Bori diye maach er jhol/fish curry with lentil dumplings and paradoxes of blogger life

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Looking back it was just another cold wintry morning in December when I decided to start blogging..but why blogging?I have been following a few blogs since last few years and always thought it’s a great platform to share once’s thought,ideas and creativity.Indeed it is !

But managing a blog and keeping it updated,with a continuous flow of content  is not that easy.Or  does it appear so because I am still in the bottom of the learning curve?

Lessons learnt in the  last few months :It is never enough to just think  and conceive an idea and to jot it down,or just click some random pictures of the food you made.However,sumptuous and palatable the food is ,it has to look equally good and convey the message through pictures.It has to tell a story.What story?

May be the food is a part  of your heirloom kitchen or maybe it is a creation pressed out of you rattling in the everyday kitchen.Whatever it may be ,it has to be conveyed through photographs..but  how?

Through props(properties) may be.But what are props?

These are the non  food items required for the photo shoot.Anything starting from plates,cutlery,fabrics,kitchen utensils,books,background,fabrics  and what not  can count as prop.You can never have enough of these .You have to work your mind through  scavenging your props and decide which ones will look good and in harmony with each other  in respect to a particular dish .

They call this food styling and I thought I loved this  until I realized you might have the tastiest dish in front of  you,use one of the best cameras available,use great lighting;but all that won’t make any sense if you go wrong while choosing your props.If you consider these  challenges ,as a  tiny fraction  of my otherwise happy blogger-life,then probably I have to enlighten you further on my blogger life technical  challenges.Fixing a widget,link or managing tools are far from  cakewalk for me.I am learning my way through it ,and enjoying the rewards my effort  is bringing with it.It’s a package deal as they say.

 There are  perks of food blogging too..more stories to tell on that..but some other day!

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Alright,so now that the rant part is over, lets move  on to  the real food -talking,shall we? If you ever peep into a Bengali kitchen leave apart the pan-Indian scenario,you will find apart from  the traditional and well known recipes of fish ,every household and almost every family has got a special fish recipe to share  and a story evolving round it to tell.So,for me the store bought ready to make curry paste  sucks big time.A curry made out of it will never(or hardly) tell  a  story.I really can’t relate to it.Can you ever  imagine  doing a Bhog er Khichuri or for that matter of fact your favorite Murighonto with a curry paste?For me food is an emotion as well.

We don’t  buy Bengali fish varieties  (specially sweet water  ones with bone)very often since we get the frozen ones  here,but whenever we do,I make sure  to do at least one  simple curry , that we used to eat  at home.You can call  this  my immigrant syndrome.I will happily agree…after all we  always try to  find our root in our attempt at replication of the past.

 While I deal with the everyday challenges of blogging, I am glad not everything about blogging is that complex.Cooking the everyday fish curry is perhaps one of them.Simple,unpretentious and promising.It tastes as good as it looks.This  is a mundane fish curry  which is light and not extraordinarily spicy.It gets it’s unique punch from  the Bengali version of  dry lentil dumplings.They add texture and bite to the otherwise mellow but flavorful light   fish  broth.You can add your choice of vegetables (eggplant,green beans,carrot,courgette,pointed gourd/potol,ridge gourd/jhinge,cauliflower etc)to it  if you fancy.

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Recipe:

Ingredients:

  • Rohu/telapia steaks/or any other sweet water fish of your choice : 8-10 pieces
  • Whole cumin seeds(dry roasted): 3 tsp(1 tsp for tempering and 2 tsp  for cumin paste)
  • Whole  coriander seeds(dry roasted): 2 tbsp
  • Turmeric:  1-1/2 tsp
  • Whole dried red chili :   2-3(adjust according to your choice)
  • Green chili : 2( slit)
  • Potato : 3-4 (small to medium size)
  • Ginger paste : 1-2 inch
  • Salt to taste
  • Mustard oil to cook
  • Lentil dumplings/Bori : a  handful
  • Coriander leaves /cilantro(optional)

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Method :

  • Remove the scales(if any) of the fish and clean it properly.Dry marinate the fish pieces with salt and turmeric and keep aside for 15-20 minutes.
  • Make  a spice paste of ginger,red chilies,coriander and cumin seeds  by adding very little water to the mix.
  • Fry the lentil dumplings/bori carefully till golden brown,avoiding to break them,as they are generally tender  and brittle.Remove the lentil dumplings from the frying pan.
  • Cut the potatoes in wedge like shape and fry them,by sprinkling little turmeric and salt till almost half done.Take the potato wedges out of the pan and keep them aside.
  • In the same wok add some more mustard oil and shallow fry the fish pieces.
  • Again in the same  wok heat the remaining mustard oil , add 1 tsp whole cumin seeds and let them splutter  for a while and add the spice paste  and add 1/2 tsp turmeric .
  • Cook the spice paste at low to medium flame until  oil leaves the side of the pan.
  • Add boiling water  and adjust salt once the  gravy settles down little bit.Bring to  a gentle boil.
  • Add the fried potato wedges at this stage ,allowing it  to cook in the gravy.
  • When the potatoes are almost done,add the fried fish pieces,cover the pan and let it simmer gently.
  • Uncover ,add the cilantro (if  using)and  put off the  flame.Give it a standing time of 2-3 minutes and then transfer to the serving bowl.
  • Add the fried bori/lentil  dumplings  to  the curry at this stage.The lentil dumplings will eventually  soak in some of  the gravy.
  • Garnish with 2 halved green chilies and serve  the fish curry with steamed white rice and  lime wedges.

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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