Wednesday, 22 May 2013

Badami Murg Shorba (Chicken in Almond Sauce)

So I have been meaning to post this for a long time but somehow it got forgotten amongst other day to day chores. Elaborate recipes like this need the right kind of mood and a good occasion to go with it. I had made this one last December for ushering in the New year and then I again made it last week simply to celebrate the onset of pre-monsoons. Such a rich recipe can only be had when the weather cools down a bit. And this year we had a very hot and humid summer in Pune – totally unsuitable for any dish that was heavy on the stomach.

After such a scorching summer I felt as elated as a peacock when I saw the first drops of pre-monsoon hitting my office window. Only I didn’t have a ornate tail to spread and show off my happiness (poor me!). Nonetheless, me and a couple of my colleagues rushed to the parking lot to feel the rain on our face. The smell of the wet earth is so tantalizing that it makes you forget all the summer ordeals. We stood there by the balcony staring at the rain. People were scurrying around trying to hide themselves behind the shade of a tree or a tea stall. Some less fortunate who were on bikes were letting themselves soak in the rain. The Gulmohar tree in our office premises had suddenly started looking all bright and clean- red flowers swaying in the rain. The mercury had gone down considerably and a pleasant breeze had replaced the searing summer wind. Time for celebration and planning our first getaway to enjoy the beautiful monsoons.

Such a nice weather demands gastronomic celebration as well. My heart was set on Khichudi and begun bhaja (khichdi and fried Aubergine), the very typical way for a Bengali to celebrate a rainy evening.  But I saw some chicken in the freezer languishing from a couple of days.  So racked up my brain and recreated  this rich and decadent almond based curry of the Mughlai origin. Anything Mughlai has a royalty feel to it, same applies to this recipe as well.

I am a glutton when it comes to some of my favorite recipes. So who is not? Anyone who cooks surely loves their meats and vegetables not to mention their sweets. It’s another thing whether they accumulate the calories like me or not. I really envy those gourmet chefs who are known to cook up a storm in their kitchen and yet look like they haven’t eaten in years. For normal people like you and me, an extra bowl of delectable kheer or an elaborate  seafood platter means extra hours of working out to avoid piling up of good-for-nothing calories.

Since I am not a housewife I do not have the time to pick and choose recipes and then go shopping for the ingredients. Most of the ingredients that goes into making anything special is always available at my home which I usually pick up during bi-weekly trips to the super markets. Last time my mom and mother-in-law visited our place they gasped at the variety of spices and other ingredients present at our home and tagged it as over indulgence. But anything for good food and photography. And for patrons of good cooking.

It always makes you happy when someone appreciates your dishes. But it’s an honor when someone says that they are going to showcase your creations to the masses. While I was working on an endless presentation one day I received an email which was from a lady named Arnie kaye dillen who wanted to share some of my works on her company facebook pages( www.wikichicken.com, www.gourmetrecipe.com etc). I was going crazy with work and I wasn’t sure whether this was some sort of a spam mail or not, so it was simply forgotten with time. But soon after a couple of days I got a sweet “gentle reminder” mail from the same lady asking whether I had received her earlier mail. That was a reality check. Someone really was interested in my food. I felt a sudden adrenaline rush, somewhat jittery and a lot more ecstatic. I quickly responded back with an apology of not responding first. Arnie is a very very sweet person, she published my recipe and even sent me a link of the same. The saga still continues. I remain to be the procrastinator as always putting the blame on my workload and Arnie patiently bears with me and sends me mails, invites, requests followed by those sweet little gentle reminders after which my guilt starts to buildup and overpower me and I quickly do the needful :). I hope this beautiful association will continue for a long time. This special chicken recipe is dedicated to this very sweet lady.  

 
Marinating Time: Overnight

Preparation Time: 20 minutes 

Cooking Time: 40 minutes

Serves:4


Cuisine: Mughlai

In
gredients: 

Marinade (overnight)
·                     Chicken – 1 kg (cut into medium sized pieces) 
·                     Lemon Juice – 2 tsp
·                     Red Chilli Powder – 1 tsp
·                     Black Peppercorn – 4 (ground)
·                     Salt – 2 tsp
·                     Curd (beaten) – ¾ cup
·                     Garam masala (ground) – 1.5 tsp
·                     Refined Oil – 1 tsp
For Tempering
·                     Bay Leaf - 2
·                     Green Cardamom Whole -3-4
·                     Cinnamon Stick - 2"
·                     Clove -4-5
·                     Nutmeg – ¼ tsp
For Gravy
·                     Onion – 2 medium (made into fine paste)
·                     Potato (Diced) – 2 big
·                     Ginger Paste – 2 tsp
·                     Garlic paste -  1 tsp
·                     Charmagaz (melon seeds) or Cashew (paste) – 3 tsp (Optional if you want to make the gravy extra thick)
·                     Almonds – ½ cup (soaked and skin removed)
·                     Fresh green chillis – 3-4 (or depending upon your spice tolerance level)
·                     Milk – 1 cup ( you can also substitute by fresh coconut milk)
·                     Raisins – 10 (soaked) [you can use as many depending on your liking]
·                     Sugar to taste
·                     Salt to taste
·                     Ghee or refined oil – ½ cup
For Garnish
·                     Almonds- 6-7 (lightly fried)
·                     Fresh Coriander Leaf – 2-3 twigs
·                     Fresh cream -  2 tsp (optional)
Procedure:
1. Clean and cut the Chicken. In a bowl take the chicken and add all the ingredients mentioned under marinade. Mix well and leave it overnight in the refrigerator.

2. Fry the diced potato and keep aside.

3. Lightly toast the skinned almonds. Let the almonds cool down and make a thick paste of almonds and ¼ cup milk. Keep aside.

4. Make a paste of the onion and green chilli.

5. Take a mortar and pestle and coarsely grind all the spices mentioned under tempering except bay leaf (the spices become more fragrant by grinding)

6. Take a heavy bottomed pan (kadhai) and add the ghee/oil . When the oil is hot enough add the ground spices and bay leaf. Toss them for a few minutes until fragrant

7. Add the onion-chilli paste to the spices. Add a pinch of salt and sugar. The salt will help in softening the onion faster and the sugar will caramelize in the heat and give a nice color to the onions. Sauté until the onion is soft and takes a golden brown color. The oil will also separate at this stage.

8. Add the ginger-garlic paste at this stage and let it cook for 5 more minutes

9. Add the chicken from the marinade and lather it well with the spice mix of the pan. Let it cook for a while taking care to brown the chicken slightly on all slides. Keep tossing the chicken around to get a uniform browning.


10. At this stage add the marinade to the chicken and fold in. Add a cup of warm water to it. Using warm water instead of normal water enhances the taste of the gravy. Mix well. Cover and let it to cook for 10-15 minutes on medium flame.

11.  When the chicken is almost half cooked add the soaked raisins and let it cook till chicken is tender. Add some sugar at this stage if you want your gravy to be on the sweeter side. I usually prefer a balanced taste not too sweet not too salty.

12. Add the diced potatoes and let it cook. (adding potatoes is optional)

13. If you are planning to add charmagaz or cashew paste add it once the chicken is cooked and oil floats up. Let it cook for another 3-4 minutes.

Serve the preparation in a bowl and garnish with fried almond pieces, coriander twigs and cream. You can add a dollop of butter to this if you wish. Naan, roti or basmati rice anything will go well with the chicken. I prepared Zafrani pulav as an accompaniment.

Note: This gravy is supposed to get its color from the fried onions and is a turmeric less recipe.


Sending this recipe to  Priya's and Spicy Treat's "Diwali Delicacy" event.


Saturday, 18 May 2013

Daab Chingri (Tender Coconut Prawns) - Pressure Cooker Method


Chingri (Prawns) and Ilish Mach (Hilsa Fish) are both candidates for any festive occasion in a Bengali household. Chingri is more versatile and is used in the mundane dishes like lau ghonto (bottle gourd medley), echorer torkari (raw jack fruit curry) or the more ornamental Chingrir malaikari. Now-a-days you don't get to see the actual jumbo prawns which we can find mentioned in many Bengali classics. Its more of  medium sized prawns being passed off as jumbo prawns at double price. I remember the last time I had real "jumbo" prawns was almost 20 odd years back in Taki at my Mashi's (aunt) house. It was a warm afternoon and the floor mat was placed along the balcony of the apartment, the typical arrangement for "paat pede khawa". We all kids sat down in a row and were served yummy "golda" (jumbo) chingri and steamed rice. The head of each prawn was almost the size of an adult's  palm. That was the last time I had truly relished a prawn dish.

My mom and dad both had shell fish allergy so whenever prawns was cooked at our household it was just for me and the recipe was the traditional dish with onion, coriander and jeera seasoning.I was super happy with that only and so was my pet cat who always sat by me during my meals for getting tid bits. As I grew slowly the shell fish allergy reduced for ma. But the funny part is that post my marriage I came to know that my hubby also suffers from the same allergy. But still he gorges on shell fishes and later on has some cetrizine to bring down the itching feeling. That was a good thing as I wanted to experiment with prawns. Chingrir malaikari always turned out as a safer bet than daab chingri as it involves actual cooking in the wok so one knows when to adjust the taste if something goes amiss. Daab chingri involves a lot less efforts but if the proportion and steaming are not proper it can be a total failure at the end. And perfection would only come with practice. The tender coconut imparts and subtle and distinct flavor to the dish. The number of spices used for this recipe is so less that it would suit any palate. The soft and creamy gravy makes up for some lip smacking experience. Check out the following simple recipe of Daab Chingri below.


Preparation Time: 20 minutes


Cooking Time: 30 minutes
 
Serves:2

Cuisine: Bengali

Ingredients:
  • Prawns (Medium or Big with tails) - 500 gm
  • Tender Coconut Pulp-  1 Small Bowl (200gm)
  • Onion- 1medium (chopped)
  • Ginger - 2" piece
  • Garlic clove - 6-7
  • Cardamom - 2
  • Clove - 2
  • Cinnamon - 1" piece
  • Green Chilli - 2 ( or depending upon the heat level you can handle)
  • Salt to taste
  • Sugar to taste
  • Mustard Oil - 4-5 tbsp
  • Sunrise Mustard Powder - 2 tsp / Mustard Seeds - 3 tsp (soaked and made to a paste)

Procedure:



1. Take a big tender coconut and cut the top. Scoop out the pulp with the help of a spoon and mash it uniformly.

For this recipe a tender coconut whose pulp is not too soft should be used because otherwise on cooking the pulp will totally melt and become undetectable. I usually use the pulp which is a bit thickened. Then use the mixer to coarsely grate it into a uniform pulp. From the nutritional fact per say the half mature coconut has more carbohydrate, protein, minerals, phosphorus, vitamins A,B, C than the complete tender coconut and the mature one. 
2. For this recipe to turn out correctly one would need medium to big size prawns. De-vein them, remove the head and keep the tails intact (again this is a personal preference to keep the tails)

3. I use the Sunrise Mustard powder to make the mustard paste. Just add 2 tea spoon Sunrise mustard powder to 2 tablespoon water and make a thick paste. Make this paste at least 10 minutes before you need to add it to the cooking.

For those who dont have the mustard powder, you can make a paste from mustard seeds.


4. Grind onion to a thick paste.

5. Make a paste of ginger, garlic and green chillies in a blender.

6. Grind the spices (cardamom, clove, cinnamon) coarsely using a mortar-pestle

7. Heat oil in a deep bottomed  frying pan. When the oil is hot enough toss in the ground spices.

8. When the oil is fragrant add the onion paste and ginger garlic paste. Add 2-3 slitted green chillies if you wish to. Fold everything and cook till the mixture turns a shade of golden brown. Cook on medium flame.

9. Once the mixture is done add the prawns and tender coconut paste. Cook fro a couple of minutes. Add a little water if required. Adjust the salt and sugar level according to taste.


10. Transfer the contents to a steel bowl, see that the contents are not coming out of the bowl. Drizzle 2 tsp of mustard oil on top. The bowl size should be so that you can easily put and take out the bowl from the cooker.

11. Keep a 5 litre cooker ready. Add 400 ml water to the cooker. ( check the water level it should be less than the bowl size you are going to put your daab chingri to cook)

12. Carefully place the steel bowl with the contents into the water bath of the cooker.  Close the lid and put it to cook on medium flame.

13. Cook till one whistle and wait for the pressure to die down before opening the lid.

14. Ideally it should be done at this stage and oil should float up. But if you still feel that the spices are not cooked enough, you may take it out in the frying pan and cook on medium flame for about 5 minutes. The dish will definitely be ready by now which will be evident from the aroma.

Serve the daab chingri inside a coconut shell or simply on the plate with steaming hot rice.


Sending this recipe to Priya's and Spicy Treat's "Diwali Delicacy" event,


 



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