Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Welcome to my culnary world..

Chhanar jilipi :::

This is one of the authentic desserts from Bengali cuisine and almost every Bengali's favorite. You wont find this dessert in any other corner of India except authentic Bengali sweet shop. Though it is time consuming and lengthy process but once you prepare and serve to your loved ones, it is sheer bliss and heavenly delicious. I as usual modified a little according to my taste.  
For 30 nos..
Chhana / cottage cheese made out of 1 lbs whole milk,
1/2 cup dry mewa or dry milk powder,
1/4 cup of semolina or suji,
2 tbsp of maida or all purpose flour,
1 tbsp of powdered sugar,
1 tsp of elachi or cardamon powder,
a few drops of kewra essence, Optional,
Oil for deep fry.
For Sugar syrup..
3 cup of sugar, 
4 cup of water,
1 tsp lemon juice,
2-3 nos. of crushed elachi or cardamon.

1. Take a big bowl, add chhana / cottage cheese and knead lightly until it becomes smooth and not sticking your palm. Now add dry mewa, moida, sugar, cardamon powder, kewra essence and suji one at a time and knead nicely to make a smooth dough. Cover the dough with wet paper napkin and let it stand for 15 mins.
2. In the mean time, take sugar and water in a big flat vessel and let it boil sprinkling lemon juice. Lemon juice will help to take out dirt from the syrup and wont allow to crystallize sugar syrup. 
3. When sugar syrup becomes little thicker or two thread consistency,then keep the flame very low to keep it warm.
4. Now make 3o balls from the dough and on a flat surface, sprinkle little maida or all purpose flour and roll into a thick rope shape and then carefully make it round like coil fixing the end under the coil shape with little touch of oil or water. Make it three or two and half round. Be extra careful while doing this part to avoid breaking. Repeat the process to make the rest of the jilipis.
5. Now heat sufficient oil in a wok or kadai and fry one or two at a time on low flame until it becomes light golden brown. Be careful with the temperature of oil to avoid burning them. If you feel temperature is too low then make it medium for a minute or two then again turn the flame to low again.
6. When jilipi becomes light golden brown then transfer it to sugar syrup and let it soak in warm syrup for sometime. Fry rest of them carefully and soak in warm syrup. 
7. When it becomes almost double the size then take off from sugar syrup and keep in a flat plate or serving plate. You can sprinkle some crushed pistachios or cashew nuts on top of that. Serve warm or in room temperature.

You can keep in refrigerator for two weeks. In that case, keep them along with sugar syrup and make it little warm while serving. 
Try to fry one first and if it breaks while frying trying sprinkle little semolina or all purpose flour and make the dough again if you are doing for the first time. Make sure chhana or cottage cheese properly squeezed to take out extra water. While kneading chhana should be oily and comes out of your palm while kneading.
You need to practice 2-3 times while making perfect ones.

For more Bengali sweets click here.

Hyderabadi mutton biriyani..

 Another jewel from Hyderabad cuisine that no one can say no. I love to prepare this for special occasions. After going through lots of recipes, I modified little bit and made this for easier version using rice cooker. I have found that if you can prepare couple of hours before serving then tastes awesome.

2 lbs medium size mixed mutton/goat meat pieces,
4 cups of basmati rice, washed and drained
2 big size red onions, sliced
2-3 nos. bay leaves,
3-4 nos. cardamons, crushed
3-4 nos. cloves,
3 nos. 1" cinnamon sticks,
2-3 nos. star anise,
1 tbsp red chilli powder,
salt as per your taste,
1 tbsp ghee/oil,
1/3 cup milk,
a few strands of saffron.

For marination:::
1 tbsp turmeric powder,
2-3 tbsp biriyani masala,
1 tsp oil,
1 tbsp ginger-garlic paste,
salt as per your taste,
1 tsp meat tenderizer.

1. Clean and pat dry mutton pieces and then marinate with all the ingredients mentioned above for marination. Keep aside for minimum 3 hours.  
2. In a pressure cooker or deep bottomed pan, fry sliced onions adding 3-4 tbsp of oil. Sprinkle little salt. Once onion changes color to dark red and then take out fried onions to paper napkins to absorb extra oil.
3. Add star anise, one cardamon and one bay leaf to the pan and then saute a little. Add marinated mutton pieces and mix everything nicely and let it cook until just done adding half cup of water on medium flame. If you are using pressure cooker, cook till 4-5 whistles and then let it stand till steam comes out.

4. Add 1 tsp ghee or oil at the bottom of rice cooker. Sprinkle 1/4 fried onions, chopped mint and coriander leaves and then spread cooked mutton pieces leaving gravy in the pan.
5. Then boil enough water in a big vessel adding ghee,bay leaf,crushed cardamons, cloves,cinnamon and salt. Once it starts boiling, add washed basmati rice and let it cook for 5 minutes. Once done, drain excess water from rice keeping all the spices. Use a big strainer if possible.
6. Add saffron strands to warm milk and keep aside.
7. Now add 1/4 of cooked rice on top of the mutton pieces and then spread fried onions,mint and coriander leaves. Add 2 tsp of gravy on top of that. Again add 1/4 of cooked rice and repeat the process except the gravy. Repeat the process till you are done layering rice. At last, sprinkle saffron milk on the top of that and little coriander leaves. Close the rice cooker and let it cook on normal "white rice" mode or cook mode. 
8. Once done, you can keep the cooker on warm mode till serving.

I make little more gravy and use as shorba. You can transfer biriyani on wide pan or whatever you are using for serving and then cover with aluminum foil and then keep warm in oven before serving. If you don't have saffron, use food color mixed with warm milk.
You can prepare before minimum 6 hours and while serving just make it warm and serve. I use grated raw papaya instead of store-bought tenderizer.
I like to use shan biriyani masala but you can use other good brands too.
For more biriyani recipes,click here.

Chitrakut :::
First time I heard about this dessert from one of my Facebook friend and then got inspired. I was hesitant to prepare this sweet as I never tasted before. But then on a special day I tried with left-over paneer or cottage cheese when I was preparing rosogolla. It is simply delicious dessert exclusively from Bengal with little patience and  lots of love.
for 10 nos...
one cup home-made paneer,
1/2 cup khowa / mawa (dry-milk powder),
1/2 tsp suji / rava, 
3/4 cup moida / all purpose flour,
1 tsp ghee or clarified butter,
a pinch of baking powder,
1/4 tsp cardamon powder.
for sugar syrup...
2 cup sugar,
2 cup water,
1/4 tsp of kewra essence, optional.

1. Mix moida / all purpose flour with melted ghee / clarified butter unless you can give a shape when you hold in your fist. Add little more ghee if needed.
2. Crush paneer adding cardamon powder, suji and khowa / dry milk powder and baking powder. Now moida to the paneer mixture. Mix thoroughly rubbing with your palm until it becomes a nice soft dough. You don't need anything to make it soft dough but still if you feel dry and cracked then add few drops of ghee or milk to make it soft. Cover it for 10 minutes with a dampen cloth or paper napkin.
3. In a flat vessel , add water with sugar and let it boil up to two-thread consistency. Once it is done, add rose or kewra essence and keep it warm on low flame.
4. Now make 10 balls out of the dough and give an oval or triangle shape. Heat sufficient oil in a kadai or pan. When oil comes too hot then bring it to very low flame and then fry it two or three in a batch on low flame. 
5. Fry until both the sides become light golden in color and then take out from the kadai.
6. Now put into sugar-syrup and let it soak into syrup for 5-10 minutes. Once it is soft and spongy , your chitrakut is ready and serve it garnishing with pistachios or any finely chopped dry fruits and sprinkle khowa or dry milk powder on the top of it.
For two-thread consistency, you take a two drops of sugar syrup in between forefinger tip and thumb and let it cool little and pull apart gently. If two threads are formed and don't break then it is called two-thread consistency.
You can prepare mawa or kheer boiling half n half milk or whole milk with dry milk powder too at home. You must use home made paneer.  
Make small shape with dough as after frying and then soaking in sugar syrup it will become double the original size.
 For more Bengali sweets click here.
Chamagadda / Arbi pulusu :::
Arbi / Taro root is very common vegetable in India and here in USA easily available in Chinese or Indian groceries. For the first time , I had it in my in-law's house and just loved the simple tangy spicy gravy which is a traditional dish from Andhra Pradesh.It goes very well with plain rice or roti.
6-8 nos. small chamagadda / arbi, 
one medium size onion, finely chopped 
one large tomato, finely chopped,
1 tbsp garlic paste,
one medium size tamarind ball, soaked in hot water
1 tsp red chilli powder,
1 tsp turmeric powder,
1 tsp coriander powder,
salt to taste,
oil to fry.
for seasoning..
1/2 tsp cumin seeds,
1/2 tsp small mustard seeds,
1/3 tsp methi / fenugreek seeds,
2 nos. whole red chillies,optional
10 nos. fresh curry leaves. 

1. Boil arbis / chamagadda in a large vessel for 15 mins or in pressure cooker upto 2 whistles. Let it cool and take out the outer black skin and cut it into small pieces. Make sure the skin almost coming off when you press the arbi after taking out from pressure cooker.
2. Heat oil in a kadai or wok and add all the ingredients mentioned for seasoning. Cover the kadai and let it splutter for a while. Now add chopped onion and garlic paste and fry for 5-7 mins or until onion becomes translucent.
3. Now Arbi / chamagadda pieces to the kadai and mix thoroughly and fry nicely for 7-8 minutes and then add chopped tomatoes and saute again for 5 mins. Stir continuously or every 2 minutes to avoid burning.
4. Add turmeric powder, coriander powder and red chilli powder to the kadai and saute for another 5 mins. Now add one cup water and close the lid and let it boil for 7-8 minutes.
5. Now squeeze tamarind pulp from tamarind ball and add to the gravy adding another one cup of warm water. Let it simmer for 10-12 minutes on medium-low flame.
6. Add a small piece of jaggery if it is too sour and little oil if the gravy is too spicy. Once done, serve hot with plain rice or chapathi. This gravy tastes better if you eat the next day.
Chamagadda / Arbi should be fried along with onions and do not overcook also. You need to fry every 2-3 minutes to avoid burning too.This gravy stays very well upto 4 days and tastes even better.
If you want to know more, 

Simple chicken fry...Andhra style ::::

This chicken fry is very simple yet delicious and a great treat for spice lovers. I found the recipe while searching for Telugu chicken recipes a year ago but didn't get chance to prepare. With very less time and effort you can serve a delicious appetizers or a side dish for daal and rasam.

for marination...
1 whole chicken , cut into medium pieces,
1 tbsp ginger-garlic paste,
1 tbsp turmeric powder, red chilli powder and coriander powder,
10 no. fresh curry leaves,
one bunch of fresh coriander leaves,
half cup lemon juice,
salt to taste.
Oil to fry.

for seasoning..
3-4 nos. cardamon, broken
2-3 nos. cinnamon small sticks, broken
1/4 tsp cumin seeds,
5-6 nos. green chillies, slitted.

1. Marinate chicken pieces with all the ingredients mentioned for marination with 1 tbsp of oil. Keep aside for minimum two hours.
2. Heat 2 tbsp of oil in a kadai or wok, add all the ingredients mentioned for seasoning. When it splutters, add marinated chicken pieces and saute a little and then let it cook covered for 15 minutes or until well-cooked.
3. Now fry nicely until oil oozes out on the top and chicken pieces are well-fried. Garnish with chopped coriander leaves and curry leaves and serve hot.
 For more chicken recipes, click here.

Prawn masala :::
Shrimp or prawn cooked in simple onion and tomato gravy is one what I always my mother-in-law whenever I go to India. This is one of delicious preparations I have learned from her. I often prepare this simple yet delicious shrimp preparation for weekends and in parties and always appreciated by many of my friends.
Ingredients :::
15-18 nos medium shrimps / prawns, washed and de-veined
one big onions, finely chopped or paste,
2 large tomatoes, finely chopped,
1 tbsp ginger-garlic paste,
1 tsp turmeric powder,
1 tsp red chilli powder,
9-10 nos. fresh curry leaves,
a pinch of garam masala,
half cup tamarind pulp, optional
fresh coriander leaves for garnishing,
salt to taste,
2 tbsp oil.
1. Heat oil in a pan or kadai. Add ginger-garlic paste and curry leaves. Saute for a minute on low flame.
2. Add chopped onion and sprinkle salt. Let it fry until onion becomes translucent. Now add turmeric powder and red chilli powder and then chopped tomatoes. Mix thoroughly and let it cook covered for 10 mins or so. Add little water and mix again and let it cook for another 10 mins.
3. Now add shrimps / prawns to the pan and mix with onion-tomato gravy. Fry on medium flame until shrimps / prawns become whitish. Now add little water and then cook covered for another 12-15 minutes or until water almost dries off. Open the lid and let is simmer for another 7-8 minutes. Sprinkle garam masala and chopped coriander leaves on the top and serve with hot steaming rice , pulao or biriyani.
If you don't want to add shrimps directly to the gravy then marinate with turmeric powder and salt and keep aside for 10 minutes and then fry lightly both the sides. Adjust your spice level. Sometimes I add a pinch of sugar while heating oil. That gives a nice red color when I use less red chilli powder.

Andhra Chicken / Kodi Pulao ::::

Andhra cuisine has many best preparations but I love this one the most. For so many months I wanted to try this recipe from vah re vah but dint have quiet time for this as this needs lots of patience and time for preparation but when you serve this dish, it takes all attention and you are satisfied with your effort. This chicken pulao is one exquisite pot-meal and basically needs nothing as side dishes.

2.5 lbs / 1.2 kg medium size chicken pieces,
4 small cups rice, washed
1/3 tsp shahi jeera,
5 nos. slitted green chillies,
1" cinnamon,
2 nos. cloves,
2 nos. cardamon,
7-8 nos. curry leaves,
one big onion, thinly sliced
1 tbsp ginger-garlic paste,
1 tbsp coriander powder,
3-4 tbsp oil, preferably ghee or clarified butter,
salt to taste. 

for marination...
1 tbsp turmeric powder,
1 tbsp red chilli powder,
salt to taste,
5-10 nos. curry leaves,
handful of chopped coriander and mint leaves,
5-8 tbsp yogurt / curd.

for ground masala...
4 tbsp poppy seeds / khaskhas,
5-7 nos. cloves,
7-8 nos. cardamons,
3-5 nos. small cinnamon,
1/2 cup fresh or frozen coconut pieces.

for garnishing...
1/2 cup fried cashew nuts,
1/3 cup chopped fresh coriander leaves. 

1. Soak rice in a large bowl for 30 minutes. 
2. Marinate chicken pieces with all the ingredients mentioned for marination
3. Dry roast all the ingredients for ground masala on low-medium flame until raw smell of poppy seeds goes off. Once done, let it cool completely and then make a smooth paste adding 1/2 cup water. Keep aside.
3. Now heat oil in a deep-bottomed pan, add shah jeera, cloves, cardamon, cinnamon and curry leaves. Saute a little and then add sliced onions adding salt. Fry for one or two minutes or when onions starts changing colors add ginger-garlic paste and green chillies. Fry for 2-3 minutes on medium flame. Cover the pan and let it cook for 4-5 minutes.
4. Once done, add coriander powder and then ground masala and saute a little.
5. Add marinated chicken pieces and fry for 5 minutes on medium flame. Then cover the pan again and let it cook for 10-12 minutes unless chicken pieces are half-done. 
6. Now , add soaked rice to the pan and press lightly and then add 1 1/2 cups of water and let it cook covered for 10 minutes. 
7. Now, open the lid and lightly mix rice and chicken and then add half cup of water and sprinkle fried cashew nuts and chopped coriander leaves on the top and cover the pan for another 15 minutes on very low flame. Once done, serve hot with any raita and salad.
As your taste bud permits , you can add or remove green chillies. You can remove mint leaves too.
for more rice recipes , click here.

Navratan korma :::
Navratan korma or nine-jewels curry is very popular Moghlai dish where it gets the name because of using nine different types of vegetables,fruits and nuts. You can choose your own favorite vegetables, fried nuts and add paneer too. I tried to use the true Moghlai fashion preparing cashew nut paste and cream for gravy. But you can always use healthier version too but once in a year for a special occasion we can have little more calories. 

Ingredients :::
for 10 people..
12 pieces medium size paneer / cottage cheese,
one big of mixed cubed vegetables ,
one small pineapple pieces,
1 tbsp raisins,
one cup cashew nuts,
one big cup onion slices,
1 tsp ginger-garlic paste,
1 tsp turmeric powder, white pepper powder, coriander powder each,
a pinch of garam masala,
half cup heavy cream,
4-5 tbsp whole milk,
1/4 tsp sugar, 
3 tbsp oil.

for seasoning..
4-5 nos. broken green cardamons,
3-4  nos. cloves,
2 inch cinnamon,
one bay leaf.

for garnishing..
fried cashew nuts,
fresh or whipped cream.

Method :::
1. Heat oil in a pan, add turmeric powder and salt and fry all the paneer pieces in small batch until all the sides become light brownish. Keep aside.
2. Boil onion slices and cashew nuts in two cups of water with little salt till onion becomes very soft. Once done, strain onions and cashew nuts and keep the water aside. When it gets cold, make a smooth paste out it adding the same water.
3. In another saucepan, boil all the vegetables with little salt till all the vegetables become soft.
4. Heat oil in a wok or deep-bottomed pan. Add cardamons,cloves, cinnamon and bay leaf and add saute a little and then add cashew nut-onion paste adding little boiled water what you used for boiling onions and cashew nuts or little warm water. Cover the pan and let it cook on medium flame for 5 mins.
5. When oil starts oozing out , add ginger-garlic paste and fry for half a minute. Then add all the dry spices and if needed add some more boiled water from step 2. Let it cook 5 minutes.
6. Add the boiled vegetables and stir carefully to coat the vegetables. Add salt and sugar and let it cook until oil oozes out or 5-6 minutes. Now add fried paneer pieces, pineapple chunks and raisins. Let it simmer while stirring occasionally. 
7.  Now add garam masala , cream and milk to the curry and stir carefully and let it simmer for some more time. Once done, garnish with fried cashews and little cream. Serve hot with paratha or naans.
I use beans, carrots , peas, potatoes and different bell peppers / capsicum. These vegetables and nuts are all optional and you can omit pineapples too. If you don't want to use cream then use milk little more. I wanted little spicy so added green chilies too.

For more paneer recipes , click here.

Puti machher tok / ambol :::
This is one of the East-Bengal specialties what is very unique than other famous dishes. I had found a big packet of Puti or Swamp barb (English name) in freezer and with Purnadi's suggestion I have one more delicious recipe in my collection with very less time and effort. 
10 nos. small fish, cleaned 
1tbsp turmeric powder,
1/2 tsp red chilli powder,
one cup tamarind pulp,
2 nos. dry red chilli,
a pinch of mustard seeds,
salt to taste,
oil to fry, preferably mustard oil.

1. Marinate fishes with half of turmeric powder and salt. Mix tamarind pulp, red chilli powder and turmeric powder in a bowl adding water and keep aside.
2. Heat sufficient oil, fry fishes until almost crispy. Once done, keep aside.
3. Add mustard seeds and red chillies in oil. When seeds splutter, add tamarind water to the pan and let it boil. Then add fried fishes to the pan and adjust salt. Let it simmer for 10-12 minutes and then switch off the gas. Serve hot with plain steaming hot rice. You can garnish with coriander leaves too.

For more fish recipes, click here.


  1. Bhalo recipe. ekta proshno chhilo- Charlotte e puti/rui/ilish bangali machhe paoa jai kothai? thanks.

    1. We will get frozen Indian fishes in Patel brothers and other Indian grocery stores here in Charlotte.

  2. Beautiful post and such lovely clicks. Thanks for this healthy food guide.

  3. What a wonderful blog! I am looking forward to trying your recipe for puti machher tok / ambol. I don't have much experience cooking with tamarind, but I do enjoy the flavor. Also, eating small fish tends to be both a healthy and an environmentally sustainable habit, so I'm trying to incorporate more small fish into my cooking. :)

  4. Really yummy..I am going to try channar jilipi��