Monday 25 November 2013

Nolen Gurer Muffins

Come Winters and us in Kolkata begin our wait for the season's gem-Nolen/Notun/Patali gur. It is a special kind of jaggery collected from Palm trees where the sap collectors climb the tree and make cuts in them and then tie earthen pots below it for the sap to collect. The same sap is then boiled in shallow vessels to turn them into the nolen gur. 
This year, I got my batch of Nolen gur around Diwali time when a reader of our blog suggested me to experiment with Nolen gurer mousse and share the recipe. Since then, I have been experimenting all kinds of things with this winter sweet gem. 
Nolen gurer muffins were experimented for a sweet friend who was in Kolkata for a short visit. The ones I made for her had ugly cracked tops but the flavour was rich with that amazing nolen gur sweetness. The sweet fragrance of the baked muffins filled my kitchen and I knew I had to make them again. And what better day to make these beauties than 'Sweet day' on our blog where Vaanya turns 2 years and six months. I added almond halves on top for some crunch and they turned out a winter must. 

Ingredients : For 4-5 muffins
  • 3/4 cup all purpose flour
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1/4 cup grated nolen/notun/khejur gur/date palm jaggery
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 4-5 almond halves(lengthwise)
Preheat oven to 160 degree Celsius. Line muffin tins with liners.
Take butter in a bowl and beat it well. If water separates from the butter, drain it. 
Add grated nolen gur and beat well again till the gur gets incorporated in the butter.
Sieve all purpose flour and baking powder. 
Beat egg in a bowl.
Add the beaten egg and flour-baking powder mixture in the butter-gur mixture in two batches and mix gently till incorporated well.
Divide and pour the batter in the prepared muffin tins and gently press almond halves.
Bake for 20-25 mins or till a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean.

Notes :
  • You may replace the date palm jaggery with normal jaggery.
  • If the muffins brown too fast on the top, cover loosely with aluminium foil to avoid direct heat. The muffins in that case may take more time to bake.
  • To further enhance the Nolen gur experience, poke some holes in the muffins and pour some diluted Nolen gur on it.

Happy Nolen Gur experimenting

Tuesday 19 November 2013

Bada Memsaheb ka Vegetable Seekh Kebab

Pic courtsey Kamalika Chakrabarty

Kolkata, or Calcutta as we all fondly still call, is a city that has been a host to various religions and nationalities like British, Chinese, Jews, Sikhs, Gujratis, Biharis etc. All these settlers with time have brought in some unique changes to the cuisine of Kolkata. One such famous and irrefutable change in the local cuisine was brought in by The British rule. Usage of local ingredients, restrained use of spices and western techniques gave birth to a unique cuisine which lived especially on a variety of 'Finger food' popularized in the clubs of Kolkata.
We are proud to announce that Kolkata Food Bloggers are working as co-organizers of the annual event Nutrifest, 2013 organized by KPC School of Nutrition and Food, Kolkata. Extensive research has been done by the KPC team to dig out recipes and history from places like Rajbari's to restaurants and clubs. The theme for this year is "Laatsaheb er Bangali Khanshama" which means the influence of British rule on Bengali cuisine. The search was for food which originated in the British era and can still be found in some prestigious clubs of Kolkata. 
The recipe that is shared here today is one of the by-forgotten ones and is uniquely named Burra Memsaheb-er vegetable Seekh Kebab (Bada Memsaheb ka Vegetable Seekh kebab) Along with its unique name, the kebab is supposed to be constructed of three elements each of which gave a Sweet, Spicy and Tangy flavour to it.
I have tried to recreate this famous dish by incorporating all the three flavours into the kebab. For the sweet flavour I have used Raisins and sweet corns, for the spicy flavour I have added green chillies and red chilli powder and for the tangy flavour, I have used chaat masala and lemon juice. 
Kolkata Food Bloggers got together to make a video shoot of this recipe along with some others. The video link shall be uploaded to this blog post as soon as it is released. 

Ingredients : For 5-6 seekhs(as in the picture with 2 kebabs in each)
  • 2 large potatoes, boiled
  • 1/4 cup green peas, boiled
  • 1/4 cup sweet corn, boiled
  • 1 carrot, chopped and boiled
  • 10 french beans, chopped and boiled
  • 1/4 cup cabbage, chopped
  • 2 tbsp roasted gram flour/besan
  • 1 tbsp cashewnut powder
  • 5-6 pieces of raisin/kishmish, chopped
  • 1 tbsp ginger-garlic paste
  • 1 green chilly, chopped (optional)
  • salt to taste
  • 1 tsp red chilli powder
  • 1 1/2 tsp chaat masala
  • 1 tsp roasted cumin/jeera powder
  • Green bell pepper, tomato and onion squares for garnishing

Procedure :
Take 1/2  tbsp oil in a pan and saute the ginger-garlic paste and the chopped green chilly for 2 minutes. Add the chopped cabbage and saute for a minute.  Remove from heat and keep aside.
Take a big bowl and add potatoes. Mash them. 
Add the boiled vegetables like green peas, sweet corn, carrots and french beans and mash them well. 
Now mix in the ginger-garlic, green chilly and cabbage mixture.
Add in salt, red chilli powder, chaat masala and roasted jeera powder.
Now add the cashewnut powder(made by simply grinding 5-6 cashewnuts), roasted gram flour/besan (made by dry roasting gram flour/besan) and chopped raisins. Mix well. 
Soak some wooden skewers in water for 1/2 hour. 
Take a little portion of the vegetable mixture and press it around the wooden skewer shaping it as a cylinder. Make two such shaped cylinders on one skewer.
Preheat oven to 180 degree Celsius. 
Line a baking tray with an aluminium foil and lightly grease it with oil.
Place the skewers on it and bake for 15-20 minutes or till golden brown from all sides. You will require to turn sides in between for uniform browning. 
Take 1/2 tbsp oil in a pan and saute the green bell pepper, tomato and onion squares.
Insert the sauteed garnishing in the skewers and serve with a yogurt-mayonnaise dip where you add equal quantity of hung curd and mayonnaise and adjust seasonings.
Add a dash of lemon juice on top of the kebabs before serving.

  • You may reduce the spiciness to suit your taste buds by not adding the green chilly.
  • In case, you cannot shape the kebabs on the wooden skewer, shape them into cylinders and bake them and later thread them through the skewers. 
  • In case the vegetables feel hard while mashing, roughly grind them in a mixer and then add to the other ingredients.
A special and heartfelt note of thanks to Kamalika Chakrabarty for providing me these lovely pictures which were taken during the video shoot. 
Check some more interesting recipes from the British era like Deemer devil and Country Captain Chicken on these links. 

Disclaimer : The entire history and recipe has been provided by KPC team. I have just tried recreating the original version with my little changes.
Happy By-gone era kebab relishing

Sunday 10 November 2013

Mummy ke Sauce Wale Chhole

Know your Kolkata Food Blogger's event comes to an end with a big bang as I proudly present a very learned and experienced blogger Indrani Dhar who blogs from Recipe Junction. I got the oppurtunity to meet her quite later and have known her as a busy Mother of three beautiful children who balances her real life and blog life with elan. Her blog is a reflection of the loving and caring person that she is with recipes that are tried, tested and approved by her family. 
I had the most difficult time trying to choose one single recipe as her blog is enriched with several interesting and yummy recipes. I finally chose to recreate her Punjabi Chhole recipe which can be viewed here
Coming from a Sikh family, Chhole has been staple to our diet along with Bhaturas and sliced onions. But today I wanted to share my mother's no fuss and very yum recipe which we lovingly call Sauce wale Chole. After the initial boiling of the chole/chickpeas, they are tempered with very simple ingredients and then are mixed with some tomato ketchup which gives the unique yummy flavor. 
I love to have them with hot puris and some tamarind chutney. That is my absolute favourite Savoury side!

Ingredients: Serves 2-3
  • 300 gms Kabuli chana/White Chickpeas
  • 1 Tej patta/Bay leaf
  • 1" dalchini/cinnamon stick
  • 2 laung/cloves
  • 1 badi elaichi/black cardamom
  • Salt to taste
Tempering :
  • 1 tsp jeera/cumin seeds
  • 1 medium sized onion, chopped
  • 2 medium sized tomatoes, chopped
  • 1/2 tsp red chilli powder
  • 1/4 tsp garam masala powder
  • a pinch of turmeric powder
  • 2 tbsp tomato ketchup
  • Ginger julienne
  • chopped Coriander leaves

Procedure :
Soak kabuli chana/chickpeas in water overnight.
Boil the kabuli chana in a pressure cooker with salt, bay leaf, cinnamon stick, black cardamom and cloves with water that should be 1" above the ingredients. 
After 1 whistle, reduce the flame to low and cook for 25 minutes.
Take oil in a pan for tempering and add cumin seeds. As they start browning, add the chopped onions. Cook till they turn brown and then add the chopped tomatoes. Cook for 2 minutes till the oil starts separating. 
Add turmeric powder,red chilli powder and garam masala powder.
Now add the boiled chickpeas and stir well. 
Cook on high flame to dry the water. 
Add tomato ketchup and stir well.
Adjust seasoning. 
Garnish with ginger julienne and chopped coriander and serve with hot puris, tamarind chutney and sliced onions

Happy Sauce Wale Chhole enjoying

Saturday 2 November 2013

Rangoli Shortbread Cookies

Diwali is the festival of lights and is a contaction of the word Deepawali which literally translates to 'rows of lights'. 
Living in kolkata, I have been lucky to be part of the amazing culture where each and every festival is celebrated with equal zest irrespective of the religion. Diwali for us at home meant lots of homemade sweets, lots of cleaning before the festival and lots of fun decorating the house with candles/diyas and then playing with fireworks. We would go to our nearby Gurudwara in the evening to light candles and diyas there, the significance of which I learned later. 
For Sikhs, Diwali is particularly important because it celebrates the release from prison of the sixth guru, Guru Hargobind, and 52 other princes with him, in 1619 and hence called Bandi Chhor Diwas. The Sikh tradition holds that the Emperor Jahangir had imprisoned Guru Hargobind and 52 princes. The Emperor was asked to release Guru Hargobind which he agreed to do. However, Guru Hargobind asked that the princes be released also. The Emperor agreed, but said only those who could hold onto his cloak tail would be allowed to leave the prison. This was in order to limit the number of prisoners who could leave. However, Guru Hargobind had a cloak made with 52 pieces of string and so each prince was able to hold onto one string and leave prison.
Sikhs celebrated the return of Guru Hargobind by lighting the Golden Temple and this tradition continues today.

For around 10 shortbread cookies
  • 1/2 cup All purpose flour
  • 2 tbsp sugar, powdered
  • a pinch of salt
  • 1/4 cup unsalted butter
  • 2-3 drops vanilla essence
For the sugar icing 
  • 1/4 cup icing sugar
  • 1 tsp milk (you may require more for diluting) 
  • food colours
Procedure :

Shortbread cookies
Beat butter in a bowl till creamy. Add sugar and beat. Mix in vanilla and stir in flour and salt. Knead the ingredients into a ball and wrap in a plastic to refrigerate for an hour. 
Preheat oven to 180 degree Celsius. 
Line a baking tray.
Roll out dough to 1/4 " thick circle and use a cookie cutter to get the round shaped ones. 
For the diya shaped cookies, make markings on the rolled dough with a knife and cut through.
Place all cut cookies on the baking tray and refrigerate for 15 mins. 
Bake for 10-15 mins or till the cookies get a nice brown tinge. 

Sugar Icing 
Combine icing sugar and milk till smooth. Try to get a thicker consistency so that you can pipe the design on the cookies. If it looks runny add more icing sugar to get it right. 
Fill a piping bag/plastic cone with the sugar icing and pipe rangoli outline designs on the cookies. 
Dilute the remaining icing with little milk and take spoonfuls of it on a plate according to the number of colours you plan to use. 
Add few drops of the food colour to each and adjust the colours to your liking.
With a toothpick fill the outlined cookies with the desired colours. 
Allow to dry completely.

My ccokies in progress
  • The sugar icing gets dried fast so you cannot make it and leave. You will need to fill the cookies with it immediately.
  • Make different shapes by simply making designs on the rolled dough with a knife.  You may also make templates on a cardboard and then place on the rolled dough.
  • Refrigerate the cut cookies form the dough so that they maintain their shape while getting baked.

Wishing you all a very happy and safe Diwali
Amrita and Vishal 


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