October 23, 2012

Shubho Bijoya with Kalakand from scratch


My pregnancy brain has taken over, I'm sure! I'm told that in the last month or so, "nesting" kicks in. And here I am, instead of getting stuff ready for the new arrival in my "nesting" phase, I am standing near a stove, stirring and making kalakand from scratch at night after Lil A went to bed. What else would you call it?

The only advantage of the late night cooking session was I had all the time to stir and take pictures without being interrupted and so I have a nice pictorial for you of this recipe. :)

I didn't start out wanting to make it from scratch. I was supposed to make Bong Mom's microwave kalakand recipe. But when it was time, I realized that I didn't have even one ingredient from her recipe. So I set about making paneer/chana and then kalakand from scratch.

The kalakand was just out of this world. I cannot imagine I've not made it in before this. The soft, crumbly, grainy texture with the cardamom and saffron taste and the gentle sweetness just blew me away. I am sure to make it again and again.

So with this delicious sweet I wish you all "Shubho Bijoya".

1/4 gallon whole milk
2-3 tbspoon lemon juice
1 can evaporated milk
1 tbspoon ghee
1/3 cup sugar (I used brown sugar)
4-6 cardamom pods - pounded to powder
few strands of saffron
4-5 almonds chopped

Making paneer/chana: Heat the milk in a thick bottomed pan and bring it to a boil. Once it starts boiling, add the lemon juice till the milk separates. Immediately strain it and tie the paneer/chana in a cheese cloth and let it hang for an hour till excess water drains.

Making Kalakand: Mix 1:1 ratio of evaporated milk and paneer in a thick bottomed pan. I got about 2 cups of paneer/chana and took 2 cups of evaporated milk from the can.

Heat the pan with ghee and then add the paneer and evaporated milk. Add the saffron strands and half the cardamom  powder. Keep stirring the mix on low medium heat till the mix starts to thicken.

Then add the sugar and keep stirring till it becomes a soft dough consistency and starts leaving the pan. It took me about 29 minutes to reach that consistency.

Spread it on a plate and spread the rest of the cardamom powder and almond bits and cool overnight.
  Cut and serve.

Here are some more kalakand recipes:
Bong Mom Cookbook's microwave kalakand
Manjula's kitchen kalakand

October 17, 2012

Durga Pujo te mochar ghonto (banana blossom stirfry)

Mochar Ghonto

I was so excited when I saw mocha or banana flower in the Indian store recently. (Mocha is pronounced as Mo cha as in chair). It's been many years since I had one and in my mind the process of cleaning is complicated, one I have never attempted. I do remember my mother sitting with a boti and a newspaper in the kitchen, patiently rubbing her hands with oil and cleaning the flower and chopping it for ghonto.

My mother-in-law is visiting, and I was confident that between the two of us we will be able to tackle the cleaning. I called my parents to ask about ghonto recipe and for tips. As soon as I told them about the banana flower, my father gave me the recipe for mocha ghonto. All the tips came from my mother "soak the banana flower in turmeric water", "take out the stamen" "rub oil in your hands" etc.

I added some potatoes to the ghonto, and you can add some coconut, shrimp or even chana dal to mochar ghonto.

The end result was delicious, we had it with friends over lunch and it was gone in no time. We were so inspired with our success that we got another banana flower and my MIL gave me another recipe which is coming up in the next post.

With this mochar ghonto, I want to wish all of you a wonderful Durga Pujo season.

Ingredients (serves 5-6)
1 banana blossom
1 1/2  medium potato cut into small cubes
1 tspoon turmeric powder
1/2 tspoon coriander powder
1/2 tspoon cumin powder
1/2 tspoon red chilli powder
1/2 tspoon sugar
salt to taste
2-3 tbspoon oil
1 tspoon of ghee (for end)

For tempering
2-3 cloves
2-3 cardamom
1" cinnamon
2 bay leaf
1 tsp cumin seeds

Cleaning the mocha (banana flower)
Rub your hands with oil, then open the outer layer of banana blossom, take out the flower one by one and remove the stamen and chop it finely. Follow the same pattern for the other layer of blossom, until you reach the central heart, which is slightly pale yellow or off white in color. Chop it finely, you will notice some stickiness and this is where the oil will come in handy.

Then heat some water, add 1/2 tspoon turmeric powder soak the banana flower and leave it for 5-6 hours.
Mochar Ghonto

Heat up a deep pan, add half of the oil and saute the potatoes for 2-3 minutes. Take them out and set it aside.

Now add the rest of the oil and temper it with cumin seeds, bay leaves, cloves, cardamom and cinnamon. Then add turmeric powder, chilli powder, coriander and cumin powder. Take the chopped mocha out of the water, squeeze it nicely and add it to the pan. Saute it all together for 2-3 minutes. Sprinkle little water and cover it and cook it for 3-4 minutes on low medium heat.

Add the salt and sugar and the potatoes and let it cook for another 4-5 minutes. Keep mashing the mocha with the wooden spatula to mix it together.

Mochar Ghonto
When it's ready, add the ghee, cook for another minute and take it off the heat. Serve hot with rice.


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