Say what you will, but there’s little that triumphs over the taste of steaming hot polao, mouthwatering kababs that melt on the tip of your tongue and the classic taste of halwa. This January, indulge your taste buds with the authentic taste of traditional cuisine. Dine like royalty with gems curated from Fawzia Mowla Lisa’s treasure trove, as she guides you through recipes perfected over time.
Whether it’s a show-stopper for your next dinner party, or a little sweet tooth indulgence, we’ve got you covered.
Shami kebabs are succulent, minced chicken/mutton/beef patties with some Bengal gram and loads of fragrant masalas filled inside. They are deep fried till crisp and golden. An integral appetizer of every dinner party menu, it is a feast to relish on these kababs with some mint chutney and onion rings on the side.
• 2 cups minced beef/chicken/mutton
• ½ cup Bengal gram split/boot er daal
• 2 level teaspoons ginger paste
• 1 level teaspoon garlic paste
• 2 medium-sized onions chopped roughly
• 2 level teaspoons red chilli powder
• Salt to taste
• 3 cups water
• 2 teaspoons garam masala powder
• 1 egg
• 1 tablespoon plain biscuit crumb
• Oil for deep frying
• 1 cup finely sliced onion for bereshta
• 4 teaspoons minced onion
• 3 teaspoons finely chopped mint leaves
• 3 teaspoons raisins
• 1 cup finely sliced onion
- Wash the daal and put in a pan along with the minced meat, ginger, garlic, onion, chilli powder, salt and water. Boil this till cooked and dry.
- For the bereshta
Deep fry finely sliced onion till it is golden brown and crispy. When done, pick up with a slotted spoon and set aside.
- When the minced meat mixture is cool, grind it together with the bereshta and garam masala powder. The mixture must be a smooth paste.
- Put this in a bowl and mix well with the egg and biscuit. This is usually done by hand instead of using a spoon.
- Now make equal sized balls (the size of a table tennis ball or slightly bigger). Mix together all the ingredients for the filling and divide your filling equally according to the number of mince balls.
- Make a hole in the centre of a ball, put in the filling, close it, circle it between your palms and gently flatten it. Set aside.
- When all the kababs have been made, heat oil in a pan and fry the kababs till richly browned. Garnish with onion rings, green chillies and a slice of lime.
This garam masala spiced, Bengali style Chingri Polao is a perfect one-pot meal which you can cook quickly between all the rush during a dawat. Soft, aromatic rice grains studded with dry fruits, along with those bits of prawn is something which will make your guests want more of it.
• 2 cups kalee jeera or basmati rice
• 2 cups shelled or de-veined prawns
• ½ teaspoon ginger and garlic paste
• ¼ cup vinegar
• Salt to taste
• ½ cup ghee or any oil
• ½ cup sliced onions (preferably shallots)
• 6 pieces crushed cardamom (elachi)
• 4 pieces clove (laung)
• 2-3 1-inch cinnamon sticks
• 2 small bay leaves
• 5-6 whole green chillies
• Chopped coriander for decoration
• 4 cups hot water
- Wash prawn thoroughly, squeeze out the water and keep in a bowl.
- Add vinegar, salt, ginger and garlic paste to the prawn. Mix well and keep aside.
- Heat the ghee in a pan and brown the sliced onions in it. Remove the onions from the ghee when browned.
- Add the rest of the spices to the ghee and fry for a minute.
- Pour the prawns and fry for another 5 minutes.
- Add the washed rice and fry for another 5 minutes, now add the water and salt to taste.
- Cover and bring to a boil on high heat. Reduce the heat to medium after 5 minutes of boiling.
- Give it a light stir. Cover.
- Check to see after 5 minutes if the liquid has completely lessened. Now add the green chillies, cover and cook on low heat. Place a heavy skillet under the pan or you may also put it in the oven.
- Cover and cook the polao till the rice is tender.
- Garnish with fried onions (bereshta) and chopped green coriander.
Serves 8-10 people
The height of traditional dining, gajor er halwa is the cherry on top to a perfect meal. The vibrant hues of carrot bits, sprinkled with flecks of almond, make it a feast for the eyes, and the rich, creamy taste of this decadent dessert makes it the perfect post-dinner companion for your taste buds.
This recipe has been passed down from the late Faizunnessa Khanam, Ms Mowla’s maternal great-grandmother.
• 500g carrots
• 225g ghee or butter
• 800g sugar
• 1kg milk
• ½ teaspoon cardamom powder
• Sliced almonds (for garnishing)
- Wash and peel the carrots. Grate them and boil in milk till soft. Stir in between.
- When the carrot is soft, bring it down from the fire. If there is any milk left in the pan, let it remain there.
- Heat a fairly thick-bottomed pan, and then heat the ghee on a medium fire. Add the boiled carrots along with the remaining milk. Fry for 2 to 3 minutes. Don’t worry if the milk has lessened to nothing.
- Add sugar and keep on stirring till the sugar has dissolved completely. When the halwa becomes sticky and leaves the side of the pan while stirring, it is ready.
- Pour the halwa in a flat dish and garnish with sliced almonds. Serve hot or cold.