fairly straight forward and mainly has two steps. The first step starts with blanching the vegetables. Blanching is a simple and brief process of boiling. This process helps to retain the color of the vegetables. The second step is making the sauce and simmering the boiled vegetables in the creamy korma sauce.   

Navratan Korma ( Mixed Vegetable Korma ) : Serves 6 people

Ingredients :

Cauliflower florets : 1 cup
Carrot : 2, medium sized,small cubes
Green peas : 1/2 cup
Bell pepper : 1 medium size, seeds removed and cut into 1" squares
French Beans : 10, top and tails removed and chopped
Pineapple cubes ( optional ) : 1 cup
Potato : 1 cup, peeled and cubed
Paneer : 1 cup, cut into small cubes
Cashews :1/2 cup, broken, slightly fried
Raisins : 2 tablespoons

Vegetable oil : 4 tablespoons
Bay leaf : 2
Green Cardamom : 3
Cinnamon stick : 1 inch
Cloves : 3
Green Chili : 2 ( slit lengthwise ) 
Onion : 1, first boiled, then make a paste 
Ginger - Garlic paste : 1 tablespoon 
Cashew : 1/2 cup, make a paste 
Coriander powder : 1 teaspoon 
White pepper : 1 teaspoon 
Salt : to taste 
Cream : 2 tablespoon 
Milk : 1 cup, if needed 

Method :

1. Take a pan, add enough water to boil. Add the vegetables except the bell pepper. Add salt and let it cook till they are half cooked. Remove from heat, drain the excess water and keep them aside. 

2. Take a non- stick pan, add oil and heat it up. Add the paneer cubes and fry them until the color changes to golden brown on both sides. Take it off from the pan and set it aside. 

3.Now add the remaining oil to the pan, add bay leaves, green cardamoms, cinnamon, cloves and green chilies. Once the aroma comes up, add the ginger - garlic paste. Cook it until raw smell goes off. Now add the boiled onion paste, cook it until oil oozes out from the sides of the pan. Now add bell peppers and keep stirring. Add the cashew paste and cook it until oil starts coming up from the sides of the pan.

4. Add coriander powder, again cook the masala for couple of minutes. Add the milk / water and bring it to boil. 

5. Add boiled vegetables, fried Paneer, slightly fried cashew, raisins, pineapple. Add cream, salt and white pepper. Lower the flame and simmer it for 10 minutes. Check the desired consistency, check seasoning and switch off the gas. Serve hot with naan , paratha or pulao. 

Thursday, January 21, 2016

Dudh Puli ( Rice Dumplings Simmered in Sweetened Milk )

In my last post I have written about Sankranti and Pithe festival in Bengal. Here is the link:  As I said, The best part of this Makar Sankranti  is “Pithe” making. There are many different versions of Pithe prepared in different parts of Bengal. One of them is Dudh Puli.

I grew up in a family where Pithe preparation used to run for several days during Makar Sankranti. We have no longer that much time to spare, especially if you are in abroad and don’t have any helping hands. Fortunately this year we had a long weekend and so had some time to pamper our taste-buds with these traditional winter delicacies and recollect the old sweet memory. It was difficult to get the ingredients of best quality here. The main ingredient of Pithe-making is rice powder. The one we get here is not the same one that is used in back home. So I can’t vouch for the authenticity of my dudh puli’s taste.  But I can ensure that it won’t be that bad either since my hubby's spontaneous expression after having this dish was “Darun” (simply awesome) !

As the name suggests, this Pithe is cooked in milk. Small dumplings (puli) are made out of rice flour and stuffed with coconut. Then these dumplings are boiled in thickened milk ,sweetened with jaggery. I am sure this sweet recipe will delight everyone at your home. So check out the recipe of Dudh puli and give it a try. 

Recipe of Dudh Puli ( Ccoconut Stuffed Rice Dumplings Simmered in Sweetened Milk ) : for 4 to 6 people 

Ingredients :

For the Shell :

Rice Flour : 2 cups 
Water : 2 and 1/2 cups
Salt : a pinch 

For Filling :

Grated coconut : 1 cup 
Sugar : 1/2 cup 
Milk Solids : 1/2 cup 
Cardamom powder : a pinch 

For kheer :

Whole Milk : 1 and 1/2 liter
Date palm jaggery : 1 cup or to taste 

Method :

1. Take a pan, add grated coconut and sugar and let it cook over medium heat for around 5 minutes. 

2. Add the grated milk solids and stir to mix it nicely. Add the crushed cardamom and mix it again. Once the mixture comes together and leave the sides of the pan, take it off from the heat. Filling is ready, keep it aside. 

3. Take a pan and add the water. Add the salt and keep the flame high. Once the water starts boiling, slow down the flame and add the rice flour. Stir it lightly. Cover the pan with lid. Turn off the gas. After 5 milutes tranfer the rice flour mixture to a mixing bowl. Knead the mixture immediately and make it a soft and smooth dough. I have to knead the mixture when it is hot. 

4. Once dough is ready, take a heavy-bottomed pan and add the whole milk. Heat it up. 

5. In the meantime, make the dumplings. Make some small balls out of the dough. Flatten the ball by pressing your palm. Place a small of coconut filling on it. Fold it and seal all the sides by pressing it. 

6. Final step, once the whole milk starts to boil, add the puli ( dumplings ) one by one. Let it cook for 15 to 20 minutes over low flame. Once the dumplings are cooked, they will come up at the surface of the milk. 

7. Add jaggery to the milk. and stir gently. Simmer the milk for another 5 to 7 minutes. Serve hot or cold. 

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Patishapta ( Indian Crêpes with Sweet Coconut Filling )

It’s that time of the year when every house in Bengal and few other parts of India celebrates the Makar Sankranti festival. The forms and styles of this festival will be different though in different parts in India. But everywhere it’s the same harvest festival that signifies the beginning of the spring season. Though the new generation of Bengal slowly forgetting about this festival, in some places like Tamil Nadu, Pongal (local name of Makar Sankranti) is still one of the major festivals.    

The best part of this festival is “Pithe” making. That’s why it’s other name is Pithey Parbon. In terms of taste, it’s a traditional sweet made with rice flour, coconut, milk and jaggery in Bengali household. I can still remember when all the skilled ladies of our home gather in the kitchen to prepare Pithe, Patishapta, Dudh Puli. They used to divide the different tasks among themselves like kneading the rice dough, scraping the coconut, making the filling and then preparing several varieties of pithes.

Pithe has a lot of versions and each family used to make 3 to 4 versions of their favorites pithes during this time. Making pithes at home is a lengthy and elaborate affair. Since traditional joint families are very few nowadays and new generation working women don't have this much time to spare, sweet shops around the city have taken up the responsibility to keep the traditions alive and our taste-buds delighted.

Over the years I have learned a few pithe recipes from my family. Last couple of years I didn't make any pithe, but I craved for pithe this time so much that I decided to make patisapta after a long time. Today I will share the recipe of Patisapta, rice flour crepes filled with stuffing of coconut & khoya. This is one of the popular and favorites to any pithe -lovers. I will use the simplest way of making Patisapta. Hope you would like it. 

Recipe of Malai Patisapta ( Indian Crêpes with Sweet Coconut Filling ) : for 15 pieces 

Ingredients :

For Crêpes

All purpose flour ( Moida ) : 2 cups 
Sooji ( semolina ) : 1 cup 
Sugar : 3 to 4 tablespoons 
Milk : 3 cups ( approximately )
Oil or Ghee : 2-3 tablespoons 

For filling

Shredded Coconut : 2 cups 
Khoya / Milk solids : 1 cup 
Sugar : 1 cup or to taste 
Crushed green Cardamoms : 1/2 teaspoon 

For Malai 

Whole milk : 1/2 liter 
Sweetened Condensed Milk : 1/2 can 

Method :

First Step : Make the Malai 

1. Take the whole milk in a pan and boil it over low flame until the quantity reduce to one third. 

2. Add the condensed milk to the thickened milk and mix it well. Turn off the heat and set it aside. 

Second Step : Make the coconut filling 

1. In an another pan, add grated coconut and sugar and let it cook over medium heat for around 5 minutes. 

2. Add the milk solids and stir to mix it nicely. Add the crushed cardamom and mix it again. Filling is ready. Keep it aside. 

Final Step : Make the Patishapta 

1. Soak the semolina in the milk and set aside for half an hour. 

2. Once semolina is soft and mushy add all purpose flour and sugar. Mix it nicely until incorporated. The consistency of the mixture should be thin. You can add more milk or more flour to get the right consistency. 

3. Take a non-stick pan, heat it up, grease it with a little bit of oil or using non-stick cooking spray. Lower the flame and pour a thin layer of the mixture on it  (approximately 1/4 cup). Spread it quickly with the ladle and now keep the flame medium high. Once the crêpe is set, put the filling lengthwise at the center of it and fold it from both sides. 

4. Put one teaspoon oil or ghee by the side and cook it until both side get light brown color. 

5. Transfer it on the serving plate, pour some malai over it just before serving. Serve hot or cold. Serving with malai is completely optional, it is delicious both way, with or without malai. 

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Kolkata Style Christmas Fruitcake

I know it’s not a good time to post the recipe of a Christmas Cake in the month of January. I didn’t have a plan either, but last month when I posted some snaps of this cake on my Facebook profile, some of my friends requested to post the recipe. Couldn’t ignore them and so started writing even though it’s bit late. Hope you will enjoy.

Calcutta may now be known as Kolkata, but the heart of this city still celebrates the cosmopolitan culture and festivals of all religions. Because of the colonial influence and presence of significant Anglo-Indian population, Christmas has become one of major festivals in the city of joy. People from different faiths and ethnicities join together to celebrate Christmas in Kolkata. The places like Park Street, Bow Barrack and New Market are adorned with lights, trees and Sliver bells. In every house, ladies will try to prepare traditional Christmas cakes in varied flavors of plum, walnut, madeira and fruit. In our childhood days we used to buy these special fruitcakes from our favorite shops. This year I wanted to recreate the same taste, rich, moist, bursting with flavors at each bite. Since the rich fruit cake, in particular, remains synonymous with Kolkata’s Christmas celebrations, I named this recipe Kolkata style Fruit Cake.

Every year, I try one after another recipe to recreate Christmas Cakes and posted several of them in last two years. Though we get hundreds different types of Cakes in USA, we still miss the Kolkata Style Fruit Cake here. So this year I have been in search of a perfect Fruit Cake, that has to be just like the same one we used to have back home during this Christmas time. Let’s come to the recipe.

Kolkata Style Christmas Fruit Cake 

Ingredients :

Unsalted butter : 1 stick and 1/2 stick, at room temperature 
Brown Sugar : 1 cup and 1/2 cup 
Eggs : 3
Milk: 1/4 cup

vanilla extract : 1 teaspoon 

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

Dried Cranberries : 1 cup
Black Raisins : 1 cup 
Tutti Fruity : 1 cup 
Rum : 1/4 cup ( optional )

Method :

1. Take cranberries, tutti fruity and raisins in a bowl and add Rum to it. Cover and let it soak for overnight. Give stirs a few time. 

2. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F / 180 degrees C. Grease a round pan. 

3. Take the flour, baking powder and salt in a bowl and mix it. 

4. Take a mixing bowl, add butter and the sugar and beat it until it becomes fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time and beat again. Add milk and mix it. Add vanilla extract to the mixture and stir to mix. 

5. Gradually add the flour mixture and beat until incorporated. 

6. Add the fruits and gently fold in. 

7. Pour the batter evenly into the prepared pan. Bake for around 50 to 60 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean. 

8. Remove the cake from oven and let it cool down on a wire rack. once it at room temperature remove it from the pan and dust with powdered sugar.