November 23, 2015

Lau diye machher matha (Fish head with Bottle gourd)

I was a fussy eater and completely made my mother's life miserable with my crabby food habit. Every day I would want some tasty and new dishes (Read -the options were though very less). Most of the healthy fortified foods were exscinded from my comestible list. But there were two fixings that my mother used to apply as her weapons to tame down my choices. Those were coconut and fish head. I used to eat anything that was cooked with coconut or fish head. So my mum used to feed me green leafy vegetables, Bottle gourd, pumpkin or mixed vegetables cooked with fish head. Or papaya, raw banana, ladies finger etc cooked with coconut. Thinking of - my mum is a magician who can make any dish sumptuous, I didn't realise then that these were the common Bengali household recipes. You must have understood that I used to dislike all the above-mentioned vegetables. But the fish head or the coconut used to work as the catalyst for me to make the dish edible and of course, tasty to me. In this respect, my daughter is showing some of the reflections of her mother. Though I must appreciate, she is much better than me as she hardly makes her mama's life miserable. But she does have some restricted food habits hidden in her mind too.
                           After becoming a mother and a Food Blogger, my mindset towards food got changed. The anxious mum started to understand the value of healthy food in our life and the curious and creative soul started experimenting different dishes from different cuisines. My sole concentration turned to provide the proper diet that should supply soundly nourishment to my girls. I often travel back to the memory line and envision the stubborn little girl throwing tantrums to the food was served to her and the mother trying her best to plead her. I feel sorry at times realising the trouble I caused to my mother. It was so well said that ' food escorts us back in time and shapes our memory'. With this Lau diye machher matha I had a fond memory attached to it. This  is one such dish that my mother used to cook for me and I happily used to devour it without any second thought. Same as for my daughter she likes it very much and every time demands to make it often. Maturity making me inclined more towards cooking Bengali dishes, and to experience the root more significantly. I realised that food typifies everything that is different about another culture and gives the most authentic insight into how people live. Ask a Fish lover Bengali like us who will answer back that except scales and the bones we eat almost the whole fish. Now let us move to the dish and enjoy:
Ingredients:
Lau or Bottle gourd - 1 medium size
Fish Head - 1 big ( Rohu or Katla) {See note 1}
Ginger paste - 1 tspn
Tomato - 1 small
Fenugreek Seed - 1/2 tspn
Turmeric Powder - 1/2tspn + 1/2 tspn
Cumin Powder - 1/2 tspn
Coriander Powder - 1/2 tspn
Red Chilli Powder - As per taste
Mustard Oil - 2 tbspn + whatever needed
Green Chilli as per taste
Ghee - few drops
Salt & Sugar As per taste
Method:
1. Skin the Bottle gourd. Roughly chop the Lau or Bottle gourd into small pieces. Keep aside.
2. Add 1/2 tspn Turmeric powder and salt to taste to the fish head. Rub thoroughly.
3. Heat 2 tbspn oil in  a Kadai or deep dense pan. Add the fish head and fry both sides till it turns brown. Take out from the fish head from the Kadai leaving behind the excess oil.
4. Now if you have enough oil (approx 1 tbspn) then no need to add more oil. If required then please add more. Heat the oil and then add the fenugreek seeds.
5. Soon after add the chopped lau and cook for 5 minutes on high flame. Add chopped tomato. Cover it up and cook for 5 to 6 minutes on high flame.
6. The bottle gourd tends to leave a lot of juice (See Note). Take the lid off. Add all the other spices (Not the green chillies and ghee) including  the fish head. Mix nicely and keep on cooking until the juice gets completely evaporated. Keep on stirring in intervals breaking the fish head into as many small pieces as you can with the ladle.
7. The dish will look done when the lau or the Bottle gourd is soft and tender, the juice is totally dried up and the dish is coming out clean from the Kadai. Add ghee and green chillies and serve hot with rice.
Note:
1. When you wil buy the fish head, tell the seller to cut in to small pieces. It will be easier for you to cook. 
2. The bottle gourd tends to leave a lot of juice. So always be cautious not to turn the dish soggy. Keep on controlling the levels of the flame.

November 9, 2015

Shim Bata or Runner beans Paste

Life is getting too busy with the two princesses day by day. The elder one can't lift her head from the extended study pressure and the lil one is totally depended on me which makes me dance around her most of the time. To be honest, life has taken a different turn which is sweeter than anything. The two bundles of joy keep away the glumness from the home and give us the strength to move on with a fighting spirit. This year has shown us lot of ups and downs in our life. Here is hoping the new year will begin on a sweeter note. 
Let me wish you all Happy Dipabali and move on the recipe.. May the festive season brings you happiness and prosperity.
Ingredients:
Shim or Runner Beans - 100 gm (Preferably the baby ones)
Coriander leaves- 100 gm
Garlic Cloves - 5- 6 (Optional)
Green Chilli - 1 -2
Oil - 2 tspn
Salt & Sugar - As per taste
Kalonji/ nigella seeds - 1/4 tspn
Ghee - a pinch
Method:
1. Grind the Shim/ Runner beans along with the green chilli and garlic into fine paste. If it needs water then please add.
2. Grind the coriander leaves separately into a fine paste.
3. Heat Oil in a Kadai or pan and add the Nigella seeds. Add the Shim Paste or the Runner Beans paste and keep on sauteing until it gets almost cooked. Add the Coriander leaves paste and salt and sugar and cook till it turns into a dough and comes out easily from the pan. add a pinch of ghee and serve with hot rice.
Note:
1. I have learnt this dish from my cook. What she has told that the quantity of the Shim/ runner beans and the Coriander leaves should be same. and it should be slow cooked and after getting totally dry the taste enhances.
2. Another thing she has told that choosing the right age Shim or Runner Beans are very important. As much baby beans we cook, the taste comes out better.