Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Rawa Fried Fish (Fish fried in Semolina)

It's very difficult to get nice fresh, white pomfret in Delhi. The ones that we get, have probably travelled the world and arrived in Delhi with diluted pupils and an unbearable smell. Nevertheless, my dear father attempts to search the entire Fish market to feed his son-in-law with his favorite Pomfret Fish! So, to pamper His highness even further, I make Pomfret Rawa Fry - a delicious fried fish dish which my mom-in-law makes at home. I am yet to master the act of making it perfect, but whatever I make, my husband happily gorges on them:)

You can make this with most of the sea fishes, but the ones that I have eaten and I can vouch that they taste amazing with Rawa are basically - Sole, Ghol fish, Pompret, Prawns and bombil(Bombay Duck). Here is the recipe:
1 Cup of Rawa or semolina
500gms of Sole/Promfret/Prawn/Ghol Fish thin slices or pieces
1 Tsp of crushed garlic, ginger
3-4 pieces of kokum leaves (optional) - crush it with the ginger and garlic
2 Tsp of Red Chilli powder
1 Tsp of lime juice
1 Tsp of Turmeric
3 Tbsp of Oil

Wash the fish and marinate it in the mixture of garlic, kokum leaves, ginger. Add the lime juice, salt, Turmeric and red chilli powder. keep the fish aside for 30mins.

Now, take the rawa on a plate. alternatively, you can also take Rice Flour instead of Rawa (Semolina). Now, pick one fish piece at a time and roll it on the plate containing the Semolina.

Take a frying pan and add 3 Tbsps of oil. Heat the oil. Once the oil is heated, put the fish for frying. Carefully turn it to fry the other side after 8-9mins. Similarly fry the rest of the fishes. Serve the fish on a plate with lemon wedges.

Monday, March 30, 2009

Batata Poha (Marathi) or Chirer Pulao (Bengali)

Beaten Rice or Chire (Bengali) or Poha is also known as flattened rice - dry and flaky in texture and when immersed in a bowl of water, it absorbs the water completely. Easy to digest and a great form of carbs for those who don't like rice. I have grown up eating 'Chirer Pulao' made by my mother and I think it is extremely light & tasty. Something you can have at any time of the day.

The Maharashtrian manoos may not agree though. A little funny association with poha is for the Maharashtrian 'Grooms-to-be' who visit the 'to-be-bride' to find themselves a life partner. As a ritual in an arranged marriage, the 'prospective' groom is generally served 'Kanda poha', (which is basically 'poha made with onions') each and everytime he goes hunting for a bride! I truely think it is a great weapon to use so that the groom can take a quick (but wise) decision and give relief to his parents:)

Here is the recipe for Batata Poha or Chirer Pulao :
250gms of poha
4-5 small potatoes (preferably boiled), cut into small pieces
2 Tsp of mustard seeds or Cumin seeds
4 green chillies
1 Tsp of Sugar
1/2 Tsp of cumin powder
2 Tbsp of ground nut
3 Tbsp of Oil
1 Tsp Turmeric
3 Tbsp of Water
coriander leaves (3-5 leaves)

Wash the poha (rinse in flowing water) and keep it aside. Now, take a frying pan and put it on the gas. Add the oil and let it heat a bit. After a minute, add the cumin (or mustard) seeds, ground nuts, green chillies, potato pieces. If you wish, you can add onion or curry leaves also. Stir and fry the ingredients for 3-4 minutes. Now, add the turmeric, salt and sugar and add the poha. Stir the poha and the other ingredients well. Put 3Tbsp of water and cover the pan with a lid. The idea is to steam the poha so that it doesn't become dry. Don't put too much water or else, it will get soggy. When the water dries up, add the coriander leave and switch of the gas. Squeeze a lemon and stir it once more. You can also add some 'farsaan' on the top. Serve it hot!

Tuesday, March 24, 2009


Since I am a Delhite in the true sense, a pink drink would definitely mean Rooh-A-afza with milk. Yes, the one which punjabi moms make for their kids during hot Delhi summers. When I came to Mumbai, I saw it being served sometimes in a bowl and sometimes in a glass with a tiny coriander leaf floating gently on the top. I seriously couldn't understand why Rooh-a-Afza milk was being served with Dhaniya! But, before I could investigate, I came to know it is not what I was thinking, but a drink called SolKadhi which is made from Kokum flowers and hence, its' beautiful pink color. SolKadhi is a refreshing appetizer drink and has got a bit of spice attached to it, but is great for digestion too. Here is what you need to make a refreshing glass of Solkadhi:

1 Cup Coconut Milk
2 cloves of garlic
1 green chilli, chopped into tiny pieces
8 petals of Kokum
a few coriander leaves

Soak the kokum petals in little water for some time, till you get a deep maroon coloured water. In a blender, add the coconut milk, 5 Tbs of water, garlic, green chilli, salt (according to taste) and grind it for couple of minutes. Add this mixture to the kokum water and blend it again for couple of times. Solkadhi is ready! Serve it with a few coriander leaves in a glass or a bowl.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Batata Sabji (Potato)

Here is a maharashtrian recipe which I think has a variant in the alu masala made for Dosa(s). This can be used as a filling for a snack item or maybe eaten with rawa pooris or with roti. My husband loves it and I am sure you will like it too.

Batata Sabji
6-7 medium sized potatoes
1 Tsp of Turmeric
1 Tsp of Sugar
5-6 curry leaves
1 Onion - thinly sliced
1 Tsp of Mustard Seeds
Fresh Coriander

Take a pressure cooker and add the potatoes with water. Boil the potatoes in the pressure cooker and keep it aside for them to cool down. Once the potatoes are at room temperature, peel the skin and mash them slightly with the help of a Spatula. Take a heavy bottomed frying pan and add oil. Heat the oil on the gas. Once the oil gets hot, add the onion slices, curry leaves, mustard seeds and Turmeric. Stir them for 30 secs and add the potatoes. Mix well using a Spatula. Add the salt and sugar and fresh coriander. Keep stirring for another 5mins and then put of the gas. Serve it with Roti or Pooris

Aloo Sabzi(With Kalonji)

Potatoes or Batata (in Marathi) or Aloo (In Bengali) is a very important vegetable for the Indians. Not that I am negating the Mashed potatoes or the deep fried wedges or the thin french fries of the west but just saying that even though we try hard to stay away from Potatoes (ofcourse, because of its carb/starch content!), we simply can't resist a nice alu-matar (Potato-pea) curry or a simple batata sabji with curry leaves in a dosa. Here is once recipe which was made on Sundays by my mom and served with hot, maida pooris (luchis as the Bongs would say). It's pretty easy to make and tastes heavenly!

2 Cups of potatoes cut into tiny pieces
1 Tsp of Black Cumin Seeds (Kalonji)
1/2 Tsp of Turmeric (Haldi)
1/2 Tsp of Sugar
2 green chillies
2 Tbsp of Oil
100ml water

Take a frying pan and pour oil into it. Heat the oil and add the green chillies(split into halves) along with the Black Cumin seeds. Stir for a minute and add the Turmeric. Stir for 10secs and add the Potatoes. Stir the Potatoes using a spatula and let it fry. Now, add the water & the salt & sugar and cover the frying pan with a lid. Let the potatoes simmer and allow the curry to evaporate. Put of the gas and pour the potatoes in a clean utensil. Serve it with hot luchis or pooris.


If I were to ask my Australian friend who has been in India for the last 3 yrs, to define a Poori, she would immediately say - ' a hot, fluffy, ball of flour, deep fried in hot oil!!' and the very sound of it would probably give a heart attack to all my 'on diet' friends who have been gorging on them since their childhood and suddenly realized what a sin it was. But, it is a sin that we should definitely indulge in but I agree, in moderation. Probably, four times in a week - would that be 'in moderation'??
So, here is a what you need to do:

5 cups of flour(Maida) or wheat flour(Atta)
6 Tbsp of Oil
1 Tsp of Salt
2 Tbsp of Yogurt(optional)

Put the flour in a bowl and add the salt and 1 Tbsp of Oil. Now, add water at a time and start mixing the flour using your hand. add the yogurt(optional) to make the flour soft. Keep a tab on the water as this will define the composition and consistency of the flour. keep on kneading till you form the dough. Add another Tbsp of Oil on the dough and knead it for another 4 to 5 mins. Once you see that the dough is ready with no particles remaining in the bowl, cover it with a damp cloth and keep it in the refrigerator for 15-20mins. After this time, take the bowl out and make small (golf sized) balls of the dough, with your hand. Roll these balls with your hand to make round and smooth balls.
Now, take a rolling pin and 1 (golf:)) ball in one hand and press it slightly in the center. Keep it on the rolling board and using the rolling pin, roll it into a circle of 4-5" diameter. If the dough tends to stick, add some hot oil from the frying pan(just a few drops). Btw, it is a good idea to put the frying pan on the gas and add the remaining oil to heat. Once the dough balls have been rolled into pooris, fry them one after another in the hot oil. Keep the flame in moderation or the pooris will get burnt! Press the sides of the poori while frying or you may also scrap oil (from the pan) on the body of the poori and see the poori puff up like a fluffy ball. Turn it over using a spatula and fry the other side. Take out the poori and drain the oil using a tissue paper. Serve it hot with Brinjal Fry or Aloo (Batata) Sabji

Brinjal Fry (Begun Bhaaja)

Brinjal or eggplant or Aubergine (I have always preferred the last one - just for the way it sounds:)) comes in various sizes and shapes. I should also mention, in various colours too. Whether it is the royal purple or a beautiful pale green or the tiny white ones - they all taste great when made with a pinch of salt. I have always felt that there is certain vastness about a brinjal. Not just because of his round, large shape (Very royal - with the crown, I must say!) but because it drinks all the oil from the frying pan whenever you tend to cook it! Yes. Brinjal absorbs a lot of oil and that's why it is always recommended that you use it with salt as that prevents it from absorbing the entire oil. I have a very simple recipe to share which goes well if you are planning to have pooris or maybe Dal-Rice. Infact, I am going to give you not one but two great ways to make 'Brinjal Fry'.

Brinjal Fry (Without Batter)

1 Large, well rounded Brinjal

Wash the brinjal in running water. Cut the brinjal in small - 1.5" cubes. Put them in an utensil and add salt. Rub the salt evenly and keep them aside for 5-7 mins.
In a heavy bottomed pan or a frying pan, add 5 Tbsp of Oil and heat the oil after putting it on the gas. When the oil gets hot, put 2 or 3 pieces of the brinjal at a time (depending on the size of the pan). Let it fry till one side becomes brown. Turn it using a tong or a spatula and fry the other side. Add oil, if required. when both sides are brown and the brinjal is soft, take it out and drain it using a tissue paper. Once all the pieces are fried, serve them with hot Pooris.

Brinjal Fry (With Batter)

1 Large, well rounded Brinjal

6 Tbsp of Gram Flour (Besan)

1 Tsp Red Chilli Powder
1 Tsp of Jeera Powder



6 Tbsp of Oil
Wash the brinjal in running water and after wiping it clean, cut thin slices of 1cm depth. Add salt and keep them aside for 10mins. Now, take the gram flour in a bowl and add the salt, red chilli powder, cumin powder and add 100ml of water. Stir it to a fine and smooth batter. Now, put the frying pan on the gas and add the oil (6 Tbsp). Once the oil gets heated, take 1 brinjal slice at a time, dip in the batter and fry it in the hot oil. Turn the piece using a spatula or a tong and make sure both sides are fried. The batter should have now hardened and become golden brown in colour. Make sure you regulate the heat once the oil is heated, so that the slices don't get burnt. In a similar way, fry the other slices. Take them out and absorb the excess oil using a tissue paper. This one tastes better with Dal and hot rice.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Urad Dal (Kalaier Dal)

This is the slimy one. It's white in colour and gets quite slippery once cooked. To makes matters worse, Bengalis tend to add fresh Radish to it. Though I love every bit of it, some people may think otherwise. This one is pretty easy to cook and requires fennel seeds to be tempered with, unlike the other Dals where you mostly use cumin or mustard seeds. This goes great with Alu Posto (Potato-poppy seed curry) or Alu Jhinge (Ridge Gourd - poppy seed curry). So, here it goes:

Kalai-er Dal

2 Cups of Kalai(Urad) Dal
1/2 Tsp of Chopped and crushed ginger
1 Tsp of Fennel seeds
1 Bay Leaf
1 dried chilli
A pinch of asfoetida(or hing)
1 Tsp Sugar
1Tsp Turmeric(Haldi)

Wash the Urad Dal well in water and boil the Dal in water for 25mins. When you see that the Dal has become soft yet not dissolved, you will know that the Dal is ready to be tempered. In a separate, heavy bottomed utensil, add Ghee/oil. Let the Oil get heated. Add the bay leaf, Dry Chilli, hing and the fennel seeds. Stir for 10secs and add the ginger. Now, pour the boiled Dal. Add the Salt, sugar and turmeric. Let the Dal boil for 3-5mins. Put off the gas after that. Alternatively, you could add some radish while boiling the Dal. Trust me, it tastes really nice:)!

Moong Dal

Moong Dal is a Dieter's Dal - light on the stomach, nutritious and easy to digest. Probably that's the reason why it is used for making Khichree. This is one Dal which is roasted prior to cooking and this gives its taste. Though i am not sure how this is made in Maharashtra but I definitely know that Bengalis have quite a few variants to this Dal. The most common one is the one which is made with the Rohu(Carp) Fish Head (yes, with the eye and mouth and all..lol). I like the one which is made with bottle gourd (Lauki) and I am going to share this recipe with you. This is for all those who think Bottle Gourd is and should be used for sweets only!.. Ask a Bong and he can tell you atleast 5 ways to cook Bottle gourd. Before I begin, I must tell you that though I am a fan of this vegetable and I hate it when people (including my husband) crib about it, but I had a good laugh once, when I met a friend at my dance class and her Surname was Lau (Bottle Gourd in Bengali)! Poor thing didn't have much choice - hopefully her name must have changed after marriage!

Moong Dal with Bottle Gourd (Lau or Lauki or Ghia)

2 cups of Moong Dal
1 entire Bottle Gourd, peeled and cut into small semi circles of 1 inch thickness
1 Tsp cumin seed
2 Green Chillies
1 small peice of Ginger (shredded)

Take a heavy bottomed utensil and put it on the gas. Add the Moong Dal and stir it till the Dal turns golden brown in colour. Now pour the dal in an another utensil and wash it thoroughly in cold water. Once washed, place the dal with some water on the gas once again and let it boil for 25mins. Add the pieces of Bottle gourd and boil it till it gets soft. Alternatively, it can be done in a pressure cooker and after 3 whistles, the dal is boiled.

Take a separate utensil and put it on the gas. Add Ghee/Oil and add the Cumin Seed, green chillies, stir for half a minute. Now, add the Dal and stir it well. Let the Dal simmer for 3 to 4 minutes and then our it in a separate utensil. Add chopped Coriander.

You must serve this with plain, boiled rice.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Chana Dal (Chholar Dal)

Chana Dal has always been my mom's specialty dish. I still remember the taste of her aromatic chana Dal (Chholar Dal in bengali), topped with fried coconut pieces and roasted garam masala! Whenever I make Chholar Dal or Chana Dal, I go through the memory lane, how I would sit on the kitchen slab and chat with her and she would chat with me while cooking the Dal and multitasking at the same time. It would always be delicious and though what I make nowadays is a pretty decent one, but it is never the same as hers. She was a magician, I have always believed that!. But, here is the one that I cook and as I said before, it is definitely worth a try:)

Chholar Dal (Chana Dal)

3 Cups of Chana Dal
1 Tsp of Turmeric (Haldi)
1 Tsp of Red Chilli Powder(Lal Mirch)
1 Bay Leaf(Tejpatta)
2 Cardamoms, 1 Cinnamon, 5-6 Cloves (Crushed into tiny pieces)
2 Tbsp of coconut slices (Optional)
2 Tsp of Sugar
1 Tsp of Cumin Seeds

Wash the Chana Dal in flowing water 2 or 3 times and put it in a pressure cooker. Let the whistle blow for 8 to 9 times. Put off the gas and let the Dal to cool down.

Once the Dal is cooled, take a heavy bottom utensil and put the ghee (or oil). Let the ghee get warm. Add the Bay leaf, Cumin seeds, Crushed Garam Masala (Cardamom, Clove and Cinnamon) and stir for 1 min. Add the Turmeric powder and coconut pieces/slices. Now, pour the Chana Dal and let it simmer for 5-6 mins. Add Salt and sugar and Red chilli powder. Let it boil for 7-8mins. Put off the gas. Pour the Dal in the utensil in which you want to serve. You can serve this is Pooris or fragrant Pulao as accompaniments.

Masoor Dal

I have always found Masoor Dal to be very pretty looking and extremely mysterious. A beautiful orange coloured Dal which turns golden yellow when cooked. Now, how interesting is that! Moreover, it doesn't mix and dissolve into the water so easily. This is one Dal where the water can be easily separated and can be had like a soup! Unfortunately, our most common association with Masoor Dal water is with the ones which are served in the Hospitals and I am sure after that unless and until one is on a diet or has been prescribed to take, no one would like to have it at home:(.. Well, but that should not dilute my affinity for it. It has a very different taste and with the right accompaniments, it simply tastes heavenly:).

So, here is one simple recipe which I have been cooking for ages. It is not only easy to cook but great for Indian Summers.

Masoor Dal

2 Cups of Massor Dal (or Split orange lentils)
2 Tbsp of chopped Onions
1 Tsp of Turmeric(Haldi)
1/4 Tsp of Fenugreek(Methi) seeds or 5 spices(Paanch Phoron)
2 Green Chillies
1 Tbsp Chopped Coriander leaves
1 Tbsp of Oil/Ghee

Wash the Masoor Dal in flowing water for 3 or 4 times and put the Dal along with some water in a heavy bottomed utensil. Put it on the gas and let it simmer.
Alternatively, it can be done in the pressure cooker and that is definitely a faster and more economical method(you save gas, that's why!). 5 whistles and you are ready!

Whichever method you use, once you see that the Dal looks broken and yet not completely dissolved in the water, it is ready to be tempered with the Spices and Onion.

Take another utensil and put it on the gas. Add 1 Tbsp of Oil (Or ghee) and add the chopped onions. Once the onions are a bit brown, add the Fenugreek seeds. As soon as they look a bit browner, add the Dal.

Let it simmer for a minute or two. Add the green Chillies, Turmeric and Salt. Let it boil for another 4 minutes. After that, you can put of the gas and transfer the cooked Dal in an appropriate utensil for serving. Add the Dhaniya or Coriander leaves on the top.
You can serve it with fritters (Pakoras) or with Poppadums (Papad) and hot, boiled Rice.

Toor Dal

Did you know that Toor Dal has the most interesting English name and it's called Split Pigeon Peas? Well, my association with Toor Dal started 3 years ago when I got married into a Maharashtrian family. Since then, it's been part of our meals and I have developed a taste for it too. Today I am going to share with you a simple recipe of Toor Dal. Before I begin, I would like to mention for the 'health conscious' people, Toor Dal is high in protein content and is light on the stomach too!

Easy Toor Dal

2 cups of Toor Dal (Split Pigeon Peas..lol)
1 Tbsp of Mustard Seeds
A pinch of Asfoetida (hing)
Half Tsp of Turmeric(Haldi)
2 Green Chillies
1 Tsp of Sugar
Oil or Ghee

Quick Method to boil the Dal - Wash the Dal in water by rinsing it in flowing water 3 or 4 times and put the Dal with water in a pressure cooker. After 5 whistles, put off the gas and let the Dal cool down

Time consuming but tastier Method - Wash the Dal in water by rinsing it in flowing water 3 or 4 times and put the Dal in a heavy bottomed Karahi or Utensil and put to Boil. Stirring it from time to time, bring it to a boil and let it simmer for good 30mins. As soon as you see that the dal has broken down and has become soft, it is ready. Put of the gas and let it cool down a bit.

Once the Dal has been boiled, it is ready to be tempered with spices. Take a fresh utensil and put it on the gas. Put one and a half Tbs of Oil (Ghee for the ones who can afford to have it!) and let it get heated.
Once the oil gets heated, put the asfoetida and mustard seeds in it. Fry them for 15 secs. A lot of people prefer to put curry leaves at this time but it's not something that is preferred by my dear hubby so I make it sans it.
Once the mustard seeds start crackling, put the Turmeric and green chillies and then, pour the boiled Toor Dal. Stir the Dal till the Turmeric is well dissolved. Add the salt and sugar and bring the Dal to boil. Don't boil it too much or else the Dal will completely break and dissolve!.. After 3-5mins, you can switch of the gas and our the Dal in a Dal handi for serving. You can serve it with boiled rice or have it with Rotis. Wasn't that simple?

Btw, there is a sweet and sour variety (Khati Dal) and in that you can use a Tsp of Tamarind paste when the Dal is getting boiled. That also tastes yummy:)!