Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Methi pakoda curry

I have been meaning to post this recipe for a long time, but there were two problems 1) When I made this dish a few months back, and also remembered to click pictures I had added too little water, which ended up in making a gravy dish ...dry. 2)When I prepared it again this week (with sufficient water)I couldn't take pics as the camera battery was completely discharged :(.
What would you have done under the given circumstance? I'm sure you would have prepared it for the third time this time taking ample precaution to get both  the quantity of water in the dish and charge in the camera battery right...but NOT ME!
I decided to go ahead with the post,...yes with the pictures of slightly dried up gravy and a warning to add loads of water ! So here goes.......

Methi pakoda curry

Ingredients for pakoda:

Methi (fenugreek) leaves – 250g
Besan – 1/2 cup
Rice flour – 1 tbsp
Onions - chopped
Chilli pdr – ½ tsp
Coriander pdr – 1 tsp
Cumin pdr – ½ tsp
Salt – ½ tsp or according to taste
Water  -  1/2 cup
Oil – 2 Tbsp

Ingredients for curry:

Oil – 1 tsp
Whole jeera (cumin seeds)
Onions – finely sliced
Ginger paste – 1 tsp
Garlic paste – 1 tsp
Tomato – 2 chopped
Chilli pdr – ½ tsp
Turmeric – ¼ tsp
Coriander pdr – 1 tsp
Cumin pdr – ½ tsp
Salt – ½ tsp
Sugar – 10/12 grains
Water – 2 cups
Coriander leaves – ½ cup

How To:
For the pakodas: 
Clean the methi leaves and chop coarsely. Mix all ingredients of pakora excepting oil (you can add a few drops of oil, but it is not mandatory. My mom adds a few drops for crispyness) into batter consistency. Ideally there is no need to add water, as methi mixed with salt will release water.If needed, you can add a little water, but be very careful. It is safer to sprinkle little by little. Now fry small pakoras in a non-stick pan.

For the gravy:  Add oil in a non-stick pan and heat. Add the cumin seeds, and as they begin to splutter, add the onion slices and fry them till golden brown. Next add the ginger paste, garlic paste, coriander dr, cumin pdr, turmeric, salt, sugar, tomato and fry till oil separates. Now add 2 cups of water and bring to a boil. Boil for 5 minutes, and add the methi balls. Boil for another 5 minutes and serve, garnishing with chopped coriander leaves, and Voila ! Your yummy methi pakoda curry is ready !

 You can also have these yummy pakodas with tea, I keep a few aside before adding them to the gravy...I just love the dry pakodas with rice and dal...uummm Yummy !

 Tip : You can store the gravy and the methi balls separately to avoid the gravy being completely soaked up by the balls. Just before serving, heat the gravy and pour it on the balls arranged in a bowl !

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Mocha ghonto - In 7 simple steps.

Mocha ghonto - In 7 simple steps.

When I was small, mocha or Banana flower used to be a favorite, but I rarely got to eat it, as mom was a working mother and cleaning and cutting banana flower took up a lot of time which mom couldn’t afford.

However as I grew up to become a teenager, I struck a deal - I’ll do the cleaning and cutting, you do the cooking, and Mom was game! Since then we did have it quite a few times during my teenage, and always when I came back for vacations during my hostel days.
I didn’t cook it for a long long time after I had my own kitchen in Mumbai. It wasn’t that I had lost the taste for mocha. I did pick it up a couple of times when I happened to come across one perched enticingly in a Supermarket shelf, but both of them died natural deaths waiting in mine. Mondays through Saturdays I never even looked at it, and Sundays were as always lazy. I started the process of cooking so late that there was hardly enough time to even cook a vegetable, leave alone Banana flower! Chicken or eggs were the preferred options, almost always. After those two failed attempts I had stopped buying mocha.
A famous Bengali writer once wrote “Cooking mocha is a symbol of women’s servitude. A poor D-i-l will peel the florets one by one…those many seconds of her life she loses for ever…why? Just because a few male and female members of her family will sprinkle a few words of praise on her culinary skills? Is it worth? Is she not capable of doing better things with those seconds?”

May-be those words, and the few failed attempts influenced the feminist inside me enough to banish mocha from my menu-card for a long time. But not anymore…I have convinced myself that I am cooking mocha to please myself – not anybody else. And gradually as I grew wiser with time I realized that like in every other project, the secret of cooking Mocha successfully lied in planning. Planning well and ahead of time was the key to an effective end-product of a mouth-watering dish called mocha-ghonto. I started buying it on a Friday or a Saturday, cleaned it while I watched TV till late in the evening (since next day was a holiday), and then cooked it on a Sunday afternoon! Actually cleaning is not half as big a deal as it is made out to be, provided you divide the job intelligently. Always do the cleaning while you are watching your favorite show on TV. It anyways does not take more than an hour, but that hour can count towards you relaxing time, if you are watching TV, and not towards a household chore! That way you wont feel exploited either.

This method works, and we now have mocha ghonto at least one Sunday a month!


Mocha (whole Banana flower) – 1
Chana dal - a handful, soaked in water for about 1 hr
Potato (optional) - 1
Oil (mustard, or as per preference) – 2 tsp
Moongdal (optional) - a handful
Tomato(chopped) - 1
Ginger - 1 inch
Green chillies -1
Tej pata (bay leaves) - 2 leaves
Ilaich (Cardamom) -2
Lobongo (Cloves ) - 2
Daruchini(Cinnamon) - 2 inches
Jeera(cumin) powder - 1 tsp
Salt - 1 tsp
Haldi - 1 tsp
Gur/sugar (optional) - ½ tsp
Chilli powder (optional) - ½ tsp

How to:

Step 1: Clean the florets while you are watching your favorite show on TV. Watching TV is crucial here because unless you do so, you will never embark on the procedure, but if you do, you will realize how effortlessly the boring job is done. Cleaning is nothing but removing the stigma and the bracts (the translucent boat shaped petal-like part) one by one, somewhat like this.

Step 2: Chop the cleaned florets (you may also julienne it in a food processor like I do) and keep it soaked in water with a little turmeric dissolved in it for about an hour. Half an hour is also okay, if you are in a hurry. Soaking in turmeric water gets rid of bitterness if any.
Step 3. Dice the potato and keep it aside. Adding potato in every dish is a very Bong thing, you can do away with the potato, if it irritates you like it irritates my hubby.
Step 4. Heat oil in a skillet and all the bay leaf, and whole garam masala. Fry for about a minute,
Step 5. Add the soaked chana dal. If you are adding moong dal add that too now. If you choose not to add moong dal, its okay. It will still taste good, but adding it lends a creamier texture to the dish. Also add the diced potatoes in succession. If you are not adding potato, I would suggest you do add the moong dal. Cover for about 5 mins.
Step 6. Add all the remaining ingredients excepting the chopped banana flower which is soaked in turmeric water. Stir nicely and cover for another 5 mins.
Step 7. Remove the cover, stir the ingredients and check if the potatoes are done and the tomato pulpy. If it is, strain the chopped flower and add to the skillet. Mix nicely and cover it for another 10 mins.
Your mocha ghonto is done !
In between you may want to check if there is enough moisture, otherwise the dish might start burning. If there isn’t, sprinkle a few drops at a time – never pour. Water has very little to do in this dish.
Like all my recipes, you can make variations as per your taste. You can increase/decrease quantities of all ingredients to suit your palate.You may add peanuts, bori, green peas and also prawn to this dish. Just stir fry whatever you want to add and throw in with the mocha at step 7. Adding prawn will change the name to mocha-chingri.

If you have made a large quantity, you can also make mochar chop out of it. For the non-bongs, mochar chop is a savoury snack somewhat like a veg croquette made out of the stuffing we just made.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Brinjal with prawns... ummm..out of the world

Spicy Brinjal with Prawns
This is a post from my other blog -30 minutes recipes….But since traffic there is low, I thought I might as well share it here too…you may just like it !

This dish was one of the first of my mom’s dishes I started missing when I moved out of home…first to the hostel and then work, never really went back to mom’s cooking as I knew it in my child hood days. So this happens to be one of the first dishes I learnt to cook…..It’s tasty, its uncomplicated, and prepared in less than 20 mins.


Brinjal: 1 medium sized
Potato: 1 large
Prawns: a handful
Onion: I large
Garlic: 6 cloves
Dried red chili: 2
Salt: 1 tsp
Turmeric: a pinch
Sugar : ½ a spoonful(optional)
Oil: 2 tsp

How to:

1. Make thin slices of Brinjals and potatoes. Slices can be approx. 1” * 4” * 2mm dimensions. That’s how I do it; you can cut them as per your liking, but make sure that the slices are thin.

2. Smear the pieces with a little salt and turmeric and fry them in separate batches, they brown, but potatoes may not. That’s okay.
3. Wash small or medium sized shrimps and rub them with a little salt and turmeric. You can use frozen ones, or fresh ones from your local market. I prefer fresh ones as they taste better.

4. In a mixer, make a paste of the onion, garlic and the red chillies. Heat a little oil in a kadhai and fry the paste well till you get a nice aroma. If you decide to add sugar, add it now.

5. Once the masala paste is fried, add the potatoes and the prawns in succession. Prawns cook quickly, so in about 2 minutes, add the fried brinjal pieces and mix the whole thing with a ladle.

Your yummy spicy brinjal prawns is ready! Have it with rice or rotis, either way it tastes great!

Monday, May 2, 2011

About Extra-Marital Love…and extra-spicy puffed rice

All the gossips that invoke the maximum curiosity and at the same time receive the most condemnation have one thing in common. They all involve some kind of a romantic link between two persons – one of them necessarily being married. Unless one of the parties is married, the stories doing the rounds somehow lack spice, and thus taste bland. And because we all want peace in our respective lives, we hunt for spice in someone else’s.
So often we have seen men having a beautiful wife at home falling in love with a muse who by no standards is comparable to the wife. It becomes a hot topic of discussion for the peers and colleagues and countless cups of coffee and company paid hours are dedicated in pursuit of the ultimate truth – what the other woman has, that the wife doesn’t? Getting to the bottom of this amazing mystery   is no less than achieving Nirvana.
If you ask me, I am of the opinion that a man venturing into forbidden love has got nothing to do with beauty. I would even go to the extent of saying that it has got nothing to do with love…in the first place. It is all about adventure, about the thrill of doing something prohibited. How many of us have not enjoyed stealing pickles, mango papads and other goodies from the kitchen in the summer afternoons when mummy was taking her mid-day nap? Did it not always seem tastier than the measured portions she gave along with the others? It is somewhat the same with having an affair. The forbidden fruit is always tastier. Ask Adam, ask Eve, ask any couple who have had a courtship prior to marriage…it’s always different, more exciting when it is prohibited. The legitimacy marriage offers, kills its excitement. There is a vry popular joke that goes -
"If the plural for mouse is mice, what is the plural for spouse ?"
-"Spice !"
Having said so, it is also worthwhile to warn all husbands (and wives too, if I may ) if they are reading this piece that all observations and insights shared in a blog are meant to be read, enjoyed and applied in real life only as long as it does not disturb domestic harmony. The fact that a particular blogger has a slightly sympathetic view towards the issue does not mean that the respective spouses will also have the same. Be adventurous by all means, but at your own peril.
And now after all the spicy enlightenment here’s a spicy snack that takes just 7-10 mins to whip up. 7-if you are a pro and 10 for you are a greenhorn. It has always been my favorite when I was small, a life savior in the early days of my marriage and a time savior today as I struggle to balance work with home. I love it, my Hubby loves it, and little S who hates everything else Bong  adores it !Here goes….

Jhal Muri ( spicy bhelpuri – Bengali style)                 
Ingredients( for 2) :
Puffed rice: 2coffee mugs full
Onion: 1 medium chopped
Green chillies: 2 chopped
Mustard oil: 1 tsp
Viscous gravy of any Pickle(preferably mango):1 tsp
Muri masala: ½ tsp.
Fresh Coconut: diced into 1 cm pieces
Mixture/chanachur/farsan: any quantity as per wish
Peanuts: 2 tsp(roasted or plain)
Sprouted moong: 5 tbsp
Boiled potato: diced into 1 cm pieces
Raw mango: 2 tsp chopped
Barik sev: enough for garnishing
Coriander leaves: enough for garnishing

Calorific value: Considering that the entire preparation is consumed equally between two persons, each will consume 150 calories.

How to:
Take puffed rice in a large bowl, or preferably in a jar. The volume of the jar should be atleast double that of the rice. Pour the oil in it and stir vigorously with a large ladle. You can also shake the jar, it will have the same effect. But do remember to close the lid, if you chose to shake, otherwise…….. Now pour all the remaining ingredients and shake once again….your tasty Jhalmuri/Bhelpuri/Kurmura is ready in precisely 10 minutes at the most! You can omit coriander leaves and sev and sprinkle from top…that would lend a photogenic angle to the dish. Otherwise simply throw everything in..the result is yummy anyways.
Puffed rice is also known as muri in WB, kurmura in north India, murmura in Maharashtra  n Gujarat. Muri masala is available widely across west Bengal, and all  Bengali marts outside Bengal. In absence of muri masala, you can roast 1 tsp Coriander, 1 tsp cumin, 10 black peppers and 2 dry  red chillies, and grind the mixture and use it instead. You need only ½ a spoon, so you can preserve the remaining in an air tight container and store in the refrigerator. Mustard oil can be replaced by any other oil, as per taste.
The beauty of this recipe is that it is extremely low in calories(150 calories for 1 serving) and apart from the murmura, the oil, and  the muri masala  no other ingredient is indispensable. You can use all of them if they are present, and skip any of them if they are not! And the quantities mentioned are only as per my taste. You can vary the quantities liberally without fear! Varying portions of different items will alter the taste slightly, but you will love all the variations any which ways! You can also set your imagination free and add more ingredients or replace any according to availability. Pomegranate seeds, roasted chana, soaked chana (or any lentil for that matter) could be good addendums. So go ahead, and indulge…Maggi need not be the only choice you have forever!
PS: Watch out this space for more quick-fix recipes.

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