Sunday, February 23, 2020

Gorom Moshla Pork - Pork with Bengali Garam Masala



It's no secret that I love pork and it's no secret that I like to wing it when I'm cooking. It's how I've cooked all my life. Over the last couple of years however, I have been studying Bengali cuisine in an attempt to learn the basics, cook some of the well known and not so well known dishes, and of course connect to my very Bengali roots. It is this study that taught me what goes into a Bengali garam masala (and it's not a lot).

I was in the mood to cook a pork curry but I didn't have much in the fridge to pair with it, nothing really appealed. As I stared at the various bottles and jars in the kitchen cupboard I pulled out the whole garam masalas and I saw my jar of home made Bengali garam masala. And I decided to make the garam masala the focus of my curry.

So here's what I did -

Gorom Mosha Pork 

500 gms boneless pork with around 30% fat
2 large onions, finely sliced
2-3 potatoes, peeled and cut into large chunks
1 tbsp fresh ginger-garlic paste, preferably roughly bashed in your mortar and pestle
salt
turmeric
mild chilli powder (for colour)
whole garam masalas - Indian bay leaf, cloves, cardamom, cassia bark
1 tbsp Bengali garam masala powder*
2 tbsp vinegar (I used apple cider vinegar)
mustard oil
sugar

Wash the pork, drain, and marinate with salt and the ginger garlic paste.
Heat oil in a pressure cooker and fry the potatoes till they turn a little brown and mildly crisp. Remove and set aside.
In the same oil, add a little more if needed, chuck in the whole spices and fry for a minute.
Add the sliced onions and fry slowly till they start going a little brown. Add a teaspoon of sugar to help the onions along.
Add the marinated pork and the vinegar and saute slowly for 15-20 minutes. Do this with patience till the moisture is dried out.
Now add the turmeric and chilli powders and the Bengali garam masala powder. Stir well and cook for another 5 minutes or so till the spices lose their rawness.
Add the fried potatoes back to the pot, add enough water, and then shut the pressure cooker and let the curry cook. Once it whistles reduce the heat and cook on simmer for 10 to 15 minutes. Switch off and let the cooker cool on its own.
Open, taste and adjust the salt if required and serve with plain hot rice.


* Bengali garam masala that I like  - broil green cardamom, cloves and cinnamon separately on a tava over gentle heat. Combine and grind to a powder either in a mortar and pestle or in an electric spice grinder. Store in an air-tight bottle.
The ratios for the three spices I use - 3 parts cardamom, 1 part cloves, 1 part cinnamon. Measure by weight.

Saturday, February 8, 2020

Sorse Katla- Catla Fish in Mustard Sauce


The machh'er jhols and jhals of Bengali cuisine are a veritable wonderland with some elaborate and some ridiculously simple preparations. All with delicious results! From frugal recipes that require barely three to four ingredients apart from the fish itself to more elaborate ones involving an array of vegetables and spices, the sheer variety of fish preparations in a Bengali kitchen is mind boggling. And it is this variety that keeps me seeking and learning more and more.

But not all the recipes are new or alien to me. Many are what Moni cooked. Like this sorse machh, mostly made with the 'peti' or belly pieces of a fatty Katla or otherwise Rui which were always in stock in Moni's freezer, thanks to the weekly shopping at Khar market.

I'd got a lovely Katla for a Bengali cooking workshop I did recently and I had some of it in my freezer. Like Moni, I had separated the peti or belly pieces from the gada or back pieces, put into bags and frozen them. And like her I decided to do this easy sorse katla with the peti pieces. You can use the gada pieces too but I wanted to cook like she used to so it was just the peti pieces for me.

Sorse Katla

6-8 peti pieces of Katla (you can also use Rui or Rohu)
a few fresh green chillies
1 tbsp black mustard seeds
1 tbsp yellow mustard seeds
1 tsp kalaunji or nigella seeds
turmeric
salt
mustard oil
fresh coriander

Wash the fish pieces and drain. Smear the fish pieces with salt and turmeric and keep aside for a few minutes.

Soak the mustard seeds in warm water for around 30 minutes. Drain and grind to a paste with a couple of green chillies if you like. Strain the paste to remove the harder husk of the black mustard seeds for a smoother paste. Moni often didn't bother and thus her gravy would be speckled with black. Soaking the seeds is essential as it removes the bitterness. If you are using powdered mustard you have to soak that too before using. This is essential as otherwise you will end up with a bitter inedible gravy/sauce and the dish will be ruined.

Heat mustard oil in a wok/karai and fry the fish lightly. Remove and keep aside.

Add a little more oil to the karai if required, heat it well and chuck in a teaspoon of kalaunji or kalo jeere as we call it.  Let it sizzle for 30 seconds and then chuck in a few fresh green chillies. I used bullet chillies that I had brought from Kolkata. You can use whatever green chilli you prefer.

Pour in the mustard paste and stir well. Add a little salt and turmeric, cook for a minute. Add half a cup of water, stir to mix. Then add the fried fish pieces gently into the mustard gravy. Once it boils reduce the heat, cover the karai and simmer for five minutes or so. Switch off the heat and drizzle some raw mustard oil into the karai. Cover and let it sit for a few minutes.

Garnish with some fresh coriander and serve with plain hot rice.

You can make this recipe using Ilish, Katla, Rui, Aarh, etc. but my favourite is with a good fatty Katla! This recipe, as you have seen, is simple and very frugal. That is why the ingredients are important. Use good quality mustard oil only. Make sure your green chillies are fresh and flavourful. These are the details that will make the dish shine.

Sunday, January 19, 2020

Oven Roasted Mangalore Chicken Ghee Roast




Roast chicken is something I make really often. It's easy to do and the variations are unlimited so one never gets bored. So once again I had a full chicken waiting to be roasted and I was casting around for inspiration. And I chanced upon Shriya Shetty's Mangalore Chicken Ghee Roast done roast chicken style.

Shriya (@chiashetts on Instagram) runs a restaurant and a bakery in Mangalore and does pop ups wherever she gets a chance. She also makes Mangalore Ghee Roast Masala for sale, in small batches (which gets sold out super fast!). This is just the kind of inspiration I was looking for and much to my delight, I also had packets of her utterly delicious home made ghee roast masala in the fridge.

Oven Roasted Mangalore Chicken Ghee Roast

1 whole chicken, skin on
4 onions
1 packet Mangalore Ghee Roast Masala
Salt
Ghee


Wash the chicken inside and out and pat it dry.

Slice two onions and halve the other two

Make gashes in the fleshy parts of the chicken to allow salt and the masala to penetrate properly. First sprinkle salt all over the bird and inside the cavity too. Now apply the ghee roast masala all over the chicken not forgetting the cavity. Tuck in masala under the skin wherever possible. Work gently so you don't tear the skin.

Refrigerate the chicken covered and let it marinate for a few hours or even overnight.

When you're ready to roast, remove the chicken from the fridge and bring it up to room temperature.
Preheat the oven at 150C.

Place the sliced onions in a layer in a baking dish spread just enough for the chicken to sit on. Tuck in the halved onions into the cavity of the bird and then place the bird in the baking dish. Drizzle ghee all over the chicken. Cover the dish as tightly as possible with aluminium foil.

Put the baking dish on an oven tray and set it to roast for an hour at 150C. Let the bird cook long and slow for juicy and tender results. If the chicken is large, cook for longer.

You can check for doneness in between - just be careful while handling the hot and heavy baking dish. To check, pierce a fleshy portion near the bone like the thigh with a sharp knife. If the juices run clear you chicken is cooked. Baste with melted ghee when you open to check.

Remove the foil and roast the chicken for another 15 to 20 minutes to finish the cooking (sometimes the meat around the cavity stays a little under done) and to crisp the outside. Remove the onions from the cavity at this point and place them in the baking dish to caramelise a little while the chicken cooks.

I served this oven roasted ghee roast with neer dosas I ordered from a local restaurant.

There is a certain joy in sitting at the table with a dish of  roast chicken redolent of ghee and masala and a pile of neer dosas picking out bits of succulent roast and crisp skin while mopping up that incredible ghee, onions, and masala 'gravy' with soft neer dosas. Aaah!