Thursday, 7 January 2016

Panch Torkari

This is my favouritest of all curries, except perhaps the delicious winter chochchori. Predictably, it has no spices apart from a dash of turmeric, and the five-spice mix for tempering the oil.

NOTE: Because I cook on an electric stove-top (and "induction" stove, if you will), I no longer have the convenience of throwing the vegetables into the wok and having them perfectly sautéed in two minutes. Which is why, going against tradition, I save adding the tempering till all the vegetables have been lightly fried.

So this is how you make it. First, wash and chop the vegetables.

Although called a panch-torkari, or a five-veg curry, this is a scrap stir-fry that can take in as many vegetables as you can throw at it. This time, I've used two large carrots, a generous handful of the flat broad beans (sheem in Bangla), the remnants of a pumpkin (say about 70gms), one regular white radish, and two medium potatoes - all chopped in pieces no larger than an inch.

Pour a glug of oil in the pan (or, if you're lucky, in your regular stove-top wok). Once its hot, add the carrots, the white radish, and after a minute of tossing, the sheem, and then the pumpkin.

Then, once the vegetables have been tossed intermittently for long enough for the mix to become aromatic, (on my stove it takes about ten minutes; on a wok about three) lower the temp to medium. Make a little well in the middle and add half a teaspoon of the Bengali five-spice mixture. Now toss well to mix it with the vegetables.

Once it's been folded in well (you'll be able to smell the sweetness of roasting fennel seeds), add a teaspoon of turmeric, and salt+sugar to your taste. For the amount of vegetables I had this time, I added 1.5 teaspoons of sugar. Unlike most, the panch-torkari is a curry that blossoms in the extra sweetness.

Now add a cup of water - or enough water required to cook your vegetables - to the mix. Give the pot a gentle swirl with the spatula, reduce the heat to medium-low, and let your torkari cook.

In the picture below, you'll see I've added a handful of boris before adding the water. Boris are best fried separately and added as a garnish, otherwise they lose their crunchiness. However, if you forget to fry them first, and aren't too exacting in your tastes, feel free to add them with the salt and sugar and then cook them in the water.

This torkari is best eaten, so people say, with a thin mushur (red lentil) daal and the juice of green lemons in summer. However, I love having it by itself, like a vegetable stew of sorts, or with our two carbohydrate staples: rice and rooti. If you dry it out on the wok, it also serves as a wonderful filling for vegetarian roll-ups or left-over sandwiches. 

Given how many vegetables go into this, the scraps are wonderfully colourful. Here's what mine looked like after I was done cooking.

Monday, 23 November 2015

Light Summery Pasta Sauce

Très simple.

First, roughly chop a large onion, two tomatoes, as many mushrooms as you like (I like about seven large ones), three cloves of garlic, and three green chillies. Finely slice half an inch of peeled ginger into little translucent sticks.

The last three ingredients are optional, but if you like your pasta fresh and fragrant, you will need at least the garlic.

First, add a glug of oil in the saucepan/wok. Toss in the vegetables in this order:

Let it cook on a high flame with occasional stirring so the tomatoes don't stick to the bottom of the pan.

Finally, when everything becomes one inseparable tomatoey, mildly spicy mass, add a dollop of fresh or coconut cream.

Fold it in. Reduce flame to medium. Add salt, pepper, oregano, basil, and because I love parsley, a touch of parsley. I use these herbs dried. Finally, add a pinch of sugar to balance the acidity of tomatoes.

Then add a cup of water, cover the saucepan, and let the sauce simmer.

When it reaches the thickness you like, taste the sauce. Add whatever spice you want more of. Then fold in the cooked and drained pasta to the pan.

Mix it in well, then cover the pan again. Let the pasta steep in the sauce and soak it in.

Finally, serve with grated/chopped cheese, sausage slices, and my personal favourite: chopped fresh cilantro/coriander leaves.

Sunday, 1 March 2015

Chochchori Recipe for Facebook Buddies

Chochchori recipe for TP, and everyone else that's interested.

 1. Keep orange mushur/masoor dal bori/waris fried at hand.

 2. Peel and cut three large potatoes and cut into thickish wedges. Dice peeled and de-seeded pumpkin into half an inch thick pieces. Cube unpeeled brinjal/aubergine/eggplant.

 3. Fry thickly-sliced potato and pumpkin till golden. Drain and reserve

 4. Rub small cubes of brinjal with salt, sugar and turmeric, and fry till brown.

 5. Chop spinach - or stalks and leaves of cauliflower, for preference - and fry on medium till all the water evaporates.

 6. Add a teaspoon of paNch foron. Wait till you smell the mouri/saunf roasting

 7. Add the rest of the vegetables, salt and a little sugar, and the fried wari/bori. Toss for five minutes on medium and taste.

 8. Add half a cup of water. Simmer covered. When done, if there's still some water left, dry it out while tossing the chochchori gently. Done! Serve with hot thin mushur/masoor/red lentil dal, or slightly thick moog/moong daal :-)

Friday, 9 January 2015

Orange and Dark Chocolate Layer Cake with Dark/White Chocolate Ganache

This is my Christmas special, innovated out of a desperate need to use an entire tray of oranges before they went squishy. The cake is dense,the ganache thin, rich and sticky, and because I detest fruit cakes, there are no raisins or plum or other suchlike disgusting things in the batter. In other words, for a middle-class home, this is a cheap and delicious cake to make: moist, soft, and richly flavoured without being in-you-face.

First, you peel two medium-sized oranges, take off the white fibrous strands within, de-pip the orange, and poach in water with 5 tsp. sugar and 3 tsp. fennel seeds.

Then, when the sugar-water has turned into a reduced, sticky syrup perfumed with citrus and fennel, and the orange is well-poached, take a whisk to it and make a pulp out of the whole thing. Let it cool.

While it cools, melt about a cup of dark cooking chocolate. Most people do it in an improvised double-boiler. I do it by adding a little water to a saucepan, waiting for it to boil, and adding small chunks of the chocolate into it. Once the chocolate is a thick liquid, let it cool.

If the orange is now cool, break two whole eggs into it. Whisk till well-combined. Pour in a cup's worth of sunflower oil.

Combine again. Now gently add the cooled (but not solidified) chocolate. Whisk till it's one thick pulpy brown mix.

Add a cup of flour, 1.5 tsp of baking powder, and if you want, a few drops of vanilla extract/essence. Bake in a preheated oven for about an hour, though check at 45 minutes to see how far the cake's done. I bake my cakes on the middle rack of a small, ancient, table-top oven at 130C, with both bottom and top heaters firing. The time might be different for your oven.

Once the cake is done (a spoon/fork/knife comes out clean), let it cool for some time. In the meanwhile, prep the dark chocolate ganache by heating the same chocolate in a little water, adding a dollop of fresh/heavy cream and orange zest. Blend over a low flame for about a minute or two. Now either you pour the ganache over the whole cake, like so:

Or, slice your cake into two; pour the ganache on top of both slices; put one slice back on the other. The perfect citrusy dark chocolate holiday cake is ready to stuff in faces!

Tuesday, 24 December 2013

Spicy French Toast with Warm Honey-Spinach Tofu Salad

I've just added the label "salads" to my blog, because ever since moving in my New Roomie M, my diet has begun to include a whole lot of salads. The man lives and dies by his straight-up meat with a salad on the side menus, and has taken it upon himself to convince me of the delights of grilled protein and "interesting" salads.

So are carbs off the kitchen then? Hell no! I shall cling to my rice and bread till my dying day, and no manly muscles will deprive me of my daily ration of flour, sugar and bhaat. So sometimes we compromise by having mashed potatoes at the side of our meat, at other times by coating the bread in protein. This is one such, a perfect summer and autumn lunch of warm garlic-tossed spinach and tofu/paneer salad dressed with honey, eaten sandwiched between slices of french toast. Here's the picturebook.

You know how to make Indian toast, I'm sure. If not, take a peek here. This needs to be made right before eating, so make the salad first.

In a saucepan, heat some sunflower or olive oil. Toss in chopped garlic. Let them fry till golden or brown.

Add cubed tofu/paneer. Toss lightly till they're coated in flavoured oil, and then add the spinach.

Cook the spinach with constant tossing on high. The high temp. prevents the leaves from stewing, and the tossing prevents the paneer from charring. When the spinach have lost their water and reduced, clear a little space in the pan, add a little more oil in it, and slide in the chopped tomato slices.

If you think you'd rather fry them by themselves and then toss them with the rest of the salad, you can do that too.

When a little cool, pour honey over the salad generously. Mix. Serve with freshly-made Indian toast. Eat sandwiched.