This year I spent more time in my tiny kitchen than in any other corner of our home. It was all about testing and retesting every single recipe. Followed by photographing and of course the writing. Wow, does it feel lovely to finally share this news with you guys. Yes, I am writing and photographing my first cookbook. You never think something like this will ever happen to you. Then it actually does. A dream that I had for a while now, is shaping up beautifully and becoming a reality. It just feels amazing.
If you have been following my blog for a while now, you should know that I share different kinds of dishes, not restricting to any particular kind of cuisine. However, with my cookbook, I have gone back to my roots and filled it with Bengali Food. It’s the food that I grew up eating, food that I learnt to cook from Ma and the food that always takes me back home. There would be vegetarian and non-vegetarian dishes, street foods, snacks, drinks, comfort hearty food, deserts and some long-lost dishes. Almost all the dishes will be accompanied with a photo of the dish. I spent hours discussing these dishes with Ma, jotting down notes and then of course, testing those recipes several times.
I always knew that if I ever write a cookbook, it will be a Bengali cookbook and it’s finally happening. The journey so far has been an absolute thrill and a sheer joy.
A FEW DETAIL
I signed the contract earlier this year with Page Street Publishing. They are distributed by one of the “Big Five” publishers, Macmillan. A good half an hour chat with Will and my editor Marissa gave me a huge confident boost because they liked my idea of the book even though it was not a direct extension of my blog. And so, the work began. And boy oh boy, it is a lot of work! The shopping list was never getting over, props everywhere and my kid’s room wall was getting covered with the photos. Some weeks, we would eat the same dish again and again. Arvind never complained and he only became a much tougher critic to help me do better. None of this would have been possible without his constant support.
We are yet to finalize on the name of the book, the cover of the book and few other details. But I will keep you posted as it progresses. I just submitted the manuscript and felt it’s the time to share the news with you. It was not easy keeping it a secret.
Now, to my all-time favorite Bengali seafood dish, Chringri Malai Curry (Shrimps or Prawns Cooked in Spiced Coconut Milk). This is one of those dishes that I ask Ma to prepare every time I visit home. She always picks the jumbo prawn/shrimp for this dish with head on! The tiny frozen prawn/shrimp will work too but the major amount of flavor comes from fresh jumbo ones. Of course, if the head grosses you out, you can discard it.
- 4 jumbo prawns/shrimps
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon turmeric powder
- 1½ tablespoon oil
- ½ teaspoon sugar
- 1 bay leaf
- 3 green cardamoms
- 1 small, 2.5 oz./73 g red onion, finely chopped
- 1 tablespoon grated garlic
- 1 tablespoon grated ginger
- 3 green chilies
- 1 to mato, 7.4 oz./ 211 g, grated
- 1 tablespoon tomato paste, optional
- ½ teaspoon cumin powder
- ½ teaspoon coriander powder
- ½ teaspoon chili powder
- 1 cup coconut milk
- fresh cilantro leaves for garnish
- Clean the shrimps/prawns. Feel free to discard the head and the shells. I like to leave it on as it enhances the flavor.
- Place the clean shrimps in a big bowl. Sprinkle half of the salt and half of the turmeric powder. Give it a mix and leave it aside for 15 minutes.
- Place a heavy bottom skillet on medium heat and pour 1 tablespoon of oil. When the oil heats up, layer the marinated shrimp/prawn and cook it for a minute on each side. It will be partially cooked. Take it off the hot pan into a separate plate and keep it aside to be used later.
- To the same pan, pour rest of the oil and sprinkle the sugar followed by the bay leaf and the green cardamoms.
- After 2 seconds, scatter the onion, garlic and ginger. Sprinkle rest of the salt and the turmeric. Stir and cook for 2 minutes.
- Drop the tomato along with the tomato paste. The tomato paste adds a rich color to the dish but it’s optional. Trim the end of the green chili and add them. Give it a stir and then sprinkle the spice powder (cumin, coriander and chili). Stir and cook for 5 minutes or until the oil starts to release from the edges of the pan.
- Layer the partially fried shrimp to the pan and stir it gently to coat the mixture all around. Pour the coconut milk along with ¼ cup of water. Cook for 3 more minutes. Check for salt and add any, if required.
- Switch off the pan, garnish the curry with fresh cilantro and serve warm.
The cooking time will change depending on what kind of shrimp or prawn you are using. If you are using small shrimps, you don’t need to fry it separately. You can add it straight to the curry at the end.