I WAS a fussy eater ...... well not any more. The list of things that would not make it to the plate far more out numbered the ones that did. Milk and it's bi-products were a BIG NO for me. The milk had to be religiously strained before adding a liberal amount of Bourvita to it. There should be NO malai in the milk and it should taste anything but not milky. Paneer was also in the DISLIKE list. I had my own criteria ...... Paneer (Cheena) as rasogolla was fine, even Cheena Poda (another traditional sweet from Odisha) was fine but not Cheena Payesh or even for that matter steamed paneer cake. Forget about Paneer Curry and all that ......
And I am sure you would not want to go through the long list of vegetables ..... Except for Potatoes, Cauliflower, Peas, and a select few everything else !
Not just that I would sit with food on my plate for hours. My tantrums were unlimited.
Either my parents had given up on me as a hopeless case or had loads of patience. I have to go with the later ..... not because I am biased but because it was their patience and perseverance of not giving up on me that I am a foodie now !! Yeah Rome was not built in a year.
My parents would constantly worry about my eating habits especially when I would have to leave their nest and go out to make a life of my own. No matter how stern mom looked she wept like a baby when she left me at my hostel. And the real world beckoned upon me ...... Bitter gourd curry was served for dinner the first night at my hostel along with some other greens, curd, rice, sambar and chappati. Tears welled up and was chocked. Either I had to eat or starve. I served a small spoon of rice and sambar and tried to swallow it. And I have to say that my stay in the hostel taught me many lessons of life .... including food !! And I changed my habits for the better.
The next time I visited home after my first semester break ..... my family was quite surprised to meet the no more fussy eater. I ate all and with delight. And today my list of food that I don't eat has shrunk and if ever I am made to do a thank you speech on who changed my food habits, it has to be the horrible cook of my hostel ...... lol
About the recipe ........
Cottage cheese is called Cheena in the eastern part of India. This curry is very typical to Odisha/ West Bengal. Goes well with Indian Flat Bread ( Roti/ Phulka/ Chappati/ Poori/ Paratha etc ). Best when consumed fresh.
Serves - 2
Cottage Cheese - 250 gms
Baking Soda - 1 pinch
Onion - 1 small
Tomato - 1 small
Ginger - 1 inch
Garlic - 4-5 pods
Cinnamon - 1 inch
Cardamom - 2
Fennel - 1/2 tsp
Cumin - 1 pinch
Cashew nuts - A handful
Garam Masala - 1/2 tsp
Turmeric - 1 small pinch
Cayenne Pepper/ Red Chilli Powder - 1/2 tsp
Salt - to taste
Oil for cooking
Method of Preparation
1. Knead the Cheena/ cottage cheese after adding baking soda to it to make a soft pliable dough. Pinch out small balls of the cottage cheese and roll between your palms to make smooth balls. Heat oil in a kadhai/ wok to medium heat and fry them till they are golden brown. Remove and drain on a kitchen paper towel to remove excess oil. Keep aside.
2. Make a paste of Onion, ginger and garlic and cumin seeds . Puree the tomato separately. Make a paste of cashew nuts. Keep aside
3. Take 2 tbsp of oil in a wok. When warm add cinnamon, cardamom and fennel seeds. Now add the onion ginger garlic cumin paste to it. Stir and fry the masala till the masala is cooked and there is no raw smell. Add tomato puree, turmeric, chili powder and salt. Cook for few more minutes till the masala starts leaving oil at the sides.
4. Add the cashew nut paste to it and simmer. Add garam masala. If needed add water to adjust the consistency.
5. If you are making this dish in advance, heat the gravy and add the Cheena balls to it just before serving. Else they tend to soak the gravy and make it dry.