Thursday, October 29, 2009

fish in mustard gravy / sorshe macchh

Some people seriously believe that mustard does something special to the fish....though i am not amongst those as i like fish cooked in any way which retains the softness of fish and adds to it's original flavor....this version of mustard gravy or sauce is one of those which does complete justice to the fish....and served with boiled rice , it is one of the simplest and yummiest way to enjoy fish......

Mustard gravy is made in two ways ( or many?) , one is   the mustard masala gravy made the Uttar Pradesh way and the other is this one......made the way bengalis like it...i have learnt eating fish with my bengali friends and i like this sorshe macchh for it's delicate flavors along with a pungent mustard kick..........i have tweeked the original recipe to suit my taste a little bit by adding amchoor powder .......

 fish cut in big chunks 400 gms.
yellow mustard seeds 1/4 cup
hot green chillies 3 nos.
garlic cloves ( small indian ones) 5-6 nos.
turmeri powder 1 tsp
salt to taste
everyday curry masala 1 tsp ( a mix of coriander , cumin , black pepper and bay leaves)
green coriander leaves.. a generous handful
mustard oil 1-2 tbsp
amchoor powder 1 -2 tsp 


Rub the fish pieces with salt and turmeric powder and keep aside till you prepare for the sauce....
it can be kept in the freezer in separate ziplock bags to be used whenever needed........

Grind the mustard seeds first dry in the mixie and then add some water to make a smooth paste.........

and pass this paste through a sieve and separate the husk.....

a creamy pale yellow liquid is obtained which is used to make the gravy.....and the husk is discarded....

 Tip: the husk can be used as a good body scrub mixed with some powder milk .
 Reserve the filtrate...........and add a bit of salt and turmeric powder to it...

Now heat oil in a deep kadai ....shallow fry the fish pieces into the oil turning it once so that both sides get lightly browned...take care not to break the pieces..

 Make space between the pieces and pop in the slit green chillies to fry ......then throw in the everyday curry powder and stir for a few seconds to cook the masala...

Pour the mustard filtrate into the kadai and rotate the pieces of fish lightly so that it cooks submerged in the sauce.......

Cover and let it boil for 2-3 the lid and throw in the amchoor powder and lightly stir the gravy to mix, being careful not to break the fish pieces, sprinkle chopped green coriander leaves and put off the heat and cover the lid and let it stand for 2 minutes before allows the coriander to release it's aroma into the gravy.....

 Serve hot with boiled rice and some salad on the side....

this is just awesome...enjoy......

fenni or feni, a version of Indian vermicelli and sookhi sewaiyyan made with it

Fenni (feni or pheni) is a white flour vermicelli fried in ghee and it is very different from a regular white flour vermicelli or seviyan ...

First, the thickness of the vermicelli is not uniform and it seems to be flattened and rounded irregularly.

Secondly, it is not made in a bunch of straight thin vermicelli, it is made into a circular bunch of vermicelli which stays together if you lift the disc like fenni in your hands.

Thirdly, it does not need cooking as it is pre cooked, and it is just dipped in hot milk and enjoyed with sugar and nuts....

 So fenni is different from seviyan. It has been a long time since I had had these.

Fenni is available in Banaras and old Delhi (and many old cities of India) during the holy month of Ramadan and I think it is a Muslim specialty. But interestingly, it is valued on the day of  hartalika teej  for Hindu married women too. You will find very interesting amalgamation of the two cultures in old cities of India, where Hindus and Muslims have lived together for centuries and adopted each others food and culture as if their own. This is thee way I understand it, would like to believe it to be true.

This year when teej was approaching I was talking to Arvind how husbands cook meals for their wives when they break the fast next day. Teasing him.

I know he can't make anything in the kitchen except coffee. He makes malai wali coffee adding a lot of cream and claims to be a great coffee maker :-) and he certainly is.

Since he could not cook and I was successful in teasing him, he brought a lot of fenni for me. Some people know how to compensate the lack of cooking skill.

But to be honest I almost fainted seeing the amount of fenni he brought. A kilo of fenni is just too much. There were 4 packs of 250 gms each.

Now I had to find good ways of using the fenni as just fenni soaked in milk is a bit boring if you ask me. And such a rare commodity needs to be treated well too. I tried making sookhi sewaiyyan with it, just the way I had tasted in my Muslim friend's homes.

In fact fenni is served with hot milk on the eve of teej which is called sargi which a gift from the MIL to the bahu. Sargi includes some material gifts along with sweets and savories for the bahu from the saas. I think these traditions must have been made to create bonhomie between the saas-bahu (MIL-SIL) and the trick still works. I have fond memories of my MIL arranging these for me during the first few years.

The sewaiyyan I made with the fenni looked something like this.


2 rounds of fenni about 125 gm ( as 250 gm pack had 4 rounds)
sugar 5 tbsp
ghee 2 tbsp
assorted dry fruits chopped roughly
12 strands of saffron mixed with a tbsp of warm milk.


Mix sugar with 120 ml water in a pan and boil for about 5-6 minutes to make a thick sugar syrup (one thread consistency).

Heat ghee in another wide pan or kadai and fry the chopped nuts on low heat slowly. Add the broken fenni and fry some more (2 minutes on low flame)...

Now pour the sugar syrup over the fried fenni and stir quickly to mix and within 30 seconds put off the flame...

Keep mixing the strands of the fenni with the help of a fork. Sprinkle the saffron milk, mix and serve hot, warm or cold.

Next time you see fenni or sewaiyyan in any old markets, don't stop yourself from buying it. These are much much better than the pastries and cakes and a little indulgence of such desi desserts always quenches the parched soul. More because one wonders how such intricate things must have evolved.

Fenni or feni is an evolved version of sewaiyyan. Isn't it?

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

til wale alu | potato curry in sesame gravy | for fasting or feasting..

til wale alu recipe

Til wale alu or sesame and potatoes curry is one of my few favorites with potatoes. This is a Nepali recipe I had heard about a lot. First during my research days, my guide Dr. Maya Goyle used to tell me about this as one of her aunts was a Nepali lady and used to make it for them. But I had never tried this recipe till I got married (almost 12 years back). 

I had a book called Curries Curries and Curries by Ranjit Rai, this book helped me with many non vegetarian recipes later when I started eating non veg food after my daughter was born. Interestingly, this is the only vegetarian recipe I tried from this book and it was an instant hit with my in laws family too.

I am posting this recipe on this blog because for me it has a strong Banaras connection. I heard about it in Banaras, learnt cooking it in Banaras and started making it while I was there, and many a times it was a fasting recipe for Navaratri and I used to make it with ghee and sendha namak........

Sesame seeds are so good for health and are a good source of omega 3s and calcium too, I got hooked with this recipe and have made it for large gatherings too The reason is, it is very simple to execute, everybody loves it and the leftovers are yummy. It stays good in the refrigerator for a couple of days. Please don't freeze it.

The most important thing is, it makes a good filling for grilled sandwiches and with pita bread it tastes heavenly, you can just go on and on with this .....

I read about this dish that it is supposed to be warming and gives energy for longer period. One of those low GI foods, and it is sold as a mountaineer's and trekker's food at the small stalls in those areas of Nepal.

potatoes boiled with skin, peeled and cubed 1 kg
sesame seeds roasted lightly 200 gm
green chilies chopped finely.. 7-8 or more
green coriander leaves with stems chopped finely 3/4 cup (I chop the stems and leaves separately and blend most of the stem part but not required as per the recipe)
lemon juice 1-2 tbsp
turmeric powder 2 tsp
cumin seeds 1 tsp (not used in the original recipe)
garlic freshly crushed...6-7 small cloves
mustard oil 1 tbsp or a bit more (ghee if making for fasting)
salt to taste (sendha namak if making for fasting)


Make a fine powder of the roasted sesame seeds and make a paste with water and salt to taste, reserve a tbsp of whole roasted sesame seeds for garnish if you wish..

Crush or blend the stems of  coriander leaves with garlic and mix with turmeric powder and keep aside. I add the stems early in the process as they have more flavor and less color and the flavors absorb well into the resulting sauce.....

Heat oil (or ghee if fasting only...the mustard oil gives good flavor to it) in a deep kadhai and throw in the cumin seeds n let them splutter, now put in the garlic-coriander stem-turmeric mixture and stir for 30 seconds.

Now dunk in the cubed potatoes and fry them on medium heat till they are just glazed but not browned, add salt to taste and then the paste of sesame seeds. Stir for 2 minutes and put off the flame.

Be careful to not boil  the curry, add lemon juice and the chopped leaves of coriander, mix well and let it rest for a while before serving.....
til wale alu recipe

Can be warmed before serving but try not heating it thoroughly, tastes good even cold.....

Enjoy whichever way you want...

Sunday, October 18, 2009

diwali wishes : recipes of malpua and sooran ke shami kababs

Wishing all of you a happy festive season as it is quite late to wish you all for diwali. My diwali was very good as people gifted me so many valuable things, somebody prayed for me at the kaali temple, some more friends communicated without sounding like a formal diwali wishing, Mithi eating a small piece of malpua and understanding that it's prashad and the husband finally deciding that the lights (electric ones) are not that important for a happy diwali......all that time could be saved for being together........what could have been happier than this..

There was no rangoli....though I placed a terracotta urli with paarijat flowers and floating candles at the entrance ....lit the diyas, terracotta ones, and soaked into a quite diwali (quite?? it was very noisy outside with all the crackers...:) I told you, it was beautiful......

Coming to the the recipes now.....

Malpuas are kind of gulabjamun descendants, a banaras specialty.....the gulabjamun mixture is made a bit runny and fried like pancakes and soaked in syrup.....easy and yumm...

I had planned to make jalebis for diwali earlier but at the last minute I was reminded that I had made some khoya for diwali and that needed to be plans work for me you know..

Yam kababs are made every diwali as yam (the zamikand) is considered auspicious for diwali is supposed that once planted it keeps growing by it's own and is never destroyed (due to it's bulbils and suckers).....we want laxmi to stay like this forever in our house :):)

ingredients for malpuas ..

khoya (made by reducing whole milk till it becomes a pasty granular mass) 1.5 cup
maida (all purpose flour) 3/4 cup
milk 1 cup or more, as required
baking powder 1 tsp
ghee for shallow frying ( about a 100 gm if using a nonstick pan)
sugar 300 gm or more if you want it more sweet
water 600 ml

procedure for malpuas

the khoya, the maida and the milk along with baking powder have to be blended together .....i used a hand blender for this , the batter should be like a pancake batter with some granules of the khoya visible....

boil sugar with water to make a thin syrup ....the syrup can be made a bit heavier if you want the malpuas to be sweeter...and sticky....keep this syrup ready ( warm) on the side when frying the malpuas ........

heat a tbsp of ghee in a wide nonstick pan and drop spoonfuls onto it to make small pancakes.......traditionally it is deep fried in a jalebi kadai) ......flip when small bubbles appear on top ...add some more ghee to fry them till well browned , and crisp......drain and dunk them into the syrup ....

fry another batch of malpuas and in the meantime remove the malpuas with a slotted spoon when they have soaked enough syrup........they will become soft after soaking the syrup.......arrange in a deep dish , pour some extra syrup into the dish as well ...the malpuas keep soaking the syrup later too........

repeat the process with the next batch of malpuas and garnish with slivered almonds and cashews........

they are best when served warm......keep well in the fridge but has to be warmed before serving........

ingredients for yam shami kababs

yam peeled and cubed 500 gm
chana daal or split chick peas 200 gms
salt to taste
turmeric 1 tsp
finely chopped green coriander leaves (more stems and a few leaves)1 cup
finely chopped ginger 3-4 tbsp
finely chopped green chillies 4-5 tbsp
black pepper powder 1 tbsp
special aromatic garam masala powder 1 tsp
ghee for frying ( no replacements) i used about 1 tbsp for frying 10 kababs for breakfast today
*corn meal if can't manage the kababs*

procedure for yam kababs

since this is a shami kabab , you have to treat you yam with some respect what if it has not come from the shoulder of a's called elephant's foot anyway........treat it with respect and you get good yummy crumbly shami kababs .....i tell you whenever you will eat a mutton shami kabab you'll think about this one too.....i keep the procedure of this kabab similar to the mutton shami kabab...just the cooking time differs....

boil the first four ingredients with a cup of water into a pressure cooker till 2 whistles and let it cool.....
the mixture can be mashed well to make a paste...i used my hand blender to make it smooth....

one thing to note here is that you do not want your kabab mixture to become dry like a should look like a paste...actually it should be as soft as you can handle while making the is tastier that way.....if you make the mixture dry and dough like to shape perfect tikkis....the tatse will suffer....

okay, if the mixture looks too gooyi , heat it over medium flame while stirring all the time to dry a bit and then keep it in the will become manageable once it cools down to that temperature......yes, you have to make this mixture well ahead of's you see i made it for diwali dinner and then i made it again today as a second round of breakfast after a fresh fruit salad.......

the kabab mixture keeps well in the fridge for a week if chopped things are not added to it...otherwise for 2 days maximum....

**take out the mixture when you need to make the if you find the mixture too gooyi , you can add some *cornmeal* or makki ka atta......mix all the chopped ingredients and the powders and shape the kababs...

smear ghee in a nonstick pan over heat and drop spoonfuls ( yes you can use your hands too but you just have to drop blobs of the mixture into the pan) like this....

now take another spoon , dip in a bowl of water and smooth out the blobs to make flat kabab shapes....

the kababs need to be rough edged as to be crisp...drops of ghee are poured aside every kabab so that they get crisp without soaking all the ghee....flip when browned on one side...

serve hot with a fresh green chutny ( no sauce or other chutny is good enough)...lots of coriander greens , green chilies, a couple of garlic pods, salt and lemon juice....don't you love your mixie for this........:)

any leftover kababs can be wrapped into a wholewheat chapati with some chutny and salad and you have nice kathi rolls for dinner...

enjoy ...the diwali treat on your screen........:)

Thursday, October 15, 2009

mirchi waali machhli...easy, quick and oh so delicious

It has been more than a month since I posted anything here even though I cooked a lot of things and took photographs too but there were so many things which kept me away from writing for my blogs. All those things can wait but I must tell you all that I kept visiting all the wonderful blogs and discovered some more wonderful blogs. One of them is by Ushnish Ghosh where I found so many interesting things.

This recipe was there with a cute story behind it and I decided to make the fish immediately after reading it. It has happened for the first time that I am so quick in trying out a recipe.

He had used large cubical pieces of cheetal fish but I had only 3 large steaks left in the freezer, of a huge rohu we brought and made many delicacies in the last fortnight (recipes of patraani macchhi and sarson wali machhli is coming soon).

I got going immediately after commenting on his blog and was thinking it might well be a torture for Arvind who cannot tolerate much red chilli and thinking ki aaj to baarah bajne waale hai mere (he would complaint). The recipe was quick as I had expected AND Arvind was eating it faster than me to my utter surprise, note that I am supposed to be the big mirchi lover. But tables turn sometimes.

So this recipe brought me back with my recipe sharing, the original recipe can be seen here...

This recipe can well be taken as achaari machhli by north Indians especially punjabis and you can be tempted to add lemon juice or amchoor to it.
Please don't.
You'd love the way it is, without the  sourness too it can be called achaari machhli as it has the aroma and spiciness of a pickle.

pieces of any muscular fish cut into large chunks (I used what I had)3-4 pieces of 100-150 gm each
turmeric powder 1 tsp
red chilli powder 2 tsp or as much as you can tolerate, good to have more
nigella (kalonji) seeds 1/2 tsp or a little more
mustard oil 1 tbsp + 1/2 tsp
besan or chickpea flour 1/2 tbsp (not used in original recipe)
salt to taste

Rub the fish pieces with salt and turmeric powder and let them rest for a while, mine were lying this way into the freezer already.

I used a light dusting of besan over the pieces to fry to prevent  it from sticking to the kadai I was using. If using less oil for frying in a metal kadai the fish sticks and breaks, so besan or atta helps.

Also make a slurry of turmeric powder and chilly powder with 3/4 cup of water and keep aside for about 10 minutes.

Heat 1 tbsp oil and fry the fish lightly and keep aside..

Now add the nigella seeds to the remaining oil, let splutter and pour in the chilli turmeric slurry directly into the oil. It might make you sneeze so keep your face away from the pan.

Let it boil for a minute and slip in the fried pieces and cook for another minute coating it well with the watery liquid.. Add the 1/2 tsp mustard oil which I have mentioned in the ingredient list separately. It gives a nice mustard taste which is like by bengalis and UP people, you can add some more water during cooking but it should just coat the fish and not be runny.

It's ready to savor the taste, we had it with chapattis though any self respecting bengali will shudder at the thought of having it this way. This mirchi wali machhli can be enjoyed whatever way you like but roti or paratha will help you mop the sauce well as you wont want to miss those bits of this dish.

It is not a fish fry but can become a fry if you dry it completely. We like it a bit saucy, the sauce actually is quite delicious.