2 c. Basmati rice, rinsed and drained
3 c. water
1 Tbs. oil
1 tsp. salt
2 cinnamon sticks
6 cardamom pods
1 bay leaf
pinch of saffron or ¼ tsp turmeric
In an oven-proof pot, saute spices and salt in oil (except for saffron) until the cardamom pods start to pop, a couple of minutes. Add the rice and saute another minute, until grains are coated with oil. Add the water (and saffron, if using) and bring to boil, then remove from flame and put in 350 degree oven for 20 minutes or until all water is absorbed (if pot is not oven-proof, transfer into an oven-proof dish. To continue cooking on top of stove, turn off flame but keep covered until water is absorbed, about 20 minutes). Garnish with kishmish badam.
Kishmish Badam (Raisins and Almonds)
¼ c. slivered almonds
¼ c. raisins
2 Tbsp oil
In small saucepan, heat 1 Tbsp oil on low-medium heat until warm. Add slivered almonds and saute, stirring continually, until golden. Remove and drain on paper towels. Add 1 Tbsp oil to same pan, saute raisins until they plump up. Remove from oil and drain on paper towel (they will shrivel back up). Mix raisins (kishmish) and almonds (badam) and sprinkle on rice before serving.
Calcutta Vegetable Cutlets
1 16-oz. package frozen mixed vegetables (make sure it includes green beans)
2 medium thin-skinned potatoes
2 tsp. cilantro or parsley, chopped
2 Tbsp matza meal or breadcrumbs, plus 1 cup for coating
1 tsp. salt
pepper to taste
oil for frying
Immerse vegetables in boiling water for 5 minutes, or microwave according to package directions. Mash by hand, or very gently in food processor. Scrub potatoes. Boil, cool and mash. Add to mashed vegetables. Add rest of ingredients, except 1 cup matza meal and oil. Form into balls and flatten slightly. Put crumbs or matza meal in a plate. Dip the patties in the crumbs or matza meal until they are coated.
Heat oil in deep saucepan until it begins to form bubbles. Fry the patties in the oil until golden. Turn over and fry on the other side. Add more oil if needed. Remove from oil and drain well on paper towels. Makes about 20 cutlets.
Note: Instead of frying, you can bake cutlets in oven. Place in a greased pan in a single layer. Drizzle oil on top of each cutlet. Bake in 400 degree oven for about 10 minutes. Turn over with spatula and cook another 10 minutes.
Beetroot Leaves or Spinach Mahmoosa
½ lb. beetroot leaves (buy a bunch of beets and separate the leaves) or spinach, cleaned and dried
½ cup water
1 garlic clove, finely chopped
1 small piece ginger, finely chopped
1 medium onion, finely chopped
2 T oil
¼ tsp. turmeric
½ tsp salt
2 large eggs, beaten
Remove tough stems from spinach or beetroot leaves. Cut into strips. Put ½ cup water and greens into large saucepan and bring to boil. Cook covered, about 2 minutes. Remove from heat. Cool. Drain spinach or beetroot leaves, squeezing as much water out as possible.
Saute garlic, ginger and onion in oil until lightly browned. Add turmeric and salt, keep stirring for about two minutes. Add spinach or beetroot leaves and continue to stir for 2 minutes. Add eggs and stir until scrambled. [or cook eggs in separate pan until softly scrambled. Fold into spinach or beetroot leaves and cook one more minute.]
Piaju (deep fried veggies)
1 lb. onions
1 c. olive oil
1 ¼ c. chickpea flour
½ c. water
¼ tsp. turmeric
1 bunch fresh cilantro
1 tsp. cumin
½ tsp. salt
pinch chili powder
Slice onions in food processor. Set aside. Chop cilantro in processor. Add rest of ingredients for batter and mix together. Add onions and mix with a couple of quick spins.
Heat oil in skillet or deep pot. Shape batter into rounds like falafel balls. Batter will be a little loose. Put in oil. Turn over to make sure golden brown and crisp on both sides. Remove with slotted spoon and drain on paper towels. Sprinkle lemon juice on top before serving (optional). Serve warm as appetizer or snack.
Makes two dozen.
Aloo Makala (Calcutta Deep-fried Potatoes)
4 lbs. small russet potatoes, or larger ones, cut in half
About 2 quarts peanut or vegetable oil for deep frying
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the potatoes and boil for 5 minutes. Drain and let cool.
Pierce the potatoes with a fork all over. Place them in a heavy, wide-bottomed pot and add oil to cover. Heat oil over medium-high heat, then cook (do not stir) until tiny bubbles appear on the potatoes, about 15 minutes. Reduce the heat to medium-low and let the potatoes continue to cook, stirring occasionally, until they are medium-gold, about 2 hours. (At this point, the heat can be turned off and the potatoes can remain in the oil until ready to serve, up to 3 hours.)
Just before serving, turn the heat to medium-high and fry the potatoes until they are very crsip and golden brown, about 15 minutes. Use a slotted spoon to remove the potatoes and drain on paper towels. Serve immediately.
Fruit Salad with Pomegranate
Fill a small bowl with pomegranate seeds and place in the center of a large platter. Use whatever fruit you like that is in season and arrange it around the pomegranate. It’s nice to vary it by color. Here are some suggestions:
1 pineapple, cored and cut into cubes
2 nectarines, sliced
strawberries, whole or halved
Decorate with mint leaves.
Kooleecha (Coconut Cookies)
2 c. coconut
¼ c. milk or pareve substitute
6 T butter or margarine
½ c. sugar
1 c. semolina
poppy seeds or kaloonjee
Moisten the coconut in the milk or milk substitute for 5 minutes. Cream butter and sugar together. Add the semolina and coconut/milk mixture and mix well.
Take 1 heaping tsp. of mixture and shape into a ball. Flatten it slightly and sprinkle seeds on top. Place on greased cookie sheet and bake in 350 degree oven 20-25 minutes or until golden brown. Makes 20.
1 ½ cups red dal (masoor dal)
½ small onion, sliced
1 tsp. turmeric
2 cloves chopped garlic
1 tsp. ground cumin
Wash and rinse dal. Add water to cover about an inch above the dal. Boil. As soon as it comes to a boil (watch it as it might overflow), lower the flame. Remove as much froth as you can. Now add the sliced onion, turmeric and salt. At this point you may put the lid on and cook on a medium flame. Slowly cook for maybe a half hour, stirring occasionally until some of the water dries. If you see water bubbling, it is not ready. Most of the water should dry and the dal will have been cooked.
The next step is called tarka. This is prepared in a small skillet – pour about 2 teasp. oil in skillet until very hot. Add about two cloves chopped garlic, a pinch of asafetida, 2 teasp. ground cumin and cook for a minute or two.
Lift the pan toward the dall pan and add some of the cooked dal to the hot pan with the garlic and cumin. It will sizzle. Add this mixture to the dal pan. Cook for another minute or so until flavors are blended. You may use a hand blender to just blend because the cumin and garlic mixture tend to lump.