August 18, 2014

Ridge Gourd and coconut salad and tales of India travels

Hello friends! We are back from our India travels. It was a hectic month traveling with both kids to India for the first time.

We spent time in Bangalore and Delhi for most parts. Then, we did little trips to Mysore and Rishikesh. It was a month of visiting friends, spending time with family and of course eating. Before we knew, a month had flown by and we are back in the US.

2014 india visitThere is no doubt that one of the big highlights of the trip is that we got to eat Indian mangoes. Both the kids and us devoured all the different mangoes that were available.

The choices were immense. There was langda, dusheri, chausa, banganpalli, sindoori and many little ones for which I cannot recollect the names. Oh it was just delicious! Sweet as sugar, the kids loved it. We probably had one if not more everyday!


2014 india visit During our travel we also had a chance to savor local, traditional meals and thalis whether it was North Karnataka thali or a vegetarian thali at the famous "Chotiwala" restaurant in Rishikesh in Uttarakhand.

There will be a separate post on my India travels. In this post I want to talk about all the good homemade food I ate. Delicious, simple, or complicated, they were made with so much love for us. Rice rava upma, mirchi ka salan, katla macher jhol, multigrain dosa, mishti aamer achar (sweet mango pickle) are just some of them.

Ridgegourd & coconut salad
I also ate this delicious ridge gourd and coconut salad that was speckled with pomegranate and peanuts. You can easily substitute ridge gourd with zucchini or even cucumber. I can bet this will be the star of any dinner.

Here is how to do it.

Ingredients:
1 ridge gourd - chopped thinly into small pieces
1/2 cup fresh cocunut - sliced thinly into small pieces
1/4 cup pomegranate seeds
1/4 cup toasted almonds - sliced
1 tbspoon lemon juice
1/4 tspoon fresh ground black pepper
salt to taste

Method:
Mix the ridge gourd and coconut pieces together. Sprinkle the lemon juice, salt and pepper and keep it aside for 30 minutes. Just before serving add the pomegranate seeds and almonds/peanuts and serve immediately.
Ridgegourd & coconut salad


We ate ours with vegetable makhani, dal and mirchi ka salan.

July 09, 2014

Panchphoron asparagus

Panchphoron asparagus

Does it happen to you that some week just turn out to be intense cooking week when creativity flows and everything seems to come together perfectly? It happened last week, weekend actually.

It seemed like every meal we cooked had a new element or a new dish. We all took turns cooking as well so that worked well too.

This asparagus was cooked during that time for a dinner with friends who were moving away. The combination of panch phoron, garlic and asparagus went so well together, I couldn't believe I hadn't made this before.

In other summer news, we are getting ready for a big trip. We all are traveling to India. I have traveled with one of the boys at a time, but two together? Any tips on how to keep them occupied during the flight?

How is your summer going? What are your plans?

Ingredients:
(serves 3-4)

Big bunch of asparagus - washed, trimmed and cut (I chopped it in half, but you can keep it whole too)
3 cloves of garlic - sliced thinly
2/3 tspon panch phoron (bengali five spice)
2 tbspoon olive oil
salt to taste
pinch of fresh ground black pepper

Method:
Panchphoron asparagus
Heat oil in a pan. When the oil is quite hot, add the panch phoron and garlic. Let it sizzle for a minute and immediately add the asparagus.

Let it cook on medium heat uncovered for 3-4 minutes. Then add the salt and pepper. Cover and cook for another 5 minutes.

Panchphoron asparagus
Take it off the heat and serve warm.

We had ours with pulao and kofta curry.

July 03, 2014

Capturing summer with mint and corn pulao

Mint and corn pulao

It's World Cup time! How many of you are watching the World Cup? Lil A was just born the last time World Cup came around. This time, he is kicking the football (yes I said football not soccer!) around. Mostly, the kicking happens in the backyard, but sometimes he sneaks the ball inside too.

We have a long corridor and he will spend a lot of time playing there. But just yesterday he kicked the ball high in the living room and one of the vases knocked over.

He was immediately contrite and said "can I go to the backyard now?" It was 8 in the morning! Needless to say, kids are enjoying the summer and spending a lot of time outside - playing, running, biking.

This mint and corn pulao captures the flavors of summer - fresh, light, and aromatic. There are probably many versions of mint pulao recipes. In this, I don't grind mint into a paste, rather it is chopped and rice is cooked with it. Result is a heady aroma of mint that is absorbed in each grain of rice.

Ingredients:
(serves 4-5 people)
3 cups basmati rice - soaked in water (you can try other rice too, but the cooking time will vary)
1/3 cup mint - chopped
1 cup corn  I had 2 fresh corns and I used them, you can also use frozen corn
6 cups water
4 cardamoms
1/2 onion - chopped finely
1 tspoon grated ginger
1 tspoon cumin seeds
1/2 tspoon cumin seed powder
1/4 tspoon red chilli powder
salt to taste
2 tbspoon oil

Method:
Take the corn off the cobbs. Boil it with some salt just to take the rawness away. I boiled mine in microwave for 2 minutes.

Mint and corn pulao
Heat oil in a deep walled vessel. Temper it with cumin seeds and cardamoms. Wait a minute as they sizzle. Then add the chopped onion. Saute for a couple of minutes. Add grated ginger and half of the chopped mint. Let it cook for a minute.

Then add the corn, cumin powder, chilli powder and salt. Saute for a minute. Drain the water from the rice and add it to the mix. Saute for good 3-4 minutes till it all mixes together. The rice to water ratio is 1:2. Add six cups of water, cover the vessel, the heat is medium high and set the timer for 20-22 minutes.

Don't stir it. Let it cook. Once there is a 5 minutes left, add the rest of the mint and check the rice to see if it is done. After the timer goes off, take the rice off the heat and let it remain covered for another 5 minutes. Then stir it lightly and serve warm.

Mint and corn pulao
I served it with a spicy chicken curry and asparagus.

Have a great July 4th.

June 26, 2014

A is for Anarosher Chutney (pineapple chutney), aloo posto

Sandeepa of BongMom Cookbook recently started A-Z of Bengali Cuisine. She is crowd sourcing the recipe suggestions for each letter. It's at letter C now. If you're not following, you're missing the fun.

I recently commented on Beguni, and she asked me to join in. I couldn't resist, so here I am starting my own A-Z of Bengali cuisine. It may take some time to finish it but it will be a lot of fun to find a recipe for each letter.

Shall we get started? Any Bengali will tell you, the first thing that comes to mind for A is aloo posto. I blogged about it many moons ago and over time have made variation to it adding other vegetables like okra, jhinge. Here is another one - aloo and zucchini posto.

pineapple chutney

A is also for the various aamer chutney (raw mango chutney), and anarosher chutney (pineapple chutney). These light chutney or chaatni as Bengalis call it, is a light sweet, tart combination, rather watery with pieces of fruit. It's a perfect way to finish a meal.  It is typically served at the end of the meal, but we love to add it as a side too.

I have also served it with starters and crackers and is a good combination with some cheese.

I recently made a big batch of anarosher chutney or pineapple chutney. The pineapples were leftovers from one of those multi-fruit platters. We got it for a get together recently. Kids polished of grapes, watermelons etc but the pineapples just sat there.

We ate a few but it just sat there. This was the perfect time to make chutney.  The chutney, one the other hand, was gone in a couple of days. We ate it with meals, on burgers, on crackers till it polished it off.

If there is no fresh pineapple, use canned pineapples. You may have to reduce the cooking time for canned pineapples.

June 13, 2014

Aloo kumro diye chingri macher jhol (Shrimp curry with potato and pumpkin)

I love the flowers that bloom in the front yard and backyard once spring hits. It daffodils and tulips (have a couple in the front yard and in the back yard), then come the lily of the valley.

And just last week I felt the summer flowers are in full bloom now. In the backyard, currently, I have  tree peonies and peonies blooming and honeysuckle tree is laden with flowers. So is rose bush that climbs over the fence with the neighbor. 

In front yard, it's roses and daisies. The rose I bought last year is full of flowers and it makes me so happy to see it when I come home.

Tiny M was so intrigued by the peonies in the back yard that he would go and stand in front of it and keep tugging it. We have to constantly remind him "gentle, gentle." Lil A has no such interest in flowers. His favorite is still the veggie patch in the backyard. We recently harvested a good bunch of methi and am enjoying it a lot. Recipes from that in the next post.

At night when the curtains are drawn and we are just reading or watching something, every now and then we get a whiff of the sweet smell from the flowers and it is just lovely.

We have been watching "Orphan Black" on Amazon Prime. We are kind of hooked. It's mystery, sci-fi and little campy. What have you been watching/reading?

I've said this before that I wait for my parents to come and get shrimp. It's not different this time. We got a nice pumpkin from Indian store and my dad made this chingri macher jhol with aloo and kumro (shrimp curry with potato and pumpkin). I really liked the sweet notes from the pumpkin along with the shrimp.  One of my favorites now.

Aloo kumro diye chingri macher jhol (shrimp curry with potato and pumpkin)

May 29, 2014

Lau aar kumro ghanto (bottlegourd and pumpkin medley)

Laukumro ghonto


Now that it is getting warmer, we are spending a lot of time outside. Little A is riding his tricycle (he needs a little help every now and then) and Tiny M is being pushed around in a hand me down Kettler with a handle. In fact, he want to it all the time. When we bring him back in the house, there are tears.

Our favorite activity is to ride to the park, play, eat a snack and then ride back.

What are you doing now that summer is here?

My parents are here. Every time they visit, I wait for them to whip up a new dish. Last time it was kumro aar ucche (pumpkin and bitter gourd) chorchori, and before that it was shorshe begun (eggplant in mustard and peanut sauce).

This year it is lau aar kumro ghanto (bottle gourd and pumpkin medley). In this, the mild flavored vegetables are cooked in a bengali way (learn about ghanto way of preparing vegetables from Bong mom), with minimal spices and tastes fresh. It serves as a perfect first course on a warm day with rice and dal or even sambar.

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