Wednesday, March 28, 2018

Bangla-fied Kashmiri Fish Curry -- that is how we roll

Bengalis eat a lot of fish. Growing up, I think we ate fish almost every day of the week. Not Fridays, because that is my Mother's Puja Day and not Sunday because that was the National Bengali Mutton Curry Day. But all other days there was fish for lunch and dinner. And not just one kind of fish. We could go a month without repeating the same fish actually -- mourala, magur, shingi, chara pona, tyangra, pabda, parshe, rui, katla, bhetki, ilish, chingri, the variety was endless. With each kind of fish the fish curry too varied. Crispy fried mourala, a dry dish of tyangra with eggplants, a soupy curry of shingi, pabda in a mustard sauce, fried fish with bhetki, malaikari with chingri --- ahh just the names make my mouth water.

In my home here, we eat a lot of fish too. Not always the fish that I would actually love to eat but mostly the fish that my girls love. I had never thought being a mother would involve so much of "Mother India" martyrdom but that is what has happened. I cook what the girls will eat rather than I want to eat, just because it is difficult to cook 3 different dishes. This means though we eat a lot of fish, it always hovers between -- salmon, bassa, tilapia or prawns. To add variety I try to cook these fish in different ways, grabbing recipes from far east, unknown west and anything in between.

When I saw a fish curry posted by Anita @ A Mad Tea Party on insta, a few months back, I knew I had to make it. Her photo was so alluring that I wanted that fish curry right then. I pinged her for the recipe and the true blue Kashmiri that she is, she shared her home recipe with details as to what to do when and what to substitute. The recipe was not on her blog yet and so there was no measurement.

When it comes to recipes, I trust a "home-cooked" recipe above everything else and so I took her recipe of Kashmiri Fish Curry as the guide and then "Bangala-fied" it. Which means, I added all those ingredients that a Kashmiri wouldn't but a Bengali would when she doesn't have Kashmiri suggested ingredients.

So instead of thinned tamarind water --I had lime juice, Ginger powder --was subbed with grated Ginger, and the Ver Masala -- was replaced with Garam Masala but Anita had suggested this. And then i added some fried boris or vadis as we do in a maacher jhol often.

The gravy had no onion, tomatoes and was a thin, runny gravy just like our Bengali jhol. But what made it taste different was the fennel. What a lovely flavor it added and the mild sour punch of the lemon juice was so very refreshing. We all loved this curry and I have been making it often.
I dare not call it Kashmiri as I respect an authentic recipe and I think I deviated quite a bit from the original. We will just call this Bangla-fied Kashmiri Fish Curry and rest our case.

Wednesday, March 21, 2018

Garlicky Tilapia with Milk and Lime

This is my friend K's recipe. I am not sure if he would like his whole name here so we will just leave it at K. This is a Tilapia with loads of garlic and bit of milk which he thinks he learned from a Italian Cooking show. When I saw the original video however I realized that this dish is more his creation than any Italian grandmother's. The addition of milk gives the dish a texture like my Mother's Dudh Maach, which the kids love, and then the garlic and green chilies take it to another level.

This dish can be served just by itself with some bread or with rice. We love it with rice like everything else.

Both K and I, have come a long way when it comes to honing culinary skills. There was a time 20 years back, when I had a reputation for frying cauliflowers by throwing them at the kadhai from a distance. Ahem, a considerable distance. Given that I was non-athletic and had hardly every netted a basket, the cauliflower throwing was a hit and miss affair. That I ever managed to make a "aloo-phulkopi" with cauliflowers in it, seems like a complex probability problem to me now.

K, has his own stories from the similar time period. His culinary experiments ranged from pressure cooking rice in milk to make "dooddh-bhaat" and making a dal-gosht that even the stray dog in their neighborhood refused to touch. None of that deterred him though and that is a good thing.

As you can well imagine, our friends still make fun of our amazing skills. But believe me, all that is a thing of the past. I have come a long way from those disasters. And same with K. Actually he is far a more adventurous cook than me and tries his hands at new technique and recipes all the time. He goes well beyond his comfort zone and every time we visit, there is a new dish waiting for us.

I pick up the ones, that my girls oooh and aah over. I know those are the ones I can pass off on weeknight dinners. I also make sure that I pick only the simple ones to try at home.

This Fish dish with loads of garlic, a touch of lime and then milk was what he made on our last visit. It was a simple dish, taking 30 mins max from start to finish.  The perfectly done fish in a pale daffodil gravy was as pretty to look at as it was to eat. You could have it with some bread or white rice. My girls loved it so much that I had to make it once we were back and since then it has become a fixed dish on the menu every week (until they tire of it).


Buy Tilapia Fillet. If You have got the bigger ones, I would suggest to cut it into two. I got the Tilapia Loins and they were slimmer than the filet.

This recipe serves 4 and I cooked with 4 Tilapia loins

Get a whole head of garlic, about say 12 pods. Either use a garlic press to press them or mince all that garlic. Garlic plays a important role in this dish so don't skimp.

We are going to make this Bengali hot, so grab a bunch(4-5) of green chili and chop them fine. If this scares you just use 2.

Start Cooking

1. Rinse and pat dry the fillet. Dust the filet with flour.

2. Season with salt and generous helping of fresh crushed black pepper on both sides

3. Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Warm 2 tablespoon of olive oil and then add the tilapia fillets. Cook 3 minutes on each side or until pale golden and cooked through.

4. Stir in the minced or pressed garlic and the green chilies. I needed add little more Olive Oil. Move the garlic-chili around so that they cook in oil and become soft.

5. Add 1/2 Cup of water at this point. You are supposed to add white wine or broth, but we all just make do with water and it tastes fine.

6. Next goes in 1 tsp of lime juice, zest of a lemon and salt to taste. If you have added wine just check if you need the lime juice.

7. When the water bubbles and reduces to half, add 3/4 Cup of Milk.

8. Let it simmer for a few minutes. Add some parsley or dhonepata (I had neither). Taste for seasoning and adjust salt, pepper and lime juice to taste. Serve with the sauce but we love it as a jhol with rice.

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Wednesday, March 07, 2018

Sheem Posto with Kasundi -- Snow Peas with Poppy seeds and Mustard

I have this habit of switching veggies, concocting recipes, substituting one ingredient with another. So it is no surprise that I hardly ever buy sheem, which we never find fresh at our Indian grocers anyway. Instead I buy the fresh, tender, translucent green snow peas from the Asian Market and substitute it for sheem!

With those fresh, tender, translucent green snow peas...ahem, I mostly make Dhonepata Bata Sheem. That dish is so freaking good that I cannot even begin telling you.

The one time that I actually cooked with sheem, and made a Tel Sheem, was when a blogger friend Soma, who grows amazing vegetables, sent me a box of tender sheem from her own garden. Those were soft and buttery and one look at them and you would fall in love.

Recently a friend had made Shorshe Sheem and the husband-man loved it. With snow peas in my refrigerator I thought of making a "shorshe sheem" today. Only, I felt extremely lazy and did not want to soak mustard seeds and then make a paste of it. I also don't have the smaller Magic Bullet jar anymore and to make a paste in the bigger jar, I would have to make a larger quantity. Instead, I decided to make a "Posto Sheem with Kasundi". So there would be posto and kasundi from a bottle and it would taste as wonderful.