Sunday, August 30, 2015

Assamese Fish Tenga with Cauli Flower

We Assamese love fish. The most famous Assamese fish preparation is of course the Fish Tenga. Tenga means sour in Assamese. Fish tenga is a thin runny gravy with a souring agent like Lemon, Tomato, Elephant Apple (Ou Tenga) or fermented bamboo shoots. Tomato is staple. These days the "Hybrid" Tomatoes lack the sourness required for tenga. Hence lemon to rescue.

This Sunday for lunch I made this oh so Assamese fish preparation. Then I thought of sharing the recipe here. But please note we in Assam have river fish not sea fish. So our fish preparations are made of river fishes.

Ingredients :

I am still home alone. Hence the quantity.

Rohu or Rui Fish - 2 pieces
Tomato - 1
Cauli flower - a small one. May be 200 gms.
Potato - 1
Half tea spoon of Paanch Foron or 5 spices ( Like Bengalis, this is a very important ingredient in all Assamese kitchens)
Green Chili - 1
Half a lemon
Turmeric powder - 1/2 tea spoon to marinate fish pieces and 1/2 tea spoon for the curry.
Salt as per taste
Mustard oil - For frying the fish and then making the curry.

To Garnish

Chopped Coriander leaves

The Assamese Fish Tenga with Cauli Flower

Marinate the fish pieces with little turmeric powder and salt for 15 minutes. Half fry them in mustard oil in a pan / Kedahi. Remove the fish pieces from oil and keep aside.
Fried Fish pieces

Boil the potato and cut into medium pieces. Cut the cauli flower to medium pieces too.

In the same Kedahi add little more oil, if required. Once the oil is hot add paanch foron. Add the cauli flower and tomato pieces and fry them. Add turmeric powder. Once these are cooked, add boiled potato pieces and cook everything together for 2 minutes.
Cauli flower, Tomato & Potato getting cooked.

Heat some water and add the hot water into the cauli flower tomato potato mixture. Add salt accordingly. The Assamese fish tenga is a thin runny curry so please keep that in mind while adding salt and water. Squeeze half a lemon into the curry now.

Let the curry come to a boil.  Now add the fish pieces. Let the curry boil in low flame for 6-7 minutes.
Assamese Fish Tenga with Cauli Flower

Garnish with chopped coriander leaves.

Serve hot with steamed rice.

Saturday, August 29, 2015

Dahiwali Arbi / Taro Root (Colocassia) with Curd

Staying home alone, dinner mostly tend to be a simple quick fix affair. But sometimes I feel like experimenting with something new and treat myself to that. Today is one such day. I checked what all I had in my kitchen and I remembered getting few Arbi or Taro Root (Colocassia) yesterday. So be it. I will try and make something with Arbi which I have not made before. Google Maharaj to rescue to and I zeroed upon Arbi with curd. The other day I tried my luck in Dahiwali Bhindi which turned out quite well. I think I still have a little hangover of that!

Ingredients :
Please note I was cooking only for myself. Hence the quantity

5-6 Arbis

One Tomato

Little piece of Ginger

Arbi or Taro Root
2 Green chilies

½ cup Curd

Pinch of Hing or Asafoetida

¼ Tea spoon of Cumin seeds

¼ Tea spoon of Turmeric powder

¼ Tea spoon of Coriander powder

Oil to fry

Salt as per taste

Chopped coriander leaves to garnish

The Process ::

Wash the Arbis thoroughly and boil in the pressure cooker to one whistle. Once the Arbis are cooled, peel them and cut into pieces. Heat oil in a pan and shallow fry the pieces. Take out from oil and keep aside.

Boiled Arbis cut into pieces
Now cut the tomato into small pieces, add the green chilies and the piece of ginger and make a smooth paste in the mixture by adding little water. Whisk the curd and keep it ready.

Heat 2 tea spoon of oil and add the hing and the cumin seeds. When the cumin seeds splutter add turmeric powder, coriander powder , the tomato – chili - ginger paste and fry until oil is separated. Add the Arbi pieces into the spicy mix now. Cook with the lid for 5 minutes. Slowly pour the curd and gently mix everything. At this point I had switched off the gas and closed the lid. 

Dahiwali Arbi

After 5 minutes add chopped coriander to garnish and serve with rotis, paratha or rice as a side dish. Confession I did not have coriander leaves today! So skipped the garnishing part.

It tastes really awesome. I am not saying that because I love dishes with curd; but because it honestly does. Do try and let me know what do you think of it.

Arbi with curd and roti

Friday, August 28, 2015

A monsoon drive and 2 chance discoveries

Monsoon is THE month for Maharashtra. It turns the state into a lush green wonderland with places like Lonavala, Khandala etc coming alive with water falls and the hills / Ghats turning into a very bright shade of green. It is only after shifting to Mumbai I realized the love for Monsoon that people can have. I come from Assam, where rains are abundant. I used to love rain when I was younger. I was always fascinated by the sound of falling rain drops on the tin roofs of our "Assam type" houses. I said houses, because all my relatives, grand parents stayed in such Assam type houses. Gradually after moving out of Assam and staying the hostel in Gwalior, and then flats in Delhi I lost that fascination. It's only after staying in Mumbai, I fell in love with rains all over again.

So as the monsoon was bidding adieu for this season, we went out on a small day drive to Igatpuri. My father in law had been to Mumbai many times. But he had never been out of the city during rains to see how amazing the places turn to be. We started very early in the morning. It was not raining when we started. But as soon as we were out of city limits and reaching Shahpur it started to pour. The drive itself was amazing. We stopped at Krishna's Udupi restaurant for an amazing breakfast of fresh idlis, vadas and upma.
The bridge on Vaitarna river

P was at that area few days ago on work. So he lead the way. We entered Vihigaon. Saw the sign board Ashok Dabdaba but we did not head there as to reach the water fall you need to walk downhill for sometime and my father in law was not fit enough for that adventure. Instead we went further towards the bridge on Vaitarna river. It was beautiful. For us city weary souls the quietness that it offered that stroke me the most.
FIL on the bridge on Vaitarna

The main gate at Vipassana Center
Then we drove up on the road for sometime towards Upper Vaitarna. But did not go upto Upper Vaitarna and returned as we wanted to go to Vipassana center at Igatpuri.

We reached the Vipassana center only to come to know that the center was closed for visitors that day. They allowed entry only till the hall. Point to keep in mind every alternate Saturday the center is closed for visitors. It is advisable to check once before you plan on a Saturday. As we were returning after spending about half an hour there; P just asked the security guard at the gate for his suggestion as where we could go to get a clearer view of the mountains. He said "Railway dam". We drove along the railway track asking people the way. Finally we were there at railway dam. I don't know if it has some other name. But the place is breathtakingly beautiful with a clear water body, lush florescent green fields and am amazing view of the hill. Besides that, there was no one else. Only us and so many butterflies.

"Railway Dam"
Father in law was exhausted. So he decided to stay inside the car. I & P sat there for a while soaking in the nature, the silence and the breeze. It was a feeling I cannot put in words. You must experience this to feel that.

While going to Railway dam we had crossed one very interesting looking old church. While coming back we stopped there. P and I opened the closed gate and entered the church premises. There was a small hut but no one came out. A dog came running to welcome us. There was an old cemetery. Peeping though the church window we could make out that it was a functional church.

The grey clouds, rustling of dried leaves, the curved crosses over graves and an old church dated 1892 - it was a perfect setting for some "para normal" activities. P commented " This is what ghost stories are made of ". We have to admit, we were so intrigued by the church and the surrounding. There was a letter box at the entrance of the church. We thought may be in old days, the church also acted as the post office for the village. Stories we would have loved to hear if got a chance.
The old church

Waiting for his master's mail!

Sometimes just wandering may lead you to places you do not find in guide books. The Railway Dam and the old church were such discoveries. This sure hardens my urge to wander even more!

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Okra with Curd / Dahiwali Bhindi

Working day dinners are most of the time quick fix. I mostly happen to get the vegetables that are easy to cook and done. But I myself sometimes get bored of having the same simple vegetable the same simple quick fix way. Hence when that "feeling" strikes, I push myself and try something new.

Last night it was Okra or Bhindi. That's not a very favorite vegetable in our kitchen I have to admit. But that's so easy to cook. Last night also happened to be night of the " boredom of same simple vegetable". Hence I thought of trying out Okra with curd / Dahiwali Bhindi. I had heard about that and never tried. A quick help of Shri Google Maharaj and I was inspired enough when I stepped into our kitchen. It's easy too :)

Okra with curd / Dahiwali Bhindi

Ingredients :

250 gm of Okra or Bhindi
One cup of Curd
One Onion - chopped
One Tomato - chopped
One green chilli - finely chopped
Half tea spoon of Turmeric
Half tea spoon of Coriander powder
Half tea spoon of Red chilli powder ( optional)
A pinch of Asafoetida or Hing
Oil to cook
Salt as per taste
Coriander leaves to garnish.

Wash and dry the Okras well. Cut them into medium pieces.
Heat oil in a kadahi. Add the hing and then add chopped onions and fry till translucent. Add the tomato and green chilli now. Fry for 2 minutes and then add the okra pieces. Mix well and cover the lid and let these cook for 5 minutes.

In the mean time, mix the turmeric , coriander powder, red chilli powder with the curd and stir well. After 5 minutes check the okra. These must be half cooked by now. Add the spicy curd mixture and very gently mix everything. Once tender okras may break, hence you need to be gentle. Add salt as per your taste. Again cover the lid and let these cook for another 5 - 6 minutes or till they are done.

Garnish with chopped coriander leaves.

Serve hot with Chapati or Dal - Chawal.

Monday, August 3, 2015

5 Bollywood songs I so love

I admit I have grown up on heavy dose of Bollywood. Such a filmy keeda I was, that now when they show some of those films on TV, I cringe. How could I and how did I, I wonder. But this also meant listening to many songs; good, bad and ugly. And no matter what, I firmly believe that Bollywood offers a song for every occasion in our lives. So here I am looking back and trying to figure out the 5 Bollywood songs that always bring to mind something special.

1. Tere Bina zindegi se koi : This is the very first love "love song" I fell for in my teen years. I mean such poignant lyrics and when I finally saw the complete film " Aandhi" I realized what the song meant by
" Without you I have no complains against life ;
   But without you there is no life either"

2. O Hansini Meri Hansini : Some songs bring with them a beautiful memory. This one sure brings  the wonderful memories of that special one year in Gwalior at the tourism institute. All my batch mates would agree to this. The scorching summer in Gwalior made us sit out in the lawn till the whistle for girls to return to hostel went off. During such sessions one of our batch mate Mohanty  would sing O Hansini and we all would join in. The wide open lawn, the breeze, the night and Mohanty's silky voice; Memories aah memories.

3. ALL the songs of Hero : I am referring to Subhash Ghai's film Hero. I know I know this film has awesome songs. In my earliest memories of road trips in Assam, the album Hero finds a very special place. It was our driver Robin who was more like a family member and still is, would play the songs. We were too young too choose or pick songs to play. Those trips from Golaghat to Jorhat and Sibsagar with the songs of Hero playing still are so fresh in my mind. And everytime I hear "Tu mera jaanu hai" I remember our old Ambassador car, I, my siblings and my parents travelling in all our excitement to our Grannny's place.

4. Mahi ve : Ok this is a very recent addition and for this I have to thank our cab driver from Srinagar to Leh who played this song. Unlike most public transport drivers, he did not play eighties and nineties tragic hindi songs. This song came up at a time when I was slowly falling for the rugged terrains of Ladakh. From the movie " Highway", this song is THE song for the highway for me now. Everytime I hear this song, I feel the road calling out to me to be on it, going somewhere soaking in the changing landscapes!

5. Yeh Dil Deewana : No heart break story attached here. Just that this was the favorite song of one of my favorite teacher in college - RC sir. In fact most of the students just loved him. In our first year of graduation, he taught us Dr. Faustus and Dylan Thomas' "Poem in October". In all honesty after first few classes of English Literature I was so confused that I wanted to change my subject to History. But slowly then the magic of the gems in English literature unfolded and I could make some sense out of it. A major role is played by RC sir. I have no idea how this song became his favourite, but it was and he would never shy away from admitting that.

This list just a tiny drop in the vast ocean of Hindi songs that I love. But these few songs carry a memory with them. Of course there are others too. But they remain my all time favourite.

PS : I have only shared the links to the videos as found on YouTube. All credits to uploaders of these videos.