Friday, 30 July 2010

Prawns, The Bengali Way

Gordon Ramsay's Bengali Prawn Curry. One word: travesty. The thing sounds like a corss between chingrir malaicurry (prawn curried with thickened, creamy milk) and shorshe chingri, or mustard prawns, which is a baked dish, not curried in a wok. Honestly, who was he talking to? To remedy that, I present two extraordinarily simple Bengali prawn ['shrimp' to those from the brave new world :-] recipes. One, the baked mustard prawns with potatoes and thinly sliced pumpkin. Actually, this has been posted on the blog before, so go take a peek. Here's a preview:

The second recipe is the coconut/milk recipe. Malaicurry served on special occasions is a more elaborate recipe, and consequently a more delicious dish, but for dinner at home, this works wonderfully well:
Diced potatoes, sliced green chilies, minced peeled ginger and chopped onions + two plum tomatoes.
Ground cumin, coriander and garam masala separately.

How to:
Heat ghee/mustard oil in a wok. Rub the potatoes with turmeric and salt and fry them till brown. Keep aside. Heat a little more ghee/oil. Add the ginger when the oil/ghee is hot. Add onions when you can smell the ginger frying. When the onions begin to change colour, add the green chilies and half the chopped tomatoes, disintergrating the latter in the wok or pan and mixing them well with the frying onions. Add the shrimps. Back home we briefly fry the shrimps before adding them to the curry. This gives them a delicious fried taste but also hardens them a little.

When the shrimps start taking on a red tinge, add the browned potatoes. Mix half a teaspoon of cumin and coriander powder with a little water to make a paste. Add this to the wok and fold in well. Cook on high for a minute or two, stirring and mixing all ingredients well.

Add half a cup of coconut milk, turn the flame to low, and let the milk seep into everything else. If you see signs of charring, a little water can be added to the milk to help keep things unburnt.

Add the rest of the tomatoes. Attack the tomatoes again till they no longer hold shape. Sprinkling a little salt on them will help.

After a minute or so, add two cups of water and give the whole pan a good swirl or two so the water mixes well with everything, making a watery gravy. Add salt and sugar to your tastes. Cover and simmer for ten or fifteen minutes (or till the potatoes are thoroughly cooked). If the gravy is still too watery, boil off without the cover. Turn off heat and add half a teaspoon of garam masala, and fold it in well. Serve with white rice.

Wednesday, 28 July 2010


A cheese and tomito toasty:

Add bacon. Optional, of course. Add a few hand-torn pieces of lettuce. It doesn't make a pretty picture, but it makes for a tastier meal.

Layer with two slices (or three, or four =P) of ham/turkey/beef/salami/pepperoni on another piece of toasted bread.

Slather mayonnaise or butter on a third piece of toasted bread. Slap on the meat. Slam meat sandwich onto BLT. BLT club all a-ready!

Wednesday, 21 July 2010

Goat Curry

The more accesible term, goat curry, is better known in the old homeland by it's Bengali name, kosha mangsho (or less popularly, mangsher kosha). The term 'mangsho' always seems to imply red meat, which in turn always seems to imply succulent goat meat for the mainstream nominally-Hindu Bengali. Consequently, this dish has no equal in popularity in celebratory feasts, festive cooking, or even a grand Sunday lunch, that bastion of non-festive gastronomic luxury and indulgence. My father makes a brilliant kosha mangsho, but since I'm far, far away from that, I cooked a lighter, more artery-friendly version of his recipe.

Goat meat/beef (but with a little fat on) -- 1 kilo, cleaned but some marrowed bones retained.
Ginger-- two inches, peeled and minced.
Potatoes--1 per person. Peeled and sliced into chunks.
Garlic--8-10 cloves, peeled (or less, if you're faint-hearted).
Red onions--2 small or 1 large, chopped.
Tomatoes--2 if 'deshi', 3-4 medium sized if hybrid or plum. Chopped.
Green chillies--as you like it.
Red chilli powder (optional)
Cumin+coriander powder, 2:1.
Garam masala powder -- a teaspoon or two.
Yogurt (optional)

How to:
Put the onions, ginger, green chillies and garlic in the food processor/mixie with a tablespoon or so of water and make a granular paste.
NOTE: My father puts the tomatoes in this paste as well, but the efficient darling met a friend at the supermarket and consequently brought the tomatoes twenty minutes too late, thus relegating them to a later stage. So if you forget to add tomatoes at this stage, no worries. It's still doable.
Marinate the meat in this mixture for at least two hours. The yogurt can also go in at this stage, but this makes properly frying the meat difficult for me later... it chars too quickly.

Heat a generous amount of oil and spread it around the wok/pan. Carefully lift the meat from the marination mixture (which at this point will be liquidy) and drop in the wok. Turn frequently to prevent overcooking/hardening. When the meat is nicely browned, reserve in the marination bowl with the mixture. Add a little more oil to the wok. Rub the potatoes with salt and tumeric and drop them in. Fry them on low till most of them take on a light brown colour.

Add the meat back to the pot, this time *with* the marinating mixture. On medium heat, mix the two thoroughly together. Tomatoes can be added at this stage, chopped into tiny bits and fried thoroughly. OR, add water and then add chopped tomatoes, using a spatula to mix them in completely with the gravy. If you didn't add the yogurt earlier but want to, add it at this stage, diluted with a little water. If using yougurt, adding tomatoes earlier is recommended.


Add the cumin and coriander with salt and sugar, and red chili powder if using. Mix well and let the gravy thicken to any consistence desired. When it's done, turn off the flame and add garam masala powder. Mix it in well. Serve over hot rice. Ta da!

Wednesday, 14 July 2010

So, I used to really hate meatballs (perhaps because I first encountered them in a thing of horror called the meatball sub, doused in ketchup. And I *really* hate ketchup)... till I discovered they can, with a little tweaking, be eaten like kababs. And also that when cooked in pasta sauce, they impart a delicious a fried-meaty flavour to it, even if one carefully sidesteps the actual meatballs in the sauce. Plus, although it takes a little time, they're really, really easy to make. In my opinion, everyone should have about three jars of this pasta sauce (recipe courtesy the old beloved) in the fridge for those horribly exhausting days when you don't want spend any more $$ on takeaway or stupid frozen meals, and certainly don't want to cook. Put the pasta to boil and go take a quick, refreshing shower. Then come back, pop scoops of the sauce in the microwave/oven, pour over pasta, and have a scrumptious meal.

Ground beef.
Oregano, parsley, basil.
Salt, pepper.
An egg.
Bread crumbs.
Tinned tomatoes OR a cheap jar of tomato sauce (or both).

Making the meatballs is easy. Just follow the pictures.

Bread crumbs, pepper (some dry oregano).

Crushed garlic.

Chopped onions, scallions, an egg.




Fried meatballs!

And now, for the sauce. If using fresh or tinned tomatoes, chop them practically to the point of mincing. In a saucepan, add a cup of water, add the tinned or fresh tomatoes, and mix it thoroughly with the water to make a thick paste. If using pasta sauce, use the water anyway to prevent any charring of the sauce, and mix the two well. If using both, add sauce after adding tomatoes and mixing it in. Depending on how much sauce you want, you can add more water now. In fact, I advise adding about three cups of water, since the sauce will reduce while cooking. And now, back to the picture book!

Sprinkle tomatoes/pasta sauce/combination with pepper and a dash of chilli powder, if you can stand it.

Add a few scoops of the sauce to the meatballs and cook over a medium flame, tossing the meatballs and breaking a few of them to mix with the sauce.

Prepare a combination of chopped oregano, basil and parsley (plus he added some dried herbs he had).

Add the herbs, a cup of chopped onions, ground mozarella, and salt to the remaining tomato sauce (which should be bubbly at this point). With gentle turns in any one direction, mix everything thoroughly.

When the meatball+sauce combi starts bubbling, turn off flame and add whole+crushed meatballs in sauce to the saucepan. Mix well together. Cover and cook on medium for about ten minutes (add a little water if needed). Serve directly over boiled and drained pasta, OR, serve over pasta already mixed with olive oil, grated romano cheese and pine nuts for that extra kick in flavour.

NOTE: tomatoe sauce bubbles and makes a mess. Be prepared to cover the pots and pans while making this.

Monday, 12 July 2010

A Day in the Life


A ham and cheese omlette with scallions, tomatoes, oregano and rosemary garnish. Served with bacon.


A chicken and BLT club, made with slicing through a chicken breast and then cutting them into large chunks, and frying them in bacon fat. With garden-picked lettuce and tomatoes, and shop-bought mayonnaise :P

Strawberry shortcake. Shop-bought dessert shells heated for five minutes at 450F, surrounded by chopped strawberries, topped with whipped cream and sugar.

Monday, 5 July 2010

Dumplings, Authentic

So, right after I made *my* dumplings, basing the principle on the Indian samosa, I was invited to a new acquaintance's home, where her mum (who used to run a restaurant while she went to school to get her nurse's qualifications, and sold the place right after she landed her first nursing job) taught us how to make actual, real, really real, authentic dumplings from scratch. These were SO much better than my dumplings! Since it was in someone else's house--morever a someone else who was kind enough to impart her skills to me and feed me dinner--I thought it best not to interrupt the process by taking pictures. So here is the step-by-step, minus any pics. If I make them in the near future, I'll certainly add pictures.

P.S: the main ingredients (kind of meat and vegetable) can, of course, be replaced by anything one likes. This is just what we used that day.

Ground pork.
Dried prawns.
Chopped scallions, including the white onion at the base.
Peeled and thereafter grated/minced ginger (roughly 2 inch for every pound of meat).
Two eggs.
Cornstarch or similar.
Soya sauce.
Sesame/corn/sunflower oil.
Flour+warm water=stretchy, non-sticky dough.

In a large, deep pan (or bowl, if making a small number of dumplings), put chopped dried shrimp, ground pork, finely chopped scallions and minced ginger. Sprinkle with salt and soya sauce (I add sesame oil in equal amount to the soya sauce). Break the eggs on top of this. Now, using either spatulas or well-washed hands, mix everything together in an inseparable glob of raw deliciousness. Now add cornstarch (amount depending on how much meat and veggies you've got) and mix it in well. Keep mixing it for five minutes, just so we have a thoroughly mixed filling.

Now roll out the dough in small lumps. Palm them till they take a spherical shape. Now press them to make slightly flattened ovals. Roll them out to make small circles, about the size shown in the previous post. Put filling in them. Homemade dough is stretchy, which means you can really stuff the filling in and then stretch the dough around it to hold it in. Now seal along the open ends, giving the finished dumpling a crescent shape.

Bring at least four inches of water to mild boil in any wide-based pot/pan. Add the first batch of dumplings one by one. Keep stirring the water clockwise or anticlockwise, the moving water will keep the dumplings from sticking to each other. Keep stirring the water till it comes to a rolling boil. Cook at that temperature for about five or six minutes. Then add two cups of cold water from the tap, and wait till the water comes to boil again. Keep stirring occasionally to prevent Siamese dumplings. Keep at boiling for another six or seven minutes before adding another two cups of cold water, and bring the pot to a final (third) boil before removing the dumplings into a deep glass or china dish.

Be careful not to scoop up water with the dumplings, but this doesn't mean you'll carefully drain each dumpling. A little water helps keep them from sticking to each other in the serving glass or china dish. Just to be on the safer side, pour a two capful of sesame oil on the dumplings, and shake the dish to mix it in. Eat with grated ginger soaked in soya sauce, and/or red chili sauce.