Omeletter Jhol (Omlette Curry)

IMG_4000I love eggs and pretty much every preparation of it, but omelettes have a special place in my heart. Bitting into a piece takes me back to long train journeys from Hyderabad to Agra filled with my dads jokes, my moms come backs and us giggling our guts out, early morning stops at Jhansi station and our family ritual to always relish freshly made omelette from one of the street vendors before our final stop at Agra.

For this dish, we start by first making a masala omelette and then simmer it in tal talle jhol (thin and runny gravy) for a fat and fluffy goodness to enjoy with rice, chapati or bread. Why not just the eat the omelette as is? Because this dish takes the omelette from delicious to DELICIOUS!! IMG_4001My dad was in sales and marketing and travelled often in my growing up years. This was something special my mom made for us girls to make those days feel like fun. We called it the ‘Girls Night Jhol’. I make this with left over Frittatas as well. And if you don’t feel like eating an omelette, bake or fry a couple fish fillets and simmer that in the same gravy and you will get classic bengali maacher jhol (Fish curry).

Time to Prep: 10 mins|Time to Cook: 30 mins|Yield: 4 Servings|Level: Easy

Ingredients:

  • For the Omlette
    • 4 eggs (I use just egg whites)
    • 2 tbsp milk
    • 1/2 tsp black pepper powder
    • 2 tbsp onion, finely chopped
    • 2 tbsp plum tomatoes, chopped
    • 2 tbsp green bell pepper, finely chopped (optional)
    • 1 green chili peppers, finely chopped
    • 1 tbsp cilantro, finely chopped
    • Red pepper flakes (Optional)
    • salt to taste
    • pinch of sugar
  • For the Jhol (Gravy)
    • 1 tbsp oil (or less)
    • 1 tsp cumin seeds
    • 1 tsp caraway seeds
    • 1 onion, finely chopped
    • 2 plum tomatoes, chopped
    • 2-3 green chili peppers, finely chopped
    • 1/2 inch ginger, mined
    • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
    • 1 tsp chile powder
    • 1 tsp coriander powder
    • 1 tsp turmeric
    • Salt to taste
    • 1 potato, cut in thin half-moon shape (around 1/8 inch thick)
    • 1 carrot, cut in thin half-moon shape (around 1/8 inch thick)
    • 1/2 fresh or frozen green peas
    • 2 cups of water
    • pinch of sugar
    • 2-3 tbsp cilantro, finely chopped for garnishing
    • 1 tsp Harissa or Sriracha (optional)

Process:

  1. Making the Masala Omelette:
    • Break eggs in a bowl, beat it. Add milk, salt, pepper and sugar and beat some more (this helps making the omelettes nice and fluffy).
    • Fold in the onions, tomatoes, peppers, chiles and cilantro.
    • Heat some oil in a frying pan/omelette pan in medium heat, pour the egg batter and swirl till its evenly distributed. Cover and let it cook.
    • Slide it on a plate and slice it into triangles, stripes or however you fancy.
  2. Making the Jhol (gravy):
    • Heat oil in a pan and temper it with cumin and caraway seeds.
    • When you can smell the aroma add the onions and chile peppers, sauté till the onions soften.
    • Add in the potatoes and carrots, turmeric, coriander powder and chilli powder. Fry till they start turning golden.
    • Add the ginger and garlic, sauté
    • Add the tomatoes and green peas, fold everything in. Cover and cook till tomatoes are mushy.
    • Add 2 cups of water, bring it to a simmer then cover and cook till the potatoes are cooked.
    • Taste and adjust seasoning, add a pinch of sugar.
    • Add the omelette pieces and simmer for 3-4 mins.
    • Garnish and serve warm

Notes:

  • If you have left over frittata, cut it up into pieces and use instead of omelette. This help converting leftovers into something delicious and new in a jiffy.
  • I like to mix in a spoonful of Sriracha or Harissa to the Jhol to add some extra zing to it.
  • While traditionally its served with rice, my favorite way of eating this make a sandwich with the omelette piece and dip that in the jhol before every bite.
  • If you don’t feel like eating an omelette, bake or fry a couple fish fillets and simmer that in the same gravy and you will get a classic bengali maacher jhol (Fish curry)

Noodle Soup

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Its fall finally! The beautiful shade of blue of the sky, the pretty colors, the chill in the air and in my case the allergies which come with the season. After a long day at work nothing is more comforting than a warm cup of soup while watching new episodes of my favorite TV show. Add a few spices and I not only convert the regular store bought broth into something delicious and deeply satisfying, but also cook myself a natural remedy to relive those allergy symptoms. This recipe is super easy and one of my go-to when I have had a long day at work or I am feeling a little under the weather.

Every culture around the world, home cook and professional chef, have their version of a noodle soup. This is my version. Its a hybrid of pho chay, ramen noodle soup and my mom’s recipe for a home remedy she gave me for my seasonal sniffles and sneezes.

I am detailing the vegetarian recipe, but scroll down to see the notes section for suggestion for a Non-Vegetarian version. 

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Time for Prep: 10 mins     Time to cook: 30 mins      Yield: 2 Servings     Level: Easy

Ingredients:

  • For the Broth:
    • 4 cups vegetable stock/broth
    • 3-4 shallots, chopped
    • 2 inches of ginger, grated
    • 1 cinnamon stick
    • 2-3 star anise
    • 2 tsp coriander seeds
    • 4-5 cloves
    • 1-2 tsp black pepper
    • 1 tsp cayenne
    • 1 tsp fennel seeds
    • 2 tsp soy sauce ( I prefer using a soy sauce reduction).
    • 1 tsp honey
    • 1/4 cup dry sherry (optional)
    • 1 tbsp oil
  • For the Noodle:
    • 1/2 lb or 7 oz thin rice noodles
    • 6 cups of water
    • 1 tsp oil
    • salt to taste
  • For the toppings (Choose all or just a few):
    • 1 thinly sliced carrot (I usually just peel layers, then roughly chop them)
    • Thinly sliced green bell pepper
    • Mushrooms, thinly sliced
    • 3-4 baby boo choy
    • Handful of kale, shredded
  • For Garnishes (Choose all or just a few):
    • 1/2 cup scallion, chopped
    • 2-3 chilli pepper, finely chopped
    • 1 lemon, cut in wedges
    • 1/2 cup mung bean sprouts (or any sprouts)
    • Handfull cilantro
    • Handfull basil
    • 1 tsp dried red chilli flakes
    • Hot sauce
    • Fried Egg

Process:

  1. To make the Broth:
    1. In a large pot heat oil, add the spices (cinnamon, anise, clove, fennel, coriander, black pepper) and dry roast in low heat
    2. When you smell the aroma of the spices, add the ginger, shallots and sherry (if using) sauté for 4-5 mins or till onions loose their raw smell
    3. Add the vegetable broth, soy sauce, honey and cayene
    4. Bring to a boil, cover and simmer for 30 mins
    5. Strain and keep hot till ready to serve
  2. To prepare the toppings:
    1. Slightly steam or blanch the vegetables chosen
  3. To prepare the Noodles (While the broth is simmering):
    1. Bring 6 cups of water to a rolling boil, add salt and oil
    2. Turn of the heat and add the noodles
    3. Cover and let stand for 20 – 30 mins or till the noodles are tender
  4. To serve:
    1. Divide the noodles in two bowls
    2. Arrange the toppings over the noodles
    3. Ladle in the broth
    4. Top with garnishes and serve warm.

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Notes:

  • For Non-Vegetarian version:
    • Use chicken stock for the broth
    • Chicken topping: use shredded rotisserie chicken or stir fry chicken breast pieces with some soy sauce, ginger, garlic, salt and pepper
    • Sauteed shrimp topping: Stir-fry peeled deveined shrimp in hot oil with minced ginger, minced garlic, ground pepper and salt.
  • For Vegan Version:
    • Use stir fry tofu for the topping
  • For a pure vegetarian version:
    • Don’t use the fried egg as a garnish
  • The rice noodles can be replaced with Ramen noodles or Maggi that is popular in India, ditch the seasoning that comes with the package and just use the noodles
  • Instead of just soy sauce I like using a soy sauce reduction because the flavor is more intense
  • Use a tea steeper to add spices to the broth, to skip the straining step

Bengali Deemer Chop (Egg and Potato Cutlet)

Durga Puja is round the corner and this time of the year always makes me nostalgic about good ole days. Growing up in a Bengali family, this was by far the most important event of the year. I have been often asked by my non-Indian friends what is Durga Puja and why its so important to me. Here’s why – memories of  good food and good times shared with friends!

I am hazy about the details around the religious aspect of things. To me its always been the entire community coming together for a 5 day cultural celebration of the victory of good over evil. A celebration filled with food, color, music and festivities. People gathered in large festive tents called ‘Pandal’, laughing together, sharing the delicious spread of Bhog (food offering to goddess), the smell of Kichudi, flowers and incense, the sound of Dhak (Drum), the Adda (chit chat), song, dance and theatre….  the layers and layers of festivities.

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Some of my favorite memories growing up are of the days leading up to it, the shopping of new clothes, planning what I would wear on each day and the rehearsals at Hyderabad Bengali Samity of plays and dances to be performed. Kids rehearsals followed by parents, the fights over badminton rackets or a game of carroms, Patiently waiting for the resident director Goshwami Kaku (Who ran an IT company for his day job) to say ‘Cut’  so that the egg roll and egg chop from Utpal Kaku’s canteen would appear along with some ‘Cha’ (Tea). Its been years since my last visit to Bengali Samity, but every time I bite into an egg roll or an egg chop, I am transported right back.

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Time for Prep: 45 mins     Time to Cook: 10 mins     Yield: 4 Servings     Level: Medium

Ingredients:

  • 2 eggs, hard boiled and cut in half
  • 4-5 small potatoes, boiled and skin removed
  • Salt to taste (I prefer Rock Salt)
  • 1/2 tsp red chilli powder
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper, ground
  • 1/2 tsp chaat masala (optional)
  • 1 tbsp cilantro, chopped
  • 2-3 green chili pepper, chopped
  • 2 tbsp onion, chopped
  • 2 tbsp corn flour
  • 2-3 tbsp water
  • 1/2 cup bread crumbs, on a plate.
  • Oil for frying

Process:

  1. Making Potato Mixture:
    1. Mash the potatoes, be careful not to overdo it, or they will get starchy.
    2. Add the spices, chopped onions, cilantro and green chili pepper. Mix well
    3. Divide into 4 portions.
  2. Assembly:
    1. Take a portion of the potato mixture, flatten it and place one of the half egg in the center.
    2. Cover the entire egg with the potato mixture, make sure there are no gaps.
    3. Repeat with other 3 halves.
    4. Refrigerate for 20 mins
  3. Mix the corn flour with a pinch of salt, pinch of ground pepper and water. Blend into a smooth paste.
  4. Dip the chilled cutlets in the cornflour paste, then roll it the bread crumbs.
  5. Place on a plate and chill for another 10 mins.
  6. Heat oil in a wok or deep fryer and fry in medium heat till golden brown.
  7. Remove and place on paper towel to soak out excess oil.
  8. Serve warm.

Notes:

  • Instead of corn flour paste, the cutlet can also be dipped in beaten egg before rolling in bread crumbs.
  • If you want to avoid frying, Spray with cooking oil and  bake at 400F/200C for 30 mins. Make sure to flip once in between.
  • For a vegetarian/Vegan version, replace the egg with piece of tofu or paneer.

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Deem er Dalna (Egg curry)

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This dish made regular appearance in our lunch/dinner table growing up. My sister and I would save the egg yolk for the end, then moosh it with an extra serving of just gravy and relish it. And as far I remember, we never had any left overs of this dish, ever! All of us loved it, which meant second and third helpings and a wager over the last bite.  My husband loves it too, so the tradition continues.

This is my go-to recipe when I am craving for something quick, easy and spicy.

Time for Prep: 10 mins     Time to Cook: 25 mins    Yield: 6 servings  Level: Easy

Ingredients:

  • 6 hard boiled eggs
  • 1 medium sized onion, chopped
  • 1 medium sized plum tomato, chopped
  • 2 tbsp tomato puree
  • 1 cup frozen of fresh green peas
  • 2 tbsp cilantro, chopped
  • 3-4 green chili pepper, chopped
  • 2 tbsp oil
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1 bay leaves
  • 1 tsp turmeric powder
  • 1 tsp coriander powder
  • 1 tsp cayenne or chilli powder
  • Salt to taste
  • 1.5 cups water

Process:

  1. Slit the hard boiled eggs and rub salt and turmeric on them.
  2. Heat oil in a heavy bottom pan, add the eggs and sauté for 2-3 mins. Remove from oil and set aside.
  3. To the same oil add the cumin and bay leaves, sauté till cumin start gets browned and gives out fragrance.
  4. Add onions and salt, stir it a little, reduce heat and let the onions caramelize. Usually takes around 7-8 mins. Add the chopped tomatoes and green chili pepper and cook for another 5 mins. Then add the tomato paste, stir it in, increase the heat let cook for a min.
  5. Add turmeric, coriander and chilli powder, stir close the lid and let cook for 1-2 mins.
  6. Add the green peas and water, bring to a boil.
  7. Add the eggs, cover and simmer for 5-6 mins, until the green peas are cooked.
  8. Garnish with chopped cilantro.

Serve with Rice, Jeera rice, Pulao or Roti.

Notes:

  • Sometimes I use Panch Phoron instead of the cumin seeds.
  • I prefer using mustard oil, but if your not used to the flavor or the smell, then use whichever oil your prefer.
  • My mom also added ginger and garlic (both minced), before adding the tomatoes. I prefer the taste without them.
  • You can also puree the onion-tomato-spices gravy base in a blender, after sautéing, before adding water if you prefer a smooth gravy.