Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Have a Holly Jolly Christmas

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The year is almost at the end and I love that there is so much of holiday spirit and excitement which leaves little time to look back on the year that is past. I am not great at the whole "looking back" thing. You give me a moment to pause and ponder and I go hyper, over-analyzing things I should have done the other way. I like it better this way when everything happens so fast that I have little time to even think of the year 2011 until I have to write a check or something at which point I go, 2012, really, 2011 is over ? And so where did my money go and such crap.

But it is Christmas and so we will not talk about money because what is money but "some paper" to buy gifts.Instead we will talk about Santa, the jolly old fellow and the conversation he brings about in our home.

Me: "Little S, tomar ki chai Santa Claus er theke?" (What do you want from Santa Claus this year?)

LS: "Errrm..presents"

Me: "Ki present?" (What presents?)

LS: "Santa Claus er ki ache? (What does Santa Claus have?)"

Me: !!!###!!

Pertinent question. Why ask for something which the guy does not have.

BigSis who just turned eight does not believe in Santa any more. To test it out, this year she is not telling me what she wants. She is sending her request to Santa directly. No via media. I don't know why she is taking such risks but she is doing it.

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Big Sis turned eight this week.I had started this blog a few weeks before she turned three. Time does fly. She had her party at a pottery studio where she and her friends had great fun painting mugs. I cannot wait to see the final product all fired and glazed. Little S sat and painted one whole 10 oz mug. I was itching to intervene like the proverbial Desi Mother but stayed back most of the time. Hallelujah !!

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We are having a busy vacation this time with lots of family, so many that we will not even fit in our 7-seater when we go out. And so I need to cook a lot. I don't have a menu yet. But I am putting up some sample menus for the holidays which I actually might want to follow. Some days I am sure to chuck it all and make a one pot pasta for dinner. And then on others there is my favorite "Thai-Thai".

Have a Happy Holiday everyone with loads of good food and cheer.



Day # 2

 Onion-Cucumber-Tomato salad
 Bangali Pulao -- I will try Pree's Microwave version
 Mutton Korma
 Tomato Chutney
 Orange Fruit Cake from Edible Garden



Day # 4

 White Rice
 Begun Bharta with Scrambled Eggs
 Beet Posto
 Murgir Jhol
 Ilish Bhaape

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Chingri Macher Polao -- Prawn Pulao

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The inspiration of this Prawn Pulao came from Mishmash's CheMmeen Biryani. I call it "CheenMeen" which sounds so lyrical that it is hard to get it out of my head. It is like raindrops but better.
However I will stick to Prawn Pulao or better Chingri Maacher Polao because the recipe is quiet different from her Biryani and you would better check out her page for the Biryani.

Also if I said "CheenMeen Pulao" I would keep it in a memory box and never eat it ever.

But this is such a delicious thing that you have to eat. Simply have to. Even if you are on a diet or something.

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Instead of a Biryani I make it a One Pot Pulao.Okay actually two because I used a separate Fry pan to fry the rice. But that is all right. You can eat straight from the pan if you wish to and that way skip two plates. You decide on the logistics while I get on with the recipe because this post has way too many pictures that speaks thousand words.

The Biryani spice powder is what weaves a magic in this Pulao. I have made the Biryani Powder like Mishmash's this time. However you can use the biryani powder one I have here and also add a bit of star anise to intensify the flavor. The spice Powder I added in two steps, once to the gravy and then to the rice. I have also used ghee(and oil) moderately. If you are feeling luxurious add one more tablespoon of ghee but no need to go overboard with it.

Last but not the least is the quality of rice used. Remember I used to crib about my rice grains breaking in a Pulao. Well those days are gone with the current brand of Rice I have. No one is paying me for this but Lal Qila Basmati truly works very very well in a Pulao or Biryani. Has got to do something with being aged and good quality or something. So if you have the problem of your rice turning to mush or breaking do get a good brand Basmati.

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Prawn Pulao -- Chingri Maacher Polao


The Prep

Make a  dry spice powder
1/2 tsp Fennel
1/2 tsp Cumin
1/4 tsp ShaJeera
4 cloves
4 green cardamom
2" thin stick cinnamom
1 tbsp Javetri/Mace
a little Nutmeg
We will add this spice powder in two steps to the Pulao. We will also sprinkle a pinch of it on the fried shrimp

25 medium sized prawn -- marinate with salt and turmeric and a 1/4 tsp of that spice powder

Wash and soak 1&1/4 cups of rice in water


Step 1


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Heat 1 tbsp Oil. Saute the shrimp till they turn pink-yellow. Remove and keep aside.


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That oil now has a beautiful flavor, add 1 more tbsp ghee to same pot. Wait for it to heat up. temper the ghee/oil with
2 Bay Leaf
1 Big Brown Cardamom

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In 30-60 sec add
2 cups of thinly sliced onions.
Sprinkle 1/4 tsp of sugar and fry the onions till soft and golden. About 4-5 minutes

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Next add
2 tsp of Ginger-Garlic Paste. Ideally you should make paste of ginger-garlic--green chili. I skipped the chili. Please add 3-4 green chili ground to paste if you wish.
Fry for a minute

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Add 1 tomato chopped. Sprinkle some salt and cover and let the tomato cook. This will take 4-5 minutes at end of which the tomato will be totally disintegrated.

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Next goes in
half of the dry spice powder
1/2 tsp Kashmiri Mirch
1 tsp of dried mint/ 1 tbsp chopped fresh mint
1 tbsp chopped corriander
Saute for couple of minutes

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Add 1 cup of coconut milk thinned with water. Let the gravy come to a boil. At this point add salt to taste and the fried shrimp. Let the gravy thicken.

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Once the gravy is thick, remove the shrimp and keep aside. Shrimp becomes rubbery when cooked too much so we will add it back to Pulao at the last step.

Step 2


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Mean while in a separate fry pan heat 1 tbsp Ghee. Temper the ghee with few cloves(4) and green cardamom. Drain the rice and add it to the fry pan. Fry the rice at low heat till all the grains of rice are nicely coated with ghee.This will take about 3 minutes.

Step 3

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Add the fried raw rice to the gravy in Step 1. Add the remaining spice powder. Mix gently. Now add water (1.5:1 ratio of water to rice), cover and let the rice cook. When adding water, be careful because the gravy already has some water so adjust and extra water accordingly.

Once the rice is almost done, add the shrimp(that you had removed and kept aside) along with any gravy it has. Add 1/2 tbsp of ghee. Let the rice finish cooking. Taste a little. If needed add more salt. Also add 1/4 tsp sugar. Once done fluff with a fork.


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Monday, December 05, 2011

Kancha Lonka Murgi aka Green Chili Chicken -- Bong Mom's version

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Last year when we went to India my biggest regret was not being able to eat at Oh!Calcutta. I sure must have had other regrets. But 365 days later, that is the one that still haunts me. No amount of Biryani, egg roll, chicken chaap seemed to be able to apply a thick layer of soothing balm on that.

And it is not that we had not tried. We did. I had it all planned out even before the flight so much as landed on Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose airport's tarmac. But I had not thought of the logistics that included 2 kids, an extended family and D's home which is a minimum of 184.3 km distance from any Oh!Calcutta location that can be thought of.

Of the few days we managed in Calcutta we had a choice to pick Mainland China or Oh!Calcutta. The seven year old picked the former. "Made in China" is more familiar to her seven year old mind."Mainland China" was beautiful but what about the "Kancha Lonka Murgi" at Oh!Calcutta, I kept telling myself. Things got so desperate that on the day of our flight, D suggested that we have our lunch there. I would have in my before life. But with 6 suitcases waiting to be locked,a 2 year old who needed a good nap before a late night flight and umpteen last minute phone calls to be made I decided to act all grown up and eat "bari'r khabar" instead.

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What is this desperation to eat at Oh!Calcutta you might think.

To me, eating Bengali Home food at any place other than home is a novelty in itself. When we were kids, which seems light years ago, no one ate Bengali Food at a restaurant. The whole idea was so ridiculous that we could be coaxed to believe in life in Mars rather than eating at an upscale Bengali restaurant in 2011.

Bengali restaurants did not exist. Period. I am not including shops that sold Moghlai Parota, Roll, Chop etc.What did was "Bhaater Hotel", small places by busy roads which served maacher jhol and bhaat. We never went there. We feared Cholera and Jaundice and Beri-Beri(ok, scratch that). The only time I had Bengali food outside my home, my aunt's home, my dida's home, my friend's home was at Haridwar, at "Dada-Boudi's" Hotel. And that doesn't count.

Then in 1999 we took a friend visiting from Mumbai to Aheli, Peerless Inn's much talked about new Bangali restaurant in town. It was all servers in red-bordered white sarees, brass plates, fluffy white moidar luchi and very expensive. The Mumbai friend was bowled over. We were awed. But we couldn't fathom paying so much for food that Ma loves to cook and feed every day. So we never went back. That we didn't live in Kolkata justified the decision.

After 10 years of cooking, feeding and cleaning I now realize, I would be only too glad to pay a hefty sum to be served white puffy luchi and sada alu-charchari. At least sometimes.

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So anyway, having not been able to eat the "Kancha Lonka Murgi" at Oh!Calcutta I hallucinated about it. I had no clue about the dish. From one of Kalyan's post I had a vague idea that there was fresh corriander and ginger in there and of course lots of Kancha Lonka aka Fiery hot Green Chilis. Then I found a recipe on Oh!Calcuttas FB page. But the recipe had too much going on in it, mace, nutmeg, cumin, the works.
I did not want that. Yes, I am crazy that way. I did not want the recipe which the restuarnt has and yet I was desperate to eat the dish cooked by them.

I wanted my "Kancha Lonka Murgi" to be all about Kancha Lonka. To be fresh, squeaky clean of any other spices to get the flavor of those green chilis. And then I was inspired by Sig's recipe. This Green Chili Chicken that her Dad makes would put any "Kancha Lonka Murgi" to shame I think. And then again this one, should be what the chef at Oh!Calcutta should actually go for.

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My "Kancha Lonka Murgi" is based on those two recipes. I have Bangla-fied it by "no curry patta" and "add sugar". I have also added dhonepata(fresh corriander leaves) because somewhere Kalyan said so (or maybe he didn't). I have done very little and yet this dish is the only Kancha Lonka Murgi, I might ever want to eat. It is spicy, hot, all about green chili and clears sinuses. My eight year old who is the proverbial chicken-hater in the family, eats it with gusto and gulps of water.

It is hot, hot and hot. But it is also last bit delicious. If you have the fire in you to handle it, go ahead and make it. Perfect for chilly December.

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



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Kancha Lonka Murgi -- Bong Mom's version


WARNING: In all I have used about 16 green chili in this dish. If you are not sure of your heat tolerance go with less. Start with 10 say.

Wash and clean Chicken about 1 lb of skinless boneless chicken thigh/breast cut in small cubes.

Grind To Paste the following with a splash of water
Coriander Leaves -- 1/3 cup
Garlic Cloves -- 4 fat cloves(6 regular)
Ginger -- 2 tbsp peeled and chopped slices
Lime Juice - 1 tsp
Yogurt -- 2 tbsp
Mustard Oil -- 1 tsp
Green Chili -- 6

Marinate the chicken with half of the above paste and salt for an hour. Keep aside the rest of the marinade

Now heat 2 tbsp of Mustard Oil. Temper the oil with a 2" stick of cinnamon and 4 green cardamom lightly thwacked.

To the Oil and 5-6 green chili slit at the tip and 1 tsp of minced ginger. Saute for a minute


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Add 1 cup of thinly sliced onions. Fry with a 1/2 tsp of sugar for 4-5 minutes till onion is golden brown in color.


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Next add the remaining paste and fry for 2 minutes.
Add the chicken pieces to the frying pan and saute them till they lose their raw color. About 6-8 minutes


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Add salt to taste. Add couple more green chili and cover the pan. Cover and let the chicken cook, stirring in between. Sprinkle some water if the chicken is sticking to the bottom of the pan but don't add too much water. In about 10 minutes the chicken will turn brown and be cooked. If you had not cut up the chicken in small pieces, break it up now and toss nicely with the masala. It is suggested that unlike me you cut up in small pieces at the very beginning itself.


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Serve the hot, hot chicken with white rice or even as a starter dish.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Begun Chingri - Eggplant cooked in Shrimp Paste

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This is my Sister-in-law's recipe.

Actually her innovation. She invented this thing. Including the nomenclature. Called it "Begun Bahar" (or was it "Begum Bahar").

Then she sent me an e-mail. This is what her mail read. Ditto.

"Bengan Bahaar (amaar deo naam )


Fry shrimp with salt and haldi keep it aside.Fry the begun as we do begun bhaja and keep aside.


Grind cut onion ginger garlic and tomato fry them with haldi mirchi and little dhania and jeera powder.
then grind the shrimp and the fried masala with sarso /methi seeds . Sprinle salt and saute the whole thing with the begun bhaja for sometime till the colour changes to deep red /orange and nice smell comes out. Garnish with coriander and squeeze lemon juice on top before removing.
I am sure you guys will love this . I feel really nice to "invent" a new dish hehehehee "

Why she is laughing I do not know. She really did "invent".

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Can you see the e-mail now ?

I have full faith in her and so I got two eggplants from the Farmers Market. One of them was destined to be turned into exotic "Begun Bahar" with sequined zari ghungat and kohl lined eyes. Reminds me of Meena Kumari but really this was just eggplant, whatever you might call it.

The dish turned out to be truly, really lovely. The freshly ground shrimp paste does wonderful things if you do not know. The silky, fleshy eggplant is beautifully complemented with the shrimp paste. I am eating the leftovers for lunch right now and OMG I think you should totally make it.

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Shoo now....get moving. Get that darn eggplant, man. And oh yeah, I called it Begun Chingri, stick with Baingan Bahar if you must though.


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Begun Chingri -- Eggplant cooked in shrimp paste


What You Need

Eggplant/Begun -- 1 medium sized

Onion -- 1 & 1/2 cups of chopped onion
Garlic paste -- 1 tsp
Ginger Paste -- 1 tsp

Tomato -- 1 medium chopped small
Green Chili(hot Indian ones) -- 4-6

Cumin Powder -- 1/2 tbsp
Coriander Powder -- 1 tbsp

Kashmiri Mirch -- 1 tsp

Mustard Seeds -- 1/2 tsp
Methi Seeds -- 1/4 tsp

Shrimp -- 12-15 medium sized shrimp, peeled and deveined

Corriander -- fresh chopped about a fistful
Lime Juice -- 1 tsp


How I Did It

Chop eggplant in 3"x1" thin slices. Soak in salt water for 20-30 minutes. Drain water and fry the eggplants. How you fry the eggplant is kind of up to you. Ideally it should be fried in enough oil. If you are a health freak like me, you will pan fry them. If you are a more serious freak, you might brush them with oil and bake/broil them. Whatever you want to do, do it. Then remove and keep the fried eggplants aside.

Lightly saute the shrimps with salt and turmeric powder. Remove and keep aside.

Fry the onions till golden brown. Add to it
1 tsp ginger paste
1 tsp garlic paste
1/2 tbsp Cumin Powder
1 tbsp Coriander Powder
1/2 tsp of Red Chili Powder
Saute for a minute

Next add
1 medium tomato finely chopped
+ 4 green chili
Fry till tomato is all mushed up. Cool and make a paste of this masala (onion+tomato+ everything else).

Make a coarse paste of the sauted shrimp. Remove and keep aside.

Heat some more oil in the fry pan. Temper the oil with
1/2 tsp of Mustard seeds
+ 1/4 tsp of Methi seeds

When the spices start sputtering and getting fragrant add the onion+tomato masala paste. Saute the masala till you see the oil leaving from the edges. Next add the shrimp paste and saute for about 4-5 minutes. Add the fried eggplants slices and mix with the masala. Add salt to taste. At low medium heat cook for about 5 minutes. At the end of this you will see oil surfacing.

Garnish with chopped coriander and 1 tsp of lime juice. Serve with roti or rice.

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Check this for Cutlery and Cutlery Sets

Monday, November 21, 2011

Baked Caramel Pudding -- or a Flan

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I had no Plan

To make a Flan

Okay, bad joke. Granted.

Without wasting any more time, let me go onto the recipe. But let me tell you I actually wanted to make a steamed Caramel Pudding the kind my/your/neighbor's Mom used to do in India, right in the Pressure Cooker. I did not know about Flan but again I DID NOT want to use the pressure cooker. I am not too sure with the cooker when it comes to these sort of things. But I found this . So it all worked out for the good.

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I have used the oven and a water bath which is very different from the bird bath. The water bath creates a steaming sauna like effect in the oven and provides a steady uniform heat source which lets stuff like puddings and custards slowly cook. The moisture prevents them from getting dry and rubbery. So, there.

The Caramel Pudding or Flan, as you like it, was really delicious.The orange zest gave a lovely flavor to the pudding. It was silky, smooth and oh so perfect sliding down my mouth. I made some changes to the recipes I followed and I am totally happy with what I got.

You can use ramekins to make individual servings. I needed a serving of at least 10 and so decided to make one whole pudding which I then cut and served.

Make it for the Holidays. Your guests are going to love it. Have a great Thanksgiving

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Baked Caramel Pudding or Flan

Recipe adapted from here and here. Serves 10.

Preheat oven to 325 F.

Heat 1/2 cup sugar with 1/4 cup water in a heavy flat skillet, swishing constantly until it melts and turns a dark golden color. The color as I learned depends on how you want your caramel to taste. A dark brown will have a little bitter taste which in my case perfectly complemented the sweet pudding. If you want a milder taste, go with golden brown color. Also it is best to use a shallow pan than a sauce pan for making the caramel sauce. The D-man did this part and he was really good at it.

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Remove from heat and immediately pour into a round baking dish(I used a 6" Corning French white). Swish the liquid around so it evenly coats the bottom. You can also use oven proof ramekins(about 8 should be good for this measure)

In a large mixing bowl, lightly beat 4 eggs.

Stir in
2 cups Whole milk(Better if you use Evaporated Milk),
1 Cup Condensed Milk,
1 tsp vanilla
Beat lightly with a whisk to get a smooth mix. You can taste and check the sweetness at this point.
Note: Original recipe called for 3 cups whole milk, 1/2 cup sugar and 6 eggs.I did my changes as noted here.

Add
1 tbsp orange zest and mix it in. This does lend a beautiful citrus flavor.

By now the caramel would have set in the baking dish. Pour the egg mix in it.

Put the baking dish(or ramekins) in an oven safe tray(this will serve as the water bath). Pour hot water in the oven safe tray(around the baking dish) so that it comes almost half way up of the baking dish.

Put in the oven. It is now pre-heated.

Bake at 325F for 65-80minutes or until a knife comes out clean. The pudding will look a little jiggly but that is fine. Carefully take it out from the oven. Be careful with the water bath, the water will be hot !!! Take the baking dish out of the water bath and let it cool on the counter top.Once completely cool put in the refrigerator and chill for 6-8 hours (I did overnight)

While serving you have to un-mold. Run a knife around the edge of the bowl. Cover the bowl with a flat serving plate. Holding the plate, flip the whole thing. Tap the baking dish to loosen the pudding. It will slip onto the plate and the delicious caramel sauce will be all around. Spoon some of that sauce onto the pudding and chill further till serving or serve immediately.

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If you also want to create yummy desserts like this flan, some online colleges offer culinary classes .

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

All I want is some Tea and Then some Time to drink it

Got up 20 mins later than usual.It was a chaos.While was frantically trying to rush out in time had a squabble with BigSis who was waiting for her school bus.

"I won't tell you the fun thing we had in Social Studies", she said, still mad at me.

I ignored. I was late. The fuel indicator in my car was blinking furiously. I would not be able to beat the traffic today, my mind said.

Big Sis waited and then finally blurted out "I know Prime Meridian and Anti Meridian. Nyah, nyah, nyah nyah". She made faces at me.

I itched to ask more but my Geography is rusted. I need to do my homework. Now.

So today I will read Geography, I will go deep into International Date line and around Greenwich. I will not write my blog or read another one.At lunch when everyone will munch a sandwich I will walk longitudes.

And then I will wait for a day when I can drink tea in the setting sun and read Amanda Hesser's "Cooking for Mr.Latte" in peace. Personally I like that better than Geography.


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For Susan's Black & White Wednesday.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Vegetable Biryani - in Microwave

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Some people are dumb and then some are dumber. Always one way or the other.And then there are some who will not only act dumb but also tell the whole world about their "dumbness" as if that was the one thing the world wanted to know. In reality, the world could care less.

But I fall in the last category. I like to talk about my very own dumbness because I think it might act as a pep pill for anyone who is having a dumber time.When you have just tagged your boss on an office party picture he wasn't invited at and then unfriended him on FB; when you are feeling all time low because you just asked your daughter's teacher about her husband and she says she recently divorced to which you say "Good for him"; you desperately need some one dumber than you.

I do that for you; that is social work for me. Listen on.

Now remember the giveaway I had on my blog some time earlier ? Miri of Peppermill Recipes won it. On her suggestion I made the promised donation through GiveIndia (an excellent way to donate by the way) and then went on to FlipKart to order the book for her.

Click, Click, Click and Ka-boom. What did I do ? I clicked on "Cash-on Delivery option" that Flipkart has. And when did I realize that ? When I saw it right on the Order Status. By then the book had been put into a packet, bubble wrapped and was waiting at some book warehouse facility, spic, span and ready to be shipped.The carrier guy had been informed to extort the money from the receiver which in this case was Miri, the winner, ta-da.

So here I was gifting a "gift" to someone and asking "her" to pay for it. Perfect.

I balked, screamed and then went into action like Yoda. I e-mailed flipkart, I wrote on their Facebook wall, I held press conferences (okay, not that one). Also I mailed Miri telling her not to cough up any money to any unknown person knocking on her door with a book, any book. Flipkart got back politely, saying they will cancel the order. I breathed deep.

The next day, I got a mail saying, "The book has left Delhi and will be at the given address by so&so". "Hello ? Is this the new meaning of the word CANCEL?". I hyperventilated and this time wrote the choicest words on their wall, in the e-mail and also picked up the phone. I can be fierce at most times.

Finally Flipkart said they are holding the book(whatever that means) until any further notice from me. Sounded like a court injunction. Two days later my order status showed cancel. Three days later I again shipped the book and this time I made D double check and clicked on the Credit/Debit payment options.

What Miri had to suffer on her end for this trauma I do not know. She might have laughed at my "dumbness" with her spouse over a cup of chai. She never told me. All she said is she enjoyed the book, once she got it that is.

Oh, and the other winner Usha probably got a wind of the scam because she didn't want a "gift" she said. Instead she asked the gift money to be donated which was a lovely gesture on her part. Thanks you girls.

And I actually like FlipKart, even now.

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This Vegetable Biryani is from Miri's blog.Everything is almost same as hers including the Parampara masala except that I did it in the microwave. I did not cook the rice before hand as is customary. I made the masala, vegetables, etc. and then I fried the rice for couple of minutes. In a big microwaveable bowl, put everything together, added water to rice in 2:1 ratio and zip,zap zoomed it.

It was delicious, the best I have ever made at home. It would have been dazzling with the fried onions she has but ahem..., umm.., I actually ran out of ummm.. onions. There I said it.


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Vegetable Biryani in Microwave

Original Recipe -- Check this for measures etc.


Heat about 2 tbsp ghee or oil in a heavy bottomed pan.Add 1 onion thinly sliced , saute till nice and brown. Reserve half of the onions for garnish.
Since I ran out of onions, I had to do without it.

In the same pan, add
1 tsp ginger
1 tsp garlic paste
2-3 green chilli made into paste
,
lightly fry for 2-3 minutes.

Add 1 medium tomato chopped or pureed and fry for about 5 minutes till tomato is mushed and there is no raw smell

Add 1/4 tsp red chilli powder and 2 tbsp Parampara biryani masala. With a sprinkle of water fry for 2 minutes.
The Parampara definitely brings out the real taste.

Add
1 tbsp chopped mint leaves and
3 tbsp coriander leaves

and mix
I added dried mint

Add the chopped vegetables( cauliflower, carrots, peas, beans, potatoes) and saute for couple of minutes. I added about 1&1/2 cup of frozen mixed vegetables.


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Lower the heat and add 1/2 of yoghurt and salt and mix well. Cover & Cook for 5-7 minutes till veggies are just tender. Remove the masala and put in a deep microwave bowl.


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Meanwhile wash 2 cups of rice and soak for about 15-20 minutes

In the same pan heat 1 more tbsp oil/ghee. temper oil with
2 Bay Leaf 4 cardamom
4 Clove
2" stick of cinnamom.

Add the rice which has been washed and drained
Saute the rice for about 3 mins at medium heat.


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Put the rice over the masala, and mix gently. Add 1 tbsp of melted ghee. Add water, double the amount of rice. Add salt & sugar to taste.Heat few strands of saffron in 2 tbsp of milk and add that.

Now put in the microwave and select the option your MW has for rice. Mine has a button called "Rice" and that is it, your model might be different. Cook the way you would cook rice in your microwave. Also add water as you usually do for rice.

When done, fluff rice with a fork, garnish with the fried onions and serve immediately.

Monday, October 31, 2011

Butternut Squash Soup with Red Curry paste

It snowed. In October. After Diwali and Before Halloween, even before daylight saving set in. And all because when I heard of Colorado having a "White Diwali" I thought to myself "Thank God, I don't live in Colorado".

Yes, go ahead and blame me for this freak of nature. And the worst part is it happened on a Saturday instead of a lovely Monday when it would have served the perfect excuse for not turning up at work.

What it meant is staying home all through Saturday though, which is not necessarily a good thing when six people of different ages are in the picture. Unable to venture out and in absence of carving experts, the kids decorated their pumpkin which actually meant LS pouring glitter glue over anything BigSis attempted to do. This ensured in a lot of screaming and horrific activities best suited for Halloween night.

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Then was the issue of the Halloween costume. I have nothing against them really and I love 3-4 year olds in their cute ladybug and tinker bell fairy dresses. But the deluge of princesses has done me in. I have had my fair quota of them and I put my feet down this year, very firmly. "Be a scientist", I told BigSis, as if it was that easy. I was actually thinking of an over-sized coat and glasses from the dollar store and thus a one dollar costume.
She however refused. "I only know of Edison, Newton(yes, the apple guy and btw the hand washing scientist was Ignaz Semmelweis) and Einstein and they are all guys. I don't know of any girl scientist and so I won't dress up as one" was her logic. And she didn't want any tom-dick-sally scientist, she wanted famous female scientists and all I could think of was Madame Curie and finally Jane Goodall.

These are the times I really wish that I should have gone for that Nobel Prize. Okay, the Ig Nobel at least. Darn it.

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Hee Haw

Finally she decided to dress up as an artist, a painter to be precise.She made her own costume from an old white T-shirt, made a palette from a brown cardboard, borrowed the beret from grandpa and looked perfectly the part. The little one just wanted to be a frog. At her age Frogs are far more charming than any handsome prince.

So the painter and the frog collected enough candies to start their own retail site jailibeen.com. Anyone interested please sign up and order.

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In midst of all this there was Butternut Squash of course made into a soup which people feared to tread upon. Once they did though they agreed it was pretty good if not "very good" or "the best soup on earth good". At least it was good, next time it will be better and then one fine day it will be the bestest soup in the universe. Go try. Measures are rough and add coconut milk if you have some.

Heat 2 tsp of Olive Oil

Add 1/2 tsp of minced garlic, saute for half a minute. Add 1/4 cup of chopped onion, 2 green chili slit and saute till onion is softened.

Add 2 tsp of Thai Red Curry paste and saute for 2 minutes with sprinkle of water. Next add 1 tsp of curry Powder, 1 tsp of All Spice(optional). Add about 2-3 cups of chopped b.squash and 1 small apple peeled and chopped. Saute for 4-5 minutes till spices coat the squash nicely.

Now add about 3 cups of warm water(substitute with thinned coconut milk), 1 tsp of lime zest, salt to taste, sugar to taste and let the b.squash cook in it. Puree and bring it back to boil again.

Meanwhile saute some shrimp with sprinkle of salt and pepper.

Once the soup is ready add some lime juice, fresh black pepper and the sauted shrimp. Give it a simmer for a minute. Serve hot.

Serve this soup with chunks of some good bread on the side or some pasta tossed in butternut squash if you will.

Go here for more recipes on pasta sauce.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Microwave Besan Laddoo - thanks Red Chilies

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If you have known me even for t-e-n nanoseconds you would know that when there is a microwaveable-done in twenty minutes- besan laddoo versus stove top-arm twisting- back aching-one whole hour-besan laddoo, I will choose the former. If you are the kind who will go for the latter, more power to you and a Happy Diwali in the kitchen. Others, please read on.

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I could have cited reasons as this, this and this  for my choices but no, the bottom line simply is that I am a very phankibaaj kind and love food especially sweets that can be done short and simple. That is SWEET to me. If the sweet is not going to help me tide over a dinner, a lunch or even a breakfast why should I spend a big chunk of my life making it is my basic principle of life.

No wonder Bhapa Doi, Kalakand  and Rosgollar Paayesh holler out to me and get done in less than half hour. Except of course Paayesh which I stir and stir and then stir some more for over an hour because that is what Mother told me to. Thank God she didn't profess other such time consuming wisdom and left me on my own regarding besan laddoos.

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When I had first seen these ravishing plump very 70-ish beauties at Red Chilies(who in turn had found it at Bhaatukli), I wanted to do it right then because me & besan laddoos are insanely in love with each other. But I checked myself. That amount of Ghee deserves a special occasion and what better than one dressed up in lights and crackling with sparklers. So Besan Laddoos it is for Diwali. I did a small test run yesterday and those laddoos blew us away. It is worth all that Ghee and more. The fact that it takes under 20 minutes and one microwave safe dish to wash is a gift that no Dhantaras can ever bring.


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Original Recipe Source: Red Chilie's Besan Laddoo and Bhaatukli's Besan Laddoo

Besan Laddoo in Microwave

I halved Supriya's recipe and so I used 1/2 cup Besan, 1/2 Cup sugar and 3 tbsp of Ghee to make about 6 laddoos.

In a microwave safe bowl or dish mix
1/2 cup of Besan with
2 tbsp of melted ghee
Make sure that all of the besan is coated in ghee.

Microwave for 2 minutes. beep Beep.

Take out. Careful, it will be hot. Add 1 tbsp of melted ghee and stir mixing it together.

Microwave for 2 minutes. Beep, Beep.

Take it out and by now you will get the nice aroma of besan roasting. The besan will also have turned a deeper shade. Stir gain.

Back in the microwave. This time anywhere between 1 minute to 2 minutes. I did 2. The Besan will have turned a rich nut brown shade and the aroma will make sure that is is cooked through. If you feel besan is raw, add a little more ghee and microwave for one more minute.Besan should not be raw or overcooked.

Now let it cool slightly.
When it is still warm to touch but can be handled
add 1/2 cup of fine sugar
and 1/4 tsp of Cardamom Powder.
Mix thoroughly with a spatula or with your fingers. As you do this you will feel the mix binding as the sugar melts and mixes with the besan. Do this for about 5 minutes. Supriya says to add more melted ghee , at this point if the mixture is not coming together. But mine did and yours will too.

Now fashion small balls and decorate with raisins, varak or anything that catches your fancy.

I think these Besan Laddoos, sweet and decadent as they are and which I found over ether at a blog which in turn was shared by another blog carries forward the true spirit of Diwali, of giving and sharing and of acceptance that all things good need their Ghee and sugar.

Have a Happy Deepavali.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

My Sister-in-Law's Methi Chicken

Methi Chicken

Before any of you go ballistic and start crashing up your iPads and say this recipe is a hoax, let me come clean and tell you this recipe of Methi Chicken does not need a single sprig of fresh methi green.

I mean you can add fresh methi greens if you want and it definitely would be a nice thing to do but on a chilly October evening when you do not feel like donning a jacket to drive out in quest of fresh Methi greens, stay put. Chances are you still have those pale brown almost saffron colored methi seeds in a small dabba on the left corner of your second kitchen shelf. Pull them out and also the box of MDH Kasoori Methi, fragrant and crumbling like old parchment. This and the chicken and you are all set to make my sister-in-law's methi chicken.

She, the sister-in-law, the husband's younger sister cooked this for us when we visited her early last month. Well actually she cooked a lot of other dishes, a lot and I mean it. She would call me up every day, a week before our visit and diligently note down stuff we might want to eat. I really had no clue why she was asking stuff like "Do you eat Luchi for breakfast or Paratha?", "Do you prefer pav bhaji with afternoon tea or pakori?". I assumed this was some kind of survey to trend the obesity pattern among legal immigrants and tried to be as honest as I could.My oldest very innocently informed her pishi(aunt) that we actually eat luchi only when Didun(grandma) is here and thus made null&void my verybusy-cooking-working-notime image that I had painstakingly created over the years.

The sis-in-law took it to heart and cooked anything and everything that the nieces or we might have lacked in our diet.

So during our short stay, while I scoured through all her FB friend's albums, passed smart ass comments and raised my eyebrows in a very Bindu-ish manner ; trying to retain my elder bhabhi stature the poor girl cooked, cleaned and fed us like the sweet Jaya Bhaduri in Bawarchi.

The girl cooked umpteen delicious meals but her methi chicken stuck with me from the moment I saw the delicious curry with a gossamer thin veil of oil which smelled of heaven. It is magical what power those tiny seeds can unleash all by themselves. White fluffy basmati rice drenched in this aromatic chicken gravy is what I will always remember of those four days and oh yes, some of her FB friend's scandalous photos but that we will not discus...

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I have cooked this particular dish about 3 times since. Come on, it is easy, convenient and quick. The first time it turned out to be really good, the second time I skimped on the oil and chili and it was meh, the third I skimped on the time and oil both and it was again okay but not like hers or my first attempt.

End point is, if you want this to be dramatic you have to go easy on the oil, spend the time a chicken needs for "kashano" or "bhuno" and also give in and raise the heat. A bird needs some love and also oil if I may say so.


Read more...







My Sister-in-Law's Methi Chicken

The recipe here is a rough one so feel free to use your cooking instinct

Marinate 2-2&1/2 lb of chicken( skinned and with bones or use boneless thigh portions) with
1 tsp Ginger paste
1 tsp Garlic paste
1 tbsp yogurt
1 tsp Cumin Powder
1 tsp Corriander powder
1/2 tsp Kashmiri Mirch
salt
a little Mustard Oil
a sprinkle of turmeric powder
Keep it in the refrigerator for 30 mins to an hour or more.

Now heat white oil in a deep bottomed pan or kadhai. Don't skimp on the oil unless you want a healthy chicken dish.

Temper the oil with 1/2 tsp of Methi seeds and 1/2 tsp of whole Cumin seeds. The Methi seeds should not burn but give out a nice fragrance. If you are unsure at the point the Methi seeds are turning brown, switch off the heat and wait for 2 minutes. Switch on the heat back again. The oil should be nicely flavored by now.

Add 1-2 cup of thinly sliced onions and fry till the onions are soft and turning brown. Meanwhile make a paste of about
4-5 cloves of garlic
4 hot Indian green chili
1" peeled and chopped ginger
Add this paste to above and fry for next 2 minutes

Follow with a chopped tomato and fry the masala till you know the usual "oil separates blah..blah"

Add
1 tsp of Cumin Powder
1 tsp of Corriander Powder
1 tsp of Kashmiri Mirch (I use kashmiri mirch powder but you can also use red chili powder according to taste)
and fry the masala with sprinkle of water

Add the chicken pieces, salt and then fry them till they change color.Let it cook uncovered for the next 15-20 mins or so, with frequent stirring. This process is actually called "bhuno" in Hindi or "kashano" in Bengali. At the end of this process you will see the oil separating , that indicates good things are in the making.

Now add 2 tsp kasoori methi crushed between your palm(or warmed a little in the microwave), mix everything well together and about 1/2-1 cup of warm water. Adjust salt for taste. Cook covered till chicken is done. By this point a thin layer of oil should float on the top indicating all is good.

Sprinkle some more of the kasoori methi and keep covered until you serve hot.


More Chicken recipes:

The Methi Murgh with methi greens


Indian Chicken recipes

Other chicken recipes

Young Hands at Play

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When coking is not a chore it is fun. Why else do you think little hands fly around to make tiny rotis when the mother sucks big time at them.

This picture goes to Susan's lovely photo event Black & White Wednesday.

The second picture has nothing to do with food directly but a lot indirectly. It was taken on a rainy Saturday when we had gone all the way to the city for the sole purpose of eating Thai Jungle Curry at a place off Broadway. I loved this shot but was not sure if it suits Susan's theme so am sharing it here with you.

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