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Monday, March 27, 2017

The Vegetable Chop

If you've grown up in or around West Bengal, this is the stuff you've had in trains or run out to the local corner shop for in the evening when unexpected guests showed up at home. If you've not had the pleasure, this is what you've missed out on. The perfect street food-turned-fancy-beetroot-croquettes.

For 15 to 20 chops, roast half a teaspoon each of cumin and fennel seeds, 6 cloves, 3 cardamoms, a small stick of cinnamon, two dried red chillies, and a dried bay leaf or two, then grind into a fine powder. Mix this masala with two blanched and chopped beetroots, two mashed carrots and two mashed potatoes, and a spoon of ginger paste, half a cup of crushed roasted peanuts, salt to taste, and a pinch of sugar. Roll the mix into the shape of croquettes, and then roll each croquette in dry corn flour for a thin coat. Dip in a flour slurry and then coat with breadcrumbs and put in the fridge for 30 min or until you're ready to fry. , Deep fry and serve HOT with cucumber salad and kasundi (Dijon mustard sauce) to avoid sacrilege.

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

The Dhoka Daalna

Here is a traditional Bengali vegetarian dish that basically gets eaten at every stage of its making. You'll see why.

Dhoka-r daalna

Soak 250g of chana daal overnight. Drain and grind with a spoon of salt, a dash of asafetida, an inch of ginger, 2 green chillies and half a teaspoon of baking soda. Transfer the mix into a greased steaming pan, and steam (preferably in a pressure cooker without its whistle on) for 5 minutes. TASTE IT! (YUM)

Cut the cooled mix into cubes and deep-fry in mustard oil. TASTE IT AGAIN. (Best snack ever)

Heat a little mustard oil in a pan and add to it two bay leaves, two cardamoms and 3-4 cloves, and a dry red chilli. Add a pinch of kalonji. Add half a chopped onion, a half spoon of garlic paste and a spoon of ginger paste, and then a diced potato, and cook together. Add half a small tomato and cook some more before adding a fat spoon of yogurt, and a spoon each of coriander powder, cumin powder, turmeric and salt. Simmer with a little water until the potatoes are cooked, and then add the fried Dhoka pieces. Finish off with a spoon of ghee, a green chilli and a sprinkle of garam masala. Serve hot with rice! TASTE!

Monday, March 13, 2017

The Za'atar Chicken

.... Or as my husband insists on calling it, "The Za'atar Chicken from Qatar."

Preheat oven to 200C. In a baking dish, mix a kg of skinless chicken, bone-in, with a tablespoon of garlic, a spoon of sumac, a spoon of cumin powder, a spoon of paprika, two spoons of za'atar, a drizzle of olive oil, a diced onion and a few slices of lemon. Bake in the oven for 45 minutes; in the last 5 minutes of the bake, top with more za'atar and sumac (to taste), a quick dash of smoked paprika and a handful of chopped parsley. Serve with oven-crisp khubz and toum (garlic sauce)!

Monday, March 6, 2017

The Black Forest

I'm currently surrounded by birthdays (including my own last month), and baking cakes has never really been my star talent. Nevertheless, here's a stab at a very simple and easy black forest cake for my husband's birthday.

Bake a simple chocolate cake: a cup and a half of self-raising flour, 4 tablespoons of cocoa powder, 300g butter, half a cup of caster sugar, 3 eggs and a spoon of vanilla essence. Bake in a round dish at 180C for about 40 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Remove from the dish once cooled. Carefully make two through-and-through horizontal cuts to slice the cake into three round slabs. 

Get a jar of pitted cherries, about 600-700g. Remove 10-12 cherries for topping later. Take the rest of the cherries and a cup of the cherry juice they're in, and boil together in a saucepan with two fat spoons of sugar and a spoon of cornflour. If you're feeling quirky, add a spoon of spiced dark rum. Boil, then simmer, till the liquid is thick. Cool in the fridge.

Now, take 500g of thickened cream and beat with an electric beater till the cream starts to form peaks. On your cake base board, place the bottom slab of the chocolate cake. Dish out half of the cherry sauce on it. Cover with a layer of cream. Place the middle slab of chocolate cake and layer with the rest of the cherry sauce and another layer of cream. Place the top slab of the cake on top. Cover the cake with cream. Decorate with chocolate sprinkles or dark chocolate chips, or grated chocolate, or all three! Use the rest of the cream to put into a piping bag and make pretty stars, if you like! You're done.

Monday, February 27, 2017

The Labaabdaar

I love me some dried-up tangy masala! My mom made this yesterday and it needed to go up. Here's "Murgh Labaabdaar" from the mommy.

Cut a kilo of boneless chicken into bite-sized pieces. Marinate with the following: Salt, a spoon of oil, a spoon each of ginger and garlic, chopped or paste form, a big dollop of Greek yogurt and a spoon of garlic chilli sauce. Set aside. Meanwhile, heat a little oil in a pan and put a spoon of kalaunji/kala jeera/nigella seeds with two chopped green chillies, one finely sliced onion, and maybe half a sliced capsicum. Saut√© for a little bit before adding the marinated chicken. Stir intermittently. Once the chicken is tender and no longer pink, add half a spoon of turmeric powder, a spoon of cumin powder and a spoon of garam masala. Once the chicken is almost cooked, dice a tomato and add that (so the tomato does not have the time to soften too much). If you want it creamy, add a little cream and let the masala dry up till it sticks to the chicken like sauce. In mother's own words, "cook till it is cooked" (profound).

Garnish with diced tomato and julienne capsicum, and maybe a little cream! Best with fresh parathas.

Monday, February 20, 2017

The Dakgangjeong

I'm the murderer of recipes. Last Friday I got some boneless chicken and covered it with spices and cornflour to deep-fry and douse in buffalo sauce for a Friday night-in. I had some marinated uncooked chicken left over, and figured now is as good a time as any to give Korean fried chicken, or dakgangjeong, a try. Except it was Sunday and I was lazy and man did I put whatever I wanted in the saucepan, and surprisingly still came up with relatively authentic-tasting (and looking) Korean fried chicken! So have at it.

Mix about 500g boneless chicken pieces (or chicken wings, ideally) with garlic salt, a little pepper, cornflour and just a little water to help coat the chicken well. Deep-fry till golden, and set aside.

For the sauce, in a very lightly greased saucepan, add a spoon of grated onion, a spoon of garlic paste, half a spoon of grated ginger, a small spoon of soy sauce, a proper spoon of rice wine, a spoon of chilli sauce, a spoon of sugar, a spoon of red chilli paste, a spoon of honey, and a pinch of Dijon mustard. 

Now here's the funny part - I didn't feel like leaving home to go get fresh groceries, so here's what I really put in the experimental sauce: a spoon of grated onion, a spoon of garlic paste, half a spoon of grated ginger, a few drops of soy sauce, a proper spoon of sushi seasoning (which is rice vinegar + salt + sugar), a tiny dash of Sriracha, no additional sugar, a spoon of honey, a spoon of red chilli paste, and a few drops of kasundi, which is basically Bengali-style Dijon mustard. I'm amazed at how well it imitated an authentic dakgangjeong sauce!

Anyway; simmer the sauce until thickened; then throw in the fried chicken in the saucepan and stir well till all the chicken pieces are well-coated in the yummy sticky red sauce! Garnish with sesame seeds. So crunchy!

Monday, February 13, 2017

The Mean Meen Curry

Everyone should have a Malayali friend who can cook up a storm and then have you over for lunch! Yesterday I was treated to a giant Sunday feast at my friends Jeena and Joseph's house, and one of the many, MANY dishes that they made was this lovely rustic fish curry that I thought needed to be shared. Here's the recipe in their own words.

 Meen Curry ( Kerala style fish curry)

Ingredients :
Fish - 1 kilo ( Spanish mackerel is what I've used here)
Kashmiri chilli powder - 2 teaspoons
Red chilli powder - 1 teaspoon
Fenugreek powder - 3/4 th of a teaspoon
Coriander powder - 1/2 teaspoon
Salt - as required
Crushed Ginger - as required
Crushed Garlic - as required
Curry leaves - as required
Mustard seeds - 1/2 teaspoon
Oil - 1 tablespoon
Cambodge - 4 to 5 nos

Preparation :
In a bowl add some hot water  to soak the cambodge  and keep it aside.

Similarly mix kashmiri chilli powder, chilli powder , turmeric powder, fenugreek powder and salt with hot water. The paste should be in a semiliquid state.

In a vessel heat oil and crackle mustard.Then saut√©  crushed ginger, garlic and curry leaves.
Add the masala mix and Wait till the oil separates from the masala.Then add cambodge along with the water and allow it to boil.Add required water so that  the fish is just immersed in the gravy.Once it boils add the fish pieces.
Once the fish cooks it's ready to be served !

To note :
A clay pot would be ideal to prepare Meen curry.