Friday, April 07, 2017

Mourala Maacher Charchari -- from my Mother

I often say that I am not my Mother. The truth is, I can never become my Mother. It is hard. Believe me!

Everytime we have a phone call, this is how the conversation goes

If (Morning)
"Cha er saathe biskut kheyechis? Khali pete cha khas na. Shob jaigay bolche kintu brekfast ta heavy korte" (Did you have tea with your biscuit? Don't go empty stomach in the morning. It is important to have breakfast.)

Me - Huun

"Aaj lunch e bachcha der ki dili? Abar Pasta?" (What did you pack for the girls' lunch? Pasta gain?)

If (Night)
"Dinner e ki kheli?" (What did you have for dinner?)

bhaat, dal, chicken er jhol

"Abar toder sei brown rice ? Sada bhaat koris ni? Ektu gobindibhog chaal er bhaat korte paris to meye gulor jonyo. Ar sobji?" (Again that tasteless brown rice ? Why can't you make some gobindobhog? And no vegetable dish?)

After the food part is dealt with and she has finally resigned her granddaughters fate in the hands of their worthless mother, do we go into other discussions.

I cannot say for sure what will happen in 20 years but I don't know if like my Ma, I will be so single-mindedly concerned about my daughters' meal habits. Or maybe I will. Many of my friend's say, their conversation with their Mothers go more or less the same way, so I shall never know until I am at that stage.

My Ma -- The Super Bong Mom 

Monday, April 03, 2017

Baked Doi Salmon -- in oven

We are a very sporty family. Not. For a while, when the girls were small, I had them fooled with tall tales about me being a star marathon runner and their dad being a champion wrestler. Well, they did not buy that!!! The truth is sports is not our forte except for Little Sis who really enjoys being the athletic one in the family. Both my kids, defy the whole science of genetics and have interests in areas we the parents have no clue about. Well, the husband-man has loads of theoretical knowledge on all sports including gymnastics😉, but it is LS who actually does the practical stuff.

Today Little Sis had her first gymnastics meet. She was very very excited about it. Since we had no clue about what a "meet" was, we were excited too. This meet was in another town almost 45 minutes away and it was a local meet with other USAG level 2 and 3 teams competing too. All the little kids looked so darn cute in their leotards and did their routines in so perfect sync that right there I formed a very good opinion about "meets". This kind of meeting is what I like. Not boring at all.

After almost a whole day of the meet thingy, LS does not look tired at all, and is going around proudly strutting all her medals. On the other hand, doing nothing and sitting around the whole day, I am terribly tired. Thankfully I have devised an easy 3-step recipe for making Doi Salmon which was what we had for dinner.

Doi Salmon, Salmon in Yogurt Sauce, Baked Salmon in Yogurt Sauce

This Doi Salmon (Salmon in Yogurt Sauce) needs very little active time, that is the time you have to be present in the kitchen and at the stove instead of sleeping on the counter. The cooking time is all in the oven. This makes this a really easy and delicious dish, that leaves you with a lot of time to take a bubble bath and yet have homemade dinner.

Also it needs only 1tbsp of Oil and is really delicious. Did I mention that it is so so good and is exactly like how Doi Maach should taste?

So what if my knees turn into jelly at the thought of even getting on a beam, leave alone doing a handstand on it, I can find a easy way to make Doi Maach. That counts.

For the sceptics and the puritans, here is my traditional version of making  Salmon Doi Maach

And then BigSis found a neat app for me to edit videos and so helped me make this video which will give you a good idea of how easy this dish really is.


Doi Salmon in Oven


You need 1lb of salmon filet cut up in 5-6 rectangular pieces. This might work with other fish too but I like doi maach with salmon filets best so that is what I used.

You also need onion paste. Now I usually saute onion and make a paste and keep in the refrigerator for a week. It can be used in a lot of quick dishes during the week.
For this particular recipe, and the measures given, you need 2 tbsp Onion Paste.

How I Did It

Step 1

Soak 2 tbsp of cashew or slivered almonds(no skin) in water for 5-8 minutes

In a mixie add
the cashew/almond
and make a smooth paste with a splash of water

Now to the same mixer jar add
1/2 Cup of yogurt
2 Green chili finely chopped
2 tbsp Onion Paste
1 tbsp grated Ginger
1 tbsp Olive Oil

Make a smooth thick marinade

Step 2

In a baking dish put the salmon pieces.

pinch of Turmeric Powder
little Red Chili Powder
1/4th tsp of Garam Masala

Toss with the spices. Now add the yogurt marinade you made and let it sit in the marinade for 10 minutes.

Step 3

Add 2 green cardamom (crushed by just one thwack in a mortar pestle) and 2 cloves. This brings out the whole garam masala flavor of Doi Maach

Bake in the oven at 275F for 25 mins. After that switch off the oven, cover the baking dish with a foil and let it sit in the oven for 5 more minutes.

You Doi Salmon is ready. Take it out and enjoy with some rice or just by itself.

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Thursday, March 16, 2017

Bengali Shingara -- not a samosa

There are samosas,the unique conical shaped Indian pies(in lack of a better word) made with pastry dough and stuffed with spiced potatoes, peas or mince meat and fried in hot oil, and then there are shingaras, the Bengali version of the same. Now don't you go and offend a Bengali, by saying that a shingara is same as samosa but only smaller. Never say that!

Bengalis are very possessive about their shingara, a popular snack served with steaming cups of tea, be it Darjeeling tea served in fancy china or sweetened bha(n)rer cha served in earthenware cups. While many upscale Bengali mashimas will look down upon aloor chop or telebhaja from the street, they will not blink a eye when offered these small triangle shaped delights from the neighborhood Kalika Mishtanno Bhandar, stuffed with potatoes-cauliflowers-sweet pea(the aloo phulkopir shingara being the favorite) in winter or potatoes and peanuts at other times of the year.

Growing up in Bihar, I was more familiar with the larger samosas from the stores, which I of course loved. The Bangali Shingara was something that was home made. Come winter, my Mother would be up in arms, steaming potatoes and cauliflowers, making conical structures from dough, like magic and frying up hot, hot shingaras. They were delicious and you could have as many of them. They were home made after all.

Potato-peas filling for shingara

Later, when we moved to this small town in Bengal, the shingara war was won by the local sweet-maker, Shotu, who fried batches of perfect shingara and made heavenly cream-chops in his shack like store known famously as "Shotu'r Dokan"!

Shotu'r shingara showed up at snack time, in our house, almost two or three times a week. Every afternoon around 5 in the evening,a huge black kadhai filled with oil would be put on the coal stove, at his store; mounds and mounds of alabaster white dough made of maida would be rolled into circular discs on glistening wooden boards; they were then stuffed and sealed in the blink of an eye; and suspended in the hot oil where they would be fried to flaky golden brown perfection.

My mother still made shingaras on some Sundays. Unlike me, she is one who fries stuff just because she wants to and not needs to. I mean, if I got perfect shingaras hot off the oil from a store, 2 miles away, I would have never made them at home.

Heck, I don't make them even when I don't get it at any store in my driving radius. We make do with samosas from the Indian stores, but I don't really like their stuffing. We love the Chicken samosas from Trader Joe's but there covering leaves a lot to desire. Sometimes for parties, we get the frozen samosas from the Indian stores, Swad or some such brand. They are ok. But honestly, none of them is a shingara.
There is my favorite Bengali caterer who does make great shingaras, with fried peanuts et al but he makes them only when there is a large order and that does not happen very often.