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Monday, May 25, 2015

Stuffed Chachindra (Snake gourd)

Forget the zucchini boats or even the stuffed peppers ! This is a homegrown Odia dish that is as good as the imported ones. A rich stuffing of onions, freshly grated coconut and broken cashews lend this dish a sweet and rich taste. Some folks avoid adding potatoes to the stuffing but I just cant do without it.

And moreover this is one native dish that really looks beautiful without much effort on the presentation. I mean I have been working on my food photography skills to be able to click some decent photos of the food that I so painstakingly prepare. While I do not buy the logic of making food so good that one wants to take it home instead of eating it, I want my food to look presentable to a given degree. Sadly our dishes lacks the right amount of color but make up for it with the great taste.

Read on for the recipe -

Preparation Time - 30 mins

Ingredients -

  • 1 medium sized snake gourd (chachindra)
  • 3 tsp oil
  • a pinch of salt

For the stuffing -

  • 2 medium sized potatoes (boiled, peeled and lightly mashed)
  • 1 large onion 
  • 1 cup grated coconut (chopped into medium pieces)
  • 1 tsp grated ginger
  • 1-2 green chilis (chopped into small pieces)
  • 1/4 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1/3 tsp red chili powder
  • 1/4 tsp coriander powder
  • 2 pinch garam masala
  • 2 pinch turmeric
  • 2 tsp oil
  • salt to taste

Preparation - Wash and peel the snake gourd. Chop into 3 inch long pieces. Hollow them out by removing the mushy insides.

Cooking - Heat 2 tsp oil in a wok. Add cumin seeds and chopped green chillis. Wait for them to start spluttering.

Follow with the grated ginger and fry for 1 minute. Add the chopped onions and fry till red on the edges.

Add all the powdered masalas and fry for 2 mins. Finally add the potatoes and stir fry for a couple of minutes till everything is nicely mixed.

Add the grated coconut just before removing from the flame. Keep aside it is just warm to touch.

Stuff this into the hollowed out snake gourd.

Heat a wok or skillet on a low flame. Add the remaining oil. Place the stuffed snake gourd pieces on the skillet and sprinkle a little salt over them. Cover with a lid. Remove the lid at regular intervals and turn them on their sides.

Let it cook on a low flame till completely done. Remove from the skillet .

Garnish with some more grated coconut and cilantro. Serve hot with white rice and dal . 

Sunday, May 24, 2015

Gosht Moplah Biryani

Yaaaawn!!! Yet another mutton biryani recipe. Have drummed up quite a repertoire for this delectable meat and rice one-pot-meal. And still have the appetite for more as it is one super duper comfort meal that suits lazy bums like me who do not like to compromise on the taste. The pressure cooker method of cooking biryani makes the task quite easy.

Got this one from a facebook forum, tried it myself (although with a slight modification) and loved the results !!! Read on - 

Preparation Time - 1 hour

Ingredients - 

For marinade - 

  • 1/2 kg mutton
  • 1/2 cup thick yogurt
  • 1 tsp ginger paste
  • 1 tsp garlic paste
  • 1 tsp Kashmiri chili powder
  • 1/2 tsp hot chili powder
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric
  • 1-2 crushed green chilies
  • 1/4 tsp shahi jeera
  • 2-3 tsp ghee
  • 2 medium onions (crisp fried to a brown )
  • a handful of mint leaves.
  • 2 tsp coriander stems (these have more flavour)
  • 3 tbsp oil
  • 1/4 cup thick coconut milk ( I did not have the fresh one so used the Maggie coconut milk powder)
  • 15 curry leaves.
  • 1 tbsp poppy seeds 
  • Salt to taste

For cooking the rice -

  • 1/2 kg biryani rice
  • khada masala or whole spices ( 3 green cardamom, 1 black cardamom, 1 bay leaf, 3-4 cloves, 10-12 peppercorn, 1 mace, 2 inch cinnamon, 2 star anise )
  • 1 tbsp ghee
  • salt to taste

For final assembly -
  • 3 tsp mint leaves
  • 2 pinch saffron soaked in 1/4 cup warm milk
  • 1 tbsp ginger juliennes
  • 4 tbsp crisp fried onion
  • chopped cilantro
  • green chilis slit lengthwise (skip if you do not want too much heat)

Preparation Marinate the mutton with all the ingredients listed except oil , shah jeera and curry leaves. Allow to stand for 3-4 hours.

Wash and soak rice for 1/2 hour.

Cooking - Heat the oil in a wok. Add shah jeera followed by curry leaves. Add the mutton after 30 seconds. Cook it covered till completely tender.

Bring the water to a boil . Add the whole spice and allow to boil for 5 mins before switching off the flame. Allow this to sit for 1 hour so that the aroma of the spice really gets into the water. 

Bring it to a boil once again and then add rice. Once half done, add the ghee and salt. Strain the water once it is 80 percent done.

Assembly -  Divide the rice into three parts. Take a thick bottomed vessel. Grease with ghee. Layer one portion of rice. Sprinkle saffron milk, ginger juliennes, green chilis, fried onion, mint and cilantro. Spread half of the mutton over it.

Add another rice layer and top it with saffron milk, ginger juliennes, green chilis, fried onion, mint and cilantro. Spread remaining half of the mutton over it.

Add the last rice layer. Sprinkle saffron milk, ginger juliennes, green chilis, fried onion, mint and cilantro. 

Seal with a foil or put a heavy lid and seal the sides with dough. Cook on low heat for 20 mins. Allow to stand aside for 10 mins before opening and serving.

Serve hot with raita and pickled pearl onions.

Saturday, May 23, 2015

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Friday, May 22, 2015

Chachindra Raee ( Snake gourd cooked in mustard paste )

Chachindra or snake gourd is not a very regular vegetable in my house. My mom used to cook it at times but I did not like it much as a kid. Later as I started making a lot of healthy changes in the menu, it started appealing to me as an easy to cook and tasty vegetable. As my husband is not fond of it, I usually make a quick 'Raee' or cook it along with channa dal/toor dal for lunch. Getting my kid habituated to all kinds of vegetables is my top priority and hence I an trying to introduce him to new vegetables (especially seasonal ones) on a weekly basis.

This is a simple recipe and the preparation is not different from the usual 'raee' that is prepared in most Odia homes. Read on for the recipe -

Preparation Time - 10 -15 mins

Ingredients -

  • 4 cups chopped and peeled snake gourd
  • 1 medium onion chopped (optional)
  • 1/2 tsp pancha-phutana/mustard seeds preferred)
  • 1 green chilli
  • 2-3 garlic flakes (crushed)
  • 1/3 tsp turmeric
  • salt to taste
  • 2 tsp oil
  • 2/3 cup grated coconut
  • cilantro for garnishing

For the mustard paste -

  • 2 tsp mustard seeds
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • 5-6 garlic cloves
  • 1 red chilli

Preparation -Grind the mustard, cumin and red chilli into coarse powder in dry state .Then add a little water along with garlic flakes and grind again into a fine paste.

Chop onion into small pieces. 

Cooking - Heat 2 tsp oil in a wok. Add the broken green chilli and mustard seeds. Follow with the crushed garlic. Allow to garlic to brown lightly.

Add the chopped onion and stir fry for 2-3 minutes till translucent

Add the mustard paste along with 2 cups water. Add salt and turmeric, and bring to a boil.

Add the snake gourd pieces and cover with  a lid. Cook till it softens. (Do not throw away excess water as this curry tends to be watery.)

Garnish with grated coconut and cilantro.

Serve with rice and dal.

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Fish and Spring Onion Dal Curry ( Adapted from the Odia Mudhi Ghanta )

That I love to experiment with recipes is nothing new to you. Usually I try to do a fusion/crossover with two different cuisines but with this recipe, I have tried to bring together two different Odia dishes and create a completely new one. 'Mudhi Ghanta' or channa dal cooked with fish and ' Muga Dali -Paija Patra Tarkari' are two completely different recipes. The first one is spicy while the second one is as light as it can get.

Using the common ingredient, which is the lentil, I made a dish which is lightly spiced and can go either with rice or rotis. Read on for the recipe -

Preparation Time - 15 mins

Ingredients -

  • 1 cup channa dal 
  • 200 gm spring onions
  • 1 medium sized potato
  • 2 pieces lightly fried Rohu fish 
  • 2-3 dry red chillis
  • 1 green chili
  • 1 tsp mustard seeds
  • 1/2 tsp cumin seeds
  • 5-6 nos garlic flakes
  • 2-3 pinch turmeric 
  • 3-4 tsp vegetable oil
  • whole spices ( 1 inch cinnamon, 2-3 cloves, 1 bay leaf )
  • salt to taste

Preparation - Wash the spring onions and drain excess water. Cut into inch long pieces. Peel and cut the potato into six halves.

Lightly mash the shallow fried fish .

Wash and soak the channa dal for 3-4 hours.

Cooking - Wash and transfer the dal to a pressure cooker. Add salt, turmeric, green chili, potato, whole spices and 2 cups of water. Close the lid and cook for 2-3 whistles.

Remove from the stove and allow steam to escape. Lightly mash the dal.

Add the spring onions to the mashed dal and cook on medium flame for 4-5 mins.

Heat oil in a wok. Add the mustard seeds, cumin seeds and broken red chillis. Crush the garlic
flakes lightly and add to the spluttering seeds. Fry for 10-20 secs.

Pour the contents of the wok over the dal and spring onions. Add the fish. Close the lid and simmer for 2 mins.

Serve hot with white rice/rotis.

Note: Adjust the consistency as per your liking. 

My Ethnic take on Aishwarya's Oscar de la Renta gown at Cannes 2015 !!

The lady still manages to look like a trillion bucks at 41 !! Agreed that it takes truckloads of money and an army of stylists to put it together, but an individual's attitude and poise is also pivotal. And all of us will readily vouch that Aishwarya Rai Bachchan was only born with it.

For lesser mortals like us putting together something like it is akin to a dream. The lady's killing appearance inspired me to create a look that can be easily replicated by most Indian women. The average Indian woman would find it tough to carry off a gown like that. Even Aishwarya had some fitting issues in the underarm region if you look closely. So, I have picked up a lace saree in Burgundy and teamed it up with minimal jewelry. Have omitted the clutch as it has largely remained in the shadows this year !

Image source :

My take on this outfit -

The saree is my own (it looks darker than it appears in the pics), earrings and finger ring from and the watch (a maverick touch) and bracelet are from . Entire look can be put together in less than Rs 15000 or still lesser if you swap the earrings which are in 18K gold !!

A closer look at the saree !! It goes will with a black halter neck blouse or a sheer /nude blouse with red sequins on it ...

Team this up with a nice brick red /burgundy lipstick. I would suggest a budget pick like Maybelline Color Sensational Moisture Extreme Lipstick in the shade Burgundy or a Coloressence Mesmerising Lip Color in the shade Brick Red !

How do you find the look ? Please share your feedback as this is the first time I am writing on fashion. Have wanted to do some articles on styling for a long time and the play of colors on the red carpet this year has been very inspiring. Lace, embroidery, frills, cutouts and an overall relaxed look has been the theme this year. Even the hair styles are so much more natural and care-free.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Dahi Waley Tinday

Yes. It is yet another tinda recipe ( plz excuse me for doing those back to back). And a quite simple one at that. It reminds me of the 'Dahi-aloo' that I make quite often. Lazy, refreshing and quite good with a couple of rotis. Perfect for the hot summers .

Read on for the recipe -

Preparation Time - 10 mins

Ingredients -

  • 1 cup apple gourd /Indian baby pumpkin /tinday (peeled and chopped into medium sized cubes)
  • 1 cup yogurt
  • 1/4 tsp mustard seeds
  • 1/4 tsp grated ginger
  • 1/4 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1/4 tsp fennel seeds
  • a pinch of asafoetida
  • 1 green chili
  • 1 tsp oil
  • salt to taste
  • cilantro for garnishing

Preparation - Take the cumin and fennel seeds. Pound them into a coarse mixture.

Take the yogurt in a mixing bowl and beat lightly to break any lumps. Add a little salt .Mix.

Cooking - Heat the oil in a pressure cooker. Add the asafoetida followed by the mustard seeds and the broken  green chili. Once the chili turns somewhat brown, add the pounded spices. Stir fry for 10 seconds.

Add the chopped apple gourd and mix with the spices. Add very little water (3-4 tbsp), salt and close the lid. Cook for 1 whistle on medium flame.

Remove from the flame and keep aside for 10 mins.

Open the lid and transfer the contents into the mixing bowl containing the curd. Sprinkle chopped cilantro.

Serve at room temperature with rotis or jeera rice.