Tag Archives: cook

Chocolate Cake: A guest post at My Experiments and Food

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An old, good friend of mine, M, who was brought to me by fate and has stayed with me by choice runs a blog ‘My Experiments and Food’. The blog focuses on delicious recipes – some that I have tasted in her house, and some that I have tried myself in my kitchen.

Once she discovered my blog on food, she requested for a post on my chocolate cake. I was more than happy to share. Between her newborn, captivating baby daughter and her tight work schedule I am delighted that she not only found the time to read my blog, but also to post my write up!

I am so excited – you can now read about how to make delicious chocolate cake on here on blog at myexperimentsandfood.blogspot.in

It is a quick and simple recipe – the basic for which got handed down to me by my mother, with additions from my side to ensure its more chocolatey than her version.

This is the direct link to the specific post, but I encourage you to read the rest of her blog.

The Chocolate Cake!

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Jhinge Alu Posto (Ridge gourd with potatoes in Poppy Seed paste)

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The other day at the vegetable vendor, there was a very interesting discussion. My husband wanted bhindi, my mom in law stated that she wanted some ‘interesting vegetables’. On being asked what ‘interesting’ entailed, well, it was a list of ‘no turi, no lauki, no parval‘…and so on. (turi is rigde gourd, lauki is bottle gourd and parval is point gourd). And my husband wholeheartedly agreed.
Now, I dont really see the harm in any of them. Does that make me a gourdy person? Ha. Ha. OK, bad joke.

Well, I like parval (the big, fat ones) which can be cooked to a “makha” ie a dry curry with potatoes or filled with delicious “pur” and deep fried, or lauki when cooked with “bodi” or prawns or coconut or anything, or turi with “posto” i.e. poppy seeds. Yum!

So this time, I defied both and I bought all three of them – turi (jhinge in bengali), lauki (lau in bengali) and parval ( potol in bengali) and kept them aside for the day I would cook them, and change their minds. And make the amazingly delicious jhinge posto or lau bodi or potoler dolma. I had asked my mom to get some bodi in her last trip, and she had happily obliged. I am itching to use those dried daal bits (bodi or as in Hindi, vadi).

Potol

Potol (Beng), also known as Parval (Hind) or Point Gourd (Eng)

Jhingey

Jhingey (Beng), also known as Turi (Hin) and Ridge gourd (Eng)

Lau

 

Sunday presented a unique opportunity. Our cook was on leave for a couple of days, and she arrived late on Sunday. We had readied ourselves for a rice & daal meal. Perfect setting for the turi! Jhinge Posto, here I come!

Now, we Bengalis love our white poppy seeds (khus khus in hindi and posto in Bengali). Poppy is had as a paste with rice, or as an addendum to vegetables, or as coating to deep fries, or basically anywhere. Give us out Posto and Shorshe, and we are happy. (Shorshe is sarson, or mustard. And I dont mean just the oil)

Posto

Posto (Bengali) also known as Khus-khus (Hind) or White Poppy Seeds

Shorshe

Shorshe (beng), also known as mustard seeds

 

 

 

I asked her to peel and cut the turi into small cubes, along with one potato (I am lazy that way). And of course, the most difficult task, grind the white poppy seeds. At home in Calcutta, our cook uses the sheel bata to make a thick paste out of it, but here we dint have one.

Using Sheel Bata – the traditional grinder in Bengal

The next best option to grind was the mortar and pestle. The poor girl, me and my husband tried away for a while, but to no success. The perfectly round seeds would slip away towards the sides, and remain adamantly whole! Our mixer is too big for these small slippery seeds.

I was left with the choice of either using the half mashed concoction, or make another type of turi and not the awesomness of jhinge alu posto. Ah! The name itself brings back the flavours and the smell. I salivate.

And so I resolved – I WILL introduce my family to jhinge posto. They could not possibly go through life without having tasted the supreme delight of this light and flavourful dish.

I then got a brainwave. I dry-ground posto (gasp! convention!) and i made jhinge posto.

Dry-ground posto

Dry-ground posto – almost a sacrilege

Needless to say, everyone loved it. After second serves and an empty bowl, I was a proud cook that day! Turi will be welcomed home. Mission Accomplished.

Recipe:

Making Posto Bata (Using 10gms poppy seeds)

Conventional: Soak the poppy seeds in water for 10 mins or so. Add a green chilli and grind till a thick paste is formed.

My way: Use a dry grinder to grind the poppy seeds till its a fine powder. Mash in a green chili into it and let soak in water.

Adding water to the dry posto powder and grinding in a green chili

The water is a key element. It expands the seeds and gives the paste its light, fluffy feel.

Bata Posto & Shorshe-r tel

Bata Posto & Shorshe-r tel – Crushed poppy seeds and mustard oil

Other ingredients:
Ridge gourd – 2. Cut into 1/2 inch cubes

Diced Jhinge

Diced Jhinge or Turi

Potato – 1 large, diced
Turmeric – 1/2 teaspoon
Mustard Oil (preferably virgin)
Salt to taste

In a kadai, heat mustard oil till it steams. Add in the potatoes and stir fry till they are slightly seared.

Sear potatoes

Add in the cut gourd pieces, and mix around till all the vegetables are coated with a bit of oil. Add in turmeric and salt.

Sear turi and add turmeric and salt

Cover, and let cook. the gourd releases its own water, and so the vegetable should not stick to the pan. After around 5 minutes, the gourd and potato should be completely cooked. Open the lid and let some of the water evaporate.

To this, add the posto. We traditionally dont let even a drop of the posto go waste, as it expands a lot, and its preferable to have as much of it as possible coating the veggies. So add the paste and then swish the container with water, and add that in.

cooked posto
Add a whole green chili to this. The chili is just for the flavour, and not the spice. So do not slit it, or cut it. Drizzle a little virgin mustard oil. This gives a very interesting tang to the dish.

Cooked and ready jhinge alu posto!

Now fold in the posto to the cooked jhinge-alu, and let it cook till the vegetable is almost dry. This should not take too long, but it requires continuous stirring to avoid it from sticking to the pan.

Jhinge posto – Ready & Served!

Your jhinge-alu-posto is ready! Welcome to the world of Posto. Try it out with some freshly made rice, dry.
Yes, thank you for the compliments.

Served hot with Rice

And now that I have cracked the code for grinding posto, I will try the same with shorshe.

Short Method:
Grind posto (poppy seeds) with 1 green chili
Oil+Potato ->sear + jhinge (ridge gourd) + salt+ turmeric -> cover & Cook
-> + Posto + 1 green chili + Virgin mustard oil -> stir till dry

Keema/ Kheema Mutter (Minced Meat with Peas & Potato)

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Oooh. Keema. Cue melting mouth and delightful visions. I like my keema mutter, rather than plain keema and prefer that it be made of mutton or lamb keema. Chicken keema though, always remains close second in choice. I will outline how I make keema in this post.

For Vegetarians – Follow the same steps as for non veg keema, just use Soyabean granules instead. In India the most popular (and tried and tested by me) is Nutrela Granules

While I love keema, I would rather not spend my lifetime in the kitchen making it. So here is a fast(er) way to cook some delicious, sinful Keema Mutter!

What you Need:

Mains

1. Meat – 500gm for 4 adults who eat well. Else 400gm should be enough (Nutrela granules – 250-300 gms is fine)

2. Onions – Lots! Take at least 2 large red onions, chopped or sliced

3. Tomatoes – Lots n Lots! Take at least 3large tomatoes, diced (Some people prefer it pureed, but I like the bits of red you can see in the finished product if its chopped. Plus, its easier and faster to dice than puree) I prefer to dice so that each tomato half yields 6 pcs

4. Peas/ Mutter – A fistful (fresh or frozen makes no difference)

5. Potato – One should be enough. Peeled and Diced. I like the variety in flavor a bit of potato provides. If you want to, skip it. I love it, so would always suggest its addition. If you dont want many solid pieces, chop it into smaller sized cubes.

Spices

1. Garam Masala – in all forms.

a) Khada / Sabut/ Whole Garam Masala – whole spices put together – some cloves, cinnamon, bay leaf (tez patta), whole black pepper, green cardamom

(take around 3 of each, and a 0.5 inch stick of cardamomm)

b) Powder Garam Masala – all the above in a mixed powder form. Perhaps curry powder will yield the same result

2. Haldi / Turmeric – the hallmark of any non-veg Indian cooking

3. Red Chili powder (as much hot as you can take. This dish is best served Spicy!) – 2tsp

4. Dhania powder (coriander powder) – 1.5 tsp

5. Jeera powder (cumin powder) – 1.5 tsp

6. Ginger-garlic paste (I use the readymade variety available off the shelf in any mall) – 2 tbsp

7. Salt (swad-anusar, as my father in law points out each time he is in the kitchen!)

If you are an Indian cook, all of these will be available in your kitchen at any given time so should not be an issue. Else, maybe you should stock up on these spices, as they are kind of regular in all Indian cooking.

Oils

1. Any ‘white’ oil like peanut or sunflower oil (will need just 2 table spoons, max). Don’t use anything with a strong smell.

2. Ghee / clarified butter – 1 teaspoon (you an skip it if you want, but it does impart awesome flavor. And its just 1 tsp anyway!)

Garnish

Coriander leaves, also popularly known as Dhania Patta, de-stemmed, not chopped.

The Process in Short:

Keema -> Wash and drain water + haldi+Mirchi+Dhania powder+Jeera powder+Ginger Garlic Paste (one large pinch) ->mix & keep aside

In a Wok/ Kadai – Heat Oil+ Sabut garam masala+ Onion -> Stir till translucent or light brown + Potato -> Stir till coated in oil -> Add Keema mixture -> Stir till keema starts turning brown -> Cover, let cook till all keema is brown

After some time: Open Cover – Keema should have water released from it and brown in color + Tomatoes + ginger garlic paste +salt -> cover, cook + peas (5 mins before finished cooking)-> cook till meat is tender and done, and water has evaporated. If water is still there, let cook without cover for some time

Serving: Sprinkle cooked keema with garam masala powder and ghee, stir over low heat, garnish with dhania patta, serve

How to Cook (elaborate process):

1. The keema should be thawed and washed properly. Strain it through a thin meshed sieve multiple times to ensure its absolutely clean. Squeeze it as much as possible to get rid of the vestiges of water. This is because it will release water slowly throughout the process anyway

For Nutrela, prepare the granules as instructed and leave them moist

2. Mix in turmeric, cumin, coriander, red chili powders and a large pinch (around an inch) of ginger garlic paste. Coat the keema properly in this mixture, till it looks yellow-red thanks to the turmeric and chili. Keep this aside for marination – around 15- 20 mins should be enough!

(Nutrela does not need to marinate)

3. In a pan heat some (1.5 to 2tablespoons) sunflower or peanut oil. To the hot oil add the bay leaves (two medium sized ones) and the rest of the whole garam masalas. Make sure to remove the top from the cloves and split open the cardamoms . Else they will pop in the hot oil and cause blisters on your skin

4. Add in the onions to the oil now, and stir over medium to low heat. You can stir them once in a while, just to ensure they dont burn or caramelize. Constant stirring is best, but it wastes precious time! I just keep them on low heat till they turn translucent. Just stir them once every minute to ensure they don’t stick to the pan bottom

4. Add in potatoes. Stir till they are coated in the oil/onion mixture properly. Not seared.

5. Add in the keema mix. Sear it – that is, stir it around till most of it has turned dark brown in color due to the hot oil

(Note: If you started the process with making the keema mix, and then looking for the spices, 10 mins should have passed by now. This should save you the time of sitting around twiddling thumbs while the keema marinates.)

6. Add in some more ginger garlic paste and red chili (if you want), cover and let cook on medium heat (skip this step for Nutrela unless you want more chili). Add the salt here.

7. After around 3-4 minutes, open the lid, stir around the mixture, there should be juices released from the meat (for Nutrela add water) and the keema should have turned brown overall. In this, add the tomatoes and stir them in well, cover and let cook. Do other important stuff like painting your nails.

8. After around 8-10 minutes (lesser for Chiken) open the lid and add in the frozen or fresh peas. Cover and let cook! The reason the peas are added later is becuase they take so little time to cook. If you are impatient, you can add them in with the tomatoes – the only risk then is that they may mash into the keema. Adding in peas later is a little more attention and effort than an ideal scenario, but its worth it! For Nutrela, add in peas with the tomato.

Just keep checking once in a while. It should be done soon enough – when the meat is tender. Meanwhile you can start calling everyone to the table, or set it, or catch up on your TV serials. The keema can be checked on during the ads.

My Punjabi family side takes ages to assemble. While they love food, to get them to reach the food on time is an art which needs perseverance and patience. Even in a family of four, all four can never b e found together. I make it a point to start assembling them when the dish is 80% done. This ensures they are more or less around when I am ready to serve. Saves me the effort of re-heating a cold dish!

Before serving – turn on low heat, sprinkle some garam masala powder and ghee and stir. Add some coriander leaves and serve!

Its delicious with Parathas, or paav (buns) or kulchas.

My mother in law prefers to cook the onions till oil separates, then to keep this keema on heat till it is completely brown, then put it in a pressure cooker, then simmer it to then reduce it to apt dryness. This method is slower, takes around 2 hours, and believe me, tastes just the same! I prefer this 30-40 minute process.

Note: The more the meat, the longer it takes to cook. Nutrela takes very little time, so keep an eye on it! Chicken keema cooks much faster than mutton or lamb keema.

Happy Cooking!