Monday, January 23, 2012

Roasted Potato and Cauliflower with Paanch Phoron

This is a twist on a classic Bengali potato and cauliflower dish—aloo-kopi chochchori. I used all the prescribed ingredients but instead of cooking it on the stovetop, I roasted the vegetables in the oven. The resulting dish retains all the aroma and complexity of the original recipe, but instead of being soft and soggy, it has a dry and crispy finish, which is the perfect complement to steaming hot daal and rice on a cold winter day.

1 head of Cauliflower (about 1½ lbs [750 gms] after the stalks and leaves are trimmed), washed and cut into small florets
1½ lbs [750 gms] Potatoes, washed and cut, skin-on, into 1-inch cubes
1 tbsp Vegetable Oil
2 tbsp Paanch Phoron*
2 tbsp Turmeric powder
1 tsp Chilli powder
1 tsp freshly ground Black Pepper
Sea Salt (to taste)
2 tbsp Olive Oil
  1. Pre-heat oven to 450º F (230ºC). Arrange cauliflower florets and potatoes in one layer in a baking dish.
  2. Heat vegetable oil in a skillet or frying pan over high heat. Add paanch phoron and let sputter for about 1 min. Remove from heat and pour the spices and oil over the vegetables. 
  3. Sprinkle turmeric, chilli powder, black pepper, and sea salt, drizzle with olive oil, and using your hands, toss well to mix. 
  4. Roast in the oven for 30 mins, then stir the vegetables with a large spoon to ensure that they caramelise evenly. Continue roasting for another 15 mins. Remove from oven and serve immediately.
[*Paanch Phoron is a five-spice blend used extensively in Eastern India, especially in the cuisines of Bengal, Orissa and Assam. The five whole spices are blended in equal parts— Fenugreek seeds (methi), Nigella seeds (kalonji, or kaalo jirey), Fennel seeds (mouri), Carom (radhuni), Mustard seed (shorshey). In my family, the fifth spice, mustard, is not used, but the blend is still referred to as “five spice.”]

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Fat Sister Turns 2!

Hear ye, hear ye—Fat Sister’s Guide to Life is officially two-years-old today. Yes, grand ol’ TWO!

In these short 24 months, I’ve cooked and decorated and proselytised my way to 8,055 visitors, and 3,356 unique visitors. Now that is peanuts compared to some mega blogs with legions of followers. But I’m nonetheless proud of every one of those clicks and visits. So humour me this once and allow me to crow about my labour-of-love today. And most importantly let me holler a big three cheers to all my faithful readers for keeping me company and coming-along for the ride—mille grazie!

I also want to take this opportunity to share some interesting visitor data and traffic patterns with you.
This was the Analytics team’s take on the blog. Now dear readers, tell me what YOU think. What would you like to see more of in 2012? What kinds of recipes do you want? Is more detailed advice on decorating, and entertaining tips in order? I’d love more of your comments and feedback so I can continue to share with you Fat Sister’s adventures in living large and beautifully.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Braised Red Chard with Tomatoes, Chickpeas and Spicy Sausage

This is one of those super versatile dishes that I came up with using leftovers in my fridge. And like all truly great leftover recipes, you can easily substitute a lot of the main ingredients with whatever you have handy. If red chard is not available, then spinach or kale will do just as well; red kidney beans or black-eyed peas can swap-in for chickpeas; and any savoury or cured meat (bacon/sausage/ham) will do. Serve it as a side dish or, even better, as a main course, piled on top a steaming mound of couscous or rice.

2 tbsp Vegetable Oil
12 oz [340 gms] Spicy Sausage (like Chorizo or Spicy Italian), cut into ½”-thick pieces
1 tbsp whole Fennel seeds
2 sticks Cinnamon
2 Bay leaves
3 cloves Garlic, finely minced
4 small Tomatoes, chopped
1½ lbs [750 gms] Red Chard, washed and cut into 2-inch strips, including stalks
16oz [½ kg] canned Chickpeas, drained and thoroughly washed
Salt (to taste)
1 tsp freshly ground Black Pepper
½ tsp Chili powder
Juice of ½ Lemon (reserve the leftover lemon—rind, pith, and pulp—cut into quarters, for use later in the recipe)
½ cup Chicken stock, or Water
1/3 cup Cilantro, finely chopped
  1. Heat 1 tbsp vegetable oil in a large skillet or frying pan. When the oil is smoking, add sausage and brown evenly on both sides. Remove sausage onto a paper towel-lined plate and set aside. 
  2. Add remaining oil to same pan and heat. Add fennel, cinnamon, and bay leaves and allow the spices to sputter for 1 minute. Add garlic and stir for 1–2 mins, until lightly golden. Add tomatoes and cook for 3–4 mins, until they start to break down. 
  3. Add chard in batches and stir briskly until the leaves are wilted. Add sausage, chickpeas, salt, pepper, chilli powder, lemon juice, and lemon pieces and stir well. Add chicken stock, lower heat, and continue cooking for 5 mins. 
  4. Turn off heat, sprinkle with cilantro and let sit for 5 mins. Serve hot over steamed couscous or rice.

© Copyright 2012 Shubhani Sarkar