A simple fish curry with mustard greens : maach-er jhol shorshey shaak diye

maacher jhol  shorshey shaak  diye1

Machh -er jhol (fish curry),patha’r mangsho(goat’s meat curry)mishti doi (sweet yogurt),shondesh/sandesh(bengali dessert delicacy),luchi (puffed flour bread) are few thing among many others that hits the top of  the list when we are thinking of a bong’s culinary diary.And how can I be an exception! My tryst with mach-er jhol started since the time I can’t even recollect .Mach er jhol can  be very hot,fiery, rich gravy of fish with  profusion of spices like garam masala or can be a mild yet flavoursome curry with or without vegetables.That is how I have known my mach-er jhol since childhood.There is no one recipe for a machh -er jhol.Each Bong household has it’s own way through maach,jhol and it’s accompaniments.But this cant deny the fact that there are traditional recipes  like maacher kalia,doi maach or shorshey maach which have their position of prime in the heart of Bengalis no matter what.Interesting thing to note is, that a bong can use the same spice or tempering to make different sorts of fish preparations depending on the recipe.With the rich mustard paste they make paturi,while the same mustard paste can be used  with additional greens or any  vegetable of your choice to culminate into a mach er jhol,which is more like a runny fish curry.

Mustard greens (Shoshey Shaak)

Mustard greens (Shoshey Shaak)

I was back home after a year or so,was missing my Maa er haath er ranna (mom’s cooking) immensely- I did make a mention of that to her once over phone and mom was ready with home cooked buffet of food on almost all the days of my stay.Saying ‘no’ to her was not an option, so I happily gave in to mom’s culinary expression of love.This one dish that stayed with me – simple,unpretentious and easy to make ,this is a fish curry to be served with steaming hot rice.

green2

How Maa made  Shorshey shaak diye maach er jhol

Ingredients  

4-6 pieces of Rohu( Salmon/Tilapia can also be very good alternative)

A bunch of Mustard greens(Shorshe Shaak)

1 teasoon-Nigella seeds/Kalo jeera/black onion seeds

1 teaspoon-Turmeric powder

1 teaspoon – Red chilli powder

5-6 tablespoon-Yellow mustard seed paste

Salt to taste

Few green chillies

Mustard oil

fish and greens

Recipe

Wash and clean the scales of the fish pieces.

Wash and pat dry the mustard green leaves,separating them from the stem.

Prepare a yellow mustard paste with water(just enough to make a thick to runny mix), 2-3 green chillies and 1 teaspoon of salt thrown in.

Dry marinate the fish pieces with turmeric and salt,shallow fry them  in mustard oil till they change their colour to golden brown.

Temper the mustard oil left in the wok (after frying the fish) with kalo jeera(nigella seeds/black onion seeds) and a few  longitudinally slitted green chillies,sauté them slightly.Then add the yellow mustard paste mix and the mustard green leaves.Add the turmeric powder, red chilli powder and a cup or two of  boiling water , give a good stir and let it simmer till the greens get well cooked.Check the seasoning.Add the fried fish pieces.Cook for another 2-3 minutes in low to medium heat.Put off the flame,cover the wok with a lid to give it a standing time of 2 more minutes. You can drizzle a table spoon of raw mustard oil on top of this fish curry, if you like the smell of mustard oil.

fish with mustard greens

Serve hot with steamed rice.

Chocolate Shondesh

Chocolate Shondesh

Chocolate Shondesh

Quite true to my Bengali genes I have got a sweet tooth.Give me any thing sweet  be it Bengal’s own roshogolla,ledikini, kheer kodombo , mishti doi  or anything sweet which is not so Bengali  like a fudge cake,cookie dough ice cream,chocolate brownie or a caramel flan – I am ready to dig in .Since the past 4 years of my stay in England I have had enough chance to try different forms of  western dessert while the frequent trips back to India (Kolkata to be specific) were just not sufficient enough to sooth my Bengali mishti craving.True to the saying ”necessity is the mother of invention” one day I finally gave in to my Bengali sweet craving and decided to try my hand at making a Bengali sweet at home.While surfing through  videos on YouTube I came across this video  and the idea of making a fusion chocolate shondesh  dawned upon me!

chocolate shondesh

This fusion sweet is very dear to my heart, perfectly unites the best possible combination of chocolate from the west and mishti from the east,quite like us those who live miles away from  the home land, soaking in the foreign culture yet cant give away their traditional root.

 

Recipe for Chocolate Shondesh


Ingredients


For the making of Shondesh

Full fat milk : 3 litre

Khoya/Milk Solids : 1/2 cup (optional)

Sugar : 1 to 1 and 1/2 cup

Lemon juice : 4 lemon

Cocoa Powder : 4 heaped tablespoon


For garnishing the Shondesh

Chocolate bar- 150 gm

Double Cream- 100 ml

Sugar : 1/4 cup

Choice of nuts : Pistachio/Cashew

 chocolate shondesh

Method of making Shondesh

 

1)Boil the milk in a heavy bottomed pan at medium heat stirring occasionally .When the milk starts boiling  add the lemon juice and increase the flame little bit to enhance coagulation.As soon as the milk starts to curdle and whey is separated from the curd turn of the heat,otherwise the chenna(paneer)will become stiff.Drain the whey from the milk fat by using a strainer lined with a cheesecloth or muslin cloth for about 10 minutes.

 

2)Once the chenna is drained place it in a clean and dry surface. With the heel of the palm knead it well till it rolls into a smooth soft dough.

chocolate shondesh

Kneading the 'chenna' into  a smooth and soft dough

Kneading the ‘chenna’ into a smooth and soft dough

3)Put the chenna dough in a heavy bottomed flat plan along with sugar, khoya/milk solids(if using) and cocoa powder.Keep stirring it continuously to remove the raw taste of chenna  for about 5-6 minutes at a very low flame(some time putting of the flame in between if required) to avoid burning of the mixture.If you want to make a ‘norom pak'(softer version)  shondesh then don’t keep it on flame for a very long time.

chocolate shondesh

 chocolate shondesh

4)Take the mix, of the pan and mould them or give desired shaped when still little warm.

chocolate shondesh

5) For making the garnishing,  in a double boiler take the cream , chocolate bar by breaking it into small chunks and sugar,simmering slowly while stirring continuously .Once the chocolate has melted,spoon the  hot chocolate ganache  in the centre of the shondesh by making a small   well with the tip of your finger.Dust it with  your choice of crushed nuts.

chocolate shondesh

chocolate shondesh

You can refrigerate this in an  airtight box,however, preferably serve this at room temperature. Shondesh tastes best when it is served fresh or after  being refrigerated for just a few hours.

chocolate shondesh

chocolate shondesh

Note :

 

  • Double boiler– A double boiler can be made by placing a bowl on top of a pot containing simmering water. In this case double boiler is used to avoid burning of the chocolate in direct   contact with heat.
  • Garnishing can be done simply by drizzling the chocolate ganache on top of the shondesh or by          sprinkling  chocolate sprinklers or cocoa powder or drinking chocolate.
  • Adding Khoya or milk solids to this shondesh only adds to the taste,however, it is not a compulsory     ingredient.
  • This recipe will make about 24 shondesh
  • Bong Appetite’s tips : The best way to enjoy this shondesh is to serve it at room temperature or slightly chilled with the chocolate ganache bit lukewarm and done just before serving

Doi Begun /Eggplant in yogurt gravy …. to beat the summer heat

Memories in May ..

doi begun_bong appetite

 

A squirrel quenching it's thirst (Photo courtesy : Bhashkar Dasgupta)

A squirrel quenching it’s thirst
(Photo courtesy : Bhashkar Dasgupta)

Summer reminds me of this song by Rabindranath Tagore.It perfectly describes the ruthlessness of summer heat and the agony  of  sun fatigued days,while eagerly waiting for the thundershowers to sooth tired souls.

 

Darun  agni-ban e re hriday trishay han-e re .

Rajani nidrahin,dirgho dogdho din..

Aram nahi je jaan-e re.

Shushko kanon shakhey  klanto kapot daake..

Karun kator gaan-e re..

Bhoy nahi,bhoy nahi,gagone rohechey  chahi.

Jani jhanjhar beshe  dibe dekha  tumi eshe..

Ekoda tapito praan-e re.

In this scorching heat of summer

My heart is so thirsty

The nights are sleepless..the days are burnt too long

Doesn’t get little respite

The tired pigeon moans sadly on  a dry brunch of a tree

But,fear not..worry not

Our eyes are roving in the sky

We know,you would show up in the guise of  tempest

And bless our restless souls with the downpour of your kindness..

(Translation courtesy: Abhijit Mazumdar)

 

 

While I write this post  summer has clearly touched base,and  temperature is  rising to a soaring high in most parts of India and many parts of the world ,with  mercury touching 40 degree Celsius with a humidity of 45%   in Kolkata,my home city.There you will  not consider it to be  a very cool idea to stay outdoor during the summer day unless your work  forces you to be,or you decide to get drenched in your own  sweat.  With no rain  to bail you out of the discomforting temperature,the only respite could be sort after in the ice creams,kulfis,daab-er jol(coconut water)shorbot ( Bengali cold drink concoction) etc.A few summers back, on my way to my work place,a college where I used to teach in Baghbazar(in North Kolkata) a common  sight  in the summer days that I vividly remember : the hand drawn rickshaws  plying hurriedly through  the city lanes and by-lanes.While the melting pitch of the streets took better of the poor rickshawallas,the passengers remain seated somewhat comfortably under the narrow perch of the rickshaw,and when that’s not comforting enough they would open  up their umbrellas to shield the raging  sun.

Rickshaw  ride  in the summer afternoon (Source:The Namesake)

Rickshaw ride in the summer afternoon
(Source:The Namesake)

Another visual that would make me secretly jealous,thinking how fortunate some people are, was on the days when I would have my classes in the second half of the day. I would notice the shutters of some of the small shops in the locality half down or a makeshift curtain arranged to cut down the entry of  heat to the shop,while the shopkeeper doze off to  afternoon siesta after his daily quota of maach-bhaat  morsel.Not a good business proposition to do  in the middle of the day,but I don’t  blame them,specially when you have minimum  customer  traffic  during  the times of sweltering heat.Summer  afternoon,however,did not always spell bad business for all .The ones who sold ice lollies called pepsi(the name that was given by the sellers themselves..remember the pipe shaped flavored and colored ice lollies?that probably you as a kid would buy with a 50

 Colourful Ice-lollies (Photo courtesy: Jishnu Nandy)

Colourful Ice-lollies
(Photo courtesy: Jishnu Nandy)

paisa ,tear the edge of the plastic pack  with your canines and gulp at  a go)dunked in their  ice  thermocol boxes,as they hop on and off the mini bus and private buses stopped in the middle of a traffic jam  being caught up at a traffic signal.While watching the street children kind of jumping,dancing and racing against each other under the public tap,which probably they would consider their private fountain showers, I would be immediately transmitted to my childhood days.Summer in spite of all it’s ghastliness  would bring the  unadulterated joy of summer vacations.The summer vacations were largely spent in my grandparent’s house  in central Kolkata,  with all my cousins united to spend the holidays together.

A bird's eye view of a busy road in Central Kolkata

Bird’s eye view of a busy road in Central Kolkata

A boy having ice candy to beat the heat  (Source:Reuters)

A boy having ice candy to beat the heat
(Source:Reuters)

The joy of watching the  para cricket(oh!if you have not known we have a Sourav Ganguly in every locality,if not a Sachin Tendulkar)round the corner of the street and wait impatiently towards  the end  of the afternoon for the ice cream-wallah(ice cream seller)to come  in  the locality with their ice-cream  carts.Our (me and my cousins’s)balcony  would be  the parapet of the roof terrace,We would cautiously stand on the tip of our toes with  the upper half of the body leaning little dangerously towards the roof  parapet,as we were not tall enough to  see the lane below just by standing on our feet.While the ice cream vendors would make sounds of sort  to signal their grand arrival , I along with my cousins would rush hurriedly to our grandparents to ask for khuchro(small currency change) to buy ourselves our favorite vanilla,choco-bar,orange flavored ice cream cups and sticks.Every season comes with a reason-true! whoever said so .

Summer have it’s  fair share of contribution to the Bengali appetite.Few vegetables which are only available during summer like mocha(banana blossom),potol(pointed gourd),enchor(jackfruit) etc are catapulted to a position of great respect and delicacies would be made out of them.While in summer  there are few vegetarian option available as such,the humble brinjal aka aubergine aka eggplant would come to the rescue of the households as it is one of the most precious summer vegetables( though it ‘s widely grown even in warm tropical winter  as well)we get.The patla maach er jhol shobji diye(light fish curry with vegetables)will inevitably have large chunks of  brinjals or eggplants immersed in the flavorful broth  to sooth the summer heat fatigued souls and if you give it a thought you can carve out a star dish out of the eggplant in the form of Doi Begun or eggplant in yogurt based gravy.Doi begun is one of the easiest mouth watering ‘make ahead dish’  that you can make with the fried eggplants  tipped in a lightly spiced yogurt based gravy,generally served mildly chilled or at room temperature with steaming hot rice to have a cooling effect.

begun

Doi begun to me does not look like something very authentic to Bengali tradition.I believe,this dish mostly  grew in popularity in Bengal  by being influenced by various Muslim invasion and influences from milk and cream based cuisine of Afghanistan.The dish which has huge similarity to our own doi begun is quite popular in Afganistan and is known as Baigan ki Boorani.Similar dishes can be traced to Tripoli in Lebabnon with a meat topping of choice(optional) as Batenjane be-laban or Fattet-al-Makdoos as  eggplant in yogurt based sauce in Beirut.Brinjal or eggplant with yogurt is also a  delicacy representative of the Turkish meze.Thick yogurt is a common ingredient in the  Turkish cuisine ,and is often served  flavored with herbs and spices with grilled vegetables like eggplant.

How I make Doi Begun..

 

3

Ingredients

 

  • Aubergine/Eggplant/Brinjal : 1 cut into thick round slices
  • Hung curd /Greek yogurt/thick yogurt : 500 gm
  • Red chilli powder :1 tsp
  • Turmeric: 1tsp
  • Dry roasted cumin powder: 1 tsp
  • Salt to taste
  • Sugar  to taste
  • Ginger: 1 tbsp(finely chopped)
  • Curry leaves: a handful
  • Dry red chilli :1-2
  • Asfoetida/Hing : a pinch
  • Mustard seeds : 1 tsp
  • White oil  to fry

1

5

Recipe

  • Cut the eggplant into thick slices,and dry marinate them with salt,turmeric ,red chilli powder and cumin powder.
  • Let the eggplant sit in the dry marination for half and hour
  • Fry the eggplant slices in batches,making sure they are not over fried . Place them in the serving bowl.
  • Beat the chilled yogurt with sugar and salt.The yogurt mix should ideally have a sweet-salty-tangy taste to it.
  • Spread the yogurt mix on top of the eggplant making sure the eggplant slices soak well into the yogurt sauce.
  • In the wok heat 2 tablespoon white oil.When the oil is smoking hot ,lower the gas and add the dry red chillies (broken into halves) and the mustard seeds.Let them splutter.At this point add the chopped ginger pieces and fry them till they change their color to golden brown but not burnt.Add the curry leaves and give the mix a good stir.As soon as the curry leaves change their color add a pinch of asfoetida and take the wok off  the flame.
  • Pour the oil-spice mix on the yogurt dressing .
  • Serve it chilled or at room temperature,but do not reheat the dish as the yogurt might curdle.
  • You  can prepare the dish 4-5 hours before serving,but don’t keep it  overnight  in the fridge.

Note: Cut the eggplant slices little thick to avoid them getting soggy in the yogurt mixture.

4

P.S. Can you think of any other Bengali  vegetarian dish which is influenced by Muslim invasions in India?

Khoya /Mawa making made easy

KHOYA 1

If you are an Indian and fortunate enough to be spared by the curse of dairy or lactose allergy  it’s most likely that you have grown up  tasting mawa/khoya in one form or the other.Be it your favourite hot  gulab jamun  or gajar ka  halwa from Delhi or Shaktigar-er lyangcha and  kheer -er shondesh from West Bengal  or Benaras ka pedha they all contain khoya or mawa.This dairy product which is an essential part of many Indian sweet and savory dishes is actually the residue milk solid made from dry whole milk or whole milk thickened in a deep open vessel over slow heat.

 

Facts about Khoya/Mawa…did you know?

 

  • Khoya are of 3 types : Hard  Khoya or Batti Khoya is the toughest variety of milk solids used in making pedha or ladoo.Smooth Khoya or Chikna Khoya is soft,smooth and sticky variety used in shondesh  and rabri making.There is also a granulated variety known as Danedaar Khoya and is used to make kalakand,milkcake etc.In this the milk is curdled before evaporation leading to a grainy texture of khoya.
  • Khoya is used in making many Indian dessert,but the sweetened variety is a dessert in itself and is known as Pal Khoya .
Khoya ''cakes'' wrapped in sarees and dupatta(s) in old Delhi's Khoya Market (Photo Courtesy : eatanddust)

Khoya ”cakes” wrapped in sarees and dupatta(s) in old Delhi’s Khoya Market
(Photo Courtesy : eatanddust)

  • Around Diwali about 2000 people flock in old Delhi’s whole sale khoya market at Mori gate bus terminal and huge quantity of khoya and mawa comes from U.P,Punjab,Haryana  and Rajasthan.
  • You can find numerous shops in old Delhi selling mawa or khoya for a living.Om Shiv Mawa Bhandar,Jamnadas Khoyawale,Vishal Mawa Bhandar,Pawan Dairy Products are few Khoya dealers from Patel nagar,ChandniChowk,Khari Baoli markets of  Delhi.
Khoya trader in old Delhi's wholesale khoya market (Photo courtesy : eatanddust)

Khoya trader in old Delhi’s wholesale khoya market (Photo courtesy : eatanddust)

  • Old Delhi’s khoya market handles 50 tonnes of Khoya on any given day.Apparently tons of milk solids are auctioned everyday at Khoya Mandir at Mori Gate on a wholesale basis.
  • Khoya or Mawa are widely used in Indian,Pakistani,Bangladeshi and Nepalese cuisine in making dessert and exotic savory dishes.
  • It is similar to  Ricotta Cheese but the moisture content is much less in Khoya than in Ricotta Cheese.
  • Khoya/Mawa are great source of Vitamin D and calcium.
  • The usage of khoya or mawa largely increased and spread over the whole of North India with the Mughal rule and the previous muslim invasions.The Arab traders  brought with them exotic spices,  Khoya or mawa  and the royal rasoi(kitchen) hugely patronized the usage of such food ingredients leading to spread of this culinary culture along with the Mughal rule.

KHOYA 2

Khoya

Being brought up in Kolkata,the epicentre of the art of ‘mishti’ or ‘shondesh’ making along with the Kolkata style mughlai food I got introduced to khoya or mawa quite early in childhood.Mom’s Shahi Paneer or home made ledikini would contain proportion of milk solids.We got our supply of milk solids or khoya readily available in the para’r mishti’r dokan (local sweet shops).The khoya could have been bought from the shop and used at one’s disposal,and even sometime stored in air tight containers in the fridge for over 1-2 days atleast.

The grainy textured Khoya/Mawa

The grainy textured Khoya/Mawa

 

After coming to UK I realized the blessings of the local  sweet shops ,because the khoya making process is indeed time and energy consuming.Being the foodie that I am I was ,however,unperturbed by the unavailability of khoya from the local shops.I decided to make it on my own  without being bogged down by the strenuous and time consuming procedure. I came up with a shortcut.Yes ‘short cut to success’ do exist..at least in case of khoya or mawa making 🙂

The Khoya ''Cake''

The Khoya ”Cake”

Ingredients

Dry whole/full fat milk powder : 1 cup

Ghee or clarified butter : 3 teaspoon

Milk : 1/4 th cup

Procedure of Khoya or Mawa making 

In a microwave safe bowl take 3 teaspoon ghee and to it add 1/4th cup milk(room temperature).Mix it well and put in the microwave for 1 and 1/2 minute or till the milk is warm .After taking out the bowl, put 2 cups of dry milk powder over the hot  ghee-milk mixture. Stir and mix it well with a spoon.The mawa/khoya is ready.

Checking the texture of the Khoya

Checking the texture of the Khoya

Note :

  • To have more grainy textured khoya you can add  half to one cup of more milk powder.
  • This khoya can be  brought to room temperature,knead into a tight dough(by adding  a teaspoon of milk if it’s too dry) and wrapped in a muslin cloth to be stored in the fridge for around 3-4 days and can be frozen for about a month in an air tight container.
  • Bong Appetite’s suggestion : You can use this khoya in making Shondesh and Enchor -er Biriyani.

KHOYA 5

 

Kitchen Conversation

”Hey what’s up? Good to meet you all.I am just trying to adjust myself in this not so quite corner”, quipped Deep fryer Gordon.

”Well you have to adjust with that little available space dear! you are a new entry to the kitchen after all”-remarked  Kadhai.

”Hahaha.. you sound so angry Mrs Kadhai  Dalal !” said  Pressure cooker Stein.

”I know ,I know, what you mean to say.. but I am sure  Handi  Kapoor  would agree with me” ,answered Dalal.”These Blond babes (referring to Pressure Cooker and Deep Fryer)keep coming every now and then at the whims and fancy of the lady of the house and tries to steal our position of prime.”

”Handi, hello ..!!! are you sleeping? how can you sleep in between conversation….” grumpily said  Kadhai.

Handi with a big yawn..”no no not sleeping ,just trying to take a power nap.Had a tiring day yesterday you know.That exotic  Biriyani was cooked after a long time.So had to undergo lots of  gruel..and these maid servants..hardly take into consideration my old age!”

”These maids ..I tell you ……….grrrrr..” grumbled old Handi Kapoor.

”Look at me, I am old and vintage too  but then she(the maid) cant do much to my look”- said  Shil Nora Singh Sokhi from  bottom  of the  spice rack.

”Well well.. look who’s talking. You  hardly have a body to flaunt ,how does it matter!! Look at my size zero figure” said the Electric beater Oliver.This is why (referring to the lady of the house)cleans me herself and that too with lots of love.”

”Size zero figure and you!!” smirked  Spatula Lawson..”I am the only one with size zero figure”.

”Hey stop fighting, the lady of the house is coming to the kitchen”-Shil Nora tried to stop the quarrelling brigade.The lady came in with  a packet full of fresh home delivered pizza. She took the dinner plates,a couple of forks and knives and went off.

”These home delivered junk foods will make us lazy one day”..murmured  Mrs.Kadhai Dalal.All nodded head in unison  and agreed.

For once there was agreement and peace in the kitchen!

Chocolate Fudge Cake with Strawberry and Twix : The making of a birthday cake

CAKE

Whether it’s the 1st birthday  or a surprise 30th birthday  or a 100 year celebration, birthday cakes are as special as the birthdays themselves. Ain’t they? Birthdays for me are sheer nostalgia of home made fruit cakes specially baked by Maa with lots of love.I would wait year round for this special day to smell and taste the richness and goodness of home baked cakes.There were not many bakery shops back then in Kolkata and not many catering custom made cakes ,so Maa was the only one who I would look up-to on my birthdays for cakes.I would be her little assistant helping her making the cake batter or keeping an eye on the cake from outside the glass door of the cake oven.Helping her doing the cake was so much fun.Little did I know one day this cake apprenticeship with mom will inspire me to bake birthday cakes myself.

It was my husband’s birthday,been 4  year into the marriage I have been doing the baking ritual every year on his birthdays or shall I say growing with my baking abilities on the occasion of his birthdays?!! I have planned an impromptu surprise party; there was so much to do like inviting guests,arranging things, doing the groceries ,baking a cake -all that secretly! Quite a tough task at hand with only 5 days to his birthday.So I decided to ease out on the cake.The plan was to make a simple chocolate cake with a fudge ganache and easy but interesting decoration to go with.I  chalked out the idea and look of the cake that I would like to make, and made a quick list of ingredients to buy.Once the ingredients were at my disposal making the birthday cake was a cakewalk,literally !

And here comes the confession : I am no pro at this,just learning my way through lots of trial and error- the art of baking.But honestly I feel baking can be therapeutic.It’s like a magic to see a batter of cocoa powder,sugar,plain flour to transform slowly into a moist  fluffy chocolate cake.It’s like the caterpillar to butterfly  transformation story for me.

Recipe for Chocolate Fudge Cake with Strawberry and Twix 

Ingredients


For the Cake

225 g plain flour/self raising flour

350 g caster sugar

85 g cocoa powder

1 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp salt

3 free range eggs

250 ml milk

125 ml vegetable oil/sunflower oil

2 tsp vanilla extract/ vanilla essence

250 ml boiling water

 For the chocolate fudge icing

400 g blocks  of milk chocolate,chopped

2/3 cup thickened cream/double cream

1/2 cup caster sugar or to taste

3-4 tbsp milk (if required)

 

For decoration of the cake

200 g strawberries, halved

A few packet of Twix or KitKat

A ribbon of your choice

CAKE

 

Preparation  of the Chocolate Cake


1.Preheat the oven to 180 C/350 F

2.Grease a cake tin of 20 cm/8 inch

3.Sift the cake flour, cocoa powder ,sugar in a large bowl ensuring that there is no lump in the batter.

4.Add the baking powder and salt to the mix.Give a dry whisk with the hand blender to mix all the dry ingredients.

5.Start adding all the wet ingredients (except boiling water) one by one: eggs,milk,oil and vanilla essence or extract.

6.Using an electric beater or a hand blender mix the batter well so that the ingredients are well combined.

7.Add the boiling water a little at a time,blending well so that the batter is smooth and liquidly.

8.Pour the mixture in the greased cake tin.

9.Bake at 180C for about 40 mins or until the top is firm to touch or skewer inserted to the centre of the cake comes out clean.

10.Remove the cake from the oven and let it cool for 10 mins.

11.Use a spatula or a blunt knife to loosen the cake from the side and base.

12.Cool the cake in the wire wrack completely at least for 2-3 hour before applying the fudge icing.

CAKE

 

Preparation of the fudge icing


1.Add 1″ of water in a medium saucepan or pot and bring to gentle simmer(you can speed up the process by adding 1 tsp of salt to the water)

2.Place heat proof bowl with an handle attached on top the pot when the water has reached the boiling point.Make sure that the bottom of the pot is not touching the boiling water.The steam of the water will gradually heat up the pot.

3.Add the chopped chocolate pieces to the pot and stir occassionaly until smooth and melted.Add the cream at this point mixing throughly.Finally add the sugar to the mix and let it melt.

4.Keep little milk handy,in case if the fudge icing becomes very thick,adding milk will make it smoother and easier to apply on the cake.

CAKE

Decorating the Chocolate Cake

1.You can keep the fudge icing in the fridge for half an hour or so to thicken it a bit.It should be thick enough to hold the Twix or Kit-kat sticks when placed against the cake wall.

2.Spread the fudge icing or ganache with the back of a flat spatula generously on top and all around the cake so that it forms a thick coating.

CAKE

 

3.Then stick the Twix or Kit-Kat sticks,one by one against the fudge coating.

4. Top the cake with halved strawberries.

5.Drizzle some of the leftover fudge icing on the strawberries if you wish to.

6.Don’t forget to tie a ribbon round the cake to make it look like the perfect gift ever 🙂

Serving suggestion

When serving individual portions warm the cake pieces with a Twix  or KitKat stick for about 30 seconds in the microwave and serve with a scoop of your favourite vanilla icecream.

CAKE

 

Enchor-er Biriyani (Jackfruit Biriyani/Kathal Biriyani)

 

It’s time to do some material food talk in the culinary début of the blog. A biriyani recipe which is not quite biriyani like! Well that was the confession part.Honestly whenever I have thought(read dreamt ) of Biriyani it is always a big chunk  of soft and juicy mutton/lamb or may be a chicken drumstick immersed in the bed of saffron-white flavourful  basmati rice has emerged in my mind.But then as I grew up  little with my mundane experience in the kitchen I came to know more about biriyani,it’s wide scope and how the dish got it’s name. Biriyani is derived from the Persian word  ‘beryan’ meaning fried or roasted.It is believed that  Timur the Lame  introduced biriyani in India.Later on, it spread in different parts of India,along with the Muslim invasion,but changed according to local custom,eating habits and of course availability of ingredients.

 

 2

 

Soon I realised there can be odd number of variation of Biriyani. You name it ,you have it! Illish Biriyani,Fish Biryani,Shrimp Biryani,Tahari(vegetarian version of Biriyani,specially for those who avoid non -vegetarian food).But then there’s another  version of Tehari  popular in Bangladesh which includes beef as one it’s main ingredient.You will be pleasantly surprized to know Bengali’s own Muri-ghonto(made with fried fish head and rice) is a sort of Biriyani.That is like a small hint of the endless possibilities in the mind boggling world of Biriyani !

 SONY DSC

 Biryani -as the scope of the dish is huge and generous I decided to use enchor(jack fruit) to give it a new form.  Enchor or jack fruit – the  succulent fleshy vegetable can work as a great substitute of the non vegetarian options.This version of biriyani is purely vegetarian and do not use onion or garlic,just like  the traditional vegetarian dishes prepared in Bengali households. The recipe won yours truly the 1st position of a small competition organised by a Bengali food magazine in Kolkata called- Hangla Henshel and got published in their November  2013 issue.

SONY DSC

RECIPE

Ingredients

  • Basmati Rice:  400 gm/2 cups
  • Whole garam masala:Bayleaves :2-3/Cinnamon-stick:1inch/Green Cardamom:3-4/Clove:2/Black Cardamom : 2/Shah Jeera : 1 tsp/Mace(Javitri) :1 floret /Nutmeg(Jaiphal):1/4
  • Enchor(Jackfruit) :10-12 pieces
  • Fried Potato (medium) : 4-5
  • Greek Yogurt or Hung Curd : 1/4 cup
  • Khoya kheer/Milk Solids:100gm
  • Kewra Essence-5-6 drops
  • Saffron Strands:  1/2 tsp
  • Ginger paste: 2tbsp
  • Green chilli paste: 1 tbsp
  • Dry  roasted  Biriyani masala (cumin/coriander/green cardamom/cinnamon/star anise/black peppercorn/fennel) :  3-4 tbsp
  • Red Chilli powder : 1 tbsp
  • Turmeric : 1tsp
  • Raisins: 10 gm
  • Lukewarm milk :1/4th cup
  • Cashew nut(roasted) : 10-12
  • Cornflour  : 2-3 tbsp
  • Salt
  • Sugar
  • Ghee/Clarified butter
  • Sunflower Oil

SONY DSC

Steps of making the Biriyani

1.Making of the Biriyani Masala

Dry roast all the ingredients mentioned for ”Dry roasted Biriyani masala” taking 1 tsp of each and 1/2 inch cinnamon stick.Use only 2-3 tbsp of the masala for the biriyani, rest you can store in an air tight container for later  use for any other Biriyani preparation.

2.Marinating the enchor(jackfruit)

Wash and cut the jackfruit pieces and dry them with a kitchen towel and remove all the moisture.In a bowl mix the  ginger paste,green chilli paste,greek yogurt or hung curd,salt,turmeric(1tsp),khoya,red chilli powder,cornflour,2 tbsp dry roasted biriyani masala. Marinate  the jackfruit pieces in the mix for 1 hour.

 3. Preparing the potatoes

Take 4-5 medium sized potatoes  or cut large potato into halves.Peel the potatoes and wash them.Fry the potatoes in hot oil  till golden brown by sprinkling 1 tsp each of turmeric and salt .

4.Cooking the Enchor/Jackfruit

Take a frying pan .Put 2 tbsp oil to it rotating over low heat so that the bottom of the pan is well coated with oil.Add the enchor/jackfruit with the marination.Cook the enchor/jackfruit  at low flame turning every now and then to avoid burning .Cook the mix till it changes colour but only 2/4 th  cooked.

5. Preparing the saffron milk

Take 1/2 tsp of saffron strands ,crush them to powder in a pestle and mortar. Take 1/4th cup of lukewarm milk and dissolve the saffron powder in it.Add the kewra essence in the milk.Mix well,cover and keep aside.

6.Preparing the rice

Use good quality long grain basmati rice.Soak 2 cups of rice in water for 30 mins.Wash thoroughly till water runs clear.Drain the water and dry the rice.


7. Cooking the Biriyani

 Take a deep vessel or a heavy bottomed pan with a tight  fitting lid.Add 2-3 tbsp ghee to the pan.Melt the ghee over slow flame and rotate the pan so that the ghee is spread evenly coating the bottom and sides of the pan.Add the whole garam masala.Add 1cup of the rice,then add the cooked enchor/jackfruit,potatoes,sprinkle 2 tbsp of biriyani masala.Add sugar and salt according to taste.Add another layer of rice(1 cup) and sprinkle the saffron milk.

SONY DSC

Give a try to this Enchor-er(Jackfruit)Biriyani! Bon Appetit…Bong Appetite way !