Gobi Bhuna

A delicious yet simple semi-dry dish, best enjoyed with traditional roti or in a wrap for a satisfyingly healthy meal!

Prep time: 5 mins

Cooking time: 25 mins

Serves 2

Ingredients

  • 1 medium cauliflower, separated into florets
  • 1 medium tomato, chopped
  • 3 tbsp oil
  • 1 tsp mustard seeds
  • 1tsp cumin seeds
  • 1 tsp dried chilli flakes
  • 5-6 curry leaves
  • 1 tsp garlic granules
  • 1 tsp level curry powder
  • Salt to taste
  • Handful fresh coriander leaves, chopped

How to prepare

  1. Rinse the cauliflower and leave aside to drain.
  2. Heat the oil gently and add the cumin and mustard seeds. Wait till they change colour; stir in the dried chilli and curry leaves.

3. Add the garlic and curry powder and cook gently for 1 min.

4. Add the tomatoes, cauliflower and salt; turn up the heat and stir fry for 2-3 minutes.

5. Cover and cook over a medium heat for 10 minutes.

6. Add a splash of water, lower the heat, cover and cook until then cauliflower is tender.

7. Stir in the coriander leaves and serve.

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Achari Chicken

Good to be back here! It’s a long shift in my kitchen tonight as I prep for a private catering event later today. Christmas parties everywhere! The biriyani masala mix is well under way, wafting its aromas at this rather ungodly hour 😳

While I wait, having of course done all my chopping, I thought a bit of blogging wouldn’t go amiss given it has been a while…

Last week I cooked this flavoursome traditional dish which, as the name suggests, does not use archar (pickle) in the recipe at all! No, no no. The achari tanginess is created with my favourite good old Bengali ‘five spice’ mix. I still remember the flavour created by this incredible concoction of five seeds when my grandma made her delectable chicken curry during our rare visits to see her in Bangladesh.

So this is how it goes:

Prep time: 10 mins
Cooking time: 40 mins
Serves 4

Ingredients

  • img_27091 medium chicken or 2 chicken breasts cut into curry pieces
  • 3 tbsp oil
  • 1 heaped teaspoon panch phoron (five spice mix)
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 1 tbsp ginger purée
  • 1 tbsp garlic purée
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 200g chopped tinned tomato
  • 1 tsp turmeric powder
  • 1 tsp ground coriander
  • 3/4 tsp roasted ground cumin
  • 1/2 tsp chilli powder
  • 1 tsp garam masala
  • Salt to taste
  • 1/2 hot cup water
  • 2 green chillies (optional)
  • Handful fresh coriander leaves, chopped (optional)

How to cook

  1. Wash and drain the chicken well (although it’s best not to wash the chicken to prevent campylobacter cells from spreading – the most common cause of food poisoning; cooking the chicken thoroughly will remove this as well as other bacteria – read NHS article here).
  2. Heat the oil gently and add the five spice mix. Wait until the seeds sizzle.
  3. Add the onions and cook over a medium flame until golden brown (up to 10 minutes).
  4. Stir in the garlic and ginger and cook for another minute.
  5. Add the tomatoes, cover and cook until soft and pulpy.
  6. Mash down the tomato mixture with the back of a wooden spoon. Add the turmeric, ground coriander, cumin, chilli powder, salt and garam masala. Add a splash of water if the mixture becomes dry. Stir well and allow to ‘bhuna’ (i.e. the oil should separate from the spices and float to the top).
  7. Stir in the the chicken pieces ensuring they are well coated with the spice mixture. Cook for 5 minutes over a medium-high flame, ensuring the spices do not stick to the bottom of the pan.
  8. Add the water and bring to boil. Simmer for 2 mins, then drop in the green chillies, if using.
  9. Cover and  cook on a low flame until the chicken is thoroughly done.
  10. Garnish with coriander leaves, if using, just before serving.

Enjoy 😊

 

Fish Kofte


These super healthy, gluten-free Fish Kofte taste delicious with a fresh mint raita and can be served either as an appetiser or a side dish with any meal.

Prior to cooking, the fish balls were rolled in rice flour and then coated very liberally with olive oil to give a light golden and slightly crispy outer finish. They were then cooked in my air-fryer for 15 minutes. Equally they can be oven-baked at 180 degrees.

Here is the recipe, but feel free to try combining any vegetables – just steam and mash first before mixing into the fish and spices.

Prep time: 15 mins

Cooking time: 15 mins

Serves: 4-5 (makes approx. 18 golf-sized kofte)

Ingredients

160g tuna chunks in brine, drained

6-8 new baby potatoes, steamed and mashed

2 handfuls baby spinach leaves, roughly chopped

2 tbsp olive oil

1/2 rice flour + 3 tbsp more for coating

1 medium onion, finely chopped or minced

1 heaped tsp garlic granules

1 tsp ground ginger

1 tsp roasted ground cumin

1 tsp coriander powder

1 heaped tsp paprika

1 tsp anchor (mango powder)

1 level tsp garam masala

1/2 tsp ground black pepper

1 tsp chilli flakes

2 tbsp fresh mint leaves, chopped or 1 tsp dried mint

1 tsp salt or to taste

Method

  1. Place all the ingredients, except the oil and the 3 tbsp rice flour, in a medium bowl and mix well.
  2. Knead until it all comes together into a smooth mixture.
  3. Work 1/2 tsp of the olive oil well into the mixture.
  4. Take a small bowl of warm water and moisten the palms; divide the mixture into the desired size and shape (I made golf-sized balls). Keep moistening the palms to prevent the mixture from sticking.
  5. Place the remaining rice flour on tray or large platter and roll the fish balls in the flour until evenly coated.
  6. Place the remaining oil in another bigger bowl; transfer the fish balls into this bowl and swirl the bowl until they are all coated in the oil.
  7. Cook in an air-fryer or heated oven for 15 mins at 180 degrees.
  8. Serve with your preferred dip with pride 😊

Mackerel with Spinach (Macher Chorchori)

mackerel_with_spinach.jpg-pwrt3Based on the traditional Bengali dish known as ‘chorchori’ (medley) this is variation which I learnt to cook from my father, a master of culinary creativity. An easy to cook recipe bursting with flavour and goodness.

Prep Time: 10 mins
Cooking Time: 30 mins
Serves: 2

  • 3 tbsp oil
  • 1 tin mackerel fillets in brine, drained
  • 1 small onion, sliced
  • ½ tbsp garlic paste, or 1 fresh clove garlic, minced
  • 1 tbsp ginger paste or 1” piece fresh ginger, grated
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 6-7 blocks of frozen spinach
  • ½ tsp turmeric powder
  • ½ tsp coriander powder
  • ½ tsp chilli powder
  • ½ tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp salt or to taste
  • 1 green chilli, chopped (optional)
  • handful of fried fenugreek leaves (optional)

Method:

1. Heat the oil and add the bay leaf.

2. Add the onions and cook on medium heat until transparent.

3. Add the garlic and ginger and stir for 1-2 mins.

4. Add the dry spices and sauté for 2 mins with 2 tbsp water.

5. Add the mackerel and stir well to cover with spices, using a wooden spoon to break up the fillets.

6. Add the spinach and green chilli (if using), stir a little and cover; leave to cook on low heat for 10-15 minutes.

7. Stir the spinach well to blend in with the fish mixture. Cover and cook again, if necessary, until the spinach is cooked through.

8. Remove the lid and turn up heat to evaporate any excess liquid.

9. Continue stirring and remove from heat when the dish is completely dry and begins to come away from the sides of the pan as you stir.

10. Stir in the dried fenugreek leaves, if using, and remove from heat.

As published in the Wimbledon Guardian, 12 December 2013

Aloo Bharta

Aloo (ka) Bharta (spicy mashed potato) is a timeless comfort food which can be enjoyed equally with rice or rotis. As a Bengali, my staple meal growing up consisted of boiled rice and my mum often prepared this bharta in traditional Bengali style, either using mustard oil as a base or ghee; the latter treating one’s sensory palette to the ultimate taste experience which I dare not replicate for obvious health reasons!

Aloo Bharta, a dish of Bihari origin, has many variations. My recipe is based on a Pakistani version which I have adapted from my mother-in-law and is very different to the Bengali method of preparation and personally, best enjoyed with handmade rotis 😀

Feel free to replace the tomato purée with fresh tomatoes. I only used the purée as I was out of tomatoes 😱

Ingredients

  • 750 g potatoes, boiled and mashed with a tsp salt
  • 3-4 tbsp oil
  • 1 tbsp cumin seeds
  • 11/2 tsp curry powder
  • 1/2 tsp coriander powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp tomato purée
  • 4 spring onions, chopped
  • Green and red chillies, chopped
  • Coriander leaves

How to cook

1. Heat the oil gently and add the cumin seeds. Allow seeds to sizzle.

2. Add the onions and chillies. Cover and cook until softened.

3. Stir in the spices and cook for 1 minute over a medium flame.

4. Add the tomato purée and mix well. Cook until the oil separates from spices. Stir in the salt.

5. Turn down the heat and add the mashed potato. Mix well until the spices is evenly distributed throughout the potato.

6. Stir in the chopped coriander and transfer to a serving dish.

Shobji Bhaji (Vegetable Stir Fry)

Sometimes there really is nothing like good old Bengali cooking.

This is a very simple, yet beautifully presentable recipe, representative of the staple ‘dry’ vegetable dish served with every Bangladeshi meal. The panch phoron seeds lend a wonderfully aromatic flavour that is so typical of Bengali cooking.

The key here is to stir fry the vegetables over a high heat, using little or no water. This will ensure that the vegetables do not stick together and become and mushy.

Cooking Time: 20 mins

Serves: 3-4  

Ingredients

  • 2 tbsp oil
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 tsp panch phoron (bengali five spice mix)
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1″ piece root ginger, minced
  • 1 tsp turmeric
  • 1 tsp ground coriander
  • 3/4 tsp ground, roasted cumin
  • 1/2 tsp chilli powder
  • 250g mixed veg (fresh or frozen)
  • 2-3 small new potatoes, diced
  • salt to taste
  • fresh, chopped coriander to garnish each piece

How to cook

  1. Heat the oil in a large wok or karahi over a medium flame.
  2. Add the panch phoron and bay leaf. Wait for seeds to sizzle.
  3. Add the onion and cook until soft and golden.
  4. Add the garlic and ginger and cook for 2-3 mins.
  5. Add the dry spices and cook for another minute (adding a splash of water if the spices begin to stick to the pan).
  6. Add the vegetables with the salt. If using frozen vegetables use a wooden spoon to break any chunks.
  7. Stir fry for 10 mins on high heat ensuring they are evenly covered with the spices.
  8. Add a splash of water, stir, then turn down to heat and cover.
  9. Cook for another 5 mins or until the vegetables are just tender. DO NOT OVERCOOK!
  10. Remove from heat and garnish with chopped coriander before serving.

Tagine-Steamed White Fish

Steamed FishIn keeping with our Bengali traditional, but much to my parents’ disapproval of my aversion to eating fish, it was often a case of “Eat your fish!” at the dining table. More so than the proverbial peas.

Ironically, as a Mother of two teens, I now find myself cooking fish in a variety of ways. The versatility of cooking with fish, whether it’s a fishermen’s pie, a curry, a grill or even a biriyani (!) makes it quite effortless to get those all-essential Omega-3’s into our daily diet in the most natural way.

Last night I chose to steam these basa fillets, but not quite the conventional way. I seasoned the fillets and simply arranged them in a single layer in my glazed ceramic tagine. I then placed the tagine on the stove over a heat diffuser to ensure even cooking.

The build up of steam in the pot creates condensation and the resulting droplets ensure the fish is left beautifully moist with all the flavours sealed into the fish. Simply lushalicious :p. So here’s how it goes…

Cooking Time: 20 mins

Serves: 4  

Ingredients

  • 4 white fish fillets (such as cod, haddock or basa)
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • juice of a quarter lemon
  • 1 tsp crushed red chilies (or more if you dare!)
  • sprinkle of course black pepper
  • salt to taste
  • handful of chopped parsley
  • a lemon twist and sprig of fresh coriander to garnish each piece

How to cook

  1. Mix all the ingredients well and season the fish. Set aside for 10 mins.
  2. Gently heat a large wok, karahi or tagine placed in a heat diffuser (you can use a tava or frying pan for this purpose).
  3. Arrange the fish onto the vessel a single layer and place a tight fitting lid (or the tagine lid if using a tagine).
  4. Allow to cook over a medium heat for 15-20 minutes.
  5. Remove each piece carefully and garnish with a twist of lemon and a sprig of coriander.

Serving Suggestion: Serve with seasoned, steamed new potatoes and beans or spinach. Or for a touch of Indian, serve with a portion of boiled rice topped with a tadka-free lentil curry as shown here 🙂

Basa fillet with lentils and rice

Chicken Jalfrezi

Chicken Jalfrezi (or Jhal Frezi – ‘jhal’ meaning spicy in Bengali) is typically a ‘bhuna’ dish which means the sauce is thicker and drier than a usual curry. I often mention the word ‘bhuna’ during my classes as it is an essential state which needs to be achieved during the initial stages of cooking, where the ingredients are cooked in their own juices, in order to intensify the flavour of the final dish.

The focus on this recipe is therefore to produce this ‘bhuna’ sauce which can also be stored and used as a base for other curries. Nice 🙂 So you can see why this makes a great recipe for my upcoming demo at New Malden Farmers Market.

Cooking Time: 30-40 mins

Serves: 4

Ingredients

For the chicken marinade (OR just use precooked chicken tikka to toss into the sauce when its ready)

  • 2 medium chicken breasts, cut into cubes
  • 1 tsp turmeric
  • 1 heaped tsp ground coriander
  • 1 tsp roasted, ground cumin

For the curry sauce

  • 4 tbsp oil
  • 1/2 large onion, very finely chopped + another 1/2 finely sliced
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely minced
  • 1/2 inch piece ginger, finely minced
  • 1/2 red pepper, chopped
  • 1/2 green pepper, chopped
  • 2-3 green chillies, sliced lengthwise & seeded
  • 1 tbsp tomato puree
  • 1 medium tomato, chopped
  • 1 tsp turmeric
  • 1 tsp ground coriander
  • 1 tsp roasted, ground cumin
  • 1 tsp garam masala
  • 1-2 tsp salt or to taste
  • approx. 1/2 cup warm water

How to cook

  1. Mix the ingredients for the marinade and set aside while you prepare the sauce.
  2. Heat the oil over a medium flame and cook the onions until softened.
  3. Add the garlic and ginger and continue to cook until the mixture is lightly browned.
  4. Stir in the turmeric, ground coriander, ground cumin and salt, adding a splash of water if needed. Fry for 2-3 mins until the oil has separated from the spices – this is known as the ‘bhuna’ stage.
  5. Stir in the tomato puree and continue to cook for another 30 secs.
  6. Add half the water and bring to a boil. Cover and allow to simmer for about 5-7 mins until the ‘bhuna’ state is achieved again.
  7. Add the marinated chicken and cook on a high flame until the chicken pieces are sealed and evenly covered with the spiced sauce.
    (If using pre-cooked chicken skip this step.)
  8. Stir in the onions, peppers and green chillies, then add the remaining water. Bring to boil; cover and simmer until the chicken is cooked and the gravy has thickened.
    (If using pre-cooked chicken, stir in the vegetables, then add the water. Cover and cook until tender. Add the chicken and cook uncovered until the gravy has thickened.
  9. Sprinkle the garam masala and add the tomatoes. Cook uncovered for another 2-3 mins, just until the tomatoes have softened and then remove from the heat.

Serve with basmati rice or naan.