Tuesday, October 06, 2009

Chillie Coriander Pasta

Ocassionally, I do get it right!

I cook up a quick salad for my brown bag lunch (actually white plastic container in a white plastic packet lunch). While I have been eating really healthy (and keeping trim), the food is really bland. Not bad...just bland. At work, all of us eat together in a long room. And while everyone readily dig into the assorted fruits I bring, salad is left for me, untouched. Mostly.

Today, was different. However, most of my colleagues just happened to be out. Only four of us at lunch, two of whom are vegetarian and the salad I made had chicken. So, here it is, if not interesting enough for anyone else, then, atleast for me...to remember the recipe.

You will need:
Canelloni pasta: a handful really, 15-20 if you want to be picky. Any pasta would do, I presume
Boiled shredded chicken: a small cupful
Garlic: 1/2 tsp diced
Dried red chillie: 1
Coriander: 1/4 cup
Salt, freshly ground pepper
Oil: 1 tbsp

How to:

  1. Cook the pasta as per the instructions on the packet. Drain, keep 2-3 tbsp of the water in which the pasta was cooked in.
  2. Heat the oil in a pan.
  3. Add the diced garlic and red chillie julienned. You can de-seed and put the chillie if you can't stomach hot. I just love the smell of chillie cooking...although we - Ma, R & I were all coughing and gasping from the fiery fumes!
  4. Add the chicken and stir.
  5. Add the drained pasta.
  6. Add 2-3 tbsp of the reserved liquid
  7. Add the coriander
  8. Season with salt and pepper.
  9. Stir to mix-well and remove!

Viola! Done.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Brinjal fried in eggy batter

I am awfully allergic to eggs. It runs in the family (of all the things I could have inherited...). And it is agony for me at lunch time when nearly everyone bring egg in one form or the other. Sigh! I can only gaze in envy and dismay. And here I have to mention that dimer dalna - bengali egg curry is one of the things I can make well.

Today was no exception - two boiled eggs, one omlette, one egg roll, one egg chowmein and on top of it all, J - the VSO volunteer joined us for lunch and this is what she brought:-

Talang Tortang (I hope I got that right) - Brinjal fried in eggy batter.
  1. You will need:

    Eggplant 1
    Egg 1
    Oil 2-3 tbsp
    Salt to taste
    Soy sauce

How to:

  1. Wash and pat the eggplant dry. Prick it with a fork.
  2. Roast it whole over a naked flame (like for baigan ka bharta).
  3. Let it cool, remove the peels - which should have turned flaky by now. Keep the tail on.
  4. Flatten it by pressing gently.
  5. Beat the egg. Add a little salt.
  6. Heat oil in a flat pan.
  7. Dip the flattened, roasted eggplant in the beaten egg and fry for about a minute.
  8. Remove and eat with steamed rice.

J said that it tastes really well with soy sauce sprinkled on it just before eating but she found the local soy sauces sweet - I assured her that salty soy sauce is available and I have no doubts that she will soon locate one. Afterall, three days after she joined (first time in Calcutta, ever), she attended our NGO's 20th anniversary in saree having found a boutique which stitched her choli overnight and 4 months later she had found herself a music teacher and has already learnt three rabindra sangeet and which she sings very tunefully, albeit with a sweet accent! She also cooks well.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Jackfruit curry

Lunch at Suruchi. Doesn't quite have the same zing as 'Breakfast at Tiffany's" - however that was one session of gluttony (on my part).

After 8 long years I went to Suruchi yesterday for lunch. An air con has been added, some attempts at beautifying, thankfully more or less unchanged. .The ocassion was to introduce two visitors from UK to Bengali food. One of them stuck to vegetarian and the other tried bits of non-veg items from us. I sat in a corner and ate. And how. Rice, musoor dal, aloo bhaja, kanchkolar kofta curry, echor er dalna, bhetki fry, bhapa ilish, a bit of chingri, gokul pithey and ampora sarbat. This is what I ate. Regretfully, I had to turn down pabda, parshey, galda chingri and mangshor jhol that others had ordered. Afternoon at work was AGONY - felt comatose. Luckily recovered sufficiently to be able to have echor-er dalna for dinner at home! So here is the recipe for Jackfruit curry - Echorer dalna (the way its made at home, by K our cook):

You will need:

Jackfruit - 1/2 kilo
Onion - 1
Garlic - 3-4
Ginger - 1/2"
Tomato - 1-2
Potato - 1
Cooking Oil

For the Garam Masala
1 green ilaichi, 2 cloves, 1/2" cinamon stick in a mortar - Coarsely grind
1 bay leaf

How to:

Cut the jackfruit. I find it difficult so I ask the vendor. But if you do happen to be adventourous...remember to remove the bits which feel plasticky!

Cut it into small cubes. Wash and clean. Smear with a pinch of turmeric and 1/2 tsp of salt and cook in a pressure cooker with a little water for one whistle. Drain and set aside.

Heat 2 tbsp oil in a kadai. Add the sliced onions, ginger and garlic paste. Stir. Add the cubed potatoes and fry.

Add the tomatoes. Season with salt. Stir well.

Cook till the potatoes are half done.

Add the jackfruit. Add the ground garam masala and bay leaf, 1/2 tsp sugar. Adjust for salt. Add one glass of water, cover and cook on low flame for 20 minutes or till done.

Remove from fire and eat - with rice!

PS - This dish can be made without onions, garlic and ginger. If you want more curry, add more water, lesser for a thicker curry.

Thursday, May 07, 2009

J's Filipino shrimp vegetable stew

Ah the horrible weather. Can there be anything worse that this humidity? There is: A bad cold, runny nose, headache and humidity. Funny how both have been bogging me done for nearly two weeks and yet I haven't got used to them :-).

This afternoon, J, the VSO volunteer physiotherapist was eating what looked like a large bowl of soup with bread. She offered me some and I thought why not? I tasted a bit and the tangy soup was HEAVEN. Forgot my cold and the heat and humidity. I quickly looked around for a bowl, finding none, I grabbed a tea cup and a large spoon and took a proper helping (which J, bless her soul and her culinary skills, shared readily enough). "Liked it"? "Yes, Yes, yes...," I said. To which she replied - "Good. This means you can live in Phillipines happily". Very Very happily I thought. So in between the never ending job list, thursday staff meeting, she gave me the recipe and hurrah ... she gave me local substitutes, all available easily! We did have a small problem trying to figure out whether she used paalak or pui sag. Then she said - either would do...any green would do, I think. I have put in spinach because I thought it looked like spinach. The stew can be made without shrimps if you want something vegetarian. So here is J's Filipino shrimp vegetable stew.

You will need

Eggplant: 1 cubed
Lady's Finger: 4 cut into two
String Beans: 5-6 cut de-stringed and cut into two
Spinach leaves: 4-5 leaves shred coarsely
Onions: 2 quartered
Tomato: 3 quartered
Shrimps: Handful
or Shrimp flavoured cube: 1-2
Tamarind powder: 250gms
or Tamarind pulp: 1 lemon sized ball
Salt to taste
Water: 250 ml

How to

  1. Wash and cut all the vegetables and drain.
  2. Devein the shrimps, remove the shell and keep aside.
  3. Stir fry the shrimps lightly and reserve.
  4. Grind the shells in a mortar and soak in a little bit of warm water. Strain the shells through a seive. Remove the shells and reserve the water.
  5. You can omit step 3 & 4 if you manage to get hold of shrimp flavoured stock.
  6. Boil water in a pan.
  7. Add the quartered onions and tomatoes and cook over medium flame till the tomatoes become pulpy.
  8. Add the shrimps, vegetable and salt.
  9. When the vegetables are slightly cooked, add the tamarind powder or tararind water got from soaking a small ball of tamarind in hot water and strained.
  10. Cover and simmer till vegetables are cooked.
  11. Eat & Enjoy!
PS - Makes about 2-3 large soup bowls but depends upon who is doing the eating! It would be one helping for me!!

Sunday, April 19, 2009


Sunday. Ah! After a long work week, it is something I look forward to and my usual routine is to slum it out. Spending an heavenly hour or two at my local library or dropping in on any one of my two close friends. Today, I dropped in at M & S's. They had this long over due naming ceremony for their two kids yesterday. A lot of Biriyani was leftover. 'Do you want some'? M asked. No baba ... its too hot, I said (temperatures have been soarding to 40 degrees). I asked for something cold - water was all she had. Then she started putting in ingredients into a bowl while talking to me about this and that. Turned out, she had made "Ghol". Slight variation from ghol as we bengalis know which is a variation of or similar to the punjabi lassi.

Her ghol is a digestive, more than a summer cooler.

You will need:

Curd 250 gms
Mint (pudina) : 1 small bunch
1/2 tsp each of whole cumin, black pepper - roasted and ground
Juice of 1 whole lime
2-3 green chillies
A little water - 1 o 2 tbsp
Salt 1/4 tsp
Rock salt 1/4 tsp

How to:

1. Whisk the curd properly. Strain it through a strainer or muslin cloth.
2. Mix together in a grinder - the pudina leaves, the roasted ground cumin and black pepper, green chillies, salt and rock salt, lime juice with a little water.
3. Fill 1/4 of a glass with the whisked and strained curd.
4. Add 2-3 tbsp of the pudina paste
5. Stir well with a spoon.
6. Fill the glass with cold water.
7. Adjust seasoning.
8. Serve

Note: Make the ghol as thin or thick you want to. Skip the chillies if you want. And the lime can be skipped too if the curd is not too acidic. You can add dhania (coriander leaves) in place of mint. Or you can add both.

It was wonderful. Especially after a huge helping of biriyani (which I had earlier vehemently refused) when the temperatures have been soaring to 40 degrees!

Sunday, April 05, 2009

Raw Mango relish

It's been HOT and HUMID. Thus begins almost all of my posts on my other blog.

Enough about that....Tis the time of raw mangoes which then means lots of chutneys, pickles and relishes. The sweet irony of it all is that raw mangoes are sour (khatta). It takes a brave person or a toothless one to eat one. But its very sourness combined with loads of sugar and we have the most heavenly coolers.

Now a days my lunch box is accompanied by a miniscule steel container - filled to the brim with sweet relish made from raw mangoes. At work lunch begins by all of us passing our lunch box around at the start and when we have collected (from others) and given to all, begin eating. Quite often, the tiny box comes back to me - licked clean! I have been requested to look for a large tin - which my ma somehow always remember just as I step out of the house!!

So here it is - Raw mango relish - as K makes it.

You will need:

Raw mangoes: 4 (these are usually small)
Sugar: 3-4 tbsp (might be more)
Salt: 2-3 tsp
Water for steaming
Cumin: 2 tsp
Dried red chillie: 1-2

How to:
  1. Slice the raw mangoes into strips and de-stone (or pod or seed or whatever it is called). It doesn't matter how you cut the mangoes - basically into chunks. If the mango is very fresh then you can keep the peel - otherwise remove the peel before cutting the mangoes.
  2. Put the mango chunks in to a Kadai or pan. Add water - just enough to cover the mangoes.
  3. Steam on medium to low heat.
  4. Add sugar and the salt and mix well. Keep stirring to prevent it from sticking to the pan.
  5. Slowly the water will evaporate and the mangoes will become pulpy.
  6. In the meanwhile, dry roast the cumin powder and the dried red chillie for 30 secs or so on a hot pan / tawa.
  7. Remove and crush / grind and add to the pulp in the kadai.
  8. Adjust salt - sugar according to taste and remove from fire.
  9. Cool and refrigerate.
  10. The whole thing should not take more than 30 minutes (lesser actually for those who are not all thumbs like me)!

And guess what - not only is it finger licking good (the only decent way to eat aachar's and chutneys) - it also keeps well for nearly 2-3 weeks (or till it finishes - whichever happenes to be earlier)!

I am not a paratha person at all - but this tastes REALLY good with parathas.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

A long while

Quite a while since I have last posted here and yet when I check my blogs' traffic, I am amazed to see the number of visitors to Timid Cook and yet I have been updating my other blog, now renamed to Notes from wherever I happen to be, more regularly. I thought I wrote better than I cook. Ah well, I live and learn.

In the meanwhile, I have been staying at chez parents where our excellent but tempermental cook K has been serving me all sorts of wonderful meals and generally doesn't like anyone entering her domain - the kitchen. Ergo, the kilos have piled on and my cooking has dwindled to the ocassional breakfast.

But soon, I plan to start posting K's goodies. And good they are.

Till then, "how to cook dal" and "how to make tomato chutney" and "how to cook koi mach" continues to rule the roost at Timid Cook.