The Great British Summer is here and how! We have been (so far! touch wood!!)blessed with a wonderful summer this year and we are making most of it,as long as it lasts.British countryside has so much to offer that we are practically hopping around almost every weekend .Fortunately we live in the neck of the wood of one of the most scenic places in UK,called Peak District,so all we need to do is to pack our picnic hampers,and zoom off for some 45 minutes to land up in some lush and scenic green.And how green and beautiful it is?..well check it out yourself!
Talking about summer and summer day outs,how can I not mention about my favorite summer fruit.You guessed it right.I love strawberries,and I love desserts too(as if it’s still not evident from the number of my desserts post!).With not much time to spend in the kitchen (why should I ,when the sun is out?)I decided to make these quick make-ahead petite strawberry cheesecake desserts to treat myself and my family.
Wow presentation- check
Do you still need reasons to make these beauties?
Digestive biscuit or your choice of biscuit base -75 gm
Butter – 25 gm,melted
250 gm cream cheese,soften
50 gm granulated sugar
1 teaspoon strawberry essence
140 gm plain natural yogurt
Strawberries, to decorate
Melt butter in a pan over low heat.Crush the biscuits in a blender until they resemble bread crumbs.Mix the crumbs and the butter until the mixture is soft and moistened enough.Spoon equal portion of the mixture in 6 shot glasses.Lightly press down and leave to chill in the fridge.
While pressing down your biscuit base,apply moderate pressure as excessive pressure can make the base extremely hard to spoon out.
Beat the cream cheese, yogurt,strawberry essence and sugar together with a fork till the mixture becomes smooth and creamy.
Spoon the cream cheese mixture into the prepared shot glasses.Leave to chill in the fridge for 3-4 hours or until set.
Top with a strawberry before serving.
Note : You can replace strawberry with other berries of your choice for this dessert.
Gondhoraj lebu,the literal translation of this bengali name for a particular variety of lime means ”king of aroma”.Indeed this lime stands true to it’s name.It is one of the best variety of lime in terms of smell, that I have ever come across.The mere mention of this lime when bengalis are in conversation can send paroxysmal of joy that only someone who have smelled this lime will know.Hot and humid West Bengal summers would provide the perfect setting to indulge in the pure joy of having rice,patla mushoor dal (waterylentil soup)with a bout of gondhoraj lebu squeezed in.Some time my dimma (grandmother) would make daal with the leaf of gondhoraj lebu immersed in it ,to make it aromatic and refreshing.This lime is generally bright dark green,with a tough and hard outer surface and much larger in size than the ordinary key limes.The pale inner segment of the lime yields scanty juice but is always marked by overpowering smell that will compellingly bring one to the dinner table once it’s served with the food. But this fragrant lemon kind of disappeared(until recently) from my life once I stepped out of Bengal.Gondhoraj lebu is pretty much region specific and find it’s firm footing in Bangladesh and West Bengal in India.
The scientific name of this lime is said to be Citrus Limonia .This Rangpur lime variety got it’s name from a place called Rangpur in Bangladesh,where it is grown profusely.It is a cross between mandarin and lime,not very juicy in nature,but orgasmic in fragrance for sure.
The distant cousins of our very own Gondhoraj lebu can be found in South China as Canton Lemon , in Japan as Hime Lemon,as LimaoCravo in Brazil or Mandarin Lime in the United States.These are all different variety of the same family of Rangpur limes.
My search for the ever elusive Gondhoraj lebu ,however,finally ended when I came across it in a Bangladeshi grocery shop in Birmingham,England.My joy knew no bound the moment I saw them.I grabbed a few and headed straight to the counter.We had our Gondhoraj happiness with lime wedges cut,squeezed and smell inhaled with the regular mushoor daal and bhaat(rice) .That pacified our gondhoraj craving souls to a great extent.But some of them were still sitting pretty in the fridge side-cabinet.I decided to do some fusion dessert with my favorite lime variety. Inspirations were in plenty.The other popular aromatic limes like the Kaffir lime or the thai lime often used to make desserts like ice cream,white cake or the Carribean Key lime known to make refreshing cheesecakes were my point of reference.I decided to make some egg-less mousse with the signature fragrance of Gondhoraj lebu.Mousse is a French food that incorporates air bubbles to give it a smooth and light texture.Contrary to popular belief it can be consumed as dessert as well as in its savory form depending on the choice of ingredients.From the colder spring we are gradually progressing to warmer summer here in UK ,while the whole of Bengal is all ready under the spell of summer sun.Just the perfect time to make and lap up this yummy cool dessert.
Double cream : 600 ml
Condensed milk : 395 gm
Paneer or home made chhena : 250 -275 gm
Gondhoraj Lebu juice : 1-2 tablespoon
Gondhoraj lebu zest : 1 teaspoon
Pour the double cream and condensed milk in a clear and chilled container. Whip the double cream and condensed milk together with a hand blender or an electric beater till it forms firm peaks .Keep aside.Mash the paneer or chhena well to paste consistency ideally with the mixer grinder.Make sure the paste is smooth enough without any hint of lump(mine was not smooth enough to my expectation ,hence the warning!),otherwise the mousse will be little grainy in texture.Fold in the whipped double cream and condensed milk into the paneer or chhena paste.
Firm peaks of the whipped cream and folding in the condensed milk-cream mix with the paneer
Add the gondhoraj lebu juice at this stage.Give a gentle mix.Spoon the mousse mixture into the chilled serving dishes and top it with gondhoraj lebu zest.Scrap the lemon zest with a grater or a zester.Make sure you remove only the bright green zest and not the white pith ,which is bitter in taste.Seal the serving dishes with cling fling and refrigerate for at least 4-5 hours or overnight.Serve the Gondhoraj Lebu Mousse chilled.
Note : For this recipe you can use the store bought paneer or make your own chhena at home,what ever suits you.Only make sure to drain as much moisture as possible of which ever option you are opting.
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)
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.
How Maa made Shorshey shaak diye maach er jhol
4-6 pieces of Rohu( Salmon/Tilapia can also be very good alternative)
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.