Bengali Thali

I was standing there, watching the waves dance. Hubby and kiddo were playing hide and seek with the waves. Teasing the water to come and touch their feet.

At the horizon, the anchored ships had switched the lights on, they were now twinkling like little stars far far away.

I decided to let the waves kiss my feet. I wanted to feel the salty, chilling water wash away all my worries. I looked down to watch them come and bury my feet in the sand.

Only I couldn’t. My paunch was coming in between.

Not one to take a hint easily, I stretched a bit further to see the waves bury my feet. I could still not see my feet, only my paunch was visible.

OK, I get the message. Time for some serious measures to watch my weight. No more fatty food.

While I ponder over the point, you guys enjoy this great thali, dishes prepared from the state of Bengal. Just like dieting sounds alien to me, Bengali cuisine is also foreign for me. So thanks a ton, Vaishali, for your insight into Bengali food and for helping me design the menu. Without your help, I would have been totally lost!

Like Kerala Sadya, Bengali food too has some rules when it comes to the food. I read about Bengali Cuisine here, written by Sandeepa of Bong Mom’s Cookbook.

Rice is the main cereal there, just like in Kerala and Tamil Nadu. The first course has bitter gourd or neem leaves (something bitter) in it, this is supposed to have cleansing properties.

It is followed by rice and dal, with a fried bhaja or any other seasonal vegetable as a side dish. Fish and meat courses follow, but for vegetarian meals, paneer is a common substitute.

Then comes the chutney round. I tried getting pineapples, but I was out of luck that day. Went in for a raw mango chutney, and boy! it tasted so good.

The last round is yogurt and then some sweet. I made misti doi. I cooked the milk in the pressure cooker and I don’t know what I did wrong, the texture didn’t come out right. The taste was yum, but the texture didn’t come close to even my usual thick yogurt. Just bad luck, I guess.

The menu:

  • Vegetarian Dishes/ Curries
    • Ucche Bhaja : Bittergourd cooked and fried in oil
    • Begun Bhaja : Deep fried eggplant
    • Aloo Poshto : Potato in Poppy seeds (I was not able to grind the seeds properly!)
    • Cholar Dal : Dal made with chana dal, made on festivals and special occasions.
    • Chanar Dalna : Paneer and green peas curry
  • Rice
  • Sides
  • Sweet
    • Rasgolla : Paneer balls, cooked in sugar syrup

Ingredients for Eggplant fry (Begun Bhaja):

For Ucche Bhaja, bitter gourd fry, substitute brinjal with bitter guard and follow the same recipe. 

  • Eggplant , big variety              : 1
  • Turmeric powder                     :  1/2 tsp
  • Salt
  • Oil for deep frying

Method:

  1. Wash and pat the brinjal dry. Cut into 1/2″ thick round slices.
  2. Apply salt and turmeric powder.
  3. Heat oil in a pan. Deep fry brinjal until crisp and brown on both sides.
  4. Drain on a paper towel and serve hot.
  5. I have cut mine too thin. It should be a little more thick.

Except for the rasgolla and the dal, I am making everything for the first time. I hope I have done it right. This is a first time Bengali thali for me and I really loved the food. Who thought eggplants would be so tasty when fried with salt and a pinch of turmeric?!

Aam Pora Sherbet:

Ingredients:

  • Raw Mangoes          :        2
  • Sugar                           :   a varying quantity, depending totally on the sourness of mangoes. Start with 1/3 cup
  • Salt                               :     a pinch
  • Mint leaves               :   a handful, optional
  • Water or Soda for serving : 4-5 cups, again need to taste test and adjust accordingly.

Method:

  1. The first step is to get the mango pulp. Then for serving, the pulp can be diluted with water or with soda.
  2. Wash, clean and pat the mangoes dry. Roast them directly in open flame (like how we do for Baingan bhaja) or I guess you can bake them until they are soft as well.
  3. Turn the mangoes with a pair of tongs cook both sides. Once the skin is black and blistered, keep aside to cool.
  4. Once its cool to handle, peel the charred skin off. Wash thoroughly so that there are no burnt pieces left and squeeze the pulp out. Collect it in a bowl.
  5. Add sugar and a pinch of salt and handful of washed mint leaves (optional) and blend in a mixer/blender.
  6. This is the concentrate. I finished off mine then itself , so never really got around storing it.
  7. Add 3-4 cups of water and blend again. Check the sugar and add more if required. The quantity of water and sugar will depend on the sourness of mangoes. So start with a lesser quantity and work your way upwards.
  8. Pour into tall glasses and serve cool with ice cubes.

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Punjabi Thali

The elephant is up there, because he is tired and wants to have a sip from the lassi.

Or so my son says.

I am too tired to say anything more. Its because of eating all the delicacies here than cooking them.

So for a change, I am keeping my mouth shut and presenting the Punjabi Thali, as part of Blogging Marathon 15.

Enjoy the spread!

The menu:

*Scroll down for recipe

  • Vegetable dishes
    • Paneer (Tofu, actually)Butter Masala : Paneer cooked in a rich onion-tomato gravy
    • Dal Tadka* : Moong dal tempered with jeera and red chilies. Simple, yet heavenly
    • Rajma Masala : Red kidney beans in onion tomato gravy. Comfort food, when had with plain rice.
  • Rice
    • Jeera Rice with Cashews and Almonds : Rice cooked with cumin seeds, almonds and cashews
  • Roti
    • Onion Paratha : Ready made, shame on me :D
  • Sides
    • Onion Rings 
    • Cucumber Onion Raita : Onion and grated cucumber in yogurt
    • Lassi : Yogurt based drink
    • Mint Chutney 
    • Dahi Vada : Lentil dumplings served chill with a spicy savory yogurt
    • Papad
  • Sweet

Ingredients for Dal Tadka:

  • Moong dal                                   :  1 cup, cooked
  • Ghee/oil                                      :   1 tsp
  • Jeera (Cumin seeds)               :   1/2 tsp
  • Red Chilies                                 :    1
  • Hing                                               :   a pinch
  • Salt

Method:

  1. Mash the cooked moong dal. Keep aside.
  2. Heat the ghee or oil in a kadai. Add the jeera seeds and red chilies. Add a pinch of hing too.
  3. Add the dal and required amount of salt and let it come to a boil.
  4. Take off the heat and serve hot with rice or roti.

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Qabooli Pulao

I have no idea where to start this post. The mind is still in a frozen state, not sure whether to be happy about our apartment or just go on worrying about it. The thing is, we received the raw end of the deal – a deal which should have been exciting and fantastic for us.

I think its time to actually leave all the thoughts – positive, negative and neutral, behind and just move on with the flow. The flow of life, that takes decisions for us, when we are unable to do so. That makes life easy for us. That brings back the smile to our face, even when things look really forlorn.

That teaches us to be grateful for what we have, and not to forget about those people, whose struggle in life is a hundred times harder than ours.

Yes, I am grateful. For everything about my life.

Time for Blogging Marathon again and this time I have chosen the theme – Cook by Alphabets. Instead of choosing an easy series from ‘A to G’, I have chosen to start with a dish with ‘Q’ and end with ‘W’, the sole reason behind this weird choice is that I had a recipe draft which started with ‘W’!

I came across this Qabooli Pulao in a recipe book by Sanjeev Kapoor. I saw this at a friend’s place and just noted the measurements and the method.

Ingredients:

  • Rice                                  :   1 1/2 cups
  • Bengal gram                  :   1/2 cup
  • Salt
  • Green Cardamoms     :   4-5
  • Cinnamon sticks         :  two 1″pieces
  • cloves                              :  4-5
  • Turmeric Powder      : 1/2 tsp
  • Oil                                     : 1 tbsp
  • Ginger garlic paste    : 1/2 tbsp
  • Green chilies                : 2-3, chopped
  • Onions                            : 4 -5
  • Coriander                      : 1 tbsp, chopped
  • Yogurt                            : 1 cup
  • Mint                                 : about 10 leaves
  • Lemon Juice                 : 2 tbsp

Method:

  1. Soak rice for half an hour. Boil in 3 cups of water with salt and 2 green cardamoms, cinnamon sticks, and cloves, until done. Drain and keep aside.
  2. Soak Bengal gram for half an hour and cook in one cup of water with salt and 1/4 tsp turmeric powder. The dal shouldn’t be over cooked.
  3. Slice the onions. Heat oil in a pan, add the onions and saute till brown. Remove half the amount and then add the cardamoms, cloves, cinnamon, green chilies and ginger garlic paste. Saute for 2-3 minutes.
  4. Add the cooked dal, turmeric powder, coriander leaves and mix thoroughly. Remove from heat, add yogurt and mix.
  5. To assemble: Layer the serving dish with half of the dal mix. Layer half of the rice on top of it and top it with sauteed onions, mint, saffron and lemon juice.
  6. Top this again with the dal mix, followed by another layer of rice, onions and other toppings. As you can see, I started with the rice layer and so ended up with a dal layer!
  7. Cover and cook for 20 minutes and serve hot.

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Dali Thoy (or dali toi) – A Simple Dal, the Konkani way

The one thing that is famous about Chennai, is the hot climate here. Its hot here! No, let me rephrase it – its HOT here. It is only half way through in March and I am finding the heat now itself as unbearable. God knows what I am going to do when the ‘real’ summer starts two months from now. That’s when the burning heat starts.

Oh the head explodes, even at the very thought of summer. Cooling down has never been more important and no better time than now, to crave for comfort food. And thank god, dali thoy is one.

For Blog Hop Wednesdays, I have been paired with Sumedha of Sumee’s Culinary. I tried her delicious Kadhi recipe first, but it got over before I could even get the camera out. Then I made this simple Daali Thoy, a Konkani dish that I have been planning to make for a long time. Thanks Sumedha, for sharing these.

Ingredients:

  • Toor Dal                                          :           1 cup
  • Green Chillies                                :           2-3, per taste
  • Ginger                                               :           1″ piece, grated or chopped fine
  • Turmeric Powder                        :           1/4 tsp

Tempering

  • Ghee                                                  :            1-2  tsp
  • Mustard Seeds                              :            1 tsp
  • Red Chillies                                    :            1-2
  • Curry leaves                                  :            a sprig
  • Asafoetida                                      :            a pinch

Method:

  1. Wash toor dal and add the slit green chillies, grated ginger, turmeric powder to it. Pressure cook it for 4-5 whistles or till the dal is cooked.
  2. Once the pressure drops, take the dal out and mash it thoroughly (I took the chillies out and then gave a round in the mixie).
  3. Heat ghee in a kadai, add mustard seeds and asafoetida. Once the mustard splutters, add the red chillies and curry leaves.
  4. Add the dal to it. If the dal is too thick, you can adjust the constituency by adding water.
  5. Add the required amount of salt and let it boil for 4-5 minutes. Take off the heat. Serve with white rice, a spicy side dish of your choice and a pickle.

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