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Thursday, December 10, 2015

The Cheat-Day - Biryani

Biryani. Need I say more?

I usually prefer mutton biryani, but this one is made with chicken.


Marinate chicken (with bone) in yogurt and spices for at least an hour. Saute chopped onions, ginger and garlic in mustard oil. Add the chicken (with bone) and salt and turmeric. Add the standard masalas - cumin, coriander, garam masala - and add water to cover and cook till the chicken is juuuust done. Don't overcook. Keep the curry thick and not very runny.


Cook rice with whole garam masalas - cloves, bay leaves, throw in a cinnamon stick - and cook until 80% done.


Slice onions and saute in very little oil and garam masala and cumin until almost burnt. Set aside.
Put a little saffron in a few spoonfuls of milk and set aside.


Grease the sides and bottom of a pot with ghee. Layer rice and chicken so that the top and bottom layers are rice. Pour the saffron milk all over the top layer and put the burnt onion garnish on top. Cover preferably with rolled out whole-wheat dough, or just a lid if you don't have dough, and slow-cook on low heat. The biryani should be ready in 15-20 minutes.

The Tiretti Bazaar

My husband is a Calcutta boy, born and raised. That basically means he needs that Indian soya sauce in his life about once a week. If you don't live in India, that means whipping up chilli chicken and fried rice at home. This is an old favorite that's been repeated more than once.


Coat boneless pieces of chicken in seasonings, egg and corn flour and deep fry. Set aside.
Toss garlic, dried red chillies and onions in oil. Add soya sauce and a little vinegar. Add the fried chicken and coat. Adjust sauce as per taste, add chilli sauce/schezwan sauce if you have any. Dry it up.

This is how you make dry chilli chicken. (For a little gravy, add water, put cornflour in the water and stir until the gravy is thick.) Garnish with spring onions.


Cook rice. In a wok, toss veggies and shredded chicken in a little oil. Add soya sauce. Toss in the freshly cooked rice. Serve!

The Meaty Paratha

Keema Parathas FOR THE WIN, am I right?


Very finely chop onions and saute with ginger and garlic. Add minced meat, either chicken or mutton, and cook with cumin powder, coriander powder, chilli and garam masala. If you have any sort of meat masala feel free to add. Take off the heat and allow to cool once cooked.


Knead aata. Roll into a ball and start rolling. Roll the sides more than the middle. Put some cooled keema in the middle and take the thin sides and cover up the meat like a parcel, squishing all ends together like a dumpling. Roll out this dumpling into a paratha with some dry aata, and be careful not to break the paratha surface. The surface will break if the keema is moist and/or warm.

Put the paratha on a dry tawa/pan. Let the bottom cook while you cover the top with ghee. Flip and repeat till cooked.

Once you are done fanning the fire alarm into silence, serve with a mad dollop of stuffed red chilli achar.

The Devil

Deviled eggs

Easiest. Appetizers. EVER. I'll be done explaining this before you can get to the kitchen and turn your stove on.

Boil eggs. Scoop out the yolks. Mix yolk with mayo, mustard, paprika, oregano, salt and coriander. Stuff the mixture back in. Refrigerate.


The Cheat-Day - Pie

Definitely did not make that crust. Store-bought. There's recipes out there; I don't have the patience for pie crusts to be honest. Just buy one, mkay?

You can use whatever ingredients you want for the pie. I made a Hungarian hot salami and spinach pie with mushrooms. Cook the salami separately, and wilt the spinach in hot water. Saute the mushrooms with cheese of your choice - my standard choice is Parmesan.

Bake the crust for 10 min before you begin layering. I covered the bottom with a layer of salami so it holds the moisture in. Fill the rest of the crust in with your fillings (spinach, salami, mushrooms and cheese). Pour a mix of whisked egg, milk and cheese on top. Bake till done - probably 10 min or less.

The Mini-Breakfast

Muffin pans are magical. Throw in a few ingredients, bake, and voila: parcels of goodness. This is my creative take on Sunday mornings.

Get a muffin pan. Throw sliced chorizo, bacon, onion, tomatoes, mushrooms, spinach, bell peppers, cheese, beans, seasonings, WHATEVER you want your breakfast to contain, into each little muffin tin cup. Get creative! Pour whipped egg on top and bake till done. So yummy!

The Dilliwala

There isn't enough lime in the world to cover my love for chhole bhature. Buuuut that's later.


Let some cumin seeds sputter with chillies in heated oil, and then add ginger, garlic and onions. Add salt, turmeric, cumin powder, coriander powder, chana masala and amchur. I usually don't have amchur so I replace it with a little achar. Add cooked chickpeas and tomato and water and simmer. Garnish with coriander. Additional tip: when you boil the chickpeas put in a teabag for extra color/flavor.


Knead maida with oil, yogurt, a little baking powder and a little warm water. Let it sit for a few hours in the fridge before you make the bhaturas. Once done, roll them into circles and deep-fry in very hot oil.

Drown your food in lime. I insist.

The Bird and the Nest

Spaghetti nests with turkey rissoles


I've always wondered what to do with leftover spaghetti. And then I discovered spaghetti nests. Put a little sauce in al dente cooked spaghetti, and take a fork and twirl a big chunk of spaghetti till it's all wrapped up around the fork. place the entire chunk on greased baking tray and remove the fork so that the spaghetti looks like a nest. Sprinkle breadcrumbs for extra crunch and some cheese, and drizzle olive oil. Make a few of these and bake at high for 10 minutes. You can't really see the nest here because I drowned the top with sauce. Speaking of sauce...


This is a basic bechamel sauce but without the parmesan. Add that in the end if you're feeling cheaty. Melt some butter and put two spoons of flour. Add milk. I also added garlic powder, salt and oregano because I put oregano in literally everything. That's it, stir, add the cheese in the end if you want. I didn't add any cheese.


You get turkey rissoles or whatever patties you want to use in the market. But you can make them at home. Mix mince, onions, whatever seasonings you want, and egg, and shape into patties or rissoles.
Put the rissoles on a greased pan and cook both sides. 

Plate up with a bed of rocket for the rissoles and sauce over everything/anything/on the side.

The Bengali

Alu posto and Chicken cashew curry

Sometimes you need to go hard or go home.
Haha. ANYWAY....


Soak posto in some water, and drain and grind. Cube peeled potatoes. Heat a little mustard oil and add slit chillies and cumin seeds, and then the potatoes. Add salt and turmeric. Then add drained posto. Coat the potatoes with the posto, and add water and cook till the potatoes are done but not mushy. You can sprinkle a little sugar but I don't usually. Garnish with coriander and green chilli and a drizzle of raw mustard oil.


Saute garlic, giner, chilli, onions, salt/pepper, cumin powder, coriander powder, and garam masala in mustard oil. Take off the heat and blend the mixture with some cashews in a blender. Leave the texture a little chunky; don't puree. Heat a little more mustard oil and pour the mixture back into the pot with boneless chicken. Add a little tandoori masala if you like, and mix. Add water and cook till done. Won't take very long.

Serve both with basmati rice.

Great for when you have guests coming over and you have to prove how Bengali you are in an hour.

The Guilt Day

 So you ate a lot. 
And now you feel guilty. 
And you don't want to compromise on the yum factor. 
Presenting, cajun shrimp and a weird tuna bruschetta thing. Shut up. It tasted good.


Saute shrimp in very little olive oil and cajun spices. Cajun = garlic powder, paprika, salt&pepper, onion powder, cayenne pepper, oregano and chilli flakes. DONE.

Saute canned tuna with finely chopped mushrooms, and then mix with a little chilli mayo and garlic powder. Place on a toasted whole wheat bun with greens and sprinkle some parmesan cheese. DONE.

The Buffalo Wild

Call me trashy, but my favorite restaurant in the whole wide world (well, the States) is Buffalo Wild Wings. Every time I visit the US, the closest BWW to my hotel knows me by name by the end of the week. And I buy some of their wing sauces and bring them home with me. This is a tribute to their Mango Habenero boneless wings.

Cut boneless chicken into smaller pieces. Coat with salt, pepper, paprika, garlic powder, egg and cornflower. Make sure each piece is properly coated. Deep fry. Take them out and put them in a bowl or box. Coat with your favorite spicy sauce (garlic chilli, buffalo, barbeque, whatever). Don't drown them in sauce; put some sauce in with the wings, put the lid on the box and shake shake shake. Serve with blue cheese and die of spicy bliss.

The Mejicano Con Leftovers

Enchiladas yayyyy

I made these with whole-wheat tortillas. They might as well have been rotis.

If you have leftover chicken, shred them and use in the stuffing, else cut up small pieces of boneless chicken toss them with mushrooms, onions, garlic, peppers, corn, whatever rocks your boat. Add some cheddar cheese, salt, pepper, parsley, oregano, cayenne pepper, tomato sauce.

Put the stuffing mixture in a tortilla and roll. Add sauce and cheese for topping, easy on the cheese. Bake in the oven for 15-20 minutes. Voila!

The Festive - Milk Peda

This is my mother's recipe, and it can't get easier than this.

3 cups milk powder, 1 cup condensed milk, 2 spoons of sugar, 1 spoon of ghee.
Heat the mixture for 2 minutes in microwave or until mixture becomes dry and sticky. Roll into pedas of whatever shape. To impress whoever, stick a cashew or raisin or something on top.

The Festive - Namak Pare/Nimki

My thama (grandma) made these every time we visited, and even seeing them reminds me of her still. Super easy to make.

Mix 3 parts maida and 2 parts aata with salt and kalonji. Knead with a decent bit of oil and water.
Separate into balls.
Roll each ball out and cut into diamond shapes. Deep fry in VERY HOT OIL. Let cool.
Seriously. That's it.

The Brunch

Some dishes don't require an explanation. I'm going to assume you know how to toast bread and cook bacon/sausage. But my husband likes his scrambled eggs soft, and he didn't know what made them soft and non-crispy... so this is what I do.

I don't like to whip up the eggs before I put them into the pan. I like little coagulated chunks of yolk or white here and there.
Heat up a pan with a little oil. Break 2 eggs and immediately start scrambling them with your spatula. Take the pan off the heat while still semi-raw. Add a little cheese and drown in milk and return pan to heat and scramble and mix some more till the milk is all gone. Salt/pepper to taste.

Mix chopped or blended onions, tomatoes and garlic with cumin, paprika and lime. And maybe a little coriander. Add beans. Salt to taste.

Plate up!

The Moroccan

I'm not going to lie: I didn't make that hummus. If you know where to get hummus, great, or skip it. Or make your own; it's a ten minute thing, really.

Blend chickpeas, garlic, olive oil, tahini paste, cumin and lemon juice. Add water as required.
You thought it would be harder.

Rub the lamb with salt, pepper, cumin, paprika, lemon zest, and maybe a little mint. Marinate for an hour or more, then grill in the oven (or barbeque, whatever).

Cook rice. Heat up a little oil, add garlic/ginger, cayenne pepper, cumin and coriander (aka cilantro). Throw in the rice and toss. If you want to get fancy, add almonds. 

Plate up with a bed of rocket and spinach, and find yourself a nice dry Cabernet to go with it :D Coriander makes for a great garnish. On EVERYTHING.

The Cheat-Day - Pizza

It's so much easier, healthier and cheaper to just make a pizza at home, especially for people with weaknesses for pizzas like me!

If you're lazy, get a pizza base, or make your own, it doesn't take very long. Same goes for the sauce.

Knead the dough with a sprinkle of yeast, sugar, salt and a little oil. Keep it soft and a little sticky.
Roll the dough out to the desired shape and size.

Any tomato pasta sauce works, if you're not fussy. Or:
Combine tomatoes, garlic, salt&pepper, a little vinegar and a little olive oil. Puree in a blender.

Spread sauce generously on the base. I like to put a little oregano on the sauce. Easy on the parmesan cheese on top. Add toppings - I put pepperoni, spinach leaves and mushrooms. I also drizzled a little barbeque sauce twirl on top.