Apr 18, 2008

Lentil Shepherd's Pie

Friends ,I have had my first taste of rude anonymous comments,unfortunately it is not about my cooking or recipes but concerns my personal life.This person has so much time that he/she has created a new account under a new name(as anonymous comments are prohibited in my blog) and left an insolent ,abusive comment for me...see how important I am for this person:)I had read about these pranksters in other blogs...so was mentally prepared.I had a good laugh at the enlightening comment and I feel that people who do not have the guts to come out in the open do these cowardly acts and get immense satisfaction,basically psychos who have had a bad day at work or might be one of those guys whom I had ditched in my college days :P

My post today is lentil shepherd's pie...brown lentils with cottage cheese layered with creamy potato mixture and baked to perfection.I served steamed broccoli sauteed with olive oil and carom seeds(ajwain) with it and garlic bread which made it a perfect continental dinner with an indian touch.The recipe is adapted from my favourite Nita Mehta's continental collection.
You need:
To be pressure cooked:
1 cup brown lentils(saboot masoor)
1 tbsp oil
1" pc ginger
3 cups water
salt to taste
For filling:
2 tbsp olive oil
a pinch asofoetida(hing)
1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1 large carrot,cut into tiny pcs
1/2 cup boiled peas
100 gm cottagecheese(paneer) crumbled
1/2 tsp soya sauce
For topping:
4 potatoes boiled,peeled,grated and mashed till smooth
2-3 tbsp butter
1/4 cup hot milk
2 tbsp cream
3 tbsp chopped fresh parsley or coriander
juice of 1/2 lemon
salt and pepper to taste Method:
1.Pressure cook the lentils with all the other ingredients under to be pressure cooked to give 1 whistle,simmer on low heat for 12 mins.If there is any water dry on fire.
2.Add all the ingredients under topping to the mashed potatoes and mix well.
3.To prepare the filling,heat oil,add asofoetida and pepper and saute for 3-4 secs.Add the carrots and stir for 1 min.Cover and cook on low heat for 2-3 mins till soft.Add peas and salt and mix.
4.Mix salt and soya sauce to the crumbled cottage cheese and mix well.
5.Combine the cottage cheese,lentils and the cooked carrots and peas.
6.Spread this pie filling evenly at the bottom of a greased oven proof dish.

7.Cover the mixture with the potatoes,level the potatoes with a knife.Ripple or score the potato mixture with a fork in a decorative design,by making lines on the topping as shown in the picture.
8.Preheat oven to 200 deg C.Bake for 25-30 mins till the potato topping turns golden.Serve hot.

Apr 15, 2008

Entries for RCI Bengal

West Bengal is one of the Eastern states of India, the land of Ramakrishna Paramahansa,Swami Vivekananda, Rabindranath Tagore,Amartya Sen...the list is endless, a state rich in cultural heritage, state teeming with people who are literary intellectuals, sports lovers, a place where India's quest for freedom began, a place which gave birth to number of modern movements in literature, painting, theatre, cinema, politics.

I always had this strange fascination for speaking bangla whenI was a kid as I found the language too sweet:)As I grew up I had lots of bengali friends and I made sure I talked to them in Bangla.Lady luck endowed her choicest blessings on me when I got married to Biplab, though he belonged to an oriya family but were settled in Bengal since generations.My joy knew no bounds when I found out that the whole household not only spoke bangla at home but the style of living, cooking,customs and traditions was a lot like bengalis.Since then it has been a beautiful experience learning and getting accustomed to bangla ranna and traditions....my dream come true:)

West bengal not only shares borders with Orissa but has cultural ,linguistic and culinary similarities too.The culinary similarities are the ingredients , the style of cooking , the same recipes with a little twist here and there.The common ingredients in cooking being Sorshe tel( mustard oil),paanch phoron( five spice mix),Poshto baata(poppyseed paste),Sorshe baata(mustard paste),extensive use of fish and prawns with different kinds of veggies and the different kinds of drool worthy sweet dishes which are unique to only these two states.My mom inlaw is an amazing cook and the credit goes to her in teaching me a few of the bengali dishes.

My entries for RCI Bengal hosted By Sandeepa of Bong Mom's Cook Book are Rui aloo phulkopi(carp fish cooked with cauliflower potao and peas),Moog Dal(split green gram cooked and tempered with cumin,bayleaf and red chillies) and Nikhuti Payesh(Cottage cheese Oblongs deep fried and served dipped in flavoured condensed milk.

Rui aloo phulkopi:
5-6 pcs of Carpor rui mach (normally red snapper or bhetki is used for this curry)
2 potatoes diced
1/4 cup green peas
1 small cauliflower cut into medium florets
1 large onion..ground to a paste
1 tomato diced or pureed
1 tsp ginger paste
1 tsp whole garam masala( 2 green cardamoms,2 -3 cloves,1"stick cinnamon)2-3 Bay leaves
1 tsp coriander pwdr,1 tsp garam masala,1/2 tsp cumin pwdr,1 tsp turmeric,1 tsp chilli pwdr
salt to aste
1/2 tsp sugar
3 tbsp mustard oil
1/2 lemon
1 tbsp chopped coriander
1 green chilli
1.Marinate the fish with turmeric(1/2 tsp),salt ,chilli pwdr( apinch) and lemon juice for 15- 20 mins.Shallow fry with 2 tbsp mustard oil till light brown.
2.Fry cauliflower and potatoes till half cooked,keep aside.
3.In the same pan add the rest of the oil add the sugar, caramelise on low heat, add the bay leaves and whole garam masala .
4. Add the onion and ginger paste ,fry till slightly brown.
5.Add all the masalas or spices except garam masala with little water and add with the tomatoes to the frying paste.Fry until the oil seperates from the masala.
6.Add the fried cauliflower and potatoes and1 cup water and salt.Cook covered for 10 mins or till the veggies are tender.
7.Add the fried fish and peas to the gravy and simmer for 5-8 mins.
8.Add the garam masala pwdr and garnish with coriander leaves and green chillies.
Moog Dal
  • 100 g split green gram (moog dal)
  • 1 tsp turmeric powder
  • 1 dry chilli
  • ½ tsp cumin
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 tbsp ghee
  • ½ tsp sugar
  • Salt to taste
  • 1 tsp mustard oil
  • 1.Dry fry green gram in a pan. Wash and boil the
  • fried green gram.
  • 2.Heat oil in a pan. Add cumin, dry red chilli and bay leaf.
  • 3.Saute till it splutters.
  • 4.Add boiled green gram, turmeric powder,
  • salt,sugar and water.
  • 5.Boil for a few mins.
  • 6.Add ghee and remove from heat.
  • 7.Serve with hot rice.

Nikuti Payesh:
500 gms Cottage Cheese(Channa)
1 lt milk
1 kg sugar
100gm flour
1/2 tsp soda bi carbonate
1 tsp ghee
2-3 black cardamom
4-5 sticks cinnamon
oil for deep frying
1.Knead well the cheese,flour,soda bicarb,cardamom and the ghee together.
2.Make small elongated balls out of the mixture and deep fry them till dark brown.
3.Boil the milk seperately with cinnamon and 4-5 tbsp sugar till it condenses.
4. Make a sugar syrup of one thread consistency from boiling water and the remaining sugar.
5.Immerse the fried oblong balls or nikhuties in the sugar syrup for 2 hrs.
6. Remove the balls with a strainer and dip in the boiled condensed milk.Serve after cooling.

Apr 9, 2008

Mixed dal or protein dosa

Dosa I am sure is an universal favourite, an authentic, south indian crepe or pancake which is served either plain or with a variety of delicious fillings.Its normally served with a bowl of tart sambhar and spicy chutneys.

During the initial years of my cooking experimentations I had a huge mental block for making dosas.All the processes involved like soaking,grinding,fermenting made it look like an uphill task for me.But my family's love for dosas won and today after all these years the dosa making process seems a miniscule project :)

There was a time when continuously for two months dosa was not made in my kitchen...can you guess the reason why?I forgot to soak the dal and rice every single night for two months :P can you believe this?That is when i felt the need to maintain a to-do list and started scheduling errands and tasks....that was the most productive way to complete them.This forgetfulness bug entered my mind when Mishti was few months old and I had to deal with a cluttered house, a never ending sleep deprivation,the e mails I needed to write,the phone calls I needed to return and top of that my hubby was out sailing in deep seas.I could barely remember the date or day,felt as if my brains were turning to mush,something which was entirely out of my control.During those hard times the simplicity of to- do lists made a tremendous difference in my upside down life.Oops! where is this leading to....from dosas to to-do list!

Back to those yummy crispy dosas.....this protein packed mixed dal dosa is one of my friend Chitraa's recipe who belongs to Kerala.Since the day I had it at her place it has been a regular in my kitchen too.This dosa is more or less like Adai ,the only difference is that this recipe has more rice and needs fermenting.

This mixed dal dosa goes to Srivalli of Cooking 4 all seasons for her Dosa mela.

You need:
1/4 cup tuvar dal or toor dal( pigeon peas)
1/4 cup urad dal(split black gram)
1/4 cup yellow moong dal(split green gram)
1/4 cup channa dal(yellow gram)
1 cup raw rice
1 cup boiled rice
5-6 black pepper
2-3 dry red chillies
a pinch hing(asofoetida)
1/2 tsp turmeric pwdr
1/4 cup oil or ghee(clarified butter)
salt to taste


1.Soak the dals (pulses) and rice in 2 seperate vessels for 5-6 hrs or overnight.Soak the red chillies and the whole black pepper with the dals.
2.Grind the soaked dal and rice the next day,add salt ,mix thoroughly and keep it in a warm place for 4-5 hrs so that the mixture ferments nicely.
3.Before making dosas add the asofoetida and turmeric pwdr and mix nicely. The hing or asofoetida helps in avoiding gases which normally attack because of the dals.
4. For making dosas the step by step recipe is here.
5.Serve the dosas with a chutney of your choice.
The chutneys in the plate have been adapted from the talented Sailu's kitchen.... tomato chutney and coriander curd chutney. She has a plethora of delicious Andhra delights in her blog.

Apr 6, 2008

Okras in tomato mustard gravy .... Bhendi besara khatta

I normally prepare oriya meals when there is plenty of time at hand and the meal can be savoured with leisure and nostalgic memories.Every bite transports me back in time ,the delicate flavours tingling my tastebuds and reminding me of home.There is already a list of sweets and savouries ready in my mind to be hogged once I go back home.My Bappa's (father) constant leg pulling that I come from a drought stricken land doesn't at all deter me from my voracious gorging :)
The month of march just flew past and suddenly I realised that I didn't post a single oriya recipe.So here I am with my humble dish......a simple curry devoid of any frills and fuss but amazingly tasty.Bhendi Besara Khatta is Okras cooked in mustard and tomato gravy.Besara is a genre of oriya curry where mustard paste is the main ingredient.The tomato in the gravy imparts the required sourness and that's why the term Khatta meaning sour.This is my Bappa's favourite and I grew up eating and cooking this authentic delicacy.
The other ingredient which lends an unique flavour to the curry is Pancha Phutana.....a mix of cumin ,mustard, aniseed, fenugreek and nigella seeds and which literally means five spices.Oriya and Bengali cuisine is incomplete without the ubiquitous tempering of pancha phutana or panch phoran.

 Pancha Phutana

The actual flavour of the mustard paste gets enhanced when it is grinded on a Shila Bataa ,a flattened ,pitted stone on which the spices are ground with a smaller stone.Every oriya kitchen possesses the shila bataa and each and every spice and masala is ground to perfection and that too patiently!Lot of people complain about the mustard paste turning bitter if ground in a mixer and fortunatelyI have never faced this problem though mine gets ground in a coffee grinder.
You Need:
1 pkt frozen okraas or 250 gms fresh ones
1 tomato( sour variety) or equivalent amt of tomato paste
1-2 tbsp whisked curd
3 tsp mustard seeds
2 green chillies
2-3 flakes garlic
1 tsp pancha phutana(mix of cumin,mustard,aniseed,fenugreek,nigella seeds)
5-6 curry leaves
1 tbsp chopped coriander
2 tbsp mustard oil
1 cup water
1/2 tsp turmeric pwdr
salt to taste
1.Make a paste out of the mustard seeds,green chillies and garlic with little water.You can add the tomato in the mixer after the paste is half made.
2.Cut the okraas into 1" pieces.
3.Heat 1 tbsp oil in a pan and half cook the okra and keep it aside.
4.Heat 1 tbsp oil in the same pan and add the pancha phutana and curry leaves,add the ground paste after the tempering starts spluttering.Add the turmeric.
5.Cook the paste for 3-4 mins and then add the okras and water.Add the salt.
6.Cook the okras in the gravy till fully cooked ,lastly add the curd,give one boil and switch off the heat and garnish with coriander leaves.Serve with steamed rice.

P.S You can add more water if you want a thin consistency and remember to use a tomato of sour variety as its a sour dish.I used a tinned one,so the vinegar in it imparted a nice amount of sourness.Tomato can be put while cooking the paste if you like slushy chunks in the gravy.

Apr 3, 2008

Stuffed Chicken Minced Steak with Mushroom Sauce

When I decided to make this dish I had thought it would be extremely time consuming but the whole meal was ready within an hour... the meal comprised of chicken steak with herbed cheese filling ,doused with mushroom sauce and steamed vegetables with rice.This recipe is adapted from Nita Mehta's Non veg Continental collection.90% of cookery books that I own are of Nita Mehta and till date none of her recipes have gone wrong.I learnt Continental cooking from her books and her recipes are modified to suit Indian conditions....keeping in mind the climate,taste and most important easy availability of ingredients.Her recipes have always evoked admiration and praises in my cocktail and dinner parties and I started enjoying continental cooking with confidence.So here's a delicious and hearty meal for chicken lovers!

You need: For Mince Steaks
300 gm boneless chicken breasts or chicken mince
1/2 onion chopped very finely
1 tsp ginger garlic paste
some fresh bread crumbs(remove sides and grind 1 slice of bread in a mixer)
1tsp worcestershire sauce
salt and pepper to taste
For filling:
4-5 tbsp mozzarella Cheese
1/2 tsp dried oregano
1 tbsp fresh parsley or 1/2 tbsp dried parsley
For Mushroom sauce:
1 tbsp butter
3-4 mushrooms finely chopped
1 and 1/2 tbsp flour
1 1/4 cups hot water mixed with 1 stock cube( I used mushroom seasoning cube)
1/2 tsp worcestershire sauce
1 tbsp tomato puree
1 tsp tomato sauce
pepper to taste
Method:1.Grind the chicken to a mince in a food processor for a few seconds...grind the mince if you have ready made mince .
2. Combine everything under steaks and mix well.
3.Mix all ingredients of the filling.
4. Form 6 balls from the mince mixture,flatten each ball and put a tbsp of herbed cheese and shape into a ball and flatten to form 6 steaks.Refrigerate till the time of serving.

5.To prepare the sauce,fry the mushrooms in butter until golden brown,add the flour and fry on low heat until brown.remove from heat and mix the hot water with the stock cube and add to the mushrooms.Add tomato puree and sauce. Return to fire,boil,cook stirring continuously for 3 mins or till thick.Add pepper to taste.
6.To serve heat 1 tbsp oil in a pan and cook the steaks in low heat for 8-10 minutes.Keep turning sides and press the steaks occasionally so that steaks get cooked from inside and also turn brown on both the sides.Transfer the steaks to a serving platter.Pour hot mushroom sauce over them.

Accompany the steaks with steamed veggies and some rice.
I loaded the steamer with veggies and rice while I cooked the steaks and served the veggies with lemon juice ,salt and pepper sprinkled on them.

I loved the sight of herbed cheese oozing out from the steak

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