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Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Mirch Ki Meethi Chutney - Red Chili Relish

Chili ..... Remains my all time favorite ingredient. The bright red chilies just set my mood right . Red being my all time favorite color and I love hot food in general . Winters bring to Kolkata an array of chilies that one can make into a million things. Be it Mirch ka Saalan, or Mirchi Wadas, or Chili and Mozzarella Pops.

My love affair with chilies began when I saw "Mistress of Spices".  I had always loved the book and then was an ardent Aishwarya Rai fan. There was this poster of "Amrican Beauty" which all teenagers were dancing over and here I was looking at the posters of "Mistress of Spices" in awe.

When I began cooking in general, I know "Spice" and "Heat" were my things and chilies always have been my obedient ingredient. Be it lacing my garlic oil with a red chili or maybe making a Stir fry of chili and water-chestnuts .

 One of my all time favorite dishes is this jaggery and red chili relish. I make a large batch every year and we eat it with rice preparations and it also serves as a really nice dip with fried seafood snacks .
The recipe for it is as follows:


Red Chilis ( non spicy variety ) 500 g
Jaggery (Gur) 200 g 
Sugar 1/2 cup 
Vinegar 1/2 cup 
Mustard oil 1/2 cup 
Nigella Seeds 1 tsp 
Chopped Ginger 2 tbsp 
Kashmiri chili powder 1 tsp 
Amchoor ( raw mango powder ) 2 tbsp 
Coriander Powder 2 tbsp 
Water 1 cup 
Asaphoetida 1 pinch 

  • Divide the chilies into 3 parts . Chop one, puree the second and the third, slit in half 
  • Heat mustard oil and temper with asaphoetida and nigella seed and add ginger 
  • Saute for a few minutes and add the chopped chilies and the halved chilies 
  • add the chili puree and the dry spices and seasonings and saute till the mixture releases oil 
  • Add the jaggery, sugar and cook till they melt 
  • Add the water and simmer for 10 minutes 
  • as the oil is released again , cool and bottle 
  • keep refrigerated stays good for months 
p.s. If you like it hot , keep seeds intact, if you like it mild remove chili seeds before cooking 

Pictorial description is shown below, for any questions please feel free to ask in comments and I will respond 

Cheers to Chilies !! 

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Aar Maacher Jhaal - Catfish in a spicy mustard gravy

When a Punjabi comes up with Bengali food the taste of it can be quite a few speculators . The authenticity,the stature, the quality of oil to be used and then lastly Authenticity . NO my food isn't always authentic, but i make sure it is delicious and I do take the liberty of making my changes here and there not only to make my life easier but also to jive it better texture or taste .

One of the simple but delightful gems of Bengali cooking is the Maachher Jhaal ... Jhaal ideally means Hot / Spicy ! and it is nothing but a delicious Mustard based sauce to slather fried fish with . A jhaal is usually made with Rohu, Katla , Bekti, or Hilsa but I prefer it with AAR, which is a fresh water catfish.

Here is the simple and delightful recipe:

Mustard oil 1/2 cup 
Darne of Aar 4 nos 
Kashondi /mustard paste  - 1/2 cup 
Onion Paste 1 nos 
Lemon juice 1 tsp 
Chili powder 1 tbsp 
Coriander powder 1 tbsp 
Nigella Seeds 1 tsp 
Slit green chili 2 nos 
Water as and when required 

  • Apply salt pepper and lemon juice to fish and keep aside for 10 mins 
  • Heat oil in a pan and fry the fish till golden on both sides 
  • Be careful aar always splutters with mini explosions in the pan so keep a lid handy 
  • Now drain the fish and in the same pan heat the oil and temper with nigella and chilies 
  • Add the mustard baste and saute for a while 
  • Add the dry spices and seasonings and saute for a few seconds 
  • add water (sat 1/4 cup) and cook it down for the masalas to soften 
  • Add the fish and cook covered for a few minutes 
  • Take out on a serving dish and serve hot 
p.s. I always replace the nigella seeds with panch -phoran which is a heavenly combination of 5 tempering ( mustard , fennel, cumin , nigella , fenugreek)
p.s. If u don't have kashondi, take mustard seeds and grind with a little water , oil and vinegar, add salt and a green chili make into a paste and use