Monday, 19 January 2015

Sorse Pabda/Pabo Catfish in Mustard Sauce

Sorse Pabda

What is the one food that you cant live without? For me it is fish.

 Growing up we used to have fish every single day..all kinds and varieties. Naturally if something is available to you so easily you lose its value. 

Once I got married and moved out I realised what I was missing. Roaming the far corners of our country because of my husband’s service life I could not get my hands on good quality fish most of the times. 

The commonest one available used to be Rahu and that too not river fresh. That was when that Bengali fish loving gene kicked inside me and I started missing the various kinds and multiple preparations that were a common feature in my childhood.

Among the top five favourite fish is the Pabda which is also known as Pabo Catfish in English. It is a very soft and delicate fish with the most amazing flavour. There are many ways of cooking the Pabda but my favourite is the Sorse Pabda. Even writing about it makes my mouth water. So before I lose track and head for the fish market let me give you the recipe.


4-5 Pabda fish
Salt and turmeric to apply to the fish
1 potato, cubed
1 large tomato, sliced
2 green chillies
1 tsp Nigella seeds/onion seeds/kalonji
5 tbsp mustard seeds
2 tbsp khus khus seeds( thisis optional ..i add it because I like the taste)
1 green chiily
1 tsp salt
1 tsp turmeric powder
½ cup mustard oil                                                                                                                                

Apply salt and turmeric to the fish and keep aside for half an hour.

Soak the mustard seeds and khus khus for half an hour. Grind to a smooth paste along with 1 green chilly and some salt. It is important that while grinding you add some salt as it cuts down the bitter taste of mustard.

Heat the mustard oil and fry the fish. Remember this is a very delicate fish and it breaks easily. The oil has to be smoking hot and fry at high flame so that the skin gets fried quickly. Keep aside.

Now add the kalonji and 2 green chillies to the oil. Add the cubed potatoes and fry well. Add the sliced tomato and cook till the tomato becomes soft. 
Now add the mustard paste, turmeric powder and salt. Saute till the oil separates. Add one cup of water and bring to a boil. Simmer for some time and then add the fish. Cover and cook for 8 minutes. Check the salt once. Your Sorse Pabda is ready.

Mochar Torkari/Banana Flower vegetable

Mochar Torkari/Banana Flower vegetable

I often wonder is there any shrub, herb or part of plant that we Bengalis throw away. The answer is a big fat no.

 I have seen my grandmother cooking karela leaves, harsingar leaves, neem leaves, pea shesll, all kinds of green leafy plants. 

The plant that is used most completely is the banana plant. The fruit, of course, everyone eats. We also enjoy the stem and the flower. The leaves are used to wrap fish and steam them.

Banana flower is an amazingly nutritious thing. I looked up the actual health benefits and was amazed to see the possibilities. The banana flower is rich in vitamins, flavonoids and proteins. The banana flower has antioxidant properties too. 

Keeping all these health benefits aside Mocha or banana flower is a favourite dish of mine. There are many ways to cook it. However it takes time, effort and patience to do so. And I am a lazy bum. 

So when I come over to my mom I pester her to cook it for me. She takes time out of her busy schedule to do so. So this recipe is from my mom’s kitchen. All I did was make demands, click pics, appreciate a lot and then polish off the plate. 

Here goes the method and the recipe.


1 banana flower
2 small potatoes, cubed
1 large tomato, cubed
½” ginger, minced
1 bay leaf
2 green cardamoms
1 “ cinnamon
2 dry red chiilies
1 tbsp coriander powder
1 tsp cumin powder
1 tsp turmeric powder
 1 tsp garam masala powder
1 tbsp ghee
Salt to taste

Knowing how to take out the flowers is the main trick here. The big banana flower has leaves that enclose the flowers. 

First peel away those big leaves and take out the little flowers. Now the whole flower is not to be consumed. 

There are two parts you have to take out. One is a big curved flap at the bottom. Other is the stamen or large long stick kind of thing. 

Once you take these two things out chop the flowers real fine. The innermost portion of the big flower doesn’t develop these flaps. 

So you keep it intact and chop finely. 

Now these need to be kept immersed in water overnight to take away its bitterness. 
Next morning drain and squeeze out the chopped pieces. Putin a pressure cooker and cook for 3 whistles. 
Heat some ghee. Add the bay leaf, green cardamoms, cinnamon and dry red chilly. 
Add the chopped potatoes and fry for some time. Add the chopped tomato and minced ginger. Cover and cook till the tomato is mushy.
 Add the cumin powder, coriander powder, garam masala, turmeric powder and salt. Fry till the oil separates.
 Now squeeze and add the chopped steamed banana flower. Saute on high heat for some time. Lower heat, cover and cook till done. You don’t have to add water as the flower will already have water. Finish off with a dollop of ghee. 

Sunday, 18 January 2015

Savoury Seviyyan/Savoury Vermicelli

Savoury Seviyyan

This was created on a lark. Friends were having a dabba recipes contest. A dabba is a tiffin box you pack for your husband when he goes off to work. Fortunately I have always been able to have all three meals of the day with my husband. I have never had to pack a tiffin for him.

So when this event came my way I had to do a literal head scratching. What would my husband want in his packed lunch. 

The only time I carried a tiffin was when I was in college. My grand mom would make fried rice and noodles for me. The main idea behind these two dishes was to incorporate as much vegetables as possible.

Instead of noodles made with flour I used whole wheat roasted Seviyyan or vermicelli. It brings a subtle difference in taste and is a lot healthier than flour noodles.


2 cups vermicelli
1 onion, sliced
1 carrot, sliced fine
½ broccoli floret, sliced
1 tsp soya sauce
Salt to taste

Boil the vermicelli for 2 minutes. Wash under cold water and then leave it to drain.

Heat some oil. Saute the sliced onions. Add the sliced carrots and sliced broccoli. Once the vegetables are soft then take them out. 
Heat some more oil. Fry the boiled vermicelli. Add the soya sauce and season with salt. Fry well. Add the vegetables. Your savoury saviyaan is ready.

No onion no garlic Spinach corn

No onion no garlic Spinach corn

Palak is a versatile dish. Be it soups, gravies or combined with vegetables, they taste good. Tasty and nutritious, a deadly combination. I am so happy that my kiddo loves eating spinach. Have to thank Popeye the sailor man. That is one good effect of cartoons that I can’t negate.

I personally love lots of garlic with my spinach. However when friends come over who are total Jains then I have to modify the dish. This no onion no garlic presentation is easy to make and lip smackingly good.


1 bunch spinach leaves
1 cup seet corn, boiled
1 tomato, chopped
1 tsp cumin seeds
1 tsp cumin powder
1 tsp garam masala
1 tsp turmeric powder
 Salt to taste
½ cup milk

Trim the stems of the spinach and wash them well. Boil the spinach leaves and once cold puree them.

Heat some ghee. Add the cumin seeds. Add the chopped tomato and saute for some time. 

Once the tomato is mushy add the turmeric powder, cumin powder, garam masala and salt. Fry for a minute or two. 

Now add the pureed spinach and boiled corn. Cook on low heat for some time. Once it starts simmering add the half cup of milk. Cover and cook till the ghee floats on top.

Friday, 16 January 2015

Chital Maacher Jhol/Clown Knife fish gravy

Chital Maacher Jhol

It is that time of the year..the month of January, harvest festival going on all over the country which we know variously as Shakranti, Pongal, Lohri. Uttarayna, etc. Festivals in our country are just another excuse to cook different kinds of food and meet family and friends. 

This is also the right season to have that king of all fishes, the mighty Chital, which is known as the Clown Knife fish in English. Somehow the translation robs the fish of its glory. 

Coming home after ages I have been hogging on fish so much that my mother commented that it was as if her son-in-law had come home and not her daughter. 
And why did she say that? Because fish like Chital are served to ‘kutumb’ or honoured guests, mostly related through marriage. When such guests come over grandfatherly figures grab their ‘jhola’ and go to the nearest fish market. They pick out the choicest fish pieces and spend a good amount of time haggling over the prices. Being the costlier variety of fish they are meant only for the guests. The pieces are so big that they don’t fit into a quarter plate. So you bring out those massive thalas/plates that take up half the table. 

With so much thought and consideration going into the process you can understand why my mother commented that I was acting like a guest. 

I have made a very simple jhol or gravy because this fish is so awesome that it doesn’t need to be drowned in a lot of spices and condiments. 


4 chital maacher peti
1 tbsp turmeric
1 tbsp salt
½ tsp jeera
1 large tomato, chopped
2 potatoes, cubed
1 tbsp ginger paste
1 tbsp coriander powder
1 tsp cumin powder
1 tsp garam masala
1 tsp turmeric powder
 1 tsp red chilli powder
Salt to taste
½ cup mustard oil

Apply salt and turmeric to the fish and keep aside for half an hour.
Heat the mustard oil to smoking point. Reduce flame and fry the fish pieces.

In the same oil add the jeera. Add the cubed potatoes and fry well. Add half the ginger paste and chopped tomato.
 Cover and cook till the tomato becomes soft. 
Add the cumin powder, coriander powder, garam masala powder, salt, turmeric powder and red chilli powder. Fry till the oil separates. 
Add one cup of water and bring to a boil. Now add the fish pieces, cover and cook for 10 minutes. Add the rest of the ginger paste, simmer for a minute and take off the heat. Garnish with ginger juliennes and fresh coriander leaves. 

Thursday, 15 January 2015



This is a complete meal. Shakshuka is an Israeli Tunisian 
dish of eggs poached in a tomato based gravy. It is generally very hot and is cooked in a cast iron skillet. I have added few Indian touches to it and baked it in an oven. It has vegetables, a mixture of aromatic spices, a lot of chiili and lots of tomato. This is a quick fix tummy filling dish that you can have at any meal.
This is a very traditional recipe which I have adapted for my ease. First of all I have not used any ready made cans of tomatoes. I have used fresh chopped tomatoes, tomato puree and ketchup.
 I have used capsicum and onions but you can use carrots, broccoli, French beans ..anything..Add as much veggies as you want to the dish o make it healthier.
I have baked it in the oven but you can put it in a deep pan, cover and cook on the gas. It comes out as good.
So have an egg-xiting time making and experimenting with the Shakshuka


4 large eggs
1 large onion, cubed
2 large ripe tomatoes, chopped fine
1 capsicum, cubed
5 pods garlic, chopped
4 tbsp tomato puree
1 tbsp tomato ketchup
5 green chillies, chopped
1 tsp cumin seeds
½ tsp ajwain
1 tsp pepper powder
1 tsp turmeric powder
1 tsp garam masala
1 tsp cumin powder
1 tsp coriander powder
1 tsp Kashmiri lal mirch powder
Salt to taste

Heat some oil in a pan. Add the cumin and ajwain. Add the chopped garlic and green chillies. 
Add the chopped tomatoes. Cover and cook till soft. I have added the onions later because I wanted them to have the crunch.
Once the tomatoes are soft add the puree and ketchup. Mix and add turmeric powder, red chilli powder, garam masala, cumin powder, coriander powder and salt. 
Cook till oil starts leaving the sides. Now add the onions and capsicum. Cook on low heat for some time. Sprinkle the pepper powder. The mixture will not be dry. Keep it a little sauce like.
Now what I did was I transferred the masala/sauce to a baking dish. Then I cracked 4 eggs over them. Do not mix or scramble the eggs. Let the yolks sit there beautifully. 

Then preheat the oven to 200 degrees Celsius. Bake for about 20 minutes. I don’t like runny yolks but many people do. So adjust the timing depending on how you like your egg yolks.
Alternately what you can do is cook in the pan itself on gas stove. Crack the eggs, cover let it cook till the eggs are done.

Once done sprinkle some salt and pepper powder on top. 

Saturday, 3 January 2015

How to make candied orange peels

How to make candied orange peels

Candied orange peels are exactly what the name says. They are orange peels that have been made into candies. They are perfect for adding that subtle flavour to cakes. And not just orange cakes. You can use them in chocolate cakes, plain vanilla cakes, butterscotch cakes, pineapple cakes and many more. Who says you have to stick to convention? 

There are a few points to keep in mind while making candied peels. The most common question query is wont they taste bitter. Well the thin outermost layer of orange peels is not bitter. The white layer next to it is. So when you are peeling the orange make sure that you stay away from the white. So let us start the process. 


1 orange
½ cup sugar
5 tbsp water

Take one orange. Make sure it is bright orange and not those greenish orangish ones. Take a very sharp knife and slowly start peeling the orange, and only the orange layer. 

Do take care of your fingers because the knife has to be really sharp and the work really delicate. It doesn’t matter if you peel a long strip or really small ones. 

And in case you do manage to peel some white portion along then don’t worry. Try to gently cut off the white one as much as possible. 

If totally impossible then discard that piece of peel. This is how your poor shorn orange will look like. 

Try to find a volunteer who will now finish off the orange for you. 

It is always better if you try and peel a full orange and not the discarded peels. Once you take off the peel and eat the orange taking of the outer layer will prove more difficult.
Now that you have peeled the orange chop the peels into thin strips. 

Take 1/2  cup of sugar and 5 tbsp water. Bring to a boil and drop the chopped peels in the syrup. Simmer for about 7 minutes in the syrup. If the syrup becomes too thick then a tablespoon or two of water.
Now drain the water and spread the peels to dry. The best way to dry them is under a bright summer sun. However if you need them soon then you can dry them in the oven.
Sprinkle 1 tablespoon sugar on the peels and shake them well. Preheat the oven to 175 degrees. Bake for 10 minutes. Then keep in room temperature for two days. Your candied peels are ready to use.

Banana Walnut Choco Chip Cake

Though I bake everyday, it has been ages since I posted anything new on my blog. Last year saw lots of changes ...