Saturday, February 27, 2010

Dhokar Dalna -- a lesson in Lentil Cakes

Spiced Lentil Cakes in a gravy

I am a lot like Big Sis S(BSS) or is it the other way round ? Whatever it is we both try to avoid things that are hard. Force us in a difficult situation and we will be fine coping with it and coming out stronger but given a choice we will try to avoid the difficult route.

Take BSS. She started Piano lessons some time last year. She loved it, practiced with diligence, sailed through her lessons as if she was a musical genius and played at the drop of a hat. Things started changing couple of weeks back. She started giving excuses around practice time, musical enthusiasm hit all time low and a marked drop in excitement on lesson days was noticed. A talk with her Piano teacher revealed what I already knew. Lessons had gotten harder and as Little Miss BSS was not able to sail through them as easily as on a cloud, she was no longer as enthusiastic about them.

We had a little talk, that kind of thing comes easy to me, I love it when I am at the giving end of such talks. Things seems to be better now, it is not that hard to motivate a 6 year old after all.

Take Me next. Dhokar Dalna, the master piece of Bengali Cuisine has eluded me all these years. I love Dhokar Dalna, to eat that is, to cook, I always dismissed it as "too difficult". Ok, I think I did it just once but that just reinforced my belief that it took too much time and oil to be deemed worth repeatable in my kitchen. However BSS's example triggered me. If that little girl could go back and do her "Lets Rock" or whatever sheet music several times over, I could at least try Dhokar Dalna once more.

So I made it today, I wouldn't say total success, there are these small nuances that need to be taken care of next time. I am yet to get the right texture for the lentil paste to make the cakes and some of my dhokas or lentil cakes were cracking which shouldn't happen. But I think I did conquer my fear. After all my three decades and more of existence has taught me that "Done is better than perfect"(quoted from Scott Allen), at least some times.

Dhokar Dalna, is one of the pillars of Niramish(Vegetarian) Bengali Cuisine, just like Shukto. The lightly spiced lentil cakes or dhoka are fried and then simmered in a gravy made with tomatoes and ginger, spiced with cumin and coriander. This dish traditionally is a purely satvik dish, sans any onion or garlic like most Bengali Niramish(vegetarian) dishes. Bengali widows were not allowed to eat onion or garlic and the Bengali vegetarian cuisine is mostly their contribution, that explains why it is satvik.

The dhokas are such a delight and the gravy is so fragrant that you wouldn't even miss onion or garlic in here. Enjoyed best with plain white rice, the dhoka sure brings joy, though it actually means "to cheat".

Get this recipe in my Book coming out soon. Check this blog for further updates. 


Dhokar Dalna

To Make the Dhoka or the Lentil Cakes

Soak 1& 1/2 cup of Cholar Dal/Chana Dal/Bengal Gram in water overnight

Drain the water and grind
the lentils + 6 green chili + little salt
to a fine paste. Add little water as required for grinding

Heat Oil in a Kadhai/Frying Pan. Temper the Oil with
3/4 tsp of Whole Cumin seeds/Jeera,
a pinch of Asafoetida/Hing,
1/2 tsp of sugar,

and 1& 1/2 tsp of Ginger paste

Add the lentil paste/ground dal to this and cook until the mix comes off the sides clean. The dal should be cooked so that is moist and soft but not runny or hard. Note: This step is really tricky.You need to stir vigorously else the paste will stick to the sides and you need to be careful to remove the moisture without making it hard. Add little oil as needed to avoid sticking.

Smear a flat plate with oil and pour the soft dal mix on this. While it is warm, pat lightly with your hands to form a flat, slightly raised round structure

With a knife make squares or diamond shapes

Heat some more Oil and fry the lentil cakes till golden brown on both sides. Take care that they do not break

To Make the Gravy

Heat Oil in a Kadhai or any other thick bottomed pan

Fry 1 potato chopped in eights till golden, remove and keep aside.

Temper the Oil with
2 small Bay leaf/Tej Patta,
3/4 tsp of Cumin Seeds/Jeera
and a pinch of Asafoetida/Hing

Add 1 tomato finely chopped and 1 tsp of freshly grated ginger. Saute till tomato is reduced to a pulp and there is no raw smell.

In 1 tsp of Yogurt, mix
1/2 tsp of Corriander Powder, 1/2 tsp of Roasted cumin Powder(or Regular Cumin Powder) 1/2 tsp of Red Chili Powder
and a little turmeric to make a fine paste.
Add this paste to the Kadhai. and fry the masala at low heat.

Add the potatoes and about 1&1/2 cups of water. Add salt to taste and cover and cook till potatoes are done.

Adjust for any seasonings, add a little sugar. Add about 1/4 tsp of Garam Masala and 1/2 tsp of Ghee and gently mix.Now gently slide in the pieces of dhoka or the fried lentil cakes. Simmer for couple of minutes to let the dhoka soak up the gravy. Note:If like mine some of your dhokas are cracking do not add them to the gravy, rather place them on the serving dish and pour the gravy on them.

Serve with hot white rice.

Other Dhoka Dalna around the Blogosphere with little variations:

Dhokar Dalna but with onion and garlic -- from One Hot Stove

Dhokar Dalna from Ahaar

Dhokar Dalna from SJ

Indrani's Dhokar Dalna

Sudeshna's Dhokar Dalna

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Pudina Dhaniya Chicken -- Chicken in Mint Corriander Sauce

Sometimes readers will leave a comment asking "How much salt?". A weighted question with no answer that I know of. Honestly, I don't know how much salt. My salt adding tactics while cooking is start with less salt --> taste --> add a little more --> taste again -->...repeat steps till equilibrium is reached.... Yes do that and do not dip the same spoon again and again without rinsing and same goes about your finger, ok not the finger maybe.

Talking about salt did you know that every winter the salt dumped on US roadways is 13 times more than that used by the Food Processing Industry. Yes, the salt that prevents your car from skidding is actually seeping into groundwater supplies and into lakes and streams thus disrupting aquatic plants and animals. So is there an alternative that is as cheap ? Not really unless you accept more judicious use of the salt like salting only the main roads and highways and using sand on the inner roads. Or salting just before the storm hits rather than later. Or just staying indoors until the snow melts and it is Spring.

Now to the chicken which is a direct influence of the Chicken Hariyali Kabab recipes from Aayi's Recipes

That recipes is perfect and any normal person would not have messed with it.

Me, I am "Cuckoo", as Big Sis S says. I wanted to make a Chicken with Mint and Corriander, wanted a gravy based dish and loved the Hariyali Kabab recipe. So then this followed. The chicken is first cooked exactly as in Hariyali Kabab and then the gravy follows. If you don't want the gravy stop when the chicken is done, eat them all up, lick your fingers and then lament the loss of the gravy.

If you want a minty gravy, go ahead and make the gravy. Depending on your taste, increase or decrease the amount of mint and corriander in the gravy. In lack of a better name I just call it Pudina Dhaniya Chicken or Chicken in Mint & Corriander Sauce.


Influenced by this Chicken Hariyali Kabab Recipe

Pudina Dhaniya Chicken/Chicken in Mint & Coriander Sauce

What You Need

Chicken ~ 2 lb skinned and cut in small pieces

To make a Masala for Marinade

Chopped Corriander Leaves ~ 1 cup
Chopped Mint Leaves ~ 1/2 cup
Green Chili ~ 4 (add more depending on your heat level)
Ginger ~ 1" peeled and chopped
Garlic ~ 4 fat cloves

Clove ~ 4
Cinnamon ~ 2" stick
Black Pepper Powder ~ 1 tsp

Thick Yogurt ~ 1/2 cup
Salt ~ to taste

For Gravy

Onion ~ 1 cup of finely chopped red onion
Garlic Paste ~ 1 heaped tsp

Kasoori Methi ~ 1 tsp crushed between your palm
Red Chili Powder ~ 1/2 tsp
Salt ~ to taste

Oil ~ for cooking

To make into a Masala Paste for Gravy

Chopped Corriander leaves ~ 1/4 cup
Chopped Mint leaves ~ 1/2 cup
Poppy Seeds ~ 1 tbsp
Cashew ~ 2 tbsp
Little water

How I Did It

Cooking the Chicken

Make a thick Paste with all ingredients listed under Masala For Marinade. Marinate the washed and cleaned chicken pieces with this spice paste for 2-4 hrs. or even overnight. The least I have done is 1 hr.

Remove the chicken pieces from the marinade, shake off any excess and arrange the pieces on a baking tray. I drizzle a little oil on the pieces before they go into the oven.

Preheat Oven to 350F. Bake the chicken for 20-25 minutes. If you DO NOT want to proceed to gravy then cook till chicken is done. Note: These are my Toaster Oven settings

Making the Gravy

While the chicken is in the oven, make a wet spice paste with all ingredients listed underMasala Paste for Gravy.We will add this masala paste to the gravy later.

Heat Oil in a saute Pan

Add the chopped onion and fry till onion is soft and translucent

Add 1 tsp of garlic paste and saute till fragrant.

Add the masala paste(that you made) and saute for couple of minutes. Add the remaining marinade(from the chicken) if any and cook the masala till you see oil seeping out from the edges

Crush the Kasoori Methi between your palms and add it to above. Saute for a minute. Add 1/2 tsp of Red Chili Powder. Adjust Chili Powder according to taste.

The chicken is done by now so add the chicken pieces to the pan and mix in with the spices. If there is liquid drippings in the baking tray do not add all the liquid now.

Cook the chicken with masala for a minute or two and then add the liquid drippings from the bake tray. Add little water as needed for gravy. Adjust for salt and seasoning and cook till the gravy thickens and is just enough to coat the chicken.

Once the chicken is done sprinkle some black pepper powder to give a nice heat effect.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

BandhaKopir Tarkari -- a quick cabbage stir fry

For the better part of the last 7 days I have been home and so has the kids. That meant almost no computer time and no blog hopping either. Who would have the heart to keep sitting at the computer when the wireless mouse has been carried off by the little kitty ? And who would dare to open the laptop when one remembers what happened with endless plugging in and unplugging of the former ? The littlest one seems to have a penchant for doing everything that needs to be reprimanded with a big "NO" and then that doesn't stop her either, it just diverts her to doing the next.

By the time they went to bed it would be very late and the precious little me time I had there after, I spent reading Ruth Reichls' "Garlic and Sapphires", a charming read about her life as a food critic for New York Times, more precious because I could savor only a few pages each day. Something that she said in the first few pages of the book had struck a chord and remained with me.

"There is no right or wrong in matters of taste", she says " It's just a matter of opinion. And in the case of restaurants an extremely subjective one, given that no one has the faintest idea if what you taste when you bite into an apple is the same thing that I do." -- Ruth Reichl in Garlic and Sapphires

Isn't that true ? While I may praise the steamed Hilsa and prostate before it, you might find the pungent mustard smell disgusting. While you may be thinking Curd Rice is the ultimate in good food, I might think "blah" ! If we still narrow it down to two homes from the same region and same culture, I might think the cabbage dish with potatoes and spices that I have had since childhood is the only decent way to throttle the suffocating cabbage flavor you might say that the way cabbage was at your place, lightly spiced was the best.

When I had posted BandhaKopir Ghonto last time, a reader wrote in saying he had found the dish more spicy than he is used to. Perfect, that was his opinion. In the same post there was a comment by Eve's Lungs about a Bandhakopir Tarkari( a Cabbage Dish) done with the minimal of spices. I loved her recipe for its simplicity and yet was not sure if I could endure cabbage with so less to camouflage it's true nature. It turns out her cabbage dish is another favorite in Bengali Kitchen and my friend N vouched for it too.

So I went ahead and made it, I had little to lose, it was very simple to make anyway. The simplicity of this Cabbage dish floored us. To my utter disbelief, I loved it. The husband again said, this was like the cabbage dish from his neighborhood picnic. He had said the same thing about the BandhaKopir Ghonto, remember ?And I realized I have no idea what he is tasting when he is taking a bite of that cabbage and that a lot about what you are tasting has to do with the memory you are matching it up with.


Bandhakopir Tarkari -- a cabbage stir fry

What You Need

The Vegetables

Cabbage ~ about 6-7 cups chopped in shreds
Tomato ~ 1 whole chopped small


PaanchPhoron ~ 1 tsp
Dry Red Chili ~ 2-3 whole
Roasted Cumin Powder ~ 1/4 tsp (optional but good)
Red Chili Powder ~ 1/4 - 1/2 tsp according to taste

Salt ~ to taste

Oil ~ for cooking

How I Did It

Chop Cabbage in fine shreds. You can also use the packets of coleslaw. I had about 6-7 cups of shredded cabbage. Soak the chopped cabbage in water for 10-15 mins and wash well.

Heat Oil in a Kadhai/Saute pan

Temper the oil with 1 tsp of Paanch Phoron and 2-3 Dry Red chili

When the spices sputter add 1 whole juicy tomato chopped. Saute till tomato softens and has no raw smell

Add the cabbage, a little at a time. As you add the cabbage saute and fold in with the spices.

After you have added all the cabbage add salt and Red Chili Powder to taste, mix and cover. Intermittently take off the cover and saute. Covering and sauteing helps in cooking the cabbage faster and also requires less oil I think. You may need to sprinkle a little water while cooking or the cabbage will stick to the pan and char.

When the cabbage is almost done, add 1/4 tsp of Roasted Cumin Powder (dry roast whole cumin seeds and grind to fine powder) and mix.

Once the cabbage is done adjust for salt and seasonings. If you want you can add a little lime juice to the end.

Now for the extra crunch, I crushed about 1/4 cup of dry roasted peanuts and added them to the dish. This step is optional and NOT part of the traditional method. Note: This adding peanut thing is totally my idea and I liked it since of course it was my idea :). Add peanuts at your own risk.

Enjoy by itself or as a side dish with rice and dal for lunch

Friday, February 12, 2010

Haat e Bajar e -- to the Market(The Roundup)

I am very happy with wonderful response that the Haat e Bajar e series got. My Dad is sure in seventh heaven that his pictures have been much appreciated. Thanks to all of You. Mucho Gracias to the few who took time to dig up pictures and archived posts of more colorful and vibrant local markets from different corners of India. If any of you have any more to share please drop me a line or leave a comment. I am particularly intrigued by the Allepey stores on water that Happy Cook had mentioned.

Read Part I & Part II of this series

Today will be a round up of the markets from my fellow bloggers and readers.


We will start off with a lovely Guest Post and Pictures by Sra of When My Soup Came Alive. The local market she visited in Pune will come alive through her words and pics.

A few months ago, I was assigned to visit Pune for a day. It was a field visit, almost literally. Part of my job was to visit the wholesale market there. After a sumptuous meal the previous night, which consisted of endless platters of kababs and ended way past midnight, we were woken up early in the morning and taken to Gul Tekdi market yard.

As with most markets, it was bustling with activity even at that early hour of 7 a.m. Lorries full of produce, with brightly coloured tarpaulin on them, had already rolled in and were in various stages of unloading. Our hosts led us through to the office where our meeting was being held, but not before we took some time to look around the place. This is a typical Indian vegetable market, and for those who do not know what to expect, can be quite an assault on the senses at this scale. There is much dirt, many tomatoes squashed under the feet of those in a rush, hay, cabbage leaves, cauliflower stalks and other vegetable refuse strewn around. The elements act on all this to produce a pungent and acrid smell that can be quite unbearable.

Sometimes, you can smell the rain in the soil that clings to the roots and stalks of produce that just that morning has been wrested from the earth. For good measure, you can see cows feeding off mounds of this green debris, and where cows are, manure shall follow. Of course, the cows (and sheep and other animals) are not peculiar to markets, though. They are everywhere in our country. Many years ago a city bus driver, I seem to recall, sacrificed a few lives, maybe even his own, when he swerved sharply and fell into the river, trying to avoid hitting a member of the bovine breed that ambled onto the bridge, directly in his path. Like this. But I digress. The vegetables are spread in heaps on sacking, and merchants frown on customers picking and choosing good specimens. The wholesale customer from the neigbourhood markets spread across the city, or the buyers for the restaurants and hotels will not bother with that, but if it's you and I shopping there for a good deal, we will have to be content with only the financial advantage. Some sellers use the traditional balance, some use modern electronic weighing machines. Some dispense with the sacking for plastic crates.

Some vegetables do not get the courtesy of even a gunny bag on which they can be spread, they are piled on the ground, as you can see in this picture. The greens here include fenugreek (foreground), coriander at the far back, amaranth (green and magenta) and dill.

See the stacks of huge leaves in this picture . I think they are arbi (taro root/colocaesia) leaves, used to make the wonderful patra (patravade, patrode), a steamed and fried delicacy that consists of besan paste rolled up in these leaves, popular along the Konkan coast right up to Gujarat. I've only ever had it thrice, once inviting a rather serious glance when I asked for a third piece, and most recently, about eight months ago at a friend's place in Queens, bought from an Indian grocery in Jackson Heights, thawed and microwaved and eaten to heart's content.

You will also see people hauling loads on their heads, and vendors from around the city coming here with their carts, filling them up with a variety of vegetables which they will sell for a profit in other localities for the next few hours. In any Indian market, there will be much shrill and spirited bargaining. (next few images). In this particular Pune market, vegetables and fruit come in from a 100 km radius, and the early morning's din evens out to a more measured buzz by noon, when, I remember being told, the market is closed for the day.

Next is beautiful Pictures of Mysore Market from Asha of Foodies Hope

She says "When I was in India last year, I went to see the Mysore vegetable market as it holds many memories of childhood strolls there with my parents and that little bakery where I used to savory snacks and that little bookstore I used to run to buy story books". The Mysore Market sure looks clean and colorful, a place that I would have cherished similar memories of.

Pictures of her home town local grocery seller from Swagata, a reader who took time to send me these photos by mail. Do you see the bicycle laden with tender coconuts in the second pic ? I love that one.

Kalyan of Finely Chopped shares his Mumbai Fish Market stories. He writes "Then I chanced upon Pushpa (barely visible behind a cutomer in the picture) and her mother (in the dark sari in the picture below) at one corner of the market. As they say, when it comes to fish it is all about finding the right woman. And I did! Pushpa and her mom sell some of the best fish that we have bought." Read his post for a thorough guide to buying fish in Mumbai. Some of his are pics here

A beautiful Photo Essay of a vegetable market from Kolhapur home of Nupur of One Hot Stove.She says about a smiling old lady posing with a cauliflower, "That beautiful, bright and huge cauliflower certainly deserves to be shown off! Selling vegetables is hard work and a business with a very low profit margin and no retirement plan; this lady is still working when she looks like she deserves to retire and get some rest." The post has some great pictures, head over to see what it looks like to be in a local market in the west coast of India.

Tuesday, February 09, 2010

Haat e Bajar e -- to the Market (II)

The Smiling Vegetable Seller

As we moved places the character of the haat changed, some places they were more sunny and open air, at others they were very clean and neat but their very basic underlying characteristics remained same. They also gave way to more local bazars, vegetable sellers sitting at residential road corners with their vegetables was a common sight.

Flowers for Prayer share a spot with Vegetables for Mankind

My Baba now preferred them than going to the haat. He would get everything he wanted right around the street corner. These small vendors did not have a complex supply chain system. The farmers in the nearby villages and suburbs took the early morning local train and brought their produce to a nearby train station. The neighborhood vegetable sellers sourced the produce directly from these farmers and sold it to the customers.


The Not too Happy Fruit Seller

With the IT boom pushing middle class Indians towards more prosperity, the retail industry in India slowly started changing. Organized retailing, though late has started encroaching the Indian market and more and more air conditioned super markets selling grocery and vegetables are sprouting in the metros. Interestingly Nilgiri's Super Markets are the oldest retail chain in India, going back as far as 1904.

The Fish Guy by the Road

I myself hadn't seen an air conditioned grocery market until I moved to B'lore in the late nineties. I was so taken by them that I would go to Nilgiris or Food World just to pick up some small stuff. Vegetables there were too expensive by my standard but I loved their ambiance as did many of my generation. For the freshest of veggies we would make once a week trip to the Madiwala Bajar on weekends which had the same character and earthiness as the haat of my childhood but only in Kannada.

The Push Cart Vegetable Vendor or the Thela

Convenience shopping in the form of Supermarkets must surely be a boon for a lot of the urban Indian population who want to shop in luxury and comfort. They might not be the best thing for the small farmers, the kirana stores(local grocers) and the fruit & vegetable seller at the corner though. With big names coming in to the retail grocery chains they are able to support a more elaborate supply chain management system which pushes the customers still further away from the producer.

Following are some pics of a wholesale bazaar that Sra of When My Soup Came Alive sent me. Most of the vegetables sold here come from a 100km radius, she says.

Birds Eye View of the Market

In spite of the big names of the retail chains, my Dad and most of his generation will still think twice before paying for a bunch of Asparagus at Reliance fresh. He prefers the vegetable seller round the corner as do 60% of the Indian population living in suburbs and villages.

What do you prefer ?

Further Read on Organized Retailing in India

Photos courtesy of my Dad from India. I guess these are his favorite sellers.

Saturday, February 06, 2010

Haat e Bajar e -- to the Market (I)

The early morning ritual on most days were very similar for middle class Bengali Men in the late 70's and 80's. A cup of tea, a quick browse through crackling pages of the Statesman or the limp ones of AnandaBazar and then a stroll to the nearby bajar for the fresh vegetables and fish of the day. Since we were not in Bengal at that time, it was a little different in our home. If I rewind to a morning back long long back, I see my Baba or Kaku or my Grandpa walking us to the school bus stop and then strolling on to the haat, see I said haat and not bajar, with two cloth bags and a reusable plastic bag for fish.


The haat, if defined in words, is a weekly marketplace where producers and vendors bring in their produce or products, either directly or through intermediaries to sell to the customers. But that is just words. That is fancy enough to describe Dilli Haat. But there was a much more intense social aspect to haat which can not be defined and you need to go to one of the smaller towns and scour around for a real haat to understand.

Garlic and Dry Red Chili

The haat in my home town was not a weekly thing, it was an every day semi permanent affair. Most of the fish, fresh fruit and vegetable vendors would wrap up and go home when the sun went higher up and the customers were few. The more permanent ones like the potato seller or the one with garlic and mounds of dry red chilis lingered on till the late afternoon. They would take a quick nap on a jute bag laid out on concrete, play a round of cards if the heat hung heavy and humid for sleep, chat and wait, wait for people to come by.

Dusty Potatoes

My Baba would occasionally take me to the haat, on weekends. I wouldn't say I enjoyed it a lot, it wasn't an open air haat and it was a bit dingy. Smells hung in cloisters. The sharp acidic smell of green lemon, the raw smell of squished tomatoes, smoky musty smell of dried turmeric and dry red chili mingled with the sweat and dust. It wasn't very clean either, with rotting leaves under the feet and squashed tomatoes on the pathway, you had to be careful about your step.

Brinjal Corner

Baba had his own choice set of sellers and he would proceed towards them, neglecting the cries of others, touting better cheaper produce. He had a relation set up with his potato seller and he wouldn't break the tie for such trifles.

Green Lemon

The haat was zonal, divided into zones according to the produce. The fresh vegetables were on the fringes, the fish sellers were all together, the dusty potatoes and onions were towards the center. It was hard competition since you were selling lemons as green and juicy as your rival sitting right there at your elbow. I still do not know how they survived and maintained a friendly relationship sitting close together and selling exactly similar products.

As we went around picking things, talking, discussing the days news with the sellers, the cloth bags would get fuller. Depending on the season, there would be tender drumsticks peeping out or fresh bunches of coriander. And then we would go home, not worrying about whether the vegetables had pesticide or their genes were modified by science but whether Ma would appreciate the days pick or scorn at our choices.

If you have a local Food Market, a bazaar or a haat near where you live, send me a pic or post on your own blog and leave a comment.

Pic Courtesy my Dad from the haat of my childhood hometown. All theses photos were taken by him

Thursday, February 04, 2010

Incredible India ?

Saw this ad on You Tube. Absolutely had to share

And then there was this which I heard a month back. The Indians in this talk probably don't know about the India on the first Video

Tuesday, February 02, 2010

Rui Maacher Dumpukht -- Fish Dumpukht

Salmon Leather is the next big thing in Luxury design. Don't turn up your nose, for its exotic, expensive and making waves. It is supposed to be Eco-friendly, because it is the ultimate in waste reclamation. Salmon leather is made from a part of the fish which is usually discarded, so the raw material here is basically a waste product.(More here)

If this intrigues you and you want to be a part of the fishy fashion scene request your sample here at Nanai.

Today I did not cook salmon, but you can if you wish. Instead I made Rui Maach er Dum Pukht.

There are two things about this dish.

First, it is delicious. I have made this dish for 3 times now and unlike me , all the three times I stuck to the recipe and all 3 times it has turned out to be oh so delicious. Trust me, each morsel of this gravy mixed with rice is pure pleasure. The gravy is rich and yet not heavy. The flavor of the fried onions lends a sweetness that flits through your palate. The cashews lend a creaminess that you wouldn't think you could achieve with so little effort.

The recipe in itself is very simple and straightforward. I have so far used only Rui Maach, the sweet water Rohu that I get from my Bangladeshi fish seller. But I have a hunch that it will work well with salmon, only thing is with salmon I would spice it up and broil the fish pieces like I did here. I got this wonderful recipe from Kaberi's Kitchen and she herself has also done it only with Rohu so far.

Second, though the name says DumPukht this is NO Dum Pukht. DumPukht is a technique of slow oven cooking, that is cooking on very low flame, mostly in sealed containers, allowing the meats to cook, as much as possible, in their own juices and bone-marrow. As Kaberi herself says, the original recipe called for slow cooking but to avoid raw smell of fish she did it her way. I don't think fish needs a lot of slow cooking anyways and so of course I followed her way.


Rui Macher Dumpukht

What You Need

6-7 steak pieces of sweet water fish like Rohu or Buffalo Carp

Onion ~ 1 cup chopped
Ginger ~ 1"piece
Green Chili ~ 4
Cashew ~ 1/3 cup. I used broken cashews

Bay Leaf ~ 2 small
Dry Red Chili ~ 2 whole

Yogurt ~ 1/2 cup
Kashmiri Mirch or Paprika ~ 1/4 -- 1/2 tsp

Garam Masala ~ 1/4 tsp
Salt ~ to taste
Sugar ~ 1/4-1/2 tsp

Prepping the Fish

Wash the steak pieces of fish, clean and remove scales if needed. Marinate the fish pieces with little turmeric and salt and keep aside for 15-20 mins. Heat Oil in a Kadhai and shallow fry the fish till they are light golden with little browning on both sides

Making the Gravy

Fry 1 cup of chopped red onion till soft and translucent.

Make a paste of
fried onion,
4 green chili,

1" ginger peeled and chopped,
1/3 cup of broken cashew

Heat While Oil

Add 2 whole Dry Red chili and 2 small(or 1 large) bay leaf

Add the paste. Add about 1/4 tsp of sugar and fry the paste till you see oil separating out from the masala.

In a bowl beat 1/2 cup of thick yogurt to a smooth consistency. Add 1/2 tsp of Kashmiri Mirch or Paprika and 1/4 tsp of Turmeric to it and mix well

Lower the heat and gradually add the yogurt to the pan. Do not add all yogurt at once . At low heat mix the yogurt with the masala paste and cook for a couple of minutes.

Add about 2/3 cup of water and let the gravy simmer. Once the gravy comes to a boil slide in the fish pieces. Cook for a 2-3 minutes till gravy reduces to desired thickness. Sprinkle 1/4 tsp of Garam Masala and gently mix. Cover and let it sit to integrate all the flavors.