Monday, July 28, 2014

everyday subzi: bhein ki besan wali subzi | lotus stem curry in a chickpea flour gravy



Lotus stem is called Bhein or Kamal kakdi in Hindi. It is an aquatic vegetable (underwater stem of Lotus) that tastes great whatever way you cook it. I find it to be great for salads, stir fries and curries, very versatile in it's use. Lotus stem is a nourishing vegetables and helps improve hemoglobin count immensely. Abundant Vitamin C helps availability of the minerals (Iron Copper, Zinc, Magnesium), a good range of Vit B complex helps control nervous irritability and an optimum sodium-potassium ratio (1:4) makes this vegetable ideal for electrolyte balance. More nutritional information here.

This bhein ki besan wali subzi was originally shared by a facebook friend Kapil Bahl and I knew I would love it as soon I saw the recipe. I love simple recipes that cook fast and taste great, I adapted the recipe to suit my taste and ease of cooking of course.

This recipe makes a good accompaniment to roti or rice in Indian everyday meals and makes a nice side dish even in elaborate menus. I personally have loved this curry as a stand alone meal mostly. By now you must know I eat my vegetables as my meals.

ingredients
(serves 2-3)

lotus stem 300 gm (peeled cleaned and sliced)
chopped onions 1/2 cup
minced garlic 2 tsp (or less if you don't like garlic much)
minced ginger 1-2 tsp or as per taste
whole dry red chillies 2-3 broken
chickpea flour (besan) 2 tbsp
turmeric powder 1 tsp
everyday curry powder 2 tsp
salt to taste
mustard oil 1 tbsp

preparation

Boil the sliced lotus stem wit a cup of water and salt (I pressure cooked till the first whistle blew), reserve. This boiled lotus stem can be refrigerated till required, stays well for a couple of days.

Heat the oil in a kadhai and tip in the dry red chillies, add the minced garlic and chopped onions one after the other and fry till translucent. Add the powdered spices and besan and fry for a couple of minutes or till the mixture gets aromatic. Add the minced ginger and the boiled lotus stem along with the water and mix well.

Add more water to get required consistency of the curry and simmer for about 5 minutes. Serve ot wit or witout a garnish of copped dhaniya patta (coriander greens).

This curry is a light yet filling dish that can be had with a little rice added to it or as it is like I have it mostly. Bhein ki besan wali subzi tastes great even as a leftover or as a lunch box meal with roti or paratha. Arvind liked it in his lunch box and I make a little dry version of bhein ki besan wali subzi too so it can be packed into the lunch box as well.

This kind of besan wali subzi is made using boiled chickpeas, boiled green peas, boiled gatte or even leftover pakodas too. Try cooking this easy curry with any root vegetables you like and I am sure you would love it too.

Friday, July 25, 2014

Everyday subzi: Lau-er shukto or lauki ki doodhwali bengali subzi




Bottle gourd is Lauki in Hindi and it is one of my favourite vegetables. Tender bottle gourd is a delight to cook and eat in summer days and I try and include loads of this gourd for my everyday meals. Finding tender bottle gourd can be cumbersome if you don't know how to choose the tender ones, check this post if you want to know how to choose tender lauki for better tasting lauki ki subzi. Even for this lau-er shukto the tender lauki is best to use. If you are stuck with a hard and mature lauki you better make a raita.


This lau-er shukto recipe looked delicious when I first saw it on a Bengali recipe forum on facebook. So much so that I cooked it almost the next day and was so delighted by the delicate taste of this curry that I ate the entire potful all by myself. The recipe was shared by Dipta Maitra and I have made minor adjustments to suit my taste. He jokingly accused me of harassing the recipe when I suggested I might add paneer to make it a complete meal for myself. I wouldn't mind this punjabification of shukto you see.

According to the discussion about shukto on the Bengali recipe forum, shukto is a curry that includes some bitter taste like karela, bramhi leaves or methi seeds, some ginger paste added in the last and some green chillies. Never to add red chillies and turmeric powder to shukto I learned. I am not complaining.

ingredients 
(2 servings but it made a full meal for me)

one whole medium sized lauki (about 400 gm)
milk 250 ml
salt to taste
ghee 1 tsp
fenugreek seeds 1/2 tsp
green chillies broken 2
fine ginger paste or ginger juice 1 tsp or a little bit more
roasted mustard powder 1/2 tsp (can be roasted quickly and powdered in mortar and pestle)

procedure

Peel and cube the gourd in large sized cubes.
Add the lauki cubes in a pan (kadhai) along with 1/2 cup of water and salt and cook on low flame for about 10 minutes.
Add the milk and cook on medium heat till the vegetable is cooked well.
Now heat the ghee in a ladle and tip in the fenugreek seeds in it. Let the fenugreek seeds get browned and aromatic and pour this hot mix into the cooking curry.
Next to add is the broken chillies and ginger paste. Mix well and simmer for a couple of minutes.
Finish with roasted mustard powder and serve immediately.

This subzi would tempt you to consume more vegetables in a tastier way. So go ahead and cook some lau-er shukto for yourself now. The best suitable accompaniment to this lau-er shukto is plain boiled rice.


I tried this milky lau-er shukto without the roasted mustard powder too and liked it both ways. The interesting thing is, as much as I loved this delicately flavoured milky lau-er shukto, Arvind refused to taste a milky curry as he thought he wont like it. His loss completely.

There is very mild bitterness of methi in this delicate curry and that tastes really interesting. Ginger imparts a lovely depth and roasted mustard powder was a surprise for me in this milk based curry. I actually added more milk than usual and loved the way milk incorporated the flavours of the frugal spices.

May be Arvind would also come around to some lau-er shukto next time I cook this as I am going to repeat this many times now. I even tried it with tinda (apple gourd) but it was not as good as the lauki version. I will keep making the original version of lau-er shukto for sure.