Wednesday, January 28, 2015

SHORHSE BATA ILISH : HILSA IN MUSTARD RICE

If its Ilish Maachh, you are bound to over eat. Yes, that's exactly the case with me. I have had my share of breakfast, lunch and dinner, all in the form of my Ilish Maachh platter,some time back. So I knew I had to pen this down, even though I am reeling in and out of Ilish Maachh induced Food Coma.

No matter what time of the year it is, one of the easiest the ways to a true Bong's heart, is through a plate of hot steamed rice and Shorshe Bata Ilish. The decadent mustard sauce, in which the Ilish is slowly cooked has everyone salivating,at all times.

I wanted to introduce my daughter to this quintessential Bengali taste. As long as I tackled the bones,and kept a tab on my favorite level of heat, I was confident she would love it as much her parents did. And it was a success. The one and half year old, picked on the white fish slowly at first,and then tucked away,forgetting all about the steamed rice on her tray. mommy surely did the Happy Dance all round the kitchen and living room.

My Mom and Grandmom had been puritans when it came to cooking fish. if the Fish was no t as Fresh,  as they liked, they would lightly Fry it,before cooking it the Curry. SNatlano, as its called in Bengali.Since I was introducing the toddler to Ilish Maachh(which was from the frozen Aisle in the Bangladeshi store), I decided to Flash Fry the fish pieces,before steaming them in the rich mustard gravy. However,when I had first posted pictures of thsi batch of Shorshe Bata Ilish, I received the flak, from many. How could I fry my Ilish Maach, in a predominantly Bhapa Preparation. And I went on to explain,Mommy's idea of SNatlano to them. So i decided to not call my dish, Bhapa Ilish, but simply call it Shorshe Bata Ilish.


SHORSHE BATA ILISH :

Ingredients:
Hilsa/ilish Maach : 1 Medium sized Fish, cut into Bengali style steaks. Scales Removed
Turmeric Powder: 2 tsp plus 1 tsp
Salt: To taste
Mustard Oil: 4 tbsp
Mustard Paste: 2 tbsp
Sugar: 1 tsp
Red Chilli Powder: 1 tsp(according to heat preferences)
Shredded Coconut: 1 tbsp
Yogurt: 2 tbsp
GREEN CHILIES: 3 TO 4

Procedure:
 Pat the fish prices dry and smear them with salt and turmeric powder. Leave them aside for around ten minutes.



In a non stick pan, add the mustard oil and heat it. When the oil is hot enough, gently place in the fish and lightly sauce them. You could skip this step, if the fish you are using is fresh. We don't have that luxury.


Remove from heat and keep aside.


Meanwhile make a paste of turmeric powder, mustard oil, mustard paste, salt, sugar, shredded coconut ,red chili powder and yogurt.



Add a dash of water and dunk the sautéed Fish pieces in it. Add Green Chilies slit longitudinally.

You could steam this in a tiffin box in a Pressure Cooker or you could bake it in a Pre heated oven at 350F for around 15 to 20 minutes.






Serve hot with steamed Basmati Rice.

Bon Appetit !!!






Thursday, January 15, 2015

PATISHAPTA IN A JIFFY : CREPES FILLED WITH CARAMELIZED SHREDDED COCONUT


Its Makar Shankranti today. The Harvest festival which is celebrated with much fanfare in almost every Bengali household. While not all families have an agrarian background, they join in the celebrations with a special array of sweets,called Pithe. If there was ever a Queen of Pithes, it surely is Pati Shapta.  Pati Shapta are Crepes filled with caramelised coconut, all flavored with a generous helping of green cardamom.

While I have a self confessed sweet tooth, I had never ventured into the field of Pithe Making. Shankrantis during our growing up years, were all about feasting on a wide variety of Pithe at home. Some were made at home, some were Grandma's specialties and some came in from the neighbors. You could literally feast on the delicacies all day and still have more. Ever since I left Kolkata, I missed the bounty during this time of the year. While in Delhi, I would take a auto rickshaw up to C R Park( The Bong Hub), and pack up some Pithe and Patishapta from Annapurna Sweets,along with some Nolen Gurer Shondesh.

But all these years in the Midwest only meant,that if you wanted to eat some Bengali delicacies, you had to make it yourself. there was no Mom to whip it up, or no Annapurna Sweets to pick it up from. Every year I wake up to a million gazillion posts on Social media on all that's been made. And I salivate a bit more at this end. I binge eat on junk food all day, to try and forget the tastes, I am missing so far.

I had thought this year would be no different. But it surely turned out to be. All the Pithe Posts on social media drove me so crazy,that I decided to venture out of my comfort zone. I decided to make Pati Shapta. All from scratch. I have heard in Kolkata, you get packaged and portioned Patishapta Mixes available at many departmental stores.  I had no such luck. A quick browsing through my pantry revealed that I had no Khoa(dry kheer), Nolen Gur(Date Palm Jaggery) and Rice Flour. So I had to make do without those, without compromising on the taste. So voila, I cam up with some hacks. The Puritans might frown at it,but it satisfied my Bong soul on Shankranti and I am happy with it.

So here's what I came up with. I gave the rice flour a miss, as I found the idea of grinding rice in a coffee grinder too painstaking. I stuck to All Purpose Flour and Semolina.

Rather than normal shredded frozen coconut, I decided to use Sweetened Coconut Flakes,from the baking Aisle.

Now for the biggest hack. My Husband could not guess that the Patishapta I had made, was made without Gur. I Used Dulce de Leche(caramelised  condensed milk) to make the coconut filling along with a heady dose of green cardamom. yes you heard it right. It worked wonders, I must tell you. And there wa sno compromise on the taste. The dulce de Leche along with crushed green cardamom was cooked slowly with the coconut flakes. Slow cooking sealed the deal in making it super decadent.

The best part was when my almost two year old daughter, smiled her way through her very first Patishapta.It turned out to be Shubho Shankranti after all.




PATISHAPTA : 

Makes 8

Ingredients:

Batter:
All Purpose Flour : 1 cup
Sugar: 5 tbsp
Semolina: 1/3 cup
Whole Milk:  1 cup or more
Green Cardamom Powder : 2 tsp

Filling: 
Sweetened Coconut Flakes: 2 cups (As I had run out of Frozen Grated coconut)
Dulce de Leche: 3/4  tin
Green cardamom Powder : 2-3 tsp
Milk: 1/3 cup

Oil /Ghee :

Procedure: 

The Filling : 
In a large pan, on low heat. add some ghee, and add the coconut flakes, and green cardamom and the milk. Once the coconut flakes are re hydrated a bit, add in the Dulce de Leche. With  a wooden spoon, mix it all well. Keep cooking it for around 20 minutes or so, till the mixture has congealed into a sticky mass. Remove from heat.





Batter: 
Mix in the ingredients and whisk in the batter to a thin consistency.  Keep adding the milk slowly to make the batter.  Adjust the amount of milk you want to add, according to the consistency of the batter.


Crepes- Patishapta-Final Assembly : 

I had used a 8 or 9 Inch Non stick pan. The size of the crepes and the amount of batter per crepe will vary proportionately.

Place the pan on medium high heat. With a brush, smear some ghee or canola oil on the pan.



Then ladle 1/3 cup batter on the pan, and twirl the pan, so that the batter is evenly spread. when you see bubbles on the side and when the sides start to change color, then its time to add in the filling .





With a spoon, add in the filling to one side of the crepe, lengthwise. Don't scrimp on it. I had not been too generous on the first crepe and improved from the second one.



With a spatula carefully roll the crepe over and transfer it on to a plate.


 




You can serve it both warm and at room temperature.

For extra decadence you can drizzle from condensed milk over the Patishapta.

Bon Appetit !!!!











Monday, November 10, 2014

DEEP PURPLE AND UBER VIOLET: FALL FESTIVE MAKE-UP

 What's not to love about Fall ? The leaves all round are changing colors, and we get an excuse to change up our make up routine. Hello Vibrant Berries, Posh Purples and Ravishing Reds. I love it all.

MAC PURE HEROINE by LORDE !!! Its sheer Purple-Violet magic on the lips. I had been waiting all Summer to rock it in Fall. I was holidaying in India, when MAC had launched this collection. So the Husband was directed to pick it from our local MAC Pro-Store at the Country Club Plaza, before it ran out.

It was Durga Puja a few weeks back. Unlike in India, we Probaashis do not have the luxury of week long celebrations. We have to squeeze in as much of worship, fun and fashion in a single weekend. So everything amps up to a zillion degrees. Its one of those annual events, which have me planning all year round. Which sarees to wear? What accessories to pair them with? and most importantly what Make-Up do I team it all with ?

When you have a Diva for a mom, it makes life a lot easier. Maa handpicked my Pujo Sarees and all of them are bang on. Each one of them was extra special. Thank you Maa !! If I can learn half your style tricks,and can master some of your make-up tricks, I will surely become a Super Diva.

A Purple-Indigo  Mangalgiri Saree with a broad gold border, was my choice to kick start the celebrations.  It had come with its customary blouse piece, which I had even gotten tailored to my current size, during my visit to India in summer. But back home, when I was admiring the sarees for the Nth time, I decided to go for something different. The blouse was doing no justice to the wonderful weave of the saree. So out came the big guns. A hot pink Brocade Blouse, which I had also picked up. It was the perfect contrast.








The sheer amount of compliments which came my way, when I walked into the Pujo, was proof enough the choices were more than perfect. 

For my accessories, I had picked up a purple and pink Statement necklace, which came to the rescue. It had the touch of gold, to tie it all in. A big bright blue Bindi seemed to be the perfect companion.  

Now for the make-up !!!


A sultry Purple-Violet smokey eye might be a no-no for some, but it seemed to be the ideal choice for me. Pujo comes once a year,so its alright to go for the big guns.



When it comes to Foundation, everyone has their favorites. I, for many reasons, stick to my favorite brand, MAC Cosmetics. As my skin is parched dry with changing weather, I opted for MAC Face and Body Foundation. Its  a medium coverage, water based foundation. And you can build it up for increased coverage. The best part is part, it has absolutely no flashback. I knew I would be photographed a lot during these days,so could not take any chances. I used a Flat foundation brush to apply the foundation. Then used a damp Beauty Blender, to smooth it all out.


When you have a baby in the house, you will have dark circles undoubtedly. But the world doesn't need to know that on special days, do they ! So that's where your trusted Concealer comes to the rescue. Not only does it cover dark circles,and blemishes, but also gives that woken up appearance. A concealer in your exact shade match is great for concealing blemishes and spots. For under eyes, and in your cupid's bow, its best to go with concealer, which is two shades lighter than your skin. That just works wonders. The trick is to blend blend and blend. While applying concealer, I used the Deluxe Crease Brush from Real Techniques to apply it,and then used the same damp Beauty Blender to blend it all in. Did I just forget to mention which Concealer I used ? Well, I had used MAC Cosmetics Pro LongWear Concealer, in NW20, which is in two shades lighter than mine. While I am of a warmer undertone, and fall into NCs of Foundations, for the concealer, a different undertone, will work as a color corrector.  Just a single pump, will dispense enough product for covering both under eyes,


Now Concealer is a tricky product. It will slip out on you in a few hours, if you do not take the necessary precautions. So its always best to set it with powder. While any translucent powder works, I am partial to a particular Pressed powder . With Translucent powders, there's always the risk, that they might have silica, which gives off a white flashback in photos. So I opted for MAC Mineralize Skin Finish in Natural in Medium, with a large powder brush to set my foundation. I am the shade Medium. That locks in your base, so that you can party harder and harder.

And now for the Fun part ! The Eyes !! The Purple Eyes !!
For those of you who might be thinking that this post could have been a sponsored post by MAC Cosmetics, for all the products used so far, now here comes a change in the line up. For the Eyes, I used Urban Decay Primer Potion all over my lids. Let it settle down for a minute, before you start loading up your eye shadows. Since I was working with darker colors on the yes, and my base was already done, I used some loose translucent powder below the yes, to catch any fallouts. And this loose powder can be brushed away with a fan brush, once the eyes are done.




I used 'Blue Bus', Eye Shadow from Urban Decay with a flat shader brush from the inner corner of the eyes, to the middle. Then with a fluffy crease brush, I used'Gravity', from the middle to the outer corner. These colors were from a limited edition palette, so feel free to use violets of your choice.

With another fluffy crease brush, I used 'Naked' from Naked 1 palette of Urban Decay, in a windscreen wiper motion, in the crease, to buff out the harsh lines. Alternately, you can also use 'Soft Brown', from MAC as a transition color.

Blend blend so that there are no harsh lines.


I used MAC Black Track in Fluidline, which is gel liner, with a fine liner brush from Sonia Kashuk to line my eyes, and finished it off, with Maybelline Falsies Mascara. Always stick to waterproof mascara.


Nars Orgasm Blush is a wonder blush, as it is known to suit and flatter every skin tone and undertone across the g;lobe. So if you're starting your make -up collection, make sure you pick up one. That's a blush on which you can bank on any occasion. Diffuse it for a lighter look, or go heavy when you want to. Its a beautiful Peachy Pink with light gold specks in it. Its not a splurge,its an investment !

Last but not the least, the piece de resistance: MAC Pure Heroine Lipstick by Lorde. I lined the lips with MAC Nightmoth lipliner and then filled in with the lipstick.


The result as they say, is magic !!!

Whats not to love about looking good ! And Make Up can be your Best Friend !!

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

DULCE DE LECHE CHEESECAKE WITH CHILLI CHOCOLATE BUTTERCREAM FROSTING:

The best  and worst part of time is that it changes. So while we sulk over a bad day or a bad hour, it passes over to bring in sunnier days. But this transition is not magic. What comes to the rescue are memories of happier times, memories of craziness. And its a happy memory of an amazing trip, which saved my baking disaster.

I was a bit disturbed over certain matters, I had been blaming myself for things I had not done over the past few years and all that jazz. Kind of a philosophical low down with oneself. I decided to divert my mind, and get to baking. But as 'WillieWonka once said, that his Candies did not taste good, when he did not feel good. I am no Willie Wonka,but its the same case for me. The disturbed mind, resulted in a slightly over baked Cheese Cake. We had just shifted to our new home. And I was so used to slow baking power of the oven in our old apartment,that I did not pay heed to the fact that the new oven in the new home should be more powerful . I might need to adjust baking times or how much I was pre-heating. Big Mistake !!

This was a Cheese Cake I had been planning for days. Dulce de Leche Cheesecake. It just spells decadence all the way. And Cream Cheese. and Graham Crackers. You cannot go wrong with that, can you ?! It seemed I had.


 I wanted to trash the entire Cheese Cake, once I came face to face with the cracks. I was so disgusted with myself. But then better sense prevailed. I decided to let the Cheese Cake cool over night, after I had taken it out of the Spring form pan. Maybe sleeping over it, would help me think better. 

That's exactly what happened. I woke up with memories of a trip to New Mexico. We had visited a small Chocolate Shop in Santa Fe. Kakawa Chocolate House. The lady who owned it, was surely 'Willie Wonka,' in Flesh and Blood for me. The flavors she had  paired with chocolate were just divine. It should be on the must visit list for every Chocolate lover. While we had been on a tasting spree, what really had stayed with us, were the Ancho Chili Chocolates. I had never tasted Chili and Chocolate together, and it was just divine.







So why not whip up a batch of Chocolate Chili Butter cream , to frost the Dulce de Leche Cheesecake. A southwestern touch which would not clash with the south of the border Dulce de Leche taste. The morning did not seem bad at all. What an inspiration !! The benefits of taking a crazy number of holidays a year !!

Mindy, my Cake Decorating Teacher would probably frown at the fact, that I had decided to give Shortening a complete Miss. I was playing to the heart, so butter it was all the way. Since it was not an elaborate decoration, but simple swirls, I was assuring myself that probably we could sail through. A hint of Cinnamon. A pinch of Salt. A smidgen of Cayenne Pepper. Yes, you heard that right. Cayenne has this extra warmth,which I prefer, among chilies. And loads of confectioner's sugar. Whizz went the hand mixer and in no time, I had frosted the center of the cake. Not a bad camouflage to the cracks below it. In my mind, I was breathing a sigh of relief, that I had not trashed the Cheese Cake and given another chance. 

The best part, was how well it all tasted together. I had been sure that Cheese Cake would be completely dry as I had over baked it. But it was surprisingly moist. The frosting just nailed it big time. One bite and I knew I had to make it again very soon. This time, I would surely adjust the baking time.


DULCE DE LECHE CHEESECAKE WITH CHILLI CHOCOLATE  BUTTERCREAM FROSTING: 

Cake recipe courtesy:  Huffington Post

Ingredients : 
Crust:
Graham Cracker Crumbs: 1 1/4 cup
Brown Sugar: 1/4 cup
Dulce de Leche: 1/4 to 1/2  can

Cake: 
Cream Cheese: Softened: 2 pkgs
Dulce de Leche: 1 can
Eggs: 4
Flour: 1/3 cup
Vanilla extract: 1 tbsp
Salt : A pinch

Frosting:
Butter: 2 sticks: room temperature
Powdered sugar: 2 1/2 cups
Semi sweet Chocolate chips: 3 oz
Cayenne Pepper: 1 1/2 tsp
Cinnamon: 1 tsp
Salt: A pinch

Springform pan: 9 inch
Wilton Tip number 16
Piping Bags
Coupler
Spatula


Procedure: 

Pre-heat oven to 300 F .

Crush the Graham Crackers by putting them in a zip lock bag, and sealing them. Then run a rolling pin over the sealed bag, till all the crackers are crushed. Mix Graham cracker crumbs, brown sugar and molten butter in a large bowl.



Grease a 9 inch spring form pan, and lay out the graham cracker mixture. Ensure that its a uniform flat layer by pressing it all down.




Open your can of Dulce de Leche.


Pour out a quarter of a cup of the Dulce de Leche over your layer of Graham cracker crumbs. Smooth it out carefully with a spatula.



Whisk the room temperature Cream Cheese till it is fluffy. 




Add in the rest of the Dulce de Lechhe, and mix well.


Add in the eggs one by one, vanilla and the flour.



Do not over mix. Pour it out carefully over the crust.


Bake in a pre-heated oven upto 40 mins(or upto 1 hour). Cake will be a bit soft and jiggly in the middle. Over baking might lead to cracks. Adjust the baking time, according to the power of your oven. While the recipe had called for baking the cake for 1 hour, it had led to cracks in my cake. So I lowered the baking time, the next time around.

Let the cake cool down overnight or for a couple of hours.

Run a spatula around to loosen the cake from the sides of the spring form pan,

While the cake cools down, prepare the Frosting.

Mix in the Frosting ingredients, and mix well till fluffy and smooth. ensure that its Medium Consistency.

Attach Wilton Tip 16 with a  coupler to a disposable piping bag.

Fill it in with the prepared Buttercream Frosting

Hold the bag at 90 degree angle.

Form a star, and without releasing pressure, raise tip slightly as you form a tight circle over the star in a tight complete rotation. Pull tip away, continuing the circular motion of the rosette.  





Bon Appetit !!!