Guest Post by Jason Galletti

Chef Jason Galletti’s passion for exceptional and unique catering experiences inspired him to bring together G`Day Chef to life in 2005. For over ten years now, Jason and his team has provided catering and event services in Melbourne that use the very best Victorian Produce, delivered with consideration of the newest and most delicious culinary trends.

It was a sunny afternoon when our plane landed in Bagdogra. As we descended the aircraft, we were greeted by military helicopters and airplanes. It turns out Bagdogra Airport is a civil cum military airport.

Our first stop in West Bengal was Darjeeling. We stayed in a 5-star hotel which was the only good thing about our stay in Darjeeling. During our two day stay in Darjeeling, we visited several places like the mall road, ghum monastery, Japanese temple and the tiger hill. I do have to admit though that Tiger Hill is a beautiful place to visit if you reach there on time – at dawn. Sadly we were a bit late to arrive at the place, but we still managed to catch a glimpse of the shimmering sunrays.

From what I got to know from the locals, there has been a lot of urbanization recently in Darjeeling which is why the place has lost its charm.

We tried a lot of Indian dishes but what stood out for us were Momos. These dough based steam buns and the accompanying chutney made us cry but in a good way. Both my wife and I love spicy food, and these buns were the ultimate treat you could give to spicy food lovers like us.

Our Next and final stop in West Bengal was Kolkata previously known as Calcutta. As soon as we came out of the airport, we knew this place is going to be fun from the chaos we saw on the roads and streets.

My wife who loves everything Indian bought 9 Sarees from the Burrabazaar. Burrabazaar is the perfect example of the beautiful Chaos India represents. We reached the market taking the metro and got down at the Mahatma Gandhi Road Station. I feel Indian government should build Metro in every city as it is a pain in the butt to travel by the road in India. Okay, keeping my rant aside, let’s talk about Dakshineshwar temple

I loved the ambiance of the Dakshineshwar Kali temple. I know that the local crowd loves goddess Kali, and I could it feel it in the temple. The vibes gave me the chills, to be honest.

As far as food is concerned, I noticed that the food here is remarkably different from Darjeeling which lies in the same state. While Kolkata has an extensive array of sweets, Darjeeling has none at least I could not find any.

Moreover, the Nonvegeterian food is so much better here. I liked Fish Curry the most though. I tried it at Lokahaar which has intricate Bengal handwork on the walls, the colorful, sturdy grass table, and chairs add to to the theme of the restaurant. In fact, I liked the dish so much that I decided to meet the chef to know the secret behind its lip smacking taste. The chef was generous enough to reveal the complete recipe to me!!

We traveled to other cities too and overall we had a great time in India. The food, the culture, the people, everything is simply fantastic.

 

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Swiss Chard Stir Fry – Laal Saag Bhaja

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Laal saag or amaranth leaves are the beautiful red colored leafy vegetables you can get in any market in India. It tastes just great stir fried with a few shrimps or even without it. But, even with a lot of searching for the perfect leaves, I could not find the quality in US. So, I resorted to its closest cousin, the Swiss chard. Swiss chard grows well in spring and the best part is they mature in just a couple months. I know this because I grew my own Swiss chard this year in my backyard, and nothing beats the taste of homegrown vegetables. 

My mom makes laal saag in two ways – the vegetarian style with fried onions and boris, or the non-vegetarian style with fried shrimps. Me being the lover for seafood, I resorted to the second version to stir fry the Swiss chard. If you are omitting the shrimps, you can simply add 1/4 cup of sliced onions along with the red chilies in the oil, and then add the chard or laal saag. While serving garnish with some fried bori. 

 

 

Laal Saag Bhaja
Serves 4
Print
Prep Time
10 min
Cook Time
10 min
Prep Time
10 min
Cook Time
10 min
Ingredients
  1. 4 cup swiss chard
  2. 2 teaspoon mustard oil
  3. 2-3 dry red chili
  4. 1/2 small shrimps
  5. 1/2 teaspoon turmeric
  6. Salt to taste
Instructions
  1. Heat 1 teaspoon oil in a deep bottom wok, sprinkle the shrimps with turmeric powder and salt, fry till they turn pink, about 3 minutes. Transfer to a paper towel and keep for later
  2. In the same wok, temper the oil with the dry red chilies; add the Swiss chard and cover with a lid, stir often till they soften and reduce in volume. Season with salt and add the fried shrimps. Stir fry for another minute.
  3. Serve hot with warm white rice
Notes
  1. Make sure you wash the leaves very well, sometimes dirt stick to the bottom of the leaves and the stem.
  2. Don't overcook the shrimps, overcooked shrimps become hard and chewy
Cook like a Bong http://bengalicuisine.net/

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10 foods to eat on Poila Boisakh or Naba Barsho

We wish you a great year ahead. Shubho Naba Barsho. Here are the Top 10 items you should eat on Poila Boisakh.

Breakfast (Jal Khabar)

  1. Luchi 
  2. Chholar Dal  or Alu Dom 
  3. Jilipi 

Lunch (Dupurer Khabar)

  1. Shukto and Fulkopir Tarkari (or its twist)
  2. Bhaja
  3. Rui Kalia or Parshe Machher Jhol or Tel Koi
  4. Mishti Doi and Rasogolla (or its Payesh)
  5. Chatni and Papad

Dinner (Ratrer Khabar)

  1. Kasha Mangsho or Mutton Curry
  2. Sandesh, with a twist

Good luck all.

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Christmas Fruit Cake

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Merry Christmas

Christmas plays a special place in my heart. My mom was born on Christmas and so is my sister. And, 2 years ago my son was also born on Christmas eve – yes in our house we celebrate birthday of three generations on Christmas eve.
My earliest memories of Christmas was standing in line with my dad and sister at Nahoum and Sons in New Market for their awesome Christmas cakes. Winter in Kolkata is not a freezing, but pleasant. The city gets decked up in Christmas lights, and Park street is a sight to see.

christmas-cake

You cannot talk about Christmas without mentioning the fruit filled cakes. The dark rich cake with fruity goodness is the best part of the season. Many start preparing for the cake almost 10 weeks before Christmas, soaking the dried fruit in rum in air tight jars and then bake the cake with those tutti frutties. The rum enhances the flavor of the cake, but with a toddler at your toe, it’s a no no to add any kind of alcohol in your food. So, I changed this Christmas fruit cake recipe from AllRecipes to suit my needs. If you don’t have an oven then you can bake the cake in pressure cooker.

Christmas Fruit Cake
Yields 2
Print
Prep Time
10 min
Prep Time
10 min
Ingredients
  1. ½ cup all-purpose flour, + 1 tablespoon
  2. 1 cup tutti frutti
  3. ¼ cup raisin
  4. ¼ cup pecans
  5. 1 egg
  6. 1/8 teaspoon baking powder
  7. 1 teaspoon vanilla essence
  8. 1 teaspoon vanilla essence
  9. ¼ teaspoon cinnamon powder
  10. ¼ teaspoon salt
  11. ¼ cup molasses
  12. ¼ cup brown sugar
  13. ½ cup unsalted butter at room temperature
  14. 2 tablespoon milk
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 325F/160C
  2. Cream the butter and the brown sugar till its fluffy. Add the egg and beat for a little longer to incorporate
  3. In a separate bowl mix in the flour, cinnamon, baking powder and salt. Now add the dry ingredients to the butter mixture in two matches mixing in the molasses and milk in between. Pour in the vanilla essence and mix well
  4. In a bowl add the tutti frutti, pecans and raisins and mix in the tablespoon of flour. Add the dry fruits to the cake mix.
  5. Spread the mix in a 6” circular pan or two 6” loaf pans. Put in the oven and bake for 40-45mins or till a knife comes out clean when poked in the middle
Notes
  1. You can substitute tutti frutti with dried fruits like sultana, cranberries, dried pineapple, cherries or mango.
  2. If using rum, then soak the dried fruit in 1/4 cup of rum for atleast 24 hours or upto 10 weeks in an air tight container. Once the cake is baked, soak a cheesecloth with another 1/4 cup of rum and wrap it around the cake(s), then wrap it with a parchment paper and let it age in an air tight container
Cook like a Bong http://bengalicuisine.net/

christmas-fruit-cake

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Bhoger Bhuni Khichudi

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Subho Mahalaya.

Mahalaya marks the beginning of Devi paksha and the end of pitri paksha, and for all of us like me, Mahalaya begins the countdown to Durga Puja – just a week to go. Durga puja is a grand festival and for the last quite few years I have missed being in Kolkata during this time of the year. I miss home during Durga puja more because the puja is held at my home, a 150 years old pujo. And for those of you who are not aware of Durga pujo culture in Bengal, dura pujo is generally held in the neighborhoods and not in family homes, there are very few families in Bengal who actually have the puja at home.

bhoger-khichudi
Durga puja is the celebration of food. The streets of Kolkata get filled with vendors selling Kolkata favorite phuchka and egg rolls, though I’m missing the streetfood pretty badly, I am more missing mom’s homemade bhoger khichuri. On Ashtami this khichudi is served to the goddess as an offering (prasad). The bhuni or bhuna khichudi is more of a pulao than a khichudi, though the main ingredients are rice and split yellow lentil, but its cooked in a way so that it’s not runny like a rainy day khichuri and can be fluffed easily with a fork when done.
I hope you enjoy this year’s pujo and share your experience with us. If you want more authentic Bengali recipes please download the ebook

Bhoger Khichuri
Print
Prep Time
30 min
Cook Time
20 min
Prep Time
30 min
Cook Time
20 min
Ingredients
  1. 1 cup sona moong dal
  2. 1 cup gobindobhog rice
  3. 1 tablespoon cumin seeds
  4. 3 - 4 dry red chilies
  5. 2-3 large bay leaves
  6. 1 teaspoon turmeric powder
  7. 1 tablespoon cumin powder
  8. ½ teaspoon chili powder
  9. 1 tablespoon ginger paste
  10. 3 - 4 tablespoon ghee
  11. ¼ cup coconut, cut into tiny pieces
  12. ¼ cup raisin, soaked in water
  13. Salt to taste
Instructions
  1. In a heavy bottom pan dry roast the moong dal till it starts to turn light brown, about 2 to 3 minutes. While roasting keep on stirring it, or else the bottom will get burnt
  2. Wash the roasted dal and soak for about 30 minutes. Wash the rice
  3. In the thick bottom pan, heat the ghee. Add the coconut pieces and fry till they turn light brown. With a slotted spoon take the coconut out and keep aside.
  4. Temper the remaining ghee with the red chilies, bay leaves and cumin seeds. As the seeds start to splutter add the soaked moong dal along with the washed rice. Mix in all the ground spices and ginger paste, season with salt. Toss and turn for a couple of minutes till the spices are mixed well and the raw smell of ginger goes away. Pour in about 4 cups of lukewarm water, cover and cook till it done.
Notes
  1. Sona moong is the yellow lentil that is smaller than the general variety of mong dal. It is more flavorful.
  2. If you dont find gobindobhog rice, you can substitute with kalajeera rice or any other short grained rice
Cook like a Bong http://bengalicuisine.net/
bhoger-khichri

 

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Murgir Keemar Niramish Jhal – Ground Chicken Curry

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I understand you all are wondering about the title of this post. Chicken being the most popular source of meat, how come ground chicken curry be called a vegetarian (niramish) dish, it is like an oxymoron. It is nothing to do with the ground meat in this recipe, but the spices that goes into it. In Bengal, onion and garlic are considered a non-vegetarian item, probably something to do with the rise in body heat after eating onion and garlic. So, whenever a curry lacks these two ingredients we loving call that recipe niramish.

I love everything about chicken, be it mildly spiced chicken curry for a Sunday afternoon or a chicken tikka kebab for a Friday night with friends. Over the years, while spending time in the kitchen I have realized one thing – you can never go wrong with chicken. Ground chicken meat is a very versatile to have in the kitchen, boil it add some mayonnaise and put it in between two breads, and you’ll have a lovely chicken sandwich to gorge on. Add the keema to chickpea curry and mangsho diye ghugni (curried chickpeas with ground meat)is ready. In this recipe you can also top it up with boiled eggs, hard boil the eggs, sprinkle with turmeric and salt and lightly fry in little oil to get a golden brown color on all sides of the egg white.

The chicken keema curry is one of our favorite weeknight dinners. It is a no fuss meal, gets ready in matter of minutes, and tastes heavenly. If you want to get a richer and spicier gravy you can replace the cumin seeds with chopped onions, fry the onions before you add the keema and add a tablespoon of garlic paste along with the ginger paste used in this recipe.

chicken keema jhal

The only tricky part of this recipe is frying the ground meat. If you leave it as it is while it fries, you’ll get a big lump of meat, so keep on stirring while the meat gets cooked in the oil. Once they are cooked they won’t clump together.

Ground Chicken Bengali Curry
Serves 4
Print
Prep Time
5 min
Cook Time
20 min
Total Time
25 min
Prep Time
5 min
Cook Time
20 min
Total Time
25 min
Ingredients
  1. 1lb ground chicken
  2. 1 large potato
  3. 1 tablespoon cumin seeds
  4. 2-3 bay leaves
  5. 1 teaspoon turmeric powder + little extra
  6. 1 teaspoon chili powder
  7. 1 teaspoon Kashmiri chili powder, or smoked paprika
  8. 1 tablespoon cumin powder
  9. 1 teaspoon coriander powder
  10. 1 tablespoon ginger paste
  11. 1 teaspoon garam masala powder
  12. 1 tablespoon ghee
  13. Salt to taste
  14. 2-3 tablespoon oil
Instructions
  1. Peel the potato and cut it into inch size squares, like you would do for aloo posto. Sprinkle some turmeric powder and a pinch of salt. Heat oil in a wok and fry the potatoes till the sides starts to turn a slightly brown in color, about 3 minutes. With a slotted spoon take the pieces out of the wok, place on a kitchen towel to get rid of the excess oil and reserve for later
  2. In the same oil add the bay leaves and cumin seeds. As the seeds start to splutter in about 30 seconds gently put in the keema. Stir well and keep on stirring till the keema is almost fried and there are no large clumps.
  3. In a small bowl pour about ¼ cup of water and add the ginger paste and mix all the ground spices other than garam masala, give it a good stir with a small spoon to mix everything together and pour it over the keema. Stir to mix the paste evenly. Fry the spice mixed ground meat for about 2 minutes while stirring in between. Add the half fried potatoes and pour in about 2 cups of water, if you want to have a dry gravy pour half cup less. Season with salt.
  4. Cover and cook till the potatoes are fully cooked, about 10 minutes. Sprinkle the garam masala and ghee. Serve hot with naan or roti
Notes
  1. This recipe tastes equally good with when served with sandwich bread
Cook like a Bong http://bengalicuisine.net/
keema-curry

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Restaurant Style Matar Paneer

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Matar paneer is the perfect combination of soft paneer and rich and creamy gravy – it is a classic North Indian recipe.Probably that’s why it finds its way in all Indian restaurant menu all over the world. It goes well with soft buttery naan and even with warm rice. Mutter paneer is definitely something we should try if you want to eat vegetarian food at any Indian restaurant, the recipe is so common that most of the restaurants does a pretty good job preparing it, and this I’m saying from personal experience.


matar-paneerSo, when I thought of making something from the big slab of paneer lying in my fridge for quite sometime now, the restaurant style mutter paneer came to mind. It is a simple recipe, pretty straight forward, even my husband, an occasional cook found the recipe pretty easy to follow. Most restaurants don’t fry the paneer cubes, but being a Bengali I like my paneer fried, it feels much softer if you fry the paneer and let it soak in water for sometime. If you don’t like fried paneer just omit that step.

 

Restaurant Style Matar Paneer
Serves 4
Print
Prep Time
15 min
Cook Time
20 min
Total Time
35 min
Prep Time
15 min
Cook Time
20 min
Total Time
35 min
Ingredients
  1. 1 lb paneer
  2. ¼ cup frozen or fresh peas
  3. 2 cup finely chopped onion
  4. 2 large tomatoes, chopped
  5. 8 - 10 garlic cloves, smashed
  6. 2 one inch ginger root, coarsely chopped
  7. 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
  8. 1 tablespoon kasuri methi
  9. 1 teaspoon turmeric powder
  10. 1 teaspoon chili powder
  11. 1 tablespoon cumin powder
  12. 1 teaspoon coriander powder
  13. 4 tablespoon butter
  14. 1 large cinnamon bark
  15. 2-3 green cardamom
  16. 1 - 2 black cardamom
  17. 3 - 4 cloves
  18. 1 - 2 bay leaves
Instructions
  1. Heat 2 tablespoon of butter till it’s completely melted, add in the whole spices and bay leaves, as they start spluttering add the chopped onions, ginger and garlic, fry till the onion is almost done about 7 minutes. Add the tomatoes, and cook further till the fat starts separating
  2. Transfer to a bowl and wait till cooled. In a food processor, grind the onion mix to a smooth paste, pour in little water at a time if it gets too thick
  3. Cut the paneer block into 1 centimeter cubes. Heat the oil in a wok or frying pan, and lightly fry the paneer cubes till the sides start turning light brown. Transfer to a big bowl and pour in warm water to keep the paneer moist.
  4. Add the rest of the butter to the pan, throw in the cumin seeds, as they start spluttering pour the onion mix paste. Add in all the ground spices, kasuri methi and season with salt. Toss to mix the spices completely with the onion paste. Cook for another 4 to 5 minutes. Add in the peas and the paneer. Pour about ½ cup of water if the gravy gets too thick.
  5. Transfer to a serving bowl and serve with naan or jeera rice
Notes
  1. As the gravy starts to boil, it will start spluttering everywhere, be very careful and use a cover if required
  2. If using fresh peas, then add the peas along with the ground spices.
  3. To make the gravy creamier you can pour about ¼ cup of heavy cream just before turning off the flame.
Cook like a Bong http://bengalicuisine.net/

mutter paneer

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Bhapa Doi – Baked Sweet Yogurt

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There are a lot of things a miss about Kolkata, and mishti doi comes quite on the top of the list. The creamy delicacy served in earthern pots is a food connoisseur’s dream. To set a perfect bowl of that yummy yogurt is a task to master. And, even though you master it, it’s really a time consuming job.

If you are really missing mishti doi or don’t have time to set a whole big bowl of it for your next party, the bhapa doi is your answer. The bhapa doi looks and tastes exactly like the store bought mishti doi, yet it’s not very time consuming and sets perfectly. The only con about this recipe is you need to have a oven. I never tried it making it in a pressure cooker, like baking cake in pressure cooker, but I’m sure that can also be done.

Baked Sweet Yogurt

I have added brown sugar to make it extra sweet, if you want you can also omit it. Also, once the doi is all set, just before serving you can pack the top with a thin layer of sugar and caramelize it with a blowtorch and make it into a bhapa doi brule. If you don’t have a blowtorch handy, you can place the bowl/ramekins in a large roasting pan, pack it with ice. Then place the bhapa doi topped with sugar in a broiler for about 2 minutes, or till the sugar melts.

Bhapa Doi
Serves 10
A Bengali delicacy that you can serve at your next party with a fuss
Print
Prep Time
5 min
Cook Time
25 min
Prep Time
5 min
Cook Time
25 min
Ingredients
  1. 2 lbs plain Greek yogurt
  2. 1 can evaporated milk
  3. 1 can condensed milk
  4. ½ cup brown sugar
  5. Handful of almonds for garnish, optional
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 300F.
  2. Mix everything other than the almonds in a large bowl, use a hand held mixer if you have, once mixed it will have a consistency of this pancake batter. Pour the mixture in a large oven proof bowl or in separate ramekins.
  3. Place the bowl(s) in the oven for 25 mins. Depending on the oven you can keep the doi for a little longer or a little less; before taking out make sure the doi is set and not wobbly. Take them out and let the doi cool down. keep it in the refrigerator for at least 4 hours, better overnight.
  4. Serve chilled garnished with chopped almonds
Notes
  1. I have added brown sugar to make it extra sweet, if you want you can also omit it. Also, once the doi is all set, just before serving you can pack the top with a thin layer of sugar and caramelize it with a blowtorch and make it into a bhapa doi brule. If you don’t have a blowtorch handy, you can place the bowl/ramekins in a large roasting pan, pack it with ice. Then place the bhapa doi topped with sugar in a broiler for about 2 minutes, or till the sugar melts
Cook like a Bong http://bengalicuisine.net/

Bhapa Doi

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Cilantro Lime Rice

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Rice is a Bengali staple. Call it our weak spot, but no Bengali can stay without rice for long, and i’m not talking about brown rice or wild rice, I’m talking about the fluffed up white warm rice. It’s probably the abundance of rice fields in Bengal that made the Bengali cuisine so biased towards rice. Bhaat diye dal (lentils served with rice) or bhaat diye maach (curried fish served with rice), is a Bengali’s comfort food.

Basmati, or the long grain scented rice is the more like the biye barir chal (served only at big occasions – wedding parties). But, living in the US, I have become fond of eating it in a daily basis. And, one of my favorite restaurants, Chipotle serves the awesome burrito bowl on a bed of cilantro lime basmati rice. I am so fond of this flavored rice, I thought I should share the recipe with you all.

I am a big proponent of cooking rice the traditional way – on the stove top. I have tried cooking it in microwave, rice cooker and also in the pressure cooker, but I find the rice cooked on a stove top turns out the best. Also, a big advantage of cooking it on the stove top is that the extra starch come out along with the extra water when you drain it out on the colander, making it more healthy than the microwave or the pressure cooker methods.

Cilantro Lime Rice

 

Cilantro Lime Rice
Serves 4
Chipotle Mexican Grill style flavored basmati rice with cilantro and lime
Print
Prep Time
5 min
Cook Time
20 min
Total Time
25 min
Prep Time
5 min
Cook Time
20 min
Total Time
25 min
Ingredients
  1. 2 cups uncooked Basmati rice
  2. ½ cup chopped cilantro leaves
  3. 2 tablespoon lime juice
  4. 6 cups water
Cooking rice on stove top
  1. Pour the water on a deep vessel, and let it start simmering. In the meantime wash the rice. Add the rice to the now simmering water. Cook till the rice is fully done, 15 to 18 minutes. You can take out a single grain of rice with a spoon and press with your fingers to check if it’s done.
  2. Place a colander, big enough to hold the rice, on the kitchen sink. Pour the cooked rice along with the water into the colander, drain out the water and fluff the rice with a fork.
Cooking rice in microwave
  1. Wash the rice and transfer to a microwave safe bowl. Add 4 cups of water. Set the microwave to high and cook for 15 to 18 min. fluff with a fork
Cooking rice in rice cooker
  1. Wash the rice and place it in the cooker pot. Add about 3 cups of water and set the machine to regular white rice. Once, it’s done, fluff it with a fork.
  2. Choose any of the methods to prepare rice. Mix the chopped cilantro along with the lemon juice to the rice, and give it a good stir. Serve warm with your choice of sides.
Notes
  1. If you are using the stove top method, do not worry about the amount of water as long as the rice is fully covered with water and you can add extra if it seems too dry before the rice is fully cooked.
Cook like a Bong http://bengalicuisine.net/
Basmati rice flavored with cilantro and lime

 

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Couscous Khichudi – Savory Couscous Porridge

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As the mercury starts dropping, it’s time to have some warm comforting food. When it comes to planning a comforting one pot meal, khichudi is always the answer. Be it a rainy day or a cold winter night, the Indian style savory porridge is my go to meal. Rice and lentils is the main ingredients to make khichudi, but as the husband man starts getting calorie conscious and at the same time starts craving for some Bengali dinner, substituting rice with couscous was my only choice.

I prefer the couscous over the Israeli pearl couscous, which is much larger in size and tastes better in salads. The couscous khichudi tastes almost similar to dahliya khichudi. I made with with a mix of two different dals – moong (yellow split lentil) and masoor (red lentil) along with couscous and a mix of different seasonal vegetables – green beans, baby carrots, and cauliflower. You can serve this khichudi as it is with a dollop of butter and some lime juice or you can jazz it up with a side of some potato fries.

Couscous Khichudi

Ingredients:

¼ cup masoor dal

⅓ cup moong dal

½ cup original plain couscous

1 cup vegetable mix

1 teaspoon whole cumin

½ teaspoon turmeric

1 teaspoon cumin powder

½ teaspoon coriander powder

1 teaspoon ginger paste

½ teaspoon chili powder

2 tablespoon ghee/ oil

½ teaspoon garam masala

Salt to taste

 

Directions:

Take a deep bottom pan and dry roast the moong dal, till some of the dal starts browning; about 4 minutes. Cool it down and wash thoroughly. Wash the masoor dal also.

Boil 2 cup of water in the same pan and add the dal. Cook till the dal is half done. Add the vegetables. Add all the spices except the garam masala. Cook till the vegetables are almost done, and then add the couscous. Pour more water if you see the khichudi is getting too thick.

In a frying pan pour in the ghee and as it starts to melt add the whole cumin, the cumin will start to sputter, transfer it to the cooked khichudi. Cook for about a minute, then take it out of the flame and sprinkle the garam masala.

Serve immediately

Khichudi with couscous

Chef’s Tips – Khichudi tends to dry out quickly. So keep it runny when you take it out of the flame.

If you are using cauliflower, its better to fry the cauliflower till the florets start turning slightly brown on the sides. This helps to get rid of the cauliflower smell.

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Chole Masala Spice Mix

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Chole or Kabuli chola or Garbanzo beans is a big hit in all Indian homes. Though, its originally a North Indian recipe, but chole bhature is a big hit in my family. The fluffy fried breads, bhature accompanied with spicy garbanzo beans is a big hit all the time.

Whole spices

To make kabuli chola along with the regular blend of ginger garlic paste, coriander and chili powder a spice mix is used. This spice mix is sold by almost all popular Indian spice brands from Everest to MDH, its called chole masala. But, I’m a little apprehensive of using the packaged spice mixes, mainly for two reasons. First, they don’t have the freshness that you get from homemade spice powders and secondly, they come in large packages and for a family of two most of the times the spice mix expires before I can finish the whole package. So, the simple solution to my problem to make my own batch of chole masala spice mix.

chole masala

Definitely, it takes some time and work to make it, but the flavor and aroma of freshly ground spices is worth all the trouble. It takes more than 15 spices to make this masala, so even a tablespoon of each spice will yield quite a good amount of the masala. I grind the spices in a coffee/spice grinder and takes me 2 to 3 batches to grind the whole amount.

Ingredients:

2 tablespoon cumin seeds

1 tablespoon caraway seeds/ shah jeera 

1 tablespoon white sesame seeds

1 tablespoon coriander seeds

1 teaspoon turmeric powder

1 teaspoon dry ginger powder

1 teaspoon peppercorn

1 teaspoon black salt

1 tablespoon dry mango powder/ aamchur

1 nutmeg

3 – 5 dry red chilies

3 – 5 2” cinnamon stick

10 green cardamom

5 black cardamom

8 – 10 cloves

2 bay leaves

 

Directions:

Dry roast the cumin, caraway, coriander, peppercorn, cinnamon, bay leaves, black cardamom, green cardamom and chillies until fragrant, about 2 minutes. Transfer on a bowl to cool

Dry roast the sesame seeds using a lid on the pan, as the sesame seeds splatter. Transfer to the same bowl and wait till it’s cool.

Place in a spice or coffee grinder and grind till it’s transformed into a fine powder. Transfer to the bowl and mix with the already powdered spices. Grate the nutmeg into the bowl

Sieve once to get rid of the larger bits and store in an airtight jar or use immediately.

Ground spice for chole

Chef’s tips – For ease of grinding in the grinder, once all the whole spices are dry roasted you can put them in a zip lock and use a rolling pin to crush the spices and then transfer to the grinder to make into a powder.

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Chicken Tikka Kebab

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Chicken tikka is the quintessential appetizer in of all Indian restaurants all over the globe. Whether it’s a restaurant in Bangalore or in Belgium, chicken tikka will always be there in the menu. I have had my fair share of chicken tikka kebabs in restaurants all over the place. Most of them I found were either too dry or too bland. So, I tried experimenting on the best way to cook this oh-so-important appetizer.

After a lot of tries with various store bought dry tikka masala, and failing almost every time, I took the matter pretty seriously. So, this time I made the masala paste from scratch. And, just to give it that oomph I added some Sriracha and carom seeds to it. Yes, you heard it right, I added the very Chinese sauce to this very Indian recipe, but the result was just fabulous. The heat of the Sriracha mixed with the carom seeds gave it a much better taste.

Kebab is a very Middle Eastern dish, but like all other Middle Eastern recipes, kebabs also got included in the Indian menu as a part of Mughlai cuisine. Kebabs are generally cooked in open fires, in a charcoal grill. The charcoal gives it a smoky taste, and probably enhances the flavor (I have tried chicken tikka kebabs in stovetop, oven and charcoal grill; but the last one turned out to be the best).

And, here’s another recipe to add to the what to cook for Rakhi series

Chicken Tikka Kebab from scratch

Ingredients:
2 lbs chicken thighs

2 tablespoon grated green papaya

2 tablespoon tomato paste

¼ cup onion paste

2 tablespoon ginger garlic paste

½ cup greek yogurt

1 teaspoon cumin powder

1 teaspoon coriander powder

1 teaspoon chili powder

1 teaspoon paprika powder

1 teaspoon garam masala

¼ teaspoon nutmeg

2 tablespoon mustard oil

1 tablespoon sriracha

1 tablespoon carom seeds

Salt to taste

 

Directions:

Clean the chicken thighs, and trim off the extra fat. Cut into 2 inch size pieces, and keep aside

In a nonstick frying pan, heat the oil, add the onion paste and fry till the onion starts changing color, about 2 to 3 minutes. Add the green papaya, ginger garlic paste, and tomato paste. Fry till the oil starts to come out of the paste, about 3 minutes.

Add all the dry powder and season with salt. This paste you can make ahead, and store in the fridge for upto 3 days.

In a large glass bowl add the cooked masala paste, yogurt sriracha and carom seeds and mix everything together evenly. Now add the chicken pieces to this paste and gently toss so that the chicken pieces gets covered fully in the masala. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and keep in the fridge for marinating for at least 4 hours, preferably overnight

When you are ready to cook, take out the chicken and bring to normal temperature about an hour before.

You can cook the kebab in stovetop, oven or charcoal grill –

For stovetop cooking –

Heat a shallow pan and lightly grease with oil or cooking spray, lay down the chicken pieces on the pan, make sure all the pieces touch the bottom of the pan, if you have more chicken, then fry in batches. Cook each side for about 2 minutes or till the chicken is cooked through.

For roasting in the oven-

Preheat the oven to 350F (180C), line a cookie sheet with foil and lightly grease with cooking spray. Thread the chicken pieces in skewers, 6 pieces if you are using the long skewers and 2 pieces each if using the smaller ones. Place the skewers on the cookie sheet and baste with melted butter or oil. Grill for 20 minutes, turning and basting once in between

Turn on the broiler and broil for about 3 minutes or till the edges start to char

For grilling on charcoal grill-

Thread the chicken pieces in skewers, and grill on an open grill basting with oil on each side. Grill each side for about 5-7 minutes or till the chicken is cooked through

Serve immediately with freshly cut onion rings and raita

Chef’s Tips – If you are using skewers for grilling the kebabs, then soak in water the skewers for at least 2 hours before using, else the skewers will catch fire and burn before the chicken is cooked through

Chicken Tikka Kebab

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Balti Chicken

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The word “balti” always remind me of the Bengali word for bucket, why a chicken recipe will be associated with such a word was quite appealing to me. My first guess was that the dish was served in little copper coated buckets in the restaurant, but that reasoning seemed a little too far fetched. So, I did a little search and of course Wikipedia came in handy.

Apparently, the phrase “Balti Chicken” came from the origin of this recipe. Here again there is much argument about where the origin of this recipe was. Some say that this recipe originated from Baltistan, Northern region of Pakistan  and hence the name. The other theory says that the chicken dish was first prepared by the Balti restaurants in Birmingham in UK.

Anyways as Shakespeare had said, “What’s in a name? That which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet.”, there is no point in fighting over a name of a chicken recipe. But, it’s definitely worth trying. The recipe calls for a lot of tomatoes, and the chicken is cooked in the tomato juice making this chicken dish a sweet and sour preparation. This chicken side dish is the new item for the rakhi series. 

Balti Chicken with naan

 

Ingredients:

1 ½ lb chicken, skinned and cut into medium size pieces

1 onion, thinly sliced

½ teaspoon turmeric

1 teaspoon cumin powder

1 teaspoon chili powder

3 cups chopped tomato

4-6 garlic cloves, sliced

2 green chilies, chopped

6 tablespoon canola oil

3-4 sprigs of cilatro, chopped

Salt to taste

 

Directions:

In a heavy bottom pan, heat oil, add the onion and cook until translucent. In the meantime in a small bowl add all the ground spices and make a paste with about 2 tablespoons of water. Stir in the spice mix with the fried onions, and cook until oil starts separating, about 3 to 4 minutes

Add the chicken pieces and mix with the fried spices and onions. Put in the tomatoes and season with salt. Cook covered for about 15 minutes. Give it a stir once or twice in between so that the chicken doesn’t stick to the bottom of the pan

Add the garlic and green chili and cook covered till the chicken is fully cooked. Pour little water if it gets too dry.

Garnish with the chopped cilantro. Serve hot with naan or rice

Balti chicken

 

Chef’s Tips: I used about two cornish hen in this recipe. If you want to make it a boneless preparation, you can use chicken thigh; breast pieces tend to get very chewy.

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Doi Begun – Eggplants in Spiced Yogurt

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Almost every state in India has their own style of making doi begun or dahi baingan. So, this is one recipe where you can do loads and loads of combination, and I assure use you’ll not get wrong.

Eggplants

I like to use the baby eggplants, as the whole eggplants or brinjal, as I used to call while growing up (read before entering USA) gives a good texture to the curry. You can also use the larger eggplants, and cut them into two to three inch size pieces. Using asafoetida is an optional step in this recipe, I like the flavor of it and it goes with the whole yogurt and eggplant mix, so I use it. Also, if you want to enhance the flavor of this dish you can temper with curry leaves and sprinkle dry roasted and then powdered fennel seeds. So the possibilities are unending. But, one thing’s for sure, this recipe is a must have for a hot and dry summer lunch. You can also serve this as a side dish with biryani.

Doi begun

 

Doi Begun - Eggplants in Spiced Yogurt
Serves 4
A must have for summer lunch
Print
Prep Time
5 min
Cook Time
8 min
Total Time
15 min
Prep Time
5 min
Cook Time
8 min
Total Time
15 min
Ingredients
  1. 1 lb baby eggplants
  2. 2 cup Greek yogurt
  3. 1 tablespoon canola oil
  4. 1 teaspoon chili powder
  5. 1 teaspoon dry ginger powder
  6. ½ teaspoon sugar
  7. ¼ teaspoon asafoetida (optional)
  8. 2 teaspoons mustard oil (optional)
  9. 3-4 green chili
  10. Salt to taste
Instructions
  1. Wash and cut the baby eggplants into fours, keeping the stalk intact. Take a pan which has a lid, pour the canola oil and place the eggplants, so that all of them touch the base of the pan, cover with the lid and fry on low heat for about 5 minutes, turning the eggplants once or twice in between
  2. While the eggplants are getting fried, in a mixing bowl beat the yogurt with 2 tablespoon of water. Add the chili powder, dry ginger powder and sugar. And beat again.
  3. Once the eggplants are fried, the skin will turn a darker shade of purple; don’t wait till they turn black; take the eggplants out and place on a kitchen towel to absorb the extra oil.
  4. In the same oil add the asafoetida if using, if not then go straight to the next step. As the asafoetida starts to splatter, about 10 seconds, transfer the eggplants back to the pan.
  5. Pour the spiced yogurt, and add in the green chilies. Stir and cook covered for about 2 to 3 minutes, or till the eggplants are cooked. You can add a little water if the gravy starts sticking to the pan.
  6. Transfer to a serving bowl and pour the mustard oil, if using. Garnish with cilantro and serve immediately with rice or chapati
Notes
  1. If you add the eggplants while the oil is still not hot, the eggplants will absorb less oil.
Cook like a Bong http://bengalicuisine.net/

Dahi Baingan nnn

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Chicken Korma

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Korma or Qorma is a very old method of cooking meat. It was first used by the Turkish and was brought in to India by the Mughals. The Turkish word kuvurma means braising, the meat is at first cooked in high heat and then simmered in tight pot for a long time to get cooked in its own juices and marinade.

 

Chicken Korma spices

The chicken korma was cooked by Kalyan the other day, and it turned out superbly awesome, and so I had to put it up on the blog. After his stint on mastering the art of making rajbhog, Kalyan has become keen on entering the kitchen more often, much to my relief :). This recipe was inspired by a book “Complete Indian”, which we bought from Salvation Army though he made some changes while he was cooking.
Though the recipe is straight forward, korma takes a long time to cook, and so you have to have that patience to cook. But, trust me the end result is definitely worth all the time you spend in the kitchen. As Rakhi is just a few weeks away, here’s the first dish of many more dishes to celebrate this special with your sibling. Stay tuned to learn many more awesome recipes to make for Rakhi.
Chicken Korma

Chicken Korma
Serves 4
Print
Cook Time
55 min
Total Time
9 hr
Cook Time
55 min
Total Time
9 hr
Ingredients
  1. 3lb chicken
  2. 1 large onion, sliced
  3. 4-5 tablespoon of ghee or canola oil
  4. 3 cloves of garlic
  5. ¼ cup Greek yogurt
  6. 1 tablespoon ground coriander
  7. 2 teaspoon turmeric powder
  8. 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  9. 1 teaspoon Kashmiri chili powder
  10. 1 teaspoon chili powder
  11. 5 cloves
  12. 5 black cardamom pods
  13. 1 2” cinnamon stick
  14. 1 ½ tablespoon desiccated fresh coconut
  15. 10-12 almonds
  16. 2-3 twigs of cilantro
  17. Salt to taste
Instructions
  1. Cut the chicken into 3-4” size pieces. Crush one clove of garlic, beat the yogurt and turmeric together with the garlic. Mix the yogurt with the chicken and put it in a ziploc bag. Marinade for at least 4 hours in the refrigerator, better overnight
  2. Before you are ready to cook, take out the chicken from the fridge and bring it down to normal temperature.
  3. Toast the almonds in a cast iron pan and then chop the nuts. Keep aside
  4. In a heavy bottom pan heat the ghee, add in the onion and fry till they are translucent, about 4 to 5 minutes. Add all the whole and ground spices, and salt and fry for about 2 minutes, stirring constantly
  5. Add in the marinated chicken to the pan, put in the desiccated coconut and mix well with the fried spices. Cover the pan with a tight lid and simmer for about 45 minutes or till the chicken is soft and cooked. Keep watch, if the chicken gets too dry or starts sticking to the pan, then add a little water
  6. Transfer the chicken to a serving bowl and garnish with the toasted nuts and cilantro. Serve immediately with naan or rice.
Notes
  1. If you are using oil to cook, then before taking out of the pan, you can pour a teaspoon of ghee to the chicken to give it the additional flavor and smell.
  2. Kalyan used 3 1lb cornish hen to make this dish. The hens were skinned and cut into 3 to 4 inch size pieces. You can also use chicken thighs to make it boneless recipe or use a whole chicken.
Cook like a Bong http://bengalicuisine.net/

Murgh Korma

 

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