Category: Comfort Food


Rangooni rice

This is one of the easiest, simplest and tastiest dishes that I have tasted with mutton. I came across this recipe on Pree’s blog and fell in love with it at first sight. Although I couldn’t wait to try it, I was sceptical that my family will even taste it as it has hardly any spices that mutton is usually cooked at our place. So, to be on safer side, I cooked it in meagre quantity just enough for myself. And guess what? I had to share the dish between the other three and was also admonished as to why I had made so less quantity of such a beautiful dish! From then on, this dish makes a regular appearance on our dinner table specially during winters when all you want is light soupy meals that are filling. I have tweaked Pree’s original recipe slightly to make it even more easier and to suit our palate. Try it and you will be impressed by its taste for sure.

Ingredients:

  • Mutton – 500 g (preferable bone in, but I have even made it with boneless meat)
  • Basmati / jasmine rice (Any fragrant rice would do, I prefer jasmine)
  • Ginger paste (1 tsp)
  • Salt to taste
  • Oil -2 tbsp
  • Garlic – sliced into thin roundels (10-15 cloves, the more the merrier)
  • Red chillies – 5 (or as per taste)
  • Lemon juice – 2 tsp

Method:

  1. In a pressure cooker add mutton, rice, ginger paste, salt and enough water to cook all this. Cook till 7-8 whistles (1-2 on high and rest on low flame)
  2. Once the pressure is released, open the cooker and mash the rice and mutton slightly so that they are well blended but not completely mashed. There should be small pieces of mutton soft mushy grains of rice.
  3. Add water if required to make it dense but not runny. The consistency should be that of a thick soup. Adjust salt at this stage. Keep it aside
  4. Heat oil in a pan and fry the dry red chillies till they are crisp, remove from oil and keep aside. Once cool, crush them with fingers to make flakes (Use gloves if necessary)
  5. In the same oil, fry the garlic roundels till they are crispy brown. Add this oil on the rice meat stew along with crushed chillies and lemon juice.
  6. Eat while it is hot.

 

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When we were going to bid goodbye to Chennai and moving to Bangalore, I had to do most of the tasks as Abbas was working in Bangalore then. He would arrive along with Kakima (My co-sis’s mom) only on the previous day of our departure. Change of address in post office, transfer of gas connection, surrendering Landline phone, dealing with movers and packers, finishing off the groceries in my pantry. I had kept just enough rice, dal, potatoes, 2 red chillies, pinch of cumin seeds, salt for Khichuri to be prepared. As I had to go to office for the last day clearance, Kakima was going to prepare Khicuri with the limited resources she was provided with… I had marinated some boneless chicken pieces which would be deep fried to go along with Khicuri. To this date, we remember that day’s Khichuri as it had turned out to be yummilicious!!!
Kakima is a super talented cook and her Bengali preparations are to die for. We spent a good three months of time together in Bangalore. It was like a picnic everyday. We had the best of foods hogged as if there was no tomorrow. Kaku would go shopping and we would provide him with a list of groceries. Kakima would churn up delicacies one after the other and indulging in them was sheer bliss. Whenever we talk on phone, we recall those wonderful days spent together and the memories of them are soothing!!! I learnt many Bengali dishes from her but have never been able to match the taste that she imparts to them. Abbas and I are eagerly waiting for Kakima and Kaku’s stay with us….
This is how I prepare Khicuri:
Ingredients:
Moong Dal – 1¼ cups (lightly roasted on Tawa)
Masoor Dal – ¾ cup
Rice – 2 cups (You may use Gobinda bhog rice for a distinctive aroma)
Cauliflower – 8-10 big florets, optional (soaked in hot water with turmeric and salt and drained)
Potato – 3 medium sized, peeled and cut into 2 pieces each
Green peas – a handful (optional)
Onion – 2 large, sliced
Tomatoes – 2 large, finely chopped
Ginger paste – 2 tbsp
Cumin seeds – 1 tsp
Red chillies – 2, broken into 3-4 pieces each
Bay leaves – 2
Salt – to taste
Sugar – 1 tsp
Turmeric powder – 1 tsp
Cumin powder – 1 tsp
Coriander powder – 1 tsp
Green chillies – 2-3, finely chopped (optional)
Oil – 5 tbsp
Ghee – 1 tbsp
Method:
  1. Wash rice and both dals together 5-6 times or till the water is clear. Strain away all water.
  2. Heat 3 tbsp oil in a pan. Add a pinch of turmeric powder and salt. Add cauliflower florets and sauté till they turn golden and crunchy from outside. Remove from oil and keep aside.
  3. Repeat the same for potatoes and keep aside.
  4. Add remaining oil to the same pan. Add cumin seeds, once spluttered add red chillies and bay leaves.
  5. Add chopped onion and sauté till golden brown.
  6. Now add ginger paste and sauté till raw smell goes away.
  7. Add chopped tomatoes and sauté till they turn mushy and oil separates.
  8. Add turmeric powder, cumin powder, coriander powder, salt, sugar and combine.
  9. Now add the washed rice and dal, sautéed cauliflower, potatoes and green peas. Mix well. Add 6-7 cups of water, cover with lid and let it boil.
  10. When the water boils, slide the lid a bit and on low flame, let it cook till rice and dal are completely cooked. You may add more water if you like a runny Khichuri. If you want a dry Khicuri, once rice and dal are cooked, remove the lid and cook on fly flame till you get the desired consistency. I like my Khicuri neither dry nor too runny. Pour ghee on top and close the lid.
  11. Serve hot with anything deep fried, green chillies, lemon wedges and ghee. I generally serve along with Begun Bhaja, Dim Bhaja. This time it was Chicken 65.

Ma can live without water but not without Alu Bhaja! Shoot her a question “What shall I prepare for lunch/dinner?” and bang comes the answer “Ektu Alu Bheje Nao. Khaoa hoye jabe.” (Meaning – fry some potatoes and meal will be over”) Alu Bhaja is everybody’s favourite side at home along with Rice and Dal. Makes for a comfort meal and I prepare extra rice when there is Alu Bhaja and Dal coz quantity of rice consumed with these accompaniments is more.
Ma doesn’t like it when the potato juliens turn mushy. She wants them crisp and each one separate. Her description of it being “Mochmoche” in Bengali. My Alu Bhaja woud turn out as Alu Bhaji and I would always fail at getting that ”Mochmoche” texture! Lately when Kakima had come down to stay with us, she gave the secret behind crispy juliennes. Salt and spices are to be added once potatoes are completely cooked. I used to add along with potatoes which would release water content due to which the end product would be mushy. Well, I now know the trick of the trade!!!
Try this easy side and I guarantee you’ll like it!
Ingredients:
Potatoes – 3-4, medium sized, cut into thin juliennes
Salt – taste
Turmeric powder – 1 tsp
Red chilli powder – 1 tsp or as required
Oil – 4-5 tbsp
Method:
  1. Heat oil in a pan.
  2. Add the potato juliennes (flame should be high) and lightly stir till all the water content is evaporated.
  3. Now cover with a lid and reduce flame.
  4. After every 3-4 minutes, give a stir by removing lid and again cover.
  5. Once the potatoes are cooked completely, remove the lid increase the flame to high. Add salt, turmeric powder and red chilli powder anc combine.
  6. Now spread the juliennes evenly all over the pan and let them get roasted in high flame. If you are using a deep bottomed pan, the juliennes in the centre will get roasted. You have to keep shuffling and placing unroasted juliennes into the centre.
  7. Drain the potatoes from oil and place on absorbent kitchen towel or tissues.
Note:
  1. I generally use the oil left over after frying fritters to make this. The oil will be flavourful and makes the Alu Bhaja tastier.
  2. Since we use a lot of oil for this dish, we will be left with oil after removing potatoes from them. Not all oil goes into the dish.

Palak Pathrado

Pathrado is one of the favourite sides on an Amchi platter. Having it along Rice and Dali Toy (Amchi Dal) is a heavenly experience for me and I believe for most Amchi population.
After marriage, I really missed this dish as I never saw Taro leaves in Kolkata. I couln’t even explain to my folks what it was as there are some varieties which are not edible. One day I googled Taro leaves for images and was showing Ma if she could identify it.  Sudden outburst from my kids’ nanny, Savitha at the sight of these leaves. “Didi, eigulo to kochu pata. Eigulo khao na ki?” (She could identify those and she wondered if we ate those?) I confidently (and proudly) announced, “Yes, we eat them. Do you know where these are available?” She said skeptically “There are so many near my home. I can get them for you. But… How …can you … eat …them?” Due to my persistence, she brought them for me and I jumped out of joy. I did not have a steamer with me then. So I made my Amma’s Phanna pathrado in pressure cooker. We had unexpected guests that day during lunch time. They too got to taste these and were stunned that something so delicious could be made out of Taro leaves! And Savitha would bring Taro leaves whenever she found fresh ones coz she too was hooked on to the taste!
Well, that was about Kolkata. Ever since we moved out of Kolkata, I never got to eat Pathrado. Never found Taro leaves in Chennai or in Bangalore. Had bumped into Divya’s Palak Pathrado some time back. Made those to subside my Pathrado craving. I must say they were yummy to the core. Didn’t miss Taro leaves at all. And the best part is that there is no fear of throat itching that occurs as after effect with some Taro leaves. The masala that I use is a bit different from Divya’s though. (I also drizzled drops of mustard oil instead of coconut oil to see if Abbas would like it. But as usual he didn’t like it. God Bless the Pathrado deprived soul!)
Ingredients:
Spinach leaves – 1 bunch
Rice flour – 2 tbsp (add little more if the masala turns runny)
Coconut oil – 1 tsp
For the Masala:
Grated coconut – 2/3 cup
Red chillies – 7-8 or as per spice tolerance
Tamarind – 1 small marble sized ball
Fenugreek seeds – a pinch
Turmeric poweder – ¼ tsp
Hing / Asafoetida – a pinch
Salt to taste
Method:
  1. Wash the spinach leaves well and keep aside.
  2. Grind together the ingredients called out in the ‘For the Masala’ section with a little water. Add rice flour and mix. The masala must have spreadable consistency. If it is too runny, add little more rice flour.
  3. Take the biggest spinach leaves of the lot and place separately on a platform. Smear the masala over them. Place next smaller sized leaves over them and repeat the process of layering for about 6-8 times atleast. Roll gently and secure the rolls by tying them with a thread.
  4. Steam in an idli steamer for about 20-25 minutes or till well cooked.
  5. Serve hot right out of steamer with coconut oil drizzled on top. (And ofcourse do not forget to remove the thread tied around the Pathrados before serving.)
This recipe goes out to Bookmarked Recipes Every Tuesday hosted by Priya and Aipi.
I can eat any number of these any given time… They take long time to be made as they are slow cooked on tawa but they disappear in no time. This is one of my comfort foods when served with Rice and Dal, even on its own straight off the hot tawa. My Bong family opine that this can’t be had as a side with Rice. But we amchis like anything fried with Rawa coat!
Ingredients:
Potatoes – 2, sliced
Turmeric powder – a tsp
Red chilli powder – as per taste (optional)
Asafoetida powder- a pinch
Salt – to taste
Rawa / Suji / Semolina – required to coat the potato slices
Oil – 2-3 tbsp
Method:
1. Marinate the potatoes with turmeric powder, red chilli powder, asafoetida and salt.

2. Coat the potato slices with rawa and place on hot tawa. (on low flame)
3. Drizzle oil all over and cover with lid.
4. After 3-4 mins, invert all the potato slices and drizzle little more oil.
5. Remove from tawa when the slices are cooked.

This goes out to Veggie / Fruit a Month: Potato hosted byDivya originated by Priya

Alu Bharta

Potato is a common favourite of Amchis and Bongs. This dish easily booked a spot in my Comfort Food list. Alu Bharta could be prepared in umpteen ways. This version was taught to me by my kids’ nanny Savitha. Her version also had a boiled egg. She would place an egg amidst potatoes in pressure cooker for boiling. That was the first time I came to know that eggs could be boiled in pressure cooker too…
Alu bharta + Steamed Rice + Dal / Rasam = Bliss + Comfort for me
…….And I believe many can vouch for this.
Ingredients:
Potatoes – 3, medium sized
Red chillies – 1 or 2 based on spice tolerance
Onion – 1 small, sliced
Mustard oil – 1 tbsp
Salt to taste
Egg – 1 optional
Method:
1.      Boil potatoes, peel and mash together. (Along with egg if using it)
2.      Deep fry red chillies in oil till crisp, remove from oil, press wth hands into flakes and keep aside.
3.      Saute sliced onions in mustard oil till golden brown.
4.      Add mashed potatoes, salt and red chilli flakes. Keep stirrng on medium flame till they are mixed well and the mash turns reddish.

This goes out to Veggie / Fruit a Month: Potato hosted by Divya originated by Priya

This dish generally finds its place on our table when the menu has some dish that hubby dislikes. Or during dinner times, when what I’ve cooked for lunch is left over, but nobody is enthusiastic to eat the same for dinner, and being the home maker you can’t afford cooking something special at the cost of all those dishes sitting in the refrigertor unwanted. At times like that, this dish comes as a saviour. Me happy preparing it coz it can be prepared in a jiffy, the only effort that goes into this is that of chopping onions. Also when my folks know that Dim Bhaja is gonna do guest appearance, they are fine with any kinda main course. So this is like my trump card.

What you need:

2 Eggs
1 Onion, medium sized finely chopped
1/2 tsp Turmeric powder
1 tsp Red Chilli powder
1/2 tsp Cumin powder (optional)
Salt to taste
11/2 tbsp Oil

How to prepare:

I have tried capturing the procedure with the pics below. Initially, heat oil in a pan. Add onions and saute till they turn light golden brown in colour. Add salt, turmeric powder, red chilli powder and cumin powder and mix well. Using a spatula, spread the onions evenly in the pan. Break the eggs on top of the onions as shown below. When the egg white at the bottom has boiled and has formed thin layer, invert half of it on top of the rest of the portion. Make sure while doing this the yolks are covered. Try to separate both peices as they are getiing cooked. Invert both the pieces again and cook till the yolk inside too has cooked well. I cook this whole dish on low flame to get good results. Depending on the width of the pan you can fry more number of eggs in it. Strain and remove the egg pieces from the pan. You can fry more eggs in the same oil.

Dal Bharta

I’m composing this post while KKR v/s RCB is being broadcast from ‘Namma Bengaluru’. Oh yes, although I am blogging about a Bengali comfort food, I hail from Karnataka and my patriotism towards my state never staggers. I am the lone supporter of RCB while the whole family cheers ‘Korbo Lorbo Jeetbo Re’. But when it comes to food, my taste buds fail to see any boundaries. Dal Bharta is my comfort food too.

One of the pros of marrying a Bengali is that I got to explore a whole new culinary world where I ventured into cooking using mustard oil, mustard paste, head of a fish (My Amma used to throw away head of any fish while my in-laws relished various special dishes with fish head in the lime light). Abbas used to ask me before marriage that Seemu, “would you be able to adjust with us?”. After marriage when he saw the ease at which I became one among them, he says, “You were in a wrong place earlier. You were meant to be a Bong. Thank me for having brought you to where you belong”. Well, Konkanis love Potato too just like a Bong does. Only thing I never compromised with is rice. I couldn’t get myself to eat boiled rice. Initially, we had two pots of rice cooked. Now everybody eats raw rice along with me. After all compromise has to be from both ends for smooth running of a family.

Coming to the dish in discussion, Masoor Dal is generally washed and closed inside a small container along with slit green chillies, salt, turmeric powder and mustard oil. The container is called Ghoti, its lid has to be tight. This is cooked along with rice. Bengalis generally eat boiled rice. Since it takes a long time to cook, lentils get cooked just right as required by this dish. But since we eat raw rice which gets cooked very fast, I cook this in a pressure cooker. Texture of dal doesn’t match that cooked in a Ghoti. It tastes great nevertheless.

Ingredients:

1 cup Masoor dal
1 tsp Turmeric powder
2 Green chillies slit
2 Green Chillies finely chopped
1 tsp Red chilli powder (optional, I add it but in-laws don’t)
Salt to taste
1 tbsp Mustard oil

Method:

Pressure cook dal, turmeric powder, red chilli powder, salt, slit green chillies and 1 tsp mustard oil with enough water so that the dal is neither cooked nor over cooked. Well the exact amount of water to be added can be perfected with trial and error.

Mash dal with chopped green chillies, remaining oil using hand. Adjust salt and chillies according to taste.