Ajwain Ke Pakode / Carrom Leaves Fritters

Ajwain Ke Pakode / Carom Leaves Fritters

Before we start with this one, let me introduce you all to this wonderful new initiative from my loved one. Do check this out too and follow, there will surely be great posts rolling here ..   https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xmtCkBgnsCo   https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCn7n9nuI85fuaZZiblobDOA?   https://www.facebook.com/gunnmaymarwaha/

Now this one is certainly my most talked about serving among my guests. I’ve had repeated demands to serve these and also for sharing some offshoots of carom plants which I have so gladly fulfilled. These pakoras are so unique, for 1, you can’t get them in the market, next, you won’t know how they are made and most of all, something like this even exists till they turn up at your serving.

So read on, enjoy, am sure you’ll be tempted with this !

…need to know (food details)

  • Number of people served : 1 plateful only good for 2, seriously 🙂
  • Preparation time : 10 minutes max.

….and we need (ingredients)

  • Carom leaves, freshly taken, about 20 in numbers : Carom seeds are a common spice in Indian kitchens. Here we use the carom plant’s leaves for this chutney. Easy to grow and has a tremendous oregano like flavor. Carom is an excellent digestive, pain reliever, antiseptic and cure of common cold. Practically every part of the carom plant is edible. I even use the soft stems for making Ajwain ki Chutney which is my ever popular condiment.
  • Salt, normal table salt, 1/2 teaspoon : You may use normal table salt here, reason being, that we are looking the flavor of carom leaves to pout and nothing else to interfere.
  • Turmeric Powder, 1/3rd teaspoon : Turmeric gives a great orange color and a mild bitter taste to the pickle here. It is a wonderful antioxidant and anti inflammatory.
  • Gram flour/ Besan, 1/2 cup : This is a very popular marinade. Ground from raw or roasted chick peas, besan has a very nutty and rustic flavor besides being good for heart, controlling diabetes and lowering cholesterol.
  • Oil, vegetable or seed oil, for deep frying : Try to use a light vegetable oil.
  • Butter, melted, 1 tablespoon : The cheesy butter absorbs the basil’s herb flavor very well. Regular table butter is a good source of fats soluble vitamins and saturated fats. They are better in taste and health than margarine. 

….time to cook ‘n roll (preparing instructions)

  • Pluck the carom leaves off it’s stems. You will note that the stems are soft and crunchy enough to fry them. You may as well do so or may use them in the Ajwain leaves Chutney which I often do.
  • Wash all well in a strainer and then keep aside to dry  well.
  • Take the gram flour and mix well with salt, turmeric and melted butter.
  • Now add water to it gradually while flicking the batter so as not to form dry puffs within.
  • When your paste is made, dip your carom leaves in it.
  • Meanwhile, heat oil in a skillet and bring to vapors.
  • Now take the batter covered carom leaves and deep fry them within the skillet. Do not over-brown and do not allow them to stick together. There is a trick to doing this properly. Always take 3 to 4 batter coated leaves and make a soft sandwich of sorts before frying them. This will enhance the original flavor of carom and it will not tend to get lost in deep frying.
  • Now pull them out and wipe them off extra oil with a tissues and place them on a plate to serve hot. You will note, the butter in the batter will make the pakoras puff out very beautifully and the original heart shaped leaves will make an almost compulsive pick among all your snacks 🙂

Storage : You can refrigerate for a couple of days easy. May also fill in your kids tiffins.

Missing Something ? : You may add some ground Kashmiri chilies also known as degi mirch to spice up the flavor and brighten in color, I didn’t use it since I have younger guests on board 😀

Lamb Shanks Grilled with Coriander

Lamb Shanks Grilled in Coriander

When the season is your reason you give in to your inner person. That’s true for all natural instincts, cooking and eating included 😀

Monsoon in the air, crazy gluttony was seeking my attention. I’ve always preferred red mutton over the white chicken (no competition to my love for seafood though) . Now draw a vision of moist air in the town and amazing fragrance of coriander and mutton slowly percolating in the nooks of your house, teasing and tingling your sense. Yes ! that’s what I am sharing with you all today. Enjoy and for once, give in to your slurpy sin !! 

…need to know (food details)

  • Number of people served : 2 shanks per guest would be great
  • Preparation time : 10 minutes to ready + 60 minutes slow grilling

….and we need (ingredients)

  • Lamb shanks, 4 to 6 : I consider lamb shanks to be a prime cut of mutton. It’s amazingly tender to the bone after you cook it patiently for an hour or so. 
  • Coriander, chopped, pasted, 1 bunchfull, around 250 grams : Again, this comes straight from my garden. Gives a orangy zest, coriander is again a blood regulator.
  • Butter 200 grams : Butter is the best grease for a grill. While some oils also do the trick but nothing separates the meat from the bones like butter. Hey ! did you know, India is the largest producer of butter in the world.
  • Lettuce, torn 6 to 8 : Lettuce is amazing in summers (though hard to find in this season). It’s so hot in Delhi in summers that all my lettuce dries up (if any is left) by early march itself. It has over 90% water and very low fiber. It gives us Vitamin C, potassium, calcium to us adding the mild peppery and crunchy flavor to the salad.
  • Garlic cloves, 8 to 10, 2 per shank would be a better proportion : Garlic is my King Pungent, I add it here for the flavor. garlic is great to combat common cold and sickness.
  • Veggies chopped, 1 cup, I use carrots, turnip greens, broccoli, beans and peas : All these vegetables come directly from my garden. A good mix of them are low in fat and high in fiber. They are also a great natural mix of essential minerals and bring amazing essence of earthiness to this dish.
  • Salt & Pepper to taste : Use coarse salt for authenticity. Good proportion of salt and pepper are great anti oxidants too.

….time to cook ‘n roll (preparing instructions)

  • Melt the butter and whip it for 10 seconds. Add 2 pinches of salt and 1 pinch of black pepper powder and whip for 30 seconds more.
  • Add the coriander paste in it and mix well till it blends into a green butter paste.
  • Now take the lamb shanks and make deep cuts in the soft meat.
  • Pour the butter paste made earlier and coat the shanks well enough to let the butter fill the shanks well. Remember, the better the butter seeps in, the better and sooner would your shanks cook.
  • Now chop the veggies into 1/2 inch cubes (all except the broccoli) and the broccoli in average size florets and sprinkle a pinch of salt and pepper each over them.
  • Now take an aluminium foil roll and cut out 10 inch by 10 inch squares of them and lay them across your kitchen slab.
  • Put a portion of veggies in each square and place a lamb shank each in the midst.
  • Grate the garlic and drop equal portions among each shank vegetable mix.
  • Now pour the remaining butter (if any) equally to coat the shanks well and make wraps of each portion.
  • Pre-heat your microwave now at 180 degrees for 3 minutes.
  • Place all your shank wraps (aluminium foils) in a grilling tray and place in your oven. It will be better if you place a stand beneath the tray to bring your shanks nearer the grills which would generally be at the top of a microwave.
  • Put the microwave in grilling mode and set your timer for 60 minutes.
  • Wait patiently and enjoy the fragrance floating in your kitchen while the shanks go cooking slowly and for long.
  • Make sure that they are cooked well before you decide to serve. If the butter has flowed in well, then the cooked meat would separate from the bones without any effort. If required, bring to this level by increasing your cooking time by 10 minutes or so.

Storage : I don’t think you’ll leave much leftover after your appetite has been sufficiently teased for around an hour by the fragrance of the slow cooking shanks 🙂 .

Missing Something ? : Please don’t change much here else you’ll miss the simplicity and authenticity. And moreover, what am I asking you to use 🙂

Yam cooked in Nawabi Style

Ratalu Nawabi Style / Yam cooked in Nawabi Style

Yam has many names, types, faces and places that it comes from. None of its shapes is attractive and it also has a rather peculiar style of cooking. What yam has been blessed with is the amazing number of ways it be cooked and the amazing dishes that can be conjured with it. The idea to cook this one came from headstrong drive in me to just go and do it. I mean, I have been considering yam as one of the tough cooking stuff, so I took it head on and peel chop flame cook = slurp !!

….need to know (food details)

  • Number of people served : 3 to 4 for a wholesome meal
  • Preparation time : 30 minutes to get a sumptuous meal

….and we need (ingredients)

  • Yam (Ratalu) 250 gms to 300 gms : Yam is a tuber and is harvested as a root. It has a distinct starchy taste and a very earthy fragrance. Yam is very high in Vitamin C & B and hence makes the bones strong, fights cold, is anti aging and enhances our immunity as well.
  • Curd 150 gms, it’ll be around 1 cup : Curd marinades and brings the sour and cheesy taste to the dish. A natural antacid, curd is loaded with calcium, potassium, vitamin B12 etc. and settles your stomach very well in summer luncheons.
  • Dry Mint, crushed 1/3rd teaspoon : Mint has a strong, pungent yet pleasant fragrance. Mint is a great appetizer, treats nausea, inflammation and is extremely re-invigorating.
  • Heeng, any clarified asafoetida, 1 pinch : Heeng has a pungent garlicky fragrance and gets breathing and blood sugar in control. 
  • Cumin seeds, 1/3rd teaspoon : Cumin has thymol which aids digestion, is anti viral and anti bacterial, is good for skin, sugar and respiratory system. It adds a nutty essence to the dish.
  • Turmeric powder, 1/3rd teaspoon : Orange, pungent and bitter spice, turmeric is added to the dish here due to its strong antioxidant properties.
  • Coriander, chopped, 1/2 teaspoon : Coriander provides the garnish to the dish and takes off any unwanted smell. Coriander is also a great digestive and also aids in the digestive and blood system of our body. The sweet coriander is one of the most popular garnish across fat cooked dishes. I pluck the whole plant from my garden since roots give the best flavor in the coriander plant.
  • Ginger paste, 1/2 teaspoon : Unmistakably earthy, the ginger adds the heat quotient in the dish. The gingerol in ginger is a strong anti nausea and anti inflammatory agent.
  • Garam Masala, 1/2 teaspoon : The ever popular Indian concoction of spices helps in weight loss, pain fight, immunity boost etc. True to its name, it’s hot and powerful. Imagine being the blend of around 10 powerful spice essence.
  • Green Chilli, 1 : Most indian dishes need some tingling of your senses and green chillies are best and healthiest way of doing so. Chilies are great for your eyesight and skin too.
  • Ghee (or any saturated fat), 1/4th cup : Unlike popular belief, ghee actually helps in weight loss. It is also a great soluble of most vegetables and strengthens bones doing so. We use ghee here for cooking for its great buttery essence.
  • Oil (preferably mustard), 1/2 cup for deep-frying the yam : Mustard has that tardy pungency which enhances the flavor of the dish. In many cases, mustard oil is an anti inflammatory, cardiac healthy, antibacterial and antifungal oil which is great for hair and skin.
  • Salt : Mr. Variable, always as per taste.

….time to cook ‘n roll (preparing instructions)

  • Peel the ratalu and dice it into small semi circles. Thicker than a potato chip but not more than 1 cm in thickness.
  • Heat the oil in a skillet and fry the slices well till their stickiness goes away. ** This is a very critical step in cooking any type of yam. Take off the flame once done.
  • Now in a separate pan heat the ghee till it is hot and molten. Add the cumin seeds in it and stir till it crackles.
  • Add the heeng powder and mix well. Now carefully add the ginger paste (so as not to make it sputter and burn you). Mix all well and saute on medium flame for 2 minutes.
  • Now in this pan, add the garam masala, turmeric powder, green chilli and mint powder. Stir mix well and saute for 1 minute.
  • To this add the curd and simmer cook for 5 minutes further till the rawness from the spices and the curd is gone.
  • Add yam, salt (I added 1/4th teaspoon of salt in this) and cook for 10 minutes. Dim the flame and simmer for 5 minutes further covered with a lid.
  • Take off the flame and garnish with chopped coriander and serve joyfully.

Storage : Refrigeration up to 5 days wont spoil the dish, but then why over cook so much?

Missing Something ? : All I can think of appending is probably allowing some lemon zest to the dish. +/- nothing in this please. You can always maximise the secret ingredient in any dish i.e. LOVE.

Best Bengali Fish Recipe

Bhapa Ilish / Steamed Hilsa Fish Curry

One thing absolutely fascinates me about bengali food is to prepare a delicacy out of simplest of things and by the simplest of means. This steamed hilsa fish recipe is legendary. Hilsa or Ilish as it is popular in bengal and bangladesh is a herring specie. In fact it is the national fish of Bangladesh and rampantly flourishes in the Ganga delta called the Sundarbans. Ilish has hard and tough bones and is oily in texture. It is a great weekend lunch or a slowly cherished dinner delicacy best enjoyed with steamed rice which being bland further enhances the flavor of the fish. 

….need to know (food details)

  • Number of people served : 4 (with rice)
  • Preparation time : 30 minutes cooking + 2 hours marinate
  • Serving size : 2 – 3 pieces each

….and we need (ingredient)

  • Hilsa Fish or Ilish Maach (Bengali cut) 750 grams : Your vendor will do the bengali cut for you. Hilsa is oily, rich in omega 3 fatty acids. You need to savour it yourself to understand why it is a bengali obsession.
  • Mustard seeds 2 teaspoon (1 teaspoon yellow + 1 teaspoon black i.e. rai) : The sputtering of mustard seeds adds an aroma of mild roast to the dish.
  • Turmeric powder 1 teaspoon (1/2 for marinade + 1/2 for cooking) : Turmeric blends best in most Indian fish cuisine. It is a great compliment to mustard and fish and helps in detoxification too.
  • Green Chillies 2 to 3 : What’s a pungent fish without the heat and the Vitamin E of green chillies !
  • Ginger 1 inch cut piece : This brings the natural hot zest flavor to the dish. It is also a muscle relaxant and prevents nausea and inflammation.
  • Mustard Oil 2 1/2 tablespoon : Mustard oil is a natural choice for pungent cooking. This is also high in Omega 3 fatty acids.
  • Salt to taste : I use moderate salt to not overpower the pungency of mustard which is most critical.

….time to cook ‘n roll cooking instructions)

  • Marinate the fish with 1/2 teaspoon turmeric powder and salt. Keep aside for 2 hours.
  • Grind the mustard seeds (both black and yellow), chillies and ginger coarsely.
  • Now boil 3 cups water in a heavy bottomed pan.
  • Place the fish in it and cook on medium flame till water reduces to half.
  • Now add the ground paste to it and mix well such that all of it goes deep and well into the fish. Now cook for 5 to 7 minutes.
  • Add mustard oil and turmeric to this now and steam covered for 20 minutes.
  • After 15 minutes check whether the fish is cooked well or not. If done then take off and serve hot with rice.

Storage : Can be refrigerated for 1 week easily but do not re-heat more than 1 to 2 time since the fish itself has lots of oils in it which will get spoiled and the fish will loose its texture.

Missing Something ? : Nothing can be changed in this, there are just too few ingredients to rethink. Only iteration allowed is probably using just yellow mustard instead of both yellow and black.