Thursday, February 13, 2014

Lentejas con Jamón (Lentils with Ham)

Being Indian, Bengali specially, I have this love affair with lentils. Back home we call it 'masur dal'. Anyway was quite surprised when one of my Spanish friends suggested this recipe, which seems to be a very popular dish both in Spain and Latin America. If you are interested you could check out this one with ham or this one with chorizo. Anyway, my version is a simpler one- love cooking but hate spending hours cooking. This one's with bacon, but tastes as great if you want to skip the bacon and just make a vegetarian version.

Ingredients (Serves 2):

  • Lentils- 1 cup
  • Carrots- 2 finely chopped
  • Zucchini- 1 finely chopped
  • Leek- 1 chopped (my recipe omits it as leeks are right now pretty expensive in Muscat)
  • Onion- 1 large finely chopped
  • Tomato- 1/2 pureed
  • Bacon- 3 slices
  • Bay leaves (laurel)- 4
  • Turmeric- 1/4 tsp; this is totally optional, but as I was adding bacon without frying just put it in to be safe
  • Olive oil- 1 tbsp
  • Salt- To taste
Preparation (40 mins):

Heat the oil in a deep saucepan. Add onions, carrots, zucchini and fry on low heat.  

Wash the lentils, add into saucepan. Add water to cover the lentils and just a finger more. If you want, you could add a little turmeric like I did, but its not necessarily.

Turn down stove to medium-low. Cook for twenty mins. Now add in chopped bacon, tomato pulp and the bay leaves. Cook for 10 mins and your lentils are ready.

Tips :

  • You could pair this with a small portion of rice, but the lentils by themselves are a complete meal.

Wednesday, February 05, 2014

Shutki Chingri with Eggplant (Sun Dried Prawns with Eggplants)

This recipe comes from Bangladesh. Specifically the southern coastal part. I feel Bengali cuisine today, as it is known, has diverged into three sub-families. There is the typical West Bengal cuisine, typified by aloo-posto, biuli/ arhar/ masur daal's, and other delicacies. I would class the center of gravity of this genre to the Rarh region, then there is the fusion cuisine of the Bengali's who migrated from East Bengal- the Bangal's, reminiscent of a lost homeland. Similar to West Bengal cuisine, over time this  is slowly morphing into the other Bengal (much like my family). And then there is Bangladeshi cuisine. Though having similarities in roots with the Bangal cuisine, it has over time developed into an independent form, with it's own nuances and characteristic tastes, spices and usage of vegetables and fish. When talking of Bengali food, like culture and society, people often gloss over the fact that food in Bangladesh is a category distinct from Bengali food in India.

This recipe is a recreation of a dried prawn side dish that my maid used to make back in Dhaka. Disclaimer-Best efforts aside, it's not as good as her version.

Ingredients (Serves 4):

  • Shutki chingri (Sun dried prawns)- 250 gm
  • Egglants- 2 (Chopped into small slivers)
  • Onion- 1 large, chopped
  • Garlic- 5 large cloves, chopped
  • Ginger- 1/2 inch, chopped
  • Red Chilli- 2
  • Green chilli- 4, chopped
  • Turmeric- 1 tsp
  • Cayenne - tsp
  • Salt- To taste (Add a little more than you normally do as the eggplant tends to bland down the dish and 
  • Mustard Oil- 5 tbsp (I substituted with olive oil as I ran out)

Preparation (30 mins):

Heat 2 tbsp oil in a deep saucepan, throw in onions, garlic, ginger and the dried fish. Keep on high and continue turning over continuously till onions start becoming translucent.

In a separate container, mix chopped eggplants, turmeric, salt and cayene. Once the fish is near about done, sprinkle 2 tbsp oil and add the eggplants and red chilli's to the mix. Cook on high for 5 mins while constantly turning over.

Throw in chopped green chilli's add remaining oil. Mix thoroughly and cover. Turn heat to low-medium. Cook for 15 mins or till you feel it's done.

Serve hot with rice.


  • This is a pretty strong flavoured dish. The eggplants in the mix not only add body to the dish but also tone down the strong fishy flavour. If you want to you could increase the proportion of eggplants in the dish.
  • Another way to mask the strong fishy flavour is to use more onion and garlic.