Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Doi Dharosh, Tauk Daal - West Bengal Special

BM # 39
Day : 30
State : West Bengal

Today is the 30th day and the last day of this month long marathon. We have been cooking traditional cuisne across Indian states.This has been a very interesting marathon, where we started planning months back,We have exchanged umpteen mails and messages not to miss the phone calls. This marathon has been a total hit, we have so many new dishes from the different states, interestingly for a few states we have had Days! for Arunachal Pradesh most of them posted a Thukpa Day, for Himachal it was Channa Madra...and so was Bajra Khichdi.It only shows that we friends are all like minded!!
Okay we come to the last state in the series..West Bengal

What comes into the mind when we talk about Bengali Cuisine? It’s the  fish and rice preparations accompanied with the Bengali sweets. West Bengal is well known as the land of maach (fish) and bhaat (rice). The various preparations of fresh water fish and a vast range of rice dishes is Bengal’s specialty. The typical Bengali cuisine is now divided between the Independent country of Bangladesh and the Indian state of West Bengal. 

The Bengalis are great food lovers and take pride in their cuisine. The medium of cooking is mustard oil which adds on its own pungency. Another very important item of Bengali cuisine is the variety of sweets or mishti as they call them. Most of them are milk based and are prepared from chaana (paneer as it is popularly known). The most popular among the Bengali sweets are the Rosogolla, Sandesh, Pantua and Mishti Doi and these four sweets are a must at every wedding besides some other sweets, which may vary as per individual choice. A meal, for the Bengali, is a ritual in itself even if it only boiled rice and lentils (dal bhat), with of course a little fish. 

Bengali cuisine is rather particular in the way vegetables and meat (or fish) are prepared before cooking. Some vegetables are used unpeeled, in some preparations fish is used un-skinned in contrast as well. However, in most dishes vegetables are peeled, and fish scaled and skinned.

Vegetables are to be cut in different ways for different preparations. Dicing, julienne, strips, scoops, slices, shreds are common and one type of cut vegetables cannot replace another style of cutting for a particular preparation.

Qutb-ud-din brought Bengal under Muslim control at the end of the 12th century and after the death of Aurangzeb it became an independent Muslim state. This introduced Mughlai cooking in Bengal. Bengali Moslems adopted dishes such as kebabs, koftas and biryani from their Mughal conquerors. But the major portion of Bengali Hindu cuisine retained its original characteristics except that the use of onion and garlic became more popular.

Today we shall cook a simple Tauk Daal, which is a lentil flavored with raw mango..this daal has a amazing flavor.The combination to the daal is Doi Dharosh, okra with yogurt. This is one of their lunch menus, for breakfast they enjoy Aaloor Dum with Luchis. One of their favorite street food is Jhal muri, which is like Bhelpuri. So on to the recipes...

Tauk Daal
1 tsp ghee
1/2 tsp onion seeds
250 gms pigeon pea 
1/2 tsp turmeric powder
3 medium raw mangoes
4 -6 green chillies
salt to taste
2 tsp sugar

Wash, take off and cut the mangoes into 6-8 pieces lengthwise.
 Wash the dal and boil with 4 cup of water.
 Mix turmeric and stir.
Continue cooking for about 20 minutes.
Mix i raw mangoes, green chillies and salt.
 Stir fry till the mangoes are soft but not mushy.
 Mix sugar and stir.
Heat ghee in a kadhai and temper with onion seeds.

Doi Dharosh
250 gms Bhindi / Okra, washed and wiped well , heads and tails chopped
Pinch turmeric powder
Salt to taste

Make a paste
1 small onion
2 green chilli
3 tbsp yogurt
1 tbsp cashew

Other ingredients
1 bay leaf
1 green cardamom
2 cloves
1’ stick cinnamon
¼ tsp turmeric powder
½ tsp kashmiri chilli

Heat oil.
Add the okra.
Add salt and turmeric powder.Saute.Keep aside.
Heat oil.
Add bay leaf,cloves, cardamom and cinnamon.
Add the prepared paste, sauté.
Add turmeric powder, kashmiri chilli and let it cook for a few minutes.
Add the sauted Okra.
Mix well .
Add ¼ cup water, salt, pinch sugar and let it simmer.
The okra should be well cooked and the gravy should cling to it.
Check the seasoning and adjust according to taste.

While ending this marathon I would say a word of thanks to all my fellow bloggers for posting wonderful recipes and special thanks to Valli for organizing this event.

A word for viewers...I have tried my best to give some authentic traditional recipes, but since the cuisines are so vast I may have made some errors..please bear!!

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Tuesday, April 29, 2014

A meal from Uttaranchal with Gahat Daal, Kafuli , Mandua ki Roti and Jhagore ki Kheer

BM # 39
Day : 29
State : Uttaranchal

Picturesque state of Uttaranchal has a simple yet delectable cuisine. The food is extremely nutritious to suit the high energy requirements of the hilly and cold region. 

People of Uttaranchal basically take a vegetarian meal though mutton and chicken are also savored by many. Characteristic feature of the Kumouni cuisine is the sparing use of milk and milk based products. This is due to the geographical nature of the state as hill cows do not yield good quantity of milk. Rice is the staple food for the people of Uttaranchal.

Favorites of the Pahari people are the lentils. Locally grown bhatt (a variety of soya bean) and the rust brown gahat also called kulath are popularly relished. Large dried balls of urad dal, called badis and their smaller version prepared from moong dal is called mangodis .The mangodis are popular in Rajasthan too.

Also common is the use of coarse grain with high fibre content Mundua (Buck wheat) in the interior regions of Kumaun. Linguda grown on the borders of Tibet and Nepal is also a part of the Pahari cuisine as it helps to keep the stomach in order. They normally use Mustard oil or pure ghee for cooking, They use a spice called jhakia, which is similar to cumin seed.

On my trips to this state, I have enjoyed the street food in Hardwar , the food that is served on the stalls near the banks of Ganga ji, I have loved their dhaaba food , but even after umpteen visits have never tasted the Kumani cuisine. 

While on my search for these Kumani recipes, I realized that they consume the locally grown ingredients, which is actually apt for their hilly life style. Fortunately my sister in law stays in Hardwar, and her son is a foodie.I called him up to find about the locally grown ingredients.He quickly gave me the number of his friend who belonged to the Kumani region. This was a jackpot!, I called his friend who in return gave me his sister's number.(..we bloggers can go any lengths!!)Anita, yes that is her name , she guided me and gave me the perfect recipes for all the recipes that I am posting here.After I got the recipes she asked me if I would get the required ingredients in my state..before I could answer, she quickly offered to send a parcel of these. I gently declined and said my nephew would be able to do so, but Anita would not listen and she sent a parcel which included Gahat , Mandua ka Aatta and Jhangora..along with Jhakia . all the recipes were neatly written and sealed in an envelope.I dont have words to thank her. After we ate this meal I called her to tell that this was a real delicious meal and the credit went to her.

Mandua ki Roti
600 gms mandua flour
200 gms wheat flour
Water to bind the flour

Mix mandua  and wheat flour well.
Add water and prepare stiff dough.
Divide into even sized balls and roll out into chapatis.
Cook on slow fire on both sides.

Gahat ki Daal
300 gms gahat ( kulath )
1 tsp turmeric
1 tsp coriander powder
1 tsp red chilly powder
1 small piece ginger
4 - 5 cloves garlic
1/2 tsp cumin seeds
Pinch asafoetida
50 gms rice powder
50 ml oil
Salt to taste

Wash the gahat and pressure cook the daal along with ginger, garlic, red chilly, coriander and salt.
This should require 1 whistle and about 10 mins of slow cooking.
Make sure the daal is cooked.
Add rice flour paste to the daal and cook. Further for 5 - 10 minutes.
Temper the gahat with cumin seed and asafoetida

Jhangore ki Kheer
500 gms jhangora
2 lts milk
200 gms sugar

Wash and soak Jhangora in water for 1 hour.
Boil milk.
Add Jhangora and stir well to avoid lumps.
Add sugar and cook till done.
Add kewara essence and mix well.
Garnish with Raisins, Cashewnuts, and Chironji

2 bunches spinach
1/2 bunch fenugreek leaves
2-3 green chillies
2 tb sp mustard oil
4-5 cloves garlic
1 tsp ginger
1tsp cumin seed
pinch asafetida
1/4 tsp turmeric powder
1/2 tsp coriander powder
1 tb sp rice powder
2 tb sp curd
1-2 cups water
Salt to taste

Wash spinach and fenugreek leaves in running water.
Chop and boil both vegetables along with green chillies in a little water till tender.
Blend to make a paste.
Heat oil.
Add finely chopped ginger and garlic.
Add cumin seeds and asafoetida.
Add the paste, turmeric powder,dry coriander and salt.
Add required amount of water to Kafuli and bring to boil. Now add rice paste or rice powder dissolved in water.
Cover and cook for about 8 to 10 minutes on slow fire till the gravy is thick.
If dry add some water and boil.
Garnish with pure ghee and serve hot Kafuli.

The Gahat daal tasted somewhat like black daal, quite rich and delicious, the Kafuli was out of the world, I am not a green person, but this was something that I really relished.The Mandua roti complimented the meal, though if we had a regular tandoori roti I would have been okay with it too. The Jhangore ke Kheer was a version of rice kheer, slight difference in taste but quite pleasant, specially with the kewra flavor.

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Monday, April 28, 2014

Rasse wale Aaloo , Kachori aur Kesari Mishthan ...Uttar Pradesh Special

BM # 39
Day : 28
State : Uttar Pradesh

When we talk of Uttar Pradesh I immediately connect with the Royal city of Lucknow. The city had royal kitchens and the dum pukht cuisine started from this state. Some of the best Dum Biryanis are served here .Lucknow is also famous for its mouthwatering kebabs.These kebabs are mostly non vegetarian but it does not take long to make these vegetarian.Check out some of the kebabs here and here .

When the royal era ended the rakabdars and the talented chefs came into the streets for their survival . The street food culture started and one cannot miss the street food in Lucknow. Most of the food is non veg, but a total treat for the non vegetarians. Well they do have some mouthwatering vegetarian stuff too.The Chawal gali serves the most famous Nawabi roti made by Ali Husain. Makhan Malai is a dessert flavored with saffron and available only in winters. 

We just can't stop at Lucknow in Uttar Pradesh, if we go to Kanpur one can enjoy some of the best street foods, the ever so popular golgappas and chats are the highlight of the city.

Agra, famous for its Taj has the best Petha, which is a sweet made from pumpkin .

It is difficult to choose one dish from this state and it took me a real long time to decide what to cook...but I finally cooked....from Banaras. 

Banaras, also called Varanasi and Kaashi is a holy city with lot of temples. It is the holiest of the seven sacred cities in Hinduism and Jainism and played a important part in the development of Buddhism. 

Banaras, is popular for its Banarasi sarees, which are every women's possession, These silk sarees are finely weaved with gold and silver threads and are crafted with intricate Mughal designs. 

Next comes the Banarasi Paan .Paan is a after mint a mouth freshner, made of betel leaf.Now what makes a banarasi paan so popular? Banarasi paan has a special betel leaf and this paan literally melts in the mouth. 

Banaras is also famous for its chaats and kachori sabzi. This kachori is more like a poori though . The Aaloo ka Rasse wali sabzi is a simple potato curry but it's flavor is enhanced by the mustard oil . The black pepper adds a special taste to this curry and it might not look very appealing but this is one of the best sabzi which can be cooked in a jiffy and tastes out of the world.The kachori could be made with daal pithi, but since I have made bedmi I decided to make the simpler version. 

The Kesari Mishthan is a saffron kheer. Normally we cook rice and then add milk to make kheer, but this one has been made by boiling rice in milk.This surely takes a little long but the taste of this kheer is worth the effort. The saffron makes it heavenly and by adding almonds and raisins we give it a mild crunch and a perfect dessert after a spicy sabzi. 

The finale to this is the Banarasi Paan, I love making these at home, but this time it is bought from the panvaadi.

1 cup wheat flour 
2 tbsp ghee 
Pinch of salt 
1 tsp cumin seeds 
1/2 tsp carom seeds 
Boil the cumin and carom seeds and make a infusion. 
Strain the water cool it.
Add oil and salt to the flour. 
Bind the dough with the infusion, the dough should be pliable but firm. 
Make small balls and roll like pooris. 
Deep fry to a golden.

Rasse wale Aloo ki Sabzi
1 tsp mustard oil
1 tsp mustard seeds( the small variety)
1 pinch asafoetida
1 tsp black pepper powder
1 tsp coriander powder
1 tsp cumin powder
1 tsp red chilly powder
2 tsp dry mango powder
1/2 tsp turmeric powder
Salt to taste
3 boiled potatoes

Heat mustard oil.
Add a pinch of asafoetida.
Mix all the dry spices and add a few tsps of water to make a paste.
Add the paste and sauté for a few minutes.
Make sure the spices do nut burn.
Add the boiled potatoes, mashing them roughly with your hands.
Add a cup of water, keeping the gravy thick.
If you wish you could make the gravy a little thin too.
Garnish with coriander.

Kesari Mishthan
1/2 cup rice 
1 lt full fat milk 
1/2 tsp cardamon powder 
Few strands saffron 
Sugar to taste 

Wash and soak rice for 30 minutes. 
Boil milk, once the milk boils, add rice. 
Let cook on slow fire, stirring in between. 
Once the rice is done, the kheer will become thick and creamy. 
Add cardamon powder, sugar and dissolved saffron. 
Add nuts and raisins. 
Serve chilled .

Some of the dishes from this state...

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Sunday, April 27, 2014

Bangwi - Tripura Special

BM # 39
Day : 27
State : Tripura

Today we shall cook from Tripura. This is located on the eastern side and is famous as "Queen of Eastern hills". It is nestled in the lush green hills, has beautiful valleys and transparent waterscapes which causes a magnetic spell on the tourists and visitors.

The Tripuri's are essentially non vegetarians and hence the main courses are mainly prepared using meat, but with the addition of vegetables. Traditional Tripuri cuisine is known as Mui Borok. Tripuri food has a key ingredient called Berma, which is dried and fermented fish. The food is considered to be healthy as it is prepared without oil. They say flavor wise, Berma is more on the sour side.

While on my search for vegetarian recipe from Tripura I found that....

Tripuri people are very fond of having cakes. No occasion is complete with out cakes, whether it is religious, ceremonial or gathering. But these cakes are not the cakes that we eat , these are rice cakes.The main ingredient of Tripuri cake is special rice called Guria. There are different variety of Guria rice, the jhum variety is most sought after, and has the sweet fragrance and most tasty. Other than guria, a rice variety Mimi is also used in preparing the cakes. Some cakes are prepared purely with Guria rice; some are mixed with other variety of rice. Some cakes are made up of whole some rice; some are prepared from the rice flour. Some are prepared with sugar, some are with out sugar. That is why it is even healthy and not restricted to diabetic patients and to hypertensive heart disease patients; no oil is used in most of the preparations.I tried to search on these varieties of rice, but had no luck. I tried to get some sticky rice here, with no luck, finally I used Japanese rice which is sticky rice.

I followed the recipe , but could not follow it completely.I tried cooking the rice in the banana leaves,they were on steam for nearly 1 1/2 hours, and the rice needed to cook at least 70% more. So I removed these from the steamer and cooked in a pressure cooker. The taste of the rice was pretty good, just like the rice we make with some nuts.

I was keen on cooking Alu Mosdeng, which is supposed to be served with these rice cakes, but even after frantic searches I could not get the recipe ,although I have no clue what this Alu Mosdeng would have been ,perhaps some kind of potatoes.

Finally I have cooked just the Bangwi, a rice cake, minus the pork.

It is special type of cake made only by Tripuri. The special type of leaf used for preparing this cake is Lairu, but I used a banana leaf , which according to the recipe can be used.

This is how I made the Bangwi...
1 cup Japanese rice or any sticky rice ( the original recipe asks for Mami rice)
Handful cashew nuts
Handful raisins
2 tsp ghee
1/4 tsp salt
Soak the rice for 4-5 hours
Soak the raisins for an hour.
Sauté the cashews in ghee.
Drain the rice and place them in a strainer.
Add ghee, salt, cashews and raisins.
Cut the banana leaves into square pieces, and make cones from these.
Fill in the prepared rice and tie the top with a banana leaf strand or some kind of thread.
Place it to steam.
The original recipe demanded to steam for an hour, but since I used different variety of rice, it did not cook even after 1 1/2 hours.
I finally cooked in a pressure cooker.
The rice was slightly over cooked, but it tasted alright.

If using Japanese rice one can cook these with a ratio of 1:1 , 1 cup rice, 1 cup water.
The rice can be moulded later , since we get the basic flavor from its ingredients.
Another way to make these could be by preparing the cones in the similar manner and then cooking them in a pressure cooker., this will lend the flavor of the leaf to the rice.

The recipe seemed very. Simple, but without the right kind of rice it was hard to get what I was trying for, though I really have no idea as to how the original Bangwi would taste or look.

It's a humble request to my readers that if anyone knows the details of Bangwi! please update me and correct me if I am wrong. This is an effort to try a dish which I had never heard or seen.

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Saturday, April 26, 2014

Vada Curry with Dosa - Tamil Nadu Special

BM # 39
Day : 26
State : Tamil Nadu

Rice is the major staple food of most of the Tamil people. Lunch or Dinner is usually a meal of steamed rice, served with sambar, dry curry, rasam, kootu and thayir (curd, but as used in India refers to yogurt) .

Breakfast usually includes idli, pongal, dosai, aval or poha, puttu, idiyappam, appam with sweetened coconut milk, chapathi, sevai, vadai along with coconut chutney, sambar and milagai podi. Tiffin is usually accompanied by hot filter coffee which is the signature beverage of the city.

Over a period of time, each geographical area where Tamils have lived has developed its own distinct variant of the common dishes in addition to dishes native to itself. The four divisions of ancient Tamilakam are the primary means of dividing Tamil cuisine.

The Chettinad region which serves dishes like idiyappam, uthappam, paal paniyaram and non-vegetarian dishes made primarily using chicken. 

Madurai, Tirunelveli and the other southern districts of Tamil Nadu are known for non-vegetarian food made of mutton, chicken and fish. Parota made with all-purpose flour.

Nanjilnadu (Kanyakumari district) region is famous for its fish curry since the region is surrounded by the three great water bodies of Asia.

The western Kongunadu region has special dishes using ragi, coconut and jaggery.

For a North Indian like me, South Indian Cuisine referred to Idli, Dosa, Vada, it is much later in life I realized that this cuisine has much more to it.Though most restaurants use the south Indian cuisine or the name "madras" in the name, there is a marked difference between the cuisines, preparations and ingredients in different regions. An udipi restaurant, andhra restaurant, a kerala or a chettinad restaurant have different preparations and speciality.

For today I have cooked Vada Curry which was suggested by my daughter, she gave me the recipe and I confirmed from Valli, after getting a green signal I made this dish.Valli told me that originally when they had left over vadas in the restaurants they started using them in gravy and that is how this dish originated..but wait..I made fresh vadas to dunk them in curry and my hubby loved the dish.This curry is normally served with dosas,

1 cup channa daal, soaked for 3 - 4 hours

Coarsely pound
1 small piece cinnamon stick
1 clove
2 whole red chilly 
Small piece ginger 
1/2 onion, finely chopped 
1/4 cup coriander leaves, chopped 
Salt to taste 

Grind the channa daal coarsely with minimum water . 
Add the pounded ingredients,onion, coriander leaves and salt. 
Mix well and make small rounds, flatten them and deep fry to a golden. 
Keep aside. 

Whole spices 
2 bay leaves 
1 clove 
Small piece cinnamon stick 
1/4 tsp fennel seeds 
1 whole red chilly 
1/2 tsp ginger paste 
1/2 tsp garlic paste 
1 onion, chopped finely 
1/2 tsp coriander powder 
1/4 tsp turmeric 
1/2 tsp red chilly powder 
Salt to taste 
2 tomatoes, chopped 
1/4 cup coconut milk 

Heat oil, add whole spices. 
Add onion, ginger and garlic, sauté 
Add the dry spices and sauté. 
Add tomatoes, cook till the moisture evaporates. 
Add coconut milk and water till you get a desired consistency. 
Break the prepared vada sand add to the gravy, let boil for a minute. 
Serve hot with dosas or idlis.

Curry leaves Chutney
1/2 cup curry leaves
1/4 cup coconut, grated
1 tsp tamarind
1/2 tbsp urad daal
2 tsp Bengal gram
1 green chilly
Salt to taste
Roast the urad daal.
Roast the curry leaves,

Blend the following to a fine paste adding very little water.
Roasted daal
Roasted curry leaves
Bengal gram
Green chilly

1/2 tsp oil
1/2 tsp mustard seeds
Pinch asafoetida

After the chutney is blended temper it with mustard seeds.

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Friday, April 25, 2014

Momos with Thukpa - Sikkim Speciality

BM # 39
Day : 25
State : Sikkim

Sikkim is India's second smallest state, first being Goa. It is located in the Himalayan region. This state is the least populated. It also represents a confluence of diverse peoples and cultures.It is home to the Lepcha tribe, thought to be Sikkim's original inhabitants. The Bhutias who migrated from Tibet and more recent migrant Nepalese.Sikkim cuisine is a reflection of this diversity.

Rice is a staple cereal in the food and cuisine of Sikkim. Wheat, buckwheat,barley and finger millet are used in their local diets.Meat is an important part of their traditional diet.They use many of the ingredients as we do like onions, garlic, cumin, chillies,how ever the cuisine seems to call for a lighter touch than that required to master the bold , loud flavors of other regional states.

A typical Sikkimese consists of Daal Bhat with meat for breakfast , a light lunch of Momos and an early dinner consisting of noodles.

From their cuisine I have picked up their two famous dishes, first being Momos.
Momos are steamed dumplings normally stuffed with meat.This is a popular snack which is eaten with spicy sauces or dunked into bowls of soup.These are sold by street vendors , in fact they have come on the streets of many other states too.

The second dish is Thukpa.
Thukpa is a noodle soup. I have used buckwheat noodles, as the Sikkimese use lot. of buckwheat in their diet.This is a whole some soup and the combo of Momos with Thukpa completes a meal.

This was my first trial with both the dishes and I am glad that both the dishes turned out awesome.Thukpa was a total treat and my son went ga ga over it. I love the crescent shaped momos, and it was fun shaping them , though I used ready wrappers which I had got from Japan. To make the wrappers from scratch is simple and I had made them for a earlier BM post where I made Date and Sesame Wontons.
Coming to the recipes...

For Dough:
2 cups maida
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking powder
Mix maida,salt and baking powder and knead to a stiff dough with water.
Roll the dough into a big disc and cut into smaller 3" dia with the help of a cutter, alternatively roll into small discs. The disc should be translucent.
You could also use ready wrappers.

For Filling:
1 /2 cup carrots , finely chopped
1 cup cabbage , finely chopped
1/4 cup French beans, finely chopped
1 Tbsp oil
1/2 cup onion , finely chopped
1 tsp garlic , chopped
1 tsp soy sauce
1/4 tsp vinegar
1/4 tsp black pepper
Salt to taste
Heat oil and add the onion and garlic.
Saute over high heat and add the carrot cabbage and beans. Turn around over high heat till glossy.
Take it off the heat and mix in the soy sauce, salt, vinegar and black pepper.
I added some chilly sauce too.
Take a wrapper, wet edges and place some filling in the center.
Check step by step pictures to make the crescent shaped momos.
Bring edges together to seal.
Steam for about 10 minutes and serve with chilli sauce.

Chilli Sauce
20 - 25 whole red chillies
1-2 cup malt vinegar
10 - 15 cloves garlic
Salt to taste
2 tbsp oil
1 tsp sugar
Soak the red chillies in vinegar for about 30 minutes.
Mix all the ingredients and blend to a smooth paste.

3 Tbsp butter
1 Tbsp garlic, chopped
1 Tbsp ginger, grated
1 onion , cut into quarters
1 tsp chili powder
1 tsp. curry powder
1/2 tsp. turmeric
1 potato, small dice
1 tomatoes, diced
4 cups vegetable stock
1 cup buckwheat noodles / noodles
1/2 cup chopped spinach
1 Tbsp soy sauce
Salt and pepper to taste
Heat butter in pan and saute ginger, garlic, and onions for 1-2 minutes or until slightly translucent.
Add spices and cook for one more minute.
Add potatoes, tomatoes, and stock and bring to boil.
Lower heat and simmer for 15-20 minutes until potatoes are tender.
Add noodles and cook for 5 more minutes or until tender.
Add spinach and cook until wilted, about one minute.
Make sure potatoes are tender, add soy sauce and salt/pepper to taste, and serve.

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