September 28, 2011

Durga Pujo and Potoler Dolma

potoler dorma

It's Durga Pujo time and I am feeling nostalgic. About people, about food, about the adda and more. So I made something special - Potoler Dolma. Potol is pointed gourd and is available during the summer. I didn't like Potol growing up and would crib about it whenever my mother made it. But times change, and now I go searching for it in Indian stores in the US.

Imagine my surprise when I found some fresh ones in the Indian store in Ann Arbor. I scooped it up and brought the coveted vegetable home and called my parents hoping to get thakuma's (paternal grandmother) recipe. But long conversation ensued and we kept talking about what actually went in her recipe. I remembered it differently than my father and my brother. Well, that's what memories are all about!

We finally came to an agreement and I got my ingredients together to make it.

Now Potoler Dolma is a quintessential Bengali recipe in my mind. Imagine my surprise when I find out that Dolma is not really Bengali, it's originally Portuguese and has been Bengalified with Potol. :)

You can make the dolma filling any way, there are hundreds (ok slight exaggerations here) of mixes with prawns or scraped coconut mix or dry fruits or minced meat or boneless fish or vegetables like mushrooms or mashed potatoes and paneer. I decided to do it vegetarian and simple, like my grandmother usually made.

It is a time consuming process and took me good couple of hours to finish it. But it was totally worth it. What better way to celebrate the pujo than with a good meal that takes you back to your childhood!

Ingredients:
8-10 Potol (pointed gourd)
1/2 cup scraped Coconut
1 1/2 tspoon Mustard seeds
5-6 almonds
1 tspoon Ginger paste
1/2 tsp Cumin powder
1/2 tsp Red chili powder
1/2 tspoon turmeric powder
1 tspoon roasted and ground cumin seeds
1 tspoon coriander powder
1 or 2 Bay leaves
3-4 Cardamoms
1 stick cinnamon
1 tomato - chopped
3-4 tbspoon oil
1/4 tspoon sugar
Salt to taste
3/4 cup water

Method:
There are few steps which I have tried to divide to make it easier:

potoler dorma

Scooping and cleaning the potols: Wash the pointed gourd and scrape the skin alternately. Then cut one end of the potol and start scooping out the seeds and flesh with your finger or with the help of a spoon. Sprinkle little salt and leave for few minutes.

Don't throw the seeds and the flesh, it goes back in the stuffing!

Heat 1 tbspoon oil and fry the Potol till they start to brown and then set them aside.

Making the stuffing: Meanwhile heat some oil in a pan add the mustard seeds. Then add the almonds, coconut and the flesh and seeds that you scooped out. Saute till the coconut slightly changes its color to light brown. Then add salt and sugar, cumin seed powder and 1/4 tspoon red chilli powder, fry them for another couple of minutes. Add 1-2 tspoon water to mix it together. Take it out from the pan and cool it to room temperature. Put it in a grinder and mix it together so the mustard seeds, the potol seeds and the almonds are ground to a smooth mix.

potoler dorma

Filling the Potol: Once the filling has cooled, take the potol and stuff it with the mix.

The final putting it together: Heat the rest of the oil in a saucepan and temper it with bay leaves and cardamoms and cinnamon. Add the ginger paste and tomato and saute for a minute. Then add the roasted cumin seed powder, red chilli powder, turmeric and coriander powder. If you have any filling left, add it to the curry now. Add water and adjust for salt. Once it comes to a boil, add the stuffed potols in it and simmer on low heat for 8-9 min till the potol is completely cooked.


potoler dorma

Serve the potoler dolma or dorma with plain white rice.

I found a great video about stuffing the potols on YouTube. Here is the link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WCz3gcWsKFQ


Have a wonderful pujo everyone!

September 20, 2011

Chicken Tikka Masala and a Playdate

chicken tikka masala
(photo courtesy of: Nicole)

I recently had a playdate for Little A with Little N, a friend and colleague's daughter who's two. Actually, let me correct that. It was a get together, cooking session and a playdate for the mammas :) We got together at Nicole's house early sans kids, popped open a wine bottle and cooked some chicken tikka masala, rice, salad and cookies before the kids came over. I didn't put any chilli powder as the little ones were going to be eating. They were served the chicken tikka masala and rice. Little A stared at it for a few minutes and then ate his apples. Little N on the other hand, ate a few helpings of it and declared "I love Indian food." What can I say? You're got to try this now. :)

I have been cooking this chicken tikka masala for a few months now and it I think it's finally ready to be shared. It doesn't have the cream and I stir in some yogurt as and when the mood strikes me. And thanks to Nicole, I have lovely pictures of the process too!

We have plans for the next play date and a ravioli making session. Stay tuned!

Ingredients:
1 four lbs chicken chopped

To marinate: ( I marinated the chicken for a couple of hours)
2/3 cup yogurt
1 tbspoon paprika
1 tspoon garam masala
1 tbspoon olive oil
1/4 tspoon fresh ground pepper
salt to taste

For curry:
1 big onion
2-3 tbspoons tomato paste
2 tspoons ginger garlic paste (I do a big batch and keep it for the week)
1 tspoon cumin seeds
2 green chillies (don't slit it)
3-4 cardamoms
1 stick cinnamon
2-3 cloves
2 bay leaves
1 tspoon turmeric powder
1 tspoon cumin seed powder
1 tspoon coriander seed powder
1/2 tspoon garam masala powder
2 tbspoon oil
salt to taste

Method:
Set the over to broil. Put the chicken on a cookie sheet with foil, put some olive oil on top and cook for 11-12 minutes. Then turn the chickens and cook the other side for 4-5 minutes. Set it aside.

chicken tikka masala
(photo courtesy of: Nicole)

Heat some oil in a pan, and temper it with some cumin seeds, green chillies. Quickly add the bay leaves, cardamoms, cinnamon and cloves. Then add in the ginger garlic paste. Stir it for a minute.

chicken tikka masala
(photo courtesy of: Nicole)

Then add in the chopped onion and let it saute on low medium heat for 3-4 minute with stirring every minute or so till the onions are soft and translucent. Then add in the tomato paste. Cook for another minute.

chicken tikka masala
(photo courtesy of: Nicole)

Then add the turmeric, cumin seed powder, coriander powder, and garam masala and let it cook and mix well together. Put the chicken in (with all the juice and all) in the pan and stir it all well together. Add about a cup and half of water, salt and let it cook on low heat for 10-15 minutes.

chicken tikka masala
(photo courtesy of: Nicole)
Add about 2 tbspoon of nicely whisked yogurt if you want it creamier. Garnish with chopped cilantro (optional) and serve hot with rice and naan.

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