Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Aam Panna Concentrate

Aam Panna is a very Popular summer drink make with raw mangoes, its not just a refreshing drink but also helps in preventing against heat strokes. Its specially prepared In Northern India where it gets extremely hot during the summer months, 

"Aam Panna Concentrate"
My mom in law says its works as a medicine and she ensured every member in the family had it before they left the house. Some time ago I had posted ter recipe for Aam Panna  on the blog, its actually very easy to make and very refreshing too.Sometimes you don't feel like making the same thing over and over again and that's when this Aam panna concentrate comes really handy.

Click on the picture below to read the complete recipe for Aam Ka Panna.

 Aam Panna
Aam Ka Panna
I have been making this Aam Panna Concentrate for past few years and I fell its worth sharing, so this time when I prepared I took the pictures for the blog. Moreover I find it to be one of the perfect Iftar drink, as it is not only a thirst quencher but also provides instant energy and moreover once the concentrate is ready all you need to do is just mix it with water, add ice if u like n serve.


This year Ramadan starts in June so for sure I am going to make some more of these in advance.
The best part about this is that it contains no artificial colour or preservatives but yes it has to be stored in the refrigerator for a longer shelf life. By the way you can also use this concentrate as a dip...it really tastes good.

Here is the step by step recipe to make Aam Panna Cncentrate.

Ingredients

Raw mango - 1 kg
Sugar - 700 grams
Kala Namak - 1 tablespoon
Roasted cumin powder - 1 tablespoon +1 teaspoon
Fresh Mint leaves - 200 grams (approximately 1 large bunch)
Juice of 1 lemon.
Table Salt - 1 teaspoon

Method

Wash and peal the raw mangoes, chop them roughly into chunks and discard the seed. Place them in a large vessel and add sugar and table salt. Mix well.




Within moments of adding sugar and salt you will notice that the mangoes start to release water, now add around 3 cups of water and place the vessel on the gas top and let it come to a boil. Once it starts boiling, add half the lemon juice, reduce flame and let the mango's cook until they are tender and look translucent.




Turn off the gas and remove the vessel from the gas top and let it cool. Once it reaches room temperature, use a sieve to separate the mango pulp from the syrup.




Transfer the pulp into a mixer and grind it to form a paste, Add this paste to the syrup and mix well and keep aside. If needed use a hand blender to mix the syrup n pulp. Few bits here and there are fine.





Clean and wash the mint leaves, put them in a grinder along with the remaining lemon juice and make a paste, if needed add a tablespoon or two of water.



Add the mint paste to the mango syrup mixture mix well and add the roasted cumin seeds alond with the kala namak.




Mix well and cook this aam panna once more, first let the mix come to a boil and then reduce the flame and let it cook for another 3-5 minutes, the mixture will thicken, turn off the flame and let this cool completely.



Once cool, carefully fill it into a clean and dry glass bottle.


To prepare Aam Panna from concentrate. (1 serving)

2 tablespoon of Aam Panna Concentrate
Ice cubes as required
Water 

Just pour the Aam Panna concentrate in a glass, add the ice cubes and water, Mix well and serve chilled.



If you want a fizzy option then just replace the water with plain soda and enjoy.



Notes

Adding lemon juice to the mangoes while cooking along with sugar prevents the formation of crystals.

I added lemon juice while making mint paste as it helps retain the fresh green colour of mint.

Before you finally place the pot of Aam panna to boil just check for the seasoning and adjust according to taste.

This Aam Panna Concentrate can last up to 2 months if kept refrigerated. If you want to keep it outside then you can add preservative like Sodium Benzoate or Citric acid. I have never used preservative so have no idea about the quantity to be used.




Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Aam Ka Achar

Aam Ka Achar or Mango Pickle needs no introduction, it's one of the most popular pickles and found in most Indian homes.


Pickle making is an age old tradition of preserving food for a longer time, it is not only practiced in India but across the world. There are different methods and mediums of pickling, salt, oil and vinegar are the most commonly used  mediums for the process of process of pickling along with herbs such as cinnamon, cloves, garlic and mustard. In India Pickles are commonly known as Achar and are made of a variety of fruits and vegetables,like mango, lemon, carrot, cauliflower, radish, chilies, ginger, garlic, onion, tomatoes and yes we even make pickles of Bamboo shoots as well. In some parts of India meat and fish is also preserved in the form of pickle and yes these equally spicy as the vegetarian versions. 

Every family has its own recipe of pickles which is very carefully handed over to the next generation, My mom has been making pickles under the guidance of my grandmother for almost 40 years.Initially she used to assist my dadi (grandmom) but over the years she has mastered the family recipe and trust me there are no measurements its all done by andaz or approximation but the taste is still constant. By the way my mom always made pickles in batches and non were ever made of mangoes less than 10 - 15 kgs of mangoes, these were usually packed and given to my aunts and cousins while the visited us during summer vacations along with other homemade goodies. Well even I'm lucky to get these now:)



Pickle making is like a ritual in our home, starts with the age old tradition of drying the spices in sun and then grinding them at home, washing the barni (porcelain jars), sun drying them to ensure there is not a bit of moisture. All this starts immediately after holi when the sun is shining bright and nice. Freshly picked mangoes were soaked in water overnight, cleaned and cut into bite sized pieces and then the process of actually making the pickles would start. 


As I said there are many ways of making mango pickle and the one which I am about to share is a easier and quicker version, the recipe shared in with 1 kg of Mangoes, which makes it easy to multiply to whatever quantity you want,

Ingredients
Mango, raw - 1 kg
Turmeric powder - 3 tablespoon
Red chili powder - 2-3 tablespoon
Yellow Mustard powder (Sarso) - 1/4th cup
Fennel seeds (Saunf) -2 tablespoon (pound it in a mortar and pestle)
Fenugreek seeds - 2 tablespoon
Nigella seeds (Kalonji) - 1 tablespoon
Asafoetida (Hing) - 1/4th teaspoon
Mustard oil - 1 cup
Salt - 1/3rd cup

Method

Wash the mangoes thoroughly and soak them overnight, next morning remove them from the water and once again. Cut them carefully into bite sized pieces and keep them soaked in water until you finish cutting them all. 



Once the mangoes are chopped, drain the water and spread them in a single layer over a clean cloth and let it dry in the sun for at least a day to get rid of excess moisture. 



Once the mangoes have dried for a day transfer them into a large mixing bowl,(try using a steel, glass or plastic bowl). Add turmeric and salt, mix well and let it sit overnight. 



Next morning you will notice that the mangoes have released a lot of water, don't worry as that is due to the salt we added, just mix well, tie a fine muslin cloth over it and place in a place where it receives ample sunlight. (If the mangoes get good sunlight then a day would be enough, else keep it for two days) You will notice that most of the water has dried up, the mangoes will start to get tender and the edges will start to curl.



At this stage, check for the salt, it should be on the higher side, if needed adjust accordingly. Once the slat level is fine add the mustard powder, red chili powder, Asafotieda,kalongi, and fenugreek seeds along with fennel seeds. (We usually pound the fennel seeds coarsely in a mortar and pestle). Mix well and add around 3-4 tablespoons of mustard oil, this should be enough to coat the mangoes with the spice powders. Tie a fine muslin over the mixing bowl and place it in Sunlight for 2-3 days. Use a clean spoon and mix the Achar 2-3 times a day while its placed outside in sunlight. Don't forget to keep it indoors in the evening.




On day three, transfer the achar into a clean Barni or glass jar, now pour the remaining mustard oil over the achar, ensuring that all the achar is immersed and there should be at least a centimeter of oil above the Achar.



Place the Barni or jar of Achar in a place where it receives sufficient sunlight at least for a week or 10 days. Over a period of 8-10 days the pickle will mature, the pungentness of the mustard oil will also mellow down, the herbs will release there aroma and oils and finally the pickle will gets its nice and vibrant orangish red colour and an irresistible flavor..



Enjoy your homemade Aam ka Achar with with Puris, Parathas, Daal Rice, Khichdi.

Notes:

Traditionally we use mature raw mangoes, in India they are easily available as achar wale aam. These mangoes are fibrous and have a hard seed, which makesit difficult to cut by our regular kitchen knives, In our home we cut them with a sharp datri or baithi. However these days a lot of vendors cut and sell the mangoes, so its quite hassle free and if uo get the cut mangoes then just ensure you wash and soak them in water for 4-5 hours or overnight to get rid of any sap n dirt with ids stuck to the mangoes.
In case you plan to cut them at home, just be very careful and don't hurt your hands.

Pickles are usually high on salt as that's what preserves them along with oil for a longer duration, and since they are eaten in small quantities so don't worry much.

You can always adjust the quantity of chili to suite the taste of your family.

I have used Raw Mustard oil for this Achar, thats how it done in our home, we usually make the achar and let it mature for a month or two, during this period the raw taste of the mustard oil mellows down, however if u are not used to raw mustard oil then I suggest that once the achar is transferred into the jar you add mustard oil which has been heated previously and cooled to room temperature.

Pickles are usually made in large quantity,at our home its made to last for a year at least, so always transfer the pickle into a smaller glass container for everyday use.

Always ensure that the Achar in the main Baarni or jar is covered with oil, this increase the shelf life of the pickle.

My Dadi always insisted that the pickles be kept under the sun once the monsoons were over, this is done to ensure that the humidity during the rainy season doesn't spoil the Achar.

Last but not the least always use clean dry hands and spoons while handling the pickle, never let the lids open as a single drop of oil may ruin all your hard work.  






Monday, April 11, 2016

Potol Bhaja

Potol Bhaja or deep fried Pointed Gourd is a very common Bengali dish. In most Bengali homes one such bhaja dish is a part of daily meals, be it Begun Bhaja, Aloo Bhaja or Mach Bhaja. Potol Bhaja is a very easy, quick and simple dish which can be made with minimum ingredients and a great accompaniment to any meal.

"Potol Bhaja"
I consider myself lucky to be born in Kolkata  and to have grown up in this wonderful city, all thanks to my great grandparents moved to Kolkata almost 90 years ago. We have lived in a Bengali Neighborhood, have lots of Bong friends, have adapted a lot of Bengali customs and food over the years...and just love it. 


In our home as well lunch is incomplete without one such dish, my so very North Indian hubby has also adjusted his taste buds accordingly and loves them too. Just a few days ago I came across these really nice Potol, at the supermarket, just could'nt keep my hands off them,,,As it was the weekend so had to prepare Dal Chawal...ekdum MIL style, as that''s how hubby dear loves it accompanied with my favorite summer vegetable Potol Bhaja..


So here is the quick and easy recipe of Potol Bhaja...traditionally Potol Bhaja does not have chili powder but I have added it to suite to our North Indian taste.

Ingredients

Potol / Parwal / Pointed gourd - 6-8
Turmeric powder - 1 teaspoon
Red chili powder - 1/2 teaspoon (Optional)
Salt as per taste
Mustard oil for frying - 4 tablespoon

Method

Cut off the ends and scrape the potol, wash thoroughly and cut it lengthwise into half. Make length wise slits in the potol and keep aside. Be careful while making the slits, in case the seeds are hard,go slow or you may end up hurting your hand.



In a small bowl place the salt, turmeric and red chili powder and mix well



Hold the potol between your thumb and index finger and gently press the ends, the slits will open up, now sprinkle some of the mixed masala, ensure you put some in the slits as well, rub well so the potols are well covered with the masala. repeat process until you have applied masala on all.



In a mixing bowl add the masala coated potol, add the remaining masala , poue a teaspoon of mustard oil and rub gently so that the outer skin is also coated. Let this rest for 10 - 15 minutes.



Heat mustard oil in a kadhai or a heavy bottom frying pan, once the mustard oil is smoking hot, turn off the gas for a minute or two. Re heat the oil and carefully slide the marinated potol one at a time. Fry until golden brown. Remove carefully with a slotted spoon,place on paper towel to remove excess oil. Repeat process until you finish frying all the potol.



Serve hot along with Khichuri or Dal Chawal.


 Notes:

I have made this in Mustard oil but you cam use any oil which is regularly used in your home.
Adding red chili powder is optional, I have added it as that's how my mum has been preparing all these years.