Sunday, May 20, 2012

Chilli–Lime Swordfish Steaks

I got the germ of this dish from Madhur Jaffrey’s Masala Fish Steak recipe, where she uses sweet red peppers as the base of the sauce. But I found her sauce too bland and better suited as a topping for grilled fish. So I amped-up the spice quotient with turmeric, coriander and black mustard, added fresh green chillies for heat, and cilantro and lime for freshness. I used swordfish here, but you can substitute with any firm-fleshed fish like salmon, trout, or cod.

2 lbs [1 kg] Swordfish steaks
3 tbsp Turmeric
Salt, to taste
1 large Red Pepper, seeded, de-veined, and roughly chopped
2 Shallots, roughly chopped
6–8 cloves Garlic, peeled
2-inch piece Ginger, peeled and roughly chopped
4–6 fresh Green Chillies
¼ cup Cilantro
Grated zest of ½ Lime
4 tbsp Vegetable Oil
1½ tsp Black Mustard Seeds
1 tbsp ground Coriander
¼ tsp Black Pepper
Juice of ½ Lime
  1. Rub fish steaks with turmeric and salt and set aside for at least 30 mins, and up to 4 hours. 
  2. Put red peppers and shallots in a food processor and pulse 4–5 times. Add garlic, ginger, green chillies, cilantro and lime zest, and grind until the mixture is a smooth paste. Pour mixture into a bowl and set aside. 
  3. Heat 2 tbsp oil in a large skillet or frying pan over high heat. Add fish and brown well on both sides. Remove fish and set aside on a platter. Discard oil in pan and wipe clean. 
  4. Heat remaining oil in same pan over high heat. When the oil is smoking, add black mustard seeds and let sputter for a few seconds until they start to pop. Add red pepper mixture, stir and fry for about 3 mins. Turn heat to low, add coriander, black pepper and salt and continue frying for 2 mins, until the sauce starts to dry out. 
  5. Transfer browned fish to the pan, add limejuice, and spoon sauce over the fish. If the pan is too dry, add 2–3 tbsp water. Put a lid on the pan and let simmer for about 2–3 mins, until the fish is cooked-through. Serve garnished with cilantro and lime wedges.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Potatoes and Caramelised Leeks with Paanch Phoron and Hing

Paanch Phoron and Hing are a classical combination of spices that show-up in numerous vegetable dishes from eastern India. I’ve recently started pairing them with more western vegetables to startlingly good results. This recipe transgresses further from orthodox Bengali vegetarian dishes, which are cooked without onions or garlic (the traditional base for most meat and poultry curries), by introducing leeks—a mild and delicate member of the onion family— to the mix. The caramelised strands of leek wrap around the potatoes and impart a sweet counterpoint to the pungent note of paanch phoron and hing.

3 tbsp Vegetable Oil
6–8 whole Dried Red Chillis
6 oz [170 gms] Leeks, peeled, trimmed and cut into ¼-inch-thick round slices
1 tbsp Paanch Phoron
½ tsp Hing (Asafoetida)
1½ lbs [700 gms] Potatoes, peeled and cut lengthwise into eight pieces each
Salt (to taste)
¼ cup boiling Water
  1. Heat 1½ tbsp oil in a large skillet or frying pan over high heat. When the oil is smoking, add chillis and sauté briskly for 1 min until they are blackened. Remove chillis to a platter with a slotted spoon. 
  2. In the same pan, add the leeks and cook for 7–8 mins over high heat, until golden brown and well caramelized. Remove leeks from pan and set aside on the platter with the chillis. 
  3. Add remaining 1½ tbsp oil to pan and heat till smoking. Add paanch phoron and hing and let sputter for 30 secs. Add potatoes and stir briskly for 2–3 minutes, until the edges take on colour. Add caramelised leeks, blackened chillis, and salt, sprinkle water 2 tbsps at a time, and stir well. Turn heat to low, put a lid on the pan, and cook for 5–7 mins, until the potatoes are fork tender.

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Hot and Sour Okra

This recipe is dedicated to all my siblings who salivate at the thought of “sour goodies.” In fact, if any of you were around this afternoon, there wouldn’t have been any leftovers to photograph—it’s that irresistible! I used two different astringent ingredients—aamchoor (dried mango powder) and lemon juice—to give depth and sharpness to the sour note. My recommended measurements for both are keeping in mind more conservative palates. Just how much of each you use really depends on your taste buds and the potency of the ingredients. It’s better to start with less and to amplify the tartness based on your tolerance.

2 tbsp Vegetable Oil
2 tsp whole Black Mustard seeds
1 tsp whole Cumin
¼ tsp Hing (Asafoetida)
2 Shallots, thinly sliced
8–10 Green Chillies, minced
2 tsp freshly ground Ginger
1½ lbs [700 gms] Okra, with the stalks and ends trimmed, and cut into 1-inch–long pieces
1 tbsp ground Coriander
½ tsp Turmeric powder
Salt (to taste)
1½ tsp Aamchoor (dried mango powder)
Juice of ½ Lemon
  1. Heat oil in a large skillet or frying pan over high heat. Add black mustard seeds, cumin, and hing, and let sputter for a few seconds until the mustard starts to pop. Add shallots, green chillies, and ginger, and stir briskly for 2–3 minutes, until the shallots start take on colour at the edges. 
  2. Add okra and cook for about 3 mins until lightly golden. Add coriander, turmeric, and salt and stir well. If the pan gets too dry, sprinkle 2–3 tbsp water. Turn heat to low, put a lid on the pan, and let steam for about 5 mins.
  3. Turn off heat, add aamchoor and lemon juice, and stir well. Let sit for 10 mins before serving.

© Copyright 2012 Shubhani Sarkar