Monday, June 29, 2009

Brown Rice -- Methi Rice


My Container Garden

The last few days have been super busy. Pardon me, I have neither blogged nor visited any blogs. There were so many unread posts in my blog reader and I felt so restless that I closed my eyes and clicked "Mark all read" for all of them.


In other news the 5 year old graduated...ahem, only from Kindergarten. But they had a full ceremony with a cap and a robe followed by a luncheon. It seems like just the other day that S started going to daycare/pre-school, bawling her lungs out and turning my knees into jelly. She has certainly graduated from a crying 2 year old to a school loving 5 and once again I feel the butterflies in my tummy as she looks forward to Grade 1 in the bIIIIg school. But that is not until September and till then she still has summer camp to enjoy at her old school.

We also got the house painted over last week (To expel any doubts I just want to edit to add that we didn't do the painting ourselves, we are not that great :)). Choosing colors is a nightmare cum pleasure rolled into one, a nightmarish pleasure if you wish. All I did till the last minute was bought sample jars while S and D painted test swatches. Thankfully most of the colors came out as expected except one which we had to re-do. So while the nightmare is over, I am sorely missing checking out paints and pairing them on the world wide web. The kitchen got a much needed break and except for Baby A's Khichudi I hardly cooked anything


After a hectic week of a ramshackle house and eating out almost all week, I wanted to bring some sanity to the body over the weekend. The body was craving something earthy with the lightest hint of spices. Made a simple Methi Rice with methi (fenugreek) greens from my container garden. I planted methi, corriander, basil, lemon balm, swiss chard and some beet in containers on the patio. D has tomatoes, squash, okra, pui saag(pohi greens) and some other stuff in our small backyard veggie patch. He started late though and I don't know when we will see any produce.

The Methi Rice or Rice with Fenugreek Greens I made was with Brown Basmati and it is not much of a recipe, more of a coming together of ingredients around the house. I did not measure anything and what I have here is more of a ball park estimate than approximate. This goes to The Heart of the Matter # 27 whose theme is Best of June's produce.


Methi Rice with Brown Rice

Wash and soak 1 and 1/2 cups of Brown basmati

In a Kadhai or a heavy bottome pan, heat oil

Temper/Chaunce with 4 Elaichi/Cradamom, 4 Clove/Laung and 1" stick of Cinnamon/Darchini

Add 1 cup of finely chopped red onion and fry with a sprinkle of sugar till light brown

Add 1 tsp of Ginger paste and 1/2 tsp of Garlic paste and fry

Add 1/4 cup of Methi greens(I only had this much, add more if you have) and 1 cup of peas or frozen mixed vegetables(defrost before adding) and fry till the veggies look cooked

Add a little Kasoori methi and 1/2 -1 tsp of Biryani masala and fry for a minute

Add the rice and saute for couple of minutes. Add 1/2 cup of milk + almost 4 cups of water and let the rice cook. Flavor the water with some lime zest, I added 2-3 leaves from my lime balm plant. Note: Amount of water will depend on the type of rice you are using

Season with salt and pepper.

Once the rice is done, add 1/4 cup of crumbled paneer and mix well.

Garnish with coarsely grounded roasted peanut.

Trivia: Methi or Fenugreek is popular both as a herb and as a spice(the seed). Supplements of fenugreek seeds has been shown to lower serum cholesterol, triglyceride, and low-density lipoprotein in human patients . Methi from Qasoor in Punjab is very famous in its fragrance throughout the country and known as Qasoori Methi.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Cup Cakes for Dad


You guys are the best, you will eat our crappy cupcakes and still ask for more.


S and me made these chocolate cup cakes for Father's Day. Given my history of baking, these turned out so perfect that I was well shell shocked. Thanks to Nags of Edible Gardens for the step by step pictures and no, this time I didn't use my brain at all, just followed instructions.

I didn't do the frosting so S did the whipped cream and sprinkle thing to decorate. The dad really enjoyed these along with the chaotic lunch at Cheesecake factory and a t-shirt (a size too small) with the girls smiling on the world from it.


This doddering stack goes to Click:Stack hosted by Jugalbandi

Friday, June 19, 2009

Bhapa Ilish -- Steamed Hilsa

Bhapa Ilish, shorshe ilish, Steamed Hilsa in Mustard paste

"Junie Beatrice Jones or "Junie B." as she is called for short, is an innocent, spirited five- to six-year-old American girl". So what ???

Because she is what I am reading these days, I mean "she" as in about her, books where she is the main character. You see Big Sis S's kindergarten teacher very happy with her reading skills offered to get her some books from her own childhood collection. Had it been my teacher from my childhood I would have carried home books about Mahatma Gandhi or Aesop's fables and made Mom happy. But of course S's teacher is not same and got her a "Junie B. Jones" instead.

All was well, nice school story, the kind I was fond of, I thought, until S asked "what is pasketti?" That word sounded so wrong that I read the entire book in one go. Truth be told, it was funny. But the English, it was absurd. The book was strewn with words like "flied", "bestest", "runned" and so on and so forth. Apparently the little girl(the character Junie) being a kindergartner has not got her grammar right yet and so the book uses her kind of language. That is very well for a Mom my age but what does a kindergartner reading such English do ? I had to constantly tell S all the verbs that were wrong in the book to not mess her up. This series is a very popular kid's series and I really have no clue why they would use wrong English if it is meant for an age group whose language needs to be enriched.

Trying to be "the cool" Mom, who doesn't care for such frivolities I haven't told S's teacher about my concerns and so she has given S 2 more from the series.

Couple of days back S shyly told D that Junie B. has a boyfriend. The Dad panicked, I could see it on his face. He was imagining boys, tattoo on their fore arm and misshapen shorts rising low on the hips, knocking his door. And then he told her what my Ma used to tell me at 15. He said "That must be just a boy who is a friend, like you have R & A and T in your class". Smirk, smirk.

I am desperately trying to be "the cool" Mom here but honestly why does a kindergartner need a boyfriend and a current as well as an ex and also why do phrases like this "new Thelma (a naïve girl whom Junie B.'s boyfriend Ricardo always chases)" have to be in a children's book.

Maybe I will just be un-cool and give S's teacher a "Suitable Boy" instead.

Books which S can read and I have liked so far are The Magic Tree House and The Rainbow Fairies(Thanks Chox). Any more suggestions for 5-7 year old readers ?

And now to the Ilish Bhaape or Bhapa Ilish aka Steamed Hilsa. The dish I had talked about in my earlier post, the signature Bengali Ilish dish which has to be on all important menus when Ilish is in season. Hilsa steeped in a pungent mustard sauce steamed to perfection with a liberal dousing of mustard oil is a sensuous experience. There are two ways of doing this, actually 3, in the pressure cooker like my Mom, in a steamer and in the oven.

I usually don't do this if I don't get Ilish which hasn't been frozen too long which is rare. It tastes best with fresh Hilsa. The oven version of this recipe goes very well with salmon too. Also I heard Herring tastes close to Hilsa so you can try this recipe with salmon or Herring if you don't get Ilish/Hilsa. Shad fish in North America has a taste close to Hilsa too.

The fish roe(macher dim) is a delicacy enjoyed by the Bongs and Hilsa roe is much coveted. This time around I mixed Hilsa roe with little chickpea flour and green chili and then fried them in mustard oil.

Get this recipe in my Book coming out soon. Check this blog for further updates. 


Bhapa Ilish/Steamed Ilish

Step 1: The Paste and the sauce

Make Sorshe Bata or Mustard paste.
Soak 2 tbsp Mustard seeds(Shorshe) + 2 tsp Poppy seeds(Posto) + 3-4 hot Green Chilli in less than 1/2 cup of water for 30-60 minutes
Grind the above with little salt to make a thick mustard paste or shorshe bata Note: Some of my friends do not use Posto or Poppy seeds for the paste. Instead they add a little grated coconut.

In a bowl add the above mustard paste + 1 heaped tsp Yogurt + 2 tsp Mustard Oil + 1/4 tsp Turmeric powder + 1/4 tsp Red Chili Powder(optional) + salt to taste. Mix well. This is the mustard sauce you will use for the fish. Quick Tip: If you have a bottle of Kasundi, add 1-2 tsp of Kasundi to the mustard paste that you have made. This lends an awesome taste.

Step 2: The Fish

Wash and clean 5-6 pieces of Hilsa/Ilish cut in steak size pieces.

Step 3: Bringing it together 2 ways

Way 1 -- In the oven

Smear an oven safe bowl with little mustard oil. Place the fish pieces in the bowl in one single layer. Pour the prepared mustard sauce over it so that it covers all the fish pieces nicely. Add 3- 4 slit green chili on the top and drizzle 1 tsp or more of Mustard Oil on them

Cover the bowl with an aluminum foil. Put this bowl in a bigger tray with 2" of water like a water bath. Bake at 375F bake for 25-30 minutes

Serve hot with rice. Does not taste that great if stored and served later.

Way 2 -- In the pressure cooker

Smear an pressure cooker safe bowl with little mustard oil. Place the fish pieces in the bowl in one single layer. Pour the prepared mustard paste or sauce over it so that it covers all the fish pieces nicely. Add 4 slit green chili on the top and 1 tsp or more of Mustard Oil on them

Cook in pressure cooker for 2-3 whistles. Here is a pressure cooker version.

Note on making Mustard Paste: When I didn’t have a small wet grinder to make my mustard paste I used to dry grind the seeds in my coffee grinder and then mix the dry powder with a little vinegar, salt, and green chillies and keep for an hour or so to prevent the bitterness. My current wet grinder(Magic Bullet) serves the purpose much better and makes a nice smooth paste with green chillies, and salt

Quick Tip: If you have a bottle of Kasundi, add 1-2 tsp of Kasundi to the mustard paste that you have made. This lends an awesome taste

Trivia: Hilsa is an oily fish rich in Omega 3 fatty acids

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Blog Etiquette and Eating in NYC


The title of my post might have you baffled, there is no correlation between the phrases before and after "and" except of course for me both has to do with food.

I have been blogging for some time now with considerable gaps in between.In my blogging life many of the people on the right sidebar, on my archaic blogroll has fallen off the blogosphere. I still have them there,I don't update that list, it is a list of all those bloggers I had encountered early on. There is a special connection with them, no I don't know their e-mail ids or anything about them except what they cared to put on their blog but I still have them like old friends. The new ones with whom I have forged a connection are on my Reader, as I get to know more I slowly add them there.

And though I try to keep my virtual space separate from the real one, for me the same basic rules apply for both. If a friend in my real life would have been hurt I will stand up for her. If I meet people who don't mind their P's and Q's I would gently try to remind them (come on I am a Mom, that is my job).


Blog Etiquette 101 for the un-initiated. Readers are welcome to add on to this.

1. You do not plagiarize. You do not lift pictures or posts in entirety without asking. You can do excerpts with acknowledgment but sorry not the whole thing

2. You do not leave rude comments or make snide remarks regarding a blogger's posts. You can disagree, you have your full right to do so but then you do it politely

3. Everyone has a right to their opinion. Just like you have so does the blogger you are bashing. When your post is a rant/bash against another blogger's posts, do so openly and politely. Give a link to the post you are venting against, clearly voice your opinions and state why you disagree/agree. This will prevent readers from leaving snide comments and generally enjoying a controversy.

4. If your rant is not triggered by another blogger's posts and it is your own original copyrighted rant do not encourage comments which seem to suggest otherwise. That means, do not say " Thanks for understanding" and such nonsense when a reader comments "Yeah how can someone make Bitter gourd with brinjal, ridiculous"

5. Even if a blog post makes you mad, do not use bad language that might hurt the blogger's sentiment while blogging or commenting. You see only a slice of a blogger's life on the web, you have no clue as to what might have made her write/think that way. If you are still angry, take a deep breath and practice Bhujanga asana.

6. You have full freedom to bash anyone from your personal life on your blog. If they read you, god bless you my child.

Though we live in suburbia, close to NYC, we hardly go there. Both D and me being city phobic we stay away from the Big Bad Apple unless it is absolutely necessary that the city be blessed with our presence. The past weekend found us there roaming the galleries of Met and sampling some great NYC street food prepared by the city's sidewalk chefs


Biryani Cart, winner of the Vendy Award has an awesome menu. It was hard to decide what not to eat with the kind of food they had there. If you are in the area do check out this cart on 46th and 6th. And can you believe how cheap it is, the box of biryani came at $5.50 and so did the other one and the quantity is a little over sufficient for a hungry adult. Ok I ate one whole box, so what !!! There is no place where you can sit and enjoy your meal though, you can pack your lunch from here and have a nice picnic at Central Park instead.


We finally settled for some delicious Chicken Biryani and...


... a Lamb on Rice. This is an Afghani dish but at this particular cart the dish is more spicier and tasted much better than what I have had before.


Do you see that proud Vendy Award winner cert ?


Rickshaws in front of the Met. A greener, cleaner Calcutta ?

We then had Kati Rolls after just 3 hours of this at the Kati Roll Company. We shared two unda chicken rolls and unda shammi kebab rolls. They were delicious and too filling. I liked the Egg Chicken Rolls better than the Shammi Kebab one. My woe of missing out on Calcutta style Rolls were assuaged by 95%.

Jeet Thayil of India in New York says that "If you have to ask what a Kati Roll is, you haven't lived." So true. But back home it is more popularly known as The Egg Roll except of course at Hot Kati on Park Street(Kolkata) whose rolls are famous as Hot Kati Rolls. I hope the Hot Kati guy knows how his naming is the food lingo in the streets of a busy city across the globe.

Important !!!

Oh, and I forgot to ask something very important. I need some help from my readers here in the US. If any of you have used the following colors for your home, please,please leave me a comment with your e-mail id. I want pictures of homes painted with any of these -- Benjamin Moore Suntan Yellow, BM Lemon Sorbet, BM August Morning, BM Patina, BM Apple Crisp and BM Asbury sand. Please, this is Urgent, search for the right color is keeping me away from the blog so please help if you can.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Bitter Better Uchche

I have always talked about how Bengalis love bitterness, not in life but definitely in their food. A traditional Bengali lunch will almost always begin with some bitter preparation of Bitter Gourd or bitter tender Neem leaves. This is in sync with Ayurveda, with the concept of cleansing your palate before you delve into more complex and rich food.

Of all the bitter foods that we Bengalis are subjected to since childhood, I would say Bitter Gourd or Uchche is the meekest. After years of being subjected to chirotar jal ( chirota, a plant whose leaves were soaked in water to make a bitter concoction), first thing in the morning on weekends you do start appreciating uchche. Even thinking of chirotar ras gives me the shudders and makes me glad that I grew up and have enough liberty to declare a chirota free house.

And then there was Kalmegh, the nightmare. See the name, KalMegh loosely translates to Dark Cloud. How could something that sounded so ominous be pleasant ? As a child if my nature at any times turned from sunny to irate or my tantrums over exceeded the usual quota my Ma attributed the behavior to worms in my tummy rather than behavioral dysfunction(??). Backed with my Dida's support she treated me to kalmegh er bori (crushed leaves of the dreaded kalmegh shaped into pellets) or kalmegh er ros(juice of kalmegh leaves) which were supposed to be potent enough to get rid of worms. Actually she even got a bottle of Kalmegh extract for S which of course I did not dare to use on the unsuspecting child

Truth be told these herbs/medicinal plants did work wonders for the system and my Ma went through a lot of effort to prepare such concoctions. If only I drank them religiously instead of pouring them on the Tulsi in our balcony, I would have flourished today instead of the "still growing strong" Tulsi


Though I have got over those bitter plants, bitter gourd or uchche is a staple on the menu at my home almost every other week. D loves it(yewww !!) and S eats it dipping it in a bowl of yogurt.

Uchche bhaate or Bitter gourd boiled/steamed and then mashed with potatoes, drizzled with mustard oil and salt is the most common thing on the menu. Though we don't add the potatoes any more and serve it just with little mustard oil and salt

Uchche Bhaja or Fried bittergourd is another simple preparation where you chop the bitter gourd in thin slices, smear them with little turmeric and salt and let it sit for 15-20 minutes. You then fry them in smoking mustard oil(any other white oil works) till they are crisp. I usually shallow fry and so mine are not as crispy as my Mom's

Next is the Uchche Begun which is a dry preparation of Bitter Gourd and soft velvety eggplants. Cooked with minimum spices, the eggplant complements the bitter gourd beautifully and yet does not undermine it. When had with steaming rice it is a beautiful starter preparing your palate for better things to come


Uchche Begun/ Bitter Gourd and tender eggplants

Prep: Wash and chop two medium sized bitter gourd to small pieces. Wash and chop two medium sized Japanese eggplants, the long slender ones, in small cubes

Start Cooking:

Heat Oil(preferably Mustard Oil but others work fine) in a Kadhai/Frying pan

Fry the eggplants with 1/4 tsp of turmeric powder till they are soft and lightly browned. Do NOT deep fry as in begun bhaja

Remove and keep aside

Temper the oil with 1/2 tsp of Kalonji/Nigella seeds and 5-6 slit hot Indian Green Chillies

Add the bitter gourd, sprinkle a little turmeric and saute till they are soft. Usually I cover and stir in between with a sprinkle of water to hasten the process and not to make the bitter gourd crunchy

Once they are soft, add the eggplants

Add salt, mix all nicely together and cook till both the veggies are done

The end result is a bitter medley of eggplant and bitter gourd. Standard way of eating is mixed with white rice

Other dishes with bitter gourd:

Uchche Posto Jhuri


Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Mator Dal ar Begun Bhaja


The Earth's population will surge to EIGHT BILLION by 2025. With increase in population comes an increased demand of food. When this surging population consumes more food that it is able to produce, food prices skyrocket as it did last year.

While we balked at the rice price last year we also gradually became accustomed to it. It is not the same for all people though, higher food prices push more people towards poverty. A's nanny says in Bangladesh food prices are so high that it is hard for the middle class to feed themselves unless one member of the family works in the western world and thus earns high wages.

To meet rising food demand, intellectuals say we need another Green Revolution, the kind that doubled the grain production in Asia especially India during the 60s and 70s. Really ? Aren't theHigh-yield grain varieties, pesticides, synthetic fertilizers and the works that worked wonders at the time showing there wrath now. Why do you think villages in Punjab, our one time 'bread basket' are suffering the wraths of cancer today ?

A Greener Revolution may work better says an UN Panel. Duh ? Sustainable farming methods such as composting, crop rotation and interplanting with legumes has been proved to better soil quality, increase yield and reduce reliance on synthetic fertilizers.

An interesting low cost project in norther Malawi in Africa, SFHC (Soil, Food and Healthy Comunities project) distributes legume seeds, recipes and technical advice for growing crops like peanut, pigeon peas and soy bean which enrich the soil by fixing nitrogen while enriching the diet as well. Farmers there say, that by crop rotation they have increased yield and cut down fertilizer usage by half.

The projects hogging the limelight however are those by the big shot foundations which focus on bringing Green Revolution to Africa with subsidized farming programs, fertilizers and hybrid seeds. (Source: NatGeo)

Which model will prevail will depend on the powers pushing them. But whatever it is, the surging masses needs to be fed and if that can be achieved with a lower ecological impact planet earth will have few more years of survival.

I love my legumes, a bowl or two of Dal a day keeps me happy. While my favorite is the Red Masoor Dal I rotate my legumes to take advantage of all. Mator Dal or Split peas are the dried peeled and split seeds of Pisum sativum. They come in yellow and green varieties. They have been mechanically split so that they will cook faster.

They are very different from the Indian Toor Dal or Chana Dal though they look similar

Though this dal is relatively common in Bengal, my Ma seldom made it except for in a Tak Dal and consequently I never did. A friend introduced this to me. And it is she from whom I got both the recipes. These are the two ways I have made Mator dal(Split peas) one with veggies the other without. For indexing purposes they are two separete posts.

Check out Sabji Diye Mator Dal or Mator dal with Veggies. Both these dishes go to MLLA # 12 hosted by Annarasa and initiated by none other than Susan

This lovely earthy Mator Dal was what I packed for lunch with some Begun Bhaja and a roasted grape tomato garlic salad. I always love having a bowl of Dal rather than a thick soup. Completely satisfying for both the soul and the tummy. The roasted tomato salad and the eggplants gave the Dal the color and pizzaz that it was missing being earthy and all

The Begun Bhaja or Fried Eggplant is a very simple Bengali delicacy. I see a lot of recipes where the Begun Bhaja is prepared with lots of spices but the ones I have had in my home or other Bengali homes and eventually make are always the simple ones with absolutely no spice other than turmeric. They do soak up some oil so I fry the slender japanese eggplants chopped in mini rounds to have smaller portions of begun bhaja, the oven baked ones are no where near in taste.


Matar Dal/Split Peas

Wash and cook 1 & 1/4 cup of Yellow Split Peas in the pressure cooker with a little turmeric. You can cook in a pot too, it will take longer time though

In a deep bottomed pan heat 3 tsp Oil + 1/2 tsp Ghee

Temper with 1 tsp of Whole Cumin Seeds/Jeera, 3 cloves of garlic minced

When the spices splutter add half of a chopped red onion and 4-5 slit green chillies

Fry till the onion turns a nice pink and is softened

Add the cooked Dal and mix well

Add salt and desired amount of water. I think I added about 1-2 cups of water. Let the dal come to a boil

Just before taking off the heat add a little ghee and 1/2 tsp of Garam Masala powder

We enjoyed this simple Dal with some Begun Bhaja and a roasted salad.

Begun Bhaja

Chop a good quality eggplant in thick rounds or cut vertically

Wash well, pat dry and smear with little turmeric and salt. Set aside for 10-15 minutes

Heat Mustard Oil to smoking.

Slide the eggplant slices gently into the hot oil and fry till golden. Take out with a slotted spoon and drain on a kitchen towel

To make the roasted salad, in a decent sized aluminum foil throw together 12-15 grape tomatoes, quarter red onion chopped, 3-4 cloves of garlic, olive oil in fair amount and sea-salt. Close the foil to make a pouch. Bake in oven at 375F till the tomato skins are wrinkled up and garlic is soft

For lunch we had just the Dal with this salad and mini begun bhaja

Trivia: The yellow Split peas is the legume used to make Pease Porridge as in the popular children's rhyme "Pease Porridge Hot"

Mator/Motor Dal with Veggies


Mator Dal or Yellow Split Peas when cooked with vegetables like sweet red radish, yellow pumpkin and baby potatoes takes on a whole new avtaar. This recipe is from a friend and we thoroughly enjoyed this heart warming dal

Mator Dal with Sabji/Split YellowPeas with Vegetables

Wash and cook 1 & 1/4 cup of Yellow Split Peas in the pressure cooker with a little turmeric. About 5 mins at full pressure. You can also cook in a pot, only it will take some time.

In microwave cook 1/2 cup of chopped red radish, 1/2 cup of cubed pumpkin, 1/2 cup of tender-green cauliflower stalks. The stalks are optional, I did because I had some and my friend suggested I put them

In a deep bottomed pan heat 3 tsp of Oil + 1/2 tsp of Ghee

Temper with 1 tsp of Whole Cumin Seeds/Jeera, 2 cracked Dry Red Chilli and 10-12 methi seeds

When the spices splutter add the veggies and 3-4 slit green chillies

Fry for 3-4 minutes till you get a nice aroma of the veggies

Add the cooked Dal and mix well

Add salt and add water to get the desired consistency. Let the dal come to a boil

Just before taking off the heat add a little ghee. I did not add any this week but a little boosts the flavor

Garnish with lots of chopped coriander leaves

Update on June29th,2013: Today I cooked the same Motor Dal with Pumpkin and Edamame in pods. Also added some grated ginger towards the end. Awesome.

Friday, June 05, 2009

...and then a Kofta Pulao


(Continued from here)

The Kofta Pulao is here as promised. Though to make this I use a layering technique like Biryani, I still insist on calling this a pulao for
One, It is not as spicy as a Biryani
Two, Kofta Pulao has a nice ring to it

Now the pics here don't do justice to the actual Pulao for see I couldn't have clicked the pictures with friends around, they would have thought me crazy. With the leftover Kofta curry I had made a small quantity of pulao for just us and took some hurried pics before I would see the end of it.

This goes to Nags who is hosting this month's Monthly Mingle started by dear Meeta and the theme there is Ravishing Rice


When Kalai left a comment on my last post I could very well identify her. Far away from home and family, the friends in this adopted country are our extended family now. Their kids are my daughter's cousins and they play a big role in shaping her life. The girl in white on the beach is the elder sis that S can look up to. I have seen her grow from a toddler to an almost teen and she is the perfect role model any 5 year old should have.

I am thankful for these friends and their kids and hope S and A bring as much happiness to this extended family as they do to ours.


Kofta Pulao

To make the Kofta Pulao we are going to use the same gravy that we made for Kofta curry in the previous post. However if your aim is to make the Pulao, reduce the gravy till it is thick and of a consistency which is enough for coating or spreading like a paste but does not flow. Usually I will use part of the above prepared gravy for the pulao while the rest will be served up as a Kofta Curry

Keep the thick gravy and the chicken masala balls in separate containers

Wash and soak 2 and 1/2 cups of Basmati rice for half an hour

Heat Oil + 1/2 tsp of Ghee in the Kadhai/Wok/Frying Pan.

Season the oil with 4 Green Cardamom/Elaichi, 4 Clove/Laung, a 1" stick of Cinnamon/darchini and 2 small bay leaves/tej patta

Add 1/3 cup of finely sliced onions. With a sprinkle of sugar fry the onions till it is a light pinkish brown

Drain the rice and add it to above. Do not add water at this point.

Add a little turmeric for color and fry the rice till you get a very nice smell

Add 4-4&1/2 cups of water for 2 and 1/2 cup of rice. This will also depend on the brand of rice you are using, remember to go with 1 cup less water than usual. Add little salt, few drops of kewra water(optional) and cover and cook. Note: Start with little salt as the pulao will get some salt from the Kofta gravy too. You can always adjust later

Once the rice is nearly done take it off the flame. With this water ratio, the water will dry up and yet the rice will not be fully cooked, it will be done almost 95% but 5% wil remain. Fluff the rice with a fork

Now in a flat bottomed deep oven safe bowl
--- spread the kofta gravy at the bottom layer with some finely chopped corriander.
--- add a layer of the rice.
--- top the rice with a layer of the gravy, 5-6 koftas/chicken balls, some golden raisins, chopped corriander leaves, 1/4 tsp of Biryani masala sprinkled over.
--- now again add a layer of rice.
--- finally top it off again as before.

Note: While spreading the gravy masala do not over do it, you want a pulao and not rice mixed with curry. All of the gravy that you made might not be used up for the pulao. If you do not have homemade Biryani Masala use your favorite brand

Finally cover tightly with aluminium foil and put in the oven. In my countertop oven the heat setting is at 350 F and time taken is 20 minutes

Once it is done, check for seasoning/salt and adjust. We like a little sweetness in our pulao and so I add very little sugar too. Mix everthing nicely and gently taking care that the balls do not break and yet the spices spread out evenly

Serve with some of the Kofta Curry and a Raita. It is delicious to say the least.

Wednesday, June 03, 2009

Kofta Curry and then...


The past(the one before the recent one) weekend was a long one, not long as in l---o---o--o-ng but merely long. A friend decided to come and stay with us for 2 of the three days. No one asked, they simply notified and rang the bell Saturday night with two kids, a wife, two pillows and several other paraphernalia. Well we have known them for years and such privileges are acquired if you know one for long.

I was a bit weary of the situation. Given my recent stranger anxiety along with baby A's I wasn't sure how things would pan out. That they had a 3 month old who according to the parents was colicky and could wreak havoc by crying(again according to parents) didn't soothe my tense nerves.

Things turned out very well though and everyone had a blast. Sunday was well spent at the beach. It was a bit cold but nothing to keep the kids away. Big Sis S, her friend M, her two pseudo cousin brothers A&A and a pseudo elder sis G had loads of fun at the beach and then later on the rides at the boardwalk.

Baby A doesn't like strangers and that means any adult outside the family and her nanny. She also doesn't like to be bound in any static object like highchair, bouncer, static strollers etc. And she doesn't keep her dislike to herself, she protests loudly and monotonously. So she had to be carried while the older kids played on the beach or on the rides. She is a petite child, very much so and carrying her is easy, so many friends aka strangers volunteered but she pouted and her eyes wailed up at gestures of such love and intimacy. She clung to her not so petite Mom and generally had a mighty good time watching everything from a safe perch.

Back home she was intrigued by the 3 month old. At every opportunity she would scoot up to his bouncer, stand up and try to poke his head, face whatever. She also tried to take away the smaller one's pacifier several times. The 3 month old didn't really cry all that much or maybe I have just got used to such stuff.

Big Sis S had a great time overall with her friend M(the visiting couple's elder daughter) who is same age and that brings me to a niggling doubt which I will throw at you as a question. What do you do when you have house guests and your parenting principle does not match theirs ? The husband is pretty non-conformant and dishes out same sermons/scoldings/rules to all kids. Fortunately since most of these people are close friends no one minds. I am a bit hesitant though to do the same. What about you ?


Since Saturday night we all were invited to a friend's party and Sunday lunch was outside, I had decided to serve a homecooked meal on Sunday night. I knew I would be dead tired and maybe even crabby by the time we came back home Sunday evening. So I had decided to do a pualo and a gravy, a part of which could be cooked the day before. D would be grilling hot dogs and corn to supplement the meal.

What I made was a Chicken Kofta Curry (Chicken meatballs in a gravy) and then a Kofta Pulao (a meatball pulao) with some Raita to jazz it up. Both the curry and the pulao are a major hit with family as well as friends. And so even though we were almost full with the continuous snacking and grilling we sat down for a late dinner at 11 in night to devour these delicacies.

This particular dish serves 3 purpose at 3 stages of making.

  1. When you make the Chicken masala balls, you can fry them and serve as appetizers.
  2. You then make a gravy (the Kofta Curry) with the same balls, it turns out as a deliciously finger-licking side dish.Don't skip the frying the onion and then blending routine, it adds to the taste as does the fragrant Kasoori Methi
  3. Finally you use some of that gravy and the kofta to make a Kofta Pulao which serves as your entree. Whip up a raita and you have a gorgeous spread

The Kofta Pulao recipe comes in the next post in two days time


Chicken Kofta Curry (Meatballs in a delicious gravy)

Make Chicken Masala Balls(better known as Koftas)

The following quantity makes about 40-50 meatballs. All of them will NOT be used in the gravy.

To make Chicken masala balls I follow this recipe mostly. Roughly I will repeat here.

Dry roast 5-6 dry red chillis (adjust according to your choice) + 4 tbsp Corriander seeds + 1&1/2 tbsp Cumin Seeds + 1" stick of cinnamon + 5 cardamom + 5 clove + 10-20 cashewnuts

Cool and grind to a fine powder

Wet grind to a fine paste 1 medium onion + 5-6 cloves of garlic + 3" piece of ginger + some chopped corriander leaves + 8 indian green chili(go with few if your hot tolerance is low).
Note: Sometimes if in a hurry, I will make a wet paste with just 2 tsp Garlic Paste + 2 tsp ginger paste + 2 tsp corriander paste

Marinade 2-3 lb(rough estimate) of minced chicken(chicken keema) with all this
Dry masala,
Wet Masala,
2 tbsp of yogurt
and salt for 30 mins to 2-3 hrs

Grease your palm with little oil and then make small amla or tomatiilo sized balls

Fry some of these balls and serve as an appetizer. The rest will be used in the gravy. To use in gravy you NEED NOT fry the balls.

Make Kofta Curry

I used about 24-28 chicken masala balls to make this curry

Heat Oil in a deep bottomed frying pan/Kadhai

Fry 3 medium onion chopped + 6-8 cloves of garlic + 2" ginger peeled and coarsely chopped

When the onion is lightly browned add 2 medium red tomato coarsely chopped and fry till the tomato is all mushed up and there is no raw smell. Note: I add a teeny tiny spoon of sugar to help in browning onion
Alternate Idea : Boil the raw onions. Cool and grind to paste. Make a separate paste of ginger + garlic+green chili. Make a puree of the tomatoes. You have to spend a little more time to fry the onion paste in this case.

Cool the above and blend to a paste. Keep aside

Heat some more oil in the same frying pan. This time go with less oil

Add the prepared onion+ ginger+garlic+tomato paste and fry till oil separates from the masala

In a small bowl make a paste of 3 tbsp Yogurt + 2 tsp of Cumin Powder + 1 heaped tsp of Biryani masala + 1-2 tsp of Red Chili Powder + little(1/4tsp) turmeric powder. Note: if you don't have your home made Biryani masala use Garam Masala

Reduce heat and add this masala paste to the Kadhai/Frying pan

Add 2 tsp of Kasoori Methi (dried Fenugreek leaves)

At low heat saute for couple of minutes till you see the masala is cooked and the oil seeping out from the sides

Add 1 cup Milk + 1 cup water. Note: I added 2% milk, you can add whole milk but this tastes as good

Add salt and mix everything well

Increase the heat to medium and let the gravy come to a boil


Chicken balls being steamed in the gravy

If you have NOT fried the chicken balls, add them(the raw spiced meat balls) to the gravy now.
If you did not pay attention and have fried the chicken balls you can add them to the gravy at the second last step.

Cover and cook till the balls are done. The balls will cook pretty quickly in the steam and will be done in 5-7 minutes.

Once the balls are cooked, remove them with a slotted spoon and keep aside. You don't want to over cook them

Reduce the gravy till it is thicker to a consistency you would like

Check for seasonings, add the chicken balls to the gravy, mix everything well and garnish with finely chopped corriander leaves.

The delicious Kofta Curry is ready to be served with Naan, Roti or a Pulao...

Note: If you are feeling extremely lazy you can get Chicken Balls from Costco or wherever and use that to make this curry