April 25, 2013

Mocha Chingri / Banana Blossom with Prawns

I never claim that I always cook the original dish rather my cooking style is always fusion oriented. Yes I love to experiment. I read a lot about food and how it was done. I talk about food with my mother, mother- in- law, friends, foodies et al. But when it comes to cook a dish in my kitchen, I cook it in my way according to my family's and my taste. And I always love to leave a sign of myself by giving a twist in that dish. And that becomes my signature special dish. Just Kidding. Like here the original Mocha Chingri is cooked with kucho chingri/Shrimps (as I heard from others), but here I used Bagda Chingri/Prawns. And it really comes out well. The part this dish I didn't like is the taste of the Mocha/Banana Blossom. I bought a peeled pack from the hyperlink market. But it was not that fresh and when it was cooked it took quite a long time to chew and munch and the jaws got strained. So remember to use a fresh one. Sometimes Mocha/Banana blossom tends to be found bitter too. So before buying one verify it. Now don't ask me how!!! I always go to the market and rely on the vendor like a blind one. Yea I know, I have a long way to go and to learn so many things.

If  you want to about the Nutritional value of Mocha/Banana Blossom, read here:

"Nutrition: Banana flowers, similarly to bananas are an excellent source of potassium, plus vitamin’s A, C and E. According to research at the Chinese Academy of Tropical Agricultural Sciences, which studied the flowers of musa paradisiaca, banana flowers have tremendous nutritional value, being a good source of fiber and protein. The flowers contain a class of phytochemicals known as saponins. Saponins lower LDL ,or bad cholesterol, boost our immunity against infection and are thought to inhibit the growth of cancer cells. They also have antioxidant activity and so can reduce our risk of chronic diseases including cardiovascular disease. Banana flowers are also an excellent source of flavonoids. These phytochemicals found in many plant based foods help prevent damage to DNA cells by neutralizing free radicals. They also help lower cholesterol, are anti-inflammatory, anticancer and anti-aging."

Ingredients:
Mocha (Banana Blossoms) - 1 Medium size/ 2cups (I used store bought ready to cook packet)
Bagda Chingri/Prawn- 11-12
Bayleaf - 1 medium
Whole Garam Masala- 1-2 (Cloves, Cardamom, Cinnamon)
Ginger  Paste- 1 tspn,
Cumin Powder - 1 tspn
Turmeric Powder - 1/4 + 1/2 tspn
Coriander Powder- 1tspn
Salt and Sugar as per taste...
Ghee - few drops
Oil - As per requirement

Method:
  1. If you are using the whole mocha/banana blossom them you have to remove the blossoms after peeling away the outer leaves and clean. Then you have to take out a stem inside and chop finely. (See HERE how to peel a banana blossom)
  2. Boil the chopped mocha for 15mnts adding little bit of salt and 1/4 tspn  turmeric powder.
  3. Strain the excess water and reserve.
  4. Heat 1/4 cup oil in a Kadai or in a pan. Fry the Prawns and keep it aside.
  5. Heat  oil (if you have some extra oil left from the prawns use that by adding little bit more if required) in the same Kadai/Pan.  Add bay leaf and the garam masala.
  6. Add the blossoms, mix well and fry for 2 minutes on medium heat.
  7. Add ginger paste, turmeric powder and the cumin powder (dissolved in very small amount of water). Fry for 2-3 minutes.
  8. Add the Prawns/chingri, salt, and sugar. Mix well and add in 1/4 cup of water. Simmer for 3-4 minutes until most water dried out.  Add few drops of ghee and serve hot with rice.

Note:

  1. The best is to use kucho chingri/shripms when you make Mocha chingri.
  2. Always use the fresh Mocha/ Banana Blossom, it tastes much better than the Peeled store bought packs and I am telling you from my experience.

April 16, 2013

Tomato Chicken

All over India the month Baishakh is celebrated by different names and cultural festivity.  Each festival is so vibrant in its own way and sharing each other's regional ethnic fete brings us more close to each other.  Mainly when you are very much active in to some social networking site, you cannot turn your face from the celebration stories from the different part of the world and mainly when the spread of scrumptious food is continuously getting updated on the wall. But where one part of the world was busy in rejoicing the merriment, the other part got victimized by some fanatic disaster. The blast in Boston just ended our New Year celebration in a sad tune.  Still I was not able to understand the advantage of taking so many innocent lives in the name of terrorism. The world is moving forward to create a flourishing civilization, on the other hand, a few rabid people making it worst by their lunatic apprehension of creating a different world.  When and how it will get stopped God knows. But I pray for the healthy and long living for each and everybody lives in this beautiful world.

Coming to the recipe. I always prefer to cook with very less oil. But this dish I cooked using a heavy amount of oil. This is totally optional using the amount of the oil you want to use. Excess oil enriches the taste for sure. I mainly loved the flavor of the star anise and curry leaves blended so well with the chicken and gave a pungent savour fluxed in the dish. If you prefer the tanginess then add more tomatoes as per you choice. I always prefer a medium tinge of tart so I used moderate amount of tomatoes. So now let’s move to the dish :


Ingredients:
Chicken: 400gm
Tomato- 3-4 big (Depends on the tangy taste how much you like)
Onion- 3 small
Garlic- 8-9 cloves whole
Ginger Paste- 1 tbspn
Turmeric Powder- 1 tspn
Cumin Powder- 1 tspn
Coriander Powder-  1 tspn
Red Chilli Powder- 1 tspn
Star Anise- 2-3 Flowers
Curry Leaves- Handful
White Oil- less than half cup (You can use much less oil too)
Salt- as per taste


Method:
1. Heat oil in a Kodai or a deep dense Pan. 

2. Add Star anise, curry leaves and Garlic cloves. When the garlic turns brown add the onion paste. 

3. Fry till it turns brown. Add chopped tomatoes and the ginger paste. 

4. Sauté till the tomatoes blend well with the onion, add the chicken, salt and all other Masalas. 

5. Cover and cook in slow flame till the chicken is well cooked. Serve hot with Rice/ Roti/ Pulao or Fried rice.

April 14, 2013

Apple Yoghurt

Wish you all my friends and Readers Shubho Nababarsho (Happy Bengali New year). This is for the first time I will be celebrating our Bengali new year in Kolkata. And the experience is different. Before I start the inquisitive experience of my Kolkata New year celebration let me first share few memories which I cherish most whenever the Nababarsho/ Bengali new year tunes in. I have already shared this experience before again I am sharing the same with you.
On this auspicious occasion of Bengali New year, I would like to share few of my childhood memories which are engraved in my heart so deeply that every year on this very day I feel profoundly nostalgic and sad to get those days back.

I always felt exceedingly blessed when I thought that I had completed my education from Visva-Bharati, Santiniketan, a place founded by Rabindranath Tagore. The natural beauty of the place infuses its elegance through the mode of education. The freedom of creativity and ideas always evince through the various festivals celebrated on the auspicious occasions of special calendar events. During my school days this Bengali New Year celebration used to start a week back. Those days are crystal clear to me. I can still visualise the little girl holding her mother’s or father’s hand heading towards the crafts shop to buy a bunch of white blank cards with full of excitement. The next few days passed within a fraction of moment with full concentration on filling the blank cards with all those imaginary creative mentation. In our school the best part of Naba Barsho (New Year in bengali) celebration is the exchange of these self-created cards. Each and every student used to create cards by his/her own hand and would gift it to his/her friends or would make friends by exchanging the cards. The new day becomes emblematic for inviting new friends, divulging one’s talent through the cards and a learning process of acculturation. Now coming at this age I realise the hidden truth of the festivity. But then that was only a satiated fun to amplify the friends’ group and also an exhibition of talents. Self-written short poems used to be scripted in the cards too.
Another fun of this day was to stand in a long queue in the scorching heat only to get a Kachori and two sweets. In our school premise this snack used to be distributed to the students on this day. These most common bites used to become too tasty and sumptuous only on this very day. Now I am never going to get back those days, the tastes. Only what I have the fragrance of the sweet retention and an urge to make alive few of those memories through my daughter. My father has few of those New Year cards made by my sister and me in his collection. Sometime I will surely share those with you all.
 (Published HERE before..)
This year in Kolkata, the experience is bit different. Here I find Nababarsho means the set of new clothes and the delectable spread of traditional Bengali delicacies. All the restaurants are vibrant with the colourful flyers of the alluring dishes they are going to offer on the very day of Naba Barsho. The shops are high on sales and people are taking the full advantage of it. Besides everything what I realise, is Bengali New Year’s main jubilation is rejoicing the food carnival. And being a boosted food blogger again, I am taking the full fun of it. Any ways let me now come to the recipe what I prepared to celebrate New Year at my home. Yoghurt again but this time it is APPLE YOGHURT. So here is the recipe:

Ingredients:
Apple- 1 large
Thick curd - 1 cup (I used Amul's Masti doi)
Condensed Milk - 1 tin (400g pack)

Method:
  1. Pre-heat the oven in to 140 degree C.
  2. Skin and seed the apple and grind it in to a smooth paste.
  3. Beat the curd in a smooth paste so that no lump can be seen.
  4. Add  the condensed milk and the apple paste and blend together nicely.
  5. Take ramekins or an oven proof pan. Pour the mixture in it and bake it for 25-35mnts.  Pls keep on checking pricking a toothpick until it comes out smooth.
  6. Take out from the oven and cool it. Then refrigerate for an hour and serve with garnished apple slices and cherries.

Note:
If you love the strong apple flavour then I would suggest you to add 2 apples instead of 1. Because after making this I had a very mild flavour of apple.

April 8, 2013

Bagda Chingrir Malaikary/ Malaykari

Do you know what the difference between Bagda Chingri and Galda Chingri is? If you are a Bengali you must be laughing at me. But to be frank I didn't know the difference until I hit the fish Market in Kolkata. Being a Bengali it must be an utter shame not knowing religiously about the fishes on which you live soulfully.  Before my marriage I was a meat lover and a choosy fish lover. But after getting married to Kolkata I was introduced to the wide range or variegated species of sweet water fish. I never knew that there was such a huge fish family exists with so many different names and tastes.  And when I moved to USA for 6 years I totally enjoyed the sea food. Starting from clams to scallop, squid to octopus, salmon to shark, shrimp to lobster whatever it is, I enjoyed exceedingly each and every bite of it. After coming back again to Kolkata I then come to know about the difference between the Bagda Chingri and the Galda Chingri.  I recognize and remember  in this way- The small headed prawns which are mostly know as Tiger Prawns are called Bagda Chingri in Bengal. And those with the big heads, famous as Scampi are called Galda Chingri in Bengal. Both are famous and both cannot be beaten in taste. But if you ask me I prefer the Bagda Chingri or the Tiger Prawns much. The big heads now don't enrich my taste buds much.

When it comes to Bengali cuisine, Chingri dishes are one of the indispensable parts of any ceremony or festive occasion. Bengalis are voracious Chingri/Prawn lovers and their kitchens are always ready to welcome Chingri at any time. Though many suffer from the Chingri/Prawns intake allergies, Chingri is still largely accepted to the crowd. Being one of the major Bengali delicacies Chingri Malaikari/Malaykari is most commonly cooked in the Bengali kitchens. But apart from Malaikari chingri , Bhapa Chingri, Dub Chingri, Shorshe Chingri, are very famous too. And Coconut or coconut milk pairs with Chingri most of the time in its exotic and delectable way.

What is the original recipe of cooking Chingri malaikari, it's hard to explain. Sometimes it's been seen the use of only coconut milk, not the use of grated coconut. Sometimes both are used. Sometimes the Mustard paste will be omitted. So there are many versions and variations on cooking a particular dish. I shared how I prefer to cook and how my family enjoys devouring it. I always prefer to cook which taste wise will be blissful. So here is the recipe of Bagda Chingrir Malaikari/Malaykari. 

Ingredients:
Badga Chingri/ Prawns: 12-13 medium size
Onion - 2 big sliced
Ginger paste-  1 table spoon
Tomato- 1 small
Yoghurt- 2 table spoons
**Mustered Paste- 2 table spoons (pls check the notes below {a})
Grated Coconut - 1/2 cup
**Coconut Milk- 1 cup (pls check the notes below {b})
Turmeric Powder- 1/2 + 1 tea spoon
Cumin Powder- 1 tea spoon
Coriander Powder- 1 tea spoon
Red chilli Powder- 1/2 tea spoon
Whole Garam Masala- 1-2 (Cloves, Cardamom, Cinnamon)
Salt and Sugar as per to taste.
Mustard Oil- 4 tbspn + 2 Tblspn (More or less)
**Water- 1/2 cup (pls check the notes below {c})
Ghee- 2-3 drops (optional)
Method:
1. Mix 1/2 tspn turmeric powder and 1/2 tspn salt with the Prawns.
2. If you are using readymade mustard powder then soak the powder for 10mnts in water and then add the yoghurt, mix it well and reserve. (Pls see the notes below how to make your own mustard paste).
3.  Heat 4tblspn oil and shallow fry the Prawns and reserve.
4. If you have enough oil then no need to add oil. But if you don't have then add 2 tblspn oil.  Add Garam Masala and then the sliced onion. Fry till the onions turn brown. Add tomato and ginger.
5. When the Tomato is well blended with onion add the grated coconut. Fry them for couple of minutes more and then add the mustard yoghurt paste. And all the powdered masalas. Sauté nicely until the whole gravy commingled well.
6. Add water (Pls see the notes below how to make mustard paste at home) and bring in to boil. Add the Prawns and cook more 5mnts more. Add salt and sugar. This dish tends to taste little bit sweetish. So when you will add sugar be generous but not that much enough to turn it in to a sweet dish.
7. Add the coconut milk (Pls see the notes below how to make  coconut milk at home) and cook on high flame until the gravy turns semi thick. Add ghee and serve with rice or pulao.

Notes:
{a} How to make homemade mustard paste: Soak the 3 table spoons of  mustard seeds for an hour. Add 1 tspn poppy seed and a green chilli then grind it to a fine paste.
 If you are using a coffee grinder then don’t soak the mustard seeds. Just grind along with all adding few drops of lemon juice.
{b} How to make home made coconut milk: If you want to make fresh coconut milk , then first grate the coconut. Grind it and strain as much as milk out from the coconut. Keep that milk aside. Now take warm water and slowly add in the coconut and again strain out as much as milk you can. Keep the both the milk separately.
{C} Important: Where I used water you will use the warm water mixed coconut milk. Other procedure will be same.

If you are not comfortable with the mustard paste and the grated coconut then don't use them. Still the dish will taste scrumptious.
If you are not using Mustard paste then don't use the yoghurt. Instead of using a small tomato use a medium sized one.