Tuesday, March 22, 2011

My friend's Chicken Korma

Yes, all those spices and more...

When I was vacillating between blogging and not-blogging a month or two back, I realized two things.

I referred to my blog to cook. Yes, things have gotten that bad over here. Of course I don't trust myself that much and 1" inch of ginger does not warrant an exact measure but I do look up my recipes and then bring out my teaspoons and tablespoons and on days I am feeling gloomy add 2 tsp of Red Chili Powder where it said only one.So Suanta, whoever you are, when you say "Bit peculiar recipes with mild taste...maybe for weak stomach" -- yeah those are my happy days.

The second and more important thing I realized is, I needed my blog to remember.

No, not recipes but small moments in the life of two little girls as they grow up. When we were kids, there were many people cris-crossing through our lives remembering snapshots in time as we grew up. While parents remembered us as a whole, the uncles, the aunts, the grandparents, the dudhwala, the Shanti's Ma remembered how we would love the nimki at the bhujia store, how we insisted on helping with the jharu, how we said "kapekha" and not "opekha". As they talked, reminding us at our 20th birthday about our love for "nimpi" at 3, these childhood snippets took form of a legend.

At 20 I hated such legends.

In my mid-thirties not so much. Now that some of those people are no longer there to remind me how much water I wasted during my baths, I try to remember them. And strangely I do so, by iterating over those snippets they once remembered about me.

My girls' life with all the fullness lacks people to remember things. Yes, there is the camcorder but that is never taken out at the right moment. If at all, it records a staged life rather than the au naturel.



So if I do not write about how Little S loves eating bamboo shoot from the Thai Red Curry at the restaurant and calls it "bangashur", how the heck will we talk about it 30 years later ?

Like say about this other day when LS broke two of my precious vase that stand right by the fireplace. I loved those. I mean as much as you can love a "vase". For someone like me, that is quiet a lot.I had once screamed when a little boy running around had so much as chipped one of them.

So the other day when I came home and entered a house resounding with eerie silence I didn't once think it was to do with the vase. But Big Sis whispered into my ears, that the vase were gone, LS had shattered them and she had given LS a scolding followed by "thup thup" on her butt. LS sat quietly on her haunches, in a corner, behind the couch. I didn't feel like scolding her. That was a big change in me I realized. Instead I thought of what I could now buy at Pier1.

Later I sat her down and tried explaining why she should not go around home breaking things. Maybe there was not much conviction in my voice. After much explanation when I asked "Tumi bujhecho ki bollam(Did you understand what I told you ?)", she looked at me with her big eyes, said "kichui bojheni(I didn't understand anything)" and with that skipped away.

This I really need to remember for ever. It is important.


Also the fact that LS sat through the entire movie of "Mars needs Moms", in a dark theater, munching chips and trying to climb chairs. She wasn't even a wee bit scared. And that is because her review of the movie said "Chele ta broccoli khelona, cat ke diye dilo, tai or Ma khub boklo( the boy did not eat broccoli, gave it to the cat, so his Mom scolded him)". Regarding everything that happened there after she just shrugged.


And then the whispering and telling of secrets, a new skill she had acquired. She will come up close to my ear and in a hushed tone say totally illegible things. In response, I will say "Tai naki?" and act surprised. She too will act all astonished at the big secret that has been shared.


Big Sis teaches LS her alphabets. And honestly what little LS has learned is thanks to her Didi. These days she goes around writing the letter "A" and tells all and sundry, "Ami A likthe pari, B likhte pari na (I can write A but not B)"


These are as important to remember as is this recipe of Chicken Korma which my friend R makes. It is really wonderful, by the way. I love all the spices going into this chicken and it is pretty easy considering that it has such a heavy duty name of "Korma" assigned to it.

I will not go into any debate regarding whether this IS a korma or not. I really do not know what a Korma makes. The other recipe of Chicken Korma that I have is from Madhur Jaffrey, it has almonds and is pretty good too.

This one I find is pretty simple and a lot of the work can be done before hand. So works perfect when you are expecting guests and have a lot to cook. Don't get intimidated by all the spices. I found all of them tucked away some where in the pantry except the white pepper powder.


If I am cooking this on a Sunday for a family meal, I use the pressure Cooker.At the point where oil is surfacing, close the lid of the Pressure cooker and cook till chicken is done.Takes about 4-5 mins after full pressure in my cooker. The advantage of using the cooker is after the chicken is done, I cook rice in the same cooker with a little stock from the chicken gravy remaining to flavor the rice. It tastes wonderful and there is one less utensil to wash.

Both the girls love this Korma and the rice. It makes for a Happy Meal.


One more Chicken Korma

Marinate 2lb Chicken(skinless & cut in pieces) with

4 hot green chili coarsely pounded
1 tbsp Garlic Paste,
2 tbsp Ginger paste,
1 tsp Corriander powder,
1 tsp Cumin Powder,
Garlic Powder(I used about 1/2tsp),
Ginger Powder(sonth)(I used about 1/2 tsp),
1 tsp Pepper Powder(White is better),
Cinnamon Powder(About 1/4th tsp),
Mace Powder (Just crush some mace roughly in a mortar to make 1/4th-1/2tsp) ,
Nutmeg Powder( I grated a nutmeg to make roughly 1/4th tsp),

Note: When I am cooking this for everyone including the kids, I skip the hot green chili. Instead I add it later at the very end of the cooking process. Also add Red chili powder and increase spices if you like it that way.

Chop 1 & 1/2 of a a large onion in chunks. Saute till onion is brown on the edges, around 4-5 minutes.

In a blender put
fried onion
1 cup thick yogurt
Make a fine paste

Heat Oil in a heavy bottomed deep pan or use a Pressure cooker.

Temper the Oil with
4 green cardamom,
4 clove,
10 whole black peppercorn

Add the marinated chicken pieces.

Saute/Fry for 10-15 minutes till chicken loses raw color and starts turning golden

Add the onion + yogurt paste. Add salt to taste. Mix well.

Let the masala cook. Sprinkle some water if necessary. When you see oil surfacing add about 1/2 cup of water and let the gravy simmer to a boil. Adjust for salt and other seasonings.

Cook till chicken is done.Garnish with chopped corriander leaves if you so desire.


Friday, March 18, 2011

Enchor er Dalna -- green jackfruit curry


I made enchor er dalna two weekends back. The basic recipe is same as my old one but it has been worked on and the rough edges polished over the years with helpful tips from the Mater.

This one was a hit with my non-Bong friend who fondly remembers "kathal" but has never dared the canned ones in the US. The canned jackfruit as I have said has a salty-sour undertone because of all that brine. I do wash in several changes of water and soak the pieces in fresh water overnight but even then the briny taste lingers.

You should really use the fresh ones if you can get some. Incidentally I did see fresh green jacfruit at the Indian grocers here but I have no clue or desire to chop a whole jackfruit, so there.

This time I tossed the jackfruit pieces with red chili powder, a little cumin powder and fried them with a sprinkle of sugar. This is how one of my Ma's house help would do it back home and though I never tasted it, Ma says it would make the curry more delicious. With fresh raw jackfruit, you can skip this step or do it without the sugar.

I also fried the onions and then made a paste instead of making a paste of raw onions. This makes the curry more rich and delicious than regular.


I have updated the old recipe with Notes of my changes. So please go there if you have plans to cook up a delicious enchor dalna for the weekend.

The realization how fragile and powerless we are in the hands of nature kept me away from food this week.

Will be back next week.

Tuesday, March 01, 2011

Aloor Chop or Alur Chop

Aloor Chop, Alur Chop, Potato Fritters

Aloor Chop | Bengali Potato Fritters

Alur Chop or Aloor Chop, spicy discs of mashed potatoes that are coated in a batter of chickpea flour and deep fried are the best Bengali snack with cups of ginger tea on a rainy evening. They sell like hot cakes in the very popular "telebhaja" shops in bengal.

"Knock, Knock"

"Who's there?"


"Apple, who?"


"Orange, who?"

Thus it goes with names of whatever fruits available at home. And then

"I am a fruit salad"...with peals of laughter

Right on cue we start laughing too. We have to. For that my folks is a joke in LS's realm

She has a whole repository of Knock, Knock jokes. She makes them up. None of them make sense. They are not even funny. But we laugh.

It really doesn't matter. Laughing does though.

Aloor Chop and Muri, Alur Chop, Potato Fritters

Yesterday while watching the Oscars Big Sis asks me,
"If you were a director of a very important movie and one day something very important had to be done for the movie and also the same day something very important needs to be done for the family, what would you choose ?"

I was stunned by the question. These are the kind of questions I would expect at the last page of Ladies Home Journal, not from a 7 year old. I am waiting to see if she spurs such stuff at Daddy too.


I made Aloor/Alur Chop (Potato Fritters) after a long long time. I make these things so rare that sometimes I am not even sure the taste lingering in my memory is real or laced with imagination.Should it taste like this or should it taste like that ? The that is illusionary.

This time I made it more spicy because I thought I prefer it that way. The husband's version is a tad less spicy. He says, mine are pretty good but not like Shoshthida's. Shosthida, the neighborhood telebhaja guy, spiced the potato less.

Makes sense. Shosthida, with all my apologies and admiration, had his perspiration, diesel fumes and dirt under his nails to make up for less spices he used. I perspire too, but not when the temp is at 45F and central heating is just making us comfortable.

Deep frying however makes up for anything I lack. With a bowl of muri on the side and a steaming cup of tea you won't ask for anything more. Ok, a "knock, knock" joke perhaps to complete the scene.

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


Alur Chop -- Potato Fritters

What You Need

For the Chop/Patties

Potatoes ~ 4 medium
Onion ~ 1 medium chopped fine(about 3/4th of the large ones found here in the US)
Garlic ~ 3 cloves minced
Ginger ~ 1 tbsp minced
Green Chili - 4-5 chopped fine(adjust to taste)
Chopped fresh Corriander leaves ~ 1-2 tbsp if desired

Roasted Cumin Powder or Bhaja Moshla  ~ 2 tsp
Bhaja Moshla -- To make this dry roast 1 Tbsp of cumin seeds, 1 Tbsp of coriander seeds and 2 Dry red Chilli until fragrant. Cool and roast to a powder. Use 2 tsp of this. Store the rest in an airtight spice jar. you can sprinkle it to spice up anything you are making.

Red Chili Powder ~ to taste
Chat Masala - 1/2 tsp
Pink Salt (Beet noon) -- to taste
Salt ~ to taste
Mustard Oil ~ a few drops(optional)

For Batter

Besan/Chickpea Flour ~ 1 cup
Rice Flour ~ 1 tbsp
Baking Powder ~ 1/4 tsp
Salt ~ to taste
Water ~ 3/4 cup

For Frying

Plenty of Vegetable Oil

How I Did It

The Patties

Boil the potatoes thoroughly in a pressure cooker or in a pot of boiling water.Once cooked, drain excess water, peel and let it cool for 30 mins.
Now mash them using your fingers or a masher.
Note: Drain the water well from the potatoes before mashing. The mashed potatoes should not have lumps so make share to mash well

Heat 2 tsp Oil in a Kadhai/Frying Pan. About 1-2 tsp should be fine.

Add the chopped garlic, minced Ginger, the green chillies and the onion.All of these should be chopped real fine so that you do not bite into anything but the potato when eating the chop.

Sauté till the onion wilts and is pinkish brown.

Add all of the masala to the mashed potatoes.

Add the Roasted Cumin powder or Bhaja Moshla, Red Chili Powder, Chat masala to the mashed potatoes.

Add salt and mix the masala well with the potatoes. Add a few drops of Mustard Oil to the potatoes if you want. Taste and check for seasonings and adjust flavor .

Let this cool

Make small balls of the mashed potatoes which is now spiced up with the masalas
Flatten them between your palm and place them on a lightly greased surface. They should be really flat and NOT thick like alu tikki.

Batter and Frying

Make a batter with the ingredients under Make Batter. Add the water gradually as you don’t want the batter to be runny. The batter should be tight as it has to form a coating on the potato patties.

Heat Fresh Oil in Kadhai/Frying Pan. The patties would be deep fried so add enough oil.

Dip the patties in the batter, so that the batter uniformly coats the patties
Gently release the dipped patties in the hot oil and hear the sizzle. Keep heat at medium.

Fry till both sides are golden brown.

Remove with a spoon/chalni which has slots/holes so that the excess oil drains out
Drain excess oil by placing the fried patties on a kitchen towel.

Sprinkle some Chat Masala or kala namak/black Rock salt(beet noon) on the patties while serving