Thursday, February 18, 2021

Kamala Salmon | Salmon cooked with Orange in an Indian Curry

Komola Salmon|Salmon cooked with Oranges and spices

Kamola Katla is a fish dish cooked with fragrant oranges made very popular by the Bengali movie Maacher Jhol. My Kamala Salmon has no relation to our Madame VP and is Salmon cooked with 🍊 oranges in a tangy, spicy Indian Curry

It's been a while since I wrote here. A lot has happened since my last post but I won't go there right now. I just  wanted to write down this recipe so I don't forget. Have you seen the movie? 

If you are a Bengali, you must have seen @pratimdgupta 's famous movie #MaacherJhol. If you haven't, umm...don't know what to say, just watch it. It's either on Netflix or Prime. Even if you are not a Bengali, go ahead and watch it, turn on subtitles. Kamola Katla is a fish dish with oranges made very popular by the Bengali movie Maacher Jhol
So I did not know about *Komola Kaatla* or Kaatla fish cooked with fragrant oranges before this movie. Yes, I probably live under a rock or a world where all our oranges were consumed.
a. As is.
b. In Juice form.
c. In a dessert like Komola Kheer.
In fact I had never even thought of pairing oranges with fish in an Indian curry until then!

The idea of oranges and fish seemed like a beautiful fragrant pair to try out. Since Salmon is our fish of choice and orange glazed salmon is pretty delicious I decided to make a Komola Salmon almost similar to the Kamola Kaatla. I have cooked this fish curry a few times now with Salmon. The tangy, spicy fish curry with soft morsels of oranges is really delicious and a favorite with my girls ❤

I cook it several different ways. In one option, I bake the salmon and then add to gravy. In another I directly add the fish to gravy and cook in there. Sometimes I add Green Pepper aka Capsicum, on other days Cauliflower. On good days I sprinkle a few sesame seeds and add more orange juice. On others make do with less
Possibilities are endless with this one. Any which way it's a delicious fish curry and is pretty simple to make.
I prep the fish in one of the two ways:

a. Marinate the salmon as instructed in the recipe, bake it with a drizzle of mustard oil at 250F for 25 mins, then add to the gravy and finish cooking there.

b. Marinate the salmon as instructed in the recipe, then add it directly to the pan and cook in the gravy

Kamala Salmon | Salmon cooked with Orange in an Indian Curry


Make juice of 2 Navel oranges. From each orange, we get about 5 Tbsp or 1/4th cup of Juice

Salmon -- 6 pieces of salmon 3" x 4"

Marinate the salmon with
1 tsp Turmeric powder
1/2 tsp Red chili Powder
2 Tbsp Orange Juice
Keep aside for 15-20 minutes

While salmon is marinating we will get the onion-ginger-garlic masala ready.
Heat up some oil and sauté the following
Onion - 1 medium chopped in large chunks
Ginger - 2" Chopped
Garlic - 6 cloves
Cool and make a paste. This is our onion-ginger-garlic paste

Start Cooking

In the same pan add some more oil. Not much. We like to keep oil low. I have used Avocado or Mustard Oil in this dish, you can use Olive oil or Vegetable Oil.

Temper the oil with
Green Cardamom - 2
Cloves - 2
Cinnamon stick - 1"
Tej Patta/Bay Leaf - 1
Green Chilies - 2 slit

Add the onion-ginger-garlic paste. Sauté for a couple of minutes.

Add 1 Green Capsicum chopped into small pieces.
Add the spices
Turmeric powder - 1/2 tsp
Red Chili powder or Kashmiri Mirch - 1/2 tsp
Sprinkle a little water and sauté until the peppers are softened.

If you are cooking the salmon in the gravy, then now add the marinated salmon to the pan, making sure they are all in a single layer. Cook for about 3 minutes. Gently flip the fish pieces.

Now add about 3 Tbsp of Orange Juice + 1/2 Cup of warm water. Gently mix and let the gravy come to a simmer.
Note: If you have baked the salmon then once the gravy starts simmering, you will add the fish to the gravy

Once the gravy starts simmering add
Sugar - 1-2 tsp
Salt - to taste
Orange segments -- about 8 segments from a clementine
At this point taste the  gravy and add about 1/4 Cup more of orange juice for more flavor.

Cook for 3-4 more minutes until the orange segments are softened.

Switch off the gas.
Sprinkle 1/2 tsp of Bhaja Masala or Garam Masala.
Add some chopped Coriander.
Add couple of green chilies.
Cover and let the dish sit for about 5 minutes. This helps the flavors to come together beautifully

Serve warm with steamed white rice or pulao.

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Tuesday, September 01, 2020

My Latest Book - Those Delicious Letters

I am thrilled to announce that my latest book, my first novel about food and love -- Those Delicious Letters published by Harper Collins India, has just been launched in India on August 20th. Please contact me if you would like to review the book or want a review copy for your bookclub.

The Details

Name: Those Delicious Letters
Author: Me. Yes, what were you thinking ?
Publisher: Harper Collins India

Buy here:

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Soon after her fortieth birthday, Shubha starts receiving monthly letters with traditional Bengali recipes from a mysterious lady in Calcutta claiming to be her grandmother. Drawn by the nostalgia in the letters and lured into the delicious world of forgotten food, Shubha starts experimenting with the recipes. Even as secrets are revealed and her own life unravels, the letters give her courage to take a second chance at life. Torn between the taste of success that the letters eventually bring her and her need to save her marriage, Shubha must find the perfect recipe for love.

Book Blurb

“SHUBHALAXMI SEN-GUPTA.”Sen-Gupta” and not “SenGupta” as in I was “sane” before marriage, I like to tell people”!

You would think, Shubhalaxmi Sen-Gupta aka Shubha, a tiny partner of a publishing boutique,
mother of teens, leads an “almost perfect life” in her charming house set in an idyllic east coast
neighborhood where she whips up delectable mushroom risottos. But when her workaholic and jet-
setting husband Sameer, throws her a surprise 40th birthday party, the tinkling of wine glasses sets off
a series of incidents that brings to surface the stark reality.

Compared to her marathon-running, dream job achieving friends, her life is actually more “Mother
India” than “Marilyn Monroe”...and with that realization, panic sets in. To top it all, her publishing
boutique has not had a single profit and is going steadily downhill, her marriage of eighteen years
seems to be crumbling and she feels a sad yearning for all those Bengali recipes her Mother cooked
and which she never had the courage to learn in her forty odd years.

Surprisingly, on the same month as her birthday, Shubha receives a handwritten-letter by postal mail
from Kolkata, India. A letter from a grandmother, she has never heard of or knows that existed.
Assuming it to be some postal service mishap, Shubha attempts to send the letter back. But her
curiosity gets the better of her and she is soon drawn into the grandmother’s rich narrative of another
era and aroma of delicious Bengali recipes which are just like her Mother’s.

The mysterious letters arrive each month, neatly written on paper, and follow the Bengali calendar
from month of Baishakh to Chaitra, replete with heirloom recipes typical of the season and month. As
Shubha navigates the letters, trying to find who they are from, she gets lured into the delicious world
of forgotten food; even as secrets are revealed and her own life unravels, the letters give her courage
to try out a new recipe each month. Through the fragrances of Hing er Kochuri, the pungent flavors of
golden mustard paste, the memories of silvery Ilish, she reconnects with her roots and deals with the
curve balls that life throws her way.

Traipsing through a year filled with delicious food and memories, Shubha tackles heartbreaks,
marriage, parenting, adventure and a failing business, with wit and élan.
Does Shubha find out who writes her those letters? Can she save her marriage and business? What
happens to the grandmother who shares her life and food through those letters?
A rich tapestry of rediscovering love and family while straddling two continents, peppered with humor,
colorful characters and lip-smacking food!

Download the free first Chapter

First Chapter-Those Delicious Letters

Book Reviews

Madhulika Liddle -- author of widely acclaimed books featuring the 17th century Mughal detective Muzaffar Jang, and also a prolific writer of short fiction, travel writing, and writing related to classic cinema.

"The simple sweetness of the story is matched by the heartwarming sweetness of most of the characters—of whom Shubha is especially endearing. She is the narrator, and I found her very relatable: not as perfect as most of the crowd she moves in, trying but not always succeeding, rather nutty, and so very real.

The letters from Didan were a delightful glimpse into the Bengal of the past: its traditions, its scenery, its seasons, its festivals. And the food. The food was mouthwatering, the descriptions making me want to rush out to shop for all the groceries and start cooking. (Fortunately, detailed recipes are provided, one per chapter, to help readers like me get their Bong food fix).

If you like food novels, this one’s a must-read. Fun, engrossing, light-hearted—and truly delicious."

"Those Delicious Letters, by Sandeepa Mukherjee Datta aka The Bong Mom, is the kind of book that is funny, carefree, enthralling and not preachy, and does not carry a political message (thank god for that), and where Shubha, the main protagonist, is everywoman or everyman in her anxieties, hopes and beliefs. It is a book that one might want to go back to now and then, not only for the recipes if you are a culinary enthusiast but more so for reliving those moments with Shubha and her family, and for the best parts of its feel-good."

The Daily Guardian

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Tuesday, July 28, 2020

Lal Shak Bhaja - Red Amaranth Stir fry

Laal Shaak or Shaag Bhaja | Red Amaranth Leaves Stir Fry

Lal Shaak Bhaja is usually a stir fry made with the red amaranth leaves and some garlic and Chilli. A sprinkle of dry posto seeds or bori adds the crunch to this dish. Sometimes the red leaves are also stir fried with shrimp and finished off with a sprinkle of roasted poppy seeds.

I don't know why I am posting this recipe.I mean it is a simple dish.
"Shaak niye adikhyeta korche," as any nosy Bong aunty would proclaim while rolling their eyes. "Eto boyesh holo, ekhono laal shaak bhaja jaane na, ajkalkar meyeder shob dhong" as another Bong pishima would whisper to her neighbor across the street.

It could well be because it is a very easy recipe to post, so perfect for someone lazy like me.

It could also be because I am at that age when I should get excited with red mustangs but in absence of that I am excited seeing Laal Shaak (Red Amaranth leaves).

So the thing is, every year I grow some perfunctory vegetables, just to make sure that my kids know vegetables come from plants and not aisles of grocery stores. That a tomato actually grows on a tree and not in a box at Costco. yes, these are important parenting tips.

And then this year, one of my neighbors gave me a bunch of amaranth seeds and some saplings and said that Amaranth grows very quickly and easily. Now if anywhere in the Universe I hear the word "easy", I just latch on to it. So I quickly put the seeds in soil without even knowing what exactly Red Amaranth was. Turns out Red Amaranth leaves is what we call "laal shaak" in Bengali. They are packed with nutrition and several sources say "Amaranth leaves are nutritionally similar to beets, Swiss chard and spinach, but are genetically closer to their wild ancestors and offer a far superior source of carotene, iron, calcium, protein, vitamin C and trace elements."

Even after the chipmunks ate half of the amaranth seeds I planted, we got decent number of plants growing. So with the red amaranth leaves growing in my backyard, I made this simple stir fry. Usually this is how I cook spinach too.

Laal Shaak Bhaja is usually a stir fry made with the red amaranth leaves and some garlic and Chilli. A sprinkle of dry posto seeds or bori adds the crunch to this dish. Sometimes the red leaves are also stir fried with shrimp and finished off with a sprinkle of roasted poppy seeds.

I love my greens with soft, flesh eggplants and so have made this stir fry with eggplants and laal shaak.
You can use potatoes instead of eggplants in this recipe.

Begun diye Laal Shaak Bhaja | Red Amaranth leaves stir fried with eggplant


Wash the red leaves under running water. Finely chop the leaves including the stems and tips. About 2 cups of chopped amaranth leaves. Soak them in water.

Next chop 2 slender Japanese eggplant in small cubes. The idea is to have about 2 cups of cubed eggplant.

Mince 3 cloves of garlic.

Heat 1 Tbsp oil, fry the boris until they are brown and crunchy. Remove with slotted spoon and keep aside.
If you do not have bori, then saute a handful of peanuts till brown. Remove and keep aside.

Start Cooking

Heat mustard oil to smoking. Temper the oil with 1/2 tsp of Kalonji, 2 Dry Red Chili and 3 cloves of garlic minced.

Once the spices sizzle and you get the aroma of garlic, add the eggplant. Sprinkle 1/2 tsp of turmeric powder and saute until eggplant pieces are lightly browned.

Now add the laal shaak(red amaranth leaves) tossing it with the eggplant. Add salt to taste, 3 green chili slit and let the leaves cook.
As the leaves wilt as they cook, they will also release their juices. If you think the juice is not enough then add a little water. Now cover and cook.
Stir intermittently until the eggplant and greens are all cooked.

Once the veggies are cooked and the dish looks dry add just a tsp of kashundi if you have some. If not finish off with a little mustard oil.

Sprinkle the fried bori or the fried peanuts to garnish.

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