Friday, May 31, 2013

Nonta Suji - Bengali Style Savoury Semolina with Vegetalbes

Nonta Suji is something my mom made fairly regularly when I was a kid. There is a sweet version called Suji'r halua, more familiar to non Bongs as sooji ka halwa. I prefer this savoury version and it's one of those things my mom makes brilliantly.

It's fairly easy to make - the only downside is that there's a decent bit of chopping involved. lazy as I tend to be, I love this so much I don't mind the extra hard work involved.

Nonta Suji

1 medium potato, peeled and cut into matchsticks
1 carrot, peeled and cut into matchsticks
1 capsicum, cut into small long strips
1 onion, sliced but not too finely
1 or 2 green chillies, roughly chopped
half cup green peas
half cup semolina or suji
salt, turmeric, chilli powder, jeera/cumin powder
1/2 tsp kalonji or nigella seeds
2 tbsp mustard oil

Heat the oil in a kadai and once it's smoking hot reduce the heat and add the kalonji. Let it sizzle and then add the potatoes and carrots. Let them fry for a 3-4 minutes. Cover the kadai so it cooks quickly. Add the onions and the green chillies. Stir well and make sure you don't burn the onions. Once the potatoes are cooked through add the salt and the dry spice powders and mix it all well. Add the capsicums and the peas now and give it all a good stir. Let it cook for a minute and then pour in the semolina.

Roast the semolina well stirring constantly. Let it coat all the vegetables nicely. Your mixture should look dry. You can increase the heat but then you must keep stirring or the semolina will burn giving the final dish an unpleasant taste.

Add approximately a cup of water. Pour in 3/4th and see. The water should just float above the level of the veggies and semolina. Don't pour in too much all at once. Add the rest only if needed. Stir away and keep mixing. The water will get absorbed into the semolina and you will have a thick mass of veggies and semolina in less than a minute. Let it get quite thick, it should not fall off the spoon but should actually be difficult to move.

Squash a portion into a bowl and upturn it onto a plate. Garnish with a fresh green chilli and fresh coriander if you have them at hand.

Monday, May 20, 2013

Railway Mutton Curry

The name itself evokes memories and fanciful pictures of uniformed waiters serving lunch on rattling railway carriages while the well dressed traveller shook out his starched napkin and picked up his fork and knife, ready to dig in!

I saw this recipe on a food group on Facebook. The recipe has been adapted already and I have tweaked it further. So I do not claim that is what Railway Mutton Curry is. I've never had it so I don't have anything to compare it with either. What drew me to the recipe is not the original method but something that was added along the way. The version I read had whole pods of garlic added to it.

Now, I love garlic. I simply love it and am never caught without it. My pantry always has fresh garlic pods, peeled garlic waits for me in my fridge alongside the garlic paste, and I also stock fried garlic - sliced, and finely chopped. There was no way I was going to ignore this recipe!

Incredibly simple to make, you need about 10 minutes at your stove and then you just let it cook on it's own. Apart from marinating time of course.

So here goes -

Railway Mutton Curry (inspired by Mr. Jayanta Das)

500gms mutton pieces
1 large onion, finely sliced
2 potatoes quartered or 3 smaller ones kept whole
1 tsp Jeera
3 red dried chillies
3 green cardamoms
1/2 tsp turmeric powder
1 tsp jeera powder
1 tsp red chilli powder
2-3 sprigs curry leaves
ginger garlic paste
2 pods garlic
Mustard oil
vinegar or tamarind extract

Marinate the mutton in the garlic ginger paste and salt. 30 minutes to an hour is adequate though I left it overnight.

In a thick bottomed vessel heat mustard oil. The original recipe asks for ghee but I don't like ghee in my mutton gravies so I used mustard oil instead. Use whatever you prefer. Once the oil or ghee is hot enough chuck in the whole jeera, dried chillies and the cardamoms. Sauté a bit and let it all sizzle  Add the sliced onions and fry till the onions turn golden. Add the spice powders and curry leaves and mix well. Put in the whole garlic pods too.

Pop in the potatoes. let it all cook for a few minutes and then add in the marinated mutton. Fry the mutton stirring properly to let all the pieces brown a little. Add a couple of tablespoons of vinegar or diluted tamarind pulp if you have it. Stir for a minute or two and then add water. Bring to a boil and then let it simmer for 30 to 40 minutes till the potatoes are cooked through and the mutton is soft and done.

Serve with plain steamed rice. And don't forget to squeeze out the gorgeousness that is that garlic!