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

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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 about1 lb of skinless boneless chicken thigh 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
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 White 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.

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