Matar-Paneer

Matar Paneer
Yesterday you made paneer (you did, right?); now here is something to make with some of that paneer.

Matar-paneer (literally peas-paneer) is a fairly ubiquitous dish on Indian restaurant menus in the US but, as with almost everything on most Indian restaurant menus in the US, often drowned in cream. The recipe below is a version of the basic way in which it is made in most homes in North India: a tomato sauce with clean, bright flavours that offsets the paneer nicely, with the peas providing textural contrast.

It is a very easy recipe, calling for not very many ingredients, most of which you probably have on hand, with a very light touch with the spices. Continue reading

Roasted Squash Soup with Ginger and Cumin (Indian Home Cooking Week 2)

Squash Soup
For the first two entries of this edition of Indian Home Cooking Week I’ve posted two fairly traditional parts of a Bengali meal. This third entry is neither traditional nor Bengali. It is my take on non-Indian roasted squash soups with Indian flavours and techniques. It is very easy to make and I think you will like it a lot—it’s a great winter soup. You can serve it as part of a multi-course meal (Indian or otherwise) or just have a big bowl of it as a standalone meal. It could even probably work as a sauce for fish along with rice. The possibilities are endless. By which I mean that there are at least three possibilities.

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Shaak/Saag, Two Ways (Indian Home Cooking Week 2)

Alu Palak

Alu Palak

You’ll often see the word saag (shaak in Bengali) used as a synonym for spinach in the US. In fact, saag/shaak refers to any kind of leafy greens. Thus spinach (palak in hindi, palok-shaak in Bengali) is only one kind of saag/shaak and various other kinds of leafy greens (from mustard greens to beet greens to amaranth leaves to water spinach) are eaten as saag/shaak. As far as I know Swiss chard is not grown much (or at all) in India, but unsurprisingly it is very good when used in most saag/shaak recipes (though I wouldn’t use it in recipes that call for leafy greens to be steamed and pureed).

Traditionally, Bengali meals incorporate one shaak dish, and this recipe is for the simplest possible such preparation plus an easy variation. It will go excellently with yesterday’s mushoor dal for a simple vegetarian meal. You could make it with spinach, radish greens, beet greens etc. (or some combination)—I used chard here because it’s what I had at hand.

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Mishti Kumro: Pumpkin/Squash in a Bengali Style (Indian Home Cooking Week 1)

Mishti Kumro
Indian Home Cooking Week kicked off yesterday with a recipe for chholar dal; here today is a recipe for a vegetable dish to eat with it: mishti kumro. “Mishti” means sweet in Bengali, and for those of you know Bengali food it may seem redundant for a Bengali dish to be qualified thus. My people have a renowned sweet tooth (though we can’t compare to most Gujaratis) and often add a bit of sugar to a lot of savoury dishes as well. The “mishti” in the name of this dish, however, is a qualifier of the second word “kumro”, which means pumpkin, and means only that the dish features sweet pumpkin—the dish itself is not particularly sweet. I’m not really sure which of the bewildering multiplicity of pumpkins and squashes available in the US is closest to the Bengali pumpkin. If I had to guess, I’d go with buttercup, but really I use whatever I have at hand: butternut, buttercup, kabocha, delicata, or in this case ambercup. Continue reading