Sunday, 25 April 2010

Mushur Daal

The eternal Bengali staple, cooked the way we have it at home practically everyday.

Split red lentils (masoor/mushur).
Sunflower/canola oil OR ghee.
pNaanch foron (seasoning).
Salt, sugar.

NOTE: pNaanch foron is made up of --> methi seeds+kalo jeera (kalonji)+mouri (fennel seeds)+radhuni (wild celery seeds) OR shada (whole regular) jeera+something else that escapes me at the moment (but is probably mustard seeds).

Boil the daal, with a touch of salt, till it's soft and mushy and each lentil stops holding shape well. You should begin with the water an inch above the daal and drain any excess water in the end. Mash the daal further with a spatula.

Now heat a tablespoon of ghee or oil in a pan/wok. When the ghee/oil heats, lower the flame completely and add the seasoning. If you've overheated the oil (if it's smoking even slightly) then the seasoning will burn, so turn off the flame and let it cool for a minute. Fry the seasoning for a minute (or till you can smell it frying and see it chaning colour) and then add the mushy daal. Fry well on a low flame for a couple of minutes (adding a little oil or ghee if necessary). Add water in a 2:1 ratio to daal and stir gentle but thoroughly till the daal is now a thick liquidy mixture. Add a tiny bit of turmeric and stir it in. Add half a spoon of sugar and a pinch of salt and mix that in. Let it come to a boil, boil for a minute, and then slow cook for five minutes. Eat with white rice and a lovely vegetable curry OR deep-fried vegetables.

Pasta in Prawn-Tomato Sauce

This recipe comes about because I don't like meatballs in my pasta sauce. On the other hand, I love prawns. The meatball thing is odd, when you consider how much I like tikkas in gravy, because "meatballs in sauce" is essentially what they are, but there you are. Perhaps I'm so used to meatballesque things being in spicy, hot, rich, greasy gravies that I cannot stomach them in sweet, tangy, tomatoey sauce. Oh well.

White RAW prawns--about two per head.
Red onions--chopped as shown.
Green chillies--ditto.
Crushed tomatoes--abt. half a tin.
Dash of: oregano, basil, dill leaves.
Salt, sugar, pepper.
Pasta--prepped according to instructions.

NOTE: Use uncooked, raw prawns/shrimp if you want this recipe to work. I cannot stand frozen 'cooked' prawns, and cannot understand people who do. "Cocktail shrimp", my foot. Why anyone would think serving shop-bought, steamed, flavourless shrimp with cocktails is better than golden-fried or batter-fried or breaded-and-baked prawns, I will never understand.

This recipe is so simple one can cook simply by looking at the pictures. It comes in two parts, one in which I make a more or less traditional sauce to pour over pasta, and another in which I toss the pasta in with the sauce over a flame. I prefer the second way, but the partner prefers the first, so here are both picture-sequences.

Intervention #1: there is crushed, frying garlic under all that onion. I forgot to take a picture of it.

Intervention #2: this is the point in which the oregano, basil and dill leaves get added and tossed about for a minute or two.

And this is doing it my way, or a way to use up the extra sauce that inevitably gets left behind after a pasta meal.

Saturday, 24 April 2010

The 'Indian' Omlette

Upbringing speaks. For instance, I can never stomach the omlettes made by the sweetheart, even when he makes puppy eyes and promises to add extra love. It's sweet, and makes him extra endearing, but his medium-rare omelette (as it were) no more palatable. I was brought up to eat my eggs well-cooked, and with different kinds of stuff in them. So, here's my recipe for the regular omlettes made in most non-vegetarian Indian homes, preceded by his, which is an instant hit with everyone but me :-(

First, his is high on proteins, carbs, and even just in the number of ingredients. He uses:
Two eggs, at least.
Cheddar or processed cheese, cut in slices.
Ham ends, cut or torn in shreds.
Leftover deli meats, diced.
Tomatoes, diced.
Parsley, chopped.
Scallions, chopped.
Onions (optional)
Milk (optional)
Oregano, a dash.
Salt, pepper.
Ground mozarella.
Bacon fat or oil.

His way is to beat the two eggs thoroughly with salt, pepper, and a handful of chopped parsley (and with milk, if using). When they're a nice, yellow, slightly frothy mixture, he heats oil in a pan/skillet, and when the oil is hot, pours the eggs on it and tilts the pan so the egg spreads all over it in a nice circle. Now, down the middle, he arranges the meat, tomatoes, cheese and chopped onions. The oregano is sprinkled on the top. He let's it cook for a while, while he washes up the whisking bowl and sets places at the table. Then he sprinkles the mozarella in a swirl over the omeletter and folds it into half, spreading out the little heap of goodies and sealing it in between two layers of egg. He let's the side on the pan's surface cook for half a minute, then flips and let's the other side cook till the minute is over. Then he gobbles it up.

My Way:

I use: one egg per person. Red onion, chopped. Green chillies, chopped. Salt, pepper. Butter or sunflower oil.

I beat an egg with a pinch of salt. When the egg is fluffy, I add chopped red onions and green chillies (without the seeds, because omlettes are no fun super hot) and whisk some more. I heat some oil or butter (about a tablespoon) in a skillet or frying pan. When a drop of egg sizzles, I pour the whole batter and spread it out. It makes a much smaller circle, lacking the body provided by an extra egg and milk. I let it cook for while, then I fold it in half (sometimes I'll put slices of cheese and maybe some diced tomatoes before folding, but not often). I cook both sides till a fork speared into the omlette comes out clean, and the egg is not soft and cuddly, but firm and brownish-golden. I eat it with a piece of hot buttered toast.

Friday, 16 April 2010

Aloo Posto (Potatoes in Poppy Seed Paste)

Finally, the Bengali classic! Potatoes cooked in white poppy-seed paste.

White poppy seeds.
Green chillies.
Whole white cumin.
Salt, sugar.
Mustard oil.

Isn't it amazing how few things one needs for this one?

Cut potatoes as shown, rub with teensy bit of turmeric and some white salt. Shallow fry till nicely [golden]-browned. Keep aside.

Paste the white poppy and green chillies with a dash of sugar and salt. They're notoriously difficult to paste in food processors OR mortar-pestle, but try. I did.
NOTE: This paste, if in fact pasted (the Bengali sheel-nora: invaluable), is delicious with white rice and mustard oil. Doesn't need to be cooked further.

Heat mustard oil till it loses it's brown colour. Lower the flame and add whole cumin seeds and a bay leaf. When it smells of fried cumin, add the poppy seed paste. Stir till it turns a lovely rich brown.

Add the potatoes. Mix them in well. Add water and mix thoroughly. Cover and cook on low for about ten to twelve minutes. Taste for salt and sugar levels and add if required. If the curry is drying out, add more water and boil without a cover. Take off flames when desired thickness is reached. Serve with white rice.

15 Minute "Indian" Stir-Fry

It's delicious and "very Indian", I'm told, AND it's dead simple to make.

Meat--cut into thin or small pieces so they can cook quickly.
Prawns, shelled and tailed.
Red onions--chopped.
Green chillies--chopped.
Potatoes--sliced like meat.
Garam masala powder (cloves, cardamom, cinnamon at least, fresh-ground).
Red chillie powder OR chopped dry red chillies.
Coriander and cumin powder--2:1.
Pinch of turmeric.
Salt, sugar.
Whole milk (I used coconut milk).

Heat oil in a wok. Toss in the potatoes and keep tossing them gently till they're more or less evenly browned. When they are, add the onions and keep folding in till they start smelling fried and sweet. When they change colour, add green chillies and give a couple of stires before adding the prawns or the meat. Stir well, about one minute on low flame for the shrimp and three to five on high for the meat. Add tomatoes and stir, strong-wristed, so the tomatoes will disintegrate. Add coriander, cumin, red chillie powder/paste, salt. Mix well. Add half a cup of milk and stir in. Add a cup of water. Taste sweetness and add a dash of sugar if required (and salt). Cover and cook till potatoes are soft and the gravy reduces to a desired thickness. Tomatoes can be added at this point if you want a more tangy gravy. Springle garam masala powder on top. Serve with white rice or roti/naan/poori/fulka.