Freshwater catfish, about 10-12 cm in size like a small trout, soft fleshed, with flavor that of fish eggs.
- Scientific Name: Eutropiichthys vacha
- Common Name: Batchwa vacha
- Bangla Name: Bacha
- More fish info here, declining population since it is a tasty little fish
To clean, remove gills and guts and trim the fins. Rinse.
To cook, marinate 2 cleaned fish with 1/4 tsp turmeric powder and 1/4 tsp salt for up to 1/2 hr at room temperature or overnight in fridge. Bring 2 tbsp mustard oil to smoking point in a wok, add fish and lightly fry for a few minutes on each side. Add 1/2 tsp onion seeds, 1 thai chili and add 1 cup hot water. Add 1/4 tsp turmeric powder and salt to taste and cook for 5 more minutes. Add 1 tbs chopped coriander leaves and 1/2 tsp lime juice. Serve hot with plain rice.
For a very similar recipe with photos, check this blog out.
Pitha comes in various shapes. These are the simplest. To prepare the crepe batter, to a cup of rice flour, add a pinch of salt, and a tablespoon of sugar. Add milk, 2% or full fat preferably, until the batter consistency is like crepe. Heat up a non-stick pan. If needed, you can wipe it down with a buttered cloth/brush. Follow cooking temperature regimen for a crepe.
Keep aside while you prepare the rest. These can be eaten warm or at room temperature. To take them to the next level (i.e. not simple), you can bake them in condensed milk as well but they do become heavy. Drizzling some condensed milk on top while not traditional can be an excellent substitute.
During this trip to India, I am seeing some new sweets in Bengal including baked rasogolla (boiled cheese balls dunked in sugar syrup) , Kolkata’s famous sweet and chana pora (literal translation for roasted cheese), a dish very similar to cheese cake.
Dried pomegranate seeds are excellent in salads or in soups or savory pancakes where the crunch from the seed or the sourness can be pleasing. The seeds can also be crushed and added to dishes to lend sourness.
On the right, in the picture above, are store bought seeds. They are sour but don’t have a whole lot of taste. The one on the left of the picture are dried at home in a food dryer per recommendation. It took what seemed like forever but the result is gorgeous. The seeds retain the lovely pomegranate color and are intensely flavorful. The seeds are crunchier as well and perhaps not as sour as the store bought variety.
I think I am going to additionally try my seeds as toppings on ice cream and homemade bars.
A dear neighbor recently gave us a large pail of prickly pear. He has the deep orange variety. These of course had the thorns unlike the ones from the store. I held each fruit using a tong, gave it a quick rinse in the kitchen basin to get rid of cobwebs and spiders, cut the fruit in half with a sharp knife on a cutting board, scooped the flesh out with a butter spoon and dumped the rest in my compost bin – assembly line style. I got about 6 cups from ~20 fruits.
I cooked the resulting flesh for about 45 minutes to release the juices, added a cinnamon stick at the end and let cool. Strained the resulting mass through a steel strainer to get rid of the seeds – if you just let the liquid drip, you will get a clearer jel but I let the pulp through. Finally, followed a low sugar jelly following instructions on Pomona pectin package for strawberries.
This is based on David Lebovitz’s french tart dough recipe. The ratio of liquid to dough is critical in this one. After several failed attempts, the one that worked as advertised was where our chef didn’t really wait for the butter to brown at the edges – just enough for it to bubble.
After the tart is partially baked and cooled, add a layer of fresh made frangipane and add sliced figs on top. Let bake for another 30-40 minutes – during this time, frangipane puffs up and encases the figs. Sprinkle powdered sugar on top. And Voila!
The tart shell is delicate and buttery and holds up well to cutting and transfer to plate. Flavor of almonds becomes a lot more pronounced upon cooking. This has so much butter that the gluten molecules pass unnoticed through your system!