Saturday, June 08, 2019

Grilled Chicken with Sate Oil



I have been obsessed with this grilled chicken recipe and had to share it here. It is perfect for the summer. A little marination and a whole lot of flavor.

Usually I marinate my chicken with Indian spices for grilling. However that was getting kind of boring. The other marinades that the husband-man uses is bit bland for my taste and the chicken is not as juicy as I want to be. psst... he doesn't agree though.

Until...yes until last week...when this recipe changed my life and grilled chicken's.

The recipe is from Bon Appetit magazine, an annual subscription gifted by my lovely friend. I took two recipes of Chef Tom Cunanan and then made them my own.

First, I was blown away by the Sate Oil. This is very similar to the Chili Garlic oil that you get at Chinese or Thai restaurants.



Next was grilled Chicken where the chicken was marinated in a brine and that contained guess what ? SPRITE. Yes, sprite. The sweet-lemony and fizzy sprite did do wonders to the chicken. The aromatics (yes the author kept saying aromatics for ginger, garlic etc and I loved it) in the brine add a lot of flavor to the meat. The meat was also very juicy and did not become at all dry after grilling.

The original recipe of the grilled chicken called Chicken Inalsa, involved Acchiote Oil but I did not have it.

So, I grilled the chicken as per the recipes and then basted it with previously made Sate Oil. The best thing ever. That oil is amazing. Be liberal with Sate Oil if you wish to kick up the flavors. Serve grilled chicken with a simple salad, add it to pasta, or in a sandwich. It is delicious.


Tuesday, May 28, 2019

Grilled Lamb Chops with Indian Spices


When my kids were younger, I used to have this dream -- that they are now older, responsible teenagers and hence doing everything on their own, leaving me with huge expanse of plump, golden afternoons of nothingness. I used to crave for those afternoons of nothingness. I used to fantasize about all things I could do then like -- exercise,new recipes every other day, social media updates by the minute, blog every hour, write a new book every week...

Future seemed glorious.

I was like that kid who wanted to be an adult until she becomes an adult and has to pay mortgage!

Now that my kids are older, those afternoons seem to have vanished. I do not have afternoons. And if I have any, they are gone so fast that I miss them. My afternoons seem to sprint faster than Usain Bolt and vanish in the blink of an eye.

My younger one thinks I could have got hold of those afternoons to do some conditioning and get fit abs like her. My older one thinks I should use those afternoons to do anything but check her Physics hw.

I do neither and honestly I have no idea what I am doing really other than wasting my time browsing what-to-watch-on-Netflix. I keep saying I will get more time once the kids are in college, but those are all excuses. Clearly I am ignoring all these well-meaning quotes about "Living in the now". Or maybe I am actually "living-in-the-now" by doing nothing.



So anyway, instead of wasting my time describing afternoons, let me share the recipe of these delicious grilled lamb chops or more like grilled rack of lamb. With fresh garlic, ginger and Indian spices it is a very, very flavorful recipe. I learned it from my friend Deepsikha and just like her I make this dish completely in the oven. No browning in skillet or anything. You can use the same recipe for lamb chops too, only cooking time may vary.

Technically this is not grilling as I am doing it in the oven but I will take convenience and taste over jargon any day. So you can call it what you may but a morsel of that lamb in your mouth and you will agree it is delicious. Period.

I am sure you will love it as much as we do. For a summer dinner, I served it with a salad and a cool Tzatziki which Big Sis made.



Sunday, April 14, 2019

Niramish Mangsho -- Shubho Barsho


Tomorrow is  Poila Boishakh, the first day of Boishakh ushering in the Bengali New year. While the English NewYear involves a lot of hard work like late night partying, looking back, looking forward, making resolutions, blah, blah...the Bengali New Year is much more relaxed and laid back in style.

During the 80's and early 90's, Bengali New year was all about 3 things --
(1) wearing new clothes (2) feasting at home (3) visiting stores and collecting single page Bengali calendars rolled in a narrow cylinder and cardboard boxes of sweets and shingaras. In addition to that there was the usual cultural stuff , involving Rabindrasangeet , because how can a Bengali celebrate anything without kalchar -- but I was not greatly interested in them.

Now, #1 holds no attraction for me and it has been almost 30 years since #3. So that leaves us with #2 as the only way to usher in the New Year.  Not necessarily at home but anywhere. Today, we had one of our classmates visiting us from Finland and so we had our Notun Bochor celebration a day early with lots of Bengali food at home.



This Niramish Mangsho, is something I cooked last weekend and have been thinking of sharing with you but the week just got so busy that I didn't get a chance.

Niramish Mangsho or "Vegetarian Mutton Curry" would sound like an oxymoron to most except a Bengali.

To my ears, it sounds perfectly logical since I have grown up hearing about it. Every year, around Kalipujo, my Father would reminisce about one his Uncles, an ardent devotee of the Goddess Kali. This extremely spiritual Uncle, who practiced a strict vegetarian diet all 364 days of the year, would become the greatest meat eating glutton on the day of Kali Pujo. The sacrificial goat for Goddess Kali would be cooked without any onion or garlic and that mutton curry, labeled as "Niramish Mangsho" would be enjoyed by her devout followers as "maha proshaad" -- the blessed mutton curry!!!

As a child I was awed by this show of reverence. How could someone forego meat for one whole year and the satiate his cravings on just one day? And that too with a mutton curry that was cooked without any onion or garlic. Must be very blehh in taste...I thought!!

I might have have tasted that mutton curry during Kali pujo, a small piece as a portion of a larger proshaad, but it did not really make enough of an impact to my childhood palate. I preferred the "Robibar er Mutton Curry" cooked by my Mother on Sundays.

Recently as I was trying to look up more about this Niramish Mangsho, I found that it had a lot of similarity with Kasmiri Brahmin recipe of Rogan Josh which too is made without any onion or garlic. Onion and garlic were not very popular ingredients in the Hindu kitchen yet and Asafoetida or Hing is the major flavoring agent in both the recipes.

In Utsa Ray's book "Culinary Culture in Colonial India", he mentions the the first Bengali cookbook Pakrajeswar(published in 1831) and the second, Byanjan-ratnakar(in 1858).

Ray says -- " Mutton recipes described there hardly prescribed the use of onion or garlic, something frequently used in Mughlai cuisine. The author of Pakrajeswar clearly stated that since people in the region hardly consumed onion, he had refrained from listing it as an essential ingredient in the recipes. Byanjan-ratnakar also did not include onion and garlic in its repertoire of recipes. It can be understood that the readers of Pakrajeswar were mostly Hindus who were not very accustomed to having garlic and onion in their food as yet."

In the same book he also mentions Mukundaram’s Chandimangal composed in late 16th century, which has elaborate lists of what was being cooked in the families of the trading castes and mentions--"Generally, the spices used for cooking fish and mutton were asafoetida and cumin."

We can then extrapolate that Mutton curry cooked without any onion or garlic was the norm in Hindu Bengali families in those times and so "Niramish Mangsho" was not really an anomaly. It was therefore very natural that the goat sacrificed to the Goddess Durga on the ninth day (Nabami) of Durga Pujo and to Goddess Kali on Kalipujo was also cooked in a similar way and offered as prashad.

I cooked this Mutton curry taking cues from Rogan Josh and my Mother's tip of using asafoetida+ginger to temper purely vegetarian curries. I have used whole Garam Masala and the Garam Masala powder just like we do for our regular mutton curry. For the wet spice paste, the very Bengali jeere-dhone baata, I have taken Kashmiri liberty and added some fennel seeds. Fennel seeds was probably not used in Bengali mutton curries. This dish is cooked in ghee in many recipe, however I have cooked it in Mustard Oil and added little ghee towards the end. Cooking it in ghee will definitely add more flavor.

The Mutton Curry was truly flavorful delicious. You wouldn't miss the garlic and onion at all in this dish. However it tastes best when had the same day as cooked and it does not keep well in the refrigerator.