Tuesday, February 04, 2020

Sharmila'r Chhana'r Jilipi -- the North American way

Chhana'r Jilipi

Some days I think that the Nobel Committee should introduce a new category in their awards.

The Food Nobel.

I bet, it would be won almost every year by one or the other Bengali in North America. Don't get riled up because I said North America. The Bengalis in India have so much readily available that the common man doesn't need to innovate, they can simply go to the store or make a trip to the home of ma/masi/pishi/jethi.

Truth be told, the amount of research and innovation that goes into recreating a much loved childhood favorite, a traditional Bengali recipe, a forgotten food that lingers in nostalgia; with local ingredients and limited resources, by the Bengali community living away from Bengal, parallels no other.

After discovery of fire and wheel, I have never seen the saying "necessity is the mother of invention" so directly applied anywhere else.

You want to eat mocha'r ghonto and there is no grocery store selling Banana Blossoms ? Raid the asian stores and get soy bean sprouts to make a faux Mochar Ghonto
You want the Rui diye Doi Maach that your Mom made but can't find Rui? Get salmon and make the most of it.
You want to make Enchor er Kofta but have no time or expertise to deal with a actual raw Jackfruit ? Get a can and make this shortcut but delicious Enchor Koftas instead.

This Chhanar Jilipi is one more of those brilliant innovations and this time shared by my friend Sharmila. They are delicious and perfect and if she didn't let me onto her secret, I would have thought she was Balaram Mullick or Bhimnag's granddaughter carrying forward their secret recipes. She has many such expert patents in her repertoire and if you are particularly nice, I can cajole her to share some more!

It was very, very generous of her to share her innovation (which deserves a Nobel) and satisfy our sweet cravings for a favorite childhood mishti. This Chhanar Jilipi is so good that I have made them about 4 times now and the last time I made them, my friends went into a nostalgic trip remembering their Mother's jilipi or favorite sweet shop's creation.

Chhanar Jilipi (or Paneer Jalebi) is a typical Bengali sweet which holds its place is a few ranks above the Ledikeni, which in turn is again a rank above Pantua. All of them are kind of similar except for the shape.
Ledikeni or Lady Kenny, named after Lady Canning, is a light fried reddish-brown sweet, cylindrical in shape and made of Chhena and flour and soaked in sugar syrup. The Chhanar Jilipi has the same ingredients but has Jalebi cum pretzel kinda shape. It is the shape which makes them unique.

*Traditionally Chhanar Jilipi in India is with Chhana and Maida. However Sharmila decided to go the Ricotta + Bisquick way, and that suits me perfectly. These are so, so good that just writing about them makes my mouth water.

Monday, January 13, 2020

Khejur Gur er Rasogolla in Instant Pot

Today is a day that will go down in history. Well, at least my history.

First, because I pulled out the InstantPot from the caverns of the Pantry and found it still smelled of mangshor jhol made a month ago. Well, the second part is not historical. That I pulled the IP out and put it to use was a historical moment.

Second, I used the InstaPot for something that was worthwhile finally. I used it to make Khejur Gur er Roshogolla !!

There are two people who are directly or indirectly responsible for this. Our friend, Kaushik, the master roshogolla maker who makes roshogolla making seem as simple as a magician taking a rabbit out of a hat. Second, is our other friend Deepshikha, who champions the IP and finally pushed me to use it.
And then my Dad, who sent photos of  "Notun Gur Utsav" -- a festival celebrating the new date palm jaggery that is a product of this season. The sight of those delicious sweets, sondesh, patishapta, pithe puli would send anyone to depression

I was seriously craving some khejur gur er roshogolla aka rasgullas in date palm jaggery syrup, after seeing the photos they shared and had to make some. This time around , the process really seemed far more streamlined and easier. I think it was practice that made it seem so.

The roshogollas came out soft, juicy and spongy both times I made them. The Khejur Gur I had got from India during my November visit was not the best quality but even that added a beautiful flavor to the syrup and to the roshogollas.

Also, I can now totally understand those stories about folks who went to a wedding and ate 100 roshogollas straight from the bhiyen (the sweet maker's set up). The fresh, spongy, roshogollas with no additivies, hot off the syrup are really delicious and kind of melt in your mouth. I, who am not a big sweet fan, had 20 today. Yes TWENTY!!!

Thursday, January 09, 2020

Oven Roasted Brussel Sprouts -- with Sichuan Peppercorn and Peanuts

Since last December, on my morning commute, instead of tuning in to NPR, I have started listing to 102.7.

This is my daughters' favorite channel playing popular music in English, half of whose lyrics I do not understand. Like really not understand. For a long time, I would hum Pink's "Beautiful Trauma" as Mala Mantra Mala....

Until now, every evening, we would actually get into a fight because as soon as they got into the car, they would flip my car radio channel to 102.7 and disrupt my NPR or Radio Mirchi listening. Since December, I have voluntarily flipped to 102.7 in the mornings, to listen to holiday songs and stayed on because the Morning show is very funny. Like really, laugh out loud funny. And I need funnies to get my mind away from the news.

So yesterday, I was tuned on to the show, and this caller calls in about his girl-friend not returning his call blah, blah. It seems this is one of their regular segments where the RJ's then call up the girlfriend/boyfriend and gift them an all paid date, if they agree to go out together. So anyway, the girlfriend is called, she picks up the phone and seems not very enthusiastic about this all paid for date thing. They then ask her, if there was anything wrong and she goes, "Well, he is very nice and everything but he said he loves me within 2-weeks of knowing each other and I am afraid, he can propose anytime. I find it very insincere that someone can say "I LOVE YOU" in 2-weeks!"

Having been brought up on healthy doses of Bollywood where the pair falls in love the minute they see each other and burst into a song at the end of the first meeting, I have always lamented that "love at first sight" has always eluded me. That it could be insincere is something I only now realized. The lady had a point.

However the caller guy, refused to understand this and kept pushing if he could meet her or come over and such. The lady very patiently explained that she liked it slow, and what he was doing was too much for her. The guy sounded, really desperate and I doubt their relationship will last. He was trying to do too much, too fast.

Sichuan peppercorns. And those are Big Sis's pretty nails

That could or could not be the problem for this Brussels Sprouts Dish. I was giving those cute vegetables too much attention and too many ingredients. Like usually I just roast them in the oven and they are good that way.
This time I seasoned them with Oil flavored with aromatics like garlic, ginger and my new found love Sichuan peppercorns. I also added a little of Maple Syrup to add a hint of sweetness

And then as if that was not enough, I roasted and crushed peanuts and added that on top of the roasted vegetables.

I am not sure if my Brussel Sprouts were feeling claustrophobic with all the attention because we ate all of them. This is one vegetable 75% of the family loves, only Little Sis does not eat her Brussel sprouts!