Thursday, 30 July 2015

Aloo Baingan ki Sabzi
After contemplating for four long years, we finally took the plunge.
After months of planning and running around, we finally allowed ourselves the indulgence of a renovation.
Of nothing much ... not life; not soul.
But of our kitchen.

That one place that is most dear to me. To the both of us.
We like to spend most of our time in our kitchen. Many of our happy discussions and serious decisions take place there .... with B sitting with his plate on the little swivel chair that I use, and I rolling out rotis and flipping one hot roti after another from the stove into his plate. Then we would switch places.
At times it would be dosas. At  other times, the omelette.
Or a simple cup of tea.
At times it would be raining outside. Or it would be a cold, winter night.
For us, our little kitchen is our home.

I had been dreaming of a more streamlined, organised kitchen, for long.
Initially it was just a dream.
Later it became a necessity ... given my limited capabilities these days.
But unlike my real self, this was one project I was very afraid of taking up.  Questions loomed large.
What if it does not turn out the way I want it to be?
What if I do not get the colours I want?
Not like; want.
What if the planners do not like my designs? Or plans?
And so on.

And to an extent, it turned out I was right all along.
Sitting down with obnoxious people, who do not know the ABC s of design and are absolute zeroes when it came to practicality, was a pain we endured for months.
Then came the part when I was denied the colours I wanted. Worse, I was suggested what colours I should be going for.
Needless to say, those guys got struck off from my list faster than you could blink.
And the final straw was when I was denied anything that made my kitchen practical to use and easy for me to work in.
I did not want a lavish, 'good looking, modular' kitchen. I wanted an 'easy to work in', practical kitchen.
But all the guys could do was not see that.

So after an agonising few months, B one day announced that we are going the wrong way all along.
Read ... approaching the wrong people.
What we should be doing is approach the right people who knew both civil work,plumbing,electric work as well as a good carpenter.
To me this sounded like asking for all the good places to see in the world at one place, together.
But I was wrong. And I have never been gladder for that.
B sought out the guy who had worked with the builders of this housing society. The man knew every brick, every wall and every electric wire ways and every other detail inside the skeleton of this flat.
More importantly, he knows what needs to be done and what is unnecessary.
He understood what I wanted in the kitchen.
For example I wanted the counter top to be able to be scrubbed with soap and water ... yes, I am old fashioned. But that is the only way I believe I can clean after I have cooked Ilish.
Or any other fish, for that matter.
None of the kitchen designers was ready to allow me that.
But this guy understood the necessity of a clean kitchen.

Hence, we have smoothly crossed that part.
Got a clean and practical design too.
Hopefully, all will go well.
Right now, as I type this, the workers are hammering the kitchen down.
The exhaust is running ... trying its best to blow out the dust.
And I am looking forward to trying out new places to eat for the next few days.
Wish me luck guys!
I am finally posting the simple Aloo Baingan ki sukhi sabzi that I had made for lunch along with the Saabut Masoor ki dal. 
I make this sukhi sabzi very often ... mostly for dinner. I love dryish dishes slightly overdone ... a little on the mushier side. I find  that the flavours blend together very well this way.
The onions and the brinjals add moisture ... so there is no need to add any water.
 But if you still need to, you can sprinkle some.

And I almost always have a bottle of roasted and coarsely ground or crushed peanuts / groundnuts in my kitchen. While it comes handy whenever I am making the Sabudana Khichadi, I also use it to spike anything from a chutney to a simple, dry sabzi like this one.
Sprinkle a few teaspoonfuls and watch your sabzi going to another level altogether.

Need :

Aloo / Potatoes - 2, medium, peeled and cubed
Baingan / Brinjal - 1 medium, cubed
Pyaz / Onion - 1 medium, chopped into largish pieces
Moongfali / Peanuts - 5 tbsp, lightly roasted and crushed
Dhaniya / Coriander powder - 1 tbsp 
Haldi / Turmeric powder - 1 tsp
Mirchi / Red chilli powder - 1 tsp
Jeera / Cumin seeds - ¼ tsp
Cooking oil - 1 tbsp
Salt - to taste

How to :

Heat oil in a heavy bottomed kadahi / wok.

Add the jeera. When it starts to splutter, add the onions.

Lightly fry them.

When they start to turn pink, raise heat and add the potatoes.

Stir fry them for a while. Add haldi and salt.

Cover and lower heat. Cook till they are half done.

Remove cover and add the brinjals.
Add the dhaniya powder and mirchi powder.

Stir and toss them well, bringing everything together.

Cover again and cook till everything is done.

Remove cover and add the peanut powder.

Raise heat and lightly stir and toss well till the peanut powder coats everything well and the whole thing is cooked well.

Cover, switch off heat and let it stand for five minutes.
 Serve hot.
 We love it with hot rotis.
Here is a look of the lunch plate that day.

Friday, 24 July 2015

Ilish er Muri Ghonto / Hilsa head cooked with rice and spices

"There she goes again! She and her Ilish!"

I know, I know. I have a little too many Ilish recipes on my blog.
But then, I am sure you are not complaining. Or are you?
Come monsoons and I do buy at least one Hilsa fish to satiate my cravings for it. After all, I wait patiently the whole year through and never make do with the false ones, from the shores of Gujarat or Andhra, that make their way into the markets through out the year.
And my fishwala never disappoints me too.
"Aapke liye sirf Kalkatta Hilsa", he says.

And when I get that more than one kilo of divinely smelling fish home, I have to rustle up all the recipes I know with the Ilish.
The head, the tail, the petis, the gadas,  the roe ... all have different recipes to go into.
And I make full use of them.
Resulting in a happy me, with a zen like smile on my face, that you can get to see only on a cat after it leaves a kitchen that has just seen fish cooked.
And some good Ilish posts.
And a grumpy B, who has to suffer through these 2 months of monsoons when I get the Ilish home.
But this year, I haven't brought an Ilish home; not yet.
I had a couple of recipes lying around from last to last year and hence making some posts.
The last one and this. I don't think I have anymore.
And I don't think I will be cooking the Ilish this time.
Will go to my current favourite Assamese restaurant when I get the craving.

Of late, I have seen a number of people coming over here, browse through and then only too soon I see a post on their blogs.
Most of them think they are savvy enough to make changes to the recipe by adding a spoonful of an unnecessary ingredient just to make it look different. Like adding jeera to a recipe that has mustard seeds as tempering is so out and out foolish.
And sometimes a shoddy photograph along with one of mine.
I am assuming that they are new bloggers but at times there are older bloggers too.
All I say to them is dear ones, do be a little original.
I know these recipes are common but there can be a whole bunch of changes in them from family to family.
Like picking up my Thamma's recipe and saying it is your cook's recipe is just not done.

And as for plagiarism of ideas, I really have nothing to say.
Have long given up hope of seeing any light in these blokes' brains.
Coming to today's recipe,  I had made a light Ilish er jhol with cumin and ginger paste.
Remember?  If not, it is here.

So I had this masala left and wanted to use it with the Ilish head this time.
Did not want an ambol or tauk.
So decided on the muri ghonto.

I had never made muri ghonto with anything other than the Rui or the Katla head. So this was going to be new.  It does not have any onion or garlic and hence can be called a Niramish muri ghonto too. 

The fact that Ilish has a lot more and much finer bones in the head did not deter me at all.
My Dadu, Ma's father, was well known for his ability to chew and finish off all the bones of  the Ilish head. 
And as his grand daughter, the least I could do was to try it once.

 Need :

For the Jeera paste : -
Jeera / Cumin seeds - around 5 tbsp, soak for around 3 hours
Ginger - 1 and ½" piece
Whole red chillies - 4 (if you like spicy then use around 6 or 7)
Tomato - 2 medium sized

Other ingredients : -

Ilish head - 1 , cleaned and marinated with a little turmeric powder+salt
Tej pata / Bay leaves - 2
Rice - 1 cup, washed and soaked ( I used Basmati )
Cooking oil - 2 + 2 tbsp ( I use Mustard oil )
Ghee - 1 tbsp
Turmeric powder - 1 tsp
Whole red chillies - 2, broken
Lemon juice - 4 tbsp
Bhaja moshla - 1 tbsp
The jeera paste - 3 tbsp 
Salt - to taste
Water - 2 cups

How to :

Heat 2 tbsp oil in a heavy kadahi / wok.
Lightly fry the fish head, break into pieces and keep aside.

In another kadahi / wok, heat 2 tbsp oil + ghee.

Add the bay leaves + whole red chillies + the jeera paste.

Stir well and keep frying till oil starts to leave the sides.

Add the rice and lightly fry.

Raise heat, add the fish head pieces + turmeric powder + lemon juice + salt + water.

Cover and cook till rice is just done.

Remove cover, sprinkle the bhaja moshla all over, give a light toss and cover.

Switch off heat after 5 minutes and let it stand for another 5 minutes.


I like to keep the rice grains fluffy and separated though traditionally the muri ghonto is slightly sticky.
You can add chopped potatoes to it too.

I love it just as it is.
As a whole meal, if I do not have guests.

Rustle up a salad or a raita and you are good to go.

Here is a list of my Ilish / Hilsa recipes to enjoy in this monsoon. 

Monday, 20 July 2015

Doi Shorshe Ilish / Hilsa in yoghurt and mustard sauce - the stove top way
The monsoons and the Hilsa come to us together. Hand in hand.
Both make their way into our hearts with ease.
One drenches us with sweet, life giving rain ... washing away the dust and the heat and all things painful ... leaving behind a cleaner, fresher new time.
The other makes its way to our plates and satiates us after months of waiting for its arrival.
Both, in their own ways soothes a Bengali's soul.

I have been away from the blog and my routine daily life for a while now. There are times when family takes precedence and you have to give it its due.
There have been mornings, of late,  when instead of thinking of my morning tea, I have had to think of breakfast that will suit every palate.
And then lunches and dinners.
And guests and relatives.
At times it is overwhelming.
At others, boisterous and happy.
Seeing everybody stick around at times of crisis can be a hugely heart warming experience.

I do not think I will have much Ilish this time ... both to cook as well as eat.
After returning, I went through my drafts to see if there was anything that I could make a quick post on, before rushing off for another trip.
And found these photographs languishing from last year.

I usually always bake whenever I make the shorshe Ilish.
But this time, I had made it on the open stove top.
And found there was a definite change in the flavours.
For example, the Kalo jeere / Nigella seeds do not lend that strong flavour when used in the baking version as they do here .... when released into the hot mustard oil.
Even there is a difference in the flavour of the green chillies.
Also the gravy here misses that distinct smoky flavour that we get when cooking it in the oven.
The baked version is here.

Need :

Ilish / Hilsa  - 4 pieces, marinated with salt + turmeric powder and lightly fried in mustard oil
White mustard seeds  - 6 tbsp
Black mustard seeds - 4 tbsp 
Kalo jeere / Nigella seeds - ½ tsp
Halsi / Turmeric powder - ½ tsp
Curd - 8 tbsp
Mustard oil - 4 tbsp
Green chillies - 3 pieces
Salt - to taste
How to :

Soak  the mustard seeds in water for 3 hours.
Add enough water to grind  into a smooth paste. I never add salt or green chillies when grinding mustard seeds.
Do remember that the grinder should not turn hot while grinding the mustard. Else your mustard paste will turn bitter. Use short pulses when grinding.
I keep the soaked seeds in the fridge for around 15 minutes before grinding.
Strain it through a sieve.

Heat 2 tbsp oil in a kadahi / wok.

Make a smooth paste of 6 tbsp mustard seeds paste and  the curd.

Add the nigella seeds and green chillies.

Add the paste and stir well for a minute.

Add water, salt and turmeric powder.

Cover and cook till it starts to simmer.

Add the fish pieces and cover and simmer for 5 minutes.

Remove cover, pour in the rest of the mustard oil all over it.

Switch off heat and cover and let it stand for a while.

Serve hot with steamed rice.


Check out my other Ilish recipes here. 

Ilish recipes on Kichu Khonn 

Tuesday, 7 July 2015

Rui maacher halka jhol / A light Rohu fish curry
There are illnesses and then there are illnesses.
And when an illness makes itself known, whether it is you or a loved one, you get a fresh new view of life.
Especially if it is family.
It is as if someone has held you by the scruff of your neck and has given a good shake, reopening your eyes to a fresh new outlook.
You see life from a different plane.
And your every day, mundane tasks and complaints look so very miniscule.

It is at times like these that you get comfort from the only real thing in life ... omnipresent and ever needed ... food.
Simple food. Comfort food. Light food.
Food that will settle inside you without so much of a thump.
Food that will lull you to a calm.
And help you see through the days that seem so dark that you almost start to doubt the adage of the light at the end of the tunnel.

It is this light jhol that I have turned to so many times ever since I made this for the first time fellow blogger Kalyan shared the recipe on Fb.
It is his Didu's recipe and like all grandmoms' recipes are, is very lovable.
This very loved fish curry and rice always helps to bring a sense of calm in me.

This is a very easy macher jhol recipe. In fact the easiest you can come across, ever, I guess.

Need :

Rohu fish - 4 pieces, cleaned and marinated with salt + turmeric
Potato - 1 medium
Parwal / Potol / Pointed gourd - 3 pieces
Haldi / Turmeric powder - 1 tsp
Red chilli powder - 1 tsp
Dhaniya / Coriander powder - 1 tbsp
Jeera / Cumin powder - 1 tsp
Jeera / Cumin seeds - ½ tsp
Whole red chillies - 2, broken
Salt - to taste
Water - for gravy
Cooking oil - 1 tbsp ( I use mustard oil )

How to :

Fry the fish lightly. 
I fry fish to a crisp on both sides only when I am making the rich Kalia. For this curry, however, I just let it into the smoking hot oil, lowered the flame, turned it once and brought it out.

Cut the potatoes and the parwal in similar pieces.
Soak the red chilli + jeera + dhaniya + haldi powder in a little water.

Heat oil in a heavy bottomed wok / kadahi.
Add the jeera + whole red chillies.
Add the vegetables and toss well.
Fry for a while on high heat.

Now add the soaked masala paste + water + salt.

Stir well.
Lower heat.

Cover and cook till the vegetables are done.
Remove cover and add the fish pieces and slit green chillies.

Cover and simmer for 10 more minutes.
 Your easy, patla maacher jhol is ready.

 Here is a shot my lunch plate with this light Rui macher jhol.
This curry goes best with plain rice.
Serve it steaming hot. All you will need is a squirt of fresh lemon juice and a green chilli on the side.

I did have some salad and a Aamer ambol too.


There is a crisis in the family and I'll be leaving shortly to be with them.
Hence will be away from my kitchen for a while.
But I'll be back next month with many more recipes.
Stay with me, dear readers.

Don't miss my list of  other recipes using the Rohu fish or the Rui maach -