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Monday, April 24, 2017

The Fish Stew

David Muñoz is going to murder me in my sleep someday for adding chorizo and tomato to everything and then calling it Spanish. So I'm just going to call this a fish stew (obnoxious at best). Healthy alternative to whatever you're eating right now!

Add a sliced chorizo, a chopped onion and half a chopped capsicum to a little olive oil in a pan. Add a spoon of minced garlic and a sliced cayenne pepper and cook till the onion is translucent. Add a can of diced tomatoes (usually 400g) and half a cup of white wine and simmer.  Add salt to taste, smoked paprika, a handful of parsley, a cup of stock (or water and a little butter if you have no stock), a cup of cooked chickpeas, a sliced carrot, and a cup of beans, and simmer until reduced. Finally, add three or four fillets (cut into pieces) of your favorite white fish and cook, covered until poached. Serve with a slice of sourdough!

Sunday, April 16, 2017

The Honey Soy BBQ

Greetings, people on their holidays! We were camping all weekend so nothing too elaborate this post; here's a weird honey soy marinade for future BBQs or even a simple sauté sesh!

Mix a kg of boneless chicken thighs or wings with the following: a spoon of ginger, a spoon of chopped garlic, two tablespoons of soy sauce, a tablespoon of honey, a spoon of rice vinegar, a sprinkle of sugar, and a spoon of chilli paste (optional) for an extra kick. Marinate for at least an hour (or overnight) and cook over coal or pan-fry. Garnish with sesame seeds!

Happy holidays.

Monday, April 10, 2017

The Independent

Mondays are a great time to detox from all the bingeing over the weekend! This stand-alone salad needs no sides and adheres to no theme whatsoever, but I do guarantee its yum factor. These quantities are for 4 giant platefuls.

Here's everything that went into it.
Bacon bits, crisped, 1 cup
Sliced black olives, half a cup
Shredded carrots, 1 cup
Walnuts, 1 cup
2 sliced avocados
1 sliced tomato
3 minced pods of garlic
1 red onion, sliced
Rocket leaves, 3 cups
Baby spinach, 3 cups
Curried chicken, 2.5 cups
Aged Gouda, diced, 1 cup
Optional: 1 cup diced red pepper

For the dressing, throw together half a cup of coconut cream, half a cup of buttermilk, two spoons of vinegar, a spoon of sugar, a spoon of fish oil, two spoons of lime juice, a little lime zest, two spoons of finely chopped coriander leaves, a dash of garlic powder, a spoon of chili puree, a pinch of turmeric, and salt to taste.

Have a good detox!

Monday, April 3, 2017

The Alfredo

Fettuccine alfredo has been on my to-do list for as long as I first went to Olive Garden as a kid. There aren't that many pasta-loving noobs who'd say no to a creamy alfredo sauce. As I started experimenting with cooking, I held off on the alfredo sauce largely because the first time I actually made gulab jamun with my own hands and found out just how much sugar went into the dish, I almost stopped eating it completely. Thankfully I had a bite of my first fettuccine alfredo yesterday, which by the way is literally a 15 minute recipe, and I instantly knew that I'll never stop eating this scrumptious load of fat. For reference, I made the sauce by throwing in things until it tasted right, so take all my mentioned quantities with a grain of salt.

For about three fat serves, boil 250g fettuccine until cooked al dente, and drain. While the pasta boils, heat about three tablespoons of butter in a saucepan and add a small spoon of minced garlic to it. Then add about a cup of cream, half a cup of cream cheese, half a cup of grated Parmesan, and salt and white pepper to taste. Simmer and thicken until happy with the sauce. (For a little more flavor, what I did was fry small pieces of chicken thighs in butter and garlic first, remove the chicken and then make the sauce in the same pan.) Throw in the fettuccine (and chicken), and we're good!
(Just, like, go for a run the next day or something.)

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. Sauté 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 sauté  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.

Monday, February 6, 2017

The Zucchini Fries

Zucchini fries for a healthy spin on fish and chips, except with these, it's the fish that's "on the side".

Julienne two medium zucchini. In a bowl, mix a cup of grated Parmesan, some sea salt, a spoon of paprika and a spoon of oregano to a cup of panko breadcrumbs. I actually also added two spoons of crushed dried curry leaves. Toss the zucchini in flour, then dip in egg, and then toss in this breadcrumb mixture before baking on a cookie sheet in the oven at 200C for about 12 minutes. No oil!

Serve with pan-grilled basa seasoned with Cajun seasoning with maybe some spinach and Sriracha for a kick. Hearty!

Monday, January 30, 2017

The Firebird

I'm still recovering from a junk-heavy holiday season, and need to shed those few extra pounds ASAP. Part of that involves going light on the carbs and heavy on the protein. Serve up a few of these spicy thighs with your favorite salad and you've got yourself a meal!

Spicy chicken thighs

Marinate five chicken thighs with a cup of yogurt, salt, a spoon of turmeric, a spoon each of ginger paste and garlic paste, a tablespoon of chilli flakes, a tablespoon of mustard oil, a spoon of chilli paste, a spoon of fennel seeds, a spoon of black cumin (kalonji) seeds, a small spoon of dry mango powder (amchur), a spoon of ground cinnamon, a spoon of ground cardamom, and a tiny splash of lime. Set aside for at least an hour (all day would be nice). Bake in the oven with its marinade (drain excess liquid occasionally) until the chicken is cooked through; I'd say 45 minutes on 190C. Serve with lime, and chopped parsley!

Monday, January 23, 2017

The Masala Balls

Why, yes, I do certainly actively look for the most ridiculous names for my dishes.

Kofta Masala

Mix the following in a large bowl: half a kg of minced chicken, a teaspoon each of ginger paste and garlic paste, one egg, a cup of chopped coriander leaves, a small, finely chopped onion, two chopped green chillies, salt, a teaspoon of turmeric, a spoon each of coriander and cumin powders, red chilli powder to preference, and a pinch of garam masala. Mix and let sit for a bit.

Meanwhile, heat up oil in a wide pan for shallow frying. Make balls out of the minced meat mix and place them in the hot oil. Cover and cook with the heat on low, turning the meatballs as required. Remove when 90% cooked and set aside.

In a wok, in a tablespoon of melted butter, add just a little ginger-garlic paste, another small chopped onion and a chopped tomato. Cook together till the onion is tender. Now add a little salt, a pinch of turmeric, and a little meat masala or just garam masala. Keep adding drizzles of water to keep the mix mushy. Add a tablespoon of milk and another tablespoon of almond meal, a pinch of sugar and a little more water, to create a mushy thick paste. Add the meatballs, coat them well in the paste and cook for two minutes. Take off the heat and garnish with green chillies and coriander leaves!

Leftover tip: Use up any leftover meatball mix by coating little patties in panko breadcrumbs and deep-frying to serve as chicken cutlets later!

Monday, January 16, 2017

The Legit Mushroom

Mushroom is a legit sabzi, and here is proof!

Mushroom kadhai.

Purée two tomatoes and set aside. Heat a little oil and add to it about 250 grams of sliced mushrooms. Mushrooms release a lot of water; once it evaporates, take the mushroom out. Heat a little more oil in the same pan and add a spoon of ginger paste and a spoon of garlic paste, along with small spoon of cumin seeds and one or two broken dried red chillies. Once the seeds begin to crackle, add and sauté a finely chopped onion and half of a julienne green capsicum. Once the onion is cooked, add salt, half a spoon of turmeric, a small spoon each of cumin powder and coriander powder, and a little paprika (preferably smoked). Stir together, then add the puréed tomatoes. Mix well till the mixture starts to really come together. If I'm having people over for dinner, I'd add a spoon of cream or full-fat milk at this point to introduce some creaminess in the gravy (completely optional). Add the mushrooms and sprinkle a generous spoonful of kasuri methi onto it. Cook for two more minutes and take off the heat. Garnish with coriander leaves and optionally some julienne ginger and a dried red chilli.

Monday, January 9, 2017

The Haleem

Here's a dish I've been meaning to try for a while! Mutton haleem in all its glory.

Before you start, soak a cup of bulgur (wheat) in some water for at least an hour, and boil till soft. Similarly, soak a cup of chana dal for an hour and boil and mash. Set both aside.

Heat two spoons of ghee in a thick-bottomed pan, and add to it a sliced onion, a chopped green chilli, and a spoon of garlic paste. Once the onions are cooked, add salt, turmeric, a spoon of coriander powder and a spoon of cumin powder, along with a spoon of red chilli powder. Add half a kg of boneless mutton cut into small pieces. Cook for a while. Add a spoon of garam masala. Add your boiled wheat and chana dal mash and mix well. Add water as required, and cook together till the mutton is done. I'd recommend using a hand blender to break the mutton pieces down a little because mutton will take forever to cook, and your haleem will turn darker the longer you have to cook it, which is why my haleem is so dark!

On the side, fry thinly sliced onions in ghee for garnishing. Julienne some ginger and chop a handful of coriander. Once the haleem is done, use these to garnish. Serve with naan/rice and a slice of lime! Fiery.

Monday, January 2, 2017

The Pão de Quiejo

Happy 2017! Last year I had planned to make these for breakfast on New Year's Day, but my local supermarket's response to "Where is the cassava flour" is "what's that?" A year later, I managed to find tapioca starch in the Thai aisle, and here we are.

Pão de quiejo is a small Brazilian snack roll with cheese in it. This is my husband's uncle's recipe, and is meticulous and specific, and yet I barely did justice to it. Nevertheless:

Heat a cup of milk with a cup of water and 2/3 cup of oil in a heavy-bottomed pan. Take off the heat as soon as it starts boiling. On the side, mix two spoons of salt with two cups of cassava flour/tapioca starch. Add this to the hot liquid gradually while stirring all the time with a spatula. Once it starts to cool a little, use your hands to knead.

Once the mixture has cooled down, add two cups of grated Parmesan cheese and knead well. Now begin to add eggs. It may take up to 4-6 eggs for the dough to finally stop sticking. I added six eggs and my dough became a custard - smart - so I had to add a cup or two of dry cassava flour till the dough started looking like dough.

Preheat oven to 190C. Line a cookie tray with baking paper. Roll 1" diameter balls out of the dough and place them far apart (like cookies). Bake for 20-30 minutes (my first batch was done in 20 so do keep a watch). Enjoy them hot! Freeze the rest of the balls for spontaneous pão de quiejo whenever you like!