Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Bong Mom's Aam Kasundi Glazed Terrific Broiled Salmon


The moment I saw this recipe on Bong Mom's Cookbook, I knew that I had to make this on the first  given opportunity. 

Kasundi, a tangy, pungent Bengali Mustard Sauce, an accompaniment to the various fish fries, chops and cutlets, has a special place in most Bengali's palate. Ever since I can remember it had always been store bought affair at my place and never homemade. I think it has to do with the fact that I was raised in a Flat Bari (apartment), with a tiny Baranda (balcony) and limited access to the roof. 


Last week Cincinnati was blessed with two (19th and 20th) gorgeous days of sunshine. Unlike meringue, this recipe of Aam Kasundi has nothing to do with the levels of humidity. It would have tasted perfectly, had I made it on a cold, rainy or a snowy day. But the moment my living room was filled  with golden rays of the rising sun, I could literally smell the enticingly pungent Aam Kasundi wafting through warm rays. I just HAD to make it.

Raw mango is not a pantry staple for me and I did not have it. I had a lone Brazilian mango (leftover from the Black Bean -Mango Salsa) in my fridge. The best thing about these Brazilian mangoes is that they are not too sweet nor absolutely tart. They are khatta-meetha (sweet and tangy) and that's the way I like my mangoes. I was also out on yellow mustard and hence used only brown mustard instead of the the combination of yellow and brown mustard. Except for the mangoes, I have followed the instruction to the tee. Her recipe in her words:

From Bong Mom's Cookbook - Aam Kasundi

Soak in water
4 tbsp Mustard seeds ( a mix of brown and yellow
 gives the best color but I had only brown this time)

Grate a small mango to yield
3/4th-1 cup of grated raw Mango
(I did it in the blender)

In a blender jar add
strained mustard seeds 
grated mango
5 fat clove of garlic chopped
8-10 hot green chili chopped

With a splash of water make a smooth paste
Try to make the paste in one go instead of pulsing.

When the paste is almost done
drizzle 2-4 tbsp mustard oil (more is better but I went low)
a pinch of turmeric
salt to taste

Give a final whiz and your Aam Kasundi is ready 


                                                                                                                                               

My prized bottle of Aam Kasundi is the pride of my refrigerator right now. It stands tall, with its head held high amongst all the ketchup, salad dressings and Thai sauces on the fridge door. I have used it as salad dressing, as a dip for my fish and sticks, drizzled over my Palaong shaak bhaja (stir fried spinach) and Sam even added to his jhaal muri (a spicy concoction of puffed rice).

But the best way I savored the Aam Kasundi was when I slathered it over a fillet of salmon and broiled it and had with some Green Beans Salad for a quite lunch.

My weekday lunches are usually the leftovers from last night dinner and one particular cloudy day, I was not interested to have vegetable fried brown rice for lunch. Salmon was already thawing in the kitchen sink, since it was on the dinner menu that night. Now Sorshe (mustard) and Salmon are match made in a Bengali's culinary heaven. Some tangy mango and a garlic thrown in wouldn't do much harm, I reassured myself. Going by pure gut feel, I went ahead and slobbered my precious Aam Kasundi on a 6 oz Salmon steak and placed it under a broiler.


Six minute later I flipped and broiled again for another 5 minutes. Meanwhile I steamed my Green beans, chopped my onions and dressed my salad with balsamic vinegar. Minutes later I digged into the most Terrific Broiled Salmon I have ever tasted!


I have tried the same glaze for Tilapia too, which was also good. But Aam Kasundi glazed Salmon was the winner hands-down!


Recipe Snapshot: Bong Mom's Aam Kasundi Glazed Terrific Broiled Salmon
Serves: 1 serving


What I used:
Salmon Fillet/Steak - 1 
Aam Kasundi - 2 tsp (its 1 tsp a side)

What I did:
1. Preheat the oven broil Mode.

2. Double line a cookie sheet with Aluminium foil.

3. Slobber the Salmon fillet wit the Aam Kasundi. 1 tsp a side.

4. Place the salmon fillet and broil for 6 minutes. (it also depends on the thickness of the fillet)

5. Flip and broil the others side for 4-5 minutes.

6. Serve and enjoy.

Tip: Alternatively, the salmon fillet can be grilled too.






---

Friday, March 15, 2013

Lahsooni Kadhi - A Garlicky Yogurt Soup while the Sun plays Peek-a-Boo


The Sun God is playing a nasty game of Peek-a-Boo with me and I'm not liking it at all. After my Pea and Mint Soup post, the Weather Gods had pity on my poor soul and blessed me with a gorgeous weekend (Mar 9th and 10th) of sunshine and warmth. A generous favor, I'll be eternally grateful for.

Come Monday and the Sun hid behind the rain clouds and simply refused to show up. As things turned woeful, I cheered myself with a fabulous dinner. Tuesday was no better and it remained uneventful. On Wednesday, I got up praying for "no rain" and then what do I see... the trees, the cars and the roads, all covered in pristine white. It had snowed all night!


I was depressed, grumpy and cold. And to add more woes to my already sorry life, the heat stopped working. So what does a soup-o-holic needs at a time this? 

A bowl of piping hot and comforting soup!

But it was one of those days when, you need all the comfort and nourishment but don't want to chop veggies, thaw out the frozen meat or stand in front of the stove stirring your stock pot. For days like this you have Kichu Khon's Lahsooni Kadhi, a tangy, Garlicky Yogurt Soup!

Kadhi is a yogurt and chickpea flour based gravy dish to which vegetable fritters (Pakora) are often added. Its quite popular in the North-western and Western parts of India. You have different forms of Kadhi, based on the region of their origin, The tangy Rajasthani Kadhi, the sweet Gujarati Kadhi, the spicy Punjabi Kadhi (this one has onions) or the Sindhi Kadhi, with lots of fresh vegetables and no yogurt. Kadhi-Chawal or boiled rice mixed with Kadhi is considered a light, everyday meal and a comfort food for many.


Raised in a Bengali household, Kadhi was not frequently made in my house. I started having it during my first job when I had a Rajasthani boss, who would bring this regularly for lunch. However, her was a pure-veg version, sans onions and garlic and would have pakori (fritters) or papad (lentil wafers).
I never had nor heard of this amazing Lahsooni Kadhi, until Sharmila of Kichu Khon published it in her blog. I have made this a lot of times and we love it, including Lil Sid, who used to call it "Lellow Soup" even a few months ago. He now calls it "Yellow Soup".

This in an incredibly easy stuff to make and does not require the baby-sitting, most Kadhis needs. Its healthy too, because it does not require any tempering nor it has the calorie-rich, deep fried fritters in it. Its easy, simple and very, very comforting. I used Greek yogurt to make it tangier and to buff up the protein factor.


My afternoon was spent with the Kadhi, a comforter and The Help!
Dinner was a breeze too as I served the same Kadhi with boiled brown rice and my easy-peesy Brazilian fish balls. What a satisfactory dinner it was!




Recipe Snapshot: Lahsooni Kadhi - A Garlicky Yogurt Soup

Serves: 4 serving
(1 serving = 1 cup)

What I used:
Greek or regular Yogurt - 1 cups (I used the Greek one for the extra tang and bust of protein)

Chickpea Flour (Besan) - 1 tbsp

Garlic - 5-6 cloves, crushed by a pestle or the back oa a knife

Asafoetida (Hing) - ¼ tsp

Red Chili powder - ½ tsp or to taste

Turmeric Powder - ½ tsp 

Water - 4 cups (more or less depending on the consistency you want)

Salt - to taste

Cooking oil - 1 tsp

What I did:
1. In a big bowl, whisk the yogurt till smooth and free of any lumps. Add the besan (chickpea flour), turmeric powder, red chili powder, water and salt and mix well. (Be a little gentle on the salt. We can always add salt but cannot take it back.)

2. Heat oil in a deep pan or wok over medium heat. I recommend you use a non stick pan, so that the gravy will not stick at the bottom. Its also fine to use a regular pan, only you need to keep stirring it, every 3-4 minutes to avoid sticking at the bottom.

3. Add the Hing (Asafoetida) and the crushed garlic and fry till the garlic turns golden. (Not brown or black please!!!)

4. Add in the yogurt mixture and stir to incorporate.

5. Bring the heat to medium-low and let it simmer for 20 minutes or until the Kadhi is infused with the garlicky flavor and the crushed garlic is soft and tastes almost "candy like".

6. Tastes best when served piping hot.

7. Sip like a soup, or mix with rice with a side of spicy dry potato curry, it just awesome any which way.


Notes/Tip: The consistency of this soup/Kadhi depends on a personal choice. I like it thin and soupy. If you like your thick, reduce the amount of water. It also tastes good with roti or parathas.






A BIG Thanks to Sharmila for sharing her recipe. This had become a new family favorite.


Diabetic Platter:
Besan or Chickpea flour is low in saturated fat and a excellent source of Dietary Fibers and Protein. Its also low in carbohydrates when compared to whole what flour. Those looking for a low-carb, whole grain flour option, please give Chickpea flour a shot.  The dish hardly requires any oil. Its high on garlic, which contains Allicin, a naturally occurring antioxidant that may help improve heart health. Compounds in garlic also act as powerful antioxidants. There is some evidence that garlic may lower blood pressure and LDL-cholesterol levels — as well as decrease levels of homocysteine — a by-product of protein breakdown that causes inflammation and damages blood vessels. 

---

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Pan Seared Baja Fish with Mango-Black Bean Salsa on a Gloomy, Rainy Monday


This was our dinner yesterday, on a gloomy rainy Monday - Pan Seared Baja Fish with Mango-Black Bean Salsa and a piece of Dill-Buttermilk Cornbread

I have an uncanny knack of attuning my mood with the weather outside. My day started with a tea gone cold and a slightly burned toast. That set the tone. This was followed by a silly argument with a dear friend and a routine meltdown with my Mom. The rest of the day I spent sulking, sleeping on the couch and getting a shoulder sprain.

Friday, March 8, 2013

Pea and Mint Soup and a Long Wait for Spring


Officially, Spring is just weeks away but I guess the Weather Gods aren't aware of that. There is nothing remotely "green" around. Its still cold, grey and barren. Frankly, I'm tired of this cold and snow and I hate grabbing those bulky jackets, scarves and ear muffs on my way out. I would give anything... just anything to see a speck of green around me right now!

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Chocomole - A Sinful Chocolate Pudding that's Actually Good for You!


A dessert as sinful as Chocolate Pudding and still good for you??? Is it too good to be true???

Well, not at all!!

Its the best thing that I have ever tasted so far, that I couldn't help sharing with you all.

Presenting "The Choco-mole" - A Chocolate Avocado Pudding!




First you have the creamy, buttery Avocado, which is a powerhouse of nutrients. Avocado is high in monounsaturated fats, which are generally considered among the healthiest of fats. Researchers have found that a diet high in monounsaturated fats and low in low-quality carbs may improve insulin sensitivity. Monounsaturated fats also improve heart health—an especially important benefit for diabetics, who are at increased risk for heart disease and stroke.


Then there is the lushous Dark Belgian chocolate, packed with antioxidants to delay the ageing process and to prevent you from certain cancers. Did you know, Dark chocolate helps keep your blood vessels healthy and your circulation unimpaired to protect against type 2 diabetes. The flavonoids in dark chocolate also help reduce insulin resistance by helping your cells to function normally and regain the ability to use your body's insulin efficiently. Dark chocolate also has a low glycemic index, meaning it won't cause huge spikes in blood sugar levels.


And this is perhaps the easiest and quickest dessert anybody had ever made. Dump all the ingredients in a blender/ processor and mix until well blended and its done! Chill for an hour or two before gobbling it all up.


This is the second time I mad this pudding and needless to say its a hit. You can never taste the avocado in there. Its smooth, lushous and decadent. Just the way a sinful pudding is supposed to taste.



Recipe Snapshot: Chocomole - A Sinful Chocolate Pudding
Adapted from: How sweet it is


Serves: 4 serving
(1 serving = 3/4 cup)

What I used:
Super ripe Avocado - 2 nos, pitted

Dark Chocolate (more than 70% Cacao) - 1.5 to 2 oz, melted

Unsweetened Cocoa Powder - 2 tbsp

Milk (Fat Free/ Coconut/ Soy or Almond milk) - ¼ cup
(I used Almond Milk)


Agave Nectar or Honey or Pure Maple Syrup - 2 tbsp (or to taste) (I used Agave Nectar)

Vanilla Extract - 1 tsp

Salt - a pinch


What I did:
1. Blend the avocado, milk, agave , salt and vanilla extract till smooth.

2. Add the melted chocolate and the cocoa powder and blend till incorporated and smooth.

3. Pour in individual cups and chill for an hour or two before serving!

Notes/ Tips: The Avocados need to be super ripe. The quality of the Avocados and its ripeness makes or breaks this recipe.





Diabetic Platter:
Avocado is high in monounsaturated fats, which are generally considered among the healthiest of fats. Researchers have found that a diet high in monounsaturated fats and low in low-quality carbs may improve insulin sensitivity. Monounsaturated fats also improve heart health—an especially important benefit for diabetics, who are at increased risk for heart disease and stroke.

Dark chocolate
helps keep your blood vessels healthy and your circulation unimpaired to protect against type 2 diabetes. The flavonoids in dark chocolate also help reduce insulin resistance by helping your cells to function normally and regain the ability to use your body's insulin efficiently. Dark chocolate also has a low glycemic index, meaning it won't cause huge spikes in blood sugar levels.

---