Tuesday, December 11, 2018

Roasted Cauliflower Orange -- Phulkopi Komola Roast

I recently came to know about Phulkopi Komola, a Bengali dish where Cauliflower is cooked with oranges.

I had never ever heard of such a thing before. In our middle class family, we ate KomlaLebu with beet noon on winter afternoons, sitting on the terrace, our back to the sun and a book in front. My Ma, made a Komola Lebu'r kheer on occasions that deemed such extravaganza and that Kheer was so delicious that I cannot even explain in words. Other than that, oranges were had on their own.

Well, anyway, the pairing of Cauliflower with Oranges seemed like a brilliant idea, so I thought why not? But I didn't want to cook them the traditional Phulkopi dalna (cauliflower curry) way. I wanted to roast them. Cauliflowers I roast often. But this time, I wanted to add oranges (clementines to be precise) to the roast.

So Cauliflowers, tiny potatoes, oranges, and some carrots(optional) were chopped. Tossed with some tandoori masala, olive oil, chili powder and even garlic it was a pretty dish to look at and delicious to eat.The oranges gave a tiny kick of sweetness and flavor to the cauliflowers. I added some green peas to add color to the dish and it was an excellent idea. The whole dish is pretty simple to make and the cooking time is the time for you to relax and watch Netflix.

Thursday, December 06, 2018

Bajri Pearl Millet Pancakes

The last week, I have been desperately trying to stay off carbs in my diet. Not an easy feat for aluseddho-bhaat loving Bengalis.

But I have been eating like a glutton and wanted to give the whole digestive system, a short break between Thanksgiving and Christmas. Add to that my recent woeful experience while clothes shopping in Kolkata.

I love going to stores like Pantaloons, Biba or Big Bazaar back home. Being used to departmental stores in the West, where store assistants hardly pay a glance, careful not to intrude my privacy by suggesting any opinion unless clearly asked for,  the overload of shopping assistants in the stores at the Kolkata Mall, makes me feel very special.

They are always asking "Madam, ki chai?";then suggesting designs that they profess will look good on me; if I am throwing a tantrum that nothing matches they are eager to hunt down the right color leggings for my Kurta. In general they are pretty good people, showering attention as if I am buying a 900 rupees kurta for the royal wedding.

But with every pro, comes a con. And in this case there is plenty. One of them, of course is the intrusion which I am now old enough to take in stride. I have bidden enough time standing in long queues for the public bus in my college days, with Aunties suggesting all kind of skin and hair care routine. From staying off "oily food" to some Baba's miracle ointment, I have heard it all. That has toughened my self confidence.

So we will not talk about intrusion. Instead I would like to ponder upon why size of clothes in Indian stores is a variable. It is not a constant and is always shifting. What is a M today is not a M tomorrow in the same brand. What used to be an XL is now non-existent.. Folks in Kolkata are slimming down at an alarming rate so that size S is becoming a smaller size every year.

Until 2017, I was a size M with Kurtas that I bought in India. With most US brands, I can still get into a size S! But this time back in Kolkata, I could barely breathe in even M sized Kurtas.

At the Big Bazaar, which is close to my parent's home, and so a favorite haunt, I asked one of the young nymph like store assistants, "Are you guys just becoming more thin, or why does a M not fit me anymore?"

The young girl gave me a once over and without a smile said, "Didi, try a L, that will fit you!"

And of course it did. But that is when I made up my mind to stay off carbs for a week. But only after I had polished off all the Norom paak mishti and Nolen Gur er Ice cream of course!!!

Bajri Flour or Pearl Millet flour is a very common flour in some regions of India. It is high in complex carbohydrates and a rich source of protein and dietary fiber. I therefore cheerfully bought a small pack of Bajri flour while planning the low-carb week's menu. 

However I have never had Bajri flour while growing up and I doubt if my Mother has used it even once. All I knew is this nutty coarse flour is used to make a type of thick flat bread called Bakhri, which I was not keen to make. My neighbor then suggested making a Chilla with bajri flour as it is easier to make than a Bakhri.

I took it a step further, added eggs, spices, onion, green chilies and made savory crepes instead. I had these crepes with a ground chicken keema and avocados. I really loved the robust flavor of the crepes. The kids thought it was "meh" but then they are kids, so we will ignore them. For now, I am hooked to Bajri Crepes!!!

Monday, November 26, 2018

Tomato Kashundi Salmon -- salmon baked with mustard and tomato

Kashundi Salmon Bhapa
After oven

ince I have come back, from my short trip to India, I have been super jetlagged. The lethargy has seeped into my bones as has the cold, and so every day, I strive to find easy recipes to make for dinner.

Easy, Easier, Easiest -- has become my motto.

You might look at me with pity and cook your own very difficult chotol maach er muithya from scratch but that is not going to deter me. I will stick to my easy and quick recipes for now. My eldest daughter who takes baking very seriously thinks baking a cake from a box is blasphemy. She doesn't know about me. Yet!

So this recipe is an upgrade of my old recipe called Shorshe Salmon Jhaal. I mean it's an easier oven baked version.
And I don't know if Tomato Kashundi is a thing, given that Tomato is not a native of Bengal. I just made a mustard paste with tomato, garlic, green chili and called it Tomato Kashundi. It is a pretty good mustard paste but I don't think it has shelf life like regular Kashundi

We all love salmon and we love it more when it is bangla-fied. If you don't get salmon, don't fret, use any other fish that you use in a Bhapa recipe (steamed fish). No, leave Ilish alone. Use something like Bhetki, Basa or even Arh fish I think.

Before going in oven

Tomato Kashundi Salmon

When I buy salmon fillet I ask the skin to be removed. Then I cut each fillet in 3"x 3" squares. Okay, maybe some other dimension but small squares or rectangles. Toss the pieces with turmeric powder, and salt and keep aside. I had about 8 pieces of salmon fillet, each 3" x 3"

Tomato Kashundi is not really a thing but we will make it like this
2 tbsp Mustard seeds
1 tsp Poppy seeds
in a tbsp water for 30 mins -- to 1 hr

Make a paste of
the mustard + poppy seeds
2-4 fat clove of garlic (depending on how potent your garlic is)
1 medium tomato
2 green chilli
1 tbsp Mustard Oil
salt to taste
with a splash of water if needed

Pre-heat oven to 275 F. I have used a counter-top toaster oven for this dish so cooking time may vary with regular oven at same temp.

Grease an oven safe baking dish with few drops of olive oil (or any oil).

Arrange the pieces of salmon in a single layer

Next add the Tomato-Kashundi paste you made. Gently toss all of the fish pieces with the paste.

Chop a small tomato and arrange it on top of the fish. Add some slit green chili for color.

Drizzle 1tbsp more Mustard Oil if you want it more delicious.

Now cover the baking dish and put it in the oven. Set the timer to 30 mins.

After 30mins, the fish will be definitely cooked but the mustard paste will look little watery. If you are ok with it that is fine.
I want a clingy sauce. So I open the cover on the baking dish and put it back in the oven (lowered at 250 F) for 10-15 more minutes.

While serving add some fresh coriander leaves and few drops of Mustard Oil. So delicious.

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