Thursday, January 8, 2009

A bengali Thali (thala) !!!

As I promised in my last post, I will start my 1st post of this year with a full-meal menu. Last year, I couldn't post much full-meal menu as shortage of time. This is very simple but healthy bengali daily menu I normally prepare. Spinach(Palong Shak) with mixed vegetable to start with, then radish curry(Mulo Chechki) and obviously without a fish curry(machher kalia), a bong meal is incomplete.

(Pictures of the recipes are in anti-clockwise order, click on the picture to take a larger view)

Spinach with mixed vegetable (Palong shak-er tarkari) : Spinach is considered as a super food. It is rich in Iron and Calcium. Beyond the iron that POPEYE was yearning for, spinach contains Vitamin A, C & E, antioxidants, vitamin K, coenzyme Q10, B vitamins, minerals, chlorophyll, polyphenols, magnesium and even plant-derived omega-3 fatty acids. The iron in spinach(our body doesn't absorb plant iron as efficiently as it does blood iron, which is found in meat) is poorly absorbed by the body unless eaten with calcium. Even though, Spinach itself is rich in calcium, but because of the presence of oxalate, it binds with calcium and decreases its absorption. Hence, it's necessary to intake some calcium rich food source while consuming Spinach or any iron rich plant food. So, whenever I cook spinach, I also make something that is rich in calcium, like radish.

Ingredients :
Fresh spinach : a bunch
Potato : 1 cup(diced)
Pumpkin : 1 cup(diced)
Eggplant : 2/3 cup (diced)
cauliflower : 1 cup(diced)
Tomato : 1/2 (medium)
Green Chilli : 1-2 (slitted)
Dry red chilli : 1(break into 2)
Panch Phoron : 1 tsp. ( mixture of equal amount of fennel, cumin, black cumin,
mustard & fenugreek seeds)
Mustard/canola or any other Oil : 2 tblsp.
Turmeric powder : 1 tsp.
Salt to taste

Method :
  • Wash spinach and other vegetables seperately. Chop all the vegetables in medium big pieces. Chop spinach in 1" pieces. You can add green peas, green beans, radish too.
  • In a pan, healt oil. Firstly, add dry red chilli. When it turns brown, add panch phoron. Wait for few seconds, when it turns brown and the aroma comes out, add all diced vegetables except spinach.
  • Stir for a minute adding little salt and turmeric powder. Mix well, then add slitted green chilli and diced tomatoes. When tomatoes get soft and mix well with the vegetables, pour 1 cup of water to cook the vegetables and close the lid of the pan.
  • When little water left, add the spinach (as spinach takes very little time to cook and it looses water,too and the volume of spinach is decreased by three quarters). Close the lid and wait till all the water is absorbed and spinach with all the veges are cooked.
  • Check the seasoning and mix the whole thing nicely. Simple spinach curry is done.
Mulo Chechki or Radish curry :
Radishes are rich in ascorbic acid, folic acid and potassium, also a good source of Vitamin B6, riboflavin, magnesium, copper and calcium. The most popular part of radishes are the roots, but also the top leafy parts are also edible as a green. Chechki is a term of bengali cooking where tiny pieces of one or more vegetables even the peels of veges (like, potato, pumpkin or white gourd) are flavored with panch phoron or mustard or black cumin seeds and use hardly any ground spices.

Ingredients :
Radish/Muli(long white ones) : 1 and 1/2 cup (grated)
Green chilli : 1 or 2(slitted)
Shredded coconut : 2 tblsp.(optional)
Dry red chilli : 1(break into 2)
Mustard seeds : 1/2 tsp.
Turmeric powder : 1 tsp.
Oil : 1 tbsp.
Salt to taste
Sugar : 1/2 tsp.
Fresh coriander leaves for Garnishing

Method :
  • Grate 1 and 1/2 radish. Keep aside.
  • Heat oil in a pan, to it add red chillies and mustrad seeds. Fry for 30 secs or until seeds start to splutter. Add grated radish and mix with the seeds stirring it for a minute. radish will loose some water. Wait till all the water absorbs.
  • Then add salt, turmeric and green chilli. Mix well and add 2/3 cup of water as radish needs very less time to cook. Cover the lod to cook on medium heat.
  • When radish is cooked and all the water absorbs, add sugar, coconut and mix well. Cook for a minute and remove from heat.
  • Garnish with coriander leaves.
Next is Rui Macher kalia (Rohu fish curry)
Kalia is a cooking term means a very rich preperation of fish or meat, usually in a gravy of onion-ginger-garlic and with a touch of ghee and garam masala. Rui macher kalia is a very popular preperation among bengalis which is served in special occassions at home or even in a daily menu,too. This curry can be make with any fresh water fish like, Rahu, Katla, Red Snapper etc. This curry taste good with plain white rice and even with pulao.

Ingredients :
Rui(rohu) fish : few steak like pieces
Potato : 2 (medium)
Onion : 2 (medium)
Ginger : 1"
Garlic : 4 pods
Tomato : 1(medium)
Green Chilli : 1 or 2 ( as per taste)
Turmeric powder : 2 tsp.
Chilli powder : 2 tsp.
Cumin powder : 1 tsp.
Coriander powder : 1 tsp.
Bay leaf : 1
Cardamom : 2/3
Cinnamon : 1 stick (1")
Cloves : 2/3
Cumin Seeds : 1 tsp.
Yoghurt : 2 tblsp.(tablespoon)
Salt to taste
Mustard/ any other oil : 3 tblsp.
Ghee : 1 tsp. (optional)
Garam masala powder : 1 tsp. (powder of cardamom, cinnamon & cloves)
Fresh Coriander leaves for garnishing

Method :

  • Wash the fish pieces, pat dry and coat them with 1 tsp. of turmeric powder and 1 tsp. of salt. Keep them aside for 10-15 minutes.
  • Cut the potatoes lengthwise in four pieces and chop tomatoes finely.
  • Meanwhile, make a paste of onion, ginger, garlic and green chillies.
  • Heat oil in a pan, fry the fish pieces golden brown on both sides. Never cook in the same oil in which you have fried fish. The curry will become blackish. You can fry the potatoes in the same oil with a pinch of salt.
  • In another pan, heat 2 tblsp. of oil, throw bay leaf, cardamom, cinnamon & cloves and cumin seeds in the oil. As soon as cumin seeds starts spluttering, add onion paste. Fry till it turns light brown adding a pinch of sugar( it gives a great color to the gravy). Then add tomatoes and stir until it gets soft.
  • Then add all the powdered spices and mix well. Stir for a minve masala paste. Then add potatoes and coat well with the masala.
  • Add enough water to cook the potatoes(as this is a gravy based dish). When water start to boil, season with salt and add the fish pieces. Cook until potatoes are done and you got a semi-thick gravy.
  • Remove from the heat, sprinkle garam masala powder and 1 tsp. ghee over it. Garnish with fresh coriander leaves.


Colors of India said...

It is a nice way to start the made us drool over that traditional Bengali thali :) Happy New Year to you and your family.

sowmya said...

nice post..spinach subji sounds good..will try this way sometime..

Soma said...

Indrani eto bangali khabar dekke amar mukhe jol aschey.. since my husband is not a Bng, I do not cook all these too often.. yet crave for it:-)

maaacher tukro ta monay hochey tule ni:-)

Uma said...

Yummy thali!

Maya said...

Thali looks very good..Interesting to know the names in Bengali..

Sharmila said...

That is a beautifil plateful Indrani! Amio palong saager chorchori banai ei bhabe ... ektu borio add kori. :-)
Maachtao darun dekhacche. :-)

delhibelle said...

what a healthy and delicious thali!
bookmarked..thanks for sharing
Happy New Year:)

Nidhi said...

I am going to try this and will let you know. I loved your spread!

Srivalli said...

Thats a beautiful thali indrani!..

Anonymous said...

lovely thali....kalia ta try korbo....:-)

bindiya said...

loved the fish curry Indrani, no doubt the thali is world famous!

Indrani said...

Thanks a lot, everyone..nice to see that u've liked the thali

Adlak's tiny world said...

perfect thali and spinach curry sounds tasty...

anudivya said...

Never cooked any of those... maybe the rice. It looks nice though.

Neha said...

Nice thali. Happy new year to u dear..

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