Saturday, 29 September 2012

Honey Rose and Pomegranate Ice Cream


With the festive season setting in with the Ganapati Utsav, there is a abundance of colorful blossoms at the road side flower shops. Oranges, yellows, whites, pinks and reds all around. I have a small mandir in our apartment, but for me it's more like standing in front of the deities with folded hands for a couple of minutes instead of an elaborate puja with flowers, incense sticks and chanting elaborate mantras. My God is understanding and pardons me every time for this short cut way to seek his divine blessings. 

A creamy delight
Even if I don't buy flowers very occasionally but that particular day while waiting for the traffic signal to turn green, I saw teenage boys selling stunning pink colored rose bouquets. The bouquets were looking amazingly beautiful and immediately I developed a romantic craving for them. By the time I fished out my purse the light had already turned green and there was no way I could convince the auto driver to stop his auto in the heavy traffic. I could just languish for those roses then and decided to buy some the next day. But unfortunately I never saw those boys or bouquets again. Somehow the view of those roses had suddenly made me feel like a teenager in love, the happy happy dreamy and mushy kinda feeling  and I decided I needed some rose in my life or rather cooking. I started looking on the net and surprisingly came across so many recipes involving roses. I never had any idea that a romantic flower like rose can be such a versatile ingredient in so many dishes. I thought to give a shot at making some rose ice cream. There are many recipes of rose ice cream on the net, I read through a couple of them and came with my own mixed version. I couldn't find the pink roses so I had to do with the standard red roses readily available at any flower shop, just make sure the roses you get are pesticide free. I also had some fresh and juicy pomegranate at home and since the color matched the roses I had chosen for this recipe, I used them as well. I was previously aware of a thing called rose honey (rose petal infused honey) and had some of it already at my home, so that became a nice topping to go with the inherently romantic rose petal ice cream.


Preparation Time: 5 minutes

Cooking Time: 20 minutes
Serves:2

Cuisine: General

Ingredients:
  • Milk  -  200 ml
  • Fresh Cream (I used Amul Fresh cream) - 200 gm
  • Sugar - 85 gm
  • Rose water - 3 tbsp
    Rose Essence - 1 tbsp
  • Rose Syrup -  3 tbsp
  • Fresh Rose Petals - 10 to15
  • Pomegranate - 1 cup
  • Saffron - 2-3 strands
  • Almonds - 5 (chopped)
Ingredients for Honey Rose:
  • Honey
  • Rose Petals

    Procedure for Honey Rose:

    Preparing Honey Rose is really pretty easy but the only caveat is making sure that the roses you are going to use is fresh and pesticide free. Hence the best way to procure such roses is growing them in your backyard. You can store the rose petals in an air-tight container and store it in the refrigerator for using it later in any dessert. You can also experiment with all kinds of different roses, each one has a characteristic color and smell.

    1. Wash and dry the rose petals.
    2. Fill a jar with the rose petals.
    3. Pour honey uniformly over it and let this concotion stand for at least 2 weeks. The more the standing time the more fragrent the honey becomes.

    Honey rose comes in handy as all kind of dessert toppings so even if you make it in bulk, its always a useful. I made a bowlful just enough for this batch of dessert. The subtle smell of rose with the sweetness of the honey will always leave you craving for more.

    Procedure for Ice Cream:

    1. Take the sugar, 5-6 rose petals, rose syrup, 1 tsp of pomegranate seeds and 3 tbsp of rosewater in a food processor and pulse to make a uniform puree.I prefer to use Mapro rose syrup as they have a very natural smelling rose flavor and shredded rose petals which helps to add texture to this dessert. I used the glistening scarlet seeds of antioxidant-rich pomegranate to give that extra crunchiness to the decadent dessert.

    2. Take the fresh cream and milk in a saucepan and add the above puree. Add the saffron strands. Mix well.

    3. Turn on the heat and bring the mixture to boil. Reduce heat and allow to simmer for a couple of minutes until the mixture thickens a bit. Turn off the heat.

    4. Allow the mixture to cool down to room temperature.

    5. Place a few chopped almonds and pomegranate seeds in the bottom of the refrigerating bowls. Pour the thickened mixture into refrigerating bowls till half. Line a few more pomegranate seeds along the side of the bowls and then pour the rest of the mixture over it. I used four glass bowls for freezing the dessert. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours.

    Note: Make sure the mixture is stirred at constant intervals of 1 – 1.5 hours during the freezing process. This will ensure a smooth texture.

    Serving Tips:
    Scoop into serving and  top it with rose petal honey, rose syrup, a dollop of fresh cream, pomegranate seeds and rose petals. Sprinkle finely chopped almonds or any other nuts of your preference.

    Relish the delectable dessert and enjoy the festive season!

    1.You can use coconut cream for this ice cream
    2. Nuts can also be used in the recipe for a richer outcome
    3.Wash and dry the rose petals before using them in any preparation to do away with any dirt or impurities present

    A spoonful of happiness

    Tuesday, 25 September 2012

    Raw Banana Spicy Stir Fry


    Banana or plantain is such a versatile thing, it can be curried, fried, boiled, made into cutlets or if ripe can be eaten as it is. I always pick up raw banana during my trips to the local veggie store. Raw banana is really light on the tummy and tastes delicious even with mild seasoning. Raw banana is also a good source of Vitamin C and Potassium while being low in Cholesterol I used to really love the raw banana fish curry Ma used to make. I remember almost every two weeks we used to have the curry and I never grew bore of it. 

    Pune doesn't offer a large array of vegetables as we get back home (Kolkata). Thus I had to literally cherry-pick the vegetables which would suite our Bengali palate and raw banana has become an integral part of our meals now. My favourite way is to have it in fish curry form or as banana chips. But just to try something different at times I make this really simple stir fry with commonly used spices and it makes a wonderful accompaniment to rice and dal. Enjoy the lovely Vegan Banana Recipe called Raw Banana Spicy Stir Fry.

    Raw Banana Spicy Stir Fry


    Preparation & Cooking Time: 25 mins
    Serves:2
    Cuisine: North India


    Ingredients:
    • Raw Banana - 2 (medium size - mildly ripe preferable)
    • Asafoetieda - 1/4 tsp
    • Ginger - 1/4 tsp
    • Cumin Seed (Jeera) - 1/2 tsp
    • Carom Seed (Ajwain) - 1/2 tsp
    • Red Chilli Powder/ Chilli Flakes - 1/4 tsp
    • Coriander Powder (Dania) - 1/2 tsp
    • Garam Masala - 1/4 tsp
    • Turmeric - 1/2 tsp
    • Dry Mango Powder (Aamchur) - 1/2 tsp or Lemon juice - 1/2 tsp
    • Coriander leaf - 1 tsp (chopped)
    • Sesame Seeds (for garnishing)
    • Refined Oil 
    • Salt (to taste)
    Procedure:

    1.  I prefer mildly ripe bananas for this preparation as the partially ripe bananas impart a mild sweetness to the dish and can be directly used without having to boil at first. But if you have complete ripe bananas, then pressure cook the bananas for a single whistle with it's skin on.

    2. Peel the skin off the bananas and slice them in roundels.

    3. Sprinkle a pinch of turmeric on the banana slices to avoid blackening.

    4. Add the grated ginger to the banana slices and mix well

    Take the asafoetida in a small bowl and add 2 tbsp of water to make a uniform liquid paste.Using this paste instead of dry asafoteida directly in the hot oil, prevents it from getting burnt easily and preserves the flavor

    5. Heat oil in a skillet and temper it with cumin and carom seeds. When they start to splutter add the asafoetida paste, rest of the turmeric, salt, chilli flakes/powder, garam masala, coriander powder and amchur powder.

    6. Mix well and stir fry for a couple of minutes till the bananas are tender

    7. Add chopped coriander leaves to the skillet and fry for a minute

    8. Sprinkle sesame seeds and mix well

    9. Serve hot with rice and dal. This will go well with sambar or rasam as well.


    Note: You can alter the amount of Red Chilli depending on your spice tolerance level. Ideally this recipe tastes best in the spicy form.

    Sunday, 16 September 2012

    Yummy Chicken Sandwich

    The husband had gone for a product launch event to Hyderabad over the weekend. He was coming back today evening. And I knew after the flight and missing the lunch hours he would a like a hungry five year old. He was about to reach home by 5PM so it would be way past the lunch time and he wouldn't have any full fledged meal at that time.  So I was racking my brain to figure out something which would be filling and can be made with the ingredients currently available in my pantry.

    Chicken is a staple thing we have on the weekends, hence I had chicken in the freezer. I had recently found out a very nice chicken store in our neighborhood. Even after one week in the freezer when I defrost the chicken its still soft and fresh. So I decided I would make something with chicken. Chicken sandwich looked like a good option.

    I connected to the net, and began searching for a nice chicken sandwich recipe. I specially wanted to avoid the recipes which were all heavy on mayonnaise. But unfortunately most of the chicken recipes I found on the net were either mayonnaise or cheese filled. Some of the indianised versions didn't sound good enough for me. After an hour of futile search I closed the laptop and decided to come up with my own version of chicken sandwich. I speculated between going for an all Chinese recipe or something more Indian. When the confusion between the two didn't appear to go, I thought why not a fusion of both? Thus the following recipe was born.
    Chicken Sandwich

    Preparation & Cooking Time: 25 mins

    Serves:2
    Cuisine: General

    Ingredients:
    • Chicken - 6 medium sized fibrous pieces
    • Brown Bread - 8 slices
    • Onion - 1 Medium
    • Green Chilli - 1 (Very finely chopped)
    • Red Chilli Powder - 1/2 tsp
    • Pepper Powder - 3 tsp
    • Ching's Schezwan magic masala - 1 tsp
    • Kisan Garlic Cheese Spread - 2 tsp
    • Ginger-Garlic Paste - 1/2 tsp
    • Oregano - 1 tsp (optional) 
    • Curd - 3 tsp
    • Butter - 1/2 cup
    • Soya Sauce - 1 tsp
    • Refined Oil 
    • Salt (to taste)
    Chicken Mix

    Procedure:
    1. Clean the chicken pieces. Preferably select some fibrous pieces if possible devoid of bones.

    2. Slice the onion longitudinally and chop the green chilli very finely. (If you are ok with having bigger chilli pieces then you can chop it that way)

    3. Heat oil in a skillet and toss in the onion and chilli, fry till golden brown. Keep them aside to cool

    4. In a deep bottomed wok take 3 cups of water. Put the cleaned chicken pieces in the water. Add 1 tsp of pepper powder, 2 tsp salt and 1 tsp of butter to the water. Cover the wok and turn on the heat. As the chicken gets cooked, the flavours of pepper and butter will get uniformly infused into the chicken pieces.

    5. Boil the chicken pieces for 6-7 mins and then turn of the heat. Let it cool and then take out the boiled chicken on a plate. Note that the chicken should not be all mushy, it should remain a bit hard when you remove it from the heat.

    6. Shred the chicken pieces using two forks and keep it in a mixing bowl

    7. Add the fried onion and chilli, red chilli powder, remaining pepper powder, 2 tsp butter, curd, soya sauce, ginger garlic paste, oregano, cheesy spread, magic masala and a pinch of salt if required to the mixing bowl.  Mix everything together so that the chicken is well coated with all the ingredients.

    8. Heat 2 tsp oil in a skillet. Add the remaining butter to the oil. You can add more according to taste. Toss in the chicken mixture into the skillet and fry it for 4 minutes, occasionally stirring it so that the mix doesn't stick to the bottom of the skillet.

    9. Keep the fried mix aside. Take the bread slices, chop off the hard edges of the bread. Butter on side of the bread slices.

    10. Now heat the skillet and keep the bread slices one by one, the buttered side facing the bottom of the skillet. Let the bread surface become slightly browned. Do the same for all the breads.

    11. Lay the bread on a serving plate, the fried side facing down. Butter the other side of the breads lightly. Spoon some of the chicken mix on one bread and cover it with another bread. A total of 4 sandwiches are made. Cut the sandwiches diagonally and serve with some ketchup and potato chips as sides.

    I am very self critical of my cooking. If I am not satisfied with the end result, no matter how much praise I get for it, I am not at peace. Today I was really happy with the end result, just the way I wanted it to be. More Indian and yet having all the right mix of Chinese flavor . The hubby really enjoyed the sandwich  and even licked clean the surplus chicken mix from the mixing bowl. I was smiling looking him eat the way he ate and knew what was going into the food blog next. Try this one and I bet you are absolutely going to love it.



    Saturday, 15 September 2012

    ~ Of Madhabilata, Kokil and a Fresh morning~


    Consciously or unconsciously our mind preserves certain images or memories which we gather on the path of life. The remain submerged in the ocean of our thoughts only to surface when we come across anything that  bears resemblance to it.

    When we are small we always grumble about how lucky the adults are who can do anything they want. We can't wait to grow up to "enjoy" the benefits of adulthood. But the irony is that finally when we grow up and become an adult we start missing the "good-old-days" - our childhood. The sight, smell and sound of anything that takes us down the memory lane become so very special. We miss the innocent "us" and wish that if we could only go back to what we had left behind years ago.

    It's been more like a decade that I had stepped out of my home. Lived in a hostel, then with colleagues and now with my husband - but still I feel that the 18 years spent in the lap of nature in IIT kharagpur (my father was a professor at IIT) was the best time of my life. My life mainly revolved around my ma and my pet cats. Life was simple yet cherishable. Never felt the absence or need of a sibling because my fleet of cats kept me company.

    Might be since I was a single child, I had all the time in the world to be myself. To see and know things around me with uninterrupted attention. To perceive a "bit more" of everything. We had a madhabilata tree in our old quarter - C1-21. There were many other trees as well but that particular tree was my favourite. Every evening when the tree was heavy with fresh blossom, I would wander about it. The flowers had an enchanting smell - refreshing,subtle, blissful. One has to experience it to know why I am referring it as 'enchanting'. A surreal feeling of purity would overpower me everytime I was in its proximity.

    Apart from the madhabilata, the other thing that I clearly remember from my childhood days is the Kokil or Cuckoo. IIT was infamous for the Kokils. These feathered souls would wake up before 4 am and make sure the entire campus was awake with its calls as well. Any visiting relative would always complain about this "nuisance". But we had got so used to them that without their morning calls something would seem amiss. Kokil & Madhabilata together announced the arrival of spring. The would set the backdrop for one of the most beautiful seasons to walk in with grandeur.

    When I left, with it everything that constituted of my childhood was left behind. The room where I would sit near the window holding my ring in such a manner so that the sun rays would fall on the stone and create a kaleidoscope of colors on the opposite wall. The leather black board hung on the door which had witnessed me in the role of a teacher teaching her imaginary students maths, physics and biology. My red Hero cycle, the orange old sofa, my huge collection of story books, the smell of cooking when ma was in the kitchen, the innumerable hours spent with my cats and the life size posters of Rahul Dravid adoring the walls of my room - I had left them all behind when I moved out. The more the distance grew between me and my childhood days, the more attached  I became to my memories of the bygone days.

    Life in the fast lane was never the same. An era had passed and now I was running like all other people in the mad rat race to achieve something in life. Fulfilling short term goals, setting new ones and planning how to achieve them - the perspective of life changed altogether. Stopping by to smell  a flower was the "mission impossible".

    Like every other girl, I met my life partner, fell in love got married and came to Pune. During all these years I had almost forgotten about the madhabilata and the kolkil. We had landed in Pune as a married couple on a warm December afternoon. Months have passed but the place where we stayed remained the same. I took the same by-lane everyday to reach the main road and take a six-seater (shared auto) to my destination. Among all the noisy environ, I prefer to take this particular by-lane because it has two-storied old fashioned houses rather than multi-storied buildings on either side of the road. One day while returning back from office a very faint yet familiar smell wafted in the air. Like under a spell I began moving in the direction of the smell and what did I find? A bunch of powdery pink madhabilatas swaying in the breeze. The first reaction was that of surprise and awe. I had never expected to see the flower in Pune out of all the place.It was almost 15 years after that I was face to face with this old friend. The moment was overwhelming as somewhere faraway I heard the call of the kolkil as well. A few moments passed like that after which I took the bunch in my palms and inhaled the fragrance deeply till the smell infused into each and every cell of my body and mind. It was an Eureka moment. 

    On weekend early mornings I walk down to the local vegetable market I smell the madhabilatas. The early morning air and the fresh fragrance, makes me feel rejuvenated. Today also I had gone for a walk and carried back home some of the fallen madhabilatas from the ground. I placed them inside my diary carefully and closed it. Sometime 10 years down the lane when I revisit the pages of my diary whether there would be a madhabilata tree nearby or not I would remember the memories of today.

    The fresh morning setup the mood for a light and healthy breakfast. While sipping the early morning raw ginger tea, I toasted the brown bread and made poached eggs.  A creamy cheese garlic spread was perfect for the bread and I sprinkled some pepper powder and Ching's Miracle masala over the poached eggs to make them a bit spicy and a lot tasty. Served the bread and poached eggs sunny side up along with freshly sprouted brown chickpeas. We enjoyed the breakfast lazily while talking about all the relevant and irrelevant in our lives which at times just go unnoticed. Today there was no hurry, it was just us and the bright and beautiful morning promising us many more such mornings throughout our life.


    Now everyday I travel by the same by-lane, look at the flowers and feel rejuvenated after a long day. The ever smiling flowers kind of assures me that life maybe a combination of ups and downs but somehow I will make through it. The kokil also coons in unison somewhere faraway. I just smile back and keep walking.  



    Tuesday, 11 September 2012

    Dim Aloor Pakoda (Egg & Mashed Potato fritters)

    A Rainy Day
    It has been raining on and off here in Pune - sometimes its pouring like anything and sometimes just a surprise drizzle which catches you off guard. Pune has a pretty dry weather and whenever it rains, the temperature takes an immediate nosedive. Chilly winds make you shiver to the core. But if this is a short spell, the very next moment be prepared to get scorched  by the strong sun. This alternating between hot and cold spells presents the perfect setup to fall ill. And in our home also its not an exception. Unfortunately the husband has a very poor immune system and falls ill at the drop of the hat. So I have been busy trying to get him well. A had a blocked nose till last week hence had lost his appetite completely. To cook for a person who cannot smell a thing is a tad difficult. Thankfully this weekend his blocked nose transformed into a runny nose and he regained his appetite drastically. The husband is really a voracious eater and when he is at home on weekends he feels hungry every half an hour that is if he is awake throughout the day. Otherwise he is an even voracious sleeper. If he had his way, he would spend 26 hours sleeping in a day!

    Back to eating. Since A loves to eat so much so I love to cook different things as well. Weekend is the only time I get to experiment with my food or make new stuffs. But since I am such a lazy person so I try to think out recipes which are easy yet yummy. I was just recalling the recipes that my mom used to make in evening snacks when I was a kid, when the husband again went on a hunger rampage, rummaging through the snacks box. I knew it was time to go back to the chopping board for a new recipe.


    This is one recipe which was one of my favourite 15 years back. After becoming a wife I came to know how difficult it was to think up of a new recipe everyday for dinner (we both have our lunch in the office cafeteria) and to think that mom used to come up with new recipes three times everyday - it leaves me awed every time. She is a whiz in thinking up snacks - I do not remember a single day I did not relish the morning breakfast or evening snacks. This particular pakoda was a hit on rainy evenings when one had to just stare at the rain sitting by the window. And the pet kitties surrounding your feet hoping to get a share of the yummy tid-bits. Those were really the days!

    Preparation & Cooking Time: 30 mins
    Serves:2
    Cuisine: Bengali, General

     Ingredients:
    • Egg - 1
    • Brown Bread - 2 slices
    • Coriander Leaf - 1/2 cup (chopped finely)
    • Onion - 1 Medium (chopped)
    • Potato - 1 Medium (boiled)
    • Green Chilli - 1 (Chopped)
    • Red Chilli Powder - 1 tsp
    • Refined Oil 
    • Salt (to taste)
    Procedure:
    1. Chop the onion, coriander leaf, green chilli finely and keep them aside
    2. Remove the sides of the brown bread with a knife and cut the slices into small pieces

    Bread plays the role of a binder in this recipe. It makes the pakoras tasty and healthy as well.

    3. Skin the potato and boil it. Mash the boiled potato
    4. Toss all the above three into a mixing bowl, add red chilli powder and salt to it. Mix everything into a fine paste. Taste the mix to be sure about the saltiness of the mixture before adding the egg.

    Mix everything together
    5. Beat the egg in a separate bowl and add it to the mixture. Mix everything together. It should be a nice and thick mixture
    6. Heat oil in a skillet and put roundels of the mixture in the oil
    7. Fry the pakoras till golden brown
    8. Serve the crispy pakoras in a serving tray and top with a few twigs of coriander leaf. Compliment with tomato sauce or any hot and sweet dip. Since the husband had a sore throat and running nose I served it along with steaming tom yum seafood soup.

    A delicious evening snack
    Egg Pakodas with Tom Yum Seafood Soup - Perfect for a rainy evening








    Note: The rain picture has been taken from net

    Friday, 7 September 2012

    Mouri Chicken ~ Chicken with Fennel Seeds

    When you have someone in your home who can  have chicken on all 365 days of the year, you need to put your thinking cap and invent new recipes at regular intervals so that it doesn't become a boring affair. My hubby loves chicken in any form, maybe that's the only thing he is not picky about. I also love to cook chicken as it doesn't take much effort to dish out a delicious recipe, the chicken itself makes it easy for the cook.

    So I had exhausted all the traditional chicken recipes as well as the tweaked ones a needed something new and easy. The only flavoring I hadn't tried with chicken was that of fennel or mouri. And going by the cooking rule book, mouri is good for mutton gravy as mutton itself has a pretty strong smell to compliment the comparatively mild smelling fennel. But then some of the best dishes evolve out of experiments only. And with chicken everything is a safe experiment. So I decided to try my luck with fennel.

    Fennel seeds are a prominent part of  Italian cuisine, but are also much used in Middle Eastern and Asian cooking. A great source of vitamins and minerals - they work particularly well with fish and red meat dishes. The agreeable, warm, aromatic sweet odour, somewhat similar to that of anise pairs well with chicken as well. The licorice taste adds a fun flavour to every dish it's a part of.

    This particular chicken recipe has a triple seasoning of fennel: fennel seeds in the sautéed spices, fennel paste in the gravy base and shallow fried and crushed fennel seeds for garnishing and as a flavour enhancer. The fennel infuses its flavour into the succulent chicken pieces, the juices of the chicken in turn mix with the gravy and make it satisfyingly stodgy.


    Preparation & Marination Time: 1-2 hrs
    Cooking Time: 1 hour
    Serves: 4
    Cuisine: Bengali

    Ingredients:
    • Chicken - 1 Kg  (preferably select drumsticks and thighs )
    • Fennel Seeds (Mouri) - 1 tsp
    • Fennel Seed Paste - 4 tsp
    • Shallow fried and crushed fennel seed - 1 tsp 
    • Bay Leaf - 3-4 (cleaned and dried)
    • Curd - 200 gm (beaten and kept aside)
    • Freshly Ground Coriander/ Coriander powder - 4 tsp
    • Freshly Ground Cumin/ Cumin Powder - 1 tsp
    • Everest Meat Masala - 4 tsp (if you dont have this, increase the fennel seed paste, cumin and  coriander powder by 1 tsp each)
    • Turmeric Powder - 2 tsp
    • Red Chilli Powder or paprika - 3 tsp ( reduce the amount depending on your spice tolerance)
    • Onions - 1 large (grind to paste)
    • Onions - 2 large ( sliced longitudinally) 
    • Lemon - 1
    • Tomato - 1 large (diced)
    • Garlic Cloves - 5-6
    • Ginger - 1.5 tsp
    • Freshly ground black pepper/ Pepper powder - 3 tsp
    • Sugar  (to taste)  
    • Refined Oil - 1.5 cup
    • Salt (to taste)

    Procedure:

    Marinade:

    1. Clean the chicken and keep it in a bowl. 
    2. Beat the curd to a smooth texture. Add the salt, turmeric, red chilli powder, ground black pepper, cumin and coriander powder into it and mix well.
    3. Slather the chicken pieces with the curd and powdered spice mixture. Add 1 tsp lemon juice to the mixture
    4. Marinate the chicken for 2 hours
    Gravy:
    1. Dice one onion and tomato and grind it to fine paste in the grinder. 
    2. Take the other two onions and slice it longitudinally.
    3. Crush the ginger and garlic coarsely in a mortar.
    4. Heat oil in a wok. Add bay leaf and fennel seeds to it and let them to sizzle a bit until fragrant
    5. Add the tomato and onion paste to it and fry for a minute
    6. Add the sliced onion
    7. Add 1 tsp salt and 1 tsp sugar to it. Salt would help the onions to get cooked faster and sugar helps to give the onion the nice caramelised hue.
    8. When the onions become golden brown add the crushed garlic and ginger. Fry for a minute.
    9. Add the fennel seed paste. Fry for a couple of minutes.
    10. Add the rest of the curd. Fry it for 3-4 minutes.
    11. When the oil separates from the spices toss in the marinated chicken and coat the chicken evenly with the spices in the wok. Continue to stir fry for 10 more minutes.
    12. Turn heat to medium-low, cover the wok and cook for 30 minutes, or until the oil slightly separates, chicken is tender enough and you have achieve the gravy consistency that you prefer. No need to add extra water, the chicken will get cooked from its own water content and the curd. Only if you feel the spices sticking to the wok bottom sprinkle some water to avoid burning.Or add water if you like the gravy to be thinner. I personally prefer it to be of medium consistency.
    13. Squeeze half a teaspoon of lemon juice while the chicken is getting cooked. All the flavours put together are amazing and the lemon juice adds the required zing to the gravy
    14. Once the chicken is tender, sprinkle the Everest meat masala and mix well. 

    Garnishing:
    1. Take a thin bottomed frying pan and heat it
    2. Drizzle the pan with oil
    3. Add the fennel seeds and let it splutter
    4. When you can smell the aroma of fennel, take it out from the heat and let the pan cool. 
    5. When the fried seeds have cooled down, crush them into an even mix.
    Once the chicken gravy is ready, sprinkle this crushed mix over it. Spread it in the gravy and cover it.


    Chicken has a tendency to become dry during cooking. There are two suggestions for this : 1. Use all drumsticks and thighs portion for the gravy; these will combine with the  flavour the fennel brilliantly and remain moist even if you overcook them slightly. 
    2.You may remove the breasts early to keep them from drying out and later on when the gravy is fully cooked douse them in the gravy.

    This curry pairs pretty much with everything like rice, chapati (indian flat bread),Indian Naan. If you like fusion food you may team it up with mildly spiced pasta as well.

    Mouri Chicken
     Lay out a bed of steaming rice or freshly made chapati on one side of the serving plate. Place the chicken pieces at the center of the plate, delicately spoon over some of the gravy over them, garnish with a dash of chopped coriander and a lemon wedge.  That's it, your dinner is ready!

    Bon Apetite!

    Sunday, 2 September 2012

    ~ A simple Bengali lunch spread ~


    It's been a long time since I have added to this space. Actually so many things have been going on lately that blog was the last thing on my mind. In between had visited hometown (Kolkata), 8 months after my marriage. It had been quite a whirlwind vacation with me running around more than relaxing at home. Why? Well let that story be for another time.

    The Kolkata weather really sucks during this monsoon-no monsoon phase. Extreme humid, too hot during the day and equally uncomfortable during the night. Pretty ideal for getting sick, especially if one is used to living in dry climates like that of Pune. And to add to it, sporadic downpour throughout the day. So no wonder I came back to Pune with a bad cough and cold. But that was not the end of it; eventually the germs left me for my hubby and since past one week it's his turn to be in the sickbed.

    Previously people used to avoid rice when they got fever or cold but now the doctors don't put any such restrictions. Home made balanced diet is adequate. Usually weekends mean a heavy meal twice a day comprising of non-veg dishes. But considering the health conditions I decided to keep it very simple this saturday. It's something that very commonly you would get to see in a Bengali household.   

    My hubby just cannot do without a dal in his meal. So dal is a mandatory dish in our house. Apart from that I decided to make palong saker ghonto (mixed vegetables with palak), kakrol bhaja(crispyTeasel gourd fry) and dim bhaja (egg fry) - the quintessential Bengali recipes. Since the sides were not of very spicy nature so, a simple dal like Masoor would compliment the simple sides very well. 

    My hubby is very choosy about his food and really hates any kind of bitter stuff. But somehow he is totally in love with Kakrol, though Kakrol is not exactly bitter but more like bittersweet. I came to know about his fetish recently when one day while walking down a vegetable market in Kolkata he squirmed in joy like a two year old seeing the freshly stacked Teasel gourd pile. I decided to carry some of this to Pune, as I never saw this veggie in my neighborhood. This is a very simple and easy recipe.

    Pan Fried Teasel Gourd (Kakrol Bhaja)

    Preparation & Cooking Time: 20 mts
    Serves: 2
    Cuisine: Bengali

    Ingredients:
    • Tender Teasel gourd - 3 medium
    • Sugar - 1/2 tsp 
    • Refined Oil - 1 tbsp
    • Salt to taste

    Fresh Teasel Gourd
    Procedure:

    1. Cut the Teasel gourd in thin round slices
    2. Sprinkle salt and sugar on the cut pieces and spread them evenly over all the slices
    3.Drizzle oil in a thick bottomed pan and let it heat
    4. Add the teasel gourd slices and saute for 9-10 mts till they attain a pink shade. As the slices are thin flip on the sides periodically to avoid burning.
    5. Sprinkle minimal  water if it sticks to the pan 
    5. Remove from the heat when the edges of the slices have become brown and crispy


    The following is one of the most simple and delicious dal's in Bengal. Musurir dal is like a staple food for us - the daily dal that goes with just any side dish.

    Bangali Musuri Dal ( Masoor Dal) :
    Preparation & Cooking Time: 20 mts
    Serves: 2
    Cuisine: Bengali
     
    Ingredients:
    • Masoor dal (Orange lentil) - 2 cups
    • Turmeric power - 2 tsp 
    • Whole Jeera -  1 1/2 tsp
    • Garlic cloves  - 5 medium (coarsely chopped)
    • Green Chilli - 2 (slitted longitudinally)
    • Ghee (Clarified butter)- 2 tsp (optional for seasoning)
    • Salt to taste

    Procedure:
    Soaked Masoor Da
    1. Soak the Masoor dal for half an hour; this would speed up the cooking time.
    2. Take a pressure cooker and add 4 cups of warm water. Add the soaked dal. Cover and cook till the required number of whistles to make the dal creamy and thick. The number of whistles would differ depending on the quality of dal and nature of water (hard/soft water). It usually takes 6 whistles for me
    3. Take out the boiled dal in a vessel and beat it into a smooth consistency with an egg beater or any ladle. This helps to make the dal even.
    4. Take a thick bottomed vessel and pour the smoothened dal in it. If it feels very thick add 2 cups of water. Let it boil.
    5. Take another pan and drizzle oil in it
    6. Add Jeera, chopped garlic and green chillies to the oil
    7. When the aroma of jeera starts to come take it out and add this entire thing into the boiling dal
    8. Add turmeric powder and mix well. Let it boil for some more time (2-3 mins). Cover it so that the smell of the spices can effuse into the dal evenly
    9. Add the ghee before removing the vessel from the heat

    Palong saker ghonto (mixed vegetables with palak)
    Preparation & Cooking Time: 1 hour
    Serves: 2
    Cuisine: Bengali

    Ingredients:


    Seasonal Vegetables
    Ghonto is basically a kind of mix of all kinds of vegetables. Here you can use all sorts of seasonal vegetables apart from any vegetable which has its own distinctive smell like cauliflower or drumstick. I had used the following vegetables:
    • Carrot - 2 (diced)
    • Green long Brinjal - 2 (diced)
    • Potato - 2 (diced)
    • Ridge Gourd (Jinge) - 2 medium (diced)
    • Pumpkin - 250 gm (diced)
    • Hyacinth Bean (Shim) - 100 gm (cut in medium pieces )
    • Red Tomato - 2 medium (diced)
    • Spinach (Palak) - 1 medium bundle (wash and cut)
    • Panchforon ( 5 spice mix) - Its a blend of 5 whole spices/seeds. Typically, panch phoran consists of fenugreek seed, nigella seed, cumin seed, black mustard seed and fennel seed in equal parts.In Bengal, panch phoran is sometimes made with .radhuni instead of mustard seed. In the West, where radhuni may be hard to obtain, some cooks substitute the similar-tasting celery seed.
    • Dried Red Chilli (sukno lonka) - 2
    • Fresh Ginger  Paste - 2 tsp (mind the word 'fresh'. That's what gives the vegetable the distinctive taste and zing)
    • Ghee (clarified butter) - 1 tsp (optional)
    • Refined oil - 2 tsp
    Procedure:
    1. Cut all the vegetables and keep aside
    2. Heat oil in a wok and add oil
    3. Add panchforon and red chilli to the oil and let it splutter
    4. Add the vegetables in the following order (hard vegetables first moving gradually to the softer ones) - potato, carrot, pumpkin, hyacinth bean, ridge gourd, brinjal, tomato. 
    5. Cover and cook for nearly 20 minutes so that the vegetables become softer. No need to add extra water as the vegetables will get cooked from their own water content. 
    6. Stir the vegetables occasionally to avoid burning. Add slight water if the vegetables start sticking to the wok.
    7. When all the other vegetables are cooked well, add the palak. Palak is a very soft leafy vegetable which gets cooked within minutes hence its added in the end.
    8. Whn the palak is cooked add the ginger paste and mix well. Cook for 2-3 minutes so that the smell of ginger is evenly spread.
    9. Before turning of the heat add a dash of ghee for flavor

    I made rice to go with the dishes. To take care of the non-veg part in the meal, I had boiled eggs, shelled them, mixed turmeric and salt and shallow fried them till they attained the golden glow.

    Hubby loved the simple fare and I saw him eating well after an entire week. 



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