Thursday, September 03, 2015

Fish Kofta Curry -- and the summer that was

We are in the last leg, rather finger of the summer holidays. Four more days to go and school opens on Tuesday. It has been a long vacation and a surprisingly fun one. I think that is what happens when you set out with very low expectations. With our holidays(to Yellowstone, which I need to write about soon) done at the very beginning of July and no excitement of grandparents visiting, when we had looked upon the stretch of two months lying ahead of us back in July 9th, it seemed like barren two months of little fun. A lot of our and the kids' friends were also away in India for the summer and the prospect looked really bleak.

As is my habit, I am filled with utter remorse if  summer vacation is not "fun" enough and so I even had a panic attack or two and had I been born in the West I would have a shrink who could have profited by my state. The husband-man who looks down upon my attempt at concocting "summer fun" with utter disdain and thinks I am getting sucked in by Western ideas of "must-have-fun-in-summer" had his own set of panic at the prospect of getting dragged out in the heat instead of zoning out in front of X-files on Amazon prime.

All this panic and absence of "shrink" led to marital discords and two absolutely exciting summer months. Okay, not exactly exciting because of the discord but because we had so little expectations.



So what happened ?

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Swai or Basa Fish in a Curry Leaves and Tomato gravy



The Swai Fish or Basa has become recently very popular here. They are from the catfish family and are mostly farmed in Vietnam. There are plenty of debates about fish like Basa and Tilapia as the "catfish war" goes on and it is up to you to decide whether you want to eat these farmed fishes or go for the more expensive wild salmon.

When I first had this fish at a friend's home, I really liked it as I felt that the Swai/Basa has a texture which complements the Indian gravy very well. It goes well with a mustard based curry, a coconut based one or the regular onion-ginger-garlic curry. My girls however did not take to this fish but me and D would enjoy it now and then.

And then one day I made this fish with tomatoes and curry leaves. Big Sis is a huge curry leaves fan and she liked it so much that she will now have Swai/Basa when cooked in this particular gravy. Now this gravy has nothing to do with Swai in particular and tastes as well if you are using filet of salmon or even any other white fish. Try it and I am sure you will like it.



For 3 filet of swai/basa in standard size. You can also use salmon or any other white fish like cod.

Wash the fish filet and pat them dry. Now cut the fish filet in cubes ~ 2" x 3". I think I had about 8-9 pieces

Dust the fish with turmeric powder, salt and then add 1 tbsp of olive oil and toss the fish pieces gently.

Now ideally the fish should have been fried but I don't do that. Too much work. Instead do this.

Put all the fish pieces in a single layer on a baking tray and put in the oven to "Broil". Now depending on your oven the time to broil the fish until it is golden will vary. It takes about 20-25 minutes in my toaster oven while in the conventional oven it is done in 10-15 minutes.
Note: With swai a lot of water is releases on baking so make sure that the fish is spaced out in a single layer on the baking tray.

For making the gravy, the most important thing you need is Tomato Paste. It gives a great color to the gravy. While the fish cooks in the oven, you can actually proceed with the gravy.

Make a paste of
1 large red juicy tomato
2 green chilli
1/2" ginger

Now heat Mustard Oil in a wok. I have also done this gravy in Olive Oil and sunflower oil.

Temper the oil with
5-6 Curry Leaves(Kari Patta),
1/4th tsp of Whole Methi seeds
1 Dry Red Chilli

When the seeds pop add
1/2 tsp of garlic paste
1 tbsp of Tomato Paste from can (like this one)
the tomato-chilli paste you made

Fry for a minute or so.

Now add
1 tsp of Kashmiri Mirch
a pinch of Turmeric powder

Fry the tomato paste until the raw smell is gone and you see the oil seeping around the edges. Around 6-7 minutes.

Add
1 tsp of Coriander powder
1/2 tsp of sugar

Sprinkle a little water and fry for a minute

Now add about 1 Cup of water, salt to taste and let the gravy simmer to a boil

When the gravy is simmering, taste and see if everything is right. If sugar or salt is needed adjust at this point.

Now add the broiled pieces of fish to the gravy and let it simmer for couple more minutes.

Garnish with few curry leaves and serve with rice



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Wednesday, August 05, 2015

Bhaswati Kalita's Borar Tauk or Borar Tenga


It is 10:30 at night right now. I have just had a bowl of luscious vanilla ice cream with really sweet mangoes. That the ice cream and mangoes were served to me by Big Sis and Li'l Sis while I lounge on the sofa makes it extra sweet. And then I am watching "Liv&Maddie" or some such Disney series which is a privilege in itself as we usually have no access to Disney and such cable channels. We finally signed up for a month of Netflix on trial only because it is the summer holidays. I really love summer vacations. I get it that it is not exactly the working parent's dream come true but I still love it and I am going to sign petitions if anyone decides to make it any shorter.

Summer also means mangoes.Both the sweet and the sour ones. Though the sour raw mango is available almost all year round, having a mango chaatni or "aamer ombol" in summer is the real thing.



Now why am I jumping from summer to mangoes in one breath ? Well because in my brain they are kind of interconnected. If you say "summer", I say "mango". Quite a few months back one of my blog readers had asked for a "Bori Posto" recipe. I had no idea what a "Bori Posto" was. Still don't. The strange thing is over the summer that recipe morphed in my brain as a "Bora or Borir Tauk" and I went around looking for it. I was pretty sure that "Hasina Ahmad"di wanted to make a "Borir Tauk". So deeply influenced was I by this idea that I even asked on my FB page about a "Bori'r Tauk" recipe. Many of the readers shared a "Maacher Dim er Borar Tauk" which no doubt was brilliant but I was looking for just plain "Borir Tauk"!

I was on a mission to find this recipe which my blog reader had never in her life asked for. Clearly shows signs of my aging.

So anyway this "Mission Impossible" turned out to be possible because of two people.

One was my dear blogger friend Sharmila of KichuKhonn who shared her grandmother's recipe of "Daatar Tok"

The other was by blog reader Bhaswati Kalita. She said in Assamese cuisine they have something similar called borar tenga which is had mostly during summers....either mango, lime juice or something  called thekera which is somewhat similar to kokum, is used. This sounded so interesting that I asked her for the recipe and this is the recipe she shared with me:

"Here is how it goes...if you are using lime juice then make the juice of 1 lemon/lime(be careful not to squeeze it too much; belief has it if you do then the resulting juice is bitter; I know sounds ridiculous) Make the daler bora's with mostly chana dal fried in mustard oil...just add a little bit of salt and turmeric to the dal paste...no other seasoning required, then temper some mustard oil in the wok...add panch phoron, mix the lime juice with some water and a little sugar n salt...check seasoning...add this to the oil, you can add kafir lime leaves to add to the aroma once it starts to boil...then add the bora's...to thicken the gravy you can either add a little bit of rice flour or plain flour...and simmer till the desired consistency... we usually have this towards the end of the meal...really a relief to the tummy during hot and humid summers
Alternatively u can use raw mango slices, instead of lime juice fry the mango slice in oil with phoron and then add water and a mint leaves towards the end..."

So I adapted it for mangoes and this is what I did...



Make the Dal e Bora

Soak 1 cup of Chana Dal overnight or for 5-6 hours. Drain the water and put the chana dal in your mixie or blender jar. Add a tsp of chopped ginger and 1 green chilli. Grind the chana dal to a paste with splashes of water

The chana dal should be a thick paste, a little on the coarse side. Add salt and a little red chilli powder to the paste and then beat it well with a fork.

Now heat enough oil in a kadhai. Mustard oil is your best bet. When the oil is hot enough, you will know by putting in a pinch of the batter and checking if the batter sinks(not ready) or rises up with bubbles(ready), add scoops of the paste in the hot oil.Fry small boras or fritters from this paste. Remove the fried balls or bora and soak the excess oil in a paper towel or any absorbent paper.

In other news you can make the boras with way less oil in this ebelskeiver pan like I did.

Make the Tauk

We will use about 6 of those Boras to make the tauk and so I used only half of a green mango . Peel the mango and chop in medium pieces.


Now to make the tauk, heat mustard oil in a kadhai

Temper the mustard oil with a tsp of PaanchPhoron

Add chopped green mangoes and sprinkle a little turmeric powder

Saute the mangoes for a few minutes.

Add 2 Cups of water and salt to taste and let the raw mangoes soften and cook

Once the mangoes are cooked add about 3 tbsp of sugar and let the jhol simmer. You may need more or less sugar depending on how sour your mangoes are and your personal taste.

Add a tsp of mustard paste(optional)

Add the boras/fritters and let it simmer for 2-3 minutes until the bora soaks up the liquid. Squeeze a little lime juice and add a few mint leaves if you wish.

This tok or tauk is a very light soupy gravy and you can have this with rice

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