Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Aam Paana

I am EXCITED. I tried something new. And it turned out FINE.

I was out buying veggies on Sunday when on an impluse, I picked up two Green mangoes. Unripe that is. Rushed back home and rang my faithful R. I had a pencil and paper at hand. "Tell me how to make Aam pana".

She gave me the recipe in her style (which means some one who is not a timid cook and would immediately know all proportions and finer details). I had to ask her to repeat with exact measurements. That meant tsp, tbsp, minutes etc. I varied it a bit. Egad. If she reads this post, she might say, "That is not my Aam pana". In any case, it tasted really nice. Not at first though. It was yummy after I chilled it. Try it, its easy enough.

You will need:

(I used only two small mangoes. If you use more, you will, hopefully be able to increase other ingredients appropriately. I will, stick to two mangoes till I am perfectly sure about it)!
Green (unripe) mangoes 2
Cumin seeds 2 tbsp
Mint leaves 1 small bunch
Rock Salt 1 heaped tsp
Salt 1/4 tsp
Sugar 2-3 tbsp (you can can vary this. I used about 1 & 1/2 since A is not allowed sugar).

How to
1. Wash the mangoes well. Really scrub the skin.
2. Use a knife or a fork and slash / prick holes on to the skin of the mangoes.
3. Boil them in a pan with a little salt (about 1 tsp).
4. Plunge them in cold water to cool them and then peel them.
(This is a very messy process. But I guess practice makes perfect).
5. Dry roast the cumin seeds on a "tawa" or any pan (actually).
6. Coarsely grind them.
7. Mix the ground cumin seeds, rock salt, mint leaves, sugar, salt in a mixer / blender (I really don't know the difference between the two).
8. In a frying pan, add a tsp of oil.
9. Sprinkle some cumin seeds (about a pinch really), one red chillie (I used red chillie flakes), and then added the blended pulp.
10. Add about 2 cups of water (250 ml).
11. Cover and simmer for 10 minutes.
12. Adjust seasoning. Here you can make it more tangy, salty or sweet, according to your taste.
13. Strain (I did) all the pulp away and chilled the juice.
14. Actually, I put it in the freezer (don't quite know why) and had to thaw it (which i did by just letting it sit on the kitchen counter. Its really hot here, right now). But when it unfroze, it tasted really, really yum.

Usually, Aam pana is served as an apertif. But last night, we had it as Digestif and loved it.

The portions were really small: Half a glass each.

Saturday, April 22, 2006

2 recipes for Chocolate Mousse

Menu I never cooked

One Saturday last winter, A sprang a surprise on me by inviting a couple I had not yet met. Naturally, the first thing I did was to PANIC. And at once, shot off an email to R.

Me: Din-Din scheduled for Friday so hurry up with your suggested menu. OK???
R: Have loads of errands, studies and am again going early for practice session-will try to squeeze in a few doable recipes by your standards.

She had by next Friday, emailed me several easy (do-able by my standard recipes). And I knew she was terribly busy. And sadly, the dinner got cancelled and I never really had the chance to try out any of them. But perhaps, you can. Here they are bit by bit.

Recipe # 1
Eggless Chocolate Recipes

What you will need:
Milk 2 cups
Sugar 5tbsp
Gelatin 2tsp
Cornflour 1tbsp
Cocoa powder 3tbsp
Plain chocolate 40 gm(1 slab)
Coffee Powder 3/4 tsp
Vanilla Essence 1/2 tsp
Cream whipped till fluffy 3/4 cups(150gm)

How to:
1. Mix cocoa and cornflour in 1/4 cup milk in a small bowl.
2. Boil the rest of the milk with sugar in a heavy bottomed pan.
3. Add cocoa and cornflour paste to the boiling milk stirring continuously.
4. Add chocolate broken into pieces.
5. Cook on low heat for 3-4 minutes till chocolate dissolves.
6. Add coffee and remove from fire.
7. Put 1/4 cup water in a small pan.
8. Add gelatin(unflavoured),dissolve on low heat.
9. Mix gelatin solution with chocolate custard.
10. Chill in the freezer till a little thick but not set.
11. Beat this thickened chocolate custard.
12. Beat cream and essence till slightly thick and fluffy.
13. Add whipped cream to the chocolate mixture. Mix gently.
14. Transfer to a serving dish or pour in individual mould or glasses.
15. Refrigerate till set.
16. Decorate with whipped cream or add one dollop or spoonfull of cream on top if you don’t know decorating.

R: Its easy -try it-wont go wrong if you don’t mess up badly.
Me: Baby, is this easy?? Gelatin? Where do I get that frm?? I Meant easy by my standards, not yours. Give me vanilla icecream + fruits + something stuff. Also give me your easiest coffee (parina) recipe.

Reply : sent you some more recipes and don’t know why it didn’t reach you-am a bit busy-am trying to send-takes time to type out the recipes.

Recipe # 2
Quick and easy by baby standard chocolate mousse

What you will need
Dark chocolate 300 gms
Butter 2 tbsp
Fresh double cream 6 cups
Castor sugar 1/2 cup

How to
1. Break chocolate into small pieces ,transfer into a bowl and add butter.
2. To melt this mixture put some water in a bigger vessel and place bowl with chocolate in it and cook till it is smooth and even.
3. Remove from heat and allow it to cool.
4. Mix half of the cream into it.
5. Stiffly beat the remaining cream with sugar, fold this into the chocolate mixture and refrigerate for 30-40 min.
6. Take a piping bag with large star nozzle and pipe this chilled mousse into individual glass and refrigerate. You can also pour it instead of piping.
7. Serve chilled
R: Do this a day before your guests come- all sweetdishes are best done ahead.

To continue....

Saturday, April 15, 2006

2 Recipes for the New Year!

Today is Poila Boishak. Or the first day of the Boishak month which marks the Bengali new year. And so, can food be far behind? So here are not one, but two recipes -- both courtesy R. A mutton dish from Lucknow (or so the name suggests) and then for the sweetdish - Malpua. Both are not R's own. Definitely not the Malpua which happens to be a great favorite not only in Bengal but elsewhere in India as well.

Enjoy!! Have a great year ahead.

Lucknavi Ghosht kaa achar
(Loosely translated it means Mutton Pickle from Lucknow...although its not a pickle).

You will need:
Mutton Half kilo
Ginger garlic paste 1 tbsp
Red chilli powder 1 tsp
Turmeric 1 tsp
Dried red chillies 2-3
Khaskhas (Poppy seeds) 1 tbsp
Cloves 4-5
Cardamom 3
Aniseed(saunf) 1 tsp
Cinnamon 1 stick
Sesame seeds 1 tsp
Corainder seeds 1 tsp
Sugar 1 tsp
Salt to taste

How to:
1. Marinate the mutton in ginger garlic paste,salt and sugar for
an hour.
2. Dry roast the poppy seeds,cloves,cardamom,aniseeds and cinnamon.
3. Grind these to a paste.
4. Heat oil in a pressure cooker. Add the whole red chilli.
5. Add the meat and the ground spices,turmeric powder,red chilli
6. Pressure cook the meat in 1 cup of water(for about 6-7
7. Open the lid of the pressure cooker and simmer till liquid
evaporates and dish is dry.
8. Keep stirring to prevent from burning.
8. Sprinkle with sesame seeds and whole corainder seeds.
9. Serve hot with parathas or rotis.


You will need:
Milk 1 1/2 litres or 7 cups
Khoya or Mawa grated 50 gms
Green cardamoms 3
Refined flour 3 tbsp
Ghee to deep fry or white oil will do
For sugar syrup
Sugar 2cups
Natural yellow colour (optional) 1/4 tsp
For garnish
Pistachios 15-20
Saffron a few strands

How to:
1. Boil milk in a thick heavy bottomed pan, reduce heat and simmer
till it is reduced and reaches a coating consistency.
2. Add grated khoya and mix well.
3. Allow it to cool to room temperature.
4. Reserve 2 tbsp of sugar and form sugar syrup with the rest of
the sugar and two cups of water.
5. Dissolve saffron in 2tbsp of hot milk.Add it to the sugar
syrup. Chop pistachios finely.
6. Add refined flour and reserved sugar to the reduced milk. Mix
well and make a batter of pouring consistency using a little
milk if required.
7. Heat sufficient ghee in a wide mouthed flat bottomed kadai.Pour
a ladleful of batter to form a small pancake.
8. Cook on low to medium heat.
9. Turn it over when it starts to change colour slightly. When
both sides are done, drain and immerse in sugar syrup.
10.Sprinkle chopped pistachios and remaining saffron on malpuas.
11. Reapeat till all the batter is used up.
12. Serve hot.

Bon Appetit!

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Aunty's Cauliflower Recipe

(I can't think of any other name)

Soon after we had moved into our own place in Calcutta, our neighbours came over and brought with them a plate of this wonderful dish. All of us relished it and R, went over and got the recipe from the lady next door and so happily, not only did we only got to taste it from time to time, the "lady" next door became our dear aunty. So here goes:

You will need:
1 large cauliflower
1 tsp ginger paste
4 tsp garlic paste
3 medium onion
4 tbsp white vinegar **
2 tsp sugar
salt to taste
2-3 green chillie paste
3 tbsp oil
1&1/2 cup water

How to:

1. Cut the cauliflower into biggish florets.
2. Pierce the thick stem portion to facilitate easy seepage.
3. Place in a bowl, the ginger, garlic, onion juice (reserve the pulp), sugar, salt to taste, and vinegar. Marinade the cauliflower florets for 1 to 1&1/2 hours.
4. Turn the florets from time to time so that they soak up the marinade evenly.
5. Heat 2-3 tbsp oil in a wok or kadai.
6. Add the reserved onion pulp and fry till light brown.
7. Add the cauliflower and not the marinade and fry for 6-7 minutes.
8. Take a pressure pan or cooker, add 1 and half cups water, cauliflower, the marinade and cook till done. 1 whistle should do-if not two whistles.

Bon Appetit!

** (In my blissful ignorance before my entry into cooking, vinegar to me meant - white or red. Simple. This basic simplicity turned my first shopping venture into a nightmare. At the supermarche - I was faced with rows and rows of vinegars in all sorts of colour and ingredients. God. What do I do??? Give me my simple white or red vinegar back and now). I am wiser now. But since this recipe has been provided by R and she has not mentioned the exact type of vinegar, I am putting it down the way she has and yet I hesitate).

Saturday, April 08, 2006

Quick Rice Pakodas

Work has been punishing. And not only has my blogging suffered, but everything around me. Its like I live at office and go home for a few hours. Well, here is a recipe thats just the thing for a hurried and harried schedule. One of R's. And what's more she says, it make a perfect quick and tasty snack when guests arrive and you are not prepared. Quick Rice Pakoda! And since I swear by her culinary skills, sense and advice, she mut be correct!

You will need:
4 tbsp cooked rice (leftover would do)
1 large onion finely chopped
3 green chillies finely chopped (optional)
1 small bunch coriander leaves finely chopped
1 egg
oil for deep frying
salt to taste

How to:
1. Mash the rice and mix it with the other ingredients.
2. Shape into oblong balls and deep fry till light brown.
3. Serve hot with tomato ketchup (or any other chutney or sauce of your preference).
4. Viola!