Wednesday, February 24, 2016

"Sorshey Begun"... Aubergine's cooked in Mustard Gravy


"Sorshey Begun"...Aubergine's cooked in Mustard Gravy, is a Bengali dish which is very flavorful and goes well with steamed rice. "Sorshey" is the Bengali name for Mustard and "Begun" in Bengali means Aubergine / Eggplant or Brinjal.  


Traditionally this dish is made with a freshly ground masala prepared with Mustard seeds, Poppy seeds and greed chilies which is cooked along with fresh yogurt, but as in this part of the world Poppy seeds are not available so I have omitted it in this recipe and have increased the quantity of yogurt. Yogurt not only adds flavor and tang but also helps mellow down the pungent flavor of mustard  as well as imparts a creamy texture to the dish. (Personally I love the flavor of Mustard but my hubby likes it mild...so adding a bit more yogurt works well for me.)

So here is the recipe....

Ingredients

Begun / Aubergine /Eggplant/Brinjal - 4-5 (I have used the long ones)
Green chilies - 2 -3 nos.
Mustard Powder - 1 tablespoon
Red chili powder - 1 teaspoon
Turmeric powder - 1 teaspoon
Kalongi / Nigella seeds - 1/4th teaspoon
Yogurt - 2-3 tablespoon
Mustard oil - 3 tablespoon
Salt to taste

Method

Wash the Begun thoroughly, trim the top and bottom, cut it into long pieces.( I have divided it into 2 length wise and then cut them into hlf inch wide and 2.5 inches long pieces.)
Sprinkle about a fourth to half a teaspoon of turmeric powder and some salt, mix well ensuring each and every piece of the begun is well coated. Let the begun marinate for 10- 15 minutes.




While the begun is marinating mix the dry masala powders (Mustard, red chili and turmeric) in a bowl, add around 2 - 3 tablespoons of water, mix well to form a paste and keep aside. By the time we finish frying the begun the masala paste will be ready.



Heat 2 tablespoons of the mustard oil in a kadhai till its completely hot and smoke starts to appear, turn off the flame and let it cool for a few minutes. Turn on the gas and add the marinated begun and shallow fry until it gets a nice golden colour. Remove the fried begun using a slotted spoon and keep aside. 



Heat the remaining oil and add the kalongi / nigella seeds, once the seeds start to pop add the masala paste and fry.


Once oil starts appearing on the sides add the slit green chilies and salt, continue frying for another 2-3 minutes, once the masala is completely cooked and the raw smell has disappeared add the yogurt and mix well.



Add half a cup of warm water and mix well, once the gravy starts to simmer add the fried begun, mix well and let it cook in the gravy for a minute or two.



Turn off the flame and let it sit in the gravy for some time. The begun will absorb the flavors n the gravy will become thick.


 Serve hot along with steamed rice.

Notes:

U can use any variety of Brinjal, if you use the small ones you would need around 10-12 pcs, or just one large brinjal.... or to go by weight i used around 300 grams.
Its important to marinate the begun so please don't skip.
I have used mustard powder hence needed to make a paste along with the other spices, as mustard needs to be soaked to soften and impart it flavor. I f using whole mustard seeds then soak them in water for 15-20 minutes so that they soften and then grind into a paste.
Please go slow on the salt as we have marinated the begun with salt.
for this recipe I have used Mustard oil, that's how its made in our home and I would recommend you to use the same, however if you are not used to or comfortable with mustard oil, then just use any cooking oil which is regularly used in your home.


Sunday, February 21, 2016

Palak Paneer

"Palak Paneer" is one of the most popular North Indian preparations of Paneer or cottage cheese during the winter months.
Winter in Northern India means a lot of fresh green leafy vegetables referred to as "Saag", the markets are usually flooded with them and in our house one or the other form of "Saag" is cooked almost everyday.

"Palak Paneer"
Palak Paneer is one of our family favorites, a mildly spicy preparation of Paneer in Spinach gravy. Usually served along with chapati's.
Here is a simple and very easy to follow recipe of "Palak Paneer".

Ingredients

Palak/ Spinach - 500grams
Paneer,cubed - 300grams
Onion, roughly chopped - 1 medium
Tomato, roughly chopped - 1 medium
Garlic- 3 cloves (fat ones)
Ginger, chopped - 1 inch piece
Green chilies, chopped - 2 pcs
Coriander powder - 2 teaspoons
Red Chili powder - 1 teaspoon
Turmeric powder - 1 teaspoon
Garam masala - 1/4th teaspoon
Kasoori Methi Dry - 1 teaspoon
Clove - 3-4
Cinnamon - 1 inch
Green cardamom - 2 pieces
Oil - 2 +1 tablespoon
Salt to taste

For the Tempering (Optional)

Cumin Seeds - 1 teaspoon
Green chili, slit - 2 pieces
Oil - 2 teaspoon

For Garnish

Ginger, julienne - 1/2 teaspoon
Crumbled paneer - 1 tablespoon
Method

Clean and wash Palak / Spinach leaves in running water, I try to keep most of the stem until and unless its really very tough and stringy.


Place a pot with around 3-4 cups of water and salt, bring it to a boil, add the palak leaves and cover. Turn off the flame and let the leaves sit in it for 3-4 minutes, or until they become tender.



Keep another bowl ready with around 3-4 cups of ice cold water and quickly transfer the blanched palak leaves into the ice bath.




Putting the palak leaves in this will stop the leaves from over cooking and will maintain the green colour.
Once cool transfer the blanched leaves into a grinder and make a smooth puree and keep aside.



Boil the chopped onions, tomatoes and 3 cloves of garlic along with half a teaspoon of salt until tender.



Let this cool completely and then grind to make a smooth paste.



In a small bowl combine the coriander powder, red chili powder, turmeric powder add a tablespoon two of water and make a paste and keep aside.



Heat a frying pan with a tablespoon of oil and place the cubed paneer in a single layer and turn at intervals to ensure that the paneer in fried on all sides. This step is optional and you can omit it completely and use raw paneer.



Heat remaining 2 tablespoons of oil in the kadhai and add the cloves, cinnamon and green cardamom, once the spices start to release there aroma add the masala paste, fry until oil starts to appear on the sides.




Add the garlic onion tomato paste and fry until oil starts to leave the sides.




Add the Palak puree and cook for 2-3 minutes. Check the salt at this stage and if needed adjust accordingly.




Once the bubbles start to pop add the pan fried paneer along with chopped green chilies and ginger, mix well and cook , check the consistency and if need adjust with reserved palak stock. Cook for 3-4 minutes, add the Garam masala along with crushed Kasoori methi leaves. Mix well and turn off the flame.




For the tempering.

Heat oil in a small pan, once hot add the cumin seeds, as soon as they start to crack, turn off the flame and add the slit green chilies. Quickly pour this over the ready Palak Paneer, and cover and keep until ready to serve.

(Really sorry as I don't have pictures of this step, will surely update the same soon.)

Garnish with julienned ginger and crumbled paneer.
Serve hot.

Notes:

These days most vegetables are available all year round but they taste best when they are in season. Try to use tender palak leaves, as they are full of nutrients and flavor.
I have used frozen paneer, hence had to slightly fry them however if you are using fresh paneer, then its fine to skip this step.
During winter Dill or Sova is available in the market you could add a table spoon of chopped sova once you add the paneer, this adds more flavor to the dish.