Thursday, April 17, 2014

Baked Omelette er Jhol -- Baked eggs in a curry

Baked Omlette is an oxymoron. Or so I thought. But apparently not so. Google has solved my problem.

Still "Baked Omelette er jhol" is like "shonar pathorbati" or a "gold stone bowl" and our little Miss Perfect aka BigSis noticed that out and out.

"This", she said, pointing at the all-clad stainless steel saucier plonked at the middle of the little round table in the kitchen. He fingers pointed at the gravy -- thin and runny, with half-moon slices of potatoes floating around lazily and strange UFO shaped structures nestled in between.

"This is not Omelette er Jhol", she said, her eyes squinted, her face honest.

I snapped at her. "Decide the name of the dish when you cook your own," I said.

She kept quiet and ate her lunch. "But it is good," she said.

"Not as good as the fried omlette er jhol," I sighed.

Omelette er jhol or Indian style Omlettes in a gravy, is one of my favorite egg dishes. There is something about an omelette basking in a thin curry and growing fat and pillowy, all so that you can bite into its softness and let the curry juice trickle down your throat. It makes an omlette far more sensuous than an omlette.

But then of course I cannot let sleeping dogs lie or fried omelettes fry.

So this time around, I baked them. And I did it in cup cake molds. Just like I make these egg muffins. You can of course bake them in a baking dish or even steam them in a cooker like I do for this Dim er Dhoka.

Or you can simply fry an omelette.

At the end all of them gets dunked into the jhol. Kind of like us. No matter what and how we are born, at the end we are all dunked in the jhol of life.

Thanks for all your suggestions in the last post, it helped a lot. I will be back soon, with some vacation pics and announce the winners. Until then enjoy your own Omelette er Jhol.

Omelette er Jhol -- omelettes in a curry

First take 3-4  large eggs. Or more eggs if you so wish. Let us not even go into the conundrum of which comes first "Chicken or the Egg"

Now comes the difficult part. Break the eggs in a bowl.

To it add
half an onion finely chopped
3-4 green chillies finely chopped
salt to taste
2 tbsp of milk
2 tbsp of chopped coriander leaves(optional)
Beat them to a smooth mix

Now with this egg you can do any ONE of the following three. A flowchart would have helped but what the heck.

1. Make an Omelette. Heat oil in a frying pan. Pour out the egg batter on the pan and swirl till the batter is evenly distributed and let it cook. Cut the thick omlette in cubes to be dunked into the jhol

2. Pre-heat Oven to 350F. Pour this egg mix in a greased oven safe bowl because it needs to be baked. The size of the baking dish is important and make sure that the batter does not form too thin a layer. I think a 8" x 8" baking dish would be good for this many eggs. Bake for 30-35 mins until the crust starts turning golden. Take out of the oven and carefully cut in large cubes.

3. Pour out the batter in greased cup cake holders. I had six silicone cup cake liners and I used them. Bake for 30-35 mins until the crust starts turning golden.

Making the thin gravy for Omlette er Jhol. You can make a richer and thicker gravy if you so wish.

Heat 2 tbsp Oil in a Kadhai/Saucier

Temper the Oil with
2 TejPata
1 tsp of whole cumin seeds

When the seeds pop add half of a medium onion chopped fine + 2 green chillies slit along the length. Saute till onion softens

Toss in 1 potato cut in thin half moon shapes. With a sprinkle of turmeric powder, saute the potatoes until they turn golden.

Next add a chopped tomato. But since I did not have any tomatoes at hand, I added 2 tbsp of tomato ketchup.

Now add about 1/2 tsp of ginger paste. Saute for a couple of minutes.

Meanwhile in a bowl add
1 tbsp yogurt
1/2 tsp coriander powder
1/2 tsp cumin powder
1/2 tsp Kashmiri Mirch/Red Chilli powder
pinch of turmeric powder
and mix well so that you have a smooth paste

Add this masala paste to the potatoes in the kadhai and cook at low heat for 2-3 minutes.

Add about 2 cups of warm water, salt to taste and mix well. Let the gravy come to a simmer.

Cover and let the potatoes cook.

Once the potatoes are done, taste the curry and adjust for spices. You might like to add a little sugar to the jhol at this point.

Once the jhol/gravy is ready add the baked pieces of egg or the omelette  into the gravy and let it simmer for 3-4 minutes. 

Serve hot with rice. If you let the egg soak in the gravy for a longer time, it will soak up all the liquid like a sponge so be careful.

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Tuesday, April 08, 2014

A Gift for Shubho Naboborsho -- welcoming the Bengali New Year

The Bengali New Year, Poila Boishakh--the first day of the month of Boishakh is around the corner. Thankfully signs of spring have started showing up in my corner of the world too. Looks like Winter has finally taken a break and gone to vacation land.

To celebrate the New Year and to thank all readers of Bong Mom's Cookbook I am sharing with you my love for tea and tea/coffee mugs. My talented blog friend "Rhea Mitra-Dalal" who blogs at euphoRHEA makes these amazing hand painted mugs and plates and all kinds of hand painted crockeries.  She made these lovely tea cups for me and then I asked her if she could please make a few more for you guys too.

Browse the euphoRHEA album.


Aren't they really pretty ? See, why I wanted to share them with you ?

To win a cup  all you have to do is tell me "What would you like to see in my blog in the future?". Leave your comment with your contact e-mail and the country where you are from. Readers from India have a special advantage this time as the winner gets this cup and one other item of their choice from euphoRHEA.

 I will see you all next week.

Note: Due to shipping restrictions etc. this giveaway is restricted to India and US only. 

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Thursday, April 03, 2014

Indrani's Kumro Begun Chingri Charchari -- with fresh Methi greens

I have been in a vegetable rut for the last one week and I have realized that no one makes simple, subtle vegetable dishes as well as the Bongs do. Call me biased but honestly the variety of vegetable dishes that a Bengali will cook is mind boggling. Remember, I am not saying vegetarian dishes, because no Bong can beat the masala dosa or the dhokla, but I am saying "vegetable dishes" as in preparations which have vegetables beyond potatoes and cauliflower in them. Not that those aren't vegetables but you get my point. Why, those vegetable dishes might even have shrimp in them.

I do believe that a person's association with food is deeply rooted in his genes. We have a natural fondness towards the food our fore fathers ate. Gradually we branch out and diversify from that core cuisine and yet we never go so far as to lose our anchoring the core. We are ready to be reeled in like a kite flying high and wide in the right moment. And it is not only an emotional attachment but the body too seeks the comfort of the familiar. Take me for example. I love a mean pasta, a hearty coconut-y Thai curry, a kadhi-chawal and yet after 2 weeks of eating straight through any of those, my body protests and looks around for aloo-posto. In those times, it never ever craves for a pulled pork sandwich or a creamy macaroni cheese.

This realization donned on me only recently, when after a week of eating dal, garlicky sarson saag, spice coated chole and aloo-gobi, my soul and body craved for some subtle vegetable dish. Something light, with no over powering smell of  musky cumin, earthy coriander or any other masala. A simple tempering of PaanchPhoron or Kalonji and some green chillies is all it wanted. As much as I loved the chhole, my body protested, veering me around, pushing me towards what my Bengali grandmother ate. I am thinking, this phenomenon has also something to do with age because a younger me would have waded through months of noodles and dosa without a worry.

I was out of idea, as to what vegetable to cook and hence eat. So, I asked on my FB Page and many many excellent suggestions tumbled in.

Of all of those, on that particular day, Indrani Bhattacharya's "Begun Kumro Chingri" inspired me. It was just the kind of thing, my body wanted and of course the soul always wants some chingri/shrimp. Always.

So I went out to get some Kumro(Pumpkin) and also got some methi greens which looked dusty and bored but fresh sitting on the grocery aisle. And then I had to get some Uchhe aka bittergourd as those are my daughters' favorite veggies. Back home, I decided to add the fresh methi and uchhe to this charchari too, kind of like a one pot vegetable dish that you cannot get enough of. Because though there are vegetables is this dish, there is also chingri aka shrimp in there. Didn't I tell you, no one treats vegetables better than a Bong does.

The shrimp made it a favorite for the 10 year old Big Sis who is inching towards becoming a vegetarian these days. LS will not eat a shrimp but she too loved this dish with white rice.

I asked Indrani Bhattacharya to say a little about herself. And here she is in her own words

"I am a mother of two girls (7 and 3 years). I love to eat and try out different types of food. I didn't know anything about cooking until I got married. Now I enjoy and love cooking. For the last 3 years I am not working and enjoying my time with the kids. My husband inspires me the most for cooking. He always appreciate my effort."

Thank you Indrani for sharing your recipe with us.

Don't forget to check the new post on the kids' blog about a simple experiment to understand Newton's third law.

More Readers who shared their recipes:

Ahona Gupta's Methi Machhi
Sunetra's Piaayjkoli Maach
Piya and Chandrani''s Dhonepata Bata Sheem

 Kumro Begun Chingri Charchari -- with fresh Methi greens

Chop 1 eggplant in cubes. Soak in salt water for 15 minutes.

Chop half of a pumpkin in cubes

Chop 1 small Karela in half moon slices

Snip a bunch of methi leaves so that you have about 1 cup of methi greens

Chop any other veggie like carrot or zucchini if you want

If using fresh shrimp de-vein and clean them. Then toss them with turmeric powder and salt. If using frozen shrimp just defrost and toss in turmeric powder and salt.

Heat Oil in a Kadhai. Mustard Oil is best but I also use Olive oil if there is no fastidious foodie around.

Add the cubed eggplants and saute them with turmeric powder until the eggplant softens a little. It will not be fully cooked yet. At this point, remove sauteed eggplant cubes and keep aside.

Add little more oil to the same kadhai and heat.
Temper the hot Oil with 1/2 tsp of Kalonji/Kalo jeere and about 4-5 green chillies. Note: Another option is to use paanchphoron for tempering as Indrani does in the original recipe.

When the spices pop add the chopped bittergourd. With a sprinkle of turmeric powder, saute bittergourd for 3-4 minutes.

Next add the pumpkin and carrots(if using). Saute for a few minutes and then cover the kadhai. Occasionally remove cover and give the veggies a stir.

When pumpkin has softened, add the eggplant and toss all vegetables together.
Add salt to taste.
Add 1/2" ginger minced or grated

Now push the veggies to the side and add the methi leaves. Saute the methi leaves along with the other vegetables for a couple of minutes. Now cover the kadhai and let all vegetables cook. You won't need to add any water as the softer veggies will provide enough moisture to cook.

Once veggies are all done and have kind of lost their individual identity, taste the dish. Add salt or sugar as needed.

Now move the vegetables towards the edge of the Kadhai and add a little more oil at the center. You will have to do this only if you have started with less oil in the first place.
When the oil has heated up, will only take a minute, add the shrimp. Saute the shrimp until it loses its raw color. Toss the shrimp with other vegetables.

And there your vegetable dish is done. Done. And ready to be devoured with some dal and rice.

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