Wednesday, 27 June 2012

Re-ilish-ed!!! The tale of relishing Hilsa..

Indian Shad, Hilsa or Ilish, Bangladesh’s national fish is a pride for any bong ever born. From the Pride that a Kaku (uncle) feels when he walks past the envious stares of his neighbours and mates, with a big ilish tail peeking through his fish-carrying-bag; to the pride of a Kakima’s (aunty’s) fish filleting skills with a sharp iron cutting device (Boti); its pride all the way!!! And the best of it all has to be, when their young child starts eating the fish, without the fine bones stuck to his throat. I remember when I did that, and till date my dad looks at me with pride in his eyes!! :-P

Enough of jibber-jabber about bongs, now to the fish in question; ‘Ilish’. A perfectly cooked piece of ilish is ideally soft, flaky and full of flavour. I prefer making steamed ilish in a mustard sauce (Ilish Bhanpe) over and over. It tastes the best when the fish is freshest. The flavour of this flaky white fish lies in the numerous tiny bones all around its body, which makes eating this fish a skill that bongs have mastered. Ilish is an acquired taste, but trust me, when u do acquire the taste, you wont be able to let it go... 
This is my simple recipe for a fresh plate of steamed rice served with Ilish Bhanpe!

2 heaped tbsp Mustard Paste (I use yellow variety of mustard to make the paste, as I love the zing it gets along with it. You may use the simple black ones, also known as 'rye'.)
2 tsp Tender coconut paste (the creamy part of a tender coconut)
4 slit green chillies
Turmeric to taste
Salt to taste
2 tbsp dark mustard oil
¼ cup water (or less, depends on the thickness of curry you want.)
4 steak type pieces of Hilsa/Ilish


In 1/8 cup of water, mix together mustard & coconut paste, salt and turmeric.

Smear each piece of fish in this paste till well covered on all sides. Keep it to marinate in this mix for 10 mins.

After 10 mins, depending on the amount of curry you want, add in some water, the mustard oil and chilies; and cover it tightly with cling film or a lid. If using a cling film, do not forget to poke several holes with fork for the air to pass while cooking.  

Now microwave the fish on high for 3 minutes. After giving it a bit of a stir, microwave again for 2 minutes, till the flesh of the fish is white, flaky and well cooked. Depending on the size of each piece and the amount of water you add, cooking time will vary. 
For me 5 minutes at 900 watts always gives out the best results.


Friday, 22 June 2012

Arre, "SAMBAL" Ke!! ;-)

If Malaysia was anything in a word, it has to be a SAMBAL. It’s a sambal of cultures, and its food is testament to that. Every Malay dish I tasted had a strong influence of the developed food cultures of Asia. 

Be it the Chinese noodles with the spicy Indian type curry that you dip these noodles in, a few crispy fried nuts and a dark prawn sauce on the side, Viola! You got the famous Malay Laksa!!

Or a crispy fruit salad dipped in a dark brown caramel and topped with toasted peanut praline, called Rojak. 

But one thing I found unique and at the same time, most common is, sambal sauce. I couldn’t help but notice the many versions I got to taste of this simple sauce. Every restaurant, every household has a different take on it, and the flavours change according to tastes and preferences!! This is the version I picked up at the Rebakh Island, Langkawi.

And this is how it goes:

100 gms Dried red chillies
100 gms Fresh red chillies
100 gms shallots/onion
50 gms garlic
2 tbsp Tamarind juice
2 tbsp Lemon grass
4 tbsp veg Oil
Salt and pepper
Sugar to tast

50 gms dry prawns and/or anchovy paste (optional)

Soak the dry chillies in the water for around 6 hours, till its soft. Drain and make a paste of it.

Cut all fresh ingredients and make a separate paste with it. Make sure to have all these ingredients into a nice smooth paste with no visible chunks of onion or garlic left. Whisk in the tamarind juice to this and keep it aside

On medium heat, heat up the oil in a pan and pour in the fresh paste. Cook for a few minutes, till the aroma of the ingredients wafts up from the pan.

Now add in the dry red chilli paste and cook till oil separates out of the mix.

(P.S. if you intend to make a non-veg version of this dish, add the optional prawn paste or anchovies with the dry red chilli paste.)

Once the oil separates, season with salt, pepper and sugar to taste.

This sauce is a great alternative to the horrible vinegary chilly sauce we get in the market. You can store it up in an air tight container for 2 days in room temperature or refrigerate it for a fortnight.


Wednesday, 13 June 2012

The Zouqh of Malaysia...

Recently, Zouqh went out to explore a new country and its tastes...
Malaysia and its finest Street Food Culture, as captured from the eyes of a foodie!! 

Market Tour Around Penang!!

Food all Around!!

Restaurants or Streets??
For further information on the trip, Log on to our Facebook Page and browse through a detailed account of The Foodie Exploits!!

Monday, 11 June 2012

The Perfect box of food to carry around!!

Whether its a potluck, or a lunch to pack for a loved one, making a tiffin-box is a tricky subject. But thanks to our fast Microwave Express Recipes, now making a lunch box is minutes away!!


Sunday, 10 June 2012

Whole-wheat and Honey muffins with Banana and Walnut Twist!!

There are very few things I am quite proud of, in life. Obviously the first has to be my Web store:, where I slogged day and night to design the complete web site and click appropriate pictures for the same! Second has to be my love of life, a foodie’s dream husband dear! And third, is most probably this recipe of mine; Whole-wheat and Honey muffins. I make tons of variation to this recipe. This is one of such variations and so, I don’t recommend experimentation with this particular one. I will soon share the basic recipe, which you can experiment with to your heart’s desire.

I came up with this recipe as a necessity, more than anything else. My sweet-loving bong family needed something sweet after every meal, but something tat didn’t excite their docs too much. And anyways, eating healthy while eliminating a few well established, yet very addictive, white evils are a welcome change. So here goes my diabetes friendly dessert, Whole-wheat and Honey muffins with Banana and Walnut Twist.


3/4 + 1/8 cup whole wheat flour
1/2 tsp salt
3/4 tsp Baking soda
Generous pinch of Cinnamon (optional)

1/3 cup milk
1/3 tbsp apple cider
1 egg lightly beaten
Vanilla extract (optional)
1/8 cup oil
1/4 cup honey
2 mashed bananas (I used the small indigenous variety which is not too sweet. For the sweet big banana, one should be more than enough!)


In a bowl, combine the milk and apple cider together, and let it stand while you get the other ingredients. The milk is going to break down and form a softening agent which is a great replacer of buttermilk in any cake recipe, especially the ones with whole wheat flour. These softening agents will help the texture get to the soft spongy muffin that we all love and adore.

Now in a separate bowl, combine all the dry ingredients and whisk it well. Make sure your mixing bowl is big enough to include all the wet ingredients as well.

Mix together all rest of the wet ingredients with the made buttermilk substitute, and whisk to combine lightly.

Make a well in the middle of the dry mix and add in the wet ingredients. Incorporate the dry stuff in the wet mix, with a wooden spoon or spatula, until you don’t see any dust of dry flour left in the mixing bowl. Make sure not to over mix the ingredients. At this point you should have a well mixed and evenly distributed muffin batter.

This amount is perfect to make 9 even muffins. I decorated the top with sliced bananas and walnuts, just for a visual appeal. It’s an optional step but I highly  recommend!

Bake the muffins at 200 deg c for 20 – 25 minutes, till a wooden skewer inserted in the middle comes out clean with no raw batter left. Let it cool on a wire rack and there you go... 

A healthy bite, for anytime!!


Friday, 1 June 2012

Smart cooking for hostesses on a run...

In the yester-years, parties were organised very meticulously, religiously and lovingly. To host a party meant a lot of research, sometimes involving the guests and sometimes involving the food. Everything was made to the perfection, even if it meant labouring over it for a week. But in the present scene, out of the three attributes, it’s only the last one which, till date holds the forte. Today parties are planned in a matter of minutes. And if you have the question ‘how’ on your mind, then please read on...

In big cities, even a fulltime home maker requires a cook. And by that logic, it’s a necessity for a working couple. And so the mighty ‘bai’, who cleaned houses with a little flair for cooking got a completely new and upgraded job to her. Seldom do we question their culinary skills and whatever good or bad they make, we eat. It’s the ‘sasta-tikaoo’ way to survive in this city. But if your friends are coming over for a drink and dinner, she will be the last person to help you.

It had happened to me quite a lot. Getting off work and suddenly a friend who is visiting the town, says he is coming over to say hi. A common friend too wants to spend some time with him, which means you have a cocktail & dinner to arrange for four. Here is what I do in this situation and you can do the same to get a lovely spread organised in minutes.

For snacks to be served with cocktails, get a lot of Monaco biscuits and salami. And don’t forget to get some namkeen or simple potato chips as well. Once u have all this in place, start cooking and trust me when I say, it’s just going to take half an hour. Put some curd in a clean cloth and hang it on your basin. Take out the salami and microwave it for a min on medium heat. Now cut some cheese cubes and put them on a tooth pick with an olive in the middle. Salami-olives-cheese sticks are a great snack to offer with drinks. Serve it in any innovative way as u want.

Now take the curd out of the cloth after 15 mins. Chop some olives and capsicum if u have. Put some sugar, salt and pepper. For a creamy texture add a little bit of cheese spread and the solution in which olives was preserved. And a great hung curd dip is made to be had with any kind of chips or namkeen like soya sticks, banana sticks, etc. And before your guest arrives, make canap├ęs out of Monaco biscuits. Put some mayo and a cheese cube on it and season some with tomato sauce and some with mustard sauce. With this your snacks part is completely taken care of.

As for a quick dinner, ask your cook to make a lot of rice and green chutney. Put everything in the chutney, like coriander, mint, ginger, garlic, a small onion and half a tomato, some peanuts, green chillies and coconut if you have. Grind it to a nice paste. In a pressure cooker, boil chicken with ginger garlic and salt and pepper and let it get almost cooked. Now in a kadai add some oil and sprinkle in some cumin seeds and black pepper. Once it stops crackling put the chutney in. Let it simmer for a while before u add in the chicken. If you don’t mind some extra calories a bit of added work then, shallow fry the chicken pieces before adding it into the sauce. Caramelizing the chicken will release out a lot of flavour. Once the chutney has seeped into the chicken, add some fresh cream onto it. Sprinkle some garam masala on top and let it simmer for a while before removing from heat. Serve portions of rice with the chicken in green sauce on top, and see your guests exclaiming in awe at your culinary skills.

And for the desert, ask your cook to chop in some fruits, whatever so, apart from bananas that you can lay your hands on. Now put them all in a big serving bowl. Take out some vanilla ice-cream and let it melt a little. Now with a fork mix in the lumps and make a smooth paste. Now mix it in with the fruits. Decorate it with dry fruits and let your guests lick it away to glory.

So there you go.. a party prepared in minutes. None of these recipes r gonna take more than 15 mins to make and all of them are finger licking good. Enjoy and let me know how it went!!!


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